Although a Chess Pie is not much to look at, it is a truly decadent recipe using only humble ingredients from the pantry. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. It makes me feel like a queen when I indulge in a slice of this gooey, fudge bomb of a pie. It doesn’t matter that I am trapped in the house with my teenagers who make me want to pull every hair out of my head. This pie is like Calgon, it takes me away from all of their bickering, demanding of snacks, t.v. time, sulking and pouting. I take a bite and savor a brief moment of solitude, locked in my office before they come knocking on the door, yelling , “Mo-om! Where are you???”Continue reading
My grandmother would invite us over for “cocktails and hors d’oeuvres” and sometimes dinner would follow. She never said the word, “appetizers”. How boring. Although the hors d’oeuvres were often stale Triscuits and a can of Cheez-Whiz or or a tub of WisPride port wine cheddar, not exactly fancy stuff. The cocktails were a base of vodka, whiskey or rum (your choice) and an array of mixers: cranberry juice, ginger ale, Coke and 7-Up. But sometimes, if it was a holiday or the night after a big party, there were other treats on the table. Continue reading
Fika, the Swedish coffee break that happens at least once a day, is my new favorite excuse to enjoy coffee and sweets whenever I need to take a moment. The aim is to find some sort of balance during the day in the pleasure of sipping a cup of coffee. Traditionally, sweets are eaten, as well, especially cinnamon buns but cookies and cakes are also invited to the party. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I enjoy doing in the middle of the afternoon to recharge my batteries. And, like most Americans who find themselves rushing around all day, I can always use some more fika in my life. One book I read on the subject suggested that fika could be considered a “caffeinated meditation”. Yessss. Taking a moment to relax, reflect, spend time with a friend or even to let the dog run around the yard while I put my feet up, that’s what I have learned is the essence of fika. According to my research, fika in Sweden happens twice a day. I can only hope to aspire to such a goal. Until then, I will do my best to fika as much as I possibly can.
Here is a cookie recipe that keeps well and is easy to make to have fika sweets at the ready. The balance of the dark chocolate, sweet shortbread and briny sea salt pair well with a cup of warm, slightly bitter coffee.
Chocolate Drizzle Shortbread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out.
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
10 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon Crisco or flavorless oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Using a stand mixer, blend butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and almond and vanilla extracts. Mix to combine. Add flour mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Take dough out of refrigerator. Dust a sheet of parchment or Silpat with flour. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick using a floured rolling pin. place parchment or Silpat with dough onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until dough is longer shiny.
Remove par cooked dough from oven and gently slice into small rectangles about 1 1/2″ wide and 2″ long. Place in oven and bake again for 7-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before separating cookies.
After separating cookies, heat the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval until mixture is completely melted. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt before chocolate hardens. Allow chocolate to harden for a few hours. Store in a sealed container for up to one week.
Enjoy your fika moment!
There are so many good reasons to make this cake. You might be really hungry or maybe you just love the flavors of chocolate, peanut butter and chewy caramel cookie candy on top. Perhaps you are on an all sugar diet and must eat sweets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are looking for a fun snack or a lunchbox treat, this cake is for you, too. But most of all, if it’s a special kind of day that warrants a celebration, then make this cake. After all, a 51st birthday only comes around once in a lifetime. Continue reading
At this time of year, after Labor day, when the nights are much cooler and the days are sunny and dry, we drift into the end of tomato season on Cape Cod. Like many, I anticipate the arrival of tomatoes ripened on the vine, warmed by the sun, so juicy they sometimes crack open at the touch. I cannot wait to make a tomato sandwich with slices stacked so high, I can barely get my mouth around it. Tomato and cucumber salad, tomatoes with just salt and pepper as a side dish, tomato tarts and tomato pies. The possibilities seem endless for this versatile fruit. Until they don’t. Until I get tired of all of the tomato recipes I cannot wait to make while I pine away thinking about them during cold winter months. But I also cannot stand to see any go to waste. That is why I now make tomato jam. It’s fast, easy and works with all types of tomatoes even those sad looking store bought cherry tomatoes on supermarket shelves in February. But the best tomato jam is made and devoured right now in September. Continue reading
Before I ever saw this recipe, I could never imagine treating fresh from the garden green beans this way. Aside from quickly blanching them until bright green, adding a plop of butter and sprinkling them with sea salt, I never did much else before putting them on the table. Then, last summer I came across this recipe that implored in the head note for readers to just try it at least once considering that the longer cooking time and high heat was against the current popular way of preparing fresh summer vegetables with as little interference to their natural state as possible. I dared to dive in. Continue reading
According to Oprah, she has become quite the entertainer especially at her home in Maui. In fact, she featured a delicious sounding cocktail including pineapple infused vodka, fresh squeezed pineapple juice, smoked pineapple and lemongrass among a few other ingredients. Yum. But way too fussy for me to even attempt. I mean, am I really going to juice the pineapple and smoke the discarded pieces? Nope. Continue reading
When the local, native strawberries seem to be jumping off the vine during a more rainy than usual June on Cape Cod, I can’t help myself: I must pick as much as I can carry home. After paying a small fortune, I realize that I need to come up with some really good ideas for these luscious gems. Strawberry jam is an obvious choice for me to make as I put up a batch just about every year. Strawberry Shortcake and fresh strawberries at the ready to just pop into my mouth are favorites, too. I came up with a strawberry smoothie including almond milk and Kefir for those who want to keep it healthy but what about those of us who love some sugar with our berries? Strawberries and cheesecake is a classic combination but who has the time for cooking a fancy New York style cheesecake that takes hours of low and slow baking for the creamiest of textures? Behold the Strawberry Cheesecake Bar. Easy, portable, and incredibly creamy and delicious with just the right amount of sweet fruit. Continue reading
It’s strawberry season on Cape Cod. That time of year when the native berries are ripe and juicy, practically jumping off the vine, begging to be picked and popped right into your mouth. It’s a short season as far as produce goes: just a few weeks and they are gone. So, it’s important to drop everything and partake in these glorious red orbs at every possible moment. Continue reading
Oh yeah. Ginger and lemon. Not too sweet, just the perfect amount of sour. And did I mention that this one was invented for me by my husband and my sister in honor of my 50th birthday? Yes. But watch out, it will come up on you quickly. I recommend Canton Ginger Liquor. Keep it on hand in your arsenal, there are many delicious concoctions that can be made with it.