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Perhaps the best thing about writing this column is the email I get from those who read it.
The readers I hear from like to cook. They like to experiment with techniques and ingredients, as do I, and they like to share what they have learned.
After reading my very first column, which included a recipe for green beans cooked with garlic and tomato sauce and served over toasted bread, Lois Correia dropped me a note to share a similar recipe that she makes frequently.
“This is a simple item that can be made quickly with leftover homemade sauce or jarred sauce. Cook asparagus spears al dente. Heat sauce in a fry pan. Add asparagus spears. Crack eggs over hot mixture. Cover and cook eggs to your liking — soft, runny or set. Serve over toast.”
She added that this a great dinner to have during Lent. “I don’t have an exact recipe,” she wrote, “but like yours, adapt the amount of sauce to your liking.”
Judy Westwood wrote in about the same column, saying she had a similar recipe in her repertoire but she’d always served it as a side dish. “But I LOVE the idea of making a meal of it on toast! Also, being married to a Brit, they like just about everything on toast.”
Tales of my French Canadian grandmother’s pork pie inspired one reader, Brigitte, to send an email.
“What a funny story about Mémère! I am French Canadian as well, but from a younger generation. Did you know the name we use for that pork pie? It’s called tourtière. All French Canadians eat it during Christmas and yes, it is heaven … with ketchup and/or maple syrup.”
Well, Brigitte, you can rest assured that if my brother makes me a pork pie for Christmas, as he has been known to do, I certainly will forgo my usual ketchup and try maple syrup this year instead. My mouth is watering as I type.
In a column about fresh corn, I suggested an easy way to slice off the kernels is to “invert a small bowl in the bottom of larger bowl and balance the cob on the bottom of the small bowl while you slice off the kernels, most of which will land in the larger bowl instead of flying around the kitchen.”
In no time, I heard from William Browning. “Enjoyed your column in the Thames River Times on corn,” he wrote. “This is worth a try,” and he included a link to a photograph of someone employing the same technique but balancing the cob on the center post of a Bundt pan. Brilliant, and truly the best use I’ve ever seen for a Bundt pan.
Eileen McInerney was inspired to revisit one of her old cookbooks, “Thanksgiving Dinner” by Anthony Dias Blue, which I mentioned in an October column that featured one of Blue’s Brussels sprouts recipes.
“It’s my go to book for Thanksgiving every year,” McInerney wrote. “I hosted Thanksgiving with the family for many years, but now my daughter-in-law has taken on the task. Thank goodness.”
“Now I help by making the dressing. They now cook for about 30, so you can imagine how much dressing I make … Thanks for making me look for my cookbook and start thinking about the Thanksgiving recipes a little early.”
Nancy Courtney of Waterford said she wrote as soon as she finished reading a column that featured a recipe for no-bake Missouri Cookies. In that column, I talked about how, when I was growing up, my mom made this recipe, as did my friend’s mom, but the recipe had come to each of them via very different paths.
“I have been making them since 1959, the year of my marriage,” Courtney wrote. “My mother-in-law gave me the recipe.”
The same column also brought a note from Eileen Dusio Button of Quaker Hill. She was so happy to have the cookie recipe that she shared one of her own.
“Here is a cookie recipe that can be fun. When asked if anyone knows what is the secret for the special crunch, it keeps guests thinking!”
Well, Eileen’s secret — and now yours — is crushed potato chips added to what is basically a pecan shortbread dough. I made a batch today and they are delicious and undeniably, uniquely crunchy.
Thank you so much Eileen. And although you call them Kaitlyn’s Favorite Secret Cookies, in my recipe book they will be known henceforth as “Eileen Button’s Potato Chip Shortbreads.”
Thank you all so much for reading and for cooking along. I hope you all have a joyous and delicious holiday season.
Kaitlyn’s Favorite Secret Cookies
Crushed potato chips are the secret for that special crunch.
1 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup crushed potato chips
½ cup chopped pecans
2 cups flour
Cream together butter or margarine, sugar and vanilla. Add crushed potato chips and pecans. Stir in flour. Roll into small balls, using about 1 tablespoon dough for each. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (I lined the sheet with parchment paper).
Press balls flat with bottom of a tumbler dipped in sugar. Bake in moderate oven — 350 degrees — for 16-18 minutes or till cookies are lightly browned.
Note: If desired, top each cookie with a pecan or candied cherry.
Makes 3½ dozen cookies.
Original recipe from Eileen Dusio Button of Quaker Hill.
Jill Blanchette works at night at The Day. Share comments or recipes with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You're going to need hostess gifts and a little something for teachers, co-workers, friends and family, so why not turn the overabundance now into thoughtful, delicious presents you'll be so happy to have on hand later.