Saturday, July 13, 2024

American Cookie #6: {1917 WWI Era Banana Drop Cookies}

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing its history, as well as my results. This is the sixth week of baking with American Cookie by Anne Byrn, and I'm sharing Banana Drop Cookies, dating back to 1917! 

The History of the Banana Drop Cookie, as well as other popular banana desserts: In 1917, America had just entered WWI and all the ships that transported things like bananas to America from Hawaii, were busy with the war effort! The problem was, the banana crop was BOOMING! The Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station had a director that pleaded with everyone in Hawaii (which was not a state but a U.S. Territory back then) eat one banana per day, hoping this would boost banana consumption. With the ripening, rotting surplus of Hawaiian bananas on hand, the wife of the director of Hawaiian Agriculture went into the kitchen and started cooking up ideas. She developed recipes for banana pudding, banana bread, banana custard, banana dumplings, banana fritters, and this banana drop cookie recipe, which she shared with the Honolulu newspaper.

My Results:  If you love banana bread, then you will love these cookies! They are pillowy and soft with a subtle banana and cinnamon flavor, and not too sweet. In the book, she says you can cook them for 8 minutes, or up to 10 minutes if you want them to be crisper. I don't usually love crisp cookies (I prefer them chewy) but these cookies have a little more flavor when they cook a little longer and I found that 10 minutes was perfect. They are addictive and irresistible and I had to slap my hand away from the cookie jar!

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars! I really loved these and can see myself making them again. I think of them as more of a breakfast cookie as they are much less sweet than a traditional cookie. I will definitely make them again!

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one-star being the lowest rating and five-star being the highest. 

 Banana Drop Cookies

Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Byrn

Makes about 4 dozen

2 large ripe bananas

10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Peel and slice the bananas into a small bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside .You should have a generous 1 cup.

Place the soft butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and eggs, and beat until incorporated, 30 seconds. Fold in the mashed bananas.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture and beat on low until combined, 30 to 45 seconds. 

Spoon tablespoons of dough about 2" apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges but still a little soft in the center, about 8 minutes. Or bake them until crispy, a full 10 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the pans for 1 minute, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.


Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Gourmet Cookbook's Ice Cream #1 {The Most Amazing Vanilla Bean Ice Cream}

I am in my Ice Cream Era at the moment. It's summer y'all and I am going through some ice cream. I happened to be looking through my tome of a cookbook, The Gourmet Cookbook, and I found SOOOOOOO MANY ice cream recipes I wanted to try; namely, Burnt Orange Ice Cream (made with a caramelized orange sauce); Cream Cheese Ice Cream; Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream; Raspberry Ice Cream; Lemon Meringue Ice Cream; Maple Walnut Ice Cream; Prune Armagnac Ice Cream; and then even some delicious sounding sorbets like Green Apple Sorbet; Roasted Apricot Sorbet; Kir Royale Sorbet, and many more.

So, I'll see how far I get with all those delicious sounding recipes! But, in the meantime, it's been awhile since I've made ice cream and used my ice cream maker, so I'm starting basic with Gourmet's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream! 

Making custard can be tricky as we don't want to overcook or boil the cream and we definitely don't want to scramble the eggs, but I succeeded on the first try and the custard base was thick and tasty. If you're a first time ice cream maker, or even if it's been awhile since you've made ice cream, I suggest buying extra cream and milk, just in case things go astray and then you can just start over and try again!

This Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is total perfection! It is smooth and rich and thick and creamy and velvety with lots of vanilla bean flecks throughout and just the right amount of vanilla flavor. I think it may be the best ice cream I've ever made! We all loved it.

Things are off to a great start, can't wait to see how next week's ice cream turns out! 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

by Ruth Reichl

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise*

2 large eggs

Equipment: an instant read thermometer and an ice cream maker

*Note: If you don't have vanilla beans, use 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a 2- to 3 quart heavy saucepan. With tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a large metal bowl. Add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly, then pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170-175F on thermometer (Note: my ice cream mixture was already at 160F when I added the egg and hot cream mixture back into the pan - it did not take very long at all for the mixture to come to 170-175F - just a minute or two); do not let boil.

Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve into cleaned metal bowl; discard pods. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker. Note: I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and it took 20 minutes to freeze up and harden. With my Cuisinart machine the ice cream usually has to finish sitting up overnight to harden completely. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Barbecue Fun @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

American Cookie #5 {1891 Snickerdoodles}

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing its history, as well as my results. This is the fifth week of baking with American Cookie by Anne Byrn, and I'm sharing one of America's most cherised cookies, the Snickerdoodle.


