Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Bark for Becky

Today's blog doesn't focus on a cookie - more on a holiday confection. The person who loves this is quite a confection herself. This would be my niece Becky Ford. Becky Ford is a teacher for special needs children who recently received a promotion in the Denver Public School system to a manager of special needs teacher. This promotion is well deserved for someone who loves to teach and loves her students. In this job she'll have the ability to bring a better learning environment to many students and teachers and she is just the person who can make it happen. Becky is passionate about people and children. She cares deeply about the quality of their lives and that they have an opportunity to live to their potential. When she first started teaching she saw the hard lives her students had. They came to school hungry and tired and not ready to learn. Becky worked to make things better for them so they could learn. I believe she worked hard to make innovations so school was a more supportive environment for the students as people and that school could be a home away from home for them.

Becky loves her family and for her brother's wedding made a collection of family recipes from members of the family combined with candid pictures of family and our times together. What a great gift. It was meaningful to everyone in the family and very exciting. For Christmas, Becky changed some of the pictures and had copies printed for those who hadn't received the earlier version. I was one of the proud recipients of that gift and it is something I will always treasure. I will cherish it especially as it really demonstrates the true nature of Becky as well and the thoughts of her are as dear as the collection of recipes and pictures itself.

Becky is one of the three March girls in our family who share many traits and being the babies of each of their families. All are passionate, loving people with wicked senses of humor and devotion to those they love. Like all the members of our family their have personality traits that render them vulnerable to teasing. She is incredibly fun but her passion for life makes her a little less vulnerable. She is lovely in so many ways in person and personality both. Becky Ford our family is blessed to have you.

Becky's choice is Peppermint Bark made with white chocolate. It's a casual fun food with many variations. You can use any kind of chocolate for the base. You can multiple layers of chocolate as the base and while peppermint means that you top it with peppermint you can also use almonds or other toppings.

Peppermint Bark

When I make peppermint bark I have about two pounds of chocolate. I line two half sheet pans with parchment. I melt the chocolate slowly over simmering water. I stir it to help it melt and become smooth and creamy. When it's reached this state I add a half teaspoon of peppermint extract. I then divide the melted chocolate between the two pans. Spreading it out to the edges yet maintaining about 1/3 to a 1/2 inch of thickness of the chocolate.

I crush 3 C of candy canes or peppermint candies and strew half over the top of each pan. Press the candies lightly so they will adhere to the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool and set until firm. Break the bark into irregular pieces and store in a tin between pieces of waxed paper. It's a true winter treat.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thoughts of cookies and Cardamom Butter Squares

Today, I am not blogging about one person's favorite cookie. I decided to give family hearts a break and just blog about a cookie I happen to like. My cookie favorite would be a molasses or gingery type cookie or a cookie that's based in butter with frosting. Nothing fancy or sophisticated there. Just full of taste and texture. But first I have to write a little about this season of cookie baking and what it means to me.

When I started baking cookies for family I developed a process that brings me immense pleasure. I make a list of all desirable cookies. This is a large and cumbersome list and would scare the faint of heart. I won't bake each cookie but I am developing a list to assure the best will be included. I include family favorites as the base then cull my cookie recipes for additions. I have 5 cookbooks exclusively for cookies, 6 cookie magazine collections and then a stack of cookie recipes that I collect throughout the year. So part of the pleasure and process is reading and eliminating, noting some as maybes, others as musts and compiling the initial list. Then I code the cookie list as to type of cookie - bar, rolled, drop, sliced, etc. The second coding is for chocolate, nut, frosted, fruit, butter, citrus, fruit, spice or some other standout ingredient. The final step is to cull the list to develop a list of cookies that are balanced by type and ingredient. I try to make sure that there is a balance of flavors and textures so we don't have an over abundance of any one type or kind of cookie. While some may see this whole process as pretty picky or even anal or perhaps compulsive it is a critical time for me.

The process is so much more than making a list. It gives me a sense of what the platter will look like and the variety of tastes. But mostly it starts the anticipation and excitement of the reality of cookies and baking and smiles. As I've written before, I have thought about each person and their cookie and them. I think about my memories of them through the years and the more recent past memories. I have hopes and dreams and gratitude for the presence of each person in my life. I think about the history of the cookies in my list. There are always some made from a recipe from someone who has passed on. Making those cookies allows me an opportunity to connect with all of them and bring so many happy memories back to the present. This is a most spiritual experience for me and without meaning to offend I see this process and baking and sending and enjoying cookies when they reach their destination to be a unique form of communion among the generations and the ones loved so well. Communion in shared meals is one of my beloved rituals of life and when family and dear ones are so far apart it brings everyone a shared experience to mark the time until we can unite at our summer vacation.

Today's cookie is a cardamom butter square. The recipe was developed by the McCormick Spice Company. Cardamom is an exotic spice and in my mind underused in cooking. This cookies combines several favorite flavors - spice, butter, espresso and bittersweet chocolate. They are rolled into a log and chilled. When ready to bake they are sliced and baked then decorated with drizzles of bittersweet and espresso frosting. They are very contemporary looking and just delicious.

Cardamom Butter Squares

3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp gr. cardamom
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 C softened butter
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl.

Beat together sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixture for two minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Form dough into two 12 inch logs wrap each in plastic wrap. Use your hands to roll, press and square the sides of each log. Chill logs on a baking sheet until slightly firm, about 1 hour then smooth logs with plastic wrap and flat side of ruler to achieve straight sides. Chill until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut scant 1/4 inch slices from a log to fill two ungreased baking sheets. arranging slices about 1 inch apart. (Chill remaining dough in plastic wrap.)

Bake cookies switching positions of the sheets midway during baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 3 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.


1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 T milk
1 C confectioner's sugar

Mix the above together to make a thick but pourable frosting. Spoon into a sealable bag and snip 1/8 inch from corner. Use the bag to drizzle thin strips of espresso icing on the cookies.

3 oz melted bittersweet chocolate

Put 3 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate into another sealable bag, snip 1/8 inch from the corner and drizzle over the cookies. You have a two layer drizzle on each cookie. Let cookies stand on the racks until the icing is set about 2 hours.

This makes 6 dozen cookies.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Matt Ford's Cookie

After a chat with his mom Sue, I learned that her son Matt Ford is a chocolate chip kind of guy. Matt is a graphic artist and very talented musician who migrated to California with his new wife Halle years ago. Matt and Halle were married in October at a beach side wedding with immediate family only. The pictures are beautiful and really convey the special day as a sublime experience. Matt is a very funny guy. He is so intense about his passions and he lives life large. He loves to experience his life fully and jumps in to life with all of his being. Matt is a redhead and has that sparky personality to match. As a little guy, Matt took up fishing and at one point managed to cast himself off the dock in his enthusiasm. He also tormented his younger sister by putting his thumb through the bottom of a shoebox and putting ketchup on it and displaying it much to Becky's horror.

Several years ago he had the opportunity to take a trip with some colleagues near Baja to run cars in the desert over several days. Matt brought many pictures and regaled the family for over an hour with stories from the trip. He summoned the excitement he felt during the trip and we all could feel his excitement. Matt is exuberance and passion personified. He is a party in a person.

Matt's cookie according to his Mom would be a chocolate chip cookie. That notion of a cookie for him didn't sit well with me until I remembered an article in the NYT about chocolate chip cookies. Apparently someone whipped up a very fine batch of chocolate cookie dough and allowed it to sit in the fridge for several days before baking. The notion was that holding the dough in this way allows the texture and the taste of the cookie to be transformed into something even more rich and delicious. I can't imagine making Matt sit for three days to bring his passion to a higher level but I can see Matt experiencing this cookie in a new and different way that really ramps it up for him to a higher level of pleasure and excitement.

This is a recipe for the cookie adapted from the baker and chocolatier Jacques Torres

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C minus 2 T cake flour
1 2/3 C bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
\1 1/4 C light brown sugar
1 C plus 2 T. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks (chips) at least 60 percent cacao
sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Using a mixer fixed with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5-10 seconds.
Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick baking mat and set aside.

