Christmas Cookie Countdown – Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundlandWell, the Christmas music is playing, I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea by my side so I’m ready to start giving you some of my favourite holiday cookies.  I’m starting off with a drop cookie.  Drop cookies are one of the easiest cookie to make.  Cookies like my molasses drop cookie or chocolate chip are examples of a wonderfully easy cookie.  You just scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet and bake.   You can be more precise with a cookie scoop so they all look the same and bake evenly.  I like using a scoop for that reason.  And it’s a little faster than using spoons.  Not to worry though, if you don’t have a cookie scoop, just use you tablespoons and you’ll be fine.

sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holidayWhile most wouldn’t think about using sour cream in a cookie, it works really well.  It gives in a nice creamy texture with a hint of sourness.  And this cookie keeps well too.  You can make some and freeze them for the holidays and they’ll stay soft (after thawing, of course) and won’t crumble.  Perfect for your holiday get-togethers when you have to bring a housewarming gift.

First preheat your oven to 375F.  Now cream the butter.  You’ll want to get your butter nice and fluffy, so whip the butter for at least a minute.  Remember to have the butter at room temperature first.  It will make this step so much easier to do.  Add the sour cream to the mixture.  You’ll want to use full fat sour cream for this recipe.  It adds to the creaminess of the cookie.  Don’t worry about the fat content.  It’s not like you’re going to eat a dozen of them while watching a Christmas movie because you got home late and skipped supper.  No, nothing like that ever happened.  Ahem.

After you blended the sour cream and butter, add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Put your mixer on low and slowly add the dry to the wet batter.  Mix until clear.  That means you shouldn’t see any specks of flour in the batter.  Fold in the raisins.

Scoop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets leaving about an inch between each scoop.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  The cookies will have a slight colour so don’t be tempted to keep them in longer.  They will continue to cook as they sit on the cookie sheet.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday

Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter unsalted if possible
  • 2/3 cup sour cream full fat
  • 2 cups brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins Can substitute currants or Craisins if desired.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter on medium until fluffy. Add sour cream. Blend well.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs to butter/sour cream mixture. Mix on medium until well combined.
  4. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend together with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Slowly fold in raisins to batter.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between scoops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set.
  7. Let cool on pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Currants or Craisins can be substituted for the fruit.

Always have your ingredients at room temperature for baking unless specified.

Zucchini Loaf

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert, A couple of months ago I planted some zucchini sprouts purchased from our local garden centre.  Every year I seem to lose my memory about how abundant zucchini plants are under ideal conditions.  This summer’s crop is doing really well.  We’ve had quite a bit of moisture this season.  Some farmers are complaining it’s too wet, while others say their yield is the best they’ve seen for years.  You can’t please everyone.

We went away last week to do some camping for the weekend and came back to find two huge zucchinis tucked away under the leaves.  I had thought I found most of the small ones, but for some reason there’s always one or two which I overlook.  Needless to say, the ones I didn’t pick were about the length from my elbow to my fingers, about a foot and a half.  So, I picked them and thought about what to do with all this wonderful bounty.

First I made some muffins.  It’s my go-to for using up stuff.  Then zucchini tots.  They are like tater tots, but use zucchini instead of potato.  Basically toss some grated zucchini in a large bowl with some bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, grated cheese, and garlic.  Press into little bite-size balls and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Yummy and fast.

Then came the loaves.  I’ve made 10 so far and there will be more coming.  Erma Bombeck talked about being that neighbour who has so much zucchini that you end up sneaking next door in the dead of night with little gift baskets filled with zucchini and ringing the doorbell.  As you crouch behind the potentilla, You spy your neighbour gingerly pick up the basket expecting an abandoned child or pet and pull back the gingham.  A cry of exasperation comes from their lips as they realize they’ve now been cursed with the gift of produce.

When we were visiting Newfoundland a few years ago we took a drive up the Northern peninsula to visit L’anse Aux Meadows.  It’s a national historic site which shows when the Vikings visiting the northern part of the island thousands of years ago.  As you’re driving up the highway you have to first be on the lookout for moose.  That highway is famous for accidents involving moose and cars.  Unfortunately neither the car with its passengers nor the moose fair well when they meet.  Always be careful driving, especially at dusk.