The History of Snickerdoodles: Cornelia Campbell Bedford was a New York City cooking teacher and newspaper columnist, better known as "Nellie." Nellie was developing recipes for the Cleveland Baking Powder company when her recipe for snickerdoodles, which was essentially sugar cookie dough spread into a pan and sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and sugar, went viral. At the end of the 19th century, going viral meant that Nellie's bar cookie was discussed in newspaper columns daily for the next year! Good job, Nellie! 

Earlier Snickerdoodle recipes called for butter, but in 1923 Crisco marketed Mrs. T's Snicker Doodles: the favorite recipes of an English-woman in their advertising and sometime after that there was a shift from using butter in the recipe to using vegetable shortening. Somewhere around the 1930s, the Snicker Doodle was changed from a bar cookie to a cookie. 

The quirky name, "Snickerdoodle," has always been part of the appeal. John Mariana says in The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, that this nonsense word "Snickerdoodle" implied the cookie was quick to make. Others think Snickerdoodle sounds like Yankee Doodle and also characters out of Raggedy Ann, like Snickersnapper, Snitznoodle, and Snarlydoodle. It just makes us smile!

My Results: I don't think I've made a Snickerdoodle before, but I was excited to give it a try! The cookie dough was in fact easy to come together and didn't require any chilling prior to baking. The dough calls for both butter and vegetable shortening and the baking notes in the book said that baking with butter and vegetable shortening is the best of both worlds because butter adds flavor and shortening helps the cookies keep a rounded shape while baking. The cookie dough has to be spread about 2" apart on the cookie sheet because they do tend to spread out quite a bit, but they did bake up flavorful and round with just the perfect hint of cinnamon and sugar. Everything about the recipe was perfect and we really loved them!

My Rating: I would give this recipe a 4 out of 5! The recipe itself is a perfect recipe and turns out perfectly (deserving a 5 star rating), but I am rating them based on my taste preferences and while I loved these, I do tend to prefer a thicker, chewier cookie. 

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one star being the lowest rating and five-star being the highest.

Notes on the recipes in American Cookie: After making my fifth cookie recipe from American Cookie, one thing I can say is that this cookbook produces some of the most perfect cookies I've ever made (and I've made a lot of cookies)! I highly recommend this cookbook!



Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Bryn

Makes about 4 dozen

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

topping: 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.

For dough, place the sugar, soft butter, and shortening in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl once with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, continuing to beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Place the flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda in a medium size bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, and beat on low speed until incorporated, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.

For the topping, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Using a teaspoon, of cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough into balls about 1-1/4" in diameter. The dough will be soft but manageable. Sprinkle the balls with the cinnamon sugar mixture until evenly coated (or roll the balls in the mixture). Drop them about 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly golden but the centers are still a little soft to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies rest on the pan 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Scrape the baking sheet, then repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough, letting the baking sheet cool first so the dough does not spread too much. Store the cookies in an airtight container.


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Giada's Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms {A Fun Summer Appetizer}!

 So I was finally able to score some beautiful zucchini blossoms at the farmer's market and I was able to buy enough to make two recipes! The first recipes I was shared was Ina Garten's Zucchini Flower and Leek Frittata (click here for that) and also this recipe for Giada Delaurentiis' Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms!This is a pretty simple recipe but it does require some finesse and preferably....small hands! You've got to open up these delicate zucchini flowers, remove the stamen, rinse and fill with the cheese mixture below, then twist the flowers to seal.

The cheese mixture is a combination of goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, basil, green onion, and salt and pepper. I think you could simply some of that by buying different flavors of goat cheese and/or cream cheese and make the filling your own if you like! 

Then you make a simple tempura batter consisting of flour, salt and sparkling water and VERY CAREFULLY dip the stuffed flowers in the tempera and fry them in the oil. This takes some finesse and tender loving care, but is overall easy. 

I liked this fried zucchini flower recipe so much better than Ina's Zucchini Flower and Leek Frittata. The texture of the zucchini flowers in the frittata was somewhat soft, hard to cut, and maybe a little slimy or less than pleasing. The texture in Giada's Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms was way better. I loved the light crispy batter on these zucchini flowers and they were really tasty dunked in some marinara. Now for the ultimate question: Would I try to source zucchini flowers again? Would I make this recipe again? No, I don't think so. While I enjoyed cooking with zucchini flowers and trying two different recipes, it's not something that I loved or would seek out and make again. But, I am very happy to have tried it and crossed it off my list!