Scoop 6 3 1/2 ounce mounds of dough onto the cookie sheet making sure any chocolate pieces that pop up are horizontal. (makes a more attractive cookie) Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies to another wire rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen 5 inch cookies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Tom Ford Kind of Cookie

Tom Ford is the husband of my sister Sue and Dad of Matt and Becky. He is a graduate of Purdue with an advanced degree in engineering. Tom is laid back and can be quiet but he is an keen observer and will contribute a dry remark based on his observations that will surely make you laugh. He also laughs and has a fine sense of humor which has served him well being the last man standing as one of the husbands of three siblings. He has more than paid his dues through the years and knows the Henry's backwards and forwards. It would be fun to be a little mouse and hear some Henry stories as he would relate them from his perspective.

We have some great Tom stories that we have laughed about that brought us to tears of laughter. Tom is a devoted fisher and golfer. On one fishing adventure he returned home with a hook attached to the back of his head. He apparently landed his biggest catch ever - himself! He clipped the line and went to the ER where they helped him release his catch to fish again. He approached this whole experience with a look of chagrin and quiet fortitude and perhaps a small degree of disgust that he had to share this situation with many different people. He didn't grin but he really bore it. Tom is quite handsome and in my mind reminds me of Howie Long. Tom can't see it because there is a height and size difference but it is apparent to me. Last summer he appeared at vacation with very short hair and suffered a lot of teasing about his "do" from Aunt Buck and generation 3. It had a very military style to it and someone ended being called Sarge but it may not have been Tom.

One of my favorite pictures of Tom is him bending over on one side of a glass door to make a smile at Jon my son when he was such a little guy. It is a sweet picture and so much captures Tom's kindness and affection for family. Tom is a person who is warm and kind and a person of quiet strength. He'll stand with you through thick and thin but can help you see your strength and the humor of a situation. He has character and purpose that anyone would want to have and a better partner for my sister could not be found. I am proud to have Tom as a member of my family and each of us are better for having him there. He is just a great guy and such a treasure. I couldn't ask for a better brother or brother - in law.

When I asked Tom about his favorite cookie he described a cookie Mimi made that was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and of course chocolate. He further stated that if I didn't know what he was talking about I could just post a chocolate cookie recipe and that would be heaven. Well, surprise Uncle Tom. Your favorite cookie is known as the Really Good Christmas Cookie. The cookie came to us by way of our back fence neighbor Helen Johnston. Helen and her husband Doc were characters of the first order and great people to have as neighbors. Mimi baked these cookies just for Tom year after year.

Really Good Christmas Cookie

2 pkgs Bakers German Sweet Chocolate
1 T. butter
2 eggs
3/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter over hot water. Stir and cool.

Beat eggs until foamy add sugar 2 T. at a time. Beat 5 minutes. (Don't cut this corner!)

Blend in chocolate mixture.

Add dry ingredients. Blend

Stir in vanilla and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes and cool.

A Cookie for Cammy

Cammy is my niece, daughter of Buck and the tail end of generation three. She is actually the bridge between generation 3 and 4. To the very young members of generation 4 Cammy is Miss good time. She will play with the boys endlessly, entertaining them with games and activities and just having a lap to sit in and cuddle. For Miriam she is a connection to be a member of the Henry girls - an awesome cadre of women with personalities that are pretty big and wide. Don't feel bad Henry guys. You are each unique and special and have big personalities but as Bobo can tell you there is some disparity with the women that tends to give things a unique tilt. It all works doesn't it. When Cammy was a toddler she hokey-pokeyed endlessly with the family and played and watched the laughter and craziness of her family. One night as her Mom was tucking her into bed she asked, "Who are those crazy people?" Her Mom steadily replied "Cammy that's your family." I think it was a lot to sleep on but she has grown into her role. When we celebrated Cammy's birthday Sue created a quiz based on Cammy's social life. The best question dealt with the number of text messages and Cammy had over 5000 text messages per month. Take a deep breath. So when I wanted to learn to text I consulted Cammy who taught me patiently and I text her from time to time along with my other texting buddies. Jon my son was texting me and when we got together he shared a very telling observation when he told me I texted like a 13 year old. The mark of Cammy.

Because Cammy was the tail end her two aunts had great experience and raising children before their baby sister got her chance. However Rebecca was very helpful to her older sisters and had great advice from her experience as a psychologist to offer her sisters. Cammy was is a special and unique person in her own right but definitely shares many Henry girl and guy traits. She is fun loving and athletic and all about an adventure. She is a senior in high school and her Facebook lists her friends as well over 500 nearest and dearest people in her life. Cammy is an accomplished ice skater and skates competitively and teaches ice skating at the rink where she skates and holds down a part-time job. Her academic career is going well and we expect great things for her future from what we know about her as a person. It's been fun for Sue and me to watch Becky and Cammy's relationship over the years. Beck 's done a great job with Cammy working to give her daughter freedom and the opportunity to make her own choices yet protect her from the challenges people Cammy's age experience. They survived the challenging time and continue to travel forward.

Cammy's cookie choice is Peanut Butter Blossoms. The cookie with as Beck describes as peanut butter with a blob of chocolate in the middle.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
48 Hershey's Kisses Brand Milk Chocolate unwrapped
1/2 C shortening
3/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C brown sugar packed
1 egg
2 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees
Beat shortening and peanut butter together in large bowl until blended. Add granulated and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla, beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt and beat into peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie. The cookie will crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 48 cookies.

Love you Sk8rgrl!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rebecca's Bar

"We live by the mantra: We never met an Annie cookie we didn't love!" That was the response I received when I emailed my sister Rebecca and her daughter Cammy and asked what might be their favorite cookie each. Great answer. That's the kind of answer that inspires a baker and helps us break out of the baking box. And I must share that Rebecca or Buck as she is known can be very inspirational when it comes to fun and living life to the fullest with great care and love for her family and others. I would tell you she is thoughtful and you would say oh she thinks of others. That certainly is true but she is thoughtful meaning turning on her thinking processes to bring out her best when we talk about the things and people that mean the most to us. Like the rest of my family she is caring and has a huge heart for others. Rebecca wears her heart on her sleeve for others and is filled with compassion. She is a softy with a very strong and keen intellect.

She sounds like Mother Teresa doesn't she but good as she is she is not quite there. Buck balances her kindness with her keen sense of fun. It's a family trait I tell you! Rebecca is the person who is always up for a game or a good time. She will tease and mock during the nightly slip a$$ game on vacation to throw her opponent and secure a win. She nicknamed Elijah E-Z-E and recognized his rockin' nature as a little guy. She proclaimed her star role as the funniest kid in class when confronted by a dad who thought she might do better academically in grade school but she also won the annual MUGS award from that same school. Quite an honor. She has no patience with long processes and has been known to announce as we drove on the first leg of a family vacation "If I knew it would take this long I would have stayed with Grandma Henry!". She didn't appreciate the cooking process and met the right guy (Thank you David). She confronted me about a recipe I shared that had more than 4 ingredients and took about 6 hours to produce. David would say I was the beneficiary of a Buckburst. So at risk of the more atomic Buckruption I will cease to share more sister stories of this beloved sister. Just know that I love her with all of my heart and it is my good fortune to have her as a sister!

So Rebecca's favorite cookie would be a lemon bar. Like Rebecca tart but sweet, crisp yet creamy , multi-layered and an all around great choice to balance other flavors on the Christmas cookie platter.

Luscious Lemon Bars

2 C. flour
1/2 C confectioner's sugar
1 C. butter or vegetable shortening

4 large eggs
2 C granulated sugar
1/3 C fresh lemon juice
1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
zest of a lemon - I use this for extra kick but it is optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan
To make the crust, combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter or shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake 20 minutes

While the crust bakes make the topping.
Ina large bowl beat the eggs until thick, and light-colored. Beat in the sugar. Beat in the lemon juice. Beat in the flour and baking powder.
Pour the topping over the baked crust.
Bake for 20-25 minutes longer until light colored and firm to the touch.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
You can substitute lime juice and make lime bars as well.

Adapted from 1001 Cookie Recipes.

Mimi's Cookie

My mom AKA Mimi is the person who enabled me in the kitchen. She pretty much gave me free reign and let me experiment and bake to my heart's content. She was gracious through my culinary highs and lows. Mimi refers to herself as a plain cook and not gourmet but she definitely makes great food and wonderful meals. She also has some dishes that people just love and ask her to make. Mimi's applesauce is a family legend. Her cottage potatoes and potato salad are wonderful. Growing up, her fried chicken with white gravy was a birthday treat. Every Christmas Mimi made a braided tea ring from the Betty Crocker cookbook. It was a beautiful yeasted ring with filling and decorated with frosting almonds and candied cherries. When I started baking Christmas cookies Mimi quickly asked me if I was making gumdrop bars. Mimi's cookie is a brown sugar based cookie filled with chopped gumdrops. It's a very sweet cookie but it is called a Jewelled Cookie because of the pieces of gumdrops in the cookie. They are glazed with a thin lemon frosting.

