Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

by Danica Waters

 

I have sadly forgotten who Mrs. F.E. Smith was, as well as what relation she had to my family; whatever relation it happened to be happened a long, long time ago.  What I can tell you is that this recipe has been passed down through my family for at least three generations, and it came from this particular someone named Mrs. F.E. Smith.

 

During one of the last visits I had with my Nana, we got to “talking shop” (which, in this case, means recipes) and ended up going through her antique, foot-long metal recipe file.

 

(Yes, it was a metal box that was approximately twelve inches long.  And it was full.)

 

While she pulled out various recipes she thought I’d enjoy, I recognized this recipe from my mother’s own recipe box.  My Nana waved her hand and told me matter-of-factly in her sweet Southern drawl to “not even bother with any other peanut butter cookie recipe, because this one was the best there was.”

 

This recipe produces a perfect peanut butter cookie.  Not too sweet, just salty enough, and equally delicious with a glass of cold milk as with a cup of hot cocoa…

 

Enjoy!

 

Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

 

½ C white sugar

½ C brown sugar

½ C butter

½ C chunky peanut butter

1 egg slightly beaten

1-1/4 C flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

 

In large bowl, combine sugars, butter, and peanut butter.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Sift together dry ingredients and combine with the peanut butter mixture.

 

Mold dough into a long, even roll and wrap in waxed paper.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm.

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

 

Slice to approximately 3/8 of an inch thickness, and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.  Using the tines of a fork, create a grid-shaped decoration, if desired.

 

Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Posted November 18th, 2011.

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Cranberry Nut Bread

by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post

 

I will never forget the day I first tried my hand at making cranberry bread.  I’d discovered this fantastic heirloom recipe in a fall issue of Taste of Home Magazine, and I was particularly excited because I happened to be experiencing one of those rare, breathtaking moments when the house was gleaming, the laundry was done, the kids were clean and contentedly immersed in their paper dolls upstairs, and the groceries were in-house – all before it started to snow.

I put some CD’s on shuffle, pulled out all the ingredients, and prepared for a fun afternoon of baking.  All was going swimmingly well until I actually pondered the recipe.

 

It said to put the fresh cranberries with the sugar and orange peel in a pot, and bring it to a boil.

 

No water.

 

No butter.

 

Just cranberries, orange peel, and sugar.

 

Something had to be wrong.

 

Call me crazy, but fresh cranberries look like little red leather balls.  They don’t squirt when you pinch them.  Having never worked with fresh cranberries before, I cut one open just to see if I was missing something.

 

Nope.

 

It was still the equivalent of a little red leather ball.

 

I’ll admit I am a person who tends to over-think things.  I also will reluctantly admit to having a few trust issues, which I personally prefer to label “Critical Thinking”. And my Critical Thinking Cap was spinning with visions of little red leather balls coated in a goopy sugar-brittle mess that would take weeks to clean.  Heaven knows there was nothing to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan!

 

I called my mom to see if she had any insight into the world of cranberries, certain that the recipe was missing a step or some ingredients or something.  Mom told me I had trust issues, and I should just do what the recipe said to do.

 

I told her I would enlist her assistance in cleaning up the mess if it didn’t work.

 

She said to bring her a loaf when it did.

 

It did.

The insides of those little red leather balls melted like butter once I turned on the heat; the internal pressure made the skins “pop”, and my terror visions of singed sugar-brittle turned into a ruby-colored mash that made the whole house smell like Christmas.  I was ecstatic.

 

So now we know.  And I have pictures to prove it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This recipe is an annual favorite.   It is a rich, moist, dark bread with the perfect balance of sweet-tart and savory, and it is equally delicious with a smear of cream cheese on top as it is served all by itself.  Best of all, it takes mere minutes to make, and it freezes ahead like a charm.

 

Enjoy!

 

Cranberry Nut Bread

(Taste of Home Magazine, December/January 1995 issue)

 

2-1/2 C halved fresh or frozen cranberries, divided (note:  over the years, I’ve taken to leaving my cranberries whole – it gives a chunkier, jewel-studded texture to the bread)

2/3 C sugar

2 tsp grated orange peel

2-1/4 C all-purpose flour

¾ C light brown sugar

1 Tbsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ C sour cream

¼ C butter or margarine, melted

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans preferred)

 

In a saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups cranberries, sugar, and orange peel.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the cranberries are soft.  Remove from the heat; stir in the remaining berries and set aside.

