Lemon-fennel cookies from Lishy’s Kitchen

Hey, Vintage Eaters! Christmas is quickly closing in on us, so before it’s too late, we wanted to share a recipe that was sent in by Alisha, a friend of Jen’s from college and an urban homesteader extraordinaire. Check out her blog here for some delicious-sounding vegetarian recipes.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in this month’s Cook’s Country magazine. It makes about 3 dozen cookies. A note from Alisha: a mortar and pestle is great for crushing the fennel seeds.

Lemon-fennel cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1 whole lemon which is way more than required and it was not too much, but I like it lemony)
2 tsp almond extract
1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, combine flour, fennel, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter until fluffy, add egg, lemon zest and almond. Beat together until fully incorporated. Add flour in stages, then 1/2 cup pistachios. Mix until just combined. Roll into balls, lightly press remaining pistachios into the tops and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.

Can be stored at room temp for about 3 days, chilled for about a week.

Happy holidays!

Published in: on 21 December, 2011 at 13:39  Comments (1)  

Waste not, want not

Last week, I found myself pondering the question of sustainability in a broader context. What I wrote below for my day job at Chefs Collaborative was geared towards chefs and restaurants, but the next time you find yourself out for dinner, consider asking your server where all the food waste goes. And don’t forget to take your leftovers! 

Chefs: at the end of your shift tonight, head into your walk-in and throw half the contents away. Producers: walk straight past your stall at the local farmer’s market and place a quarter of your vegetables directly into the dumpster. Eaters: when visiting a restaurant, tell the server not to bother bringing the second half of your entree. It’ll save time, embarrassment, and a nasty smell in the back of your fridge if it goes directly into the trash.

We wouldn’t dream of doing this, right? No, but the fact is, we do, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.These scenarios fairly accurately illustrate how we as a society deal with excess food. From the fields to distribution centers, to supermarkets, restaurants and fast food chains, to your home and into your garbage – and then out to the landfill – the supply chain that brings us an abundance of food also lets huge amounts of food fall through the cracks. Namely, between 25 and 50% of it, depending on how conservative (or optimistic) you’d like to be with your guestimate.

The realities of food waste have been even more on my mind lately, given both my job at Chefs Collaborative and my own personal Depression-era sensibilities. At the Collaborative, we talk a lot about how to effectively build sustainable supply chains that benefit all stakeholders. Addressing what happens to food waste is as important to a sustainable food system as addressing the supply. This is an issue that many in our network are actively grappling with. What if we brought the issue of food waste to the forefront of our discourse when we talk about a sustainable food supply? What if, alongside “where do you source your meat and your produce?”, consumers learned to ask “how does your restaurant deal with food waste?”, and chefs asked farmers and distributors the same question?

I just finished reading “American Wasteland”, in which the author, Jonathon Bloom, argues that food waste is not as simple as teaching people to clean their plates. But, I believe that addressing food waste begins with the consumer and that businesses change their practices – for the worse or for the better – to give consumers what they want.

On the farm, produce that is irregularly shaped and not appealing to consumers or is too fragile to ship is left to rot. (See Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland, for a prime example of how one highly-shippable, highly symmetrically-shaped vegetable nearly killed him as he drove along the interstate in Florida.)  Distribution results in another 10-15% loss of even the hardier produce, then still more is thrown out after hitting grocery store shelves.

On the other end of the food production spectrum are the “value-added” meals that consumers get when dining out from fast food joints, buffets, caterers, and restaurants. 4-10% gets thrown out by kitchens, 17% of meals are thrown out untouched by customers, and 55% of leftovers will stay on the table after the customer leaves.

Clearly the point to make is, there are opportunities to minimize waste – from the farm to the kitchen to the table.

Meanwhile, minimizing food waste is essential for restaurants – for those seeking to manage food costs and especially for those choosing to make sustainability a part of their focus. Chefs, you are not only the tastemakers, you are also the educators who can help customers understand the true cost of their food and the impact of the choices they make.

Here are some ideas for educating your customers and taking steps to manage food waste:

1. Manage customer expectations. Take the opportunity, whether it’s on your menu or in conversation with your patrons, to help them understand the steps you’re trying to take to minimize your food waste.

2. Have a plan for excess. Using everything is already a tried and true practice in restaurants for managing food costs (vegetable peels and stems for soup and sauces, fish and meat bones for stock, meat and fish scraps for terrines, etc). Whether it’s composting, donating to shelters in need, or re-purposing into other dishes, try to keep as much organic food waste* (*that is, peels, vegetable and fruit matter, etc.) out of the trash as possible.

3. Adjust portion sizes and recipes. If you notice that there is an entree or side dishes that are habitually left half-eaten, consider limiting the size or making them optional altogether.