There is another member of the family that appreciates gumdrop bars. My dog Jack the beagle in his younger days was quite a devil. One year I baked the bars, cut and frosted them and put them on foil on the counter. Jack was able to stand on his hind legs and tease the foil to the edge of the counter where he ate half a recipe of gumdrop bars! That's 2 C. of gumdrops and a C. of sugar and butter people and the results were lovely. I will not describe anything beyond that. I will never forget making gumdrop bars without thinking of my Mom and of course Jack.

Gum Drop Bars

Mix together thoroughly:
1/2 C shortening
1/2 C. unsalted butter
2 C. packed brown sugar
2 eggs

Stir in:
1/2 C sour milk or buttermilk

Sift together and stir in:
3 1/2 C flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix in 4 C. chopped gumdrops

Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost with a lemon glaze

Lemon Glaze

2 C confectioners sugar
3 T lemon juice
1 T. melted butter
zest of a lemon

This is a great cookie. Thanks Mimi and Betty Crocker

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back to the Bars

Well not literally the drinking establishments but bar cookies. As one of the basic types of cookies bars are fundamental. They lend themselves perfectly to layering and a resulting composite of tastes. Infinite combinations of favorite flavors can produce hundreds of different cookies. Mathematic in scale it would take an engineer to assess the number and layered shapes.

One of my favorite engineers is a software engineer my son in law Josh. Josh is another cookie lover. Josh is a master of fun and fantasy for his little crew of kids. He is expanding his woodworking skills and makes wooden toys and projects for the children's school. He takes time to listen to the children intently and converse with them. He is working on creating his home through cooking, canning, barbecuing and home projects. He and Jen are great partners in creating their home and family and he is a blessing in our family.

Josh happens to like peanut butter in cookies. I discovered this during one of my recent visits to Seattle. So of course I made a batch of peanut butter cookies for him. He liked them and they were a hit with his two young sons as well. Jen was telling me she was planning to make some cookies during my baking hiatus. Jen asked for some recipes and discussed cookie options. One of the options was a cookie for Josh based on peanut butter. I searched through the cookie files and found one for chocolate peanut butter layer brownies. They have a peanut butter base with a chocolate brownie top. Given Josh's love of fun and dry humor about all things of life these should tickle his palate and evoke some happy times with his family.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Brownies

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 C sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C chunky peanut butter
3 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9 in square baking pan. Knock out the excess flour.
In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate stirring , until smooth and remove the top of the double boiler or bowl from heat. Cool chocolate to room temperature.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and vanilla.
Into a small bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and beat into the butter mixture just until well blended.
Divide the batter between two bowls. Whisk peanut butter into batter in 1 bowl. Whisk the melted chocolate into other bowl and add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.
Spread peanut butter evenly into the pan. Drop chocolate batter by large spoonfuls onto the peanut butter base and spread carefully to form an even layer.

Bale brownies for 35 to 40 minutes in the middle of the oven. Cool brownies completely in the pan before cutting into 16 squares.

Hey Josh, enjoy with my love to you.

A Chocolate Blog

Like most of America and the world, I live amidst a family of chocolate mavens. One particular maven is my sister Sue. Sue is my middle sister and the organizer of the family. She is affectionately called Miss Mom by the family and my parents conjecture that she has Grandma Henry's drive to run the family and rule the world. She is intense and perhaps not to that degree of ruling the world but she has definite ideas about how things need to be. Are you seeing a continuing theme in the Henry family?

She is amazingly fun and a laugh a minute. She staged a picture to look like she fell down the dunes and was clawing her way to the top of the hill. In another picture she plastered her nose with chocolate cake batter and staged a shot of her lunging for the bowl of cake batter I held. There are more stories but the stories could fill a book. She is one of two very special sisters I have and I love them both to distraction. Sue as a chocolate maven had a challenge with my Mom over Sue's desire for a chocolate wedding cake. Mom believed at that time it just wasn't done. A great aunt told Mom that the Groom's cake could be chocolate so the wedding cake was half chocolate and half white. Knowing her love of chocolate and my love for her I am dedicating this special recipe to her. This is a triple chocolate espresso cookie that will sate the chocolate desire of any chocolate maniac. So Miss Mom here is your cookie. Love you!

Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies

1 3/4 C flour
3 T. cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 C softened unsalted butter
1 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C (6 oz.) chocolate chips

Sift flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally so it melts evenly; remove from heat when smooth.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Pour in melted chocolate and beat until combined.
Add flour mixture and chips and mix on low until just incorporated.
Cover dough and refrigerate 15-20 minutes until firm enough to scoop.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several cookie sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Roll dough into 1 1/2 " balls and place on sheets 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes - cookies will appear soft but will firm up on cooling. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks before moving with a metal spatula.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cookie Blogs III

Today I had a wonderful experience. One of my dear friends emailed me and asked me to visit. She thought I might be missing Christmas cookies and baking because of my knee. She and her daughter baked and she wanted to share some with me. She dropped off a beautiful platter of eight different assorted cookie varieties. How nice. I never receive Christmas cookies. It was such a treat to look at the variety and sample a cookie. They are delicious. I said to Nancy the giver , "You have rugelach." "Oh you mean sour cream roll ups?", she asked. Isn't it funny that so often the things we see as the same are different or vice versa. But the enjoyment of tradition and flavors though different can evoke fond memories of tastes, smells and experience.

Today I offer another bar cookies. In the process of making over 1000 cookies you learn some efficiencies. Lots of bars, lots of slices created from rolls of refrigerated dough and drops. Spritz are individually shaped but by a cookie press which makes a pretty fast process. Little time for rolled cookies - plus they may be too fragile to travel.So yet again a bar cookie. I'll go a bit further and tell you it's a sleeper cookie. Sleeper because it looks pretty average. Crumbs adorn the top but it is a pretty plain undecorated cookies. Your eye wouldn't be drawn to it as you might an iced cut-out or a frosted drop or swirled marbleized cookies with sprinkles. But it is a mouthful of caramel and crumbs. It's an easy cookie because it's based is refrigerated cookie dough. I know that's kind of a trick from a cook who likes to make things from scratch but it is a delicious cookie none the less. The cookie is one of Miss Jen's favorite. She is a cookie lover and I thinks she loves the exotic name with the very simple caramel note of the cookie.

Dulce de Leche Bars

2 rolls refrigerator sugar cookie dough (18 oz each)
1 3/4 C. rolled oats
2/3 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tsp. vanilla
1 bag of caramels (14-15 oz.)
1/2 C. butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
3 T. caramel topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Break up 1 cookie roll into a large bowl. Add 3/4/C of the oats, 1/3 C brown sugar and 1 tsp. of the vanilla; mix well. With floured fingers press the dough mixture evenly into the bottom of ungreased 15x10x1 inch baking pan to form the crust.
Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown.
Meanwhile in the same bowl break up the second cookie dough roll. Add the remaining oats, 1/3 C brown sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla; mix well.
In a large heavy saucepan heat caramels, butter and condensed milk over medium low heat, stirring frequently until caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove partially baked pan of cookies from the oven. Spread caramel mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining cookie mixture evenly over the top of the caramel.
Return to oven. Bake 18-22 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Run knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool completely - 2 hours. Using a small spoon drizzle the caramel topping over the top of the cookies. Cut into bars.

Here's to you Miss Jen. Enjoy the cookies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookie Blog

Jon came over yesterday to spend some time and he said he read the Grasshopper Squares blog. He asked when would I blog about his favorites - Golf Balls. I had to tell my sweet son that I had already posted about his favorite cookie at the end of last year. You can search under golf balls or Christmas cookie to go to that particular blog. Jon is really craving golf balls and it was almost as if by blogging they would become reality. Oh the wishes of the young. I would so make him golf balls if I could.

