04 April


Animal Cracker/Cookie Pie

April 18: Animal Crackers Birthday

Animal crackers and cookies were among our favorite childhood snacks. Even now as adults, we still light up like little kids when we find a box of Barnum’s stuffed in our Christmas stockings or open one up as an extra birthday preview present (you know—the prelude to the main gift).

We wanted to nosh on some nostalgia in celebration of Animal Crackers Birthday by making an animal cracker/cookie pie. The pie crust substitutes graham crackers for animal crackers. The filling is frozen pink-lemonade ice cream to match the colors of the animal cookies, although any flavor is good (guava, strawberry, raspberry, etc.). We also decorated the pink pie with white whipped cream swirls and colorful sprinkles for a final, festive touch. Animal cracker/cookie pie looks pretty for a party and is perfect for Animal Crackers Birthday.

Recipe

(Adapted from Real Food Real Kitchens)

For the animal cracker pie crust

  • 1 2/3 cup crushed animal crackers
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Crush the animal crackers (pulse in a food processor or place in plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin) into a fine powder. Place the crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter and honey and mix until everything comes together.

Press in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate, covering the sides and bottom well. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze the pie crust to make it firmer (optional).

For the pink lemonade ice cream filling

  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • ½ – 1 can frozen pink lemonade juice concentrate, thawed (to taste)
  • few drops of red food coloring

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla ice cream with the pink lemonade (½ – 1 can according to tartness and taste). Add a few drops of red food coloring to get the desired shade of pink. Spread the filling mixture into the pie crust. Cover and freeze until firm.

For the decorations

  • whipped cream
  • colorful sprinkles
  • frosted pink and white animal cookies

Directions

Swirl some whipped cream on the edges of the frozen pie (we used Wilton tip 1M and a decorator’s piping bag). Sprinkle some colorful non-pareils on the pie. Garnish with frosted pink and white animal cookies. Freeze until ready to slice and serve.

Notes

  • Learn more about the history of animal crackers from the Real Food Real Kitchens website.
  • Learn more about the history of frosted animal cookies from Mother’s Cookies brand website.
  • There are many brands of animal crackers and cookies—even chocolate flavor!

“Soylent Green” Tea Cookies

soylentgreenteacookies

April 1: Soylent Green Day and April Fools’ Day

What a coincidence that Soylent Green Day falls on April Fools’ Day. Why not fool some friends by serving them some “Soylent Green” tea cookies?!

Spoiler alert: Unlike the fictional food depicted in the film, they are not made of people but are made of matcha (Japanese green tea powder), they are not crackers but cookies and they are not mass produced at a mysterious factory but baked in small batches in a home kitchen.

Soylent Green tea cookies are sweet but have an earthy taste about them, which comes from the matcha flavor (or from its movie equivalent the “high-energy plankton gathered from the world’s ocean”). Soylent Green crackers were favored over its predecessor products, Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow. According to movie trivia, the word “soylent” comes from “soy” + “lentils”, implying that the crackers were protein-rich and nutritious. But the world’s ocean was unable to supply enough high-energy plankton to feed the masses so Soylent Green was rationed. Only human remains were a suitable substitute for the plankton-protein but this was not revealed until the film’s climax. Therefore, “Soylent Green is people!”

Have some fun on Soylent Green Day and April Fools’ Day by snacking on Soylent Green tea cookies, watching the classic movie and fooling friends with freaky food.

