Pumpkin Ice Cream with Gingerbread Croutons

We're all fans of David Lebovitz and The Perfect Scoop, but Maida Heatter has some divine ice cream recipes in her many cookbooks too. I know I've mentioned she is my dessert guru. (Her chocolate cookbook is part of my giveaway.) I'm going to post a couple of her ice cream recipes this holiday season.

Let's start with pumpkin. This ice cream tastes like pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream, only frozen. And just to make it a touch more unusual, I made some gingerbread croutons. (Maida has a fabulous gingerbread recipe; please find it HERE.) I just cut some gingerbread cubes, dried them out in the oven and then melted a little butter and threw them in. Toss them around lightly until they get crunchy. You'll love them with this ice cream.

You DO need an ice cream maker. (I cut this recipe in half as my ice cream maker is not big enough to handle the whole recipe.)

Pumpkin Ice Cream
From Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts

6 egg yolks
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin ( about half a one pound can of solid-pack pumpkin; do not use pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
4 cups heavy cream

In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are pale, thick and creamy.
Place the pumpkin in the top half of a large double boiler. Add the beaten egg yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Place over the hot water on moderate heat.
Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula for 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Remove and set aside, stirring occasionally, until cooled. (Or you can set the double boiler top in a bowl of ice and water and stir constantly until cold.)
In a large chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat the whipping cream until it holds a soft shape. If you beat it too much, it will taste buttery and not creamy.
Fold into the pumpkin mixture. I put it in the fridge for a few hours, but Maida says it is cold enough to freeze right then.
Freeze according to manufacturers directions.

(And be sure to check out my cookbook giveaway in the last post! Winners will be announced on November 5th.)


A Giveaway!

There's a lot to celebrate in October!

First  I want to wish all of you a fun and scary Halloween!

Second, I have been blogging two years this month. It went by in flash, didn't it?  So fast, I even forgot to celebrate my first year blogging last year! So to celebrate this blogoversay, I'm going to have a giveaway. Four fabulous cookbooks for four fabulous readers!
Drum roll, please....

How about that? Isn't this a super giveaway? Maida Heatter....Rose Levy Beranbaum.....Nigella.....and Dorie!

To win one of these lovely cookbooks, just leave a comment letting me know which cookbook is one you've always wanted and if you become a follower, you'll get two entries! (Please leave a separate comment for each.) And make certain I have your email address.
Have a lovely holiday week. 
I'll announce the winners on November 5th.


Mis-fortune Cookies

Halloween fun! I may not have kids around the house anymore, but are these adorable or what? To be honest, I was rather intimidated by the idea of making fortune cookies, but that part turned out to be the easiest. Would you believe it's finding exactly the right kind of black food coloring that's the trick? Some just left me with grey batter...no matter how much I added. Why don't ALL grocery stores carry good quality black and orange food coloring this time of year? 

 And the next time I make them, I'm going to use even more black. The camera made them seem more dark brown than black, which trust me, they were. (Or perhaps it was the lighting......)

 Anyway, surprise your family and make a batch for Halloween!

Mis-Fortune Cookies

From The Decorated Cookie (such talent!)


2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons water

Method:Write fortunes on pieces of paper that are 3 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Or print them out HERE
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 2 9-X-13 inch baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract and vegetable oil until frothy, but not stiff.
Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar into a separate bowl. Stir the water into the flour mixture.Add the flour into the egg white mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be runny, but should drop easily off a wooden spoon.

 Note: if you want to dye the fortune cookies, add the food coloring at this point, stirring it into the batter. I added black as indicated above. A little at a time, until the desired color was reached.

 Place level tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart. Instead of spreading the batter with a knife or spoon, gently tilt the baking sheet back and forth and from side to side so that each tablespoon of batter forms into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. That way they will be smooth and crisp.

 Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns golden brown (difficult to see with black ones!) and they are easy to remove from the baking sheet with a spatula (14 - 15 minutes). 
Working quickly (I used a hot pad over my hand), remove the cookie with a spatula and flip it over in your hand. Place a fortune in the middle of a cookie. To form the fortune cookie shape, fold the cookie in half, then gently pull the corners downward over the rim of a glass. Place the finished cookie in the cup of a muffin tin so that it keeps its shape. Continue with the rest of the cookies. This recipe makes about a dozen cookies.

And stay tuned for a fabulous giveaway next week!


Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week Three

This my second offering in April's Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies. Click on the button in the sidebar to see all the super cookie recipes everyone is posting.

These amazing cookies were the grand prize winner in the Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown in 2008. Camilla Saulsbury won and believe me, she deserved it. My book group moaned with delight and my daughter rolled her eyes after tasting them.

You're going to love them.  They are  filled with spicy warmth from the ginger, cardamom, coriander and black pepper. The extra salt brings out the spicy sweetness in the ginger. They have a slightly crispy edge and are chewy on the inside with bits of crystallized ginger throughout. And look at those ingredients: a definite Middle Eastern flavor.

Exotic Spice Cookies
From  Camilla Saulsbury of Camilla's Shortcut Kitchen (and The Food Network)


2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup crisco solid, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon rosewater
3/4 cup turbinado sugar, for rolling


Whisk the flour, ginger, soda, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and salt until blended. Mix in the crystallized ginger and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and shortening until fluffy but do not overbeat. Add the egg, honey and rosewater and beat just until blended.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350° and spray cookie sheet with Pam. (I used parchment paper.)

Using wet hands, form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in the turbinado sugar.

Bake cookies 11-13 minutes until cracked on top, but soft.

Cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute and then carefully transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.


A Culinary Ode to Fall: Maple Panna Cotta

Don't you love fall desserts like this? A snap to make and every mouthful is smooth and creamy. Perfect for family, but elegant enough for company. A friend gave me this recipe years ago with no provenance...my apologies to the recipe's owner/chef.

I've had it served to me once with strawberries and another time with figs. But I like to serve it with one of those pretty maple candies in the center because I love the fall palatte of this dessert. Even if I can't have the golden trees in Florida, I'm going to enjoy maple panna cotta!

And because I thought it would be fun to try (I had just made gingerbread the day before) I tried layering the panna cotta with gingerbread in my cute set of Juliska glasses. I let it gel a bit in the fridge first, but it still seeped through the gingerbread layers. Not picture perfect, but it was delicious!

Maple Panna Cotta


2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (this will be less than 1 envelope)
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup heavy whipping cream, NOT whipped
1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
whipped cream and some maple sugar candies for garnish.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a large heatproof bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Whisk in the cream, mascarpone and maple syrup, and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth and warmed through, so the gelatin is incorporated.

Divide the mixture evenly among 6 martini glasses. Cover each one with plastic wrap. Be sure that the wrap does not touch the tops of the panna cotta. Refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of 12 hours, before serving.

Top with a spoonful of whipped cream and a maple candy. Serves 6.

The nice people from Maple Syrup World asked to add this recipe to their blog site.
Of course I agreed. Give them a visit.


Corn Sticks

Soup and chili weather is fast approaching...more for you than me, but our night temps dropped below 70 for the first time. We had a cold winter last year, so who knows what's in store for Floridians this year?

I love old fashioned corn sticks and am lucky enough to have one of those marvelous cast iron pans to cook them in. And I saved some bacon grease to coat it with too. What could be better?

I found this recipe in Sarah Leah Chase's Cold-Weather Cooking. It's got some mustard seeds for a little crunch, cheddar, chives and lovely grainy Dijon mustard, a super combination. How could it miss? With chili, stews and short ribs, these are perfect. I never would have thought to try it, but Sarah suggests serving them with winter brunch egg dishes as well. So I made a batch in my miniature muffin tins...much more appropriate for brunch, I think.

