Scottish Shortbread in Hartstone Rooster Mold

I have an attraction to the these beautiful shortbread molds.  I find them at estate and second hand sales.

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ABOVE: Vintage Rooster Hartstone shortbread oven mold.

I think shortbread is one of the most satisfying buttery treats I’ve had the pleasure of eating –especially when served with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

As a little girl, I can remember eating Keebler Pecan Sandies–from the package.   They were one of my favorite store bought cookies, and as a child,store bought cookies were, pretty much, the only cookies available in my house.  You can imagine my joy when, after purchasing a vintage shortbread mold, I baked a batch of shortbread with chopped pecans, and lo and behold I discovered what a home baked shortbread really tastes like!

I’ve dipped them in chocolate, baked them in molds, cut them into shapes, frosted, and sandwiched them, but nothing says comfort food like a simple Scottish shortbread recipe baked right in the mold.

Scottish Shortbread
Recipe by: Hartstone Shortbread Molds

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1 1/2 cups flour — sifted
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter — softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together. Knead thoroughly until the consistency becomes doughy. Press very firmly into mold making sure that dough fits into every part of surface.

Bake in a preheated oven approximately 45 minutes, or until shortbread is lightly browned and still somewhat springy to the touch. Let cool in mold and then run knife around the perimeter of the shortbread to loosen it from the mold. Remove to rack.

Variations:

Fruit and Nut Shortbread:
To basic Scottish Shortbread recipe add any one of the following ingredients: 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, 1/4 cup of finely chopped raisins.

ANITA’S NOTES: I don’t allow it to cool completely.  It can stick to the mold, so I wait until it is warm enough to handle, I gently loosen, and remove.   Some people say to lightly spray the mold–I don’t.  ALSO, keep an eye on the baking time, as I’ve noticed it can vary with ovens.

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ABOVE: Rooster shaped Scottish Shortbread

I have a few extra molds I plan to put on my vintage Etsy site.  They’re hard to come by these days, but I think one of each is probably enough.

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Turf and Surf ~Chimichurri Argentine Steak

NOTE:  The following is a re-post from my Myspace blog.  I posted this in February 2007 .

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(Brackett’s Landing at Sunset)

Seattle has had some warm (over 50 degrees!) weather the past few days.  We decided to fire up the grill and celebrate.

I’ve been experimenting with Argentine Chimichurri sauce, and I’ve found one I really love–Bob BLumer’s recipe (Surreal Gourmet). The sauce can be used on fish, chicken, or beef.

The squeeze bottle is a mixture of kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  While grilling steaks give it a few squirts of this over the top, and you’ll love the kick it gives the meat.

Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce:


1 cup lightly packed chopped parsley (ideally, flat leaf “Italian” parsley)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (if you like it really spicey add a teaspoon +)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons shallot or onion, minced
3/4 cup vegetable or olive oil (I used half and half)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice


Steak:
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 pounds rib-eye, New York strip, or sirloin steak, 1 1/2 inches thick (we used Rib-eye)

Preheat a grill.
Place all chimichurri sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. Reserve.

Dissolve cayenne pepper and salt in 1 cup hot water. Transfer to a squeeze container.

We kept marinating steaks with chimichurri and a few squeezes of the water cayenne solution.  Best to serve the chimichurri alongside the meat and use the amount you like.

Save any leftover chimichurri in the fridge for more dinners. We loved it!

Read the reviews for this recipe here.

For photos and more, click below.

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Served with baked potatoes and a chopped salad…heaven!

In other news:

My girlfriend, Liz, surprised me with a batch of late Christmas presents!  Only a true friend understands my passion for kitchen gadgets!  I look forward to trying them all out in my kitchen.  I was desperate for prep bowls! The mint chocolate candle will come in handy too!

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NOTE TO LIZ:

I’ve been using these items, and they are all excellent!

Ricotta Puffs or “Sfingi di Ricotta”

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Another adapted recipe,  from “Cooking with Grace” by Grace Pilato.  I’ve been singing her praises for years now.

Sfingi are deep-fried doughnut like puffs that are made throughout Italy—especially in Sicily.  They are made for as a devotion to Saint Joseph.

There are a variety of recipes for sfingi throughout Italy, and this is Grace’s.

