Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Me in my ugliest sweater.

This is Cafe Florian in Venice. It is often full of the most flamboyant people in costume during the Carnivale season. I have had tons of desserts there and throughout Italy. I thought it would be an appropriate picture for the beginning of the dessert section. This is one of my last trips with longish hair. I suppose I will have to buy a wig or grow out again if I plan to go in costume.

Aunt Rose's Cheesecake with an Easy Mock Crust

This recipe comes from Rose Cafarella Worth. She grew up in Malden but moved to West Hartford Connecticut to raise her family. Her husband was a history teacher and then the coach of the Hartford Nights of the University of Hartford. We didn’t get to see them very often but when we did Aunt Rose always had great recipes. She was an excellent cook and as the wife of the football coach of a university went to many gatherings bringing her wonderful food. Aunt Rose passed away in an auto accident a number of years back but I still have very fond memories of her. She was the sister of Col. Joe of Malden. Her only daughter Deborah Worth Faller passed away last year of lung cancer so nobody is available to send in any recipes from that part of the family. Therefore, I thought I’d pass this recipe on so a part of her would be included in the family cook book and thoughts of her would remain in the family along with her recipes.

Preheat oven to 75 degrees

This recipe has no crust. The corn starch falls to the bottom of the pan to form a mock type crust. Also, I’d just put everything in a large food processor in stages stopping to scrape down sides of bowl and adding eggs one at a time through hole in top of food processor.

4 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened)

1 16 oz. package sour cream (room temp)

5 eggs (room temp)

¼ lb. butter (soft or melted and cooled)

1 ¼ c. sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice (I’d put more or add the grated rind also)

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

2 Tbs. corn starch

Let cream cheese, sour cream, eggs and butter stand out at room temperature for 1 hour. Blend softened cream cheese, sour cream and butter together in a bowl and mix with electric mixer till smooth. Add corn starch, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice/grated rind and beat until well blended. Beat in one egg at a time until well blended and very smooth.

Flour and grease spring form pan. Wrap outside of pan with large size heavy duty aluminum foil. Place in large roasting pan. Add batter to pan. Open oven and put pan on middle rack of oven. Gently pour hot water into roasting pan to fill half full but don‘t fill it over the line of the aluminum foil or else the cake will be soggy. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown. Turn off oven. Leave cake in oven with door open for 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. Top with desired topping or canned fruit topping.

Thanks to Janice Cafarella Crossen for posting this.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chocolate Cake from Alberta Burrill

1 square bakers chocolate, melted with butter the size of an egg.

1 cup Sugar
1 cup sifted flour mixed with:
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs unbeaten.

Beat all together by hand.

Bake 30 minutes. Temperature not given. Process not given.


sift together:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa

Beat in butter the size of an egg,

Beat in 2 tablespoons strong coffee.

Apple Upside Down Cake from Alberta Burrill

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups tart sliced apples

Melt the butter in the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan.
Spread the brown sugar over the butter and arrange the apple slices over the sugar. cover with the cake batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Turn out on a serving platter with the fruit side up. Do not allow the butter and sugar to harden before unmolding it.

The cake batter:

1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons boiling water

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt several times together.
Beat the eggs with a beater until thick and light.
Add the sugar gradually beating as you go.
Add lemon juice.
Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the boiling water.
Blend well after each addition till all is completely incorporated.

This will work with pineapple or a number of other hard fruits that do not weep too much.

Date Bread from Alberta Burrill

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 package of dates
Butter the size of two eggs
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons soda
2 1/2 cups flour

Put chopped up dates, boiling water and butter together and allow it to stand till cool.
Add the other ingredients only barely beating the eggs.
Put into a waxed paper lined loaf tin.
Bake in a moderate oven. No time given.

I would place in a greased pan rather than a waxed paper lined pan. at 350 for 45 minutes or till done in the center. Timing heavy moist breads like this is an issue for me...very easy to leave it damp in the center.

Use this to make tea sandwiches filled with cream cheese or just alone. This would be wonderful too, if the cheese were slightly sweetened and mixed with grated orange rind.

Spice Cake from Alberta Burrill

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons melted fat
1 teaspoon soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup raisins
grated rind of one orange
salt(no measure)
mixed spice(no measure or proportions)

No method. I would mix the wet. Mix the dry. Add the dry to the wet in thirds.
Bake in greased and floured pan.


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk or cream

Cook to soft ball stage without stirring after the initial combining mix.
add butter the size of a walnut.
Beat well till light and spreadable.

Sponge Cake in an Angel Ring from Alberta Burrill

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cake flour

Beat the eggs with 2/3 of the sugar,
beat in the cream of tartar, salt, water, lemon juice and vanilla till the volume has increased to four times the volume and the batter looks light and glossy. Sift the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar into the flour.
gradually add the flour mixture, beating at least 15 seconds.
bake in a 10 inch angel cake pan at 325 degrees for one hour.
Cool upside down on a rack for an hour.

Gold and White Angel Cake from Alberta Burrill


1/2 cup cake flour
6 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the flour three times.
Beat the egg whites until frothy,
Add salt and cream of tartar,
Beat until stiff and glossy but not dry.
Add the sugar a small amount at a time folding it in thoroughly.
add the vanilla.

Sift the flour over the eggs, floding in as you go untill thoroughly combines. Work very lightly.

Pour into a large angel pan.


3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Sift the flour and baking powder together three times.
Beat the egg yolks withthe sugar and water together until light and glossy and the volume has increased to four times the original volume.
add the lemon juice.
Sift flour over the top a little at a time folding in lightly till completely incorporated.

Pour over the first mixture in the pan.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Place the cone of the cake pan upside down on the neck of a wine bottle for an hour to cool.

Cookies Alberta Burrill

Cream together:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening

Beat in 1 egg

1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup Molasses


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda

Add the dry to the wet 1/3 at a time.

drop on baking sheet and bake at 350.

Time not given.

Burrill Family Sponge Cake after 1919

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup boiling water

Separate the eggs;
Beat the whites to a stiff froth;
Pour the boiling water over the yolks while beating;
Add the sugar and beat;
Add the flour and beat;
Gently fold in the whites.

Bake 35 minutes at 300

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bill's Own Bread Pudding

6 slices of day old bread cubed
2/3 cup of raisins
1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts(optional)
3 or four eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
extra sugar to top

In a greased loaf pan, layer the bread cubes, raisins, nuts and chocolate in the pan.
Mix three of the eggs, milk, vanilla, salt and sugar till smooth.
pour the liquids over the bread in the pan.  The liquids should just be visible in the bread.  Press the bread into the liquid just to soak it, then allow it to spring back.  It should be very slightly soupy, but it will depend on how dry and absorbent the bread is.  If too dry, mix another egg and a few tablespoons of milk and sugar, and pour over the bread.
Sprinkle sugar over the top to form a crust.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour till the whole loaf puffs up and browns slightly on top.  The center should not be wet if you stab it with a knife and look in.  It rises like a cake.

Substitute your favorite liqueur for the vanilla, or soak the raisins in brandy or liqueur for an hour before assembly.   White bread is best, but if you want to use a whole wheat or other bread, try not to use one with a strong flavor so as not to overpower the vanilla or other flavorings.
Serve warm with cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.   

My Own Little Honeymoon Sponge with lots of uses

I had absolutely nothing sweet in the house.  I did not want to make a lot of sweet food to totally derail my diet.  So, I had to come up with something quick and small to go with the berries I had taken out of the freezer. 
I could not find a recipe that was small enough and I had been wanting to try to make a cake made with olive oil.  I was hoping that what experience I had in making cakes in the past would tell me when the texture was correct if I just experimented.  Here is what I came up with.
This literally took ten minutes to mix, and about twenty to thirty to bake at 350 degrees.  The only simpler cake to make is Grammie Burrill's TV chocolate cake posted elsewhere.

This is very similar to a very large Ladyfinger.  You could add cocoa to this with no problem, along with the flour or dusted on top.

Using fresh or frozen fruit, mix sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries or sliced stone fruit with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.  Add a splash of Grand Marnier if you like.  Let it stand to produce a syrup while the cake is made.  Or you could grill pineapple, peaches or plums on the charcoal grill and set aside to weep or drizzle with honey.

Separate two eggs. 

Mix 2 Tablespoons of sugar into the yolks and beat with a wire whisk or beater till the sugar is dissolved and the yolks are pale yellow and slightly thickened.

