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Cardamom-Semolina Shortbread Cookies

This weekend Dan and I are traveling to Bainsbridge, Pennsylvania so that he can complete his SCUBA training.  He’ll be doing his checkout dives in a quarry, so we’re going to camp out and make a weekend out of it.  I know I’ve talked a little on this site about my father’s dive charter and my family’s passion for diving.  My dad and I got certified when I was 16 (it was my sweet 16th birthday present) and since my father and my brother Reid have become dive masters, I’m a rescue diver with dreams of doing my divemaster training (after the wedding maybe), and my brother Ryan, my sister Lauren, and my stepmom have all also gotten certified.

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Diving is something Dan has been interested in doing since his boy scout days, so no matter what my sisters insist I promise I’m not making him get certified.  I am, however, completely ecstatic that he wants to be a diver because it’s such a big part of my life, I can’t wait to share it with him.  And since we have no plans to expand the size of our family (except maybe for a dog) anytime soon, I’m hoping we can spend the next 5-7 years taking trips together diving (especially to New Zealand).

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Camping is also something that I love to do.  I have a lot of really incredible family memories from our years of camping, from the night it rained so hard the 40 year old tent flooded and all six kids slept in the car to the amazing sand camping trip I took with a few of my siblings and my cousin all up and down the Outer Banks.  Dan is an Eagle Scout and spent a few summers as a scout camp counselor, so it’s fair to say he is much more experienced in the world of wilderness than I am.  Nonetheless, I have been excited about this particular trip since we signed Dan up for his open water class a few months ago.  I’ve spent the week digging through our closet pulling out gear and planning.

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We are going to be there for two lunches, one dinner, and one breakfast.  Saturday night we’ll go out to dinner, which takes away from the whole wilderness thing but all the dive students go out with their significant others and their dive instructor (we’ll also be the only ones camping so naturally we’ll be the prettiest).  I decided that I would make rosemary biscuits for Sunday morning so that we could have bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits (he’ll need the energy to dive and I’ll need the energy to sunbathe and read Harry Potter).  I also wanted to bring a batch of cookies for snacking, on top of the fruit and granola bars.  What is a camping trip without cookies?

I recently started receiving the Food Network magazine (which I love), and they had a recipe for Cardamom-Semolina shortbread cookies.  My love for shortbread and shortbread cookies is no secret, and I love the flavor of cardamom, so I decided they would be perfect.  I had never before worked with semolina flour, so I did a little research.  Semolina flour is usually used for pastas, gnocchi, and couscous.  It’s yellow in color and a little coarser than regular flour.

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These cookies are delicious and easy to make.  The recipe makes a bajillion (or 8 dozen), so you can halve it or freeze half of the dough.  If you do decide to freeze the dough, wrap it in wax paper and then put it in a freezer bag.  It’ll keep for a few months.  The recipe calls for you to make a log, refrigerate it, and then slice and bake it.  Cooling the dough allows them to keep their shape while they bake.  Otherwise the butter would liquify and make one giant cookies.  Believe me, Dan & I have made that mistake before.  It also called for orange-flower water, which is not something I possess.  It says you can substitute orange extract or orange liquor.  I threw in some Triple Sec and for good measure added a tablespoon of orange blossom honey.

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Oh!  And as of today, Biscuits and Such is an official ISSN holding member of the Library of Congress!  You can search for us with the ISSN number 1948-1128!!

Cardamom-Semolina Shortbread Cookies
Source: Adapted from Food Network Magazine, February/March 2009

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups semolina flour

2 tsp cardamom

4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 large egg yolks

1 tsp orange liquor

1 tbsp orange blossom honey

1/4 cup sugar & 1/4 tsp cardamom for topping

Whisk together both flours and cardamom.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and salt.  Mix it until it’s light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks and when they’re fully incorporated, put away your mixer.  Use a spatula to fold in the flour, and fold until it’s just mixed.  Add the liquor and honey.

Divide the dough in half.  Lay out a sheet of wax paper and dump half the dough onto it.  Use the paper to form it into a log.  Wrap it in paper and refrigerate.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  It needs to be in the fridge for about an hour.

Mix the remaining sugar and cardamom.  Pull that dough log out and slice it into 1/4″ pieces.  Dip the top of each cookie into the sugar mixture, and place on a baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes at 350.

Makes 8 dozen cookies.