In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Combine eggs, sour cream and melted butter; stir into dry ingredients until blended.  Fold in cranberries and pecans.  Pour into two greased 8-1/2 in x 4-1/2 in x 2-1/2 in loaf pans (mini loaf pans and muffin tins work, too – just adjust your baking time accordingly!).

Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests done.

 

Photo Credits:

Cranberry photo courtesy www.vegetarian-nutrition.info via Google images

All other graphics by the Allspice Chronicles

 

Posted November 16th, 2011.

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Chipotle Cornbread

by Danica Waters

It is cold and wet today, just like the weathermen promised.  The rain is coming down in big, splashy drops and I must confess: .I absolutely love days like today.   Ella Fitzgerald is simmering on my speakers, a pot of dee-lish Lentil Soup simmering on the stove, and this spicy little number will be the perfect accompaniment to all of it.

You can make this cornbread with any type of salsa; it’s milder and more innocent with a good green chile salsa or even  a basic tomato-jalapeno salsa.  But there’s something wicked and deliberate about the smoky nature of chipotles.  Be careful – the heat will sneak up on you, so if you’re serving kids or a crowd, either use the salsa sparingly or only marble half the batch.

Enjoy!

 

Chipotle Cornbread

1 cup Yellow Corn Meal (I use Alber’s)

1 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 C milk

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 – 3 Tbsp chipotle salsa, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, oil and egg in small bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.

Spoon chipotle salsa in small mounds onto the cornbread surface; using a knife, swirl salsa through batter to create marbled effect.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.

NOTE Recipe may be doubled. Use greased 13×9-inch baking pan; bake as above.

 

FOR MUFFINS:
SPOON batter into 10 to 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes.

Posted November 11th, 2011.

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The Best Traditional Scones In The World

by Danica Waters

Right.  I know I’ve already published a really fine recipe for scones.  But I’ve gotta’ be honest and recommend that you scratch it, because THIS IS THE BEST RECIPE FOR TRADITIONAL SCONES.  Like, EVER. 

Surprises like this are what keep me fascinated with cooking:  just about the time you think you know what it’s all about, something new comes along that’s even better.  Here’s the back story:  the day before yesterday, we stopped in to my in-laws’ home for afternoon tea.  My mother-in-law, who always sets out a beautiful selection of homemade cakes and sweets to accompany the tea, was particularly excited about a new recipe she’d discovered.  Given that my mother-in-law is a fabulous Scottish cook, when she gets excited about a recipe (especially for something like scones), I pay close attention.

It seems that the author of this particular recipe took all the best elements of her Scottish grandmother’s scones and combined them with all the best elements of the official scone recipe of London’s world-renowned Savoy Hotel.  She nailed it.  These traditional scones are perfect in flavor, body and texture.  They are also beautiful to look at.

While you can easily substitute raisins for dried currants, I highly recommend using the latter if you can find them.  With the holidays coming, keep in mind that these scones would serve as a welcome accompaniment to a gift box filled with an assortment of fine teas, coffees, or even hot chocolate.  They are easily reheated and go equally well  served with butter and jam as they do served with a mild cheese (such as Havarti) and a bit of turkey or ham.

 

Enjoy!

 

The Best Traditional Scones In The World

(by FRIENDLYFOOD, as seen on www.allrecipes.com)

 

1-1/4 C all purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 C white sugar

1/8 tsp salt

5 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 C dried currants or raisins

1/2 C milk

1/4 C sour cream

1 egg

1 Tbsp milk

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl.  Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it is in pea-sized lumps.  Stir in the currants.  Mix together 1/2 C milk and sour cream in a measuring cup.  Pour all at once into the dry ingredients; stir gently until blended.  Note:  overworking the dough results in terribly tough scones!!!