One small bench note: the cheese makes these stick a bit so use plenty of grease and remove from the pan carefully. When I made the muffins, I also sprinkled some fine bread crumbs in the tins before filling.

Cheddar and Mustard Corn Sticks

From Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or scallions
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
melted lard, bacon grease or butter for the molds

Preheat oven to 350. Stir the first 8 ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, stir the remaining ingredients and then add the cornmeal mixture. Stir until just blended.

Brush the mold with the grease and spoon the filling in, about 3/4 full. Bake until crusty golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, turn out on a wire rack and repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Makes 12-14 corn sticks.


A Duck Tart

In the fall, I always think of serving game of some kind. I think it's my Michigan roots and a father and grandfather who loved duck hunting. We had duck often when I was a child. So while I made this recipe a while back, I saved it to post now. And you don't need wild duck to make it either.


Last spring, Kate at Serendipity had two intriguing posts. The first was about making duck confit; I loved reading it, knew I would never make it and wished I was Kate's neighbor so I could taste her version. Then the next month, she trumped it with this post: a duck tart made with her duck confit. That did it, no excuses, I had to make this! When I need gourmet game or meat products like duck confit, I always turn to D'Artagnan.  And sure enough, there was duck confit on their list. They are the best...I am never disappointed.

Kate used puff pastry for her tart with the following instructions: "I put some puff pastry in a little tart tin and covered it with another tart tin. I weighted the top one with beans and baked them for about 10-12 minutes. This kept the puff pastry from puffing up too much, and kept the form clean."
I didn't have the individual deep tart pans that Kate had, so I used my normal little tart pans, poked holes in the puff pastry, lined the pans with foil and filled them with pie weights. The puff pastry didn't flatten out like Kate's, which I would have preferred so I will have to work on that aspect. Perhaps roll out the puff pastry with a rolling pin to thin it even more and use heavier weights. ( BTW Kate, where did you find those adorably shaped tart tins? )

The recipe also calls for duck fat, but that was no problem because there was plenty of fat under the skin of the duck confit. I removed the skin, scraped some of the fat off and then stuck the duck in the oven a bit to warm. I wanted any remaining fat to melt away.

Then I cooked the lentils. I had some green French lentils so I used those.
Here's how: Check for and discard any dirt, tiny stones, and damaged lentils. Place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. They are ready to cook after rinsing. The lentils do not require soaking before cooking.  I used 2 cups of water to every cup of lentils. And I put in a bay leaf and a couple sprigs of whatever herbs I had on hand. Bring water to a boil and add the lentils. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes.

Kate says she considers this tart essentially a leftover dish. She used the vegetables she had. You could also add tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, onions instead of the leeks. Kate's recipe looked wonderful to me, so I followed her recipe as posted. Next time, I'll get more creative.

I have to say, this tart was fabulous. We ate it for dinner and the vinaigrette was perfect. Exactly the right touch of tang. Yes, I would make this again. You don't need to serve it in puff pastry, but it made a great foil for the duck.

Duck Tart
From Kate at Serendipity


3 small carrots

2 stalks celery
1/2 bulb fennel
1 leek
1 Tablespoon duck fat
1/2 pound lentils, cooked
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
shredded meat from 2 cuisses de canard confit
Salt and pepper to taste
4 pre-baked tart shells

Chop the carrots, the celery and the fennel about the size of the end of your little finger. Include the green tops of the celery. Clean the leek: cut off the tough part at the top and cut the leek in half lengthwise. Holding the two halves together, wash the leeks under cold running water, making sure to check between the layers where there’s often sandy dirt lurking to chip your teeth. When they’re clean, cut them crosswise into small strips.Melt 1 tablespoon of duck fat left from the cuisses de canard in a large-ish pan. Add the vegetables and cook till they’re softened, about 7-10 minutes. Add the lentils, mix well and drain if necessary.In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the lentils and vegetables and mix well. Add the duck meat, fill the tart shells and garnish with whatever greenery you have. Serves 4.