One other thing you’ll notice is along the highway there are gardens.  I thought it a bit peculiar to see a fenced garden just plopped along the highway.  Most of the plots that we were driving past were started in the late 1960′s when the highway was constructed. Up until then gardening had been a challenge due to the lack of plentiful and fertile soil along the coast. However, when the major road was built the dirt was piled up alongside the road where it could be put to great use in growing the main Newfoundland crops of potatoes, cabbages, and turnips.

While our garden isn’t along the highway, I wanted to share some of the bounty with my zucchini loaf recipe.  This recipe is fairly easy and you can add raisins or chocolate chips for variety.  I’ve added some All Bran buds for a little extra fiber.

Preheat your oven to 375F.  In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini.  Mix to combine.  In a separate bowl add the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and soda.  Mix with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients.  With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients to your wet.  Mix until you can’t see any more flour.  Then add the All Bran Buds.

Pour into a prepared 8X5 loaf pan.  I spray mine with cooking spray, but you can butter and flour the pan if you prefer.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center of the loaf.   Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.   Then remove from the pan and let cool completely.

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert,

Zucchini Loaf

These moist and not too sweet loaves will help you use up all that wonderful zucchini you have been blessed with.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs large
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce unsweetened (one serving cup)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups zucchini, grated OR 2 cups frozen grated.zucchini
  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup All Bran Buds

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini. Mix on low until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk until evenly distributed. With you mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Combine until you no longer see any flour. Add the All Bran Buds cereal.
  4. Pour into a greased 8X5 loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. It's done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and let cool on the rack completely.
  5. Makes 8-10 slices.

Recipe Notes

I like to take some of the moisture out of my grated zucchini before I bake with it.  You can toss the grated zucchini with some salt and then place the zucchini in a fine sieve.  Place the sieve over a large bowl to catch the liquid.  Let sit for a least an hour.  Afterwards pat dry with a clean dish towel.  You can also use paper towel.

 

Butterscotch Cereal Bars

butterscotch, bar, square, dessert, newfoundland, camping, travel, make ahead

It’s the Victoria Day weekend and the first thing that comes to mind for most people is camping.  This is traditionally the weekend everyone brushes off the camping gear and heads out to the lake, cottage, or park.  It’s warm enough during the day to go hiking or play some sports, but cool enough at night to have a nice bonfire going.

Camping can be a little different in Newfoundland than in other places I’ve been.  My parents had a camper trailer that collapsed and you had to crank to raise.  Similar to this one.

camper trailer nostalgia

Everything would be packed into the base of the trailer and hooked onto the back of the car.  Then we would drive for a couple of hours and camp at a provincial park for the weekend.  That way we could go exploring to the beach, or on many of the trails in the park.  My parents would usually stick around the camper and relax.  At least, that’s how I remember it as a child.  In reality they probably did relax with some beers.

In Newfoundland, though, you can usually find campers just off the side of the highway parked in gravel pits.  It’s not uncommon for people to just pull off the side of the road, just feet from the busy highway, and park there for a couple of days.  Usually it was beside a lake so you could go fishing if you wanted.  Maybe catch something for supper that night.  It’s not as common as it was, gravel pit camping, but you can still catch the occasional camper parked along the highway if you’re visiting the island.

I always look forward to camping and the wonderful things you can make beside the campfire.  We all grew up with roasting marshmallows on sticks and blowing them out after they caught fire.  Or wrapping a potato in foil and laying beside the warm embers to have a beautifully roasted potato, smothered in butter, with your dinner.  Or bring your cast iron frying pan and fry up the fresh trout you caught in the morning in the nearby pond.  Something about being outside makes the food taste so much better.

Of course we brought some homemade goodies too.  Usually cookies and sandwiches.  I thought of this quick recipe you could take with you on your car ride to the camping ground or to have as a snack around the nice warm fire. They also keep really well so you can make them a few days ahead.