His wishing reminds me of one of the most important steps of any activity I do when I'mmaking something for someone else. Whether quilting or cooking or any other activity when I am making something for someone or someones special. I spend time thinking about the person. I remember happy times together, the little quirks and eccentricities of the person. I imagine the look on their face when they see or taste the outcome. In so many ways to me it is a communion of spirit that transcends mere baking and sewing and brings something unique to the experience of making the cookie or the quilt or whatever. The process can become almost meditative particularly when the process is another step in a long tradition.

I love making golf balls for several reasons. They are a cookie beloved by my family in general. They are especially loved by my Dad and my son - two very important men in my life. My mom and I made this cookie together so many times and I have wonderful memories of cooking with her that I will treasure forever. Finally the taste of the cookie itself is nutty, buttery and slightly sweet and the cookies just melt in your mouth. Go find that recipe! They are alternatively known as Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes.

So for today's cookie I have a very fun cookie beloved by my children and friends. It's a year round cookie good anytime but its incredible chocolatey, caramelly sweetness can bring you to your knees. So it's a great cookie on a cookie platter at Christmas. The cookie is also special because the recipe was found in a cookbook given to me by my children when they were quite young. It is one of the first cookbooks in my collection and it still stands proudly on the shelf. My dear friend Khristopher loves the cookie. Khristopher is a friend of long standing who is a mortician/drag queen. He lives in LA and is now a mortician to the stars. Khristopher asked for the recipe for a bake off at the funeral home in Columbus where he worked. Let it proudly be known that this cookie won first prize at the Schoedinger Funeral Home staff picnic. I hope you'll enjoy this cookie.

Turtle Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan

1 package German Sweet Chocolate cake mix
1 small can evaporated milk
1 12 oz package of chopped pecans
3/4 C. softened butter
1 15 oz package of caramels

In a bowl combine cake mix, 1/3 C evaporated milk, and butter. After spraying your hands with cooking spray press 1/2 of the cake mixture into the bottom of the pan spreading evenly. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.

Melt the caramels with 1/3 C. evaporated milk in the microwave stirring frequently until smooth and creamy.

Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the partially baked cookie base. Drizzle the caramel mixture over the nuts and cookies using it all. Then crumble the rest of the cake mixture evenly over the top of the cookies base. It doesn't need to cover perfectly. The crumbles will melt and nuts and caramel will peek through after baking.

Bake the cookies for 15 - 20 minutes and allow to cool. For best results I bake the cookies the day before serving so the caramel can solidify and make cutting in squares easier. This is a great cookie and wonderful as part of a holiday selection.

The next cookie is a favorite of Miss Jen's Dulce de Leche bars!! Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Christmas Cookie Blogs

Due to recovery from knee surgery - how many times will I have to say this? -I cannot follow my usual holiday tradition of cookie baking for my family and Lee's. In past years we baked 12-15 different kinds choosing family traditions and mixing with new and exotic cookies. They would be sorted and boxed according to families and numbers of people and sent across the United States. All told more than 1000 cookies were baked and sent. It is fun and a time filled with spirits of Christmas past, the joy of Christmas present and hope for Christmas futures.

Because I cannot bake I've decided to do a series of posts of Christmas cookies that I have baked for loved ones. There will be a little story with each recipe that talks about the cookie, its tradition or the people that love the cookie.

I am starting off with the youngest generation of folk. Eli and Gabe ages 7 and soon to be 4 live in Seattle. They are great Christmas aficionados and love tradition. Their favorite cookie happens to be grasshopper squares. Grasshopper squares are a lovely combination of chocolate and mint. The boys love this flavor combination and the creamy, minty frosting. The recipe description says, "These cookies fairly explode in the mouth with silky, fudgy chocolate and cool mint ganache. " Yowser! Jen asked for the recipe as she will bake some cookies for the season as her momma couldn't come through. The boys will help her bake and as it is with most child bakers we have to wonder how much will end up on faces and hands and how much cookie will be left. I'll be waiting for pics of baking on their web site in the Picasa gallery.

Please oh please if you choose to bake any of the cookies use high quality ingredients. Follow quantities and directions explicitly. You'll have the best results. I promise.

Okay so I won't keep you waiting a minute more.

Grasshopper Squares adapted from Gourmet

Brownie Layer

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
10 1/2 oz fine quality bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (no more than 60% cacao)
1 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C plus 2 T. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
3/4 tsp. salt

For Mint Ganache
1/2 C heavy cream
10 0z. fine quality white chocolate chopped
2 T. creme de menthe
1 tsp. peppermint extract

For Chocolate Ganache

1 C heavy cream
10 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened) finely chopped

Brownie Layer
Put rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter a 13 x 9 baking pan and line with two criss-crossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on the sides. Butter foil.

Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a 3 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, and salt until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, about 20 minutes.
Cool completely in a pan on a rack 90 minutes.

Mint Ganache
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2-3 qt. saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over white chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in creme de menthe and extract and chill, stirring occasionally until thick, 1 hour.

Chocolate Ganache
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2-3 qt. saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.

Assemble layers

Spread mint ganache over brownie layer in a thin even layer using an offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes.
Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry, then trim 1/4 ' edge off each side of dessert. Cut dessert into small squares and peel foil.

This makes 6 dozen cookies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Holidays are days of traditions laid end to end to bring family and loved ones together in joy, peace and connection to the past, present and future. People at the festivities change or may be absent for a time or two but the traditions celebrated near or far unite loved ones. Like many families my family has rich traditions that have been continued and celebrated through the years and passed on to future generations to keep and tend and even modify a bit as new traditions are forged out of old. My grandparents were great at keeping traditions and welcoming family. Special foods of course, but Santa's visit on Christmas Eve at the farm, a meal crowded with cousins around a huge dining room table, a special gift chosen with great care for each child, great aunts and uncles sharing a meal on a cold evening and tales of parents as young ones over the years. Participating in traditions always evokes stories of events past and memories dying to be shared.

In my immediate family, traditions have been passed down and been created to weave the familiar personalities and fun with foods and activities. On Christmas Eve a tradition was built to serve charcuterie which is a divine mixture of cured meats, cheeses and pickles as a first course with breads and crackers and condiments. The second course is James Beard turkey in lettuce leaves - a recipe already on this blog. Finally Christmas cookies are served. In years past I am the cookie monster er master. Each year I bake about 13 - 15 kinds of cookies to share with my family scattered throughout the states. Cookies are a mix of bars and drops, shaped, molded and flavors. There are some cookies that are always there - golf balls, turtle bars, chocolate mint brownies and much, much, more. This year the Christmas cookies are giving way to knee replacement. There is no way to make cookies to send 10 different ways with this knee. My family assures me it will make the cookies taste better next year.

I have been watching the younger generations as they build their families to see what traditions they keep and what they add for them. Facebook has shared some clues as to what is ahead for the family. Last night Jen and Josh and the kids put up their tree. They had a family expedition to select a live tree and brought it home to put it up. Gabe has been asking for the tree daily so finally he is getting his wish. According to Jen Eli has matured and you can tell as he places his ornaments in a variety of sites on the tree. Gabe follows early Eli and tends to decorate one spot on the tree. Miriam gazes up from her spot on the floor and parents try to plan for safety for some low hanging ornaments.

Jen loves tradition and has been trying to find the holiday time that is right for them to add charcuterie. Well tree decorating night seems to be the perfect time. Jen and Josh prepared a plate of charcuterie and like any good tradition added several new options. She added shrimp cocktail and mini-pizzas. Of course with two boys of such different personalities there must be not one but two kinds of pizza. Eli likes the silver dollar sized pizzas and Gabe likes medium mini pizzas. Jen and Josh have really added to the wonder of tree transformation by combining a tradition from another holiday time. The time is a festive family party of rediscovering ornaments and adding new ones to the tree remembering occasions and why we have which ornament and how it came to the family.

With our family separated by states it is a joy to see what they are doing to celebrate occasions and create traditions of their own as well as keeping family traditions. I hope each of you celebrates your own family traditions in the way you love and cherish this holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Support and Revelations

Since my knee replacement and the long recovery I have been the beneficiary of gifts that are the best not as material objects but the gifts of revelation. I had underestimated the challenging nature of this surgery and throught I would be back to normal within a few short weeks. LAUGH NOW ALL OF YOU I WAS REALLY CRAZY WASN'T I. I now awaken every day waiting to see how the day goes as a barometer of progress in the road to recovery. I evaluate the pain, number of pills needed yesterday versus today and the stiffness of the knee and its perceived mobility. I do the exercises and try to gauge my progress in degrees and ability to tolerate knee positions. It is exhausting. While I have been recovering my family and friends have come forward to support me at a level which I never expected. I have received gifts of food, meals and I do mean complete meals with extras for the freezer, magazines, fruit arrangements, cookies, restaurant lunches and each comes with a visit which is very nice. These friends have been such a revelation of kindness. I had no idea that we would be the recipients of such generosity. Amazing and wonderful. I feel like Sally Field - You like me! It is the best feeling in the world and I will never underestimate the meaning of support and showing up for the people in your life.