Beat in about a tablespoon of olive oil or melted and cooled butter.   You do not detect the taste of the oil.

Beat the egg whites with two tablespoons of sugar till they hold soft peaks.

Pour the egg yolk mixture over the whites.  Add a capful of almond extract or 1 tablespoon of grated citrus peel.

Fold the mixtures together while slowly sifting 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour over the mixture.  You do know how to fold, don't you?  Do not over-do this, stop when the color is uniform.

When the entire mixture is uniform, extremely light and similar in texture to a soft mousse, pour it into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes.  My oven is unreliable, so watch it and adjust the time as necessary.  It should be a medium toast brown, and it will begin to draw away from the sides of the pan when done.  Stick in a toothpick and check to see if it comes out clean.

This is VERY delicate, so after cooling briefly, turn it out onto a clean dishcloth.  Pick it up gently with the cloth and invert it onto a rack to cool right side up.  Allow to cool completely.

Split the cake in half horizontally.  Place the lower half on an oval platter...I know that is a bit picky and specific, but that is what I like.  I have an Italian platter in stark white with a wide rim of marble patterned pink with a shield...just the thing.

Pour half of the  fruit and resulting syrup over the lower cake half.  Add a layer of whipped cream if you like lots of cream.  If you did not get enough syrup, you could mix in some Grand Marnier to extend it.

Put the top layer of the cake on the berries.  Cover the top with the balance of the fruit and syrup, and mound with whipped cream.  Top with a couple of whole berries or a strawberry that is partially sliced and fanned out.  Add a sprig of mint if you like...

Serve with tea or coffee or a nice sweet dessert wine like Malvasia.

You could melt some dark chocolate and drizzle it from a fork over the whole thing in thin lines, but that might be gilding the lily.

You will get two very healthy honeymoon portions from this, but it could easily make four if you have plenty of berries and cream.

You could use this in a dozen different ways.
1. Layer with bananas and pour chocolate sauce over it.
2. Layer with jam or jelly, then frost the cake with whipped cream. Cranberry preserves would be similar to the white cake elsewhere in the blog that my stepfather's grandmother used to do.
3. Use in a trifle like dessert, by cubing the cake and layer in a parfait glass with puddings, lemon curd, whipped cream and jams.
4. Fill with Nutella if you can deal with the crumbs, (Perhaps softening it in the microwave for a second or two would help.)  Frost with whipped cream and top with toasted and crushed hazelnuts.
5. Fill with lemon curd and top with whipped cream.
6. Fill with cannoli filling and top with powdered sugar and strew a few bits of minced candied orange peel on top.
7. Cube it up and use in Chocolate Fondue.
8. Use for petit-fours.
9. Soak the cake with simple syrup, cut with the liqueur of your choice..Frangipane, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Malvasia...etc.
10. Frost with hazelnut frosting, or any other you like.  It is very neutral so you can use your favorites.
11. Fill with a plain white frosting or whipped cream laced with toasted Coconut.  Top with a snowstorm of the Coconut.
12.  Make Tirimisu if you do not have time to go out to find Ladyfingers.

You could let your sense of adventure take hold and grind a quarter cup of blanched almonds into a fine powder in a food processor, and use that instead of the flour.

A Coalport cup and saucer from my collection of 18th and 19th century examples.

Blackberry Ice Cream Low Fat

This is not meant for long term storage.  After about 18 hours in the freezer, it will start to revert to ice crystals as it was originally intended to do by nature.  It is nice and soft at first, like soft serve, and like regular, though sherbety ice cream as it hardens.  Make what you will use at your dinner party or for tonight's supper.  It is so easy, you can do a batch a day without too much effort.  Remember you will have about 6 cups when you are done.  If that will not be used up immediately, cut the recipe.

4 cups of frozen Blackberries, other frozen berries or frozen ripe bananas or peaches for the flavor of your choice.
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup sugar.

Pulverize the sugar by running in your food processor for 1 minute or use the same measure of superfine sugar.  Or you can use the manufaturers recomended measure of Splenda or other artificial sweetener.  This may alter the texture of the finished product.
Combine the other ingredients in the food processor and process till smooth and creamy.  Do not process for too long or the friction will melt it.
Pour into a metal container and freeze till firm.  It would not hurt to stir or mash this once after about half an hour in the freezer and then continue to freeze.

Halve or double the recipe as desired.
You might add other ingredients as desired, but the frozen fruit or berries are important.  The idea for good texture is to get the whole thing to gel up immediately with the pre frozen fruit.  Freezing skim milk from the liquid state will form large ice crystals and you want to avoid that if you do not want to take this out of the freezer and mash or process it over and over till it is finally solid.  It will be inferior in any case.  Avoid acidic fruit like citrus unless you use cream instead of skim milk.

If you want to step this up a bit, you could strain out any seeds before you put this into the freezer.  This is not necessary, but I know there will be those who will hate the seeds.  Since this is such a high proportion of fruit to milk, this really is like a milk sherbet more than ice cream.  Of course, if you wanted to rich this up a bit, you could substitute whole milk or even half and half for the skim.
Serve a small scoop of this with a slice of pound cake, a sugar cookie, or a biscotto. 

For fun, pack a quart container with alternating layers or stirred together portions of softened Vanilla Ice Cream and this.  Return the packed container to the freezer, and freeze till firm again. before scooping out.

Burrill Family Walnut Cake

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sour milk(buttermilk might substitute)
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups walnuts
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoons soda
nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon...no amount given

No method given

If I had to come up with a method, I would beat the eggs and sugar together. add the milk. Mix the dry together. Add the dry to the wet ingredients a third at a time. Add the walnuts and raisins.

Ciao Italia Bombs

I have to say that I love Mary Ann Esposito.  I saw her first show and as many as I could after that.  There was a period when I was not near a station that carried her shows, so I missed a few.
One thing bothers me.  I even called the producers to complain.  I was a jeweler for years.  I have cleaned thousands of rings, and even after ultrasonic, toothbrushes, detergents etc., there is nothing dirtier and more disgusting than the interior recesses of a woman's ring.  I say woman's just because the designs tend to have deep recesses and nearly blind voids  Filthy Filthy Filthy.  The response to my complaint that she never removes her rings when she is digging into meatball pulp, or any number of other gooey foods, was that she is set in her ways and she does not care how dirty a practice it is.  She is not going to remove the rings, or warn people about how dirty a practice it is. 
Other than that, I have only one other complaint.  I hate the shows where she is working with a dozen people in a professional kitchen, and you only get a glimpse of the method...the recipes are after all what we watch for.  Why would we want to see how to do it?

Mary Ann has a peculiar fascination for me.  Her background is similar to mine.  She does recipes that remind me of family.   She sounds like family and the set is good looking.

She is a real treasure and I hope she does not hate me for writing this if she ever hears about it.

I saw a show today that I had seen before.  She did a Ricotta Budino...not a fan of Apricots, but it looked like a good recipe to build upon someday.

Her Ice Cream Bomb however was an utter failure.  No problem eating it if she brings it to the next pot luck, but it was very BLAH and not very creative.  Italians are brilliant at many things, but desserts...no way to match them.  Her Bomb was all the same beige, blah flavors....just not a good recipe as she demonstrated it.

Savoiardi..hard lady fingers...good choice.  However, there are dozens of choices for the outer shell, and indeed they are sometimes just an intermediate layer, with more layers of chocolate or ice cream outside the layer she showed.  But lets do a similar recipe.

Try Bisccotti, Strips of cake, Amaretti, candied fruit...anything for that outer layer, keeping in mind that you must cut through or around the cookies, fruit or whatever.  Don't make too solid a wall.  fish scale patterns would be wonderful with a thin outer layer.

Line the mold....go big, and not too tall.  When you are applying layers to the inside of the mold, a tall narrow mold makes it hard to get your hand in there to put in several layers.  A Steel bowl is a great choice to do the first time till you have had practice.  It will still be tall, but broad enough to get into the center.

Dip the Savoiardi in Marsala...OK... but try something like Amaretto, Frangelico, Limoncello, Chambord, Grand Marnier...or a very good sweet Vin Santo or Malvasia.  Match the alcohol to some of the flavors in the bomb, contrast, but not too much...blend but not bland.

