Saturday, May 23, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Black and White Cookies

In the Coronation Chicken post I mentioned that the recipe had been sent from a relative in Malta to my Ma in New York while Queen Elizabeth was being crowned.
Well, recipes also went from Ma to her relatives… including me.

Favourite foods are often picked because of memories rather than fancy ingredients.
That’s the case with Black and White Cookies.

The IRT Flushing Line was major in my life.
Ma and I rode it when we went to Manhattan to shop during the 50s.
I rode it daily to connect to the train to my college in Brooklyn in the 60s and 70s.
Paul and I used it as our main form of transportation when we were dating.
I also used rode it daily when I worked in Manhattan.

Throughout all those years there was one constant - a tiny bakery kiosk by the staircase leading to the street in the subway terminal in Flushing.

As the saying goes… location, location, location.
Commuters would grab a quick breakfast on their way to work.
After a long work day, nothing hit the spot better than a black and white cookie.

It was vital to New Yorkers.
It was ours, it was unique, it was beloved.

Black and white cookies really are a New York icon.
They were mentioned twice on the New York based TV show Seinfeld
Jerry used the cookie as a metaphor for racial harmony.
He said that people should Look to the cookie!
Of course we knew which cookie.

Bette Midler - yes the The Divine Miss M!  - told Kramer: 
If I don't get a black and white cookie, I'm not going to be very pleasant to be around!
I hear you, Bette.

A few years after we moved to Canada I suddenly missed my old B & W cookies.
It was one of those things that was always there.
And then it wasn’t.
Until Ma sent me the recipe!

                        Black and White Cookies

makes 24 cookies

Line two cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper


In a medium bowl combine 
2 1/2 Cups cake flour
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a large bowl
1 Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 Cups sugar
Beat until it is light and fluffy.
4 large eggs
1 1/2 Cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Beat until well combined.

Add about a cup at a time of the flour mixture to the wet mixture, stirring well between each addition.

Preheat the oven to 375° F

Drop a heaping tablespoonful of dough for each cookie onto the cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. 
Spread each spoonful of dough gently into a circle. 
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a pale golden. 
Remove the cookies to a wire rack.
Let the cookies cool completely before icing.


In a large bowl place
4 Cups confectioners’ sugar
Stirring constantly slowly add a little at a time
1/3 to 1/2 Cup boiling water
Just add enough to make a thick, smooth paste.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir in.

Put a medium sized heat-proof bowl in a a small saucepan of simmering water.
In it place
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Stir the mixture until the chocolate melts.
Add half of the vanilla glaze.
Stir the mixture until it is smooth and thick.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, but keep the bowl in the hot water so that the glaze doesn’t harden.

Use a small spatula or butter knife to spread the white glaze on half of each cookie.
Spread the chocolate glaze on the other half of each cookie. 
Allow the glaze to harden and set for 30 minutes before serving.

Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Coronation Chicken, Maltese Style

We just celebrated Queen Victoria’s birthday.
The British Royals have been in the news recently, what with the birth of Queen Elizabeth’s new great-granddaughter, Princess Charlotte.

In 1952 Elizabeth II was crowned Queen.
In honour of the occasion, Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume invented Coronation Chicken.

Coronation Chicken, an easy chicken salad recipe, may have been inspired by jubilee chicken, which had been prepared for the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth’s father, George V in 1935.
For the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, a second Jubilee Chicken recipe was created.

I know... you’d think they’d have a fancy beef roast, like a crown rib roast.
Maybe the royals just like chicken salad.

As Malta was part of the British Empire, the recipe found its way to Malta.
It was printed in Maltese newspapers and magazines.
A clipped recipe was sent to Ma when we were living in New York.
So, as British subjects, we were able to celebrate the coronation properly.


If you’d like a bit of crunch, lightly toast a few almonds, let cool, chop and add.
You can also use flaked almonds, toasted or not, if you have some in the pantry.
You can add raisins in addition to, or in place of, the apricot jam.
If you’d like a deeper yellow colour add a bit of turmeric.

This can be prepared the day before you need it.
The flavour will improve if you give it a bit of sitting time.

This can also be used as a filling in Cream Puffs which looks a bit festive.
Or you could serve it over cold rice as a buffet dish.
Not as pretty, but good.

                        Coronation Chicken

Serves 8

Have on hand
4 cooked chicken breasts or leftover roast chicken breast, diced

In a large saucepan heat over low heat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Cover and let cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned.
Stir in
1 tablespoon curry powder
Cook for another 2 minutes.
1/3 Cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1⁄2 lemon, juice of
2 - 3 tablespoons apricot jam
Stir until the mixture begins to bubble.
Simmer for 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
Allow to cool for half an hour.

Stir in
1 Cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons heavy cream 
Add the diced, cooked chicken and mix throughly.
Cover and place in the fridge.
Let it age for a few hours for the flavours to meld.

Put the filling on bread to make 8 sandwiches.
Quarter the sandwiches and arrange on a platter.

A nice pot of tea would add the right touch.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Happy Victoria Day Weekend! by Margaret Ullrich - Bloody Mary Recipe

Here in Canada we’re having a three day weekend to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.
She was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India during the nineteenth century.