Lee is also the beneficiary of this kindness and she too marvels at people's kindness and generosity. Lee has been saved many nights of cooking thanks to this kindness and generosity and for that we are both grateful. Last night Lee made pasta and salad which was lovely. It was the first meal she actually cooked. So this is Lee. "Anne when I cook the pasta does it go in the pan with the cold water or do I do something else?" Sigh. The pasta was lovely but slightly undrained. I asked about this and she told me she drained the pasta by spoonfuls. Such commitment. By the way I froze meals before surgery so we had marinara sauce for the pasta. Lee makes an excellent salad. Last night's was romaine, carrots, kalamata olives, pignoli and freshly grated parmesan with purchased dressing. After three weeks of TLC from Lee I would tell you she is the second revelation. She is eager to offer assistance whenever needed and for anything. She is patient and kind and almost never says no - she refused to make turkey tetrazinni and we had one more Thanksgiving meal in a row. When I am frustrated and down she is upbeat and encouraging. She makes me laugh and she has really stepped up to a huge plate. We have three dogs and feeding the dogs and me can be an ordeal. Jack the elderly beagle has warm broth and rice mixed with medicine and he eats that first. When he finishes that he gets his kibble mixed in. Dude and Doris are not so picky but require the kibble and broth mix with meds for Doris. Then she gets to feed me. Our only debacle has been oatmeal. I love old fashioned oast undercooked, sprinked with brown sugar and granola and sliced bananas with milk on the side. The first time she prepared oatmeal she boiled it and it was overcooked and gloppily inedible. The second time she tried the micowave and it wasn't as overdone but could have cooked less. She then mixed it all together - yech! So now no oatmeal ever again. I guess I can live without oatmeal until I can do it myself. Lee has been my second revelation in patience and kindness. Thank you Lee, you are the best!

The third revelation is much more mundane and in keeping with my usual focus on food. The other day I expressed an urge for a cupcake and Lee said "I will get you a cupcake". This involved a trip to the Ele' Cake Company and a beautiful white cupcake with pink frosting. This cupcake looked so traditional yet the cake was a specialty cake of raspberry cake cloaked in white cake topped with raspberry frosting. OMG. I could only eat half at a time it was so very rich and the tastes so true to fresh raspberry. I have been watching Cake Boss with Lee and we marvel at the specialty cakes produced. I wonder how would they taste? Well if they are anything like my cupcake they are unbelievable as a dessert and as well as a design. Now I am on a quest to understand cakes and will be returning to Rose Levy Berenabum's Cake Bible. Rose took cake baking to a science and spent years studying baking science to produce luscious and beautiful cakes. One of the things I most love about her cookbook are the sections that she terms "understanding" that convey information about baking that really changes the concept of baking. Studying Rose gain should help me take another step up in my baking ability. The other part of this revelation in taste that is so exciting is that one of the owners of the Ele' Cake Company is the cousin of Mr. MW. Mr. and Mrs MW are celebrating their 25th anniversary and will be serving three cakes from Ele'. However the best news is that the owner may be attending the party. I so hope to meet her and drag her into a corner to talk about baking and her business - cake business that is.

The recipe below is the cake I made for Mr. MW's birthday. It is not an Ele' cake but it is a cake from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan of baking and Julia Child fame. Mr. MW's favorite cake is a carrot cake and this is Big Bill's Carrot Cake. The only problem with the cake is that there was no pineapple and in my mind one must have pineapple in a carrot cake. So I decided to make a filling of rum and pineapple to put between the layers and on top with cream cheese frosting on the sides. I added dark rum to the cream cheese frosting to hit the ball home so to speak!

Mr MW's Carrot Cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan

2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder.
2 tsp. gr. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
3 C grated carrots
1 C coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 C moist plump raisins
2 C sugar
1 C canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs

28 oz can crushed pineapple drained
2 -3 T. dark rum
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 C brown sugar

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter
1 lb. confectioner's sugar (3 3/4 C)
1 T dark rum
1/2 C shredded coconut

325 degree oven butter and flour 3 9 " cake pans. For the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients for the cake. In another bowl combine, carrots, coconut, nuts and raisins. In a mixer beat the oil and sugar togetheron medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture mixing until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the fruit and nut mixture and divide the batter between the three pans. Bake 40 - 50 minutes rotating the pans in the oven so they bake evenly.. When done a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Let cool 5 minutes then invert the cakes, unmold them and allow the cakes to cool to room temperature.

While the cake is baking combine the filling ingredients and cook over medium heat until thickened. Cool.

In the stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rum and coconut and beat to smooth.

To assemble the cake put one layer on a plate or stand and frost the top with one-third of the fiulling. Repeat for the next layer. Top with the third layer. Using the frosting frost the sides of the cake. Finally using the last of the filling dress the top of the cake.

This is a wonderful cake.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was a wonderful holiday for me on so many levels. Mom and Dad in from Florida, Jon joining us as a Dayton resident, Becky Ford in from Colorado and then Sue and Tom, Aunt Dorr, Tom's dad Bob and Bob's wife Jane. A traditional gathering from near and far. It was especially wonderful for me because I actually was able to go. Surgery 16 days ago and lots of hopes and wishes to be able to go. Being able to go was a little iffy from the beginning but particularly so after a grueling day Monday of doctoring, PT and recovery. The rehab PT on Tuesday gave me my marching orders to do nothing but ice my knee, exercise the proscribed number of times and relax and see. So I did just that and was able to go. Going was not so simple and required generous spirits on the side of my precious sister Sue and her husband Tom. They went out of their way to make me comfortable and welcome. For me going was like taking a baby - pillows, cooler with bags of frozen veggies for knee icing , meds and patience. I planted myself in the recliner and iced while the holiday activities unfolded.

My perch on the recliner was the perfect spot to watch all of the activities in the kitchen. It was very hard to sit there and see all of my favorite activities occurring without being in the middle, helping, advising and chatting and admiring. Sue and Tom and Mom and Dad took major leads in preparing the wonderful meal. Sue's meal is always traditional and it really touches the core of what I understand Thanksgiving to be. Yet like many dinners it is a compilation of traditions. The main meal is always pretty much that of the past. Sue does get wild and crazy with appetizers and desserts. So it is very fun and full of surprises. Appetizers were a delicious creamy bleu cheese dip with celery and onion served on crackers and a hot crab and artichoke dip with red peppers, cream and parmesan cheese baked and served with toasts. Oh those yummy chunks of crab were to die for.

The main part of the meal was a beautiful juicy turkey sliced by the engineer and beautifully displayed on the platter. Sides included mashed yukon gold potatoes with gravy, peas and onions, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, rolls and two kinds of stuffing. The sweet potatoes come from niece Becky. They are peeled and steeped in water and baking soda. After that they are drained and poached slowly in a brown sugar, butter and cinnamon syrup. They are so awesome. Each bite has butter and cinnamon. The flavor just permeates through the potatoes. So unlike sweet potato casserole where there are potatoes souffleed and covered with a glaze of nuts and brown sugar and butter. With that you eat through layers of flavors. These potatoes are simple and incredibly delicious.

Our family enjoys simple bread dressing baked in the bird. Tom's family grew up with stuffing balls. Balls of stuffing are scooped on to a cookie tray and baked to crispy goodness in the oven while the turkey rests. So you really have to savor stuffing both ways. Dessert was a cheesecake made by Sue and Tom together. Pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust topped with marshmallow creme glaze. It is so rich you have to have a very slim piece to savor. It is a sneaking up on you dessert - you take a bite and then another, each bite accruing flavor and sweetness and your tummy just leaps with joy at the last bite. This was as Lee described the best cheesecakes she ever ate.

