Massaman Chicken Curry

January 12: National Curried Chicken Day

We tend to be creatures of habit, ordering the same old foods whenever we go out to our favorite restaurants. Highlander almost always orders massaman chicken curry at Thai eateries. He loves different kinds of chicken curry that we have several recipe versions posted on our blog for National Curried Chicken Day.

Massaman curry, in particular, is derived from an archaic word “mussulman” for Muslim, which influenced Thailand’s cooking style for this curry during the early centuries of trading between the Middle East and South Asia. Curry paste is first mixed with coconut milk or cream, making this dish slightly sweeter than other curries. A 2011 CNNGo reader’s survey even ranked massaman curry #10 in its list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods”.

Following the Thai way, cook massaman chicken curry for National Curried Chicken Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Maesri)

Ingredients

  • 1 – ½ cups of chicken breast
  • 1 can (4 ounces) massaman curry paste
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) of coconut milk, divided use
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup baby carrots (optional)
  • cilantro, fresh chopped (optional garnish)

Directions

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large pot, stir one can of coconut milk with the curry paste. Simmer over medium heat for about five minutes.

Add the chicken and the other can of coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes.

Stir in the onions and baby carrots. Cover and heat until the chicken is cooked through (around 30 minutes). Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

Notes

  • Substitute the chicken for lamb, beef or other favorite meat/protein. Muslims do not cook pork in massaman curry.
  • Search our blog for other curried chicken recipes for National Curried Chicken Day.

Kona Coffee Shortbread

January 6: National Shortbread Day

Shortbread is of Scottish origin but the cookie is very popular in Hawaii as fundraising items, souvenirs and local snacks. Some Scots settled in the islands in the 18th century and have left their culinary and cultural impact. In fact, Hawaii’s last princess, Ka’iulani, was half Scottish on her father’s side (her Anglo name is Princess Victoria Cleghorn).

Several companies in Hawaii produce shortbread in a variety of traditional and tropical flavors and shapes. Kauai Kookie (the factory is a mandatory stop when we visit the island) and Maui CookKwees make round, stacked discs. Honolulu Cookie Company has its signature miniature pineapple shapes. There are other companies that do drop/scoop/mound shapes as well. We tried to copy Big Island Candies and the Cookie Corner with their simple rectangular-shaped flavored cookies dipped diagonally in chocolate.

This Kona coffee shortbread recipe fits in with our Highlander and Islander (HI) Cookery blog (a Scot married a local girl) and is appropriate for observing National Shortbread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Panera Bread)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant Kona coffee (or regular coffee), ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 ounces chocolate, melted

Directions

Cream the butter with the sugars. Finely grind the coffee granules to a powder then add to the butter mixture. Mix in the salt.

Gradually add the flour. Mix until a sticky but smooth dough comes together. Refrigerate for half and hour. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness between sheets of waxed paper. Refrigerate again to firm up the dough. Slice into rectangles (around 2 ½ by 1 1 ½ inches).

Place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet about two inches apart to allow for a little spreading. Refrigerate or freeze the baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in a bowl according to the package directions. Use a spatula to spread chocolate diagonally across the cookie, dipping the bottom and sides as necessary. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue dipping the rest of the cookies in chocolate. Refrigerate to firm up the chocolate. Serve at room temperature. When storing the cookies, place between sheets of small waxed paper to prevent the chocolate from sticking to other cookies.

Notes

  • We halved the recipe to share with another couple friend (also expatriates from Hawaii) when they visited us in Texas. The cookie dough is soft and needs to be kept cold when handling and rolling out. To minimize spreading, we freeze the cut cookies before placing them in the oven. Feel free to add finely chopped macadamia nuts in the recipe.
  • Learn more about Princess Ka’iulani from the Kaiulani Project website. 
  • Read highlights about the Scots in Hawaii from Coffee Times
  • Islander has attended the Hawaiian Scottish Festival and Highland Games to support Highlander’s clan. 
  • See a similar recipe for coffee and nut cookies on National Coffee Day on September 29. 
  • Search our blog for more shortbread recipes.

 

Mini Fruitcake Loaves

December 27: National Fruitcake Day

Highlander’s Mum would make traditional fruitcake for the family for Christmas, starting her holiday baking months before to give them time to age in orange juice-soaked cheesecloth. Sometimes she would make large round cakes, other times she would make them in large loaf pans. We make ours mini size to give away as gifts to Highlander’s family who don’t have the time to make them for their own holiday celebrations. They appreciate the childhood memories when they eat fruitcake for Christmas. Slice and serve with hot, heartwarming tea or rich eggnog for a festive holiday snack, especially on National Fruitcake Day!

Recipe

From Highlander’s Mum

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups mixed candied fruit (green and red cherries, lemon and orange peels, candied pineapple pieces, etc.)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cups mixed, chopped nuts (we used pecans, walnuts and slivered blanched almonds)
  • 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 grated rind of a large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • candied cherries (green and red)

Directions

Mist mini loaf pans or cake pans with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the fruitcake mix, raisins and nuts.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the mixed fruit and nuts and coat well.

In another bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, eggs and grated lemon rind. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Mix this into the above until well blended. Divide the batter evenly into the wells of the mini loaf pan. Top with green and red candied cherries.

Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick and bake for another 10-15 minutes). Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Notes

  • Optional: Soak a piece of cheesecloth in orange juice. Drain the cheesecloth and wrap a mini fruitcake loaf in it. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least two weeks to age.
  • National Fruitcake Month is December. National Fruitcake Toss Day is January 3.

