I adore special desserts during December and although old favorites are often on the menu, I also enjoy trying new things. Some of which become favorites like this recipe for Cassata. An Italian dessert it’s an easy dessert for it starts with a boughten pound cake and then it’s just put together. But for as little effort as it takes, it is a “wow” dessert.
2 c. Ricotta cheese
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. liqueur (sherry, brandy, Amaretto, I used Maraschino liqueur)
1/4 c. finely chopped candied cherries
1/4 c. mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 pound cake (I used Sara Lee frozen)
1 c. mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 t. instant coffee dissolved in 1/4 c. boiling water
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, chilled
sliced almonds for garnish
Combine ricotta, sugar, liqueur and mix until silky. Fold in candied cherries and 1/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips. Set aside.
Cut pound cake in half horizontally using sharp serrated knife. Cut each half again horizontally. Place pound cake on serving platter. Spread 1/4 ricotta mixture evenly over cake. Repeat procedure twice. Top with remaining cake layer; press lightly to compact layers. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile heat 1 c. chocolate chips and coffee in top of double boiler over hot, not boiling water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Add butter pieces, one by one, stirring constantly, until all butter is added and melted. Remove from heat; let cool to spreading consistency, about 2 hours. Spread top and sides of cake with chocolate frosting. I garnished the cake with sliced almonds on top.
Thanksgiving was last week and like most people there is way too much turkey in the fridge. But we enjoy leftover turkey for the week after Thanksgiving. But we don’t use the leftovers as a rerun of Thanksgiving but rather take the turkey and make new dishes out of it. This casserole is one that’s always on the menu the week after Thanksgiving. It was my mother’s and the one she used when she entertained the ladies for lunch when I was a child. It’s really “chicken” salad but turkey makes a good substitute for the chicken. I like to serve it with pickled peaches but a cranberry jello salad (with the leftover cranberry sauce) would be good with it as well.
MOTHER’S HOT TURKEY (OR CHICKEN) SALAD
2 c. chopped cooked turkey (or chicken)
2 c. chopped celery
1 c. mayonnaise
½ c. grated Cheddar cheese
2 t. Lemon juice
½ c. slivered almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c. crushed potato chips
Stir together all ingredients except potato chips. Top with chips. Bake in a 2 quart casserole at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (This serves 4 so increase proportions if you’re serving more)
Not everyone loves pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert and this cake is an excellent substitute especially at this time of year when cranberry sauce is on sale. The recipe calls for a bundt pan but you could use a tube pan as well. Decorate as I did with sugared cranberries and slivers of orange peel.
CRANBERRY SAUCE CAKE
3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. mayo (not Miracle Whip)
1 (16 oz) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/3 c. orange juice
1 T. grated orange peel
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. orange extract
1 c. chopped Nuts (recipe called for walnuts but here in Kansas we’re partial to pecans)
1 c. powdered sugar
1 – 2 T. orange juice (I needed a bit more)
In a mixing bowl, combine cake ingredients except for nuts. Mix well. Fold in nuts. Spray bundt pan with Pam. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack. Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over the warm cake.
I sugared fresh cranberries and slivers of orange peel for decoration.
There are so many chocolate chip cookies out there including the one on the Nestle’s Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels package. And they are a classic cookie.
But the one that we use at Linderhof has a “secret ingredient” and makes, in my opinion, the best chocolate chip cookie in the world! You can add nuts if you’d like (I’d do about a cup) and sprinkle with sea salt if you’d like, but we prefer them with just the chocolate chips.
LINDERHOF’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
1 c. butter, at room temperature
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
3.4 oz. package vanilla instant pudding
2 large eggs
1 t. Vanilla
2 ¼ c. flour
1 small package semi sweet chocolate chips
1 t. Soda
½ t. Salt
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Add in pudding mix, eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts if you use them).
Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto a prepared baking sheet. (and if you’d like to top with sea salt — sprinkle it on before you put them in the oven.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly golden and set. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
I love spice especially in cookies and these are by far my favorite ginger cookie. They’re soft in the middle with crunchy sugar on the outside and full of the cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger that makes a good ginger cookie. It is imperative that you leave them in the oven for only 13 minutes. Do that and they’ll turn out perfect every time — cracked on top and soft inside!
THE BEST GINGER COOKIE
2 ¼ c. flour
1 t. Baking soda
2 t. Cinnamon
1 ½ t. Ground cloves
½ t. Nutmeg
½ t. Ginger
¼ t. Salt
1 c. brown sugar
¼ c. vegetable oil
⅓ c. molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
Additional sugar for rolling cookies
Preheat oven to 350
Sift together flour, spices and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat the brown sugar, oil and molasses on medium speed of an electric mixer for 5 minutes. Turn to low and add egg and beat for 1 minute. Scrape bowl and beat 1 minute more.
Add dry ingredients. Slowly and then mix for 2 minutes.