That wonderful food combined with joy and laughter, sharing and stories was the perfect day - the Thanksgiving I dreamed about. We had calls from those not present wishing everyone well so we had more opportunities to share being family. My sister Sue is the person we call Miss Mom and tease her about her energy about the family. It's an energy we all share and treasure because it is what makes each occasion with our family so unique and special. Sue and Tom make their home a gathering place for all and welcome everyone with open hearts and warm spirits. Laughter overflows and loves bounces off the walls from hearts together. Sweet Becky Ford their daughter is a warm heart and spirit who is loving and joyful. They worked together to make a very special holiday for their family and we all say thank you to them from the bottom of our hearts.

I am including Sue's recipe for Bleu Cheese Dip. It is simple and delicious and is a great appetizer.

Bleu Cheese Dip with Celery and Onion

1 8 0z package of room temperature cream cheese
1 C crumbled bleu cheese
1 C sour cream
1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Combine chill 1 hour and serve with crackers or veggies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching Up

Way too long since I've blogged. Not that there haven't been themes and topics but I haven't been available. October is breast cancer awareness month and November is Knee month - well not for everybody just for me. On November 10th I had a total knee replacement. I am recovering from surgery and doing rehab. What I've learned about knee replacement surgery and recovery is that there is not a single path. There are multiple paths in recovery. Those paths are not always coordinated and interdependent. On the one path I have a new knee. The knee straightens and flexes and will allow me to have more mobility and comfort as I go about my days. I'll climb stairs, can walk on hikes and stand without discomfort. The other path is that my knee was opened, bone and joint sawed and removed and the prosthesis was hammered and glued into place. That path sounds like something out of a horror movie and therein lies the rub. When I had my gallbladder removed I rested and gained strength over two weeks and was back to work and normal routine in two weeks. Pretty simple as it all seemed to work so well together. With the knee, the new joint is in a cocoon waiting to erupt in usefulness. The only barrier is that the new knee has to break out of a shell of stiffness, swelling and pain. Do you know among knee patients OW is the most common word used in the lexicon of recovery. I do mean OWWW! So to help the butterfly knee emerge from its' strong cocoon there is PT and rehab. Rehab is a commitment to the future. A true opportunity to teach one the meaning of keeping your eyes on the prize. I am gritting my teeth and surreptitiously whining inside as I go through this. Well six weeks more I will probably be recovered and on my way back to life as a I knew it. I have missed all of the events of my normal life. I am so convinced that it just can't happen without me. Oh my delusions are huge. But I am getting better and it is something that doesn't happen alone so I am grateful.

Along the path I didn't blog about a number of things. I didn't blog the birthday of my precious 7 year old grandson Eli. I did complete his Frogs, Lizards and Reptiles of my quilt. I was rewarded with a picture by cell of a boy wrapped in the quilt like a burrito and I get reports that he sleeps in his snuggy quilt every night. He is a precious, precious boy with a very old soul and wit and intelligence that will light the future.

I missed blogging about the wedding of Matt and Halle. Matt is my nephew through Sue and Tom. He and Halle chose an intimate beach side wedding in California. Though many of us didn't go we were so joyed at their wedding. Matt and Halle are musicians and artists and very fun members of the family. Matt and Halle are an integral part of family times and we love Matt's stories about life in LALa land. They are two treasures who we all hope will share a long and happy life together.

I so missed blogging about my Mom's birthday and all that she means to me. She is awesome and ever her warm special self. She is genuinely loved by so many because of her warm smile, interest in connecting with others and true enjoyment of the family and social scene. Mimi loves her family and friends and we are all rewarded with her lovely grace and warmth. She is fun and lovely and treasured by her family. We have heard that there are other Mimi's but we always know ours is da bes!

I didn't blog about my brother-in-law Tom's birthday and what he means to me. Tom has been a part of our family for nearly 50 years. To me he is the brother I never had. He is joyful and has a wonderful hearty laugh. We are very different people but probably alike in the ways that really count. He listens to my stories of life with interest and humor and can add an observation that truly enhances my own perspective. He is one of my very favorite people because he relates to me as if I am fun, interesting, unique and playful. Plus he really likes me I can tell. I love Tom and his dear presence in my life. He is the kind of friend that makes you feel alive.

The day after my surgery was Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day is an important day for me because my Dad and my uncle are veterans. When Aunt Jimmie died this past summer we lost another veteran. I blogged about her many contributions to us and her own family. Her husband Uncle Jack and my Dad have long been two of my very important heroes for the wonderful people they are. Their love of country, sacrifice for others, and commitment to making life better for everyone and genuine valor is inspirational to me as I go about my life and my purpose. Thank you gentleman for all you are.

The last but not least event I missed blogging about was Jon's birthday. Jon came over to share an evening pre surgery and we had smoked Texas brisket, Lee's pinto beans and macaroni salad and beer. Jon requested no dessert so there was no traditional Mexican Chocolate cake. It was a fun evening with laughter and sharing. I blew it though when I forgot he hated hardboiled eggs and added some very fine minced hard boiled eggs to the macaroni salad. Poor Jon couldn't eat the salad. He has to be vigilant against hardboiled eggs lest they appear in food and shock his sensitive palate. Despite my teasing he does have a great palate and is one of my favorite appreciative eaters. He has even been known to share kitchen time as his Mama's sous chef. He is great at chopping despite no formal training. Jon is newly back in the Dayton area having a promotion. It is a huge treat to have him nearby. We've been able to have several dinners that have been so fun. He even came and brought pizza post surgery to tempt his Mama. What a great guy!

We talk a lot about comfort and what that means but recovery from surgery for me is the time I am having revelations about comfort. My family and friends have gone over board sharing meals, fruit, reading materials, treats, flowers, cards, calls and laughter. Sometimes comfort food is described as homey, plain fare. To me comfort food is so much more. The taste of love and care. The search for the right food to bring warmth and security. In lovingly prepared dishes the infrastrucure of the ties of love and support. It is awesome to experience and singular in its feeling. It is achingly beautiful to sore bones to feel such love and caring.

So as I catch you mid Thanksgiving preparations and gathering of your respective clans treasure the time you spend anticipating and working on that holiday meal. It's equally part of the fun and extends the joy of the special day. Take time to think of those near and far away. Those who we don't know who take care of our safety and security around the world. There are many people everywhere who share our hopes and dreams and work toward their being. Happy Thanksgiving each and every day to all of you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spaghetti Pie

It has been a long time since I posted but October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it is packed to the gills with activities and so little spare time. October is an eventful month even without breasts. Eli had his seventh birthday and Mimi had a birthday too but in the interests of family civility I will not share her age. I finished a frog, lizard and dragonfly quilt for Eli for his birthday. Made from batiks and adorned with appliqued critters it is quite cute. I received a lovely picture by email of Eli bundled in his quilt like a burrito. A boy burrito with a happy toothless grin I might add. Last summer Mimi and I investigated some quilt shops on our Michigan vacation. At one shop she found a very nice pine tree fabric with royal blue and white background and a complementary fabric. She chose a purse pattern that had three pockets with a sling handle and a wood button closure. I made the purse thinking of Mimi and all of the warm and wonderful things about her. I sent her the purse and I am waiting for a picture of Mimi sporting her new purse on her arm. She tells me changing purses is somewhat of an ordeal - a perspective I do not share. So I am waiting with toe tapping impatiently.

Our dear friends the Memas invited us to their lake home on Indian lake for Saturday and Sunday. It was just great to get away and have some time away from the house and our routine. The Memas' home is quite cozy and despite the high winds we had a great time in doors. I had to work Saturday morning so we arrived at lunch to see a pot of soup on the stove and a beautiful green salad. Lunch was pumpkin soup with a green salad with pecans and pears and bread. It was delicious. My task was to make dinner so I made a traditional pot roast with potatoes, onions, and carrots baked with the roast. I poured a lovely Austin lager over the meat to keep it moist as it roasted. The lager formed the base for the gravy which was really lovely. I quartered an acorn squash and mixed butter, brown sugar and rubbed sage together and put it in the cavity of the squash. The baked squash with the other vegetables and meat were well received. I made a pecan pie with a touch of dark rum for dessert. It too was appreciated. We chatted, played games, laughed and laughed. It was very therapeutic.