In a large sauce pan melt the butter under medium-low heat.  Once the butter is completely melted add the marshmallows and stir until melted as well.  Then add the butter extract, pudding mix, Skor bits, and cereal.  You’ll have to work quickly as this seizes up fast.  Transfer the mixture to a greased 9×13 pan and press down to make an even layer.  Let cool for a couple of hours and then cut into squares.  Makes 24-36 squares depending on how big you cut them.

butterscotch, bar, square, dessert, newfoundland, camping, travel, make ahead

Butterscotch Cereal Bars

Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 24 squares

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 400 grams marshmallows mini or large will do
  • 6 cups Frosted O's cereal
  • 1 tsp butter extract
  • 1 package butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup Skor Bits reserve 1/4 cup for topping

Instructions

  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, under medium-low heat, melt the butter until completely melted. Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until all the marshmallows have been melted.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the extract, cereal, butterscotch pudding, and Skor bits. Mix until combined. Quickly transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press down to make an even layer. I used my hands just slightly dampened with cold water.
  4. Let the mixture cool completely for at least an hour. Remove from pan and cut into squares.

Summer Savoury Biscuits

savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quickAsk anyone from the province about savoury and they will tell you that it’s a staple in most Newfoundland kitchens.  Summer savoury is an annual herb and is hearty enough to survive the short Atlantic growing season.  It’s flavour is similar to the winter variety and is sometimes used as a substitute for sage.

Newfoundlanders use summer savoury mostly in stuffing, or as we call it, dressing.  This is the stuffing that you will find inside your holiday turkey.  One of my favourite uses is to have chips with Newfie dressing.  That is french fries which are covered in a deep rich brown gravy, then you add fried onions and dressing on top.  It can be found in most restaurants on the island.

There was a small place in Windsor called Hiscock’s.  Unfortunately the store is closed and a candy/ice cream shop is in its place.  Hiscock’s was famous for its chips and dressing.  They were open late into the night and one could go there after staying out with your friends and scarf back some loaded wedge fries.

Hiscocks, newfoundland, windsor, grand falls, drive-in, fast food, fries
Hiscock’s Drive-In

These fries were amazing.  Thick wedges of potatoes, battered and deep fried.  The outside was crispy and inside was light and fluffy.  The way a french fry should be.  These would then be piled into a takeout container the similar shape as those rectangular Chinese takeout containers.  Then you would choose your toppings.  My personal favourite was dressing and gravy with deep fried weiners.

Remember this was the time in my youth when I didn’t care about calories or what I ate.  I was a skinny teenager.  Oh how things have changed.  I would get the fries, dripping with lovely brown gravy, layered with the savoury dressing, and peppered with little pillows of weiners (these were deep fried too).  Heavenly and amazingly good.

Summer savoury can be used in other applications too.  I found a lovely recipe for biscuits and decided to add the savoury to the recipe.  Similar to a scone, these biscuits are light and fluffy, and are very quick to make.  They are perfect as a side to mostly any main, but they are best if you have something in a sauce or gravy.  That way you can use the biscuit to sop up the excess.

The original recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but you can use butter.  Preheat your oven to 450F.  Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sage, savoury, thyme and salt. Cut in with a pastry blender or forks the shortening.   PRO TIP:  Freeze the shortening and grate.  Then add to the dry mix.  Easier to get the small pieces covered in flour.  Add the milk and combine until the dough comes together.   Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough until the flour in incorporated, about 8-10 times.  Try not to overwork the dough.  You don’t want gluten to form which would make the biscuits too chewy.  You can check out my post about bread rescue and it will give you some pointers on how not to overwork dough.

Flatten the dough until it’s about an inch thick.  I just used my hands, but you can use a rolling pin if you want.  Cut the dough into rounds and place on a greased (or Silpat lined) baking tray.   When I was a child I watched my grandmother use an old Swartz mustard glass dipped in flour.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  My rounds were about 3 inches in diameter.

