Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookie Time - Springerle

For as long as I can remember my mom has made cookies at Christmas time. My most favorite are Sand Tarts (a really thin, buttery, sugar cookie cut-out) and Springerle. Springerle are easily my favorite cookie of all time. Very few people even know about them. So I'm here to hopefully create a new favorite for you.

You can read a bit about the Germanic history behind springerle and why the cookies have pictures on them. I don't yet own a springerle rolling pin. I think this is the year I'm going to buy one. They're not that expensive and they look so pretty. And they tell a story. What could be better for a writer/cook?

I want to say you should be a fan of licorice before you start this recipe. But the anise gives the cookie a much more subtle flavor than licorice. It is distinct and, at least to me, perfect with a cup of hot steamed milk.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours.

Mom's Springerle Recipe
4 eggs
1 lb. box of confectioner's sugar (4 cups)
1 teaspoon Anise Extract
4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Anise seed (available in the spice section of the supermarket, especially during the holidays)

Beat eggs until light. Gradually add sugar and beat on high until it's like a soft meringue.  Add anise extract. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Blend into egg mixture on low. Cover bowl and let stand 15 minutes.

Divide dough in thirds. On lightly floured surface roll, with a regular rolling pin, each piece into an 8" square, a little more than 1/4" thick. Let stand 1 minute. 

With a floured springerle rolling pin roll across the dough firmly to create the imprints. Cut cookies into squares with a sharp knife. Cover cookies with a towel and leave overnight. This dries the cookie and helps retain the picture, and helps make the cookies cake-like when baked. My mom would clear the dining room table, lay down a sheet, place the cookies on top, and then another sheet on top of the cookies, and the house would smell awesome!  *nostalgia* oh, right, back to the recipe.

The next day, grease a baking sheet, sprinkle with anise seed. Rub the underside of each cookie with a bit of water. My mom would keep a cup near the pan to dip her fingers.  This helps the seeds to stick to the cookie.

Bake at 300° for 20 minutes until a light straw color.  Do not allow them to brown. These cookies should be yellowish when done and when they cool the tops are almost white.

These cookies keep well in an air tight container for weeks, although I eat them pretty quickly. They do get pretty hard after a while... definitely a dunking cookie by the end of the week.  Great with cocoa too.
If you don't have a springerle pin, or the anise seed, the cookies will still turn out awesome!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Sequel Dish; Not Just A Leftover

Seasons Greetings everyone! Have any of you ever got done reading a book and couldn’t wait to pick up the sequel? That excitement is pretty sick isn’t it? It’s even better when the second book surpasses the first. Pretty soon you are looking forward to the following installment. Each book similar with characters but different with plot and obstacles. You’ve met the characters and seen their growth as well.
This time of year with all the get-togethers with family and friends, the fridge sometimes gets over ran with leftovers. I know mine does. I feel like I am throwing out good food just so I can fit a gallon of milk on the bottom shelf. That juicy leftover turkey, fluffy stuffing, crisp carrots, and beans. All still good and waiting to be consumed, just taking up too much room in their little separate containers. Aw-ha! I have a yummy solution to help. Turkey casserole. The same food items as before, just now added to a new "format." Just how a book can go on to a sequel, that first good meal can be turned into a second tasty dish.

I bet I just made half of you go what? And squirm in your seat. Flashbacks of your mom’s days of cleaning out the fridge for Sunday Surprise Casserole just flooded back to you didn’t it? Well, this is different. (kind of, as in it’s planned and not, Hmmm is this still good?) That turkey you work hard on to serve at Christmas dinner can be enjoyed once more. (Other than in a turkey sandwich)

Turkey Casserole

6 cups cubed turkey

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 small carton sour cream

½ cup onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, shredded

1 cup green beans (canned or frozen)

2 pkg. Stove Top stuffing mix.


Sauté onions in butter until transparent. Cook carrots for 5 minutes in boiling water then drain, Add carrots to onions, soup, green beans, sour cream, and cubed turkey. Make stuffing mix accordingly to box directions. Spread half of stuffing in a 9x13 casserole dish. Pour turkey mixture over top of stuffing. Add remaining half of stuffing mix by spreading it over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbling hot.