01 January


Cheese Sablés with Rosemary Salt

Cheese Sables

January 20: National Cheese Lovers Day

Snack on something a little more sophisticated than Cheetos or Cheez-Its. Try homemade cheese sablés with rosemary salt. Sablés, which are similar to crackers, are actually crisp French butter cookies (also known as Breton biscuits) that originated from Normandy.

This recipe version is savory instead of sweet and has a distinctive Parmigiano-Reggiano plus sharp cheddar taste that cheese lovers are sure to appreciate. The rosemary and sea salt topping complements the cheesy flavors well.

On National Cheese Lovers Day, savor some cheese sablés with rosemary salt.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (see Notes)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted, softened
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

In a food processor or blender, combine the flour, butter, cheeses and cayenne pepper and pulse until a crumbly dough forms.

Cheese Sables

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches thick. Wrap in plastic film and put in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and slice into 1/8 thick rounds. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about two inches apart.

Cheese Sables

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F in the middle rack for 12-15 minutes or until golden. While the sablés are baking, pound the rosemary and sea salt in a mortar until fine. Remove the sablés from the oven and sprinkle them immediately with the rosemary salt mixture. Let the sablés cool on the cookie sheets for another five minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cheese Sables

Notes

  • Make your own self-rising flour by combining 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder. For this recipe, use 1 ½ cup flour, ¾ teaspoon salt and 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder.
  • National Cheese Day is also observed June 4. Search our blog for additional recipes containing cheese as an ingredient and celebrate all things cheesy!
  • Islander recommends taking lactase enzyme supplements if one has a cheese/dairy intolerance like her.

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

January 15: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Strawberry ice cream is typically a summertime treat. But even in the middle of January, when the weather is warm in Hawaii and in the southern hemisphere, eating ice cream to cool off is a “berry” good idea. Turn the winter blues into something pretty in pink and make chunky no-churn strawberry ice cream in observance of National Strawberry Ice Cream Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from WRLA.com) 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • a few drops of red food coloring (optional)

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Wash, dry and trim the tops off the strawberries. Puree the fruit. Chop additional strawberries and set aside.

Strawberry Ice Cream

In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk with the pureed strawberries. The mixture will turn pale pink. Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Add a few drops of red food coloring and stir well until the desired color of pink is achieved (optional). Fold in the chopped strawberries until well blended.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Pour the mixture into a loaf pan. Cover and 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. Enjoy immediately.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Notes

  • Add a teaspoon of strawberry extract to boost the strawberry flavor in this recipe. If using this extract, reduce the amount of red food coloring.
  • National Ice Cream Month is in July—just half a year away. Get a head start with making no-churn ice cream by searching our blog for more recipes!

Baked Poi Mochi

Baked Poi Mochi

January 1: New Year’s Day

Islander grew up eating Filipino bibingka during the holidays, special occasions and “just because” in Hawaii. Other Asian immigrants on the islands have a similar sweet treat, like Japanese mochi and Chinese gau, for the new year. The glutinous rice is considered an auspicious food. Its stickiness symbolizes that good luck would stick with you throughout the coming year.

In a Hawaiian twist, Islander added poi powder to the mochi and coconut flakes for a tropical taste. We let our haole neighbors try a little bit of poi mochi for a mainland mini makahiki. Some liked its novelty while others were not used to the gooey texture. At least they tried something new for the new year!

Bake poi mochi for the new year and may good luck stick around! Hauoli makahiki hou.

Recipe

(Adapted from Taro Brand)

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • ½ – ¾ cup poi powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 (14 ounces) can or 1 ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • purple food coloring (optional)
  • 1-2 cup coconut flakes (we used unsweetened)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mochiko, poi powder, baking powder and sugar.

Baked Poi Mochi

Stir in the milk and evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla extract.

Baked Poi Mochi

Melt the butter and cool slightly. Stir into the mixture. Tint with purple food coloring if desired. Fold in the coconut flakes. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing into 24 squares with a plastic knife. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container.

Baked Poi Mochi

Notes

  • The coconut flakes tend to rise to the top in this recipe, making the crust brown and crunchy. As the top can burn easily, place the pan in the middle or lowest rack in the oven.
  • There are deep-fried versions of poi mochi balls that Islander likes to eat when she finds them while in Hawaii. This baked custard-like version is simpler to make.
  • Mahalo nui loa to Islander’s brother who gifted us with the wooden model poi pounders pictured above.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing poi as an ingredient.
  • Happy new year to all our blog readers!

Creamy Carrot and 

Sweet Potato Soup

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

January: National Soup Month

We (TRY to) make a resolution to eat healthier this year and we started it off by cooking a heart-warming soup from carrots and sweet potatoes. The bright color combinations of these root vegetables remind us of a sunny day when winter weather can be dull and depressing. Both carrots and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, such as A and B-complex and beta-carotene, have anti-oxidant properties and are a naturally sweet source of fiber.

Creamy carrot and sweet potato soup is a “souper” healthy way to begin the new year and observe National Soup Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Healthy Living Made Simple)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups carrot, washed, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 cups sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth, fat-free and less-sodium
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, fresh and roughly chopped (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large pot, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook the onions until tender. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring constantly.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Push this mixture to the side and add the remaining two tablespoons butter. Turn up the heat and melt the butter until brown (about a minute). Add the carrots, sweet potatoes. Pour in the chicken broth and water.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Add the thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer until the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender (about 35 minutes). In a blender, working in batches, place the soup mixture and puree until smooth. Be careful not to splatter. Return all the pureed soup into the pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve hot and garnish with extra thyme.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Notes

  • Substitute ¼ cup half-and-half for the milk and cream.
  • Have a happy and healthy new year!

