09 September


Maple Leaf Cookies

September 23: Autumn Equinox/Fall Season Begins

Happy fall, y’all! Now that we live in Texas, after having resided in Illinois and New Jersey for a few years, we miss seeing the colors of the leaves on the trees change when the seasons and temperatures transition from summer to fall. Even though a visit to Lost Maples in Vanderpool, Texas, allows us to experience the glorious fall foliage in the southwest, it is not the same or as abundant as when we lived in colder climates. But Islander still appreciates the vibrant and colorful leaves on the mainland during the autumn season that she did not see while growing up in year-round tropical Hawaii.

To celebrate the arrival of autumn, Islander made maple-flavored cookies. She texturized them with a leaf veining mat and used cans of edible color spray to decorate them since she does not own an expensive airbrush machine. The color mist can be layered to give variations in the maple leaf cookies and add natural beauty to these seasonal sweet treats.

For an edible equinox dessert this fall, make maple-flavored cookies misted with glorious autumn colors.

Recipe

(Adapted from Kitchen Lane)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons maple flavoring
  • 3 cups flour (all purpose white)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • fondant (golden yellow, light green, orange, burgundy)
  • powdered sugar for dusting the surface
  • Wilton brand color mist spray (orange, green, red, gold)

Directions

In a bowl, mix the butter with sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and milk. Add the maple flavoring.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the other ingredients and blend well to form a dough. Divide dough in thirds and roll into a ball. Then flatten each ball into a disc and place between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼-inch thick (we used ¼-inch thick acrylic sticks as guides). Stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30-45 minutes). They may also be frozen for 15-20 minutes.

Take one stack of flattened dough out of the refrigerator or freezer. Peel away both front and back to loosen, leaving the dough on one sheet of the waxed or parchment paper. Cut out the maple leaf shapes. Place on foil-lined greased cookie pan about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the cookie pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut more shapes, refrigerating if the dough gets too soft. The dough needs to be cold and firm in order to retain its maple leaf shape. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven when done and let sit on the pan for about five minutes. Transfer each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Using the same maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes on fall colored fondant (roll out to 1/16-inch thickness on a clean surface that has been dusted with a bit of powdered sugar to prevent from sticking. Cover the fondant maple leaf cutouts with plastic wrap to avoid them drying out while working on assembling the cookies.

Place a fondant maple leaf cutout on a leaf veining mat (we used Wilton brand flower impression mold). Lightly press to create the leaf vein texture. Brush maple flavoring on the cookie (see Notes). Position the fondant on top of the cookie and smooth out the edges with warm fingers. Repeat for all cookies.

Line a cookie sheet with paper towels. Place a few cookies on top of the paper towels. Shake the color mist can and lightly spray back and forth on the maple leaf cookies. Layer some of the other fall color mist sprays. Let the cookies dry completely before serving.

Notes

  • Instead of maple leaf flavoring, use clear piping gel or water to position the fondant shapes on the cookie.
  • Color mist sprays were our substitute for airbrushed cookies. The color mist shows up better on lighter fondant. Make sure the kitchen area is well ventilated or use the color mist sprays outside.
  • We could have used oak leaf-shaped cookie cutters but we are partial to maple leaves as this is the symbol of Highlander’s birth country, Canada.
  • Some years the autumnal equinox falls on the date of September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Make these cookies and other maple recipes on National Maple Syrup Day on December 17.

Rum Punch

September 20: National Rum Punch Day

There is an old poem about Planter’s rum punch that we followed to make a classic cocktail for National Rum Punch Day. The beverage was invented at the bar of Planter’s House hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, and the poem was published in the New York Times on August 8, 1908:

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

Modern adaptations of this recipe still use limes, something sweet (such as simple syrup or grenadine, the latter more for its fruit punch color), Old Jamaica (we used Caribbean rum) and something weak (ice cubes for a stronger taste or water to dilute the drink). Just remember 1-2-3-4 for measuring the ingredients, whether making rum punch for one or a crowd. Happy National Rum Punch Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 measure/ounce of lime juice, fresh squeezed (around 2 limes)
  • 2 measures/ounces grenadine or simple syrup
  • 3 measures/ounces rum
  • 4 measures/ounces cold water
  • ice cubes

Directions

Slice the lime(s). Reserve a few for garnishing the glass (optional). Squeeze out the lime juice. In a glass, fill halfway with ice cubes. Pour in the lime juice. Add the grenadine or simple syrup. Stir in the rum and cold water. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Notes

  • Search our blog for other classic cocktail recipes.