Recipe

(Adapted from Japanese Cooking 101)

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons matcha
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon soy milk (as in “Soylent”; the original recipe uses regular milk)

Directions

Over a large bowl, sift several times the matcha, cornstarch and cake flour until well blended. In another bowl, cream the butter with both the granulated and powdered sugars. Beat in the two egg yolks.

soylentgreenteacookiessteps1

Mix in the soy milk or milk. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until a cookie dough is formed. Cover in plastic film and refrigerate the dough for at least half an hour.

soylentgreenteacookiessteps2

Divide the dough in two balls. Roll out each between two sheets of waxed paper about ¼ inch thick. Use a 1-inch square cookie cutter to cut out shapes OR slice into perpendicular lines with a pizza cutter or knife to cut out squares. Place the squares on lightly greased baking sheets about an inch apart.

soylentgreenteacookiessteps3

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, being careful not to overbrown the edges. Remove from the oven. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about five minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to a crisp. Serve in rations by placing a few Soylent Green tea cookies in a plastic bag.

soylentgreenteacookiessteps4

Notes

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

(with Streusel Topping)

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

April 7: National Coffee Cake Day

When Islander attended a ladies’ luncheon with a spring theme, she brought over a luscious lemon almond coffee cake with a streusel topping to share with her new acquaintances. Her offering was well received at the potluck and many ladies asked for the recipe. Islander shyly said she would put the recipe and photo tutorial on her food blog, and they were more impressed that she was a blogger (what a subtle way to get more traffic to HI Cookery!). So ladies (and gentlemen)—new friends, as promised, here is the recipe with the photo tutorial for lemon almond coffee cake with streusel topping. The recipe is appropriate to take to springtime potlucks and luncheons as well as to make in observance of National Coffee Cake Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

For the streusel topping

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold, cut into ½-inch pieces)
  • 2 lemons, grated zest
  • ¾ cup almonds, sliced (we used blanched slivered almonds)
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and brown sugar. Cut in the butter and mix until it resembles small peas and coarse crumbs. Add the lemon zest, almonds and extract. Chill in the refrigerator while making the almond coffee cake.

For the lemon almond coffee cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup lemon curd
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2-3 lemons, grated zest
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a larger bowl, cream the butter with sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the lemon curd.

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

Mix in the sour cream, zest and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until well blended (do not over mix).

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

Pour the thick batter into a buttered 9-inch springform pan and spread out evenly. Top with the streusel. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

For the lemon glaze

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Directions

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Let set. Slice and serve with coffee (or tea).

Lemon Almond Coffee Cake

Notes

  • Love lemons? Search our blog for more recipes containing lemons as an ingredient.
  • A new season (spring) is a great time to make new friends! Thanks to all our new blog visitors and subscribers for following HI Cookery (our blog-o-versary is just a few days away on April 11).

Mini Meat (Forfar) Bridies

Meat Bridies April 8: National Empanada Day

Twa bridies, a plen ane an an ingin ane an a.

(Two meat pasties, a plain one and an onion one as well.)

~Scots Dundee Dialect

We have blogged before about empanadas, pierogis, turnovers and dumplings from different cultures. This particular post focuses on the Scottish savory version—a meat bridie.

We usually snack on meat bridies at the Scottish festivals that we attend across North America. Those portable pies are convenient and filling while roaming around the fairgrounds. Though they look like a casual cuisine, meat bridies are also served at weddings, as they are appropriately named for the “bride” (a word possibly derived from the Celtic Saint Brigid). Moreover, its horseshoe shape is considered lucky—especially if it is in the up or U position—and is symbolic of the woman’s womb (bridal fertility).

We also make and serve mini meat bridies to the brides and grooms we sponsor from our church during marriage preparation meetings with them. They appreciate the trivia of this traditional treat associated with the Scottish snack from Highlander’s heritage.

Make some mini meat bridies for bridal showers, teatime, picnics and National Empanada Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Chef James Martin/BBC)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 3 tablespoon beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 packages frozen puff pastry, thawed (we used Pepperidge Farms brand)
  • 1 egg, beaten

 Directions

In a skillet, heat the oil and brown the onions with thyme leaves for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Mix in the mustard powder.

Meat Bridies

Stir in the beef stock and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the stovetop, drain any grease and allow the mixture to cool.

