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Amy AlessioWelcome to my page, where the Vintage Cookbooks blog has lived for over 9 years! Sign up for my newsletter to receive a copy of TREASURES, the first story in my Amazon bestselling Alana O’Neill short mystery series with vintage recipes. My newsletter will send bonus recipes as well as news of my upcoming shows and books right to your email box. Treasures
In TREASURES, Alana, a young mother, discovers an unlikely secret after a fire in an antiques mall in this short mystery with recipes. This is the first in the Alana O’Neill mysteries and includes vintage recipes for: Congo Squares, Kolackys, Chiffon Cake, Pound Cake and Dark Chocolate Cake. Alana’s adventures continue in the separate stories: MISSING ANDY, FELLED BY FRUITCAKE and BLAST FROM THE PAST.
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Mint Diamonds

Ready for another minty recipe? In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and my new novella, Struck by Shillelagh, I’ve been posting some minty recipes. Do you have a favorite?

This is from my 1976 Cookie Jar cookbook. Lots of favorite, easy, common sense recipes here.

1 cup butter (I didn’t say healthy.)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter with extract; add brown sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; add to creamed mixture in fourths, mixing until blended after each addition. Turn mixture into ungreased 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350F 20 – 25 minutes; cool. Spread glaze over cooled cookie base and sprinkle with chopped pecans (optional). Cool; cut into diamond shapes.

Chocolate-Mint Glaze: Melt 6 oz. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces with 1/2 tsp. mint extract over hot water. Cool slightly.

What are you making for the big green holiday this week? If you are looking for more ideas, search under St. Patrick’s Day on this blog. I’ve posted dozens of recipes. Enjoy!

 

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Molly MacRae Monday: Irish Moss Blancmange – Make Mine Minty!

Molly MacRae joins the minty celebration this month with this very interesting concoction…-Amy 

This dessert doesn’t start out minty, but the recipe calls for “flavoring” and leaves the choice of that flavor up to us. So let’s join Amy’s minty celebration of her new Alana O’Neill mystery, Struck by Shillelagh, by making this a Minty Irish Moss Blancmange.

The recipe comes from Dutch Oven: a cook book of coveted, traditional recipes from the kitchens of Lunenburg, compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Lunenburg Hospital Society in 1953. A dear friend in Nova Scotia sent the book to me. Every recipe in it is handwritten, and many of them are illustrated with charming line drawings. The book is a gem. So is Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, by the way. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America.

I’ve loved the idea of blancmange ever since seeing the Monty Python sketch where intergalactic blancmanges plot to win Wimbledon by turning people into Scotsmen.

Before reading the recipe, I hadn’t put a lot of thought into Irish moss, otherwise known as Chondrus crispus. By “hadn’t put a lot” I mean “hadn’t put any.” I didn’t even know Irish moss is seaweed. In fact, it’s the kind of seaweed that releases the gelling agent carrageenan when you boil it. And when you think about how often you see that ingredient in readymade puddings and ice cream, etc., then the idea of Irish Moss Blancmange makes perfect sense. It even sounds tasty. Here’s the recipe:

Irish Moss Blanc Mange

¾ cup Irish Moss

1 quart water

1 16oz. tin evaporated milk

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon flavoring

Wash Irish moss and soak for thirty minutes. Using a double boiler. To the Irish moss add one quart water. Boil until thick. Strain, add milk, salt and flavoring. Pour into molds to set. Serve with sugar and cream. Fruit may be added if desired. You can obtain Irish Moss at low tide off the Nova Scotia coast. It grows on rocks and ledges.

Recipe from Jennie E. Smeltzer (Mrs. E.S.)

The last time I was on the coast of Nova Scotia at low tide, 41 years ago, I didn’t get around to foraging for Irish moss. But you can bet the next time I go I’ll be checking out those rocks and ledges. I’ve put it on my bucket list – and I’ll be sure to take a bucket.

For information on Irish moss and a similar recipe from the Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, Penobscot Bay, Maine, click here: http://www.atlanticholdfast.com/irish-moss/

For the Monty Python blancmange sketch, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVbb6pZLfzU

 

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Triple Minty Fudge Cake & Struck by Shillelagh is Here!

Struck by Shillelagh, the 5th  Alana O’Neill mystery with recipes, is now available on Amazon for ereaders.

When her friend is arrested for attempted murder of the Mayor at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Alana O’Neill tries to learn who really hit the unpopular politician with the black thorn shillelagh.

