Saturday, October 24, 2015

An old English (Samhain) Halloween Treat

Remembrance Cookies, a Samhain cookie recipe.
Samhain (pronounced / sah-win/ SOW-in, is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Traditionally, is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Remembering ancestors on Halloween.
November 1 marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Samhain was often celebrated similarly to a festival of the dead and was very influential to Halloween traditions such as trick-or-treating and wearing costumes. Still honored by Wiccans and witches today.

Remembrance Cookies can be made on Hallow's Eve. They can be shaped like people and the herb rosemary is added to the dough as a symbol of remembrance. Some of the cookies are eaten while telling stories or attributes of special ancestors, reminding us that we still have access to their strengths--or perhaps a predisposition to their weaknesses. The rest of the cookies are left outside by a bonfire as an offering.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped rosemary
Heat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture. Beat until dough forms and refrigerate for three hours. Divide dough into halves. Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women or men cutters and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with second portion. Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Two Apple Pie Recipes. One from 1845, and one from 1381

An Old Apple Pie Recipe from 1845, and one from 1381
English apple pie recipes go back to the time of Chaucer (Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London sometime around 1343, though the precise date and location of his birth remain unknown). The 1381 recipe (shown above) lists the ingredients as good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears. The cofyn of the recipe is a casing of pastry. Saffron is used for colouring the pie filling.
For the 1845 Apple Pie we have as the source: The New England Economical Housekeeper, H.W. Derby, 1845. It makes one 9-inch pie, (double crust, and fruit filling). It's recipe is below.
1845 Apple Pie Recipe
Pastry dough
3 pounds apples
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter (dot filling top)
Prepare the pastry: Roll the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate with the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust. Chill the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Prepare the filling: Pour the fresh-squeezed lemon juice in the bottom of a large bowl. Add your lemon zest to the bowl. Peel, halve and core the apples. Be sure you remove the seeds. Slice them evenly and slim into the bowl, coating them with the lemon juice as you go.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sugars, molasses and spices. Add them to the apples just before you want to bake the pie, mix gently. Adjust sugar to taste as needed.
Scrape the filling into the bottom crust, dot with butter and cover it with the second crust. Trim and crimp the crust; chill the pie for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Cut vents in the top crust. It is your option to sprinkle it with sugar or brush the top with egg wash. The apple pie is ready to bake.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet for 10 minutes at 400° F or until the crust looks dry, blistered, and blonde. Turner the oven down to 375°F, and bake for at least 45 minutes more or until the crust is golden brown, and visible juices are thickened and bubble slowly through the vents in the top crust. Check if the bottom crust has darkened. If not bake a little more and cover the top crust, so it does not burn.
7. Cool the pie completely before cutting at least a few hours or warm in an hour. Store the pie uncovered in a cool place up to three days.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

History of Popcorn Balls, Recipes and Memories

History of Popcorn Balls
Popcorn balls (popped kernels stuck together with a sugary "glue") were hugely popular around the turn of the 20th century, but their popularity has since waned. Popcorn balls are still served in some places as a traditional Halloween treat.

Popcorn balls were a fixture at many Halloween parties during the 1950s, a time when Treat or Treaters regularly enjoyed homemade treats rather than packaged store-bought candies. Chances are that many of you would receive at least one on your "Trick or Treating" rounds in your neighborhood, as well as fresh baked cookies.
One legend from Nebraska say's that the popcorn ball is actually a product of the Nebraska weather. It supposedly invented itself during the "Year of the Striped Weather" which came between the years of the "Big Rain" and the "Great Heat" where the weather was both hot and rainy. There was a mile strip of scorching sunshine and then a mile strip of rain. On one farm, there were both kinds of weather. One day in August, it rained so hard on the farm that sorghum syrup leaked right from the grasses and drained into the nearby cornfield (the cornfield was in a valley). The syrup flowed down the hill into the popped corn and rolled it into great balls with some of them hundreds of feet high and looked like big tennis balls at a distance. You never see any of them now because the grasshoppers ate them all up in one day on July 21, 1874.
Popcorn balls dated back to the mid-19th century. New York cookbook author E.F. Haskell included the recipe in her Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia first published in 1861. The following is one of those old, and vintage recipes.
Popcorn balls:
12 oz molasses
1 stick butter
1 cup popcorn, un-popped
Vegetable oil
Pour the popcorn kernels into a large, deep pan. Cover lightly with vegetable oil. Cover and cook on high heat until popped. His should yield 4 quarts of popped popcorn. (Try to remove un-popped kernels as best you can.)
In a small saucepan, bring the molasses and butter to a boil (about 249 degree; check with a candy thermometer).
In a large bowl, pour the syrup over the popcorn and mix together so the popcorn is sufficiently coated. With your hands, form tennis ball-sized sphere.
Let set, and wrap individually with plastic wrap. Yields 16 balls.
Alternate Recipe:
Popcorn Balls
3 quarts plain popped corn (about 1/3 cup kernels)
1/4 cup butter 10 oz. bag marshmallows
food coloring (optional)
Put popped corn in a large bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter and marshmallows in a stove top pot, stirring constantly. When they are melted, take off the heat and allow the mixture to cool until it can be touched. If you like, stir in a few drops of food coloring.
Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the melted mixture into the popcorn. Next, butter your hands and work quickly to form popcorn balls. Place balls on waxed paper to cool.
After the balls are cool, you may use warm corn syrup to stick gum drops or other candy decorations to the popcorn balls. The popcorn balls may be stored in sandwich bags. This makes enough for about 15 two-inch balls.
These popcorn balls are great anytime, but as you know, they are especially fun to enjoy at Halloween or Christmas time. It is up to you to keep the tradition going! Let your children, or grandchildren help you make some popcorn balls and give them the one of memories you loved so much. They are so easy to make and so very delicious!
Sometimes the oldest recipes give the best memories!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ashure (in Turkish: Aşure) or Noah's Pudding