Swartz Mustard Glass

An aside. Back in the 1960s, you could get mustard in these really cool glasses with card suits on them.  I guess the Swartz mustard company thought that people would continue to buy their product to get a whole set. There were ubiquitous in most kitchens across the island.  I only remember a couple of glasses at my grandparent’s house, but they may have lost some along the way.

 

Enjoy these wonderful fluffy, savoury biscuits.  Don’t forget to drop me line and subscribe so you won’t miss out on any posts.savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quick

Quick Savoury Biscuits

These wonderfully light, fluffy biscuits are perfect for any main. Make lots as they will disappear quickly.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 6 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried summer savoury
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening Butter may be substituted - keep cold
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Mix well.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, cut in the shortening until finely incorporated. Then add milk and bring together into a dough. Turn out into a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times. If the dough is too dry you may have to add a little milk.
  4. Flatten to about an inch thick with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut into rounds. Reshape scraps and flatten to cut out more rounds. Do this a maximum of two times or the dough will be too tough. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden. Cool on rack. For best results serve slightly warmed.

Partridgeberry Marshmallows

marshmallow, partridgeberry, newfoundland, dessert, sweet

It’s been bitterly cold for days here and I was starting to lose hope for all chances of ever warming up so I wanted to make something I could have a little snack with something warm.  While I don’t know if these would be good in hot chocolate, I do know that these would be great WITH hot chocolate.

The cool thing about marshmallows is that they are so deceptively easy to make, yet no one really thinks about making them.  And once you’ve had the homemade kind, it’s really hard to go back to the store bought chewy styrofoam ones.  The only reason I use the store bought ones is for Rice Krispie treats like my Apricot Curry Rice Krispies or my Cinnamon Bun Bites.  Both use the store bought marshmallows wonderfully.

These, though, offer the sweet, airy texture of marshmallow and the slightly tart perkiness of the partridgeberry.  The wonderful red swirl throughout the marshmallow isn’t necessary but it looks really good when you bring them out for guests.  I adapted this recipe for one using Nutella from www.papernstitchblog.com.

First lay out parchment paper over a 9×13 pan and dust extensively with powdered sugar. They will be sticky.

Pour the three packs of gelatin into 1/2 cup of water and let it sit for about ten minutes.

While you wait for the gelatin go ahead and add the rest of the water, corn syrup , salt, sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow the candy thermometer to reach 240 degrees.

Next in your mixing bowl combine the gelatin and slowly add the sugar stovetop mixture. Be careful it will be very hot. Beat in the mixer for about 8 minutes until the bowl is warm to the touch and the mixture resembles marshmallow fluff. Now you can add flavor to the marshmallows by adding in your vanilla.

Next add in about 1/4 of the partridgeberry jam and beat until smooth about 1 minute. Work quickly and pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and use a spatula sprayed with grease to smooth it out.

Then using a knife swirl the rest of the jam into the marshmallows.  Let it sit for about six hours or overnight.

Cut as desired and dust the marshmallows with the rest of the powered sugar.

Partridgeberry Marshmallows

Course Dessert
Servings 24 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 packages unflavoured gelatin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup This is the clear kind
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup partridgeberry jam

Instructions

  1. First lay out parchment paper over a 9×13 pan and dust extensively with powdered sugar. They will be sticky.
  2. Pour the three packs of gelatin into 1/2 cup of water and let it sit for about ten minutes.
  3. While you wait for the gelatin go ahead and add the rest of the water, corn syrup, salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow the candy thermometer to reach 240 degrees.
  4. With the whisk attachment on your stand mixer combine the gelatin and slowly add the sugar stovetop mixture while the mixer is on low. Be careful it will be very hot. Turn the mixer to high and whip for about 8 minutes until the bowl is warm to the touch and the mixture resembles marshmallow fluff. Now you can add flavor to the marshmallows by adding in your vanilla.
  5. Next add in about 1/4 of the partridgeberry jam and beat until smooth about 1 minute. Work quickly and pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and use a spatula sprayed with grease to smooth it out.
  6. Then using a knife swirl the rest of the jam into the marshmallows. Let it sit for about six hours or overnight.