A new booth owner with a questionable past, a secret author featuring the antiques mall and recipe failures are unable to distract Alana for long on her quest for justice. Vintage recipes include Edible Blarneystones, Refrigerator Cake, Lime Ribbon Delight and more. Also included – Thankful for Pie: In this Thanksgiving holiday novella, Star tries to learn who is sabotaging her family’s struggling bakery. She also wonders why her new karate instructor drives her so crazy.

I’m posting minty recipes for the next few weeks to celebrate. I’m adjusting this handwritten Triple Fudge Cake to make it minty as I flavor recipes often. Yum!

1 pkg (4 oz.) pudding & Pie filling (not instant)

1 pkg. Devil’s Food Cake mix

1/2 tsp. peppermint flavoring

1/2 C semisweet choc chips

1/2 c. chopped andes’ candies (or other chocolate mints, or mint chips)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 9×13 pan. Add hot pudding to cake mix. Blend with mixer 1 – 2 minutes. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and mint candies. Bake 30 – 35 min.

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Minty March Begins

Struck by Shillelagh, my new Alana O’Neill mystery, will be coming out in a few days and to celebrate, I will be posting minty recipes from now through St. Patrick’s Day. Do you have a favorite?

This is from the 195 Table Talk cookbook, signed by Frank Decatur White. This gentleman led workshops in association with appliance companies as far as I can tell, and his cookbooks seem to have been very popular.

Here is Frank’s Mints:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 kitchen spoon corn syrup (love that measurement)

1 tsp. butter

4 drops oil of mint

Mix all well, heat over slow fire, stirring until dissolved. Wipe side of pan with damp cloth. Turn fire high and cook well two minutes. Pour on ungreased platter, let cool then beat until creamy. When too hard to beat turn out on marble slab and work well with the hands, adding mint and any color desired. Melt Fondant in double boiler and drop on oiled paper.

Slow and high fires are vague descriptions, though working on the marble sounds fun. This seems like a cross between traditional fudge making and praline work. Have you made anything like this?

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Two Delicious Desserts

I’m so excited to announce the publication of A Delicious Dessert, a romance anthology with recipes. It was put together in honor of author Mary Welk, an author friend of mine (who posted on here!) who passed away late 2015. I have a story “Flirting with Fondue,” under my Julia Curtin pen name. All proceeds go to the American Heart Association. Here is the link to purchase eleven novellas with recipes for $2.99, while helping a great organization!

Enjoy this recipe for Apple Squares today too, from my handwritten recipe collection:

Crust

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup shortening (margarine)

2 egg yolks, beaten

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup cold water

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening as for pie dough. Combine egg yolks, lemon juice and water and add to flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. Dough will be very moist. Do not add more flour. Divide in 2 parts. Roll out on WELL FLOURED (as on card) board and line bottom and sides of a 15 x 10 inch pan.

Apple Filling: Pare and slice 8 large apples thinly. Using hands, coat thoroughly with mixture of 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and dash of nutmeg.

Arrange in crust lined pan and cover with top crust. Seal edges. Make decorative slits. Bake in 375F oven 1 hour. While warm ice with mixture of 1 cup conf. sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. For easy serving, cool before cutting into squares.

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Molly MacRae Monday: Loose-Leaf Comfort Food

Molly MacRae kicks off a fun February on this blog with her post on some comfort food. Perfect thing for a February Monday!-Amy

One of my favorite cookbooks is the paperback copy of Joy of Cooking my husband had in college. It’s the 1973 edition and it cost $3.95. As you can see from the picture, we’ve loved it into a loose-leaf format. It has no spine anymore, but all the pages are there and intact. Some of the recipes we’ll never make (Peccary, beaver, or bear? No.) But a few we make quite often. One of those is scalloped potatoes. But just as the cookbook is now loose-leaf, our adherence to the recipe is pretty loose, too. We add sharp cheddar cheese in place of butter. We put vegetable bouillon in the milk. We use three potatoes and don’t bother to measure how many cups that comes to. And sometimes we use the 10-inch by 10-inch dish and other times a deeper one that’s more like 6-inch by 6-inch. And oven temperature? Sometimes we rev it up to 375º F. to get supper on the table a little sooner. However you make them, though, these scalloped potatoes are good comfort food for cold February days.

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Molly MacRae Monday: A Bit of Bite for the New Year

Happy New Year! Some fun changes coming for this blog. To kick off 2017, here’s a recipe from Molly MacRae, who is busy writing her next mystery.  Have you read Plaid and Plagiarism yet?  It’s terrific! -Amy

Happy New Year! It’s that biting time of year—biting cold, biting wind, and for the past few weeks there’s been a lot of biting humor going around and just plain snarling. All of that made me think it was a good time to make something with a bit of bite for supper, so we had chili cheese scones and soup. The recipe is one of those you can play around with. Add more or less seasoning, according your taste and tolerance for zing and zip. Vary the kind of cheese you use. Tonight I only had one egg so I added a bit more milk and the scones turned out just fine. You can also vary the kind of soup you have with them. Tonight we had black bean with a nice fresh orange and ancho pepper salsa.