With floured hands, pat scone dough into balls 2-3 inches across, depending on what size you prefer.  Place onto a greased baking sheet, and flatten slightly.  Let the scones barely touch each other.  Whisk together the egg and 1 Tbsp milk; brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.  Let them rest about 10 minutes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown (not deep brown).  Break each scone apart, or slice in half.  Serve with butter or clotted cream and a selection of jams – or even plain.

Note:  Scones can be reheated if not eaten promptly by wrapping in aluminum foil and heated through in the oven, or by simply cutting in half and placing in the toaster.

 

Posted November 2nd, 2011.

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Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of Cornell University

 

By now, we should all be  familiar with the wildly popular Mexican version of a Seven Layer Dip.  This recipe is an equally delicious alternative, featuring the warm, fresh flavors of the Mediterranean for an exciting change of pace.

To round out a Mediterranean hors d’ oeuvres table, try serving this delicious dip along with a platter of Falafel balls, tzatziki, a gourmet selection of olives, and some baklava.

Enjoy!

 

Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

Serves 8

1-1/2 6-inch pita pockets, cut into 12 wedges, tops and bottoms separated  to make 24 wedges in all
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Kalamata olives, finely chopped

1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/4 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint

1/2  C crumbled feta cheese

 

Make Pita Wedges:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on a large baking sheet without overlapping the wedges. Lightly brush each wedge with olive oil; bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly crisp (the pita wedges will crisp more as they cool).  Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

 

Make Seven Layer Dip:
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas until coarsely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the lemon juice and process until blended. Add the water and pepper. Process until smooth.

Arrange the spinach on a serving plate. Gently spread the chickpea mixture on top, leaving a border of the spinach. Sprinkle the oregano over the spread. Arrange the tomato on the spread. Top, in order, with the cucumber, onion, olives, mint, and feta.  Serve with the pita wedges.

Tip: The pita wedges and chickpea spread can be made up to one day ahead. Store the pita wedges in an airtight container at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate the chickpea mixture. The remaining ingredients can be chopped and stored in the refrigerator up to 8 hours in advance, but the dip shouldn’t be assembled until right before serving.

Posted October 26th, 2011.

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Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Having grown up under the influence of heavy-duty Southern Sensibilities and then steeped in the sweet civility of British living once or twice, I must admit that I have come to truly appreciate the merits of a good pound cake.  While most folks shudder at the thought of what a pound cake can do to a diet, I personally feel better if I’ve got three or four of them tucked away in my freezer for gift giving and emergencies.  And tea.

My Nana was famous for handing out pound cakes to visitors.  It was just what she did.  The mailman came with packages during the summer and received pound cake and lemonade to go.  Mothers would come to pick up their kids after a play date, and they, too, received some version of a delectable pound cake.   A cake walk or a bake sale at the school?  Yep.  Pound cake.  She always spoke to the fact that a good pound cake went with everything, was admired by everyone,  remained virtually indestructible during transport, and always showed up looking good at a party.  While that sounds more like a great travel garment than something you’d eat, go figure; I now find myself collecting great pound cake recipes, baking them in wee tiny pans and putting them away for gift giving, emergencies, and yes, afternoon tea.

This is a lighter version of a pound cake I found on Martha Stewart’s website.  It could easily be made with any type of jam, but is completely smashing with a  fresh blackberry swirl.  As a footnote, I chose to leave my blackberries crushed but not pureed, and the result was fantastic.  Super easy to make ahead and freeze, this is a great way to get a head-start on the holiday season.

Enjoy!

 

Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

(Martha Stewart)

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. (Or, for a more rustic texture, simply crush blackberries and combine with sugar.)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.

 

Posted October 11th, 2011.

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The Ultimate Sour Cream Zucchini Bread

by Danica Waters (image courtesy of www.allrecipes.com)


Several years ago,  a coworker of mine introduced me to the best banana bread I have ever, ever tasted.  She said the secret ingredient was sour cream.  While my mom’s recipe for zucchini bread was already fantastic, I decided to try my hand at adding a bit of sour cream to the recipe.  The results were even more  fantastic.

