Sunday, November 23, 2014

Anna Sultana's White Bread / American Bread

A few days ago I mentioned cooking pasta fagioli as a way of helping the holiday gift buying budget.

If you clicked on the link and went to the post you noticed I wrote:
Would I make Pasta Fagioli again?
It's a basic item at my house.
Even when it's not tax time.
A loaf of crusty Italian bread goes well with it.
After eating all those carbs, who could be nervous?

Bread is a funny thing.
Buy a loaf and it’s just bread.
Bake it and you’re suddenly Mother Walton.
Which is a charming thing to be at this time of year.

Maltese food wasn’t as popular as Italian food in New York.
If Ma wanted a taste of home, she had to bake her own Hobz, Maltese Bread.
Sometimes she also baked Crusty Italian Bread.
Both are great and add a certain oomph to a meal.

Don’t be put off by the idea of making four loaves at one time.
Homemade bread is a treat.
With butter or jam, it’s as good as any cake.
Believe me, it won’t last long enough to go stale.

A neighbour once gave Ma her recipe for bread.
It was a basic white bread recipe.
Ma called it American bread.
Well, the neighbour was an American, so it made sense.


While kneading the dough, dip your hands in water to give the 
dough a smooth elastic finish.

To give your bread more volume add lemon juice or white vinegar:
1 Tablespoon for every 4 to 5 Cups of flour. 

For variety you can substitute for equal portions of all purpose flour:
1 to 3 Cups whole wheat flour
1 to 2 Cups dark rye flour
1 Cup oatmeal

                        Basic White Bread

Makes 4 loaves
grease four 4 1/2” x 8 1/2” loaf pans
preheat oven to 375º           
bake 40 minutes

In a large mixer bowl place
1/2 Cup warm water (about 110º F)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Let stand about 10 minutes, then stir.

3 1/2 Cups warm water
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons salt
Stir to combine ingredients.
4 1/2 Cups flour
Mix until a soft dough is formed.
Gradually add
5 to 6 Cups flour, more or less, to make a workable dough.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
Knead until it is very smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.
Turn to cover top surfaces with oil.
Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled.

Punch down the dough and cut it into 4 even pieces.
Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
Form into loaves and place in greased pans.
Brush the tops with oil.
Cover and let rise 50 minutes.
Bake 40 minutes, or until bread tests done and is golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes.
Remove from pans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

White Fruitcake by Margaret Ullrich

Four years ago I posted the recipe for 
A couple of years ago I posted a recipe 

I recently got a request for a white fruitcake recipe that has crushed pineapple.
It’s about time for another fruitcake recipe.
Yes, this recipe has crushed pineapple in it.
Marilyn F., I hope this is the recipe you are looking for.


There’s a light touch of almond flavouring in the cake.
If you'd like a stronger almond flavour, you could increase the amount of almond extract, or you could replace the lemon extract or vanilla with another teaspoon of almond extract.

You could replace the coconut with 8 ounces (250 g) sliced almonds.
Or you could use 4 ounces (125 g) of each.
You could also use just red or green candied cherries, especially if a large tub of either was on sale.

Leave the fruitcake wrapped in the wax paper for storing.  
Remove it just before slicing and serving so it will stay moister.

Why not make both a dark and a white fruitcake?  
Then you could present alternating slices of each on a a festive platter. 
Marilyn mentioned that “her mom loved it (white fruitcake) as it contrasted so well with her dark fruitcake.”
Your guests would love it, too.

After aging this cake can be stored for an indefinite period in the freezer. 
(Maybe next year you could make it in September to get a jump on the season).

                    White Fruitcake

Grease a square 8 x 3 1/2 inch (20 x 9 cm) cake pan
Line with two layers of wax paper
Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)         
Bake 2 3/4 to 3 hours

Drain over a large measuring cup (you want to save the juice)
1 can (19-ounce / 540 mL) crushed pineapple
If necessary, add enough water to make 1/2 cup (125 mL) of liquid.

Mix together in a large bowl
1 1/2 Cups (375 mL) golden raisins 
4 ounces (125 g) chopped mixed peel or citron
8 ounces (250 g) candied red cherries, quartered
8 ounces (250 g) candied green cherries, quartered
1 Cup (250 mL) coconut 
Sprinkle with 
1/2 Cup (125 mL) flour 
Toss until all fruit is well dusted. 

