Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A tasty date with bran muffins, cookies

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I received several more recipes for never-boil-over butter tarts after the recipe had gone to print two weeks ago. I'd like to belatedly thank Sylvia Moloney, Gail Reid, Linda Snider, Alice Hanna and Elinor Sims. This big response proves that the recipe is a keeper.

This week, thanks go out to Joyce Stewart of Stonewall and Edna Mroz of Beausejour, who sent in family recipes for date-filled oatmeal cookies for Janet Handel, who missed the version served at the Bread and Circuses bakery. (We hope this one, from Edna, comes close.) And thanks to Dorothy Parry, who tracked down a recipe for classic buttermilk bran muffins from the Rogers Foods company for Judy Tyler. Dorothy calls it a "never-fail" version.

This week, Yvonne Peters wonders if anyone clipped a recipe for lobster mac and cheese that appeared in Hello! magazine one or two years ago. (I enthusiastically second this request.) And Maureen Sweeney, who grew up in Kenora, remembers the butter tarts served in the coffee shop attached to the bus depot. The tarts had an unusual mapley, custardy filling, and she would love to find a recipe. And with the historic Paddlewheel joining the list of lost Winnipeg restaurants last week, Diane Muloin is hoping someone might know how to make the cafeteria's classic coleslaw.

If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

Classic bran muffins

375 ml (11/2 cups) wheat bran

250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

75 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil

1 egg

150 ml (2/3 cup) brown sugar

2 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla

250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour

5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda

5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

125 ml (1/2 cup) raisins or chopped dates

Preheat oven to 190C (375F). Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand. Combine vegetable oil, egg, brown sugar and vanilla and add to bran-buttermilk mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to first mixture and stir until just blended. Add raisins or dates and spoon into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.

Tester's notes: This is indeed a classic bran muffin -- just slightly sweet, with a good dose of healthy bran, but softened with buttermilk.

Date-filled oatmeal cookies

500 ml (2 cups) butter or margarine, softened

500 ml (2 cups) brown sugar, packed

250 ml (1 cup) milk

900 ml (4 cups) all-purpose flour

900 ml (4 cups) rolled oats

25 ml (5 tsp) baking powder

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Date filling:

250 g (1/2 lb) chopped pitted dates

75 ml (1/3 cup) granulated sugar

150 ml (2/3 cup) water

Preheat oven to 175 C (350F). In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together well. Slowly mix in milk. Add flour, oats, baking powder and salt and mix well. Roll out thinly on lightly floured board. Cut into 5 cm (21/2 in) rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely. Make date filling by combining dates, sugar and water in medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring often, until mushy. If dry, add more water. If runny, continue cooking to thicken up. Remove from heat and let cool. Spread one cookie with some date mixture and top with another cookie to form sandwich cookies.

Tester's notes: A very reassuring, old-fashioned cookie. Don't worry if the dough seems stiff. The cookie isn't like a crispy, tender standalone oatmeal cookie -- it needs to hold up to the sandwich process, and it softens up once filled. I got best results with quite thin cookies (about 5 mm or 1/5 in). I ended up using a double recipe of the dates to fill all my sandwich cookies -- though it should be noted that I'm an inveterate over-filler. Other bakers might not need so much.

My son, who worked at Bread and Circuses for several summers, adds his own tip: Clean up the pot used to cook the dates promptly. (Washing pots with sticky, stuck-on dates was one of his least favourite jobs.)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2013 D5

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