Monday, November 23, 2009
Carol's Cookbook Challenge
My friend Carol has put up a Cookbook Challenge that I'm taking! Go check out her blog, There's Always Time to Cook and read about it HERE. It's her way of motivating herself to go through her stacks of cookbooks. I'm sure many of you can relate! I know I can. I've got a passion for cookbooks, especially those about baking. I read them like novels..cover to cover, coming back later to reread favorite passages, savoring each tasty morsel (pun intended!).
Well, I have discovered a cookbook, Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, that is a true page turner in my opinion. It was actually Carol that turned me on to it, since she already owns it and spoke highly of it. There are so many recipes I want to try from this book. I have already picked three and couldn't be more satisfied with how they came out! Here is the cover of the book, which can be bought HERE. Aren't the Brass sisters cute? :-)
What I really love about this book are the vignettes and stories about where the recipes came from....many were collected at estate sales. So although the Brass sisters didn't know many of the ladies who had clipped or written down these recipes, they give you glimpses into their lives. Bridge parties, church socials, radio programs.....all sources of great baked goods! It makes me happy that these recipes live again through this book instead of being tossed out at the end of a garage sale.
So, first up were the Buttermilk Biscuits on page 90 . I have a thing for trying biscuit recipes. I know..what can be so exciting about a biscuit? But it always amazes me that the same basic ingredients can turn out so differently with just a small recipe tweak. I think this recipe is a real winner and have added it to my "will do again and again" list.
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup buttermilk ( I used buttermilk powder & milk)
Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat oven to 450°. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it or using a silicone liner. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Work in butter with your fingers until butter pieces are the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and work in gently. Knead twice in bowl. Place dough on a floured surface. Knead gently two times. Sprinkle lightly with flour and pat into a circle 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 2 1/2 inch biscuits using a cutter dipped in flour. Press cutter straight down and lift up, don't twist or they won't rise. Transfer to baking sheet using a floured spatula. Gather up scraps, reshape dough and cut out more biscuits. Bake 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Tip: Don't handle dough too much or biscuits will be tough.
I was in the fall spirit when I made these so cut them with a new maple leaf cookie cutter I got recently. These were light and fluffy inside but sturdy enough to hold their shape, even the little stem.
Next up were these awesome cookies, The Radio Lady's Pecan Wafers, found in a section of the book called A Southern Lady Pours Tea (page 86), that somehow achieved being crisp and chewy at the same time. I was drawn to them because the list of ingredients is very similar to a family favorite, Hot Ziggerty Nut Bars that I will blog about soon (I thought I already had, but can't for the life of me find where!).
These really can be thrown together very quickly and as the description in the book says, they are "almost instant gratification". As promised, this cookie would be great with tea or coffee..or maybe a midnight snack, not that I would know from experience....or that my Dad would know either.....
The Radio Lady's Pecan Wafers
1 cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
Set the oven in the middle position. Preheat to 350°. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Fold in pecans. Drop dough by teaspoons 2 inches apart (these spread). Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Place baking sheet on a rack and let cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely. Cookies will crisp as they cool.
Could it get any simpler than that???
And finally, a delicious take on classic Banana Bread (page 199). Carol had tried this recipe and really like it, and I couldn't agree more. I love my Mom's banana bread and this is very similar, but with two different ingredients, butter instead of shortening and the addition of nutmeg, which comes across very subtly. I can't wait for the next over ripe bananas, because I am definitely making this one again. I did substitute pecans because...I like them better!
Here's a little peek at the inside.
I give this book two thumbs up! Go get you one or put it on your Christmas wish list :-) And how about taking up the Cookbook Challenge yourself? Link back to Carols blog if you do!