November 2018


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.

Kotlety (Котлеты)

(Ukrainian Ground Meat Patties)

November 12: Feast Day of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych

When we used to live in Illinois, we met our friend Olga W.’s parents while they were visiting the United States from Ukraine for the first time. As they did not understand or speak English, Olga joked that her mouth was getting tired and her voice was getting hoarse from translating for everyone in our culturally diverse group. Then her mother cooked us a typical Ukrainian dinner of ground meat patties and served them with potatoes, brown gravy and a dilly tomato-cucumber-onion salad. “Mmmmm” needs no translation! All together at the dinner table, we graciously shared a common human need and love for food.

Ukrainian-born St. Josaphat Kutsevych (Йосафат Кунцевич), a Polish-Lithuanian monk and Orthodox archbishop, believed in bringing people together in the Christian faith. He was martyred on November 12, 1623, because he wanted to unite Christians (Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants).  Read the reflection of what St. Josaphat’s life mission was about at the Franciscan Media website.

Like edible ecumenism, in this Ukrainian style meat patties recipe, ground pork is often mixed with another ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey). There are many variations to this recipe but the result is still the same deliciousness! So in honor of this bold Ukrainian saint and his idea to mix things together, we were inspired to cook kotlety for his feast day. Mmmmm!

Recipe

Adapted from Olga W.’s Mom

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef, chicken or turkey (we used beef)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ small onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • oil for frying

Directions

In a bowl, combine the ground meats with the egg. Grate the onion and add it to the mixure.

Sprinkle the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs. Mix well. Use a large ice cream scoop to make balls. Flatten lightly into patties.

Heat a little oil on the bottom of a skillet. Fry the patties until browned on both sides and cooked through in the middle. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Notes

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