Fried Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Adapted from Food Network

by Giada De Laurentiis

Makes 8

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sparkling water

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning

1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese at room temperature

2 teaspoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1 green onion, finely chopped

black pepper

8 zucchini blossoms*

vegetable oil, for frying

Optional: marinara sauce for dipping

*Cook's Note: Zucchini blossoms can be found at farmer's markets and specialty grocery stores. As an alternative, try using baby bell peppers. Cut off the tops and remove the seeds. Fill with the cheese mixture and dip the cut end in flour before dipping in the batter. 

 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, and salt until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, basil, and green onion. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350F (if you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 1 minute.) Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels.

Season with salt and serve with your favorite marinara sauce or vinaigrette.

 June IHCC Potluck @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Creamy Lemon Zucchini Spaghetti To Celebrate The Summer Solstice!

One of the dishes I love to eat most in the summertime is a cheesy vegetarian pasta laden with fresh veggies and herbs. I literally dream about it all year!

Luckily, How Sweet Eats just posted this Creamy Lemon Zucchini Spaghetti that is right up my alley. It was kismet because I happened to have all the things on hand: spaghetti, lemon, Parmesan, cream, and lemon then also fresh baby zucchini from the farmer's market, as well as fresh basil and chives from my garden. I love it when things come together like that!

Think of this pasta dish as a creamy summertime pasta dish that is lighter than most cream-based pasta dishes. The way we accomplish the lighter feel is by using 2 cups of starchy pasta water and just 1/2 cup of cream. When you marry the caramelized cooked down zucchini with the pasta and the pasta cooking water you get a creaminess that only calls for very little cream. Also, Parmesan cheese is a lighter cheese, and when you add the Parmesan in stages, alternating the starchy pasta water, it produces creamy cheesy results for a lot less calories.

I'm gonna say, this might be THE pasta dish of the summer! It's economical, it's easy, and it's everything you crave in a pasta dish, creamy and comforting but with the bright pop fresh zing of summertime produce, veggies, and lemon zest. I also think it's very kid-friendly because most kids are veggie-averse and with the zucchini shredded and cooked down, you really don't notice it as much. 

What is your favorite summertime pasta dish?  

Creamy Lemon Zucchini Spaghetti

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 4

3 to 4 cups freshly grated zucchini, before squeezing

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound spaghetti or other long noodle

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1/3 cups Parmesan cheese

Freshly grate the zucchini. Place it in a large kitchen towel and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the zucchini with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to toss. Cook, stirring over, until the zucchini melts down and becomes caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes (mine only took about 10-12 minutes). Stir in the garlic.

While the zucchini cooks, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti. When its finished, reserve 2 cups of the starchy pasta water.

Transfer the pasta to the pan with the zucchini - you can take it right from the pot and place it in the zucchini skillet. Add 1 cup of the reserved starchy water and the heavy cream. Stir and toss until combined. Stir in the lemon zest and the finely grated Parmesan.

Add another 1/2 cup of the starchy water, stirring to combine. Add in the fresh basil and chives. Taste and if needed, add in more salt, pepper or lemon zest or Parmesan. 

Top the pasta with the Parmesan and a bunch of fresh basil. Serve immediately!

 Summer Solstice @ I Heart Cooking Clubs!

American Cookie #4: {1886 Vanilla Wafers}

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing its history, as well as my results. This is the fourth week of baking with American Cookie by Anne Byrn, and I'm sharing 1886 Vanilla Wafers, which actually originated in 1851!

The History of Vanilla Wafers: The origin of the Vanilla Wafer dates all the way back to 1851 with a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook called Die Geschickte Hausfrau, The Handy Housewife. What's the most interesting about the Vanilla Wafer is that not long before the Pennsylvania Dutch shared the recipe, a Boston pharmacist named Joseph Burnett bottled the first vanilla extract for a customer who had sampled vanilla desserts while traveling in Paris! So the history of the Vanilla Wafer actually coincides with the history of vanilla extract here in America, how fascinating! In addition to the history of vanilla extract, this cookie also predates baking powder because baking soda and cream of tartar (which are both used in this recipe) are both early leaveners, predating baking powder. These leaveners produce crisp and light cookies, characteristic of wafers.

My Results: These cookies smell intoxicating! This recipe calls for one whole tablespoon of vanilla and right off the bat the aroma of the vanilla in the cookie dough is irresistible. When the cookies come out of the oven at first they are soft and tender, tasting somewhat like a vanilla cake cookie. As the cookies cool they become a slightly crisp. We enjoyed them both ways! I would love to make these again and use them to make a from scratch banana pudding. For now we enjoyed them as is, but we also enjoyed them with some vanilla and strawberry ice cream sandwiched between them. 