Stuck on Lunch

I have become officially boring.  For someone who loves food, experiments and tries new recipes all the time, when I'm home  I eat the same lunch every day.  What's up with that?? Please tell me it's not age!  

Consider that I only have to feed myself at lunch...so I could choose anything. Or try something new. But I rarely take advantage of it...unless the kids are home of course, or I have company. I always seem to get stuck on lunch kicks, but this particular one has lasted nearly 6 months. I should make and post a list of all my odd ball lunch obsessions over the years. I've had some dandies. One thing they all have in common, they are fairly quick and easy to make.

Are you ready for this (dare I even call it) recipe? Keep in mind salads are not my favorite thing, unless someone else has made it for me. All that cutting and slicing for one person. Uh uh. But I will confess, I was on a salad kick (I was crazy for Ken's lo-cal Raspberry and Walnut vinaigrette at the time) once for an entire year. I moved on after discovering this latest lunch gem. When I find something I like, I'll stick to it like glue. Truly pathetic.

Barbara's Stuffed Taco

First you take an 8 grain, lo-cal soft taco.

Then you throw it into a frying pan (no oil) just  to soften. Both sides. It goes fast, so watch it. If you let it go too long, it crisps and you can't roll it up. Just heat it through.

Then I spread some Laughing Cow cheese (only one, mind you) on it.....garlic and herb version, of course.

Then I break up some toasted pecans...and sprinkle a mixture of dried cranberries and dried cherries on top.

And top it off with 4 really thin slices of deli turkey.

Roll it up and voila! My lunch.  Every. Single. Day.

Nope, no salad, although  sometimes I add arugula, if there's any in the bin.

Are you still reading? I was right, wasn't I?  Same lunch every day = boring.

What about you? Do you take the same lunch to work every day? Pack the same lunch in your kid's lunchboxes? Or make the same lunch every time you're alone (cause nobody else will ever find out how mundane you are)?
Tell me I'm not the only one. What's your go-to lunch?


Cookies for the holidays......part one.

I really, really wasn't ready to hear this, but April over at
Abby Sweets is starting a Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies with this adorable button.

After getting over the initial fright of reading 12 weeks until Christmas in print, I thought: what a marvelous idea! We can peruse cookie recipes and copy our favorites to use when we start baking for the holidays. I would so love to join April's group of cookie bakers, but I know I'll get side-tracked and skip a week.  Or two. So I'm going to sneak a peek each week at April's blog and follow her links to some yummy cookie ideas. If you want to join in, drop on over to her blog, she'd love to have you. I'm going to do the best I can and post some cookie recipes off and on, so with April's idea in mind......here's cookie recipe #1.

Rarely do I post an old recipe, but way back when I started blogging, I posted Giada's Apricot and Nut Cookies. It's a hands down winner. Not too sweet ( I almost feel healthy eating them) and that finishing touch of amaretto frosting can be as thick or drizzly as you want, adjusting the sweetness. Also, you can stick these in the fridge or freezer and slice them as you want to use them. I LOVE that!

Now don't let me hear any excuses like "I don't eat many cookies" or "I only like chocolate" or "my kids will never eat these" or "I'm on a diet". Remember, these are for the holidays! For family. For company. Everyone's going to love them. YOU'RE going to love them; it's become the most asked for cookie recipe at my house. That's why I'm telling you about it first!

Apricot and Nut Cookies with Amaretto Frosting
From Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis, 2008

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
5 to 7 tablespoons almond flavored liqueur (recommended: Amaretto)

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Stir in the flour until just blended. Mix in the apricots, almonds, and pine nuts.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap and shape into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch-thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

For the Icing: Place the confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the almond flavored liqueur, until the mixture is of drizzling consistency.

Place the wire rack over a baking sheet. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving, about 30 minutes


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