Line the mold with plastic wrap, then dip the cookies or cake etc. in the liquor briefly, and line the mold as tightly as possible, carve rounded edges to fit more precisely, and arrange in a fabulous pattern if the finished bomb will not be covered with cream or fondant or something else.
Freeze for an hour at least

  Put in a first layer that will contrast significantly with the beige of most baked goods that will line the mold.
Try starting with a great cherry with plenty of fruit in it.  How about Pistachio.  Soften the ice cream just till it can be scooped easily.  Mound a quantity in the bottom of the mold, and use a large spoon to drag the ice cream up along the sides, holding the cookies in place.  Dip the spoon in hot water to facilitate the process.

Return to the freezer.

Shave chocolate and press into the inner wall of the first layer.and continue with a second layer.  Try Vanilla, mixed with rum soaked raisins, or toasted Hazelnuts.  There are all sorts of candy bar bits now.  How about York Peppermint Patty bits or Butterfinger bits, toffee or heath bar bits or crushed, etc.  Or you could crush Amaretti coarsely and stir in.  Then smear in another layer. 

Freeze again.

Melt Chocolate(No milk chocolate please) and paint the inside of the last layer with it. 

How about using a nice Sorbet next, what will go well with the first two...Raspberry if you started with Pistachio, Lime if you started with a red or pink outer layer.

In the middle, try something very interesting, and very expensive as it is the smallest layer.  Mix candied pineapple slivers, chocolate chips and toasted coconut with a vanilla ice cream.  Very dark chocolate ice cream with candied orange peel and almonds.  Fill the entire center, or do one or more layers...do not go crazy...too much is too much.

The real trick is to be creative, but be careful to use flavors that go together and colors that show off the contrast between them.

Do a whole layer of chopped toasted hazelnuts between two ice creams.  Try regional things like dried cranberries..dried cherries or various jams or marmalade swirled into vanilla like marble.  Chop dried figs and steep them in rum, brandy or some other favorite liquor.  Make and taste a small quantity first.  Drain, or mix the liquor and the fruit into ice cream.  Just do not mix into much liquid, or the ice cream may not harden enough to cut well.

When you unmold onto a plate after many hours in the freezer, try pouring melted dark chocolate mixed with a bit of butter or neutral oil over the entire bomb to seal it in. 
Glue candies, Marzipan, candied nuts, candied fruits(red and green cherries?) or pralines onto the outside with a bit of chocolate.  Generously pipe whipped cream in beautiful patterns on the outside, no matter what you have used for the outer layer.
You might even use marzipan or fondant for an outside layer if the bomb is frozen hard as a rock while you work with it.  You may have to trim and mosaic together pieces as much as you stretch these layers.

You might also use drained ricotta cheese, beaten with more and more confectioner's sugar till a very stiff cream filling like cannoli filling is made.  Mix in candied fruit or chopped dark chocolate and stuff the center with it.

Cut with a hot knife and serve in wedges on pink crystal plates with whipped cream and a sprig of mint....Or use what you have...Ha...Ha!
Mary Ann...eat your heart out!

PS...I love Lidia too, but I like you better for some reason.   

Gloria Cafarella's Regina Cookies or Sesame Seed Cookies

This recipe comes from Janice Cafarella Crosen but it was passed on from her mother Gloria Cafarella

3 tsp baking powder
2 eggs - beaten
1 c. sugar
1 c. oil (any kind but I often use olive oil)
3 1/4 c. flour
2 Tbs. milk (more for dipping but now I use egg whites for dipping)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 lb. toasted sesame seeds

Lightly beat eggs then add oil and sugar and mix with mixer till blended. Add all other ingredients and mix only till ingredients are incorporated. Don't mix too much or dough will be tough.

Take about a tablespoon of batter around the size of a walnut and form into oval shape with your hands or you could also use a very small size ice cream scoop as I do to make them a uniform size and make it much easier. (They can be obtained at Bed, Bath and Beyond). Dip ball into small bowl with milk in it but I've recently started to use egg white. Then dip in sesame seeds in another small bowl. Place onto cookie sheet lined with Silpat silicone pad if you have one. otherwise use parchment or a greased sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Eat and enjoy.

Burrill Family Creamy Sherry Sauce after 1919

Cream together:

1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons milk

over hot water in a double boiler

Stir in 3 tablespoons sherry

Stir over the hot water till smooth and heated through.

There is nothing stopping you from using rum, whiskey, brandy, Grand Marnier, Malvasia, or other cordials.

Mama's Cookies A recipe from Rose Cincotta Cafarella, passed on to Mary Cafarella and submitted by her grand daughter Janice Cafarella Crosen

That has to be the longest title in the entire set of family blogs. Do we understand this thoroughly?
These are cookies made by Rose Cincotta Cafarella. She and her husband Gaetano were the parents of Col. Joe, Rudy and Mary Cafarella, just to name those who know about this blog. Mary passed the recipe on to her niece Janice Cafarella Crossen.
Now that we have that straight....I love getting cookies and pastries from the bakeries in Sicily and the North End of Boston. Sicily has much more variety than anything we find here, but no matter where you are, cookies like these are a wonderful treat. However....It is so much better to bake something like this from a family source.
I never loved my mother and grandmother's cookies that much, but I do love the fact that they and probably their grand parents before them have been using the same(or a slightly altered form, as often happens in moving from generation to generation)recipe.
As long as there was a "slacking" oven, people have been using the left over heat to do little buns and cookies. These could potentially have been made by family for a long...long time, and here they are!
Mary came from the other side of the Gully!
When you go to Malfa, you see that the town is sitting in the RELATIVELY flat bottom of a big hollow,(an amphitheater) facing the sea. The town is divided by several long erosion valleys. There is the town center, then as you move to the east there are a few deep valleys leading to the sea. The house on Via Gelso that you see in the pictures early in the blog is beyond one of these. This is the side of town nearest to Capofaro.
Mary's house was beyond the valley on the West side of the town nearest to the high ridge that separates the town from Pollara, and not terribly far from the Cemetery.
Mary was not exactly from the same branch of Cincottas that my grandmother came from, but like any old...very old family, they are two of a dozen different branches found throughout the islands.
She looks so happy in her very smiling picture, I always smile back when I look at her.

The "S" Cookies

1 1/8 cups of sugar
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 extra large eggs or three medium
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Grated zest of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Cream the butter.
Add the sugar and beat well.
Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat that in.
Blend the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
Add to the first mixture a little at a time(adding in three parts is common).
Beat well.
Let the batter stand, covered, for half an hour.

Mix together:

1 Tablespoon of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Place a small amount of the sugar and flour mixture on your work surface. Roll a rope about six inches long.

Use the rope to form an "S".

Place on an UN-GREASED cookie sheet, repeating till the sheet is filled, leaving plenty of room between them.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes.

With a spatula, remove to a rack to cool.

A tip from Bill:
Do not leave these on the cookie sheet too long as the sugar on the surface may harden making them hard to remove.

My cousin Janice is experimenting with these as I write.  She is finding it better to make them larger, increase the cooking time etc.  More refined instructions may appear soon, as a result.

Burrill Family Spice Cake after 1919

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup shortening(scant)
3/4 cup sour milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
Spices (see note)

no method but here is a general suggestion:

350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a metal pan.

Whisk dry ingredients(except sugar) and spices in a large bowl.

Mix milk and egg.

Add about 1/2 of the milk mixture and beat until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture in two stages; beat until batter is just smooth.

Add the sugar; beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Pour batter into cake pan.

Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean.

Set pan on a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes.

Run a knife around the pan perimeter and turn cake onto rack. Let cool.

Here is a typical spice blend, but I think that the intended is 1/2 teaspoon of each:

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Burrill family Doughnuts with Coffee Filling after 1919

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour milk

Mix together:
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups flour
salt(no measure)
ginger(no measure)
nutmeg(no measure)

Add the dry to the wet along with 1 tablespoon soft or melted butter.
add more flour to make a soft dough, just enough to handle.

Roll out and cut into doughnut shapes or any other shape. To fill cut into disks.

Deep fry in hot oil.

Coffee Filling

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup strong coffee
2 rounded teaspoons flour
salt(no measure)
1 jar heavy whipped cream(your guess is a s good as mine!)

Burrill Family Nut Bread after 1919

The note on this is: good for sandwiches.

1 small package of dates
1 teaspoon soda
3/4 cup boiling water

Cool and add to 3/4 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts

bake one hour in a moderate oven.

there is no note on this, but i assume that this would be done in a greased loaf pan, but perhaps a coat of flour would not hurt as this is a bit like a cake.