Okay… this is a little complicated.

Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819.
But the third Monday in May was picked to be her official birthday so that everyone could have a proper three day weekend in which to celebrate.
It’s time to par-tay!!

A bit of royal trivia…
Since September 24, 1896 Queen Victoria has had the longest reign of anyone - either kings or queens - for the British Isles. 
Her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II on September 9, 2015, will, God willing, surpass Queen Victoria’s reign.
What a year for her royal majesty: a new great-granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, and setting a new record!
Yes, indeed, it’s time to par-tay!!

I’ve been getting used to being a senior citizen.
Actually, it’s quite nice.
I’ve been taking advantage of a few of those senior discounts. 
And who doesn’t like a bit of a bargain?

I mentioned that the flat glass that looks like a bowl is called a Victorian coupe.
It had nothing to do with Queen Victoria.
According to legend, it was designed using a mould of Marie Antoinette's left breast as a birthday present to her husband, Louis XVI.
That girl also knew how to par-tay!!

In honour of this being the birthday of Queen Victoria - more or less - we ought to have a drink with a bit of a royal connection.
How about a Bloody Mary?

The name Bloody Mary is associated with Queen Mary I of England.
She was called that in Foxe's Book of Martyrs for her... well... bloody efforts to re-establish the Catholic Church in England in the sixteenth century.

The Bloody Mary recipe is not nearly that old.
Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1921 while working at Harry's New York Bar, a favourite Paris hangout for Ernest Hemingway.
No one knows why he picked that name.

A Bloody Mary is a popular cocktail that is open to variations.
It can contain combinations of other spices and flavourings including piri piri sauce, beef consommé or bouillon, horseradish, olives, cayenne pepper, and celery salt. 

Some say a Bloody Mary can cure a hangover. 
Its heavy vegetable base settles the stomach, the salt replenishes lost electrolytes and the alcohol relieves the aches. 
Others just think the alcohol slightly numbs the pain.
Its reputation as a cure led to the drink becoming a popular brunch drink.
A perfect drink for a holiday weekend!

Want an alcohol-free drink with your brunch?
If you don't add the booze you'll be enjoying a Virgin Mary.

Don't even think it.


Don’t have any celery?
No problem, if you have celery seed. 
It has the flavour of celery, but doesn't wilt or need chopping.
A good thing to keep in your pantry.

Add a bit to your Mary and you won’t have to cope with a dripping celery stalk.
Perfect, right?

                        Bloody Mary

1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
3 ounces tomato juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
dash of Tabasco Sauce (optional)
salt and pepper (optional)
ice cubes
Shake and strain into a highball glass.
Garnish with a celery stalk and lemon slice (optional)

About the moon next week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On May 18 there’ll be a New Moon.  Don’t get excited, you won’t be able to see it.

On May 19 you’ll be able to see a tiny sliver of the waxing crescent Moon low in the west, below Venus. Start looking west after the Sun sets.

On May 22 Saturn will be in opposition, that is 180° from the Sun in relationship to the Earth. This is the best time to view a superior planet – one beyond the Earth’s orbit.

On May 23 Saturn will be closest to Earth, the closest it will be in 2015. The waxing crescent Moon is also very close to Jupiter.

About your garden…

Plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the waxing moon, from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Carmela Soprano’s Shrimp Aragonate

Got an email.
Could I post the recipe for Carmela’s Shrimp Aragonate?
Ah…  Shrimp Aragonate… Great recipe… in a lousy post.

It was one of the early Carmela recipes from the Entertaining with The Sopranos cookbook that I had posted about.
About is the operative word.

When I started posting Carmela’s recipes in 2010 I wasn’t particularly big on details.
Just a chatty piece, with a quick description of the ingredients and comments about how much Paul and I enjoyed eating it.
I know, big help.

Together they made for a really great meal.
A year after that first post I got an email asking for the cake recipe.
Nobody asked for the Shrimp Aragonate recipe.
Until now.

Shrimp Aragonate can be served either as an appetizer or as a main course.
Either way, it’s quick, easy and delicious.
And Paul and I really liked it.


In the recipe Carmela used fresh bread crumbs made from Italian or French bread, with the crusts removed.
I used store-bought unseasoned bread crumbs.
The box didn't say what country they came from.
I would guess Canadian.

She also used 1/3 Cup chopped fresh flay-leaf parsley.
I used 1/4 Cup dried.

What can I say?
Paul and I really liked it.

                        Shrimp Aragonate

Serves 6

Oil a large baking pan.

Cut into wedges
2 large lemons

In a medium bowl combine
1 Cup bread crumbs
1/3 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1/4 Cup dried)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Stir in
1/8 to 1/4 Cup olive oil (just enough to moisten the crumbs)

Arrange on the oiled baking pan in a single layer
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Curl each shrimp into a circle.

Preheat the oven to 450º F

Spoon some of the bread crumb mixture onto each shrimp.
Bake 10 minutes - the crumbs should be browned and the shrimp should be cooked through when cut in the thickest part. 
Place the shrimp on a large serving platter.
Garnish with the lemon wedges.

Serve hot or at room temperature.