Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodie Goodies

I love cooking. Well actually I should clarify that a little. I love to bake. I also enjoy cooking, but baking is what I prefer. I grew up in a house of bakers. My mother and grandmother are exceptional bakers. I can hardly remember a time when there wasn't some homemade goodie in the house. My mother would make her own donuts, gingerbread cookies, carrot cake, banana name it, she could make it. And for whatever the reason, maybe through osmosis, I've acquired the skill of baking.

When I first moved out on my own I never baked, but now that I'm married and have kids of my own, I love to bake for them. There is something so wonderful about serving them something you made yourself and hearing them enjoy it. With Christmas just around the corner, I'm already getting ready for my annual Christmas goodie baking. My mother and I decide who is going to make what and then it's three weeks of baking. We each fill containers with our nanimo bars, butter tarts, shortbread cookies, Italian peach cookies, hello dollies and mincemeat pies. Our houses are rich with the smells of homemade gingerbread and strawberry jam tarts. It really is my favorite time of year.

I can remember how excited I would be Christmas Eve morning when my mother would lay out all the delicious treats she had been so busily making the weeks before. The table would look like a painting with the yellows, pinks, greens, and whites of all the pastries she had made. Now I see that same excitement in my own children's eyes when Christmas Eve rolls around and the table is set with all the sweets.

Baking is a very pure and tactile activity. Often you have to get your hands and fingers dirty mixing and kneeding things, and there is something so gratifying about it. It's very soothing, and for me it's a time when I can be alone with my thoughts. I can work out all the issues of the day while I vigorously stir my chocolate chip cookie dough. And the best part of baking, is that I get to eat it when it's done. Yum!

Here is a recipe for a very yummy lemon cheescake and asparagus quiche that is perfect served hot or cold. Enjoy!

Mother’s Homemade Pastry Dough

1375 ml – 5 ½ cups of flour
15 ml – 1 Tsp. baking powder
15 ml – 1 Tsp. salt
45 ml – 3 Tsp. brown sugar
1 egg
20 ml – 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
add water to make 250 ml – 1 cup of liquid
1 pound – 454 g. of shortening

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in the shortening until the mixture resemble coarse meal. Add just enough egg, water and vinegar for the dough to hold its shape. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to use, roll dough out onto lightly floured surface. Place dough into a pie or quiche pan. Make sure the edges are slightly higher than the edge of the pan so your quiche mixture will not spill over. Place a sheet of tin foil onto the bottom of the pan and then add pastry weights (dried peas or rice). Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool.

Asparagus Quiche

Pre-made and baked pastry shell
3 eggs lightly beaten
250 ml –1 cup creamo
7.5 ml – ½ Tsp. salt
7.5 ml – ½ Tsp. pepper
1.5 ml – ¼ Tsp. nutmeg
3 slices of bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
250 ml – 1 cup of grated hard white cheese (cheddar, gruyere, or swiss)
8 asparagus spears, 4 sliced down the center and then cut in half. The remaining 4 spears should be diced into bite size pieces
60 ml – ¼ cup of water

Saute the diced asparagus in a little butter for 3 to 4 minutes. Add water, cover and cook until tender. Once cooled, place asparagus on the bottom of the pastry shell and then sprinkle with bacon and grated cheese.

In a medium bowl mix the eggs, creamo, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the pie shell. Arrange the remaining halved asparagus on the top of the quiche in a spoke like design. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve with a light green salad or roasted tomatoes.

Lemon Cheesecake

21 graham crackers
60 ml – 4 Tbsp. melted butter
40 ml – 2 Tbsp. sugar

125 ml – ½ cup sugar
grated rind of two lemons
185 ml – ¾ cup of sugar
28 oz. - 625 g. of cream cheese at room temperature
185 ml – ¾ cup dry cottage cheese
60 ml – ¼ cup sour cream
4 eggs
60 ml – ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1.5 ml – ¼ Tsp. salt
125 ml – ½ cup whipping cream

Lemon Topping:
1 large egg
125 ml – ½ cup sugar
20 ml – 1 Tbsp. water
40 ml – 2 Tbsp. melted butter
pinch of salt
juice and rind of one lemon

Blend graham crackers in a food processor until fine. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Mix well and press firmly into the bottom of a springform pan. Bake on the middle rack of a 325-degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly brown. Cool.

Blend 125 ml - ½ cup of sugar with the grated lemon rind. Add the remaining 185 ml – ¾ cup of sugar. Set aside. Measure cottage cheese into the food processor and blend until fine. Add the sour cream. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add cottage cheese, sour cream and lemon sugar. Mix well. Add 1 egg at a time until well blended. Next add lemon juice, salt, and whipping cream. Mix well, but do not over beat. Pour batter in springform pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 50 to 70 minutes. The cake is done when the sides are firm and the center is slightly wobbly. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool while still inside. When cooled, take the cake out and let it cool to room temperature. Allow the cake to cool overnight in the refrigerator or freeze in the freezer (a refreshing twist on a hot summer’s day). Pour topping over it prior to serving.

In a small saucepan beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add sugar and cold water and continue mixing. Gradually add melted butter, salt, grated lemon rind and the juice of one lemon. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and place plastic wrap directly on the top of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the cheesecake.


Jillian Cantor said...

The quiche sounds really good, but I am positive I would not be able to pull this off!

Carolyn McTighe said...

Yes you's easier than you think...honestly!

Maureen Lipinski said...

Thanks for all of the great recipes! I'm definitely going to try some and I'll let you know how it turns out!!