It is crucial for the dough to chill (I chilled mine in the freezer for at least an hour). My first tray of cookies baked for 8 minutes total, then I decided I wanted them to be a little more golden and I baked them for 10 minutes total. If you want to use them in a banana pudding or another layered dessert then I think you'd need to bake them 10 minutes because you'd want them to be more on the crisp side. However, if you want to eat them a little more on the soft side, opt for about 8 minutes total.

Notes on the recipes in American Cookie: After making my fourth cookie from American Cookie, one thing I can say is that this cookbook produces some of the most perfect cookies I've ever made (and I've made a lot of cookies)! I think it has something to do with the chilling process. Most of these recipes call for the cookie dough to chill for several hours or overnight and I believe this makes all the difference, so I'll be doing that with all cookie dough recipes going forward for here on out! Also, I think it wise to bake your cookies are parchment paper. Sure, the parchment keeps the cookies from sticking, but the parchment also seems to protect the bottom of the cookie and keep it from becoming too dark or overdone. Beyond those two tips, this cookbook really does produce some of the most perfect cookies I've ever made and I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 4 out of 5! We really liked these cookies and will make them again so we can enjoy a homemade banana pudding!

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one star being the lowest rating and five-star being the highest.

1886 Vanilla Wafers

Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Bryn

Makes 4 to 5 dozen

10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons milk

 Place the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined, 30 seconds.

Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Alternately add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined.

Tear off an 18" sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper. Spoon the batter into a log on the paper and roll the paper up around it to secure. Place the log of dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours and up to overnight, or freeze for 1 hour.

When ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.

Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/4" rounds. Place them 1" to 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet, and place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in a covered container for up to 10 days.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ina Garten's Zucchini Flower and Leek Frittata {A Thing of Beauty}

I am my Lost Kitchen Era, where I am obsessed with Erin French's The Lost Kitchen show, restaurant, food, plating, and all the edible flowers she uses to garnish her dishes! I love how Erin goes to the local farms and is inspired by what is in season to make beautiful dishes. 

I wanted to create a Lost Kitchen dish in my own kitchen, so I went to the Lexington, Kentucky Farmers Market and I found zucchini flowers! I was so excited because I had never cooked with zucchini flowers before.

So I turned to the one and only queen, Ina Garten and I found her recipe for Zucchini and Leek Fritatta. This was a major win as it allows me to really channel the whole edible flowers vibe of The Lost Kitchen.

I searched the market for the rest of the ingredients needed: pancetta, leeks, baby zucchini, fresh thyme, eggs, half and half, Gruyere, and fresh basil. This added up to be a pricier dish than most recipes I cook, but that's ok, because as I shared above, I'm in my Lost Kitchen Era and I have a major need to cook with edible flowers.

This was more laborious than most dishes, with a lot of prep, as I had to clean the zucchini flowers, removing the stamen, and dry them. I had to cut and wash the leeks, which was a rather sandy and dirty task.I had to cut and wash the basil, the thyme, the zucchini. Cut and cook the bacon. Shred the cheese. Crack and beat 8 eggs. Cook the frittata filling. It was more involved than your regular everyday frittata, but no worries, this was THE FRITTATA to end all fritattas! It was going to be adorned with the most beautiful zucchini flowers. Doesn't it look gorgeous going into the oven?

Doesn't it look gorgeous coming out of the oven? I mean wow...It's stunning! Ina says to allow the frittata to cool for five minutes and then cut into it. I am dying to see how it all tastes.

The frittata slices perfectly and each person gets their own zucchini flower with their portion, how brilliant! The frittata is brimming with zucchini, zucchini flowers, bacon, leeks, and my favorite...Gruyere cheese. I love all these ingredients so much!

I go to take a long awaited bite and the zucchini flower is soft and baked into the frittata. It is an odd texture, soft and hard to cut into, the whole flower wants to stay together. Something about the flavor and texture is not appealing. I push the flower off and take a bite of the egg and filling, the flavors are too strong and overpowering. I take another bite and something here is just not working. I keep taking bites because I love all the ingredients, it appears to have baked up perfectly, and Ina Garten has never let me down, but the dish just didn't work for me. I am, however, very happy to have made the dish and finally get a chance to work with zucchini flowers. I like to try new things even if they don't work out. I do have another zucchini flower recipes up my sleeve, so stay tuned for that. The verdict is still out!