Brown Sugar Shortbread Stars

Brown Sugar Shortbread Stars

January 6: National Shortbread Day and Epiphany

“…for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” ~ Matthew 2:2

Guided only by a wondrous star, three kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) from the Orient (east) made an incredible journey leading westward to visit the King of Kings (Jesus Christ). This biblical account concludes the traditional celebration of the 12 days of Christmas on Epiphany.

To celebrate the Feast Day of the Three Kings, which coincides with National Shortbread Day, we were wise to cut simple star shapes from a brown sugar shortbread recipe. We also sprinkled the cookies with sparkling sugar crystals to give it texture and brilliance, like a star with royal beauty bright.

Bake brown sugar shortbread stars and enjoy both Epiphany and National Shortbread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Southern Living: Incredible Cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar, dark
  • 2 cups flour
  • sparkling white sugar crystals (we used Wilton brand)

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until well blended. Gradually add the flour. Mix well until a dough is formed.  Roll into a ball and flatten into a disc between sheets of waxed paper. Press down with a rolling pin and smooth out the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Stars

Remove from the refrigerator and peel away the top layer of waxed paper. Cut out star shapes on the flattened dough. Use a spatula to transfer the star cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a lightly greased foil). Space the cookies about an inch apart. Continue to re-roll and flatten the scraps of dough and cut more star cookies, refrigerating the dough if it becomes too soft. Sprinkle sugar crystals on top of the star cookies. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden.  Remove from the oven and leave to set for about five minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Stars

Notes

  • We halved the recipe above to feed a small group of friends.
  • We used mini star cutters for this recipe. Other shapes besides stars may be used to cut into the brown sugar cookie dough.
  • Search our blog for other shortbread recipes as well as Epiphany-themed recipes.

Marsala Veal

January 1: New Year’s Day (2015)

Inspired by the announcement that the Pantone company chose “marsala” as the color of the year for 2015, Islander cooked Marsala Veal for our first dinner of the new year—in our new home in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. We had moved from Southwest Texas only a few weeks ago during the hectic holiday season and are still organizing our kitchen and pantry.

According to Pantone, “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

We blogged about Marsala Chicken a few years ago. We revisited the recipe and used veal instead of chicken as the “propitious protein” for the new year and, like Pantone’s description of the color, Marsala Veal is a fulfilling meal, especially when served with other auspicious foods, such as noodles (“longevity”) or rice (“riches”).

Enjoy the color of the year as well as this recipe for Marsala Veal. Happy 2015!!!

Recipe
(Adapted from the Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 4-5 veal slices for scallopini
  • flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • olive oil
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, cubed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (baby bella, crimini, porcini, etc.), stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup Marsala wine (sweet instead of dry)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with water to form a paste to thicken the sauce)
  • ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped and for optional garnish

 

Directions

Dredge the veal in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Fry the veal until both sides are slightly browned, being careful not to overcook the slices or they will not be as tender. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. In the same skillet with the drippings, fry the prosciutto.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown. Pour in the Marsala wine and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chicken stock. In a small cup, make a paste with the cornstarch and water. Stir into the sauce to thicken. Put the veal slices back into the skillet. Simmer for about five minutes. Put on a platter and garnish with parsley flakes. Serve with pasta noodles or hot rice with the sauce poured over.

Notes

  • Good luck to Highlander in his new job in the Gulf Coast area of Texas (the reason we moved from our beloved San Antonio). Good luck to all our blog readers in the new year!
  • Search our blog for other new year’s recipes.

 

 

Paprikás Csirke

(Hungarian Paprika Chicken)

Paprika Chicken

January 18: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Hungary

With a large European population in the Chicago suburbs and Northwestern Indiana, there were several interesting international grocery stores where Islander and her Ukrainian friend, Olga W., would often go together to shop for sweets, snacks and spices. Islander bought Hungarian paprika to replace the blander one in her pantry and it made a difference to the dish she cooked by boosting the flavor and color of paprika chicken (also known as chicken paprikash).

Paprika chicken (paprikás csirke) is a popular Hungarian stew. This is a nice recipe to make in observance of the feast days of Hungarian saints, beginning with St. Margaret in January. Jó étvágyat!

 Recipe

(Adapted from Squidoo)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken (drumsticks, thighs, etc.)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1-2 cups water (enough to cover the chicken)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • parsley, chopped (optional garnish)
  • hot cooked pasta noodles or rice

Directions

Dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off excess flour and set aside. In a large pan, melt the butter over low heat. Raise the heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the pan. Keep warm.

Paprika Chicken

In the same pan, brown the chicken, turning to cook all sides. Return the onions to the pan. Pour water over the chicken. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika. Lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for an hour or until the chicken is tender. Check seasonings and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper to taste.

Paprika Chicken

When cooked, remove the chicken, leaving the sauce in the pan. Add the sour cream and stir constantly until smooth (do not allow to curdle). Place the thickened sauce in a plate and add the chicken on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve over hot cooked pasta noodles or rice.

Paprika Chicken

Notes

  • Some calendars list the feast day of St. Margaret of Hungary on January 19 and 26.

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