Cousin Janice Crossen's Floral Cake Toppers

This is a birthday cake for Janice's Aunt Mary Cafarella
Janice is my second cousin and has been learning about
 cake decorating.  Her work has become very professional,
 and she will be an even greater talent as she progresses.

Filled Chocolates

At your local cooking store, where they sell confectionery supplies, there are tiny metal cups, similar to cupcake tin liners.  Also they sell silicone molds in many shapes, like hearts, spheres, holiday shapes, etc.  Follow the directions on the product, but I would use a bit of baking spray to keep the chocolates from sticking.
Paint melted chocolate(I know we like milk chocolate...but don't do it....just use high cacao dark chocolate.) on the inside of the mold with a little paintbrush that you feel you can sacrifice for the cause. 
This will make a thin shell.  Pour a bit of Limoncello or your favorite liqueur into the resulting cup.  Chill well 
Now melt a bit of chocolate as high as you dare without burning it....it will burn at just a few degrees above body temperature.  Pour the very liquid warm chocolate over the Limoncello in a very thin layer, and allow to harden.  Pop them out of the mold and eat them alone!
If you have a mold that has a number of  chocolates...Try laying the mold on a sheet of waxed paper, and pour a generous amount of the chocolate in a puddle at one end of the mold.  Using a palette knife, gather a bit of the chocolate up on the knife and drag it over the entire mold like frosting a cake. leaving a thin layer of chocolate over the entire thing.  Then go back while it is still warm, and scrape much of the layer off so there is a bit covering and sealing in the Limoncello.

You could also generously mix a liquor into your favorite butter cream frosting recipe, leaving out all other flavorings.   Put a dab in each mold, freeze till firm, then flow chocolate over the opening.
You might drop in a tiny square of candied peel,an espresso bean etc., as well.
This will take tons of practice...I know this is an upsetting fact in view of the need to consume your mistakes.

Decorate your plain or chocolate frosted cakes with a few of these.  How about hazelnut liquor filled chocolates, on a hazelnut cake with hazelnut butter cream!

Burrill Family Sugar Cookies after 1919

1/2 cup Sugar
2 eggs
1 SCANT cup of butter
1/2 cup sour milk or cream
1 teaspoon soda
nutmeg(no measure)

flour to roll No measure.

There is no temperature or time on this but my guess would be:

375 degrees 8-10 minutes till lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

Molasses Cookies from the Burrill Family after 1919

1 Cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lard
1/2 cup hot water
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
Cinnamon, ginger or vanilla(no measure)
salt(no measure)
mix together sa soft as you can handle.

roll out and cut into squares

bake in a hot oven

You will have to watch these and take note of a light browning of an already brown batter. Best to do one or two of these in the first baking to test for time, doneness and temperature.

Before temperature guages or even ovens, the cookies were baked last in the day, the oven, slowing or cooling at the end of the baking day. An ovens temperature could just come from experience but often, one would thrust an arm into the oven and count the seconds before it bacame too difficult to keep it there. the number of seconds would give an idea of the temperature.

Here is a conversion table:

Common Temperatures and Conversions
Temperature Notes Fahrenheit Celsius
Very cool oven 225°-250° 107°-121°
Cool oven 275°-300° 135°-149°
Very moderate oven 325° 163°
Moderate oven 350°-375° 177°-191°
Moderately hot oven 400° 205°
Hot oven 425°-450° 218°-233°
Very hot oven 475° 246°

Easiest Chocolates Ever

I have made these a couple of times now, and they are super simple.
They would be just the thing for a gift or a last minute...well at least two hours...something for a pot luck or gift for someone with a sweet tooth. They are also quite cheap to make.
All you need is a good freezer, and these should be no problem.

In a mixer or food processor(by hand will work well too, but you have to develop a vigorous arm.) place one stick of butter.

Process till it is broken up but not till it forms a paste on the side of the machine.

Add 1/2 box of confectioner's sugar and a teaspoon of Vanilla or other flavoring of your choice(brandy, a paste of espresso powder and water, orange, mint, almond or lemon flavoring. Add a minute drop of food coloring to compliment the flavor, but it should be just a faint tint rather than full blown color. Perhaps just dipping the end of a toothpick into the food coloring and dragging it into the mix.
Process briefly till the sugar and butter form a granulated mass. I do vanilla and add a large handful of coconut before I decide on how firm it is going to be.

Add milk or cream while processing till the mass comes together and forms a smooth paste.

Add milk or confectioner's sugar till it suits you. It should be stiff, but not firm like a rather thick frosting.

Scrape the sides of the container to incorporate everything.

Place the entire container in the freezer to firm up.

When it is firm, take it out, and with a teaspoon, take out small portions and roll them into balls or logs. Place them on waxed paper on a cookie sheet, or on an oiled surface.

Return them to the freezer till quite firm

Melt half a bag of semi sweet chocolate morsels in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set on top of a pan of simmering water.

Stir frequently and do not over heat. Chocolate melts at just about body temperature, so be patient with it.

When the chocolate has melted, add a few drops of vegetable oil for sheen, and stir in.

With your hands or a couple of spoons, drop each ball into the chocolate. Roll it around quickly with a spoon and lift out onto a sheet of waxed paper or oiled surface. Try to keep the chocolate warm as it will cover better and make a thinner coating.

Dip your finger into the chocolate (come on now, you know you want to) and rub any areas that did not cover with the warm chocolate.

Put back into the freezer to firm.

These should then be fine at room temperature like a real chocolate, but they are not for long term in the warmth. These are not cooked after all and contain milk products. However they will be better at staying firm than many home made truffles.

chocolate coconut cake...not a family recipe

TOASTED COCONUT CHOCOLATE CAKE For the toasted coconut: Directions Spread a package of sweetened shredded or flaked coconut as evenly as possible on a baking tray; thinner areas will brown faster and may burn if not watched. Bake at 350 F until the coconut is an even golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, removing the tray and stirring the contents at 5 and 10 minutes and then every minute or two afterward until done. Flaked coconut, because it mounds higher, will brown unevenly on top, so it has to be turned over with a spatula at the same time that it is stirred. Shredded and flaked coconut are roughly interchangeable, but shredded is chewier and tends to be sweeter, and flaked is crunchier and a little buttery. So shredded is preferable when mixed into something, while flaked is particularly good when sprinkled on top of something. If you're using freshly grated coconut, allow at least 20 minutes for toasting. You may want to toss it with a little sugar after toasting. For the cake: Ingredients 1 cup boiling water ½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not melted, plus 2 tablespoons or more for buttering the pans 2¼ cups sugar 3 cups flour plus about 2 tablespoons for dusting the pans 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 4 eggs Directions Turn on the oven to 350 F. With the 2 tablespoons of butter, generously grease the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch cake pans. (If possible, line the buttered bottoms with circles of parchment paper first then grease the parchment paper also.) Drop the 2 tablespoons flour into one pan and shake it around until the bottoms and sides are dusted with flour, then transfer the remainder to the other pan and flour it. When both pans are floured, turn them upside down and tap them over a sink to get rid of the excess. Put the cocoa in a small mixing bowl and stir in the boiling water until pretty well dissolved. When cool, add the vanilla. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow and slightly inflated. Add the sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until smooth, then ½ of the cocoa mixture. Continue, alternating two more additions of flour with one of cocoa liquid, beating just until the flour is incorporated. Immediately transfer the batter into the cake pans, smooth the tops as evenly as possible and bake about 30 to 35 minutes until the tops of the layers are firm to the touch and they are starting to pull away from the sides of the pans. Remove the cake pans and place on racks to cool for 15 minutes. Place a large plate or another rack on top of each of the pans, overturn it onto the plate, remove the pan from the cake layer (and the parchment paper too, if you used it), then repeat the process to turn the layer back right side up on the rack. Repeat with the other layer. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes more. For the frosting: Ingredients 1 cup sugar ¼ cup light corn syrup ¼ cup water 2 egg whites ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 cups toasted coconut Directions Put 2½ to 3 inches of water in the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, corn syrup, water, egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the top of the double boiler. Using an electric mixer, beat at low speed until foamy and pale yellow, one minute. When the water is simmering, place the top of the double boiler over it and beat the contents at high speed until the mixture is thick and tripled in volume, with the beaters leaving a wake of sculptured-looking folds. This can take anything from 7 to 14 minutes. Continue to beat a minute or two longer until the surface just starts to lose its shine. Immediately remove the top of the double boiler from the bottom, add the vanilla and beat the frosting one minute more. Frost the top of one cake layer with ⅓ of the frosting and sprinkle about 1 cup coconut on top of the frosting. Place the other layer on top and frost the top and sides with the remainder of the frosting, then sprinkle and pat as much of the coconut onto the cake as you can get to stick. Zester Daily contributor Charles Perry is a former rock 'n' roll journalist turned food historian who worked for the Los Angeles Times' award-winning Food section, where he twice was a finalist for the James Beard award.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grammie's Sour Cream Fudge

I don't think of Grammie making candy. It seems out of character. But, here it is in her own hand. In my memory, if Grammie wanted something sweet, she whipped up a batch of her loaf pan Anise Biscotti. True Biscotti...the ones we are used to, are usually in such a stiff batter that they are formed into a log before baking. Leave it to Grammie to be different. I suppose that over a lifetime though, she must have had occasion to do all sorts of things like this. This seems a very strange recipe with flour and sour cream in it. But, it must work or she would not have bothered to save it. I can't wait for my diet to end so I can work my way through all these sweets.

