Category Archives: Projects – Food

Tiny Almond-Apricot Bonbons

2013-05-31 20.09.14When I was a child, I had a cookbook published by Nitty Gritty books, Yum, I Eat It! (I think) that had a recipe for “No-Cook Candy”. All I remembered was that it had a lot of confectioner’s sugar in it. Searching for that led me to this recipe at I substituted honey for the corn syrup.

The first time, I made the recipe mostly as it’s written.

And then I got carried away.

Since I live around the corner from a craft store, I hiked over there and got some candy coating to melt in the microwave. My sister gave me some ginger flavored sugar, so I used that instead of sprinkles. I chilled the candy in a roughly rectangular slab wrapped in plastic wrap. When I was ready to coat it, I rolled half of the pieces in the sugar. Then I coated according to the instructions on the package. Crunchyness aside, I thought they were a bit bland.


Enter the dried apricots and almond extract. Because I have those things lying about.Apricot Bonbon

In addition to the ingredients (using honey again), I chopped up 4 dried Turkish apricots (the brown kind, I found them in the bulk bins) very fine. Instead of the 1/2 tsp vanilla, I substituted 3/8 vanilla and 1/8 almond extract. You might have to eyeball it with the 1/4 tsp measure. These went in before the confectioners sugar.  This made a slightly wetter dough that previous, so I added confectioner’s sugar until it was the right consistency. I chilled for a couple hours, then I melted the chocolate coating and dipped each square. I left out the sprinkles/granulated sugar. I would recommend getting better chocolate than I did. It would make a huge difference.

The original recipe is a blank slate to add dried fruit nuts, extracts or other stuff. I would love to hear from people who have experimented with this recipe in the comments.


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Delicious Rhubarb

ImageThis is sort of an addendum to last week’s  post.

I love rhubarb.  It has an ‘H’ as the second letter. It requires sugar to eat and super easy to cook. It is is sweet-tart with a delicate flavor.  The stuff sold in stores is usually red, but it can be red or green (or pinkish, or speckled). Technically, it’s a vegetable, but if Wikipedia is to be believed, it’s classified as a fruit in the United States.
When buying, look for firm, thin stalks.

To cook:
Cut any leaf matter off the top. The leaves contain much more oxalic acid than the stalks so do this before you do anything else. Trim the bottoms too.
Chop stalks into thick slices: about a centimeter long.
Put the rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar to taste. (or another sweetener, I guess, I’ve never tried it with anything but granulated sugar) Use several tablespoons of sugar. I used four tablespoons for two thick stalks. Rhubarb is pretty tart and largely unpalatable without sweetener, so omit this at your own risk. If you don’t want to add sugar, strawberries are often added as a sweetener.

DO NOT add water.
Cover and cook on medium low heat until the rhubarb is uniformly soft and a syrup is bubbling up. The ‘stew’ is probably going to be pinkish.
Eat over ice cream, with cookies or tea, or just by itself.


Other sources besides my experience:

The Rhubarb Compendium
Wikipedia: Rhubarb
Martha Stewart (Includes recipes!)

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Strawberries, Rhubarb and… Cheese?

RhubarbStrawberry QuicheI had a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, (p129) called “A Quiche Formula”.  I did a lot of summarizing when I copied it down. Essentially:

You need:

1 unbaked pie shell
cheese (1/4 -1/3 lb) cubed or grated (Swiss types, or cheddar or something semi-soft)
filling such as sauteed vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, or fresh herbs (or steamed veggies etc.)
3 eggs
1 C milk
sprinkling of paprika

Spread the cheese over bottom of the crust. Place the filling evenly over the cheese. Beat eggs and milk and pour this over the filling. Dust with paprika. Bake 35-40 minutes.

SUPER simple and very versatile. From that model I made up a rhubarb and strawberry custard pie.

There were  couple things I did to the recipe that might changed the outcome, but I’m pretty confident in Mollie Katzen’s quiche, so I used her methods and times.

I baked mine with a water bath (it’s a long story and probably unnecessary). It’s common to do this for custard things, but usually the quiche seems to come out fine without doing that so I skipped it in my instructions. Also I pre-cooked the filling. Again it might not be necessary, but I did not want to chance the filling coming up uncooked. Cook or no- cook, take your pick. My creation came out a bit runny, but not inedible.

I used “Arthur’s Italian Cuisine” Parmesan which is a strangely mild cheese I had on hand, but most Parmesan cheese might be too strong. Find something milky and only slightly sour tasting ( I originally thought I might use cream cheese or mascarpone as a crust sealer. It might work…).

This is on the tart side. I didn’t add any sweetener besides strawberries. You might want it sweeter, if so, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of sugar to the filling mix when you cook it or to the custard as you beat it.

If you make any of the changes I mentioned above let me know what you did! (And if anything is unclear or I left anything out, let me know that too).

