Sunshine cookies, my new name for Figolli, with semi-traditional Figolli decoration. (It’s semi-traditional because there should be a foil-wrapped chocolate egg somewhere on each cookie. I compromised with (one) golden Jordan almond.
Why sunshine? Because they’re full of citrus zest – lemon, orange and lime – and they have a rich almond filling spiked with orange flower water. These are all things that say “Mediterranean” to me, plus Figolli are from Malta.
And why ignore their perfectly good name to create another one? Because “Figolli” is totally married to Easter and I think the cookies are way too good to make only once a year.
This post was inspired by Cindy Martin, who found the vintage baking pan story and wrote to ask what popovers were and whether I had a recipe.
How could there be anyone who doesn’t know what a popover is? thought I.
Then I realized – but of course! Popover innocence would be almost a given if no one in your family baked. These addictive quick breads are easy to make but impossible to manufacture commercially. They don’t just have to be oven-fresh to be any good, they pretty much have to be oven fresh to exist whatsoever.
- A popover, split, buttered, drizzled with syrup from candied pineapple. Honey and jam are more common sweet additions, but it’s hard to go wrong. Alternatively, you can channel ladies’ lunch circa 1950 and fill them with creamed chicken or tuna salad.
Having grown up making and eating popovers without realizing there was mythology attached, I got ready to answer Cindy’s question by simply writing down the formula I learned when I was about thirteen. But then, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I undertook some research.
To my surprise – I’m often the last to realize these things – popovers have a reputation for being difficult. Everywhere I looked, in print and online, recipes were full of warnings, injunctions, caveats and ironclad rules, many of them contradictory: Use a hot oven; use a cold oven; beat the batter thoroughly; don’t over mix the batter; let the batter rest; use the batter right away; be sure you develop the gluten; be sure you don’t develop the gluten. Oy.
Here’s what: advice about popovers probably offers the highest ratio of balderdash to useful information I’ve ever seen for a formula that has only 5 ingredients.
Ingredients for popovers – I use bread flour but it’s not essential. I forgot to show the salt – please don’t forget to use some.
Behold our beloved old toaster.
“Beloved.” Not an adjective I’d have used until about a week ago, when I started trying to find another one like it.
As even the blurry photo shows, age has cracked the top and dulled the plastic, so although it’s still fully functional it isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. Never was. But it’s not exactly ugly, either. And more to the point, it’s very well designed.
‘Green Ruffles’ makes a good bouquet filler after it’s gone to flower. Leaves are a bit larger than this at what might be called best edible stage.
“Write more about growing basil” has been on the do list for some time – years, actually, ever since the basil harvest tips post that appeared back in 2006. (Nothing hasty, that’s my motto.)
But filling out this year’s seed orders has finally given me the requisite nudge. In catalogue after catalogue, Occimum basilicum and its close relatives are available in a far wider assortment than any other culinary herb (at least among annuals; thyme is another matter). This year we’ll be planting eight varieties and that’s just a small sampling.
Left to right: Pistachio Piezadas, Lime Cornmeal Biscotti, Black Walnut Honey Drops.
Around here, it’s not too late to be trottin’ out the recipes. Holiday cookie season isn’t officially over until 12th Night and I still have plenty to go.
The assortment is always a mixture of old favorites and new thrills and ideally there would be about half of each. But now that this has gone on for years and years (and years), I feel like a long-running hit restaurant: there isn’t much room for anything new because the menu is already crowded with dishes that cannot be removed or the customers will rebel.
This year, I’ve again made most of our classics – everybody’s classics, like gingerbread persons and butter cookies, and our personal classics, like chocolate rum balls (recipes for those and more here). Also some equally must-have Universal Suit Yourself Fruit and Nut Bars.
Also, thank goodness, three new ones, all of them cookies that should come in useful whenever cookies are needed, regardless of the season: Pistachio Piezadas, Lime Cornmeal Biscotti and Black Walnut Honey Drops.
This is rosa ‘Dr. Huey.’ He has absolutely nothing to do with turkey, leftover or otherwise. I’ve just had it with looking at food for a while.
These suggestions are offered just in case you are like me and turn out to still have some left. Eternity is famously “two people and a ham,” but turkey is even more so, in my opinion. This may have something to do with the fact that Bill is strictly a ham sandwich man, so I can’t count on lunch for help. (A bit about Dr. Huey follows.)
Thirteen Things to do with Leftover Turkey
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie – what is there to say but read on?
As I was saying only a moment ago, here comes Thanksgiving. Time for the Turkey Roundup. Time also for the pumpkin pie – but the Squash Roundup, while rich in recipes (see end of post) does not contain this necessary part of the finale.
Enter my dear friend Sandy Oliver, food writer, culinary historian and vegetable grower supreme, who just happens to have a great recipe for pumpkin pie in her new book, Maine Home Cooking, published, fittingly, by Downeast Books
The turkey gets transferred to a cookie sheet and put in a VERY low oven to rest while I make the gravy. (Not wise to put it on the antique ironstone serving platter until the last minute.)
Ok, not right away for the cooking part. But Thanksgiving is coming at us at an alarming rate, earlier this year than ever, and it’s none too soon to be ordering a suitable turkey.
I am of course extremely grateful to be worrying about things like “what kind of turkey?” rather than things like “ will I have a home to cook the turkey in?” But no amount of gratitude solves the question of the hour: do I want a heritage turkey or just a plain old organic free range turkey?
While I’m making up my mind:
* My not very scientific comparison of heritage vs. (semi) conventional birds, along with a detailed explanation of why heritage costs so much, is here.
* Advice on special cooking techniques for heritage birds is in the second section of Wild Turkeys, Thanks but no Thanks.
* My detailed guide to size selection, brining, roasting, and gravy making, along with a recipe for wild mushroom and chestnut stuffing, is here.
* Local Harvest is the place to search a national database for (duh) a local bird.
and of course – VERY important, as far as my family is concerned - there’s
* Fresh Chestnuts: Roasting them, Peeling them, Putting them in the Stuffing. (Especially useful for vegetarians and vegans, who may wish to move the chestnuts into a starring role).
Four short years ago, in the course of extolling Black Mexican Corn, I strongly urged home gardeners to buy their modern sweet corn from local farmers, so they could devote their all their corn growing space to heirlooms.
Now I’m feeling that a retraction may be necessary: it’s getting more and more difficult to find farmers who sell the modern corn that’s a vegetable instead of dessert. All this chichi corn ice cream and such no longer seems like an affectation but instead an act of desperation – what else is there to do with this stuff?
Corn and Coconut Cupcakes, with and without Aztec Ganache.
Early apples, left to right. Back row: Dutchess of Oldenburg, Wealthy. Second row: Milton, Gravenstein (2), Charette. Third row: Hazen, Early Russet. Little guys: Whitney
I don’t usually get around to issuing one of these alerts until the other end of the season, when it’s more like “last chance” than “get ready.” Two reasons:
1. My interest in apples is very small when there’s still a chance that a peach might be found. (I don’t want to hear about broccoli while there are still tomatoes, either).
2. Although some of the most famous and best loved heirlooms are early ripeners like Yellow Transparent and Chenango Strawberry, they aren’t, as a group, my favorites. Too sweet and too soft.
But this year I’m on the bandwagon right near the start of the parade, because the first batch from my heirloom apple CSA has arrived, and – are we surprised? Well, yes, mildly – a couple of them are delicious.