Grammie's Sour Cream Fudge

3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 rounded tablespoon flour
1 cup thick sour cream

Stir the mixture till it is dissolved.
Boil it till it forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water.
Remove the pan from the fire.


1 teaspoon of vanilla
a piece of butter half the size of an egg
1 cup walnut meats cut fine

Beat till the mixture begins to grow smooth and thick.
Then, turn the mixture out into buttered pans.
When cool, cut into small squares.

Kisses from Grammie

Kisses? Ok, here is another recipe that seems out of character for Grammie. Sis remarked to me the other day that She and Uncle Phil lived together, cooked together argued and seemed to have their own little marriage. There are a number of recipes in this book that are hand written. I know they were not in my mother's hand, so the only culprit I can think of would be Uncle Phil. (I would love to have a file of his recipes.Even with his game leg, he would climb to the eaves of the house to get the baby pidgeons to cook in some mysterious way.) Perhaps I have a few in this unknown hand and will have to be satisfied with them. Well,"Kisses" to them both for feeding us so well over the years.

Merigue kisses really are easy, so you should try them at least once. Just one warning...Do Not Try These On A Damp Day! Sunny, dry days are good, and Winter even better.

White of one egg beaten stiffly.
Add one cup of fine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar scant,
a few drops of essence of almond

Convetional recipes call for a pinch of salt and 1/8 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar added to the beaten egg white before the sugar. Also, they do not have the vinegar, so that must be a substitute. The salt will brighten the taste no matter what method you use.

Drop by spoonfuls in buttered tins.(Conventional recipes use parchment paper in the tins rather than butter. If you remember these by some quirk of fate, you may wish to use the butter so the taste will be the same.)(I might pipe these onto the sheet with a pastry bag and star tip.)

Sprinkle with chopped almonds and a few grains of pink sugar. I wonder why pink? You can find sanding sugar these days, if not in the grocers, then perhaps in specialty stores. You could do these in any color for the season.

The end. No method was written. I expect that these were baked like meringues, so I will add that method for you.

Place in a 375 degree preheated oven. Turn the oven off, and leave the kisses in the oven unopened for five hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Egg Cake from Grammie

Some day when I am not on a self imposed diet, I will try all of these questionable recipes out for you. Meanwhile, I will post them before these pages crumble away to nothing and hope you will contact me with a report and any changes that you found helpful.

Anyway, this is another of those really faded recipes. Check out the other cake recipe from her for the method.

1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

Grammie's recipe for: Plain Cake

This is one of those recipes that I am lucky to resurrect. This was on one of those blank pages for additional recipes that are in so many cookbooks. This one was in blue ink, but since the page that is now detached and floating around in the binding-less book, is now very yellow, it is kind of a turquoise green. It has obviously been damp at some point, and the four recipes are very blurry. You will have to take the amounts given with a grain of salt, or just try it and see if it comes out OK for you. I think I am right, but some of the measurements were very Very blurry and stained(she obviously used this one a bit). Good luck on your adventure!

1/4 cup butter 1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs pinch of salt
1/2? cup of milk 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or 1/4 teaspoon of spice

There is no method for this. I must assume that you mix the dry together. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the milk. Stir in the dry ingredients and end with the vanilla. I suppose you do not always have vanilla if you are broke with a house full of kids.

Grease and flour a cake pan and bake in a 325 degree oven till a pick comes out clean.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aunt Rose’s Cheese Cake (easy mock crust) Preheat oven to 75 degrees

This recipe has no crust. The corn starch falls to the bottom of the pan to form a mock type crust. Also, I’d just put everything in a large food processor in stages stopping to scrape down sides of bowl and adding eggs one at a time through hole in top of food processor.

4 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened)

1 16 oz. package sour cream (room temp)

5 eggs (room temp)

¼ lb. butter (soft or melted and cooled)

1 ¼ c. sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice (I’d put more or add the grated rind also)

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

2 Tbs. corn starch

Let cream cheese, sour cream, eggs and butter stand out at room temperature for 1 hour. Blend softened cream cheese, sour cream and butter together in a bowl and mix with electric mixer till smooth. Add corn starch, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice/grated rind and beat until well blended. Beat in one egg at a time until well blended and very smooth.

Flour and grease spring form pan. Wrap outside of pan with large size heavy duty aluminum foil. Place in large roasting pan. Add batter to pan. Open oven and put pan on middle rack of oven. Gently pour hot water into roasting pan to fill half full but don‘t fill it over the line of the aluminum foil or else the cake will be soggy. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown. Turn off oven. Leave cake in oven with door open for 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. Top with desired topping or canned fruit topping.

This recipe comes from Rose Cafarella Worth. She grew up in Malden but moved to West Hartford Connecticut to raise her family. Her husband was a history teacher and then the coach of the Hartford Nights of the University of Hartford. We didn’t get to see them very often but when we did Aunt Rose always had great recipes. She was an excellent cook and as the wife of the football coach of a university went to many gatherings bringing her wonderful food. Aunt Rose passed away in an auto accident a number of years back but I still have very fond memories of her. She was the sister of Col. Joe of Malden. Her only daughter Deborah Worth Faller passed away last year of lung cancer so nobody is available to send in any recipes from that part of the family. Therefore, I thought I’d pass this recipe on so a part of her would be included in the family cook book and thoughts of her would remain in the family along with her recipes.

P.S. - Double check the facts with Col. Joe of her husband Ralph Worth being a coach of the Hartford Nights of the University of Hartford. I know there are 2 big colleges there in CT and I may have gotten a small detail incorrect as to exactly which college it was but I think I’m correct.

Also, yesterday Rosanna gave me Joe Greco's recipe for Tiramisu. I told her she should submit it to you. I also have his recipe for arancini (sp?...rice balls).
I'll try to get her to submit that too. I'd give it to you but I think she should be the one to submit them. I'll ask her.

Grammie's Carrot Marmalade

3 cups sugar
2 oranges..juice and rind
5 cups grated carrots
2 lemons..juice and grated rind

Wash and scrape carrots
Grate carrots add:

Sugar and grated lemon and orange rind and juice
Let stand overnight
In the morning, boil slowly stirring frequently until thick.

Hand written early 1900s

Grammie's Cranberry Jelly

4 cups Cranberries
1 cup cold water
2 cups sugar

pick over and wash the cranberries.
Cook with water till the skins burst
Press through a strainer
Add sugar to pulp
Stir till dissolved
cook 5 minutes or until it jells

Hand written early 1900s

Grammie's Grape Jam

Pick over, wash and remove stems.
Press pulp from skins
cook pulp
press through strainer to remove seeds
add skins and sugar(3/4 pound sugar to 1 pound of fruit)(probably from weight above)
cook 15 minutes
put in jars and seal

Hand written early 1900s

Grammie's Green Tomato Mincemeat

1 quart chopped apples
1/2? suet(pound I assume)
2 1/2 pound brown sugar
1 pound raisins
1 cup vinegar
1/2 pound mixed peels
salt to flavor

Mix well
Boilk two hours
add 1 tablespoon cinnamon

I find it fascinating that she does not mention Green tomatoes at all in the recipe.