No-Churn Coconut Ice Cream

September 2: World Coconut Day

Islander and her brother sometimes would send their friends on the mainland a unique message from Hawaii on a painted hollowed-out coconut. The happily surprised recipients treasure their tropical gift and greeting because it is a very different and personalized postcard.

Islander grew up eating coconuts—from the fresh young ones that her Daddy would pick from the palm trees to the store-bought hairy aged ones in the shell that need to be cracked open and grated. She has drunk coconut water with a straw straight from the fruit (and juice boxes and pouches off island) and used coconut milk in a number of sweet and savory recipes. And now she makes a no-churn coconut ice cream using only 2-3 ingredients, including coconut cream.

Just like those coconut postcards being a treasured tropical treat, no-churn coconut ice cream is perfect for observing World Coconut Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
  • coconut flakes (optional)

Directions

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cream of coconut. Place in a loaf pan or ice cream container. Cover and freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Sprinkle with coconut flakes (optional).

Notes

  • Coconut flakes could be sweetened or unsweetened and toasted or untoasted. They are optional but add a pretty garnish and tasty texture to this ice cream.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract for an even stronger coconut flavor.
  • Search our blog for other no-churn ice cream recipes.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing coconuts.

 

Apple Roses

September-November: National Apple Months

Highlander’s late father and late sister, Nancy Z., and her family lived in Tyler, Texas, the “Rose Capital of the World”. While visiting this East Texas city, we toured the beautiful Tyler Municipal Rose Garden and Tyler Rose Museum. The garden officially opened in 1952 after several years of preparing the grounds. There are 14 acres featuring 35,000 rose bushes and more than 500 varieties of roses. The 7,500 square-foot museum, opened 40 years later in 1992, is located by the garden and showcases Tyler’s rose-growing industry and regal gowns, crowns and memorabilia collected from the annual fall Rose Festival (since 1933).

Inspired by the flowers from Tyler, we made “apple roses”, a dessert using puff pastry and thinly sliced apples. This is a simple and sweet reminder of the town where Highlander’s dad and sister are resting in peace. Apple roses are also appropriate to make during National Apple Months.

Recipe

(Adapted from Puff Pastry)

Ingredients

  • 2 apples (red delicious)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Directions

Fill a large bowl halfway with water. Stir in the lemon juice (this helps prevent the apple slices from browning too much). Wash and dry the apples. Cut them in half down the middle. Discard the core. Cut into paper thin slices (if it is too thick, the slices will not be as flexible when rolling). Microwave for about 3-5 minutes to soften the apples. Set aside.

Unwrap the thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured clean surface. Use a rolling pin to stretch the dough to a 12×9 inch rectangle. Slice into 6 strips (2×9 inches long). In a small bowl, combine two tablespoons of water with the apricot preserves. Microwave for about a minute. Stir. Brush this mixture on the strips of puff pastry.

Drain the apple slices. Pat dry. Place an apple slice partly above the top edge of the strip. Place another apple slice to overlap with the previous slice. Repeat until you reach the end of the strip. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Take the bottom edge of the puff pastry and fold up in half. Carefully roll the strip from one end to the other.

Set in the well of a lightly greased cupcake pan. Continue making the rest of the apple roses. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the puff pastry is cooked through (see Notes). Remove the apple roses from the pan and let cool slightly on wire racks. Place on plates. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Notes

  • To prevent the apple skins from burning too much, remove from the oven after 30 minutes and cover loosely with foil. Continue to bake until the puff pasty is cooked through.
  • Try the rose-flavored tea cupcakes or the rosé wine cake recipes.
  • Search our blog for other apple recipes.

Dutch Baby

September 26: National Pancake Day

Highlander’s family loves Yorkshire pudding. They regularly ate the eggy side dish with roast beef, gravy and potatoes for their Sunday suppers. Now whenever we have a family reunion with them, this meal makes the gathering nostalgic and special.