Chili Cheese Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 Tbs baking powder

1 to 2 tsps hot red pepper flakes

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ cup butter

1 tsp salt if butter is unsalted

¼ pound cheddar cheese, shredded

2 large eggs

½ cup milk

  1. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter in using a pastry blender. Stir in shredded cheese.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add to flour mixture and mix with a fork just until combined.
  3. Knead dough on a floured board about six times. Divide dough in half. Pat each half a ¾-inch round. Set rounds well apart on an oiled baking pan. Cut each round, not quite through, into six wedges.
  4. Bake in 400º oven until golden brown – 15 to 18 minutes. Serve hot or warm, breaking along scores.
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Molly MacRae Monday: A Celebratory Swig

We have a very happy holiday message from Molly MacRae today, on the eve of her new book, Plaid and Plagiarism! I can’t wait to read it! -AA

The holidays are here and I’m launching a new mystery series, so I feel like celebrating. Plaid and Plagiarism, book #1 in the Highland Bookshop Mysteries comes out tomorrow. The stories take place in Scotland, a place I dearly love, in a West Coast Highland town called Inversgail (which doesn’t exist except in my head and in the books). What better way to celebrate the season and the book, then, than with a traditional Highland drink—Atholl Brose.

According According to F. Marian McNeill in her 1929 book, The Scots Kitchen, “Atholl Brose emerges from the Highland mists in the year 1475, but may well be much older. It is mentioned by Scott in The Heart of Midlothian, and by Robert Louis Stevenson in Kidnapped.”

There are various recipes for Atholl Brose. All of them call for oatmeal, honey, and whisky, with the addition of cream for festive occasions. This is kind of a festive occasion, so I’ll share my favorite recipe from McNeill’s book—it’s one she got from Williamina Macrae.

Beat one and a half teacupfuls of double cream to a froth; stir in one teacupful of very lightly toasted oatmeal; add half a cup of dripped heather honey and, just before serving, two wine-glasses of whisky. Mix thoroughly and serve in shallow glasses.

Good health to you! Slainte mhath!

(Having a larger celebration? Click here for a recipe that serves 1,100.)

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Cake Mix O’Love

Molly MacRae talks birthdays and cake this month. Yum! And next month the first book in her new series comes out: Plaid and Plagiarism: The Highland Bookshop Mystery Series. -AA

“Most people who make cakes for people they love regularly employ mixes.”  From The Food Timeline

My husband has been employing a cake mix regularly, once a year for the past twenty or twenty five years when he makes a birthday cake for me. It’s very brave and good of him, because he doesn’t like to cook. The first time I made it easy for him and bought the mix and a can of frosting for him. He got the boys to help him and when they were done it was THE WORLD’S BEST BIRTHDAY CAKE. The only surprise was when he told me how much frosting was left in the can after he frosted the cake and what a good snack that leftover frosting made spread on graham crackers. Let me just say, very quietly, that the next year, and every year since then, all the frosting has gone on the cake where it belonged.

To tie this in with Amy’s love for all things vintage, notice that Mike is mixing the batter in our harvest gold Pyrex bowl with our harvest gold General Electric mixer. We received both of them for wedding presents in 1978 and still use them.

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Witches’ Cake?

I was delighted to be interviewed for this article by Judy Buchenot on an upcoming talk I’m giving. I got to discuss some of the favorites from my collection. Kyle took some photos of me in a vintage dress for the photo.

I included the honey ketchup onions I made a few Thanksgivings ago. My family loves them – I just don’t tell them what is in them!


But moving on to a fun Halloween recipe. I’m not sure what makes this “Witches’ Cake,” perhaps the chocolate? It’s from a cookbook from the Home Bureau Women of Jersey County. It was first published in 1939, with this printing from 1959.

1 3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour milk

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tblsp. melted chocolate

2 cups sifted flour

1 level teasp. baking powder

1/2 teasp. baking soda

1/2 cup boiling water

Sift flour with baking powder and soda. Cream shortening, add sugar gradually, egg yolks, melted chocolate and vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour milk and water. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in two large or 3 small layers, about 25 minutes at 350F. Put layers together with chocolate filling.

Chocolate Filling: 6 teasp. flour, 6 teasp. sugar, 2 teasp. cocoa: Mix with thick cream and heat.

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