Sift together in a medium for the flour mixture
2 1/4 Cups (550 mL) flour
2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) nutmeg

In large mixer bowl place
1 Cup (250 mL) butter, room temperature
Cream the butter.
While creaming the butter, gradually add
1 1/2 Cups (375 mL) sugar
Mix until light and fluffy.
Add, one at a time, beating well after each addition
3 large eggs
Then add
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon extract
1 teaspoon (5 mL) almond extract
the reserved pineapple and juice
Stir well.
Add 1/4 of the flour mixture and stir just until mixed.  
Make 3 more flour mixture additions, stirring just until mixed after each one.
Stir in dusted fruit.

Turn batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. 
Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 2 3/4 to 3 hours.
A skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. 
Cool cake in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. 
Turn out onto rack to cool completely. 

Wrap in aluminium foil and store in an airtight container in a cool place.

'Tis the Season by Margaret Ullrich

Back in 2002 I wrote this for the CKUW radio show ‘2000 & Counting’.  
Goodness, that was a dozen years ago!  
Christmas shopping hasn’t changed all that much.  Darn!!

     Okay… listen up!  There are 5 weeks left until Christmas.  That means gifts.  I know, I know, it's more blessed to give than to receive.  But, unless you have ways of shopping that you'd like to keep secret, giving gifts means money.  

     It's a little late to start a Christmas gift account at your bank and the utility companies really lose that Ho Ho Ho spirit if you try to skip paying their bills.  

     If the charge cards are already maxed out - or you just want to keep your nearest and dearest on a cash and carry basis - gift getting is going to take a little effort.  

     Desperate times call for desperate measures.  As we're all stuck with holidays - oh, lucky us - I'll tell you some of my desperate measures.

     Live off your hump.  You know what I mean.  Things like the 18 cans of tuna you have left from the time you bought 20 cans so you could get 50 bonus airmiles.  Now's the time to crack those babies open.  I know the family hates tuna.  That's why there are 18 little cans of fishies swimming around your pantry.  Well, the family would hate a Giftless Christmas even more.  Think about it.  Lousy dinners happen to everybody.  But the family Grinch who comes up giftless at Christmas gets blabbed about throughout the neighbourhood and the generations.  You don't want to be remembered by your great great grandchildren as Granny Grinchie.

     Try creative cooking.  Pretend you're on the TV show Iron Chef.  You've just been given a tube of ground beef, a bag of marshmallows, a jar of salsa, a bottle of raspberry vinegar, a carton of frozen spinach, a jar of maraschino cherries and a box of rice-a-roni.  Think only a nut throws odd things together?  How do you think raspberry vinegar was invented?  If the family gets snarky, tell them you found the recipe in a magazine - Drop names.  Martha is always good - and if they can't appreciate all the effort you put into making dinner interesting… Well!  You know the speech.  Remember, guilt, when the other person has it, is a good thing.

     Go ethnic.  Granny's recipes don't have to be saved for Folklorama.  God bless ancestors.  Go to an ethnic restaurant and get a load of the prices they charge for a plate of pasta fagioli (that's noodles and beans).  Grandma would die laughing if she saw those prices.  Starch and beans got millions of people through tough times.  Go thou and eat likewise.

     Beans aren't good enough?  Go past the recognizable cuts and shop the mystery meats.  Put enough spices on them and the family won't know what hit them.  I once made spaghetti and meatballs using animal organs only a mother could love.  Guess what?  Hubby had invited a friend.  Well, the buddy was getting a free meal, so I followed the Cook’s Golden Rule: Don't apologize and don't explain.  The buddy said it was delicious, like the meatballs they serve at the Bay.  Hmmm…  I notice the Bay is still in business.  There's more than one way to skin a cat.   

     Shop your house.  No kidding.  Grab a bag and stroll through your house.  Look for things somebody foisted… uh… gave to you.  Well, why should you be stuck with it until you're six feet under?  Unless it was made by your preschooler - don't even think it, they DO remember - you're free to pass it on to someone else.  Just don't give it to the person who gave it to you. 

     Pack your own.  Ever notice the little overpriced goodies the stores stuff into baskets and bowls?  One current gift item is a box of pasta, a tin of sauce, some cheese and some wooden spoons nestled within a large bowl.  Are you too stupid to do the same thing?  I didn’t think so.  It's one way to get rid of some of those extra airmiles purchases.  Let somebody else eat the tuna.                  

About Saturday night’s new moon in Sagittarius
According to the folks at
November 22, while the new Moon rises in feisty Sagittarius, you can expect increased adventure, grand plans, and plentiful opportunities to broaden your horizons!

With the new Moon in this bold, audacious sign, it’s just in time for Thanksgiving.  
The astrological vibe turns from gloomy to joyful!

Happy Thanksgiving!