Preparing for a school bake sale, I decided to make this sweetbread truly decadent,  so I added chocolate chips and dried cranberries and made mini-loaves.  I ended up having to make a second batch, as two of the mini loaves “mysteriously” disappeared when the kids came home from school.   The loaves sold out fast; they look beautiful studded with ruby-colored cranberries and chocolate chunks, and they taste even better!

Note:  if you’re making zucchini bread for a bake sale, be  sure to leave out the nuts from half of the recipe and label accordingly!  There’s lots of folks with allergies and aversions  to nuts out there…

Enjoy!

 

The Ultimate Sour Cream- Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs, beaten

2 C sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 C grated zucchini

3 C  flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 C dairy  sour cream

1  C chocolate chips

1 C dried cranberries

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 9 x 3 x 5 loaf pans, mini loaf pans, or line muffin tins with paper liners, set aside.

In medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, soda, and baking powder; mix well using wire whisk and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add grated zucchini and stir well.  Add dry ingredients a bit at a time, alternating with the sour cream; add desired nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared baking pans.  Larger loaf pans should take approximately 60-65 minutes to bake at 350 degrees F, while baking time for mini loaves and muffins should be scaled down.  Bread is done when a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Note:  Use up that zucchini!  This sweetbread freezes exceptionally well, and is great to share with neighbors, teachers, and friends!

Posted September 2nd, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

by Danica Waters

After spending a happy, busy weekend experimenting with different variations of stuffed grilled zucchini (so far I’ve done it Italian-style, Asian-style, and with green chiles and Parmesan cheese – yum!), this variation nearly got me a standing ovation.  Folks were placing dibs on leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

The secret ingredient is the tequila in the marinade.  It gets ‘em every time; it deepens the flavors and mingles well with all things grilled.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp chili powder

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tequila

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

 

 

Filling:

1 – 15 oz can black beans

½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut to ¼” dice

2-3 diced green onions

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed from the cob

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp whole cumin seed

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

½ C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 fresh jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced

 

 

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in tequila mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a small sauté pan, sauté minced jalapeno with diced red pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft.  Add cumin seed, allow to cook for a minute to release the flavor of the cumin, and remove from the heat.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients with peppers and cumin and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted September 1st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Green Chile Parmesan

by Danica Waters

Based on a recipe for squash casserole handed down from my Nana, this version of stuffed grilled zucchini features a surprisingly delicious combination of flavors.  It makes a perfect side dish.

 

Enjoy!

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Green Chile Parmesan

 

4 medium zucchini

Olive oil and salt and pepper to marinate zucchini

 

½ C cooked jasmine rice

1 medium onion, diced.

1 small yellow crookneck squash, diced

¼ tsp fresh minced oregano

1 small can diced green chiles

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive Oil to bind mixture

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

Saute onion until soft and translucent; add yellow squash and oregano and cook until crisp tender.  Add green chiles, heavy cream, and jasmine rice; cook until mixture is heated through; remove from heat. Season to taste with Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Fill the cavity of each zucchini with rice mixture. Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheese is thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posted August 31st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Stuffed and Grilled Asian-Style

by Danica Waters

Smitten with the results of my first spontaneous attempt at grilling stuffed zucchini (see Zucchini; Grilled and Stuffed Italian Style), I excitedly devoted the rest of my weekend towards developing several variations on the theme.  You would think “la familia” would be picketing outside with large signs that read “SQUASH THE SQUASH” or “IT’S X-NAY THE ZUCCHINI DAY”, but surprisingly, that’s not what happened.  Because zucchini has a relatively neutral flavor, it acts as a nearly perfect culinary canvas for all sorts of world cuisine.

 

Today’s variation has an Asian flare; the flavors and textures on this little gem will set your taste buds on fire. (Or was it the chili sauce?) It’s my personal favorite; I think I could live on this variation, like, forever..

 

Enjoy!

 

Asian Grilled Stuffed Zucchini

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

2 Tbsp chili sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

 

Filling:

1/2 small can diced water chestnuts

½ C diced roasted and salted peanuts

¼ C chopped fresh cilantro

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

3-4 chopped green onions

Chinese Chicken Salad dressing or other Asian-style dressing ( I use Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing) to bind.

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in chili sauce mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

 

Posted August 30th, 2011.

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