Very similar to the English Yorkie puddings and popovers is a Dutch Baby. It is actually a German (as in Deutsch/sounds like Dutch) pancake. It is easy to make and fun to see how it puffs up when it is baked. Personalize this pancake with various fruits (berries, bananas, cooked apples in cinnamon, etc.) for a delightfully different breakfast. Sweeten with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Try a puffy pancake—a Dutch Baby—for National Pancake Day.

Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar
  • berries (optional)

Directions

Use part of the butter to generously grease the sides a 10-inch round pan. Put the rest of the butter in the middle of the pan and place it in an preheated oven at 400 degrees. After five minutes, check to see if the butter is completely melted, being careful not to burn or brown it. While the butter is melting in the oven, mix together the flour and milk in a bowl. Beat in the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Blend until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan over the hot melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes until the Dutch Baby is puffed up. Remove from the oven. The Dutch Baby will deflate a bit. Blot out extra butter on top with paper towels. Slice into quarters and put on plates. Sprinkle powdered sugar over it. Garnish with berries.

Notes

  • National Pancake Day is observed in the United States on September 26. International Pancake Day is celebrated in various English-speaking Christian countries around the world on Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, as part of Mardi Gras festivals, carnivals and pre-Lent celebrations, and is a movable feast day.
  • Thanks to blog reader, Robert R., who suggested trying a Dutch Baby recipe.
  • Try our blueberry and cherry popover recipes.
  • Search our blog for more posts on pancakes.

 

Crispy Gau Gee

September 26: National Dumpling Day

In a past post on Chop Suey Day (August 29), we mentioned that Islander’s first family home in Hawaii when she was a baby was an apartment in Aiea, Oahu, located in a strip mall. She and her ‘ohana had lived above a Chinese restaurant named Waimalu Chop Suey. Chop suey was a fad food back in the day so the restaurant needed to re-brand itself to stay relevant. Waimalu Chop Suey is now famous for its giant, crispy pork-filled dumplings and calls itself the “House of Gau Gee”.

Now we make mini gau gee on the mainland to satisfy Islander’s Chinese and local food cravings. The size is smaller than the big ones at Waimalu Chop Suey to ensure that the pork filling is cooked all the way through. We fold them in the easy and traditional rectangle shape, but the dumplings can be turned into won tons as well.

These delightful dumplings make delicious appetizers and noodle toppers (gau gee mein) and are perfect pouches for observing National Dumpling Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Foodland)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ pound shrimp, fresh, raw, peeled, deveined and chopped fine
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 can (4 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and chopped fine
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • won ton wrappers

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the ground pork with the shrimp and green onions.

Add the water chestnuts, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce and soy sauce.

Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend (optional). Separate the won ton wrappers. Place a tablespoon of the pork mixture and stretch it across the middle of a wrapper. Dip finger in water and moisten along the edges. Fold over in half and press to seal. This may be done assembly-style.

Place between sheets of waxed paper. Freeze for 30 minutes to hold its shape (optional). Deep fry in hot oil at 350 degrees F until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce (sweet and sour, duck, chili or hot mustard).

Notes

 Search our blog for more Chinese and dumpling recipes.

Fried Grits Cake

September 22: National Grits for Breakfast Day

Having lived in Oklahoma and now in Texas, we have found grits to be on many restaurants’ breakfast menus. Grits are corn that has been ground into a coarse meal and boiled. They are very popular in the South and Southwest of the United States, having originated from the Native Americans who ate maize-types of porridges. We would eat grits for breakfast instead of oatmeal as a change but they were kind of bland and boring to us. But when fried into cakes, grits are great!!! Serve as a side dish with eggs and bacon or sausage for a Southern-style morning meal on National Grits for Breakfast Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked grits (including water)
  • 4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • oil for frying

Directions

Cook grits according to the package instructions, reducing the water by about ½ cup. When done, stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with foil, leaving a little overhang for the “handles”. Grease the foil with butter or cooking spray. Pour in the cooked grits and spread evenly. The grits should be no thicker than ½ inch. Cool completely (may be refrigerated) to solidify.

Lift the foil from its handles and place on cutting board. Slice the solidified grits into squares (may use circle or cookie cutters for different shapes). Dredge a piece into flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Then dip into the beaten egg and back into the flour. Press lightly into the panko, shaking off excess.

Fry in hot oil on one side until brown and crispy. Carefully flip to brown and crisp the other side of the grits cake. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot for breakfast.

 

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