Rhubarb and Strawberry Custard Pie

1 unbaked 9″ pie shell
Grated Mild Parmesan cheese (enough to cover bottom of pie crust)
a dusting of cinnamon

1 1/2 C chopped strawberries and rhubarb (about 1 1/2 stalks)
1 TBS butter (scant)

1 C milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375′ F. Keep crust in freezer until ready to use. Warm rhubarb and strawberries with butter, until butter is melted and fruit is wet.

Beat eggs and milk and add vanilla.

Pull crust out of freezer or fridge. Line the bottom of the crust with the grated cheese. Spread filling over cheese and pour custard over that. Dust with cinnamon.

Place the whole thing in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.

FYI, I’m not a professional baker, and I’ve never even taken a baking class. I make no guarantees beyond my own meager experience (and I even wonder about that sometimes). Apparently I have some strange tastes, so I guess what I’m saying, bake at your own risk.

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Deep Fried

I haven’t been doing much crafting these last two weeks, but I have been cooking. Nothing too extravagant, mostly meals.

I have several recipes that I go back to, using a substituting some of the ingredients– a seed cake, pancakes… and something called ‘Corn Oysters.’

I originally found the recipe in Samantha’s Cook Book, a publication made to accompany Pleasant Company’s Historical Doll of the same name. I’m not sure they are in print any more, but Amazon has listings for the Cookbooks.

Basically it a batter with stuff in it.

The batter is:

1/4 C milk,

1/3 C flour

1 egg

with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

Mix this with 2 C frozen corn kernels (rinsed to remove ice crystals) and fry spoonfuls of batter in 2 TBS each of  butter and veggie oil. Flip midway through to make sure they get golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Rather than use corn, I use whatever’s on hand — stir fry veggies, frozen fruits or even canned peaches — though those retain a bit too much liquid. The smaller the pieces, the better these little fritters cook.  With the fruit I omit the pepper.

I also made these with fresh apples, which I chopped into bitty pieces (about 1 CM)  and measured out 2 cups. It was about one large apple or two small. Instead of the pepper, I used cinnamon.

Bananas… Or frozen strawberries, retaining the pepper… I can think of a million more variations.

One last note: they need to be eaten right away, not left in the fridge to get soggy.

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Fruit and Booze, Part 2

Awhile ago, I detailed how I put some fruit to soak in vodka. The idea was that the fruit would impart it’s flavor on the vodka (and I could use the fruit for baking).

After about  two months the fruit looked like this (the little jar is half gone because my mother and I had to ‘test’ it):

The Fruit Flavored Vodka

The Fruit Flavored Vodka

The Fat Bellied Jar is an orange liqueur, made from obscene amounts of sugar (as in sugar measured in cups) and orange peel (and vodka). The tall dark jar is the same but with cherries.

They all came out about what I expected, though I think plain cherries is better than cherry/apricot and the pear is as bold as I would’ve liked (but that is pears for you). My favorites are definetly the liqueurs. I like really sweet things though.

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Vegan Chocolate Cookies

For the link of the week, I thought I’d put up a cooking site:

Nibbledish (formerly OpenSourceFood)

Here is the page I got the recipe for these cookies:

Vegan Chocolate Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Cookies

They are super easy and good to make if you don’t have perishables on hand like butter and eggs. I prefer to make them with whole wheat flour, even though I’m not usually a fan of whole wheat. Since I don’t add the chocolate chips (I usually don’t have them on hand), I compensate by adding a lot more cocoa powder. The cookies pictured above have walnuts in them (for my mom).

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Fruit and Booze

Just before Christmas I decided fruit flavored alcohol sounded good and easy to make. Years ago, I re-purposed some of my father’s whiskey for raisins and apples. He wasn’t so pleased, but I enjoyed it. Remembering that…

But Christmas crept up on me, and time is one of the ingredients of fruit flavored spirits.

I was doing some food shopping with my mother and the idea of fruit and alcohol came up again. We both agreed that it was a good idea so:


Fruit Soaking in Vodka

We even bought a dozen mason jars especially for the purpose. The recipe is not really a recipe. I put fruit/herbs/rind into the vodka as you see in the picture. The only potential mystery is that the little jar on top has about three quarters of an apricot, halved cherries, and at least four tablespoons of brown sugar. The others are (left to right):

three quarters of a pear in a mason jar of vodka,

a handful of mint leaves and several strips of orange peel,

and one apricot and fifteen halved and pitted cherries.

I’m not storing them in the direct sunlight like that either, that was just for the lighting.

We shall see.

Cherries in Vodka

Cherries and Apricots in Vodka

Most of the recipes I found on the web had enormous amounts of sugar. I wanted the flavor not the syrup (aside from the little jar for my mom). Most recipes suggest several weeks to several months. I may need to hid the jars so I don’t fiddle with them every day.

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