Saturday, January 12, 2013

Peppermint Cookies

This is a recipe I got from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.

Warning, this recipe takes at least two to three days to make.
This is also a VERY messy recipe.

Some back story:

My Oma used to make these cookies when I was a girl, and they're one of my favourites.  When she passed away, I inherited her cookbook, including part of this recipe.  Unfortunately, too much of it was missing for it to be safe to make.

You see, Peppermint cookies use Baking Ammonia, otherwise known as ammonium carbonate.  When heated, ammonium carbonate turns into gaseous ammonia and carbon dioxide.  However, it is an unparalleled leavening agent for old recipes that predate modern baking soda and baking powder.  When used in thin baked goods, such as cookies, and following the directions of recipes, it is very safe, just quite a bit smelly.  The result is light, fluffy and flavourful cookies that is very hard to achieve with just baking soda.

However, for our recipe, we were missing the part that includes what to do with the baking ammonia, so it wasn't safe for us to make the cookies.

Fast-track to now, when we discovered the Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbook and blog, full of old family favourites.  Excited, my parents and I started to go looking for the two uncommon ingredients used for this recipe: baking ammonia and peppermint oil.

I'm not sure about outside of Canada, but where I am, baking ammonia can be found sold as ammonium bicarbonate in the larger Loblaws market stores.  The one I found it in also had a kosher section and a community/class cooking room.

Peppermint oil is a little more easy to find.  It's at the Bulk Barn, usually up at the front cash with other small bottles of oils.  It is important to use Peppermint oil, not extract.  You won't get the same flavour with extract as you will with the oil, as extract evaporates while oil doesn't, creating a stronger flavour.   It also has a very strong scent, so be careful handling it for measuring and taking the cookies out of the oven.

And now for the recipe.

Peppermint Cookies
from Mennonite Girls Can Cook
(makes approximately 10-12 dozen cookies)

½ cup softened butter
2 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
½ cup oil
2 cups sour cream
20 drops peppermint oil (1/3 tsp)
2 Tbsp baking ammonia dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
8 cups flour

In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Dissolve baking ammonia in hot water, make sure there's no lumps.  
Add oil, sour cream, peppermint oil and baking ammonia to egg mixture, beating each in well.
In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, and flour.  Add to wet ingredients stirring with wooden spoon or using a hook attachment on a mixer.  
Cover and let stand in fridge overnight.

The next day: 
Preheat oven to 400 F
Prepare cookie sheets (preferably light colored, aluminum) by coating lightly with shortening (using a paper towel). Then sprinkle lightly with flour, tilt cookie sheet and tap ends to allow flour to spread evenly all over.
Divide dough into four parts to roll out. Roll out to ¼” thickness, using a light dusting of flour on rolling surface as well as on top of dough and rolling pin. 
Cut with small round cookie cutter or small tomato paste tin, and place on cookie sheets about an inch apart from each other.
Bake or 10 – 12 minutes or until golden from underneath.
Remove onto wire cooling racks. Re-use cooled baking sheet without washing. You may scrape up the flour with a plastic scraper and dust with flour again, but you don’t have to keep greasing it up for the rest of the batch.

Once cooled, mix up an icing using whipping cream and icing sugar to coat the cookies. Let dry and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Coconut Jelly Cake/Custard

There is actually a story behind this.  For holidays and special occasions, or even because I can, I make Glass Block Holiday Jello from Our Best Bites. The last time I made it was for a potluck at church.  Unfortunately, while it was popular, there were people with milk allergies and lactose intolerant who were unable to enjoy it.  I felt bad about that, but thought at least people at my knitting group could eat the leftovers.  However, that day's turnout was mainly practising Jews who could not eat it due to the gelatin.

So I became determined to create a jello that would meet both parties' needs: milk free and gelatin free.  While I have yet to perfect my idea of a coconut jello, the results have produced two rather yummy desserts!  I call the one a jelly cake, because it reminds me of the red bean jelly cake, or Yōkan (that also uses agar), and the other reminds me of some of the custard desserts I have eaten.

Now, the alternative to gelatin is agar agar powder, can sometimes be a little tricky (hence the not yet producing a coconut jello). Results can vary depending on the brand you use.  I use Swallow Globe Brand Agar-Agar Powder.   I've heard of agar being found in health food stores, but more available and cheaper at Asian market food stores.  For those of you with neither available, it might be possible to order it online.