Ricotta Puffs

Sfingi di Ricotta

Adapted from Grace Pilato’s “Cooking with Grace” recipe.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

4 lare eggs

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 pound fresh homemade ricotta

1 qt oil for frying- I use canola (may need more depending on size of your pan or deep fryer)

Glaze:

1 cup honey

2 Tbsp water

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.  In another bowl, beat eggs and vanilla with a fork or electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Add ricotta and continue to beat on medium till well blended–about 2 minutes.

Add flour mixture to ricotta 1/4 cup at a time and continue to beat until all flour is incorporated into batter, being careful not to overbeat.  Batter should be thick.

Heat oil to 375 degrees.  Drop batter by rounded  teaspoonfuls into oil–about 4  at a time.  Fry until puffed to a golden brown.  They will double in size.  Remove when finished with a slotted spoon–you may have to check them–about 3-4 minutes each.  They will usually flip over on their own.

Heat honey with the water in the microwave for about 1 minute.  Stir and heat again for 30 seconds.  Pour into a shallow bowl and roll each  puff to coat.  Place on platter for serving and drizzle more honey over top and powdered sugar if you like.  Approx. 2 1/2 dozen

Taste best eaten right after frying.  Store letovers in the fridge and reheat in 350 oven to revive.

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ricotta-puffs

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

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I’ve made this recipe several times, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Again, this recipe is from my favorite italian cookbook, “Cooking with Grace”.

Homemade Fresh Ricotta

Ricotta Fresca

1 gallon whole pasteurized milk, preferrably organic

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

  1. Rinse the inside of the pot you intend to use with cold water (this helps prevent the milk from scorching). Place 1 gallon milk in large, heavy non-reactive pot on medium heat. Add salt and stir briefly. Allow milk to heat up slowly, stirring occasionally. Soon you will notice steam start to form above the surface and tiny bubbles appearing on the milk. You want it to reach 180-185 degrees, near scalding temperature, just before it comes to a boil. Check the temperature with your thermometer.
  2. When it reaches the correct temperature, take the pot off the burner, add the vinegar and stir gently for only one minute. You will notice curds forming immediately. Cover with a dry clean dish towel and allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for a couple of hours. You can also begin preparing your ricotta in the morning before going to work and let it sit until you come home.
  3. When the ricotta has rested for 2 hours or more, take a piece of cheesecloth, dampen it and place it inside a colander. With a slotted spoon, ladle out the ricotta into the prepared colander. Place the colander with ricotta inside of a larger pan so it can drain freely. Let it drain for two hours or so depending on how creamy or dry you want your cheese to be.
  4. Lift the cheesecloth up by the four corners and twist gently. If the liquid runs clear, squeeze a little more. If the liquid runs milky, there is no more need to squeeze. Place in a tight sealed container. Refrigerate. It will keep for up to 7 days. Ricotta does not freeze well.


NOTES: Grace advises against the use of low fat or part skim milk in making the ricotta. The flavor comes from the cream in the whole milk. For desserts, add 1 pint heavy whipping cream along with the milk. It is richer, creamier, and a bit more decadent.

However, I have used this recipe without adding the heavy cream, and it is perfect for the Italian doughnuts–Sfingi.

I’ve made Lasagnettes, Lasagna, and Sfingi (Ricotta Puffs) using this homemade ricotta, and there is nothing like it!

I’ll be making mozzarella and then using the whey to make ricotta.  I’ll post my experience and let you know how it goes.  I’m telling you, all I need now is a milk cow and and goat!

When Sorbet and Sorbato Marry Prosecco…Oh, That’s Amore!

I love my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.  I love it so much, I own three.  Two are secondhand.  Obviously, the machines had never been used–one was still in its plastic packaging.   I can’t help but wonder if the former owners simply didn’t realize how easy it is to make great ice cream, sorbet, and gelato from this simple little machine.

My son, Sean, was visiting a few weeks ago and he asked me why I have more than one of several different kitchen gadgets.  I told him I was hoping one day he would need one and I would have it!   I gave him my extra Italian pasta maker, and now I have an ice cream maker with his name on it.   I think he believes I am some kind of kitchenware hoarder, but no, I knew, one day, he would love to cook too.  Moms just KNOW these things!