Hand written early 1900s

Brown Sugar candy or Pinoche(her spelling)

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup broken nut meats or 1 cup coco(a)nut
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Put sugar, milk, chocolate(a mistake I think), butter in a saucepan.
place mixture over the fire heat slowly to boiling point.
boil slowly without stirring(I do not know what sugar stage this should be)
add the nutmeats, vanilla and beat.
Pour into a heavily buttered pan.

Grammie's Doughnuts

1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
two(I think) tablespoons of Shortening
flour to roll

No method hand written early 1900s

Grammie's fruit cake 1

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup currants
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

No method, hand written.

Grammie's fruit cake 2

2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
1 cup molasses
1 cup coffee
5 eggs
1 pound of raisins
1 pound currants
1/4 pound citron
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon all kinds of spice (one of each or total...you guess)
5 cups flour

Hand written, no method early 1900s

Grammie's Squash Pie Filling

You will have to see the Monkey post for the pastry.

2 cups sifted squash(I assume this means cooked and pushed through a seive)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 level teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 level teaspoon of salt
a little ginger

Grammie's Indian Pudding

Here is another hand written recipe with minimal method. Again, unless I research it, you must research your own method.

I quart milk
1 cup(corn) meal
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
butter the size of a walnut

Bake three hours.

Indian pudding is at its best when you bake it for half an hour at a time and stir in any brown crust that forms so it gets all through the pudding.

Pseudo Needhams.

Marie Moran and Mary, Park Street, Houlton, Maine 1956

If you have not had a Needham, you have not had candy. Needhams(A Brand Name) came I think(I cannot remember because you could not get these outside of Maine as far as I know and it has been years since I have even seen one.)in a black and orange bag, folded at the top. They may have had a clear window in the front, but again, I can't remember. I know that the original candy had a more complicated recipe than this, but this is the version I remember from my youth.
Houlton, Maine is something of a potato growing center. The entire county(Aroostook is larger than any other whole state in New England)was a potato growing area. I think that they have been heading into a number of alternative crops for a quarter century or more, including sugar beets, mustard, and (I think) broccoli. There have been potato celebrations all over the county for many years. The Houlton Potato feast was what I grew up with.
Houlton had a very large community park, with tennis courts, baseball diamonds, race track, hockey facilities and a huge grandstand till it burned down in the late sixties+-. There were circuses there, carnivals etc.. My favorite event though, was the Potato feast. The feast preparations started with the excavation of a hole, perhaps 8 feet wide and 30 feet long. A roaring fire was lit in the hole, and when it was reduced to coals and stones, beef, wrapped in foil was layered in. They may have also put in pots of baked beans as well(I do not really remember). A banquet was served from this with all sorts of potato dishes.
One potato "dish" that I loved were these Needhams.

3 1/3 cups coconut(confectionery, not fresh)
3 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
scant 1/2 cup mashed potato with nothing added
semisweet chocolate bars or chips melted
1 Tablespoon shortening(melted paraffin is better)

Beat together the coconut, sugar and potato. Press into a buttered pan or a pan lined with foil or waxed paper, to about 1/2 inch thick, OR

Form into patties about 3 inches across and 1/2 inch thick, OR

Roll into balls about the size to pop into your mouth whole.


(If doing the pan method, cut into 3 inch squares before proceeding.)

After melting the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, add and stir in the shortening or wax. Dip the portions of potato mixture into the chocolate and place on waxed paper or a buttered surface to cool. Seal to store in a cool place, wrapped individually in waxed paper. Wrapping is not necessary if using soon or storage is cool but not cold.

Here is a better variation from My sister's childhood best friend, Marie Clark Moran. She was from Houlton, knows all our dirty secrets and was much loved by the family. This recipe came from her sister, Dorothy Clark Cook.
3/4 cup mashed potato
1/2 t salt
2 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 pkg coconut(7 0z.)
2 t. vanilla

Mix all together and press into a greased or wax papered and greased(Non stick spray will work). jelly roll sheet.
Chill or freeze. Cut in squares or divide as above.
Keep chilled to coat.

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
12 oz choc. chips
1/2 bar Paraffin

Follow directions above.


No, not the fungus at $100.00 per slice.
My friend Colleen Foley sent this recipe to me some time ago and it has become a real favorite. Not too hard either, except for her own warning.

As I promised, here is the recipe for the Grand Marnier Truffles.

Warning: They are SO messy to handle when they have to be rolled. I used my smallest cookie scoop – that’s why they were not round. It’s almost impossible to get them round because you need to roll them and the chocolate melts in your hands as it is being handled. I’m also going to give you another truffle recipe. The second one is for the truffles that were dipped in chocolate. That recipe comes out better, because they are firm. Take your pick.

Grand Marnier Truffles
Makes about 24 truffles

¼ c. heavy cream

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other liqueur

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, in pieces

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or more if necessary

Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove the plan from the heat, stir in the Grand Marnier and the chocolate pieces, then return the pan to low heat. Stir until the chocolate melts, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter. When the mixture is smooth, transfer it to a shallow bowl and refrigerate until firm but mold-able, about 40 minutes.

Spread the cocoa powder on a plate. Scoop up the chocolate with a small spoon and form into 1 inch balls by roll it between the palms of your hands. Roll the truffle balls in the cocoa, adding more if necessary. Place on a baking sheet, cover lightly with waxed paper and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.

I wanted to dip this mixture in melted chocolate, but the filling would have melted into the dipping chocolate

Mocha Truffles by Colleen Foley

2 packages (12 oz. each) semisweet chocolate chips

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

3 tables spoons instant coffee granules (you can use flavored ones to boost the flavor)

1 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier, Chambord, Bailey's, Kalhua, etc)

1 pound dark chocolate confectionery coating (don’t use chocolate chips)

¼ lb. white chocolate confectionery coating

In a microwave bowl or double boiler, melt chocolate chips. Be sure you do not “cook” the chocolate chips if you’re using the microwave – reduce power to 5. (I use the stove)

Take the instant coffee and add the liqueur to it to make a paste. Add paste and cream cheese to melted chocolate and mix well. It will thicken up quickly when the cream cheese is added.

Chill until firm enough to shape, about 1 1-1/2 hours. Shape into 1” balls and place on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Chill for 1-2 hours or until firm.

Melt chocolate coating in microwave safe bowl or double boiler (I use a double boiler) Dip balls in chocolate and place on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. You can refrigerate to speed the hardening process.

Melt white chocolate and drizzle over truffles. You can pour the melted chocolate in a zip lock bag and cut off a very small corner of the bag – it’s easier than a pastry bag.

Yield: 5 dozen. The truffles can be frozen for several months before dipping in chocolate. Thaw in the refrigerator before dipping. Make sure they are not too cold when you dip in the melted chocolate – the coating will crack and you’ll have to re- dip!


If you are like our immediate branch of the family, you are not blessed with the best of digestive systems. Since the recent craze regarding Probiotics has appeared, I have given the Activia Yogurt a try. The fact is, that I hate yogurt. If I was going to make this a part of my lifestyle, I would have to find a way to get this stuff in me with the least possible resemblance to yogurt. I was eating the stuff plain in fruit flavors for a while, but rather unhappily. It really did do a good job for me.
I decided to try a variation based on what I had in my weight lifting days.
Just a note though: I do not like processed additives. I never tried to bulk up, even when I was built like a brick ----house. I liked natural sources of all my foods.
Smoothies were going to do the trick I hoped. I do not use a lot of milk. I have a natural aversion to milk much as my grandmother had. I opted to use a brand of diet soda. Waist Watchers has no caffeine, no NutraSweet and no Saccharine. They use Splenda instead. The brand tends to be on the less expensive side as well. I might have used a juice, but they tend to be extremely high in calories. Despite the bad name that sodas have, at least I was getting some water out of the deal, no sugar added, and enough liquid to make the blender do it's job. I generally mix this soda half and half with water as well.
I buy the frozen berries. It seems like an enormous investment to purchase the huge bags of berries in the frozen aisle, but a bag of strawberries at 9.99 and one of blueberries at 10.99 last for a couple of weeks at least. I think this is a modest expenditure for getting my fruit every day and to take the edge off my HATED yogurt. I invest in the two bags each time I run out. I tried frozen cherries one time, but I found them completely flavorless. Perhaps if I were just using cherries it would be OK.
Berries have tremendous antioxidant power. The natural cell damage that we have day to day is helped with the use of antioxidant rich foods. God knows that we are naturally beautiful in this family, every one of us, but this may make us even more young and beautiful! Just guess how old I am...go ahead, guess!
Blueberries and Strawberries are some of the richest sources we have for antioxidants, so I use them regularly. Cherries are another great source, possibly even better.
I hate bananas! I never include them, but if you can stand them, they are a good choice to include here. They also slightly thicken the resulting smoothie. They are also a great source of Potassium. Believe me, you do not want a Potassium IV, so keep eating bananas.

