Posts Tagged With: Fannie Farmer

331/365: National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

If you’re a pie fan, you’ll enjoy today’s holiday Bavaria much. November 27 is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day!

The day before Thanksgiving isn’t ideal for celebrating a pie, but there’s nothing we can do about that pesky calendar. In a perfect world, we would at least be honoring pumpkin pie, but nope. That one’s coming up later in the year. On Christmas Day, as a matter of fact, which is going to be all sorts of fun because we traditionally have cheesecake that day. Ahh well, by then we’ll just have a few days left in the challenge, and will probably just be glad that it’s nearly over!

Bavarian cream is a gelatin-based pastry cream invented by Marie Antoine Carême, a legendary French chef (he’s a dude; don’t be fooled by that name) who is considered the forefather of haute cuisine and is often called “the chef of kings, and the king of chefs.” He was sort of the Gordon Ramsay of his day, I suppose, only minus a few thousand f-words. It was named after Bavaria, a state in Germany, of course. The first recipe in an American cookbook appeared in D.A. Lincoln’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking in 1884. Fannie Farmer got in on the action in 1896, with her own recipe. While Bavarian cream is delicious on its own, it has since become a popular pie filling that requires two hours of refrigeration and nothing more. Other than the ingredients, time, and labor used in preparing the cream itself and the pie crust, of course. But other than that – easy peasy!

To celebrate, I made a miniature pie, a trick I learned early this year. The Bavarian cream was a simple mixture of cream cheese, instant vanilla pudding mix, milk, and Cool Whip. I used refrigerated pie dough and lined a mini tin with that, baked it (in the toaster oven, no less) and topped with the Bavarian cream filling. It was surprisingly delicious!

Tara couldn’t resist digging into it with her fingers. 🙂

National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

Categories: Desserts, Pastry | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

77/365: National Oatmeal Cookie Day

Feeling your oats? Then you’ll like today’s food holiday. March 18 is National Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Oddly, April 30 is also designated as National Oatmeal Cookie Day on some calendars. Turns out oatmeal cookies are honored on both days. We’d rather not celebrate the same food twice, and April 30 is also dedicated to raisins, so oatmeal cookies are on the menu today.

Not very long ago, oats weren’t considered fit for human consumption. They were seen as food for horses. Kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing, Loch Ness Monster-harboring Scots were the first to incorporate oats into their own diets. In a friendly little bit o’ UK rivalry, the English used to say, “A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” The Scots fired back,“England is noted for the excellence of her horses; Scotland for the excellence of her men.” This was proven true on the battlefield: when Rome invaded England they had no trouble dispatching the British army, but Scottish soldiers – who were fond of carrying around oatcakes for nourishment – put up a real fight. Lest you think that’s a coincidence, health studies show that a diet consisting of oats lowers cholesterol and contains large amounts of fiber, vitamin E, selenium, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, and protein. Oats are good for you (though you may set off an airport metal detector if you consume too many pre-flight). Oatcakes were more like a pancake back then, but eventually evolved into cookies in the 19th century. The first known recipe for oatmeal cookies appears in Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking School cookbook.

Raisins are a common ingredient in oatmeal cookies, but Tara uses Craisins instead. Plus white chocolate. She whipped us up a batch this evening, and my mouth was watering while they were still baking in the oven. I love these cookies! Here’s the recipe:

3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups uncooked oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup Craisins
1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 F and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Meanwhile, combine shortening, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat until well blended. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in Craisins/white chocolate chips. Drop 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Oatmeal Cookies

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

26/365: National Peanut Brittle Day

Today is National Peanut Brittle Day. Why we call this hard candy “brittle” is a mystery, for it is anything but. Liable to break or shatter easily? Peanut brittle sometimes requires a mallet to break apart into pieces!

OK, I exaggerate. And I have to say, it’s really, really good. Tara’s mom sent us a bunch of treats for Christmas, including homemade brittle. Why we didn’t save a little bit for today is a good question! 

Brittles are one of the oldest candies around. When not busy hunting leprechauns or picking four-leaf clovers, the Irish enjoyed eating sugar coated peanuts as snacks. They began adding syrup, and brittle was born. There are many variations around the world. The Greeks have pasteli, the French have croquant, Indians have Gacchac, and Canadians have peanut brittle, eh. In the Middle East it’s made with pistachios, and in Asia, a mixture of sesame seeds and peanuts.

When we began this challenge, I wondered if anybody else had attempted it. I scoured the internet, but could find no similar quest. And then a couple of days ago I stumbled upon a blog in which somebody did, in fact, attempt to do the same thing in 2011. He took a similar approach to us, and I was impressed with his posts, until they ended abruptly in May. I wasn’t sure if he burned out at that point, so I sent him an email, and he was kind enough to respond. The guy’s name is John, he lives twenty miles outside of New York City, and he did in fact complete his own holiday food odyssey – but was stymied by a computer that died and a lack of technological and social media savviness. He has been very supportive of our own attempt, is impressed with this blog, and has been quick to offer tips and advice. He wrote, “From time to time you may get sick of foods or desserts or whatever it may be. But I’m not sensationalizing or exaggerating when I say it changed my life. Food history is an amazing over looking part of history I think. I learned so much about culture and different time periods just be researching these meals. Also, growing up predominantly eating the meals of my grandmother from Italy, I became aware of this whole “American” culture in cuisine. I think you’re going to learn more than you expect.” 

Tara workin' that candy thermometer to the "hard crack" stage.

Tara workin’ that candy thermometer to the “hard crack” stage.

Thanks, John! Tara and I have already learned a lot, and feel like our own food horizons are expanding with each day that goes by. If you don’t mind, you can be our official “culinary consultant.” I may have a need for suggestions as we plow our way through the year!

Back to today. We sort of found ourselves scrambling late in the day, because our calendar had erroneously listed National Pistachio Day twice: January 26 AND February 26. So much for the bag of nuts we had sitting on the counter. A quick run to the grocery store yielded no peanut brittle, but Tara had a recipe in her trusty Fannie Farmer cookbook, and whipped together a batch of brittle. Start to finish, it took less than an hour – and turned out very tasty!

Categories: Candy, Nuts | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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