I like having at least two of these because I can make two different kinds of ice cream for one gathering.  You actually only need two of the freezer bowls, but since I found them secondhand, the machine cost me less than buying extras bowls separately.

For my “Big Night” I wanted a special drink and the following recipe fit the bill.  The sorbato recipe is considered a blend of sorbet and gelato.  It is very good in this drink or on its own!

The second recipe is for a sorbet.   I have read that in ancient Rome, Emperor Nero would have snow brought from the mountains and flavor it with fresh fruits to produce a dessert similar to what is now known as sorbet.

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Strawberry Sorbato and Prosecco Floats

Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2009 issue

  • 2 pounds ripe strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 750-ml bottle Prosecco, chilled

Mix strawberries, sugar, and salt in large bowl.  Let stand until juicy, about 30 minutes. Puree mixture in batches in blender.  Mix cream and lemon juice into puree. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions–I do it for 25-30 minutes.  Transfer to container; cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.  If it gets too hard–take it out of freezer and set on counter for about 10 minutes before serving.

Place 1 scoop sorbato in each of 8 glasses. Fill each glass with Prosecco (sorbato will float to top).

NOTE: Original recipe presses strawberry mixture through a fine strainer before processing in ice cream maker.  I don’t mind the seeds or pulp and I skip this part.

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Hazan’s  Mandarin Orange Sorbet is not a plain orange flavored sorbet.  The flavor of the Prosecco and the lemon takes thisover the top!  The perfect palate cleanser.  Very refreshing in the summertime  too.

Mandarin Orange Sorbet (Sorbetto al Mandarino)

Adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s recipe in  “How to Cook Italian”

Makes about 1 qt

6 fresh whole mandarin oranges  (or enough to squeeze out 1 1/2 cups juice)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup Prosecco (Sparkling Italian wine)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Peel the zest from two of the oranges  (try to keep in long strips-using a potato peeler–just the zest)

Place the zest in a small pan with the water and sugar.  Cover, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil.  stir until sugar is completely dissolved and then remove from heat.

Squeeze all the oranges to make 1 1/2 cups juice.

Discard orange zest and put the sugar mixture in a medium bowl.  Add the Prosecco, mandarin orange juice, and lemon juice.  Mix well, refirgerate until cold.

Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  I let it run in my Cuisinart for 25-30 minutes.  Transfer sorbet to a container.  Cover and freeze for a few hours before serving.

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A Long Day and a “Big Night”!

I just love the movie “Big Night”.  It just makes me happy.  I decided to have my own big night with the “kids”.  Olivia had never seen the movie, so we started early, and made “A Long Day, and a Big Night” out of it!

The Menu:

Italian Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Homemade Rustic Artisan Bread

Spaghetti with Great Grandma DeFranco’s Meat Sauce

Strawberry Sorbato and Prosecco Floats- made with homemade Strawberry Sorbato

Sfingi ~ Ricotta Puffs– made with homemade ricotta cheese-and dipped in honey sauce

The kids arrived with a bouquet of daffodils!  For me?  Why, yes!

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I started with my homemade ricotta cheese.

All you need is a gallon of whole organic milk, and 1/3 cup plus two Tbsp white vinegar

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ABOVE: Curds and whey

We invited the kids to take a ride with us up to La Conner to see the Daffodil fields in bloom.  I knew it would give the mixture some time to completely separate out the curds from the whey.

Daffodil Field in Skagit Valley

ABOVE: Last year’s daffodils in La Conner

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ABOVE: Sean and Oliva in La Conner

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La Conner is a lovely little town.  I blogged it last year too.

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ABOVE: Squinting eyes and in mid-sentence.  Yes, I’m usually in mid-sentence.

“Good Lord, what is that big bright thing up there in the sky?”

dsc_03261ABOVE: Mark pointing out the mussels to Sean and Olivia.

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Fresh Mozzarella~ Stuffed Shells and Paninis

I have a million recipes to post.  I apologize, as I know my recipes are not all listed on the RECIPE page.  I need to get on it pronto.

I’ve been cooking and baking my tail off.  I ended up shopping at Costco–which is extremely dangerous for me.  I beeline it straight to the kitchenware, and the book section, where I proceed to load up the cart with my, “Only an idiot would pass up this deal!”, mentality.