We were able to go because Jon served as caretaker to the canines. There aren't enough blessings for Jon for doing this. Doris woke him up at 5:30 a.m. to be fed. Dude objected a lot! Much dog barking and carrying on. I asked Jon to stay for dinner Sunday to say thank you and have some time just to hang out with him. For enticement and reward I made one of his favorite meals - spaghetti pie with salad, bread and dessert (pecan pie). This recipe combines spaghetti with a custard, two cheeses and sopressata. It's baked in a springform pan and served with marinara sauce. It is just too good. The recipe came from a fan of Martha Stewart. Personally I am not a fan of Martha but this recipe is delicious. Lee loves it too and it makes her very happy when she gets to eat it. It's a perfect fall meal and just the thing for a Sunday night.

Spaghetti Pie adapted from Eleanora Scarpetta

1 lb. spaghetti cooked and rinsed with cool water and thoroughly drained.
6 eggs beaten
3/4 C. cream
12 ounces spicy Sopressatta cut into 1/2 cubes
1 C. parmigiano regiano grated
4 C. Italian blend grated cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Spray a 10 " springform pan with Pam
Cut out two pieces of parchment to fit in the pan. Place one of the circles of parchment in the pan and spray with parchment.
Combine everything except the spaghetti in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the spaghetti and toss and stir until evenly mixed. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and cover with the second circle of parchment.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven about 45 minutes. The top should be brown and crusty and the spaghetti set. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the parchment. Trace a knife around the inside of the pan to release the contents. Undo and lift off the outside of the pan. Place a serving plate over the top of the spaghetti and turn the dish over. Remove the parchment and flip onto another serving plate.

Cut in wedges to serve and top with spoonfuls of marinara sauce.

This meal was just the nicest end to a wonderful weekend. The food was great but the highlight was the Memas and my sweet son. They are such good people to spend time with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Perfect Soup

Saturday, Lee and I did something awesome. My mom and dad shared a set of tickets to the Ohio State game. Last year was Lee's first trip to a big college football game and she was immediately addicted. So when my parents asked if I wanted tickets I leaped at the chance. We chose the Illinois game. We watched the weather reports to prepare and dutifully packed rain gear and something warm in case we needed an extra layer. We drove to Columbus arriving 90 minutes early. We love to see the teams practicing and we have to be sure not to miss anything. We parked at the Expo center and took the shuttle to the stadium. Once there I bought a pretzel to munch while we watched the pregame festivities. The teams practiced and went back to their locker rooms. The exciting thing is when OSU takes the field the team joins arms and closely pivots to face the opposition as a human block then they rush to center field. Of course the Illini rushed the Bucs and it looked like some mischief was afoot. It didn't look good for sportsmanship.

Once the field cleared it was time for my favorite tradition when we heard the announcer bring in the OSU band. The drums, the crisp march and the band poised on the field and playing OSU songs is awesome. Then my absolute favorite part - Script Ohio. It doesn't get any better than this. Aren't I gushing like a teenager! Oh my it is sublime to experience this in a stadium that holds thousands of people. It also feels pretty special to think of my mom and dad watching the game when dad was an intern. The story is when he had to go back to the hospital the staff would hang a sheet out of a window as the signal for him to return. He would hurry back to take care of patients. Dad has always loved football and he and Mom are avid fans. They have been season ticket holders for decades.

As you may have heard the game was wet. We experienced some drizzle and suited up in our rain gear. This lasted through the first two quarters. We didn't leave and watched the first quarter interception by OSU and the awesome defense shutting out opportunities for the Illini to score. Just before the second half the sky opened up and buckets of water came down. Literally buckets. It was so wet we repaired to the under stadium area to dry off and change to our warms. We discovered Lee had a big hole in the back of her rain hood and her jeans were soaked. My rain jacket turned out to not protect against torrents so we were a little wet. I told Mom and Dad the last time I was that wet was when I was born. We were joined by others escaping from the rains. I walked around the crowds and thought of the people trapped in the Saints stadium during Katrina. No one was ill or starving at the 'shoe but it gave me a brief glimpse of masses of humanity in close quarters. We enjoyed a hot dog and waited for the end of half-time. When we thought it wasn't raining we found our seats and cheered through the middle of the fourth quarter. At this point it began raining and we decided it was time to get the shuttle.

Sitting in the shuttle wet and happy, reliving the game and the pageantry Lee asked her daily question - "What about dinner?" . I thought and said I had an idea. We would not stop for dinner but drive home and I would make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Her look of delight told me this idea resonated with her. So we drove home and once there I got busy. I assembled a quick homemade tomato soup and assembled grilled cheese and bacon to grill. Sitting in front of the fire and sipping on soup and eating toasty sandwiches was really wonderful. The perfect ending to a perfect game and a drippy day!

Homemade Tomato Soup

2 T. olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion cut in small dice
1 28 oz can Muir Glen Fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 fat free can of chicken broth
1 minced clove garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 C whipping cream

In a deep pot heat oil and saute onions until transparent. Add garlic and stir to cook for one minute. Add the broth and tomatoes and heat. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender or food processor process the soup until it is mostly blended but not totally. I love about a third of the diced tomato to remain in diced form. Remove from heat and slowly add cream while stirring. Heat to a simmer on medium heat. Turn off the heat and serve.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tex Mex Squash Casserole

This casserole was one of the hits of the party. One of my favorite blogs is The Homesick Texan. Lisa the blogger writes of Texas food and family as a Texan transplanted to New York City. Her recipes are awesome and delicious. Growing summer squash we have lots to use and experiment with. Favorite ways to prepare squash include a saute with dill and butter, a southern cheesy gratin and this new take on squash with southwest flavors. It is so worthy of a try. I'd serve it with a salad with avocados and some Mexican Chocolate cake.

Tex-Mex Squash Casserole

2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini cut in coins (4 Cups)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 T. butter
1 can of Ro-Tel drained
1/4 C diced green chiles like jalapenos
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 C chicken or vegetable broth
2 T. flour
1/2 C half and half
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
2 C. total grated pepper jack and cheddar cheese
2 C crushed tortilla chips
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add squash, onion and jalapeno and saute until the onions are translucent and the squash is soft (10 minutes).

Add garlic and spices including salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Stir in the flour and and cook until a light-brown paste forms (1 minute)

Add the broth and tomatoes and stir until the mixture thickens which should take only a couple of minutes. Add half and half, sour cream and cilantro and remove from the heat.

In a greased casserole, layer the bottom with the tortilla chips. Pour the squash mixture on top then cover the dish with cheese.

Cook for about 30 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbly.

Serves 6-8.

I love casseroles and this is really great. The whole brown and bubbly concept just has such a wonderful picture of home and coziness.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Week in Review

Last week was the Texas Barbecue and it was a great success. We had lots of very fun people, beer, sangria, corn hole and food and music. Lee played her ipod with the Texas music all afternoon into the evening. Our guests are so nice. Everyone brought something to say thank you. We received wine, flowers, cookies, delicious candies and home made peach preserves. That's pretty awesome. Such wonderful people. They are the best. Plans are afoot for next year already! Lee's brother promises to appear from Texas so it will be ramped up a notch or four!

The food was really great according to the guests. I thought so too but I don't want to brag. My sister and brother in law came and they became kitchen maevens helping to carve slices of juicy smoked brisket. Sue helped put things out and generally organized the display of foods. I had adapted lots of recipes from the Homesick Texan blogsite and there wasn't a whole lot left of anything. I made a vegetarian entree that the carnivores consumed rapidly. I'll share the recipe later. One of the big hits was Lee's fabulous pinto's. I think some people looked at the big pot of beans with pieces of salt pork and wondered but they bravely had some and loved them. Lee picks through her beans then soaks them overnight and drains and rinses them in the morning. She covers the beans with water had 1/2 a large chopped onion, adds a chunk of salt pork cut into pieces, ketchup, a jalapeno and simmers them until they are tender. The beans retain their shape and are served drained with a slotted spoon. They were very popular. These are beans that are tender but not beans awash in bean gravy like you'll see in a Mexican restaurant. Miss Lee is very particular about the beans.

Corn hole was popular with the brand new Dallas Cowboys cornhole games. Our friend Mary of the MeMa's painted and decorated the set and it was lovely. Passionate corn hole players played with a variety of teams. Finally sister Sue and brother in law Tom took on grandma Nancy and grandson Alec Rogers. The Fords given 25 years of corn hole playing and recent practice for a week actually won! It was fun.

The youngest guest also came the farthest. Jamie Lian Alduino newly adopted Chinese daughter of my boss John and his wife Amy is just a year old. She got much attention and had a fun time. She even ate the food despite the fact I put some plain choices aside for her. Evidently she enjoys Texas mustard potato salad and Mexican fruit with lime. She is practicing standing. She did however have lots of arms to hold her and new friends to make.

