Walnut Crescents

Mom used to make these every year at Christmas. For some reason there wasn’t a copy of the recipe in her box or among the recipes she “typed” up for her grandchildren.  Today I was sorting through a file given to me by my aunt and found this recipe.  I think it is the same one.

2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 pound butter, softened
Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients with your fingers. Form cookies by rolling a spoonful of dough into a little snake and from into a crescent. Given the pound of butter I am assuming ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Cool.

Dip into powdered sugar, let stand 5 minutes and dip again.


Peach Hand Pies

My daughter, Kelsey, spotted these on Foodgawker and she thought they were so cute we had to try them. They are as delicious as they are cute.  We strongly recommend you check out the blog {local milk}. Her photography is much better than mine and her recipes are far more sophisticated.

We adapted the recipe to suit us. The basil made for an interesting twist to peach pie.

1 recipe pie crust (1/2 recipe foolproof pie crust)

2 cups diced peaches (about 2 peaches)
2 Tbsp packed finely chopped basil
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of honey
squeeze of a lemon wedge
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg, lightly beaten for wash
Sugar for sprinkling (we used turbinado)

Heat oven to 425° F.

Mix all of the ingredients except the cornstarch in a bowl.  Let sit 15 minutes.

Pour a spoonful of the peach liquid into the cornstarch and mix well. Stir this back into the peaches.

Roll out half the pie crust to 1/8″ thickness. Using a cookie/biscuit cutter, cut out dough. Place shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Put the baking sheet in the freezer or other cool place and roll out the second piece of dough. Cut enough shapes to top the already cut shapes.

Pull the first baking sheet from the freezer. Place a small amount of peaches (about 1 tablespoon for a 4″ circle) in the center of each piece of dough.

Brush the edge of the dough with water. Top with another cut out piece of dough and press the edges tightly to seal. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 450F for 5 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350F and bake another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Cantonese Chicken and Vegetables

Adapted from Chinese Cookery by Rose Cheng & Michele Morris. Los Angeles, CA: Price Stern Sloan, Inc., 1981.

Chicken and Vegetables

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken

1 tablespoon soy saucy
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white

Seasoning Sauce:
1 tablespoon rice wine (mirin works fine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup diced cooked carrots
1/3 cup mushrooms, diced
1/3 cup water chestnuts, diced
1/2 cup diced green/red pepper (about 1 small)
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths (or any other vegetable diced)
1/2 onion, diced (optional)

Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Dice the chicken and add to the marinade. Let stand 30 minutes.

Combine the ingredients for the seasoning sauce and set aside.

Dice all the vegetables.

In a large wok, heat 3-5 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until lightly browned and cooked. Remove from wok with a slotted spoon, set aside.

Add garlic and ginger to wok and stir-fry 1 minute.
Add mushrooms, pepper, onion and asparagus to wok and stir-fry 2 minutes until crisp-tender.
Add carrots and water chestnuts, continue to stir-fry another 2 minutes.
Stir seasoning sauce to dissolve cornstarch. Add chicken and seasoning sauce to wok and cook until warmed through and sauce thickens.

Grilled Eggplant & Pepper Sandwiches

These sandwiches are adapted from  The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced thinly, lengthwise
2 red peppers, cored and quartered
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
good bread
fresh mozzarella

Brush the sliced eggplant and peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the pieces until tender.

Use either sliced bread or rolls. Spread the pesto on the bread and assemble the sandwich by adding the eggplant, peppers and sliced fresh mozzarella.

Brush the sandwiches with oil or spray with cooking spray and return to the grill. Grill until lightly toasted and the cheese is melted. Alternately, grill in a large frying pan.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Butternut Squash

This recipe comes from the Vegetarian Times website. I have added roast garlic to the mix, just because I like garlic.  I seldom remember to buy buttermilk so I just use plain milk, although sour cream would be closer.

4 large russet potatoes
1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
½ cup chopped chives
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cut squash halves and garlic cloves. Place potatoes and squash halves (cut side down) on baking sheet. Nestle the garlic under the scooped out section of the squash. Bake 1 hour, or until both squash and potatoes are tender.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop insides into large bowl, leaving thin layer of potato. Reserve potato skins. Scoop flesh from squash into same bowl. Squeeze garlic insides into bowl. Mash. Stir in butter, chives, buttermilk and cheese. Add salt and pepper.

Fill potato skins with mash, and place on baking sheet. Broil 10 minutes, or until tops begin to brown. Serve hot.

If making ahead, cover, refrigerate. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes until warmed and tops brown.

Tennis Chicken

So named because the first time I made it I packed it up and brought it to tennis lessons. My husband met us at the courts and we ate dinner in the break between the youngest and oldest daughter’s lessons. It was a huge hit.

While the rub seems strong it isn’t hot. I have served it to a large number of people over the years and it has always met with approval.

The spice rub and general grilling directions are adapted from The Best Recipe Grilling & Barbecue. Brookline, MA: Boston Common Press, 2001.

1 whole roasting chicken, brined

spice rub
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Any leftover rub can be stored in an airtight container.

To brine the chicken dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt in 2 quarts of water. Add chicken and refrigerate for 2 hours. Drain and pat dry.

Rub the spice rub all over the chicken, inside and out, and under the skin.

We use a gas grill but the concept is the same for charcoal, cook the chicken on cool part of the grill.

Heat the grill. Turn off all but one burner. Put the chicken, breast side down on the unlit/cool part of the grill. Cover and roast for 35 minutes. Turn the chicken over and put the side that was facing away from the heat towards the heat. Cover and roast until done, about 35-45 minutes longer. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer – the thickest part of the thigh should read 170˚ to 175˚F.

Allow to rest about 15 minutes before carving.

Honey-Oatmeal Bread

Adapted from the KitchenAid mixer Recipes and Instructions.  The original recipe calls for all-purpose white flour, I changed it to add a little extra fiber.

1 cups whole wheat or oat flour
4-5 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 egg for egg wash
Oatmeal for dusting top

Place 5 cups flour, oats, salt and yeast in mixer bowl. Stir to combine.

Combine water, honey and butter and heat to 120˚F. (Turn mixer on to speed 2). Slowly add water/honey mixture to dry ingredients. Add eggs, mix. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough clings to the hook and cleans the bowl. If you are doing this by hand add enough dough so that it is not sticky.

Knead by hand or mixer (speed 2) for about 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl, turning to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down, divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place into a greased 9x5x3″ bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. Brush with egg wash and and dust with additional oatmeal if desired. Bake 375˚F for 40 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

To Form Loaf:
Using a rolling pin, roll out each half to a rectangle approximately 9×14″. Roll tightly, starting at short side, into a log. Pinch seams closed and pinch ends under. Place, seam side down, in loaf pan.

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

Adapted from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop, New York, NY, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2007.  This is another fabulous cookbook by Jack Bishop.  I first took it out the library because my husband and children were complaining that we always had the same vegetables.  After I borrowed it for the  4th time I decided it was worth buying my own copy!

This dish is delicious, unfortunately when the best garden tomatoes and eggplant are ready  the temperature outside is a bit hot for the oven.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon. honey
1 Tablespoon. minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste
3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), sliced
2-3 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4″-thick rounds

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat about 20 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the stock, honey and herbs. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread into the bottom of a 10-inch round gratin dish or quiche dish. Lay the tomato and eggplant slices over the onion mixture. Alternate eggplant and tomato and overlap quite a bit. Brush the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400˚F about 55 minutes until softened. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. This is also good served at room temperature.