Box of Swallow Globe Brand Agar-Agar Powder  

The recipe for both the jelly cake and the custard is pretty much the same.  The difference is how much powder is added to each.  Please note here, do not use coconut juice for this recipe; I've tried it and it won't set.  I use Savoy Coconut Cream, which is 70% coconut extract and 30% water, and also found at Asian food markets. 

Savoy Coconut Cream

I imagine that sweetened coconut cream and milk can also be used.  I just can't find them sweetened in my area, and try to get coconut cream with less added ingredients, so that results are fairly predictable and can be replicated. 

Coconut Custard/Jelly Cake

  • 400 ml of Coconut Cream
  • 1 pouch of agar agar powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 100 ml of water
On a stove, combine coconut cream and water.
Bring to a near boil. 
Add sugar and agar powder: 1 1/2 tsp for custard, entire pouch (about 2 1/2 tsp) for jelly cake.
Stir well until sugar and agar is dissolved. 
Pour into containers, cover and refrigerate until set (about 2-4 hours, I leave it overnight)


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dr Pepper Sole

This is something I came up with when I was in university.  I found it delicious and was a fairly regular staple of my diet then.  I don't cook it a lot now, because I'm trying to cut down on the amount of soft drinks I consume, for health reasons and such.

You want a frying pan with high sides or a wok for this one.  I learned to do this and stir-fries using water instead of oil, even in coated pans.   The trick is to add the water with the ingredients. 

So heat up your pan until water drops sizzle on it.

Take defrosted sole and fry it for a bit with a little butter/margarine and lemon juice. 

Add Dr. Pepper, enough so that the sole is covered.  Reduce heat to a quater of full heat. 

Let simmer, stirring every once in a while, until Dr. Pepper has almost disappeared. 

Turn off stove, remove from heat, let sole cool a little, and then enjoy!

I usually eat this with rice and some microwaved frozen veggies. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creamy Pesto Chicken

I've adapted this one from a cream cheese company. 

In a slow cooker, I put together a couple of frozen chicken breasts, at least one spoonful of pesto per chicken breast, and a couple tablespoons of any cream cheese I have at the time, including flavoured cream cheese. 

Turn the slow cooker on low, walk away for a couple of hours.  I return once to stir the pesto and cream cheese, and turn over the chicken.

The result is a creamy pesto chicken with slight hints of whatever flavour was in the cream cheese. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Sauce and Curry Chicken

I do a lot of curry recipes.... and a lot of slow cooker recipes.  I think I've mentioned this before at one point. I should probably look up some new recipes....

Anyways, I just put the following into the slow cooker, to see how it'll turn out.

6 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
a jar of ready-to-use yellow curry sauce
something like 1 1/2 cups apple sauce

The apple sauce is this homemade stuff that's really easy to make.  Basically, take a bunch of apples, no particular kind, peel and cut them.  Then heat in microwave for a few minutes, mash them with a potato masher.  Repeat heating and mashing until you get apple sauce.


So let's see how this will turn out.

Edit:  End Result

Eh, it wasn't particularly spectacular.  The flavours of the curry sort of overwhelmed the apple sauce.  If I were to try this again, I'd use more apple sauce and only add some curry powder instead of using a pre-made sauce.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yellow Curry - Slow Cooker Style

Okay, I just made this Yellow Curry Chicken in the slow cooker, and it was DELICIOUS!!!!

Yellow Curry Chicken with rice and veggies!

I took a box of frozen chicken breasts and put them all in my slow cooker.
I added a can of chicken broth with herbs, a couple of spoon fulls of yellow curry cooking sauce, a little bit of fish sauce (found a small bottle for 99¢!), and a few spoons of very thick yogourt. 

Walked away for something like 6 hours.  When it was done, I made some sticky rice in the rice cooker:

medium grain white rice.  1 cup uncooked, rinse three times, then add 1 1/4 cup water.  Cook in rice cooker, perfect sticky rice!!!

I also heated up some frozen veggies, and it all was YUMMY!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Corn and Hot Dog Mac 'n' Cheese

I don't know about other places, but here in Canada, Kraft Dinner is a staple of university life.  It's cheap, easy and yummy.   Also, it's not too hard to turn into a fairly well-rounded meal. 

Plus, there's so many different kinds that there's usually something for everyone.

What I do is make it on the stove.  When the noodles are partly cooked, I add 2-4 chopped up hot dog wieners, and a half cup of frozen peaches and cream corn. 

When the noodles, corn and hot dogs are done, drain and mix up the cheese sauce as usual. 

Sometimes I add some extra cheese, either cheddar or processed cheese, for more cheesiness.

Then I enjoy a big bowl of it :D