After the old man loads up the cart with his Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements, we head toward the cheese section.  HUGE mistake. For one thing, there are only 2 of us, and Costco sells packages that serve 800.  Apparently, that didn’t frighten us.

I loaded up on fresh mozzarella, and a number of other “must haves”.

After unloading our stuffed car trunk, we had to think about what to do with all the food.   After packing the freezer, the fridge, and the pantry, I set a plan into motion.

MOZZARELLA

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ABOVE: Stuffed Shells

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Stuffed

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Ready to eat!

Stuffed Shells

box of pasta shells (12 oz)

3-4 cups of marinara or here-– or meat sauce

4 cups ricotta 2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan (Plus a few Tbsp for topping)

2 eggs

Tbsp chopped parsley

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Follow package cooking instructions on box of pasta shells.  When al dente (or less), strain and prepare to stuff.

Mix together remaining ingredients–reserving a little mozzarella and parmesan for topping.

Pour and spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking pan.

Stuff each shell with cheese mixture.

Layer shells in a baking dish.  Pour remaining marinara sauce over top, sprinkle on reserved cheeses.

35 minutes.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!

AND

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Antique Water Kettles and Southern Tea Cakes

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ABOVE: Antique water/tea kettle from Seattle estate sale

I hit a few estate sales last week, and I was happy to find this beautiful old antique water kettle.  I think it will make a lovely flower planter on my back porch this summer.   I think I have just as much fun searching for these items, as I do using them! I’ll have more up on both my Ebay and  Etsy shops by the end of the week.

Baking w/ Southern Cookbooks

I am thoroughly enjoying Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, by Martha Hall Foose.  I checked this cookbook out at the library–along with several other newer southern cookbooks, and this is the one I will buy.  Her recipes look amazing, and if you’re like me–you can just tell when you go through five to ten recipes in a cookbook whether or not those recipes are singing to you.

Last month I made a batch of southern tea cakes from Paula Deen’s cookbook, and they were extremely yummy! Then, last week I made a batch from this cookbook.   I think they both taste great–I might be more partial to Paula’s recipe–maybe it’s the buttermilk.

I used brown sugar this time.  The author recommends it for a “softer, chewier cookie”.

These cookies taste like how I imagine a southern grandma’s cookies should taste.  They are difficult to roll because the dough is very soft and sticky.  I stick the dough in the freezer for a few minutes and pull out a ball to work with–use lots of flour—and work with speed.

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ABOVE: Plain, old fashioned Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes

Adapted from”Cordelia’s Mother Gwen’s Tea Cakes” found in “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cream or tartar

2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

About 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (I used close to 4)

1 c unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar (or white)

3 large eggs

cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Oven set to 375.  Line baking sheet with parchment or foil.

Sift baking soda, tartar, nutmeg, and 3 cups flour together

In mixer, beat butter and sugar together, till light and fluffy about 4 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time after each addition.

Slowly mix in flour, continue adding flour until a soft dough is formed.  Cover bowl of dough in plastic and place in fridge for about an hour.

NOTE: Dough can be difficult to roll and work with–it is quite sticky.  I kept placing bowl in freezer until firm enough to roll out on a GENEROUSLY floured mat, and I worked very quickly before the cut outs started sticking to the mat/board.  As soon as they start to stick, just throw remaining dough back in bowl in freezer and wait a few minutes.

Roll dough into about 1/4″ thickness between 2 pieces of parchment paper.  CUt out cookies with a 3″ round biscuit cutter. Place cookies 2″ apart on prepared baking sheet,(NOW is the time to sprinkle on a little cinnamon and sugar if you’d like!),  and bake 8-10 minutes, or until slightly brown around edges.  Be careful not to bake them too long–as the cookies firm up when cooled .

Cottage stuff:

The chicks and chickens are keeping me busy.   We are also converting our shop into a cottage, and we are still in the remodel stage.  So far, we have front doors and a front window.  This is located in our backyard, and receives the best sun on the property!   I’m hoping it will be finished before summer’s end.

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ABOVE: Installed the French doors, window, and heat too!

I’m getting ready to bake some oatmeal bread, so I’d better stop now.  I’ve decided to bake a different kind of bread every week, in order to try out more new recipes.