Meat Bridies

On a clean, lightly floured surface, unroll the thawed puff pastry sheets. Flatten to 1/4-inch to smoothen out the seam of the folds. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Flatten into a horseshoe shape (optional). In the middle of the pastry, place a spoonful of filling. Moisten the edges with a little water. Fold over and press the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to crimp and seal.

Meat Bridies

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a few inches apart to allow the pastry to puff up and expand in the oven. Continue making the rest of the mini meat bridies. Beat the egg(s). Brush the tops of each meat bridie with the egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven. Place on a platter and serve hot.

Meat Bridies  

Notes

  • Similar to the meat-and-potato-filled Cornish pasties, Forfar bridies are traditionally made with minced steak, with or without onions, encased in a shortcrust pastry, although flaky (puff) pastry is preferred nowadays. The original recipe uses raw meat before filling the dough, but we sauté our ground beef in seasonings to make sure the filling is cooked through, which saves baking time and prevents the pastry from overbrowning.
  • Some bakers mark the bridies with a hole before baking to indicate the filling—one hole for plain (meat only) and two holes for meat-and-onions; hence, the Scots Dundee dialect statement above.
  • Unbaked meat bridies may be frozen first, then baked at a later time.
  • The origins of meat bridies are uncertain. But one account is that they originated in Forfarshire (now Angus County) and are called Forfar bridies. Another story is that they were named after Margaret Bridie, also from Forfarshire (then Glamis, Scotland), who sold them at the Buttermarket in the 1850s.
  • J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan”, mentioned Forfar bridies in “Sentimental Tommy”. He was born in Kirriemuir near Forfarshire.

Garlic Chicken (Local Hawaiian Style)

Garlic Chicken

April 19: National Garlic Day

Garlic chicken (local Hawaiian style) is one of the dishes that Islander and her brother look forward to eating when they visit their parents back on Oahu. They usually order the entrée from En Fuego Restaurant in Kapolei and Side Street Inn on Kapahulu Avenue, although other eateries have their own version of crispy chicken pieces tossed in a distinctive, tasty-garlicky-sweet-soy-sauce. Onolicious!

Islander learned how to make garlic chicken for her family and local friends on the mainland who were craving this flavorful dish from their Hawaii home. Garlic chicken is great to serve at get-togethers with ‘ohana as well as on National Garlic Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland)

For the garlic marinade and sauce

  • ½ cup garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, sliced
  • 1 cup soy sauce (we used Aloha Shoyu)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

Chop the garlic. Slice the green onions, reserving a few pieces for garnishing the finished dish. In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.

Garlic Chicken

Lower the heat and add the garlic and green onion. Add the sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the stovetop and cool for 30 minutes.

Garlic Chicken

For the crispy chicken

  • Garlic marinade (ingredients above)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying

Directions

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Strain the cooled marinade over the chicken. Let stand for 15 minutes. Reserve about ½ cup of marinade for the finishing sauce. Discard the marinade in which the chicken was soaked. In a shallow dish, combine the flour and cornstarch. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Mix well. Dredge the chicken pieces in the mixture, making sure they are well coated.

Garlic Chicken

Deep fry the chicken in batches until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with the remaining sauce. Dish out and garnish with green onions.

Garlic Chicken

Notes

  • For a stronger flavor, mince a clove of fresh garlic and mix it into the sauce before tossing it with fried chicken pieces.
  • Get more garlic recipes by searching our blog.

Lilikoi Butter (Passion Fruit Curd)

Lilikoi Butter

April 15: St. Damien Day (Hawaii)

Hawaii has a lot of aloha/love for St. Damien of Molokai. He is honored in the 50th state twice—on April 15, his death day, and on May 10, his universal feast day. The Belgian priest was comPASSIONate towards Hawaii’s “outcasts” (those afflicted with Hansen’s disease/leprosy) in the late 19th century. His sacrifice earned him canonization on October 11, 2009.