Scoop dough with cookie scoop and into a 1 ¾ inch ball (my small ice cream scoop seems perfect for this). Roll cookie into granulated sugar and put on parchment on Silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.
Bake for exactly 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a minute or two and transfer to wire racks to cool.
There is nothing better than muffins in the morning. Or for tea! These have been around “forever” attributed to The Morning Glory Cafe on Nantucket. They have “everything” in them from carrots to nuts to raisins and are heavy and moist. They’re a good keeper as well.
MORNING GLORY MUFFINS
1 c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
2 ¼ c. flour
1 T. cinnamon
2 t. Baking soda
½ t. Salt
½ c. coconut
¾ c. raisins (I used golden)
1 apple, grated
1 c. crushed pineapple, drained
2 c. shredded carrots
½ c. chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 c. oil
1 t. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, whisk eggs with the oil and vanilla. Add coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots and nuts. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
One of my favorite restaurants in Kansas City was Stephenson’s Apple Farm. We celebrated many grand occasions there. One of my favorite dishes was their baked chicken ‘n’ butter and cream. It’s a great company dish or even a family dish. The original recipe calls for a whole chicken but I often make it with chicken breasts — sometimes bone in and sometimes boneless. If you like thighs, it would be good with those too! For a grand meal, serve it with Stephenson’s Green Rice; for an everyday meal, a box of white and wild rice works well!
STEPHENSON’S BAKED CHICKEN ‘N’ BUTTER AND CREAM
8 pieces frying chicken
2 cups flour
1 T. salt
1 T. pepper
2 t. paprika
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pats
2 cups half and half or cream
Dip chicken in cold water. Mix together flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Coat each piece of chicken thoroughly in flour mixture. Place pieces skin side up in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake uncovered at 450 for 30 minutes or until brown. (Recipe may be prepared ahead up to this point.) Pour cream around chicken, place 1 pat of butter on each piece and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
(*Note: This time I used chicken breasts — with boneless and skinless)
When we were in the city, sometimes we’d stop at Mimi’s Cafe for I loved their bleu cheese dressing and their muffins and carrot bread. They’ve been generous by publishing their recipes on line and I make the carrot bread — sometimes for a breakfast bread basket when I have company, sometimes because I like a little sweet bread for our breakfast, and sometimes to be eaten as a dessert or for tea. But it’s really carrot cake minus the cream cheese frosting! However, whether you call it bread or cake, it’s a good recipe!
MIMI’S CAFE CARROT RAISIN BREAD
1 ½ c. flour
1 t. Baking soda
2 t. Baking powder
2 t. Cinnamon
½ t. Salt
1 c. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. brown sugar, firmly packed
½ c. chopped pecans (or you can use walnuts)
½ c. canned crushed pineapple, drained
½ c. raisins
1 c. shredded carrots
Mix first five ingredients in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs
Stir the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.
Add pineapple, nuts, raisins and carrots and stir until it’s all incorporated
Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan and bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 40 minutes.
NOTE: You can also bake this recipe in four mini-loaves — baking time for these is about 30 minutes, however.
Every once in a while someone brings a dish to “something” and you fall in love! Rhonda brought this to our Cookbook Book Club last Thursday night . . . and I’ve already made and taken it to two “come and brings”. It is that good! It’s easy but not inexpensive for it calls for 2 cans/jars of olives and a whole pound of Monterey Jack cheese. But it is so worth it! And I actually like it at room temperature rather than hot out of the oven. Both times, I brought home crumbs. This recipe is definitely going in my little black book!
OLIVE CHEESE BREAD
1 loaf French Bread
8-ounce jar Pimiento stuffed Green Olives
8 ounce can black olives
2 green onions (white and green)
1 stick butter, room temperature
½ c. real Mayonnaise
1 pound Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
Roughly chop both black olives and green olives. Slice green onions (green and white part) into thin pieces.
Combine butter, mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions in mixing bowl. Stir together until thoroughly combined. Cut French bread in half, lengthwise. Spread half of the mixture on one half of the bread. Spread the other half of the mixture on the other half of the bread. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and browning.
For any of you growing up in the 50s and 60s, you often found this cake at the local A and P. It was a favorite of mine and I was glad to find the recipe. You can double the recipe and bake in a 9 x 13 and frost the top, you can bake as is in a loaf pan or an 8-inch square pan. The next time I make it, I will do the 8-inch square pan, cut it in half, frost one half and stick the other half on top and frost it . . . and then “comb” the top of the cake — like the cakes at the A and P!
A and P’s Spanish Bar
2 c. water
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. butter
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans — the A and P cake probably had walnuts)
Simmer the water and raisins in a saucepan on top of the stove for 10 minutes. Add the butter and cool the mixture. Meanwhile mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt. Add cooled raisin mix and stir until combined. Add beaten egg and stir until combined. Add nuts. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until done. If using a 9 x 13 or an 8 inch, baking time would be closer to 30 minutes.