Recipes from the Brass Sisters

the brass sisters Marilynn and Sheila Brass are culinary curators. Together, they have compiled a library of more than 6,500 cookbooks and a collection of food-related antiques that is considered one of the finest in the United States. Their book, Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, features more than 100 years' worth of recipes discovered from family cookbooks, journals, and even scraps of paper! Don't miss Brass Sisters: Queens of Comfort Food
line Brad's Moroccan Punch
The recipe for this refreshing punch came from our friend Brad Gregory, who is an Aga representative. A former member of the US Navy, Brad has traveled widely and developed this recipe for Moroccan punch. The fresh mint and rosewater make a delightful, leafy green drink.

1/3 of 1 large English cucumber, unpeeled
1 lime
8 ounces seedless green grapes
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 quart white grape juice
1 quart sparkling soda water
2 tablespoons rosewater

1. Wash and thinly slice the cucumber and lime. Set aside. Wash the grapes and mint leaves. Press mint gently to release its flavor. Combine the cucumber, lime, grapes, and mint in a large chilled glass pitcher. Pour the grape juice and the soda water into the pitcher. Stir in the rosewater. (To increase the floral flavor, add more rosewater.) Fill the pitcher to the top with ice cubes.
2. Let the punch rest for 10 minutes and pour into chilled glasses. Or store the punch in the refrigerator until it is ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings
line Nick's Savory Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers
Our grandparents, Celia and Joseph Katziff, ran a mom-and-pop grocery store on Shirley Street, in Winthrop, Mass. When Grandpa Katziff wasn't taking Sheila to East Boston to buy hair ribbons or toys, he was bringing home special treats like waffled cheese crackers from their store. Our friend Nick Malgieri's recipe for peppery cheddar coins from his book Cookies Unlimited comes the closest to replicating the taste of those treats from the 1940s. We based this recipe on his, substituting the blue cheese and walnuts for the original cheddar.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 ounces blue cheese
8 tablespoons sweet butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. When ready to bake the crackers, place the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 14- by 16-inch cookie sheets, greased or covered with foil, shiny side up, or with a silicone liner.
2. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the blue cheese and butter and pulse five or six times to combine. Add the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms a ball.
3. Remove the dough from the food processor. On wax paper or plastic wrap, form the dough into a cylinder, 1 1/2 inches wide, with your hands. Place the cylinder in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours, and cut into disks a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Place on the prepared pans. Do not put more than 16 crackers on a pan.
4. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of each cracker. Cut a 4- by 4-inch square of wax paper. Place the wax paper on top of each cracker and press gently with the bottom of a glass. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until a light golden color. Allow the crackers to cool on a rack. Store between sheets of wax paper in tin container.

Yield: 40 crackers
Hint: The blue cheese and walnuts give this cracker a bite as well as a crunchy texture.
line Dale's Meatloaf
We asked a woman in Maine, Dale Irving, for the recipe for her meatloaf after hearing her son reminisce about the meatloaf she made him when he was growing up in Connecticut. This is a dense meatloaf, more like a pâté. It should be chilled before being cut, but it can be served hot after resting for 10 minutes. The sausage mixed with the ground beef and the touch of poultry seasoning make all the difference.

1 pound ground beef
6 ounces sausage meat
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 cup unseasoned fine bread crumbs
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 can tomato soup (10 3/4 ounces)
2 1/2 strips uncooked bacon
4 1/2 inch strips green pepper, cut vertically

1. Place the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan by lining bottom of pan with a strip of parchment folded over and run up the two narrow ends of the pan. Coat the pan and the liner with vegetable spray.
2. Place the ground beef and the sausage meat in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. In another smaller bowl, combine the onion, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
4. Using your hands, combine the bread crumb mixture with the meat mixture. Do not overwork the meatloaf mixture, or it will be tough. Add half the can of tomato soup to the meatloaf mixture and combine.
5. Place the meatloaf in the prepared pan. Spread the remaining tomato soup over the top of the meatloaf. Cut the strips of bacon in half and alternate with the strips of green pepper on top of the meatloaf. Bake for one hour. Turn off the oven and let the meatloaf remain in the oven for another 30 minutes. The meatloaf is done when an instant-read thermometer placed in the center of the meatloaf registers 160 degrees F.
6. Place the meatloaf on a rack and cool for 1 hour. Remove the meatloaf from the pan by lifting it with both ends of the parchment. Wrap the meatloaf in parchment or two layers of wax paper and store in the refrigerator 4 hours or overnight. Remove the meatloaf from the refrigerator, unwrap, slice, and reheat before serving.

Yield: 10 slices
Hint: Meatloaf is better the day after it is made. Leftover cold meatloaf makes wonderful sandwiches.
line Butter-Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Thyme
These mashed potatoes are a wonderful accompaniment to Dale's meatloaf. We used our mother's potato ricer, which gave the potatoes a velvety texture, but the potatoes can be mashed by hand. We suggest that you taste the potatoes and adjust the thyme, salt, and pepper. Don't be afraid to add more butter or cream.

To prepare the potatoes for boiling:
3 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes
1 teaspoon salt

To mash the potatoes:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot and cover with water to an inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and cook until fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes and put them through a potato ricer into a large bowl. When all of the potatoes have been riced, stir in butter and cream. Add the chopped fresh thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Yield: 10 servings
Hint: Be sure to use only the leaves of the fresh thyme, not the branches.
line Brown Sugar Brownies
These are just one of the brownies we grew up baking and eating. We find that adding brown sugar helps to make them moist. Cutting out stars from the brownies adds a bit of fun when serving them to family and friends.

1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa (American, not Dutch processed)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. To make the brownies: Set the oven rack in the middle position. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 14- by 16-inch jelly roll pan with foil, shiny side up, and coat with vegetable spray or butter. Be sure that all the sides of the pan are covered with foil because the batter rises almost to the top.
2. Sift together the cake flour, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter and the bittersweet chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of slightly simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and whisk in the sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until the top seems firm and a tester inserted into the middle comes out fairly clean. There may be a few cracks on the top. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a rack to room temperature. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight to chill, for easier cutting.
5. To prepare brownie stars for dessert: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and flip the pan over onto a solid surface or the bottom of another jelly roll pan. Remove the foil. Cut stars from the brownie sheet. We were able to cut 8 five-pointed stars from one sheet of brownies, using a star cutter with a 5-inch diameter.
6. Place the cut stars between sheets of parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
7. To assemble the brownie star dessert: Place each star on a dessert plate. Place a scoop of burnt-sugar ice cream on the top of each brownie star and garnish with hot fudge sauce.
8. The leftover fragments of brownies can be cut into squares, rectangles, or triangles and placed in boxes for your guests to take home. Brownie bits are also very good mixed into vanilla ice cream.

Yield: Serves 8