To make the smoothie:

Drop one to 1 1/4 cups of fresh or frozen fruit into a blender or food processor. Chill the fresh fruit well in the freezer if you want a nice cold smoothie. I do a few seconds in the microwave to soften the hard frozen berries slightly.

Add: one container of Activia Yogurt or a similar live culture yogurt.

Pour in: enough diet soda, orange juice, water or skim milk to get a nice blend in the machine and to fill up your desired glass.

Blend till smooth, pour out and serve.

Other additions:

Fresh or Crystallized ginger...blend well to break up fibers.
A couple of fresh mint leaves
A couple of Basil leaves
Dark melted or chopped chocolate. Find some that is high in cacao or even baking chocolate (all with low or no sugar added) for better health results.
Green tea in place of the other liquids
Minced chili pepper(an acquired taste but so good for you, especially combined with the chocolate)
Do not forget that Avocado is a fruit!
Rum or brandy- Try a dark tequila with the chocolate and chili.
Steamed vegetables or even a complete Gazpacho(perhaps this would be best with an unflavored yogurt.)
A raw egg- Be very careful here. If you trust your extremely fresh eggs, go ahead. We drank Egg Nog for centuries without thinking about it. There is always a chance of Salmonella. You may be able to purchase powdered egg white in a health food store or even in a cake decorating store where they use it for Royal Icing.
Peanut butter(Natural and unsweetened if possible)
Nuts- you may find a gritty texture if this is not perfectly blended in.
Almond milk or marzipan(There will be sugar in the marzipan)(look for a recipe on line for almond milk)
WHITE beans- A nearly flavorless souce of protein, but be sure to drain and rinse first. Keep the volume low to keep them disguised in the other flavors.
cottage cheese or Ricotta

You might even experiment with this poured into a large shallow container and frozen. Mash or whip the contents every twenty minutes or so to break up ice crystals for a few hours. Serve as a dessert on a hot day! Even the Gazpacho version in a bowl with a drizzle of thinned sour cream and thinned Guacamole would be great as an appetizer on a very hot day. Drizzle from a fine tipped plastic container like a smaller version of a mustard or honey bottle.

A note from Janice Crossen:

I make my husband a smoothie every morning with blueberry flavored sugar free green tea, whey protein powder, half frozen banana and lots of frozen blueberries. I also add some flax and psyllium husks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

CHOCOLATE COOKIES TO DIE FOR ( posted by Bill but source unknown)

Me at age 1

8 oz. semi sweet chocolate(chopped or in chip form)
4 T butter, unsalted

Melt in a double boiler or in microwave watching carefully. Do not over heat.
allow to cool to just warm, but still sort of liquid.

Beat together briefly:

2 eggs
3/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 t vanilla

The sugar should dissolve before you stop.

Combine(I sift together):

2/3 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt.

Mix the chocolate into the egg mixture, by hand, just till smooth.

Add the dry ingredients and mix by hand till just combined.

Fold in:

1 1/2 additional cups semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips.
You can vary this with other chips like peanut butter, white chocolate or just a bit of coconut or espresso beans with or without a chocolate coating.

Chill the batter for about 20 minutes to make it easier to handle.
Drop on a buttered baking sheet or on parchment paper by the rounded teaspoon.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 min. They should have a glossy surface but rather cracked on top when done. Do not over bake these. Basically, if they begin drying a bit on top and they lift off the paper when you lift with your finger tips, they are done. I use a jelly roll pan for this. It is just what I have, no particular reason. I slide the cookies, paper and all, off the side of the pan on to the counter so I can put the next batch on. If they go over the raised edge of the pan like a teeter totter lifting off the paper, I know they are done. They are very delicate so don't handle them till they cool.

You could make these even richer with a filling of peanut butter, Nutella or ice cream between two cookies. These are truly over the top!
They can be fairly flat if the chocolate was not cooled, if needed, add another 1/4 cup of flour. (Well cooled chocolate will eliminate the need to alter the flour.) They will make higher, dryer mounds and are more like a brownie.

If you want to make these truly over the top, try making a butter-cream frosting using orange juice instead of the normal liquid and add the grated zest of an orange. Spread a thin layer on the bottom of a cookie(or a thick one if you don't mind the ooze) and place a second cookie on top....Oh...My...God!

I often put a single walnut piece on top.
Also, if you have an adult audience, try putting a single chocolate covered espresso bean on top. Another addition might be a small strip of candied orange peel. This might be better pressed into the cookies right out of the oven rather than letting it bake.

Try substituting butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, or white chocolate chips for the chocolate chips

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mom's Chocolate Cake

Well, chocolate cake is not really very Italian either, but Mom certainly had a claim to Italian. You are more likely to get less intense chocolate flavorings in Italy. There are a number of cakes there as well, but they tend to have different textures and often have little flour. Flour is often replaced by ground nuts, crumbs or a number of other things.

Mom's Devil's Food Cake

Sift together:

1 3/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of cocoa


1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all together.

Butter and flour a cake pan and pour the batter into it.(size not specified)
Bake in a 375 degree oven(time not specified)

Grammie Burrill's TV Chocolate Cake

My sister married a Burrill. How scandalous. Not and Italian. In Northern Maine, you could probably count on one hand the number of Italians that you would meet in a year. But Italian or not, the Burrills are family. I loved Mrs. Burrill. She was a second in a series of three "MOTHERS" that I feel a right to claim. as I said before she was a companion and fellow adventurer when I was quite young. She grabbed me once when I went to her house on High Street in Houlton, Maine. (Now an empty lot) She turned me around and out we went. She fired up the black Ford Falcon and whisked me off to a professional photographer. She combed my hair with the part on the wrong side. It was the side she liked. She had me photographed in my rattiest old plaid play shirt with my hair sticking straight up(Curly hair was always my cross)and with my typically goofy expression. I have not seen that photo for years. Thank heavens for small blessings. She also set me on my road to art by giving me Art lessons for a number of years under the direction of Nell Chadwick. She was not a GREAT artist, but the talent she had was wasted in Houlton. She was quite talented. Anyway, Alberta Burrill was a plain cook. Plain meat and potatoes to please her plain meat and potatoes men, Richard O., Fred and Charles. Alberta always had a red tin on the sideboard filled with Brownies. I think I went there only once in all those years that I was not offered Brownies. It was a source of pride for her to care for her men by giving them a constant supply of chocolate. Here is a recipe that my sister rescued that could be made quickly and easily. It seems to have been a recipe that Alberta saw on TV or was just named TV Chocolate Cake. It is easy, Easy, EASY.

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 Tablespoons of cocoa


3 tablespoons of shortening


1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup cold water or coffee

Mix into the dry ingredients till all moistened.

Pour into an UN greased 8 inch square pan.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The original intention was to mix the entire cake in the baking pan from beginning to end.

***Of course, there is nothing stopping you from greasing and flouring a pan to make this cake.  I also make a dozen cupcakes in the paper liners with this recipe.


I use a butter-cream, and I like it with a bit of orange zest in it.  That is the Italian in me I suppose,
but here is the original:

1/2 box of confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 or 3 tablespoons of milk.

Blend with an electric mixer and spread on the COMPLETELY COOLED cake while still in the pan. Cut and serve from the pan.

Friday, March 13, 2009

St Joseph's Sfinci (plus a simple suggestion for stone fruit)

Easter at my house with my neighbor Maryanne and our friend Vincent...He is Sicilian!
From front to back there is Onion bread from Maryanne, Ham, Souvlaki(pork), Moussaka, Tzadziki, all the regular Easter veggies and Greek Salad to the right. This would be a great dessert for such a meal. Lots of dessert POWER in a small package and easy to do...Plus they look a little like eggs! All this mix of Ham and Greek food was because we had a Greek/Irish family over for Easter.