Food waste needs to be a part of the conversation about sustainability, because after all, as much as we are what we eat, we are also, I’d argue, what we throw away. The above suggestions are just three ways you can minimize food waste. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section or by visiting us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sources:

http://www.americanwastelandbook.com/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/from-farm-to-fridge-to-garbage-can/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703440004575548391291973152.html?

Posted by: Jen

Published in: on 15 December, 2011 at 11:43  Comments (1)  

Vintage Christmas cookie swap 2011 was a success!

A huge thanks to everyone who made it out for our first annual vintage Christmas cookie swap. We had 11 different kinds of cookies represented, one of which was made without modern technology – no Kitchenaid ! Here’s what the kitchen looked like pre-party:

And here’s what people brought:

Ninjabread, the most creatively named cookie of the evening

From left to right, we have chocolate Reese's peanut butter cup madness, molasses cookies, sweet rolls and chocolate croissants, Lemon Drops (with real lemon curd!), more delicious molasses cookies, and some gingerbread

Coconut macaroons and more gingerbread. Not pictured here: award-winning salty peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

It was great to chat with people about how they found and approached their vintage recipes (some needed some serious modern translation). It was also wonderful to meet Susan Johnston, one of the founders of Boston Food Swap! If you missed our vintage Christmas cookie swap, be sure to mark your calendar for their Cookie Swap for a Cause (benefitting kids with cancer) on December 18th at 2:00 p.m. in Fort Point. Find more information here.

Did you hold a cookie swap of your own? Have any vintage Christmas cookies you’d like to share? Email jennifer.ede@gmail.com and we’ll be sure to post them! 

Published in: on 13 December, 2011 at 17:19  Leave a Comment  

Vintage Christmas cookie recipe: Gingerbread Men from Everywoman magazine, 1954

I bought this ladies magazine during an antiquing jaunt at the Cambridge Antique Market. Five floors, friends, of everything from jewelry, to clothing, to furniture, to a duo of gentlemen who fix vintage bicycles in the basement. It is .. my happy place. One of them, anyway.

Today’s vintage Christmas cookie recipe for Gingerbread Men is pulled from Everywoman magazine. More specifically, it is from the Christmas Number, December, 1954.

To make Gingerbread Men, you’ll need:

-8 oz. custard powder (I actually had to look this up, hoping that it wasn’t like that gross pistachio pudding that my extended family seems to love. According to Wikipedia, it pretty much is the thing I was dreading – a cornstarch-based powder that thickens when you add milk. Happily, you can pretty much duplicate the same texture using straight cornstarch, so my suggestion would be to try using 3 oz of cornstarch and 3 oz of flour and seeing what it does to the texture.)

-8 oz. self-rising flour (You can create self-rising flour on your own by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt to each cup of flour. Follow this link to a very useful ingredient substitution guide for baking.)

-7 oz. margarine (Ugh. Okay, substitute butter here.)

-4 oz. castor sugar (Castor sugar (UK) is super finely granulated sugar. It’s known as bar sugar, baker’s sugar or superfine sugar here in the U.S.)

-1 level dessert spoon ginger (I hope you have your dessert spoons ready and polished! No? This seems to me to be a little less than a teaspoon.)

-1 egg, beaten (Finally, something real!)

-milk to mix

Now for the fun part. I’m adapting this recipe so it agrees with the substitutions I’ve listed above and so the steps make better sense.

First, cream butter and sugar, then add the beaten egg. Sift, then fold in dry ingredients. Add very little milk – just enough to make a workable dough. Roll it out on a floured board, and cut out little men, animals, stars, crescent moons, etc., from patterns made from postcard (or you can use cookie cutters).

Bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven (I’d say 350).

And now, verbatim from the original recipe because it’s so sweet: Decorate the shapes with icing and gaily coloured sweets and silver balls. Attach a coloured ribbon loop to the back of each little figure with a dab of thick icing.

Published in: on 9 December, 2011 at 11:00  Leave a Comment  

Vintage Christmas cookie swap recipes: Czechoslovakian Pastries, 1952

This book was given to me three years ago, for Christmas. My family has an old friend, a woman who practically raised my brother and me during the time our parents were at work. Every time I go home to Milwaukee, I visit her. She is my constant, and my ever-enthusiastic cheerleader, and when she heard about The Vintage Eats Project, she went upstairs and came back with two cookbooks: a Czechoslovakian Pastries book (that belonged to her mother) from 1952 and a White House cookbook from the Coolidge years.

The year I got it, I made a Christmas loaf dotted with raisins and almonds.

This year, I invite you to try making these Czechoslovakian Christmas cookies:

At first glance, these look like sugar cookies to me. Try one of these variations:

If you have a hard time reading them here, I’m glad to send you the pages via email – just contact me at jennifer.ede@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

Published in: on 7 December, 2011 at 12:12  Leave a Comment  
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