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BLT & Apologies

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Recently, I posted my mother’s recipe for cream puffs.  In the post, I mentioned that cream puffs can easily be adapted into something more savory.  This week, I tried that theory out, making bacon, lettuce, and tomato puffs.  Into the puff I mixed fresh chopped cilantro, a little cheese, and some salt, which made the flavors more sandwich like.  I filled them with turkey bacon, mixed greens, and fresh tomatoes.  They would also be delicious with a jalapeño mayonnaise or a little red onion.

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I also wanted to apologize that posts have been a little few and far between lately.  I’ve been crazy busy lately with wedding stuff (I know, I know, what an excuse!).  Dan and I have also been trying to watch our waistline because of the aforementioned nuptials, which makes my penchant for butter a problem.  I promise that I’ve got a nice queue of recipes for the summer, some healthy, some more buttery than ever, and all coming soon!

Savory Puffs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup water

1/4 stick butter

2 eggs

1/4 cup cheese (your choice)

Herb of your choice

1/2 tbsp salt

Boil water and add butter, stirring until melted.  Remove from heat and add in your flour, herbs, and salt.  Mix until it forms a ball around your spoon.  Mix in one egg at a time, totally incorporating one before adding the other.

Spoon balls of dough onto a greased baking sheet, making sure each ball has a peak.  This should be enough dough to make four large puffs.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400 and then 20 additional minutes at 350.

BLT Puffs

Puffs (see above)

4 slices turkey bacon

1 small tomato

1/4 cup mixed greens

Begin by cooking your bacon until crispy.  Slice your tomatoes into thin slices.

Once your puffs are baked, slice in half.  Layer one slice of bacon per puff, and add tomatoes and mixed greens.  Don’t feel shy about adding your own improvements- condiments or onions, avocados or sprouts!

Serves 4.

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Maddie’s Magi Bread

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When my father got remarried, my family dynamics changed, a lot.  I went from having two younger brothers to having sisters, plus an additional brother.  I also found myself having to learn to craft a relationship with a new parent.  Over the years we’ve all had our ups and downs, but despite all my teenage angst I think I came out on the other side with good relationships with all three of my parents.

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My stepmother, Jan, who I call Maddie, is a really wonderful person.  Since my Dad remarried while I was in middle school I’ve incredibly  gotten close with her, my step siblings, and my entire extended step family.  It’s been nice, having all that additional family, and I’m so grateful that I have been able to have good relationships with them, as that’s not the case most of the time.

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Something all of my parents insisted on when I was growing up was a sit down dinner every night.  So, no matter whose house we were at, I sat down with some part of my family every night for dinner until I went to college.  At Dad and Maddie’s house there were a total of six kids.  At first, in middle school, Dad and Maddie would eat with us, we would all sit down and eat together, talk about our days.  As we got older and more of us became teenagers (my sister Lauren and I are the oldest, so when we moved out there were still 4 teenagers left in the house), the conversation became increasingly focused on, well, poop and farts.  That’s when the parents stopped eating with us.  Though you could always hear Maddie sighing in the other room everytime someone made a particularly inappropriate comment (usually one of the boys).

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This recipe, Magi Bread, is Maddie’s mother’s recipe, and is traditionally a Christmas recipe.  Dan, whose family is German, said that this is similar to something his family makes.  Maddie is Polish, so my assumption is that Magi bread, also known as Gift of the Magi Bread, is an eastern European treat.  I’ll admit I was incredibly skeptical about this recipe, because I don’t usally like fruit breads, or pannettone.  A few of my aunts and uncles on my mother’s side love it so it’s around a lot during the holidays, but I’ve never acquired a taste for it.

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This bread, however, was pretty good.  I was surprised when making it because it’s like 90% fruits and nuts and 10% bread, so I expected it to come out more like a very thick cupcake than a bread.  In texture it resembles a banana bread, because it is incredibly moist.  The flavor is somewhere between banana bread and a chocolate chip cookie, with a maraschino surprise every once in a while.  I can see why it’s a holiday favorite.

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Magi Bread
Source: Jan Pigeon

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 cup mashed bananas

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

6 oz chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped dates

2/3 cup walnuts

1/2 cup maraschino cherries

1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cream butter and sugar.  Add in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.   Add flour mixture to butter a little at a time, alternating with the mashed bananas.  Stir in the mandarin oranges, chocolate chips, dates, walnuts, cherries, and coconut.

Pour into greased baking pans.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour if you’re making two separate loaves and 2 hours for a large loaf.

Makes 2 small loaves or 1 larger loaf.

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