I cannot claim these as my own. However, I am the only one in the family that does these as far as I know. It is very like the ones in Sicily, and I have to look up some amounts each time...usually in different books. The thing is, these are very like other Sfinci recipes you will see. Basically this is a Pate Choux (Someone please correct my spelling if they have superior knowledge.) It is a cream puff pastry. It is very simple once you have tried it once or twice so you are not intimidated. The filling can be just thrown together and feel free to make variations.

This filling would be appropriate in any filled pastry like Cannoli, Napoleons etc.

3/4 cup water
4 Tablespoons of butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Bring the three to a boil in a large sauce pan.

Throw in all at once:

2/3 cup flour

Stir constantly till the flour is cooked. A couple of minutes at a low temp should do it. You are not trying to brown it but cook it till it leaves the sides of the pan.

Allow it to cool till very warm.

Work in:

3 eggs one at a time. Old recipes ask you to separate the eggs, beat the white till frothy and add alternately with the yolks in six stages. Forget that!
Beat each egg vigorously till incorporated completely.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes till light brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and cool briefly. Cut the tops off and scoop out any dough that is not cooked dry. You could also return these to the oven for a few minutes to really crisp them up inside and out.


One pound of ricotta cheese(drained overnight in a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels)
1/2 pound of confectioner's (some recipes say granulated) sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
1/4 cup minced candied fruit of your choice or mixed.(I like orange rind best)

Stuff the puffs with the caps on top and pipe a bit of the stuffing on top to adhere the decorations. Or you can use 'half puffs' uncovered with the decorations on top.

2 Tablespoons of candied orange rind cut in little strips if possible for decoration. Make the strips thin enough to see through if you are not used to these. A little bit makes a good statement.
2 Tablespoons of chopped Pistachios(other nuts will do if toasted, but the color will not be as nice). These are usually chopped very fine and appear like a dusting of snow for the nice light green color.
Candied cherries. (whole or halved)

Just be creative with the decorations, but be restrained. Remember how much is in the filling.

Keep these refrigerated and serve soon after filling. The fillings could be fun for a group assembly line or kids.

Also this is a wonderful idea for fruit desserts. This filling is powerful stuff!
Try dipping the cut side of halved and pitted stone fruit in sugar and broiling them till it heats through and caramelizes a bit. You could drizzle with honey and bake a pan of fruit too. Be careful of how much you sweeten the fruit as the filling can be overpowering without the foil of the relatively natural fruit. Serve just one half fruit alone or on a bed of pound cake squares. Pipe a pretty star shape into the seed cavity of the fruit. Use a big tip for this as the filling is rather chunky. This would also be nice on canned fruit perhaps heated briefly.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Berry and Cream cake.

Here is a very special cake. I did this for a big lunch with teenagers and twenty somethings at my neighbor's house last year. Let me get this out of the way right now. I OVER DO. If a recipe of frosting is perfect, I make a double or one and a half batch recipe. If a recipe asks for whipped cream, there will be mountains of it! It can be excessive, so be careful not to fall over the edge as I do.

I do not include a cake recipe here. Try one in the other posts on the sight, your favorite white cake recipe, or even the almond cake in the Amaretto Cake recipe posted here.

Split two standard round layer cakes horizontally so you end up with four layers. You can either saw around a few inches deep with a serrated knife, then go deeper on the second pass, or put a thread all the way around the cake, making a simple un-tightened knot, then pulling the ends to cut through the cake as you tighten the knot. Is that at all clear?

Place the first bottom layer on a nice cake plate or pedestal. Place a few small sheets of waxed paper on the plate under the edge of the cake to protect the plate.

Whip three pints(I do four, but that is my tendency to excess speaking) of whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla.

Toast one cup of slivered almonds on a cookie sheet or in a dry frying pan, just till golden.

Wash small containers of Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Strawberries, dry them and set aside. Do not sugar them.

OPTIONAL: Make a simple syrup flavored with an extract that goes well with berries like Almond, or flavor the syrup with a liqueur of your choice.

Soak the bottom layer with the simple syrup if desired. and frost it thinly with cream. cover the cream with a carpet of one of the berries and frost again to even the layer.

Add the second layer, cut side up. Repeat the process with different berries.

Do the same with the third layer.

Place the fourth layer on top with the cut side up again.(Or you can sprinkle the cake with syrup while in your hand, then invert on top of the cake with the baked surface up.) Sprinkle with syrup and frost the entire cake heavily with whipped cream, reserving a cup or two for decoration.

Top with the last variety of berries, and perhaps a mix of berries if any are left from the lower layers. Place them in a very decorative pattern, but keep them a bit away from the edge. Look your berries over before you begin. Use the smallest number of berries for the top, then you can mix the left over berries with them.

Pipe the rest of the cream decoratively around the cake at the plate edge, the rim of the cake and in rosettes or stars among the berries. Place any berries left over in the cream rosettes. You could do all of this with a knife if you do not have a pastry bag, or cut a hole in the corner of a plastic storage bag to make a makeshift pastry bag.

Sprinkle with almonds, which you could also do on every layer if you like.

Chill well till ready to serve.

This would work well with an angel cake cut into layers with mounds of berries and cream in the middle.

Use your own discretion on the berries. Just one variety will not be a betrayal, just make sure you have lots of them or the white cake with whipped cream will be rather BLAH!

Grammie Boutelier's Cake as remembered by my stepfather Paul McLaughlin

Lowell Paul McLaughlin

No relation to this story, excpt dairy references. This is Elsie the cow in Littleton. Just being picturesque in an Andrew Wyeth sort of way.

Paul was a mix of Maine cultures. The name Boutelier in his grandparents suggests French. But McLaughlin was on the other side. His research led him to a succession of names that suggested the British Isles. I think he liked the idea of Welsh as his heritage.
Grammie and Grampie Boutelier(Paul's Mother's parents) lived on a dairy farm in Dyer Brook, near Smyrna Mills in North central Maine. You know...near Sherman...Perhaps Houlton would help. Lets just say it was not close to anything.
It was a pleasant 45 minute ride from home, down country lanes that had 60 mile an hour speed limits(I loved that when I got my licence). You passed little towns, lakes and fields with distant views of Glacial Eskers in long ridges covered with pine, spruce and maple forest. It was also along that road that we stopped at a little cottage(A kind word)and got Queenie, who was the first dog I remember. She became my brother Dick's dog really, but I remember her entire life well. It was very idyllic there, and I miss that.
The house was a little "end" temple Greek Revival style house, that was left simple instead of having its nice trim work. It was a strong red with white trim. It would have looked grand despite its size if it had been dressed a bit. There was a little pump in the yard that I was sent out to once or twice for water. I do not remember the occasion, as I think they had running water as well. It was a Dairy farm with rolling pastures in dense green grass. And there was a fish pond back in the fields that I loved to haunt when the visiting did not interest me. Humble people, wonderful people, working people. Very Lucy Maud Montgomery...Lets see if you get THAT reference.

Paul did not say anything much about his childhood, but on one occasion he told me that he especially loved a cake that his grandmother made. She would do a white cake. I guess, like my mother, there were plenty of eggs so you could waste the yolks, or she had some other use for them. Sorry, no recipe. She would do the layers filled with Cranberry preserves(There just happens to be a cranberry jelly recipe here.) made at home.(Probably high bush as there were not any cranberry bogs there.) I think that she may have split the layers to put the filling in, but this is not clear in my memory of what he said. Then she would frost the cake with fresh sweetened whipped cream(Vanilla would be necessary if you had it.) and serve.
You would have to eat this cake almost instantly, especially before the refrigerator came along. I do not think however, that anyone would complain about that. I can just see this with mounds of cream on top and sitting on a pedestal stand surrounded with silver, tea service, cups and saucers and dessert plates.
The country people are not ostentatious, but they knew how to put on a meal and to show the church ladies or birthday boy a beautiful time.
You could, of course, use any preserves you had on hand. I love black cherry reserves. Though I was not particularly fond of cranberry at the time, this somehow captured my imagination. Perhaps it was the way he described it with such nostalgia.
Mom had many times used jelly as a filling in cakes and I had not really taken to it. I have very narrow likes in the preserve world, and she never hit my preferences I guess. Besides, I loved frosting and lots of it. She did the most beautiful cakes. She just had a knack with a palette knife I guess. Swirls and peaks all over. These cake decorators with their thin smooth coatings do not know what they missed.
a good substitute might be Currant jelly. The thing that interested me about this was the possibility of the freshness that a tart fruit would bring to the sweet cake.
See my post for berry filled whipped cream cake.