Traditionally, we see Shortbread in the form of large rounds, triangular wedges, and thick rectangles. Today’s modern shortbread is made in various cookie shapes as well.
The triangular wedges are also called petticoat tails because it is thought that they looked similar to a ladies’ garment called the petticoat – worn under dresses in the Victorian era.
A Scottish cookbook dated at 1736 contained the first shortbread recipe. Some early versions contained yeast, but by 1850 most recipes were using the ingredients and ratios that bakers still use today: butter, flour, sugar and cornstarch.
Shortbread was once baked and shared only on Christmas or on Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve, but shortbread is now baked and enjoyed throughout the year!
Helen’s Famous Shortbread Recipe
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 pound butter
In mixer, cream butter, add sugar, until like whipped cream.
Add flour and cornstarch (sifted together). Whip mixture until fluffy and until mixture breaks.
Drop from spoon onto cookie sheet.
Bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes.
Choose higher starch potatoes (like Russets or Yukon golds) for the fluffiest, smoothest, and most flavor-packed mash. Waxy potatoes (such as red or white varieties) require more mashing to become creamy, which could lead to overmixing your potatoes resulting in a pasty/gluey consistency.
Start the boiling process of your potatoes using room temperature or cold water. This helps bring the internal temperature of the potatoes up with the water instead of cooking the potatoes from the outside in. This is critical in ensuring your potato is evenly cooked vs overcooked on the outside and undercooked in the inside.
For dairy-free mashed potatoes, simply substitute stock for milk and bacon fat for the butter. Your taste buds will be tingling!
Chef Shai’s Signature Mashed Potatoes
Yield: 4 servings
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 sprigs rosemary
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 litre chicken stock
½ cup – ¾ cup unsalted butter or ½ cup bacon fat, cubed
Salt & pepper to taste
Add potatoes to a large pot. Cover with room temperature water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until soft.
Meanwhile add the stock, rosemary sprigs and garlic to a medium saucepan. Bring stock to a simmer and reduce by ¾.
Strain potatoes and mash using a whisk or potato masher. Add butter and strain in half the hot stock mixture. Season with salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Add more stock if need be.
Gingerbread loaf actually tastes better the second day. Letting the loaf rest in the fridge overnight helps the flavours intensify!
Ginger also has plenty of benefits. It’s an ancient root that’s been used for the treatment of numerous ailments, such as colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines and hypertension. A fine excuse to have a big slice of this gingerbread loaf!
Chef Shai’s Signature Gingerbread Loaf
Yield: 1 loaf
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ orange zested
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ orange zested
2 cups icing sugar
Chopped candied ginger for garnish
For the loaf
Preheat oven to 350F. Line one 7 inch x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Using an electric mixer and paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and orange zest until sugar becomes dampened and the aroma of orange is strong. Add in the butter and cream until fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until fully incorporated.
Add the applesauce and baking soda to the creamed butter mixture. Mix until well combined.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Add mixture to creamed butter and mix until Just combined.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
While loaf is baking, prepare the frosting: In a stand up mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and orange zest. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until completely smooth.
Once the cake has cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top. Garnish with the chopped candied ginger.
Refrigerate loaf until ready to serve. The loaf actually tastes better chilled for 24 hours.
A latke is a Jewish specialty consumed during Chanukah/Hanukkah (the festival of lights). A latke is a pancake made from potatoes that are fried in oil.
In Yiddish, the word Latke was originally derived from the Ukrainian word for pancake, oladka.
History: A band of Jewish dissidents refused to worship Greek gods and revolted against the Seleucid empire in order to celebrate their religion freely. To commemorate their victory and the rededication of their temple, they lit an oil-burning lamp. The story goes that while they only had enough oil to last one day, the lamp miraculously remained lit for eight days in what’s now known as the miracle of Hanukkah. Today, latkes are fried in oil as part of Hanukkah celebrations around the globe.
DAY 8 – Rooks to Cooks’ Top 10 Holiday Recipe Countdown
Chef Shai’s Signature Potato Latke Recipe
Yield: 8 Latkes
2 Large russet potatoes, peeled
2 medium cooking onions
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup bread crumbs or matzah meal
1 Tbsp all purpose flour or potato starch
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Using a cheese grater or food processor, shred your potatoes and onions into a large bowl. Mince your garlic and add it to the mixture.
Using cheesecloth or a thin rag, squeeze all the water out of the potato mix. Once dry, put back into the bowl and add the egg, bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper.
In a large rondeau or frying pan, heat oil over medium – high heat. Oil temperature should be 360F.
Divide potato mixture into 8 equal portions. Form a patty in your hands and carefully lay in the oil, repeat until pan is full. Fry until crisp and dark brown. Using a spatula, carefully flip the latke and fry second side.
Remove latkes from the pan and let drain on a wire rack or paper towel.