The worst guest was my dear beagle boy Jack. At one point he buried his face in a bowl of seasoned oyster crackers and chomped away! Lee and I were reviewing the party later in the evening and she said "Jack was dreadful. Wasn't it nice?" She told me that he had sinned and after everyone seeing his trangression Sue offered the crackers to people who viewed the crime. I don't think there were takers. I didn't know if I thought he was being dreadful -just more being a beagle - which he happens to be. Lee explained when we first moved in Jack could not be trusted and was always into everything. Jack stories can go on for hours. He's aging and hasn't been really well until our alternative vet decided he needed to be on a new course of antibiotics. He's more perky and appears to have bounded back from the edge of death. In Lee's mind it was great to see Jack being Jack that is dreadful Jack. Future guests fear not. New crackers will be served and placed out of the beagle's reach at future events.

So it's a wrap for another year. It's all fond memories except for some pieces of Mexican chocolate cake Lee froze and half a brisket I tucked away for a time when we want to revisit Texas. It was great fun. The people who couldn't make it missed a very fun time. We're making plans for better and even more fun. Maybe we'll honor the German heritage in Texas and my own. We do order our meat from Kreuz after all and they do offer sausage which we served last year and it is also part of barbecue heritage. We'll see and hope to see y'all too. Next year Be There!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Big Texas Barbecue

Today is the day my friends. Four p.m. is the time and fun is the name of the game. For those dear hearts that are far away I thought I would give you the run down for the menu and the fun. First we have about 38 people who may be coming. I say may be because 10 have told us they'll either be late or may not make it. This a collection of people we love and hold dear either by blood or close ties. It's just too fun to bring these folks together. Lee has 8 hours of Texas music on the ipod. She'll play from the docking station in her workshop. She has the workshop spic and span for tours. Hers is the only workshop I know with its own art collection of two wall quilts, a Texas flag and pictures. She'll be giving tours.

She built a corn hole game and our dear friend Mary a graphic artist painted and created the Dallas Cowboys theme. It will be awesome. Lee's friends and family from Texas so wish they could be at the party. They have never heard of corn hole but would love to play anyway. They want to gather with us to listen to music, eat drink, talk and laugh. Lee purchased a variety of Texas beer for the occasion. She has four different kinds with names like A Little Sumpin, Longboard, Lawnmower, Independence, Bombshell Blonde Ale, Austin lager and Freestyle. She'll also have some Lonestar. I am making my famous sangria, lemonade and iced tea.

My contribution is you guessed it - vittles! I've used a lot of recipes adapted to my own taste from the Homesick Texan blog. She writes and cooks wonderfully. For snacks we'll have seasoned oyster crackers, pico de gallo. Texas caviar, queso and assorted tortilla chips and scoops. I know folks don't think of seasoned oyster crackers as Texas food but Lisa the blogger says they were a part of gatherings at their family occasions. I had some oyster crackers left from my family occasion so I said "why not?" Of course we have brisket 14 lbs to be heated and sliced from the famous Kreuz (Krites) market in Texas. For the Texans for a day vegetarians I made a homemade squash casserole with a southwest flair. The squash is from our garden. So as go togethers Lee is making her pintos. We'll have mustard potato salad, spicy cole slaw with a creamy dressing and radishes and Mexican fruit plate with chile powder and salt. For dessert there will be two Mexican chocolate sheet cakes or sheeeeeet cakes as Lee's brother calls them. So after this we'll be fat as ticks and hopefully satisfied. Yee doggies it will be fun.

So for all of the beloved who cannot make it, I for one will be thinking of you and the great times we've had together. I'll look around and imagine you in the thick of it laughing and talking and sharing this good time. So truly dear ones you will be with me in spirit. Love you and miss you all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer's End

It's the end of summer. Labor day weekend is the official last hurrah. Lee's hurrah hasn't been as loud because she's been pretty ill. Three weeks ago she started complaining about her ears being stuffed up versus down (I don't get it.). After two weeks she finally went to the doctor expecting an ear cleaning. She had an external and inner ear infection in both ears! So armed with medication and steroids she hoped to feel better immediately. Well two days after she started her meds she had her infection transmogrify into the monster upper respiratory infection of all time. She's been very tired but still wanting to help with errands and do things around the house. She's not at death's door so I've been trying to make her feel better through food. Saturday I grilled blackened snapper with a lime butter sauce. We had some delicious late summer corn and a grilled zucchini. It was beautiful so we ate outside. As we were sitting at the table and I glanced left as a hawk flew by. He or she was about five feet from us on her flight path and it was amazing she swooped up to land on a limb overhead. Of course no birds to be seen anywhere. This hawk hangs around a lot because we are avid bird feeders and watchers. Another time, Lee was outside and a hawk landed not five feet away. I was in the house another time when a hawk flew to the house and struck a window. It was quite a hit. The hawk and window both survived.

Yesterday I decided to saute some squash with dill so I went to the garden to see what was there. There was some very nice squash but also some bees. I've heard that the bees are disappearing but they were in my garden. They were dining from the flowers on the basil and broccoli. I wonder what basil honey would taste like? I so love honey. I bought some honey in Glen Arbor, Michigan when we were on vacation. It was thick spun honey and we went through a huge jar with toast every morning. I also smoked pork tenderloin on my smoker. It was just delectable with the rub and smoky flavor in the meat. I added a poblano rice casserole with chihuaha cheese and sour cream. Just to tempt Miss Lee on her survival I made her favorite dark chocolate pie with mile high meringue. It was adapted from a recipe in Bob Appetit. I love it because the crust is stirred together and patted into a pie pan and baked. It is always perfection. The filling is a chocolate pudding made of cocoa and dark chocolate. It takes six egg yolks so I use the whites to make a thick tall meringue. The deep chocolate, the sweet meringue and the slight saltiness of the crust are awesome taste wise. It is Lee's very favorite dessert.

Today it's raining so if rain continues the grilling choices may be very limited. I've been baking up a storm since Friday night. I made black and bleu burgers with homemade buns. After that I made whole grain bagels with salt and a loaf of 10 grain bread. Fall is bread baking time for me. I also am making a starter for sourdough from water, flour and cumin. It is a three day process and of course I ran out of flour so I'll make an early run to pick some up. I asked Dorothy Lane if they would sell me some of their 250 year old starter and they informed me they didn't sell their starter. So I will make my own young starter. Bread is a few days away but I could make an Italian loaf today and make bread salad with some crab and fettucini for dinner. Or I could make some leftover pork tenderloin into pork barbecue to serve on some of those delicious homemade buns. I'll start with asking Lee what she has a taste for. She'll ask her choices and I'll give her some notion of what is available. She'll say I don't care make what you want and I'll be back to pondering.

Happy Labor Day to all who labor or have labored. Everything works because of what you do and the contribution you make to life. My roommate told me she would be laboring on Labor Day. Of course there are people who labor on the national holiday for workers. We count on those people. The shops will close early but some folks won't be home to gather with friends. They'll be protecting our country or keeping people safe, standing by in an emergency or making sure our need for immediate gratification can be met through retail therapy. They'll be keeping things going for the rest of us. Whatever you do if you are retired, just off for the holiday or laboring. Thank you fellow laborers.

Dark Chocolate Pie with Mile High Meringue (adapted from Bon Appetit)


Butter a 9 inch glass pie plate

In a bowl stir together 10 T. melted butter (1 1/3 stick unsalted)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 C sugar
1 1/3 cups flour

Pat the crust into the pie plate and make a decorative crust. Bake it for 18 minutes and cool completely.

Chocolate filling

In a pot bring 2 C of milk to a simmer
In a bowl blend 6 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue), 6 T of cocoa, 4 tsp. cornstarch a dash of salt, 2/3 C brown sugar and 1/4 C milk

Gently pour the milk into the cocoa mixture while stirring continuously to blend. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens stirring constantly. Add 1 T. rum, 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate and 3 T. butter. Stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is glossy. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and refrigerate for 4 hours.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Beat 6 whites until foamy. Add 1/4 tsp. cream of tarter and 1/2 C. sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

Pile the meringue on top of the pie and spread to the edges so that no filling can be seen and the meringue touches the crust. Bake the meringue for 20 minutes. The top will be a luscious brown.

Cool for several hours before serving.