Friday, June 25, 2010

Past to Present

Even though we live in a household filled with cookbooks of every persuasion - many of them not even mine, mind you - there are three "bibles" that our kitchen would be helpless without. One of them I've waxed on and on about before - our copy of Apples, Peaches and Pears by Elizabeth Baird that is so well-used that not only are pages falling out of the binding but certain sections of the book have to be loosened from the butter, flour and sugar glue that sticks them together. I swear by the biscuit recipe I found in an old church cookbook my grandparents brought me back from a trip to Nova Scotia, and the pizza crust and bran muffins made from the old recipes are stellar. Then there is the treasure trove of recipes we have that aren't in a book at all, but are infinitely more valuable because of it: my mom's black, metal recipe box. It's been stuffed so full of not only her own carefully handwritten cards but newspaper and magazine clippings, printed recipes e-mailed to her from relatives or found online and (my favourites) almost every single recipe from us kids' years in home ec while we were in elementary school. That box holds our holiday brioche, our red velvet cake, our chocolate chip cookies and of course those infamous shortbreads.

Ironically, out of all those meticulously filed, plastic-slipcovered recipes, those four things that I mentioned above are really all we use out of her box. A handful of cards in there may have been recipes made once or twice, or were for one of those things made by special request (like her warm Vichyssoise-like soup and scalloped potatoes). For the most part, though? Neither of us even knows what's in there, much less could ever concieve of making most of the Greek- or Jewish-inspired recipes for the staunch Italian population at home. I wanted to remedy at least my lack of understanding as to the gems hidden in the box, so I sat down with it one morning and began rifleing through, pulling cards for things I had always wanted to make - like spanakopita - or recipes that had titles that begged for a story. As I worked, my mom would occasionally poke her head into the kitchen and either register disbelief that some of the recipes lasted as long as they did in her files, or would explain where one came from or who a "title character" actually was.

Such was the case with these brownie-like coffee bars, titled simply as "Timothy's Glazed Coffee Squares". Though my mom swore she had never made them, she fondly remembered where she used to eat them near her young adult home in the Greek area of Toronto's Danforth Avenue. Timothy was the name of a local (now long gone) cafe owner who was apparently famous for his strong Greek coffee and sweet, sticky, coffee-laced squares. I fell in love with the idea - I mean, who wouldn't - and set about making a pan to take with me when I went for my hair appointmet right before my graduation ceremony. The resulting squares were incredible - smelling a hundred times better than a mallfull of Cinnabons and, according to the judge, would have made the original baker proud.

Timothy's Glazed Coffee Squares
Serves 24
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup brewed Greek coffee or espresso, cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dark raisins, soaked in hot coffee and drained
1/4 cup diced dates, soaked in hot coffee and drained
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp Greek coffee or brewed espresso
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease and line a 9x13" pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add egg and coffee, beat until smooth.
  4. Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to the creamed mixture, blending well.
  5. Fold in the raisins and dates.
  6. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes, until they test done.
  8. Cool 10 minutes, then glaze with a mixture of sifted icing sugar, cinnamon and espresso. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 104.7
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 13.9 mg
Sodium: 38.0 mg
Total Carbs: 23.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 1.2 g

1 comment :

  1. I love old cookbooks and church is so nice you have all that history from your family...treasure them.... :)


Thanks for the feedback!