Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Return of the RWF

A quick note to say hey! After a two-year hiatus, I'm back and bringing a friend. We're looking forward to sharing our experiences as we run our kitchens like they are a ring in the circus. A very hungry ring.

Friday, February 4, 2011


This cookie is new to me. The Whirligig. I found the hand-written list of ingredients and instructions on an index card among my grandmother's recipes, no original source listed. It's a pastry-like peanut butter dough, covered in melted chocolate, handled like a jelly roll, briefly chilled, sliced, and then baked.

Messy? Sure, in the first stage. Surprisingly, once chilled, they did not drip or leak chocolate, even as they baked. Worth it? Yeah, I think so. They received the husband seal of approval.

A note: the dough crumbled a little, especially on that first push away from the wax paper. I pressed on, and it rolled more easily after that. The dough might benefit from a little refrigeration prior to rolling, or a little less flour.

Another note: produced a crisp cookie.

Whirligig Cookies


1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

7 oz. choco bits, melted and slightly cooled (I used chopped dark chocolate)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, cream shortening, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add egg and mix until fluffy. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Dough will be stiff.

Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper into a 1/4" thick rectangle (dough was stiff enough that I did not dust with additional flour), with a long edge close to you. Remove top sheet of wax paper. Spread chocolate over the top of the dough. Starting at the edge closest to you, using the wax paper as a support, roll the dough jellyroll style. Carefully, continuing to use the wax paper, lift the roll onto a baking sheet or tray and place in freezer to chill about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Remove tray from freezer. Slice dough into 1/4" thick ovals or rounds and place on parchment paper- or Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to rest on baking tray for 5 minutes, then place on cooling rack.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Slow oven

While perusing Grandma's cookbooks and recipes, I noticed that oven temperatures are often not given. Instead, the recipes instruct the cook to bake in a slow, moderate, or hot oven. Here's how one might have done that with a gas oven. How amazed would my grandmother have been to see a machine that not only regulates temperature while it bakes my bread, but kneads and proofs the dough as well.

Rules for Baking in Gas Oven
(from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, 1925 edition
originally by Fannie Merritt Farmer, then Cora D. Parker)
1920s Wedgewood

  Hot oven requires 2 burners lighted.
  Moderate oven requires 2 burners, halfway on.
  Slow oven requires 1 burner halfway on.
  For Baking Loaf Bread. Light both burners five minutes. Put loaf on upper shelf. After ten minutes turn off back burner and turn front burner down one-fourth. Gradually reduce heat until it is only one-third on. Turn light entirely off five minutes before bread is done.
  Small loaves bake in forty minutes.
  Large loaves bake in sixty minutes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Grand Cookery

This winter I accepted a treasure.

One of my aunts gave me a box full of recipes and cookbooks, many once belonging to my grandmother. I skimmed through the contents a while back, but with the pending Snowpocalypse*, I feel inspired to dig.

*or 'pending Snowmaggedon'.**
**Or 'pending attack by Snowzilla'.*** 
***Or replace 'Snowzilla' with 'Mega-Blizzard'.****
****I want to give the thing the benefit of the doubt. A friendly name. Nick. Nick the Blizzard.

My aunt highlighted a couple of items, including The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1925. Ragged, fused, and unbound pages make it impossible to say whether this quote would have been read before or after the dedication.

Cookery means the knowledge of Medea and of Circe and of Helen and of the Queen of Sheba. It means the knowledge of all herbs and fruits and balms and spices, and all that is healing and sweet in the fields and groves and savory in meats. It means carefulness and inventiveness and willingness and readiness of appliances. It means the economy of your grandmothers and the science of the modern chemist; it means much testing and no wasting; it means English thoroughness and French art and Arabian hospitality; and, in fine, it means that you are to be perfectly and always ladies – loaf givers. - Ruskin
I doubt that any of my other cookbooks, not even the most treasured or delightful, start in such a grand style: mythical and biblical allusions, a sense of charge and purpose, a reference to cultures, and finally, etymology. What wonders will be contained herein?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quick and Easy German Flavors

Edited from an original post at Shindigs, your site for party moxie. 

"Germans love their pork," agreed my vegetarian friend. "When I was there, pork was everywhere, but I never saw a pig. Not one."

"Do they keep 'em in the basement?" I wondered.

She made the 'it's a mystery wrapped in bacon' face.

We were talking about Oktoberfest for vegetarians. It's tough to include them in a culinary celebration of the land of wurst and schnitzel, but I was willing to give it a go. For the sake of the more carnivorously-inclined at my home, I added about a pound of sautéed chicken, a couple of tablespoons of crumbled bacon, and served it over brown rice. It was well received.

No-Pork and Beans

1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin
8-10 medium-sized mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 (14-16 oz.) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

Seasoning mix
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of ground mace (nutmeg or allspice would be acceptable substitutes)

Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. After butter has melted, add sliced onions and  cook until lightly browned and soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and sprinkle with some of the seasoning mix (1/2 teaspoon) until mushrooms start to brown. Add diced apple and heat for 5 minutes. Add rinsed, drained beans and sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning mix. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Serve with bavarian mustard and sauerkraut.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Real World Party

If you are looking for party moxie (menus, recipes, plans and schemes), please swing by Shindigs. This recipe is from the Oktoberfest menu:

Aunt Wannie's Potato Salad

3 stalks celery, washed, trimmed, and finely diced
2 medium radishes, washed, trimmed, and finely diced
1/4 cup minced onion
3/4 cup finely diced sweet pickles
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice if you ned to thin it out
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 shakes black pepper
4 cups washed, peeled, cooked, cooled, cubed potatoes

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Don't be lazy and skip this step: you want to toss the ingredients as little as possible once you add the potatoes, or else your potatoes will break down.

In a second bowl, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, salt and pepper. Yes, it's a lot of salt, but the potatoes like it. Even though you salted your potato water.

Place about half of the potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle about half of the veggies over the top, then about half of the eggs. Pour about half of the dressing over this. Repeat the layering process, and then gently toss to coat the potatoes. Refrigerate and let chill for 4-24 hours before serving.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School Lunch Dinner Night

I've always wanted to do a Back to School Lunch Dinner Night. We did it yesterday and it was a blast. I let the kids pick out a new sandwich to try, and then we made a sample of everyone's picks as our Friday night supper.

The clear winner, with the entire house agreeing 'I'd eat that', was a variation of the peanut butter berry-wich:

Two slices whole-grain bread
1 Tablespoon almond butter
1 Tablespoon neufchatel cream cheese, softened
Handful of semi-frozen raspberries
Drizzle of honey

My oldest and I loved these roast beef and spicy tomato chutney rolls. The chutney is absolutely worth making: the red pepper flakes give it a kick, and the vinegar and sugar keep it well-balanced. A perfect use for tomatoes and sweet peppers. Highly recommended.

We were inspired by this recipe, and made a roll-up with cocktail shrimp, tails removed, tossed in a bottled light Asian dressing with a little lime and red pepper flakes, topped with a chiffonade of butter lettuce and fresh basil. My husband liked this one best.

Those three filled us up, so we saved these waffled ham & cheese sandwiches for our second breakfast this morning. Our bread needed to be a little thinner to get the dish picture-perfect, but regardless of their unphotogenic-ness, they were delicious hot. We'll see how they fare after a bit of time in the fridge.

We picked out some snacks to make, too, and we'll be doing that later in the week.

I'd love to know: what are your favorite portable lunch foods?