Thursday, 15 December 2011
So "belsnickel" cookies might be made in the shape of the belsnickel, or made to reward good children in December or in the Christmas festival, or they might be to serve to the belsnickelling neighbours who are proceeding from house to house in disguise.
Here's a warning about these cookies: they are a rich little butter and sugar cake. They burn. They burn fast. I had to adjust the cooking time and temperature from the original Amish recipe of a "hot oven" for ten minutes. The first batch was in for about seven minutes and was heralded by a cloud of grey sugar-butter smoke.
I am not one to indulge in rich cookies very often, but at the Christmas holiday, why not? These are a small indulgence and there is no way to make them a health cookie.
Utensils: Mixing bowl, electric handmixer or sturdy wooden spoon, rolling pin, shiny baking sheets (I use well-washed aluminium foil pizza pans), cookie cutters.
Ingredients: 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup real butter, melted slowly, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups white flour, 3/4 tsp. Baking soda, 1/8 tsp plain table salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosewater. If you can't find rosewater, use vanilla or almond extract, but the rosewater is so lovely and old world.
Directions: Put the sugar in a large mixing bowl, pour the melted butter into it, and beat it until well blended. Add the eggs and beat in well, then stir the soda and salt into the flour and add that to the sugar mixture, stirring well after each addition. Blend in the rosewater. The dough should be cohesive but a bit sticky; don't add too much flour. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight, covered tightly - press a piece of plastic, foil or a damp tea towel right down onto the dough.
Everyone knows - it's a law everywhere - that damaged cookies belong to the baker.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
I have a lot of lentils and barley in the house, along with beans, rice and bulgur wheat. We have all that it takes for lots of high protein vegetarian meals. Still, the usual curried lentils and rice, or baked beans and mashed potatoes meals can seem a bit repetitive. Winter is soup weather, I think, no matter if it is snowing and blowing, or raining and misting. And even on the bright, cheerful days, when we want to be outdoors, it is great to come inside to a warm bowl of hearty soup.
I also have dried herbs from the summer garden, and winter storage vegetables - this is a way to use all of that. I added some mild sausage; a vegetarian sausage can be used, or add two tablespoons of olive oil. Legumes and grains don't have much flavour without some fat.
Equipment: Soup kettle or large pot; (slow cooker or crock pot for unattended cooking); butcher's block and knife; measures and spoons.
Ingredients: 2 quarts water or stock or a combination of both; 2 tablespoons dried parsley, one teaspoon dried sage; 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary; 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (vary amounts according to taste): 1/2 cup lentils; 1/2 cup barley (double if not using sausage); 1/2 pound mild sausage - I used Danish sausage locally made, or add 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1/2 large onion, one cup peeled and sliced carrots, one peeled and diced white potato.
Directions: Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, add the herbs, lentils and barley. Let simmer for at least half an hour. Add the sausage and vegetables, simmer at least one more hour. If using the crock pot, brown the sausage and onion before adding to the soup with the rest of the vegetables.
http://inaplainkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/08/irish-soda-bread.html) one night, and then with boiled pasta and cubed cheese the next. (Spoon the cooked pasta into a soup bowl, top with a handful of cheese cubes, then pour the hot soup over it.) I did not add a photo of the finished soup because lentils and barley do not lend the most appetising colour to a finished soup. If you are put off by the grainy-gray look of it, sprinkle liberally with fresh or dried parsley.
Are you goin' to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.