Noah’s Pudding
15 October is Muharram/Islamic New Year
Ashura is a holiday celebrated annually in Turkey. It signifies many events for Muslims, amongst the most significant being the day Noah's Ark set on dry land. The month long festivities center on promoting friendship, good relations between neighbors and universal peace and understanding. In Turkey, a traditional dish is prepared during this month known as Noah’s pudding. It is meant to symbolize the celebratory meal Noah made when he came off the Ark. It is a sign of peace, of community, of peace, and of a bright future.
Noah to build a ship. Inspired by God, Noah built the ship. Godordered him to take two of every creature, the believers, and hisfamily, except his wife, in the vessel. Noah again told people about the flood, and warned them against it. But their response remained same. The believers and animals boarded the ship and supplies were loaded. Then, God said to the sky “O sky! Let your water pour down”. He said to earth “O earth, hold your water”. The water started rising. As all nonbelievers were drowning with their all vices, a long and hard journey was awaiting Noah and the believers, a long, tumultuous journey. Days had passed, and food was scarce. They were facing starvation. No food by itself was enough to make a good meal. Noah gathered all the foods and, mixing them, obtained a delicious meal. Believers survived through famine. The very next day, flood receded. Today we call the meal Noah prepared “Noah’s Pudding”. It is also called as “Ashura”.
Since that day, Muslims cook it in every year on the month of Muharram according to the Islamic calendar in remembrance of what Noah and his people went through, mixing all the dry beans and wheat they can find, making this pudding and sharing it with their neighbors. Ashure porridge does not have a single recipe, as recipes vary between regions and families.
1 cup barley
1 cup white kidney beans (in a can), washed and drained
1 cup chickpeas (in a can), washed and drained
1 cup sugar
1 pkg vanilla or 1 tsp vanilla extract
10 cups water
10 dry apricots, soaked in water overnight, cut in pieces
10 dry figs, cut in pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, crumbled
Put 4 cups of water in a large pot along with the barley. Get it to boil on high heat. Then as soon as it boils, turn it down to medium-low heat and cook for about half an hour. Add the beans, chickpeas, vanilla, apricots, raisins, figs, sugar and 6 cups of hot water. Cook for about 45 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. Pour into a large service bowl and let cool. Keep Noah's Pudding refrigerated. When serving, garnish with crumbled walnuts.
This recipe is one of the oldest and best known desserts of Turkish Cuisine. It's original name is "Asure". When we cook Asure, it is traditional to give some away to friends and family.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Visit the Irish Halloween past with this recipe for Barmbrack

Halloween festivities are never complete without some traditional Irish treats to help you celebrate. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, homes are littered with the delicious treat known as barnbrack (Barmbrack (Irish: bairín breac), also called Barnbrack or often shortened to brack, is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins), which is an Irish fruit loaf. The title comes from the Irish Gaelic 'bairín breac' which literally means 'speckled loaf.' In traditional Ireland, each member of the family would get a slice of the delicious cake. But you had to be careful when chewing the delicious treat, as there were several charms hidden inside wrapped in baking paper which signified omens for the finder's future.
Barmbrack is the center of an Irish Halloween custom. The Halloween Brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year.
Barmbrack recipe
3 cups dried fruit
1 1/4 cup cold tea
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon mixed spice
3 cups caster sugar
Honey or Golden Syrup (optional – for decoration)
Soak the fruit in tea overnight, then drain. Mix together with the rest of the ingredients (apart from the honey/golden syrup) and stir in the charms. Don’t over knead the dough, or your delicately re-hydrated fruit will break up.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the pan for 2 hours before removing. Continue to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Press the objects of choice into the cake through the bottom before serving.
Barmbrack is usually sold in flattened rounds, it is often served toasted with butter along with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake, and the sultanas and raisins add flavour and texture to the final product.