Almost every morning early around 6:30 am Jimmy comes by on his bike carrying this mornings fresh-from-the-oven rolls. 10 cents apiece for a great start to your morning.
Then some afternoons he comes by, today it was around 3:30 pm, with that same basket filled this time with sweet treats. These are 15 cents.
Some of today’s choices were chocolate sweet rolls, a lovely sandwich cookie with a dulce de leche filling, a corn type muffin, a filled sweet roll with what I think is guayaba (guava) filling. We have our favorites but honestly any one of them will pacify the sweet tooth in all of us.
I really miss grape jelly and jam. But I found a very easy recipe for a jam that is fresh with a great taste.
2 lbs. fresh dark purple grapes
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon butter (the butter will stop foam from forming on your jam)
Wash and drain the grapes. Mash them a bit with your hands or a potato masher. Add sugar, lemon juice and butter. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Drain using a fine mesh strainer and using a pestle or back of a large spoon squeeze all the juice out of the seeds and skin. Discard seeds and pour the juice back into the saucepan to cook for another 20-25 minutes. Take a small dish and place in the freezer. After 20 minutes of cooking take a small amount of the jam and place on the frozen dish, if it spreads out you need to cook longer. If it sets up you can jar immediately. Make sure your jars and lids have been serialized. This recipe should make two – eight ounce jars, refrigerate.
It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.
On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.
I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts. Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.
Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.
Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.
I really love this – it’s the best of all the cookies that I make – first it is wonderful with a cup of coffee and they can last a good while in a tightly closed container plus if you put some of the batter in the freeze a month later you can have fresh cookies.
Italian Anise Cookie
1 1/2 C Margarine
1 C regular sugar
3/4 bottle of Anise 1/2 oz. *see note below
8 T Baking Powder
6 C Flour
Dip fingers in oil and roll dough into meat ball sized balls.
Bake ungreased cookie sheet 12-15 minutes 375 – 400 f
1/2 bag confectionery sugar
add a bit of hot water, start with 1 tablespoon
1/2 bottle of anise flavoring 1/4 oz. or to taste
add food color as desired
Right after the cookies are baked dip just the tops in glaze – let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
This year I am making a batch with almond flavoring in both the batter and the glaze. I don’t think kids like the anise flavoring so I am trying something a bit different.
* I have not found anise flavoring on the store shelves here so I have taken star anise and add them to vodka – let stand for a week and strain though a coffee filter or cheese cloth. This is a good substitute for store-bought anise flavoring.
Let’s put on a pot of coffee and get this party started!
The holidays are upon us sooner than I would like to admit. And with that, decisions need to be made about what cookies I will be baking and who will be getting “cookie care packages”. Each year I have a very hard time making up my mind about the cookie recipes, number of batches and finally how to pack and who to give them to. I love the baking part but totally dislike trying to find the right container to pack them in. I think I found some great containers this year with the biggest cookie recipients being the children’s Christmas party. This party is being given to our neighborhood children and will be held on Saturday, December 26th.
I love bar cookies, they are quick easy and one tray takes the place of standing in the kitchen for hours. The standard size oven here is much smaller that a standard oven in the states so bar cookies make my job faster.
This picture is a few years old but it has most of the standards that I make each year. I have all the ingredients so Monday and Tuesday will be cookie days. Wish me luck!
Another item not easily found here is Anise Extract. A dear friend from Florida, Joe, brought me three bottles a few years ago when he visited but the long-term answer is not bringing it from the states but to make it yourself.
To that end, my son-in-law, Isaac gave me this recipe. Clean and serialized a jar then fill with vodka and a few star anise pods. Let the pods sit in the vodka until the anise flavor is infused, this took several weeks but will last indefinitely.
I have read where it is better to keep in a dark bottle and not a clear one as it protects the potency of the extract. It actually worked and I will be trying it with my first batch of Italian Anise Cookies. Thanks Isaac!
What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well. It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.
We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro. Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.
This is the young man who has started to deliver pan in the mornings and again comes back around 4pm with beautiful dessert rolls and cookies. Yesterdays selection of sweets was coconut covered, jelly topped and some that even looked like cinnamon or chocolate rolls.
I am not sure what is going to happen when school starts next month because this young man should be on his way to school at the exact time he is delivering to our neighborhood.
He is a very hard-working young person. And we so much appreciate him and his family doing this for San Clemente.
Joe, our visitor Harlan and I had a lovely walk through Todo Hogar in the Multiplaza (Kiwi/SuperMaxi) Shopping Center in Portoviejo. I was so happy to find some great baking items that I have not seen there before.
What I found were baking sheets that will fit my small oven (I have used pizza trays for baking cookies), they also had parchment paper great for making a baked fish en papillote no cleanup just toss the parchment in the trash, and teflon cookie liners. I looked at the wonderful assortment of silpat but they were all too big for the cookie sheets and what I found out later is you cannot cut or bend them without ruining them, so these teflon ones will work just as well. I also found an avocado slicer and a handheld orange squeezer – a bigger version of what we use to squeeze limons. A great shopping day for sure.
Sidenote: It was interesting to note that this store name, Todo Hogar, translates to whole home. In San Clemente we have a store we love with a sign that says something like Aqui, Casi de Todo. That translates more or less to Almost Everything Here. And it’s true! How cute is that.
I admit I must have been a bit bored! How can that be? To take on making fudge and of all recipes Martha Stewart’s that calls for fudge pulling! What the heck is fudge pulling? I had never heard of such a thing in all my years. But here it was when I looked up Chocolate Fudge using heavy cream and found this recipe (my other recipes call for milk and what we usually have in the fridge is cream so……).
You will need a clean work surface, such as a marble slab or buttered baking sheet, on which to pull the fudge.
Martha Stewart Living
Yield Makes about 3 pounds
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, plus more for fingertips
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (a substitute for corn syrup is honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds (optional)
Line an eight-inch square baking pan with wax paper. In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and cocoa. Add cream, butter, and corn syrup; cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until bubbling around the edges, about five minutes.
Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer (238 degrees to 240 degrees), 12 to 15 minutes; wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming.
Remove pan from heat; let mixture rest in pan, undisturbed, until it has cooled to 160 degrees, about 40 minutes.
When temperature reaches 160 degrees, quickly pour fudge onto surface, using a rubber spatula to gently empty pan while holding pan very close to surface to prevent spattering. Spoon vanilla extract over fudge; let cool until fudge is almost at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Using a long offset spatula, being pulling fudge in a figure-eight motion, moving from the bottom right, then up and over to the top left, before pulling back down to the right. Repeat, moving from the bottom left, then up and over to the top right, before pulling back down, pushing fudge onto itself.
Continue in this manner until you see a sudden change in appearance of fudge, from glossy to matte, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired, and stir well to combine.
Spread fudge onto a wax-paper-lined baking sheet; flatten with lightly buttered fingertips. Cover with wax paper; let stand at room temperature until set, at least four hours or overnight. Cut into squares before serving.
I made one minor mistake and continued to stir after it started to bubble – it may have made my recipe a bit crumbly. Don’t make the same mistake.
Here is my technique in pulling the fudge on the counter. I do not own an offset spatula so I used a wide paint scraper and it worked beautifully.
Like I said it is a bit crumbly but excellent flavor and like so many other fudge recipes I have tasted this does not have any crunchy bits of sugar in it, making it very creamy and delicious. This was the test to see if I am going to make it for Christmas, it looks like I will if I can get more almonds for the recipe.