No-Churn Egg Nog Ice Cream

eggnogicecream

December 24: National Egg Nog Day

We look forward to toasting a seasonal drink every Christmas Eve—egg nog! But it has been a warm winter in Texas (and always in Islander’s home state of Hawaii) so we try to keep cool by eating egg nog ice cream. This delightful dessert is a simply sweet alternative (or addition) to Christmas cookies, fruitcake or Yule logs. Enjoy some no-churn egg nog ice cream on National Egg Nog Day! 

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish)

Ingredients

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heaving whipping cream
  • 1 14-ounce can condensed milk
  • ¼ cup egg nog (we used lactose-free, non-alcoholic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with egg nog.

eggnogicecreamsteps1

Stir in the ground nutmeg. Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Place in a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap or put the mixture in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Sprinkle with additional ground nutmeg, if desired.

eggnogicecreamsteps2

Notes

  • Spike up your Christmas “spirit” by mixing in 1-2 teaspoons of rum or rum extract/flavoring in the recipe.
  • Search our blog for other recipes related to egg nog and the winter holidays.

Candied Maple Bacon

December 17: National Maple Syrup Day

Maple syrup and brown sugar on bacon? Oh my! This is a triple threat treat that is both savory and sweet at the same time. It is so irresistible just right out of the oven that we are too impatient to let the candied maple bacon slices cool to a crisp. This snack is definitely not for the health conscious so we rarely indulge on candied maple bacon—except on National Maple Syrup Day (and the upcoming National Bacon Day on December 30)!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon (we used maple flavor)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Directions

Line a jelly roll/lipped baking pan with foil and place a wire rack in the middle. Cut the bacon in half and place the slices on top of the wire rack. Brush with maple syrup. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn over the bacon slices on the wire rack. Brush again with maple syrup and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more or until crisp. Watch carefully to make sure the bacon does not burn. Remove from the oven and immediately place the candied bacon on a sheet of waxed paper to prevent sticking to the wire rack as it cools. Serve at room temperature or reheat if desired.

Notes

  • In addition to December 30, some sources note that other bacon holidays include February 26 and September (the Saturday before Labor Day). These are additional days that we get to indulge in candied maple bacon!
  • Search our blog for other recipes that include maple syrup as an ingredient.

Smoky Almond Bread

November 17: National Homemade Bread Day

A bread machine was one of the first appliances we bought as newlyweds with our wedding gift money. This favorite kitchen “toy” allowed us to indulge in homemade bread once in a while without too much work. And it made our tiny one-bedroom apartment smell like a bakery! More than two decades—and five homes and moves later (so far)—we still use that bread machine, along with an old cookbook that provided a variety of recipes for us to try over the years. As Highlander had an extra snack pack of smoky almonds, he decided to use them in one of the recipes in the book. Making smoky almond bread in our bread machine is an easy way to celebrate National Homemade Bread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from More Electric Bread)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup water, lukewarm
  • 2 1/3 cups white bread flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ cup smoked almonds, crushed or chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (fast rise) OR 1 ¾ teaspoon yeast (active dry)

Directions

In the well of the bread machine, place the water, flour, sugar and salt.

Add the butter, almonds, extract and yeast.

Next add the liquid smoke. Place the well into the bread machine. Set it for regular size loaf and medium crust setting. Press start and allow the machine to knead, rise and bake the bread. When the cycle is done, carefully remove the hot well from the machine. Take the bread out of the well. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve fresh or toasted with butter.

Empire Biscuits

November 16: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland

Highlander’s fellow clanswoman, Margaret G., won a shortbread-baking contest at one of the Highland games. Her recipe is versatile so we adapted it into empire biscuits in honor of two other strong Scottish women—the fictitious Princess Merida of the Disney Empire and a real saint, Queen Margaret of Wessex /Scotland.

Empire biscuits are a favorite of Princess Merida’s naughty young triplet brothers that they are seen in the movie trying to steal a plate of them any chance they get. This comic relief is part of the serious story line about a “Brave” young royal who is determined to “choose her own fate”.

Another strong Scottish woman was Queen Margaret. A very pious woman, she followed Christ’s examples of helping the poor and encouraging everyone to pray. She was the mother of eight children (six sons and two daughters), three of whom became kings of Scotland and one became Queen Consort of England. She raised them to become “just and holy rulers”.

Empire biscuits are basically traditional Scottish shortbread cookies with icing crowned with a colorful red cherry in the middle. They resemble tiny tam o’shanters (Scottish caps). As we have mentioned two royal ladies above, Princess Merida and St./Queen Margaret, we are also providing two types of empire biscuits—one as a mound shape (like the ones in the Disney movie) and the other as a sandwich cookie (like the ones sold at Highland games nowadays).

Thanks to our fellow clanswoman, also named Margaret, for sharing her award-winning shortbread cookie recipe so we could make empire biscuits for the Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland. 

Recipe

(Adapted from Margaret G.)

For the shortbread biscuits

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup of sugar (super fine is best), plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cream

For the glaze and garnish

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2+ teaspoons water
  • glace cherries

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in flour a cup at a time. Add egg yolk and cream. Mix well.

Scoop a mound of dough and drop them on a lightly greased cookie sheet about two-inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven. Cool completely.

While the biscuits are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar with the almond extract and water. Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick. Add a little more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin and runny. Dip the top of each biscuit into the glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

For the sandwich-style cookies

Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with round cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Spread jam (cherry, strawberry or raspberry) between two cookies and press together into a sandwich. Frost the tops with the white glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

NOTES 

  • Do not overwork the cookie dough. Just mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Maraschino cherries may be substituted for the glace ones. Drain well and cut in half.
  • Empire biscuits are terrific for tea time and royal watch parties.
  • Search our blog for other Scottish recipes.