In celebration of St. Damien’s passion and devotion to his ministry, we made passion fruit curd, also known as lilikoi butter in Hawaii. The recipe below is adapted from a cook book that Islander bought at the Damien and Marianne Heritage Center in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii. Proceeds from the sales of this cook book and other items at the heritage center go toward the museum and preservation of the history of St. Damien and Blessed Marianne Cope.

Prepare passion fruit curd/lilikoi butter in observance of St. Damien Day. Aloha!

Recipe

(Adapted from Molokai Catholic Community Cook Book)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cup passion fruit pulp, purée or juice
  • 4 eggs

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter slowly (do not brown or burn). Add the sugar and the passion fruit liquid.

Lilikoi Butter

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add a drop of the passion fruit liquid mix to the eggs, stirring constantly, to temper them. Slowly pour the beaten eggs into the saucepan and keep stirring. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes to thicken, stirring slowly and patiently. Strain any egg residue into clean jars. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Serve with toast or crackers.

Lilikoi Butter

Notes

  • Other recipes include the passion seeds from the fresh fruit to give the curd a nice crunch.
  • Learn more about the religious symbolism of the passion fruit flower at the Passion Flower Shop website.
  • Make Molokai-Mainland Sweet Potato Palau as another recipe on St. Damien Day today or on his feast day on May 10.

In Ovis Apalis

(Roman Boiled Eggs)

Roman Eggs

April 21: Birthdate of Rome (753 BC)

Highlander chose to spend his 50th birthday in Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice) a few years ago as a most memorable milestone trip. We went all over The Eternal City (churches, piazzas, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, the Vatican, cafes and more) and were awed by the history, art, architecture and culture!

On Capitoline Hill, we saw the famous statue of the she-wolf suckling twins Romulus and Remus, the mythological symbol of the founding of Rome. According to the popular legend, the unwanted twin sons of the war god Mars and a Vestal “virgin” were cast off into the River Tiber. A she-wolf found the babies and nursed them as her own, until a shepherd came and raised them. When the brothers grew up, they fought over a site where they were to establish a city. Romulus killed Remus and became king of the Italian capital that bears his name.

Romulus and Remus

In observance of the birthdate of Rome, we ate an ancient appetizer called In Ovis Apalis (boiled eggs with a pine nut sauce). There is an old Latin saying “ab ovo usque ad malum” which translates to “from the egg to the fruit,” suggesting the courses of an Italian meal from the beginning to the end (or from antipasti, primi, secondi and all the way to dolci).

Do as the ancient Romans did and eat In Ovis Apalis to celebrate Rome’s birthday!

Recipe

(Adapted from PBS)

Ingredients

  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 2 ounces stone pine kernels (pine nuts)
  • 2-3 tablespoons vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)
  • 1-2 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of ground black pepper

Directions

Boil the eggs. Cool down. Remove the shells. Cut them in half lengthwise. Set aside to make the sauce.

Roman Eggs

Toast the pine nuts by sautéing them in a pan till lightly browned (about 5 minutes or less). Remove to cool. In a measuring cup or little bowl, combine the vinegar, honey and pepper. Stir in the pine nuts. Place the sauce in a small dish or serving boat to accompany the boiled eggs. Pour the sauce on the eggs and eat immediately to avoid making the yolks soggy.

Roman Eggs

Notes

  • In Ovis Apalis is also a good recipe to use up leftover boiled Easter eggs.
  • Ancient Romans added a pinch of lovage (celery leaf) to the sauce recipe.
  • We toasted the pine nuts to accentuate its flavor. Soaking them in the sauce somewhat tones down the acid in the vinegar.
  • Highlander’s birthday is on April 20. Our trip to Italy for his 50th year coincided with Roman (and national) celebrations around the week of April 21. Several museums and public events were free or discounted then, allowing us to take advantage of what the country’s tourism industry had to offer.
  • Search our blog for other Italian recipes.

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