 Seasonal and Local Produce @ IHCC


Friday, June 14, 2024

American Cookie #3 {Ursuline Anise Cookies - St. Joseph's Day Cookie}

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing it's history, as well as my results. This is the third week of baking with American Cookie by Anne Bryn, and I'm sharing Ursuline Anise Cookies, which are a sugar cookie with anise flavoring dating back to 1727 New Orleans!

The History of Ursuline Anise Cookies: In 1727, twelve French Catholic nuns from the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula (founded in Italy) came to New Orleans to educate girls and women (some also call them the casket girls). Their original convent was located at the corner of Chartres and Ursulines Avenue down in the French Quarter of New Orleans and is still in operation today! It is a tradition for those in the Catholic faith to bake anise cookies when St. Joseph's Day is celebrated on March 19th. Anise, with it's licorice flavor, has long been a celebratory flavoring of Europe, and has been prized as a digestive. 

We know New Orleans is famous for it's wide array of ethnic backgrounds and cuisines, including French, African, Cajun, Creole, but Italian cuisine was also quite popular in New Orleans. By 1850, the Italians (Sicilians in particular) populated New Orleans more than any other city in America.The Sicilian immigrants brought the tradition of staging a St. Joseph's Day altar, stacked with anise cookies, to New Orleans. This recipe and the tradition of staging the altar, still continue today.

My Results: Two years ago, I had the good fortune to visit New Orleans. We took a ghost tour right by the Ursuline Convent! Some say the 12 nuns that came over brought caskets and thus began all vampire lore in America, but for now we'll stick with them bringing us these delicious and addictive anise cookies! I have seen these cookies often and heard about them, but never tried them so wanted to make sure they had a spot in my roundup as they have quite the history here in America. I mean a cookie that's been around from 1727 and still exists today is no joke!

I had to special order the anise seed from Amazon because none of my stores carried it. When I placed the order I was hoping I would love the cookies because what on earth would I do with a whole container of anise seed? Well, the verdict is in and these cookies are absolutely amazing! Using up the whole jar of anise seeds will be no problem at all! I love how light and fluffy the cookies are and the anise seed gives the cookie just a very slight hint of licorice. I also love how you can see the anise seed running throughout the cookie like little flecks of flavor. The icing on top is nice and sweet and before you know it you can pound back three or four of these real quick. I think I preferred the cookies hot and fresh right out of the oven, but they are still very good once they've cooled. They are addictive enough on their own, but I imagine they would pair very well with coffee or tea. I love them! 

My Rating: 5 out of 5! My favorite cookie so far in my American Cookie series and a new favorite cookie that I will add to my rotation. There is a good reason these cookies have been around since 1727! More people need to be making them

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one star being the lowest rating and five star being the highest.

Ursuline Anise Cookies

Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Bryn

Makes 4 dozen

vegetable shortening for prepping the pans

2 teaspoons anise seeds

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional Icing

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Crush the anise seeds coarsely with a mortar and pestle (or between sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin). Place in a large mixing bowl with the soft butter and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until soft, about 1 minute. Gradually blend in the granulated sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, until well blended. Set aside.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl. Using the mixer on low speed, gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture until just blended, 30 seconds. 

Shape the dough into 1" balls and place them 2" apart on the prepared baking sheets. Place a pan in the oven.

Bake the cookies until lightly browned around the bottom, about 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool, then store in airtight container.

If desired, for an icing, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and milk in a small bowl. You can tint it red or green at Christmastime, or use any other color any other time of year. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies, and let the icing set before serving.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

My new favorite thing is making fresh Parmesan Breadcrumbs. You cook fresh breadcrumbs on the stove top with butter and olive oil until golden brown and toasty, then you add in lots of Parmesan cheese and the Parmesan clusters together with the breadcrumbs to create cheesy clusters of hot crunchy bread and cheese. It's good on pasta dishes and great on green veggies! Give it a try on asparagus like I've done here, or on broccoli! It's delicious!

 Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Adapted from Food Network

by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Asparagus: Preheat the oven to 400F. Snap or cut the dry steam ends off each asparagus and place on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Roast until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. 

For the Parmesan Breadcrumbs: Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium skillet and allow butter to melt. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add in Parmesan cheese, stirring, allowing the Parmesan to marry with the breadcrumbs and create clusters. 

Plate the asparagus and arrange the Parmesan Breadcrumbs over the asparagus. Enjoy!

Spring Brunch @ IHCC