Story and photos by Karyn Miller Brooks
If I had dinner at your place and asked for a receipt, what would you do? Would you give me a ticket from the grocery store where you bought the meal components? Or maybe you would give me a list of all your expenses for preparing dinner. Or maybe you’d ignore me because you thought it rude to ask how much dinner was.
For most of us Americans, our understanding of the word “receipt” is similar to that of TheFreeDictionary.com:
reception – the state of being possessed: receipt of goods; a written confirmation of payment; a receipt for the order.
Recipe – A set of instructions for making something: a recipe for muffins; a device to achieve something, as a recipe for success.
But if you’ve ever heard “A Way with Words,” the National Public Radio program “about language and the way we use it,” you might have heard Martha Barnett and Grant Barrett talk about this very thing have spoken.
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In episode 1583, a caller named Brian tells a story about visiting friends in western Pennsylvania over dinner when someone asked for the ‘receipt’ for a dish served, “…using the word ‘receipt’ in the same way others do the word ‘recipe’ would do.”
Martha replies to Brian by saying that he “found a rare linguistic specimen”. She continues:
“Both words derive from the Latin word recipere, meaning ‘to take or receive’, but they entered English at different times.
“Reception is the older term, originally referring to ‘the act of receiving something.’ Recipe is the Latin imperative form of recipere and was at the top of a list of directions for a medicinal preparation.”
This recipe eventually came to be abbreviated as Rx – the “recipe” or list of ingredients or medicines to be taken for illnesses, just like a recipe is a list of ingredients for a dish.
So when I asked my friend Doreen Ravenscroft for a receipt for the Scottish shortbread I bought from The Yellow Cottage, she offered me a list of ingredients and instructions (a recipe) for these delicacies. What I expected was a monetary settlement of my purchase.
Doreen and her colleagues start an organization for young adults living with neurological disabilities such as autism. The Yellow Cottage Kitchen, a program that grew out of The ARC, is now part of Waco Cultural Arts.
The Kitchen trains and encourages these individuals to develop life skills including herb propagation, kitchen management, food packaging, customer service, marketing and even graphic design, while offering traditional home-made shortbread during the holidays and having the opportunity to support this program financially.
Visit the CulturalArtsWaco.org website to learn more.
Yellow Cottage Kitchen sells whole holiday cookies for $20 and individually wrapped triangles for $2 each. Order by SMS at 254-723-6830 (limited offer). But if you’re feeling adventurous, try Doreen’s personal receipt (recipe).
The Yellow Cottage Shortbread
This recipe is from Doreen’s old English cookbook
6 ounces. (1¼ c less 1 T) self-raising flour
4 oz. (½ c) Butter, preferably Kerrygold or European, softened
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and flour and score with a knife or pastry cutter. Using hands, mix until breadcrumbs stage (similar to making a pie crust). Add sugar and mix well, forming the dough into a ball by pinching it with your hands and the rim of the bowl.
3. Place the ball of dough in the center of an ungreased 1″ x 8″ round cake pan and press down to the edges to ensure an even thickness. (This is a bit of a workout. I cheated and used a stainless steel measuring cup to smooth it out a bit.)
4. Using a small round cookie cutter, press into the center of the dough.
5. Using a knife, divide the surrounding circle of dough into quarters; Divide each quarter twice more, giving you a total of 16 small wedges around the circle.
6. Prick each piece twice with a fork.
7. Place in the oven for 25 minutes until lightly golden. (Depending on the oven, it may take a few minutes longer.)
8. Remove from the oven, score with a cookie cutter and knife, and use a fork to pierce the original holes.
9. Sprinkle with some sugar while still warm.
10. Allow to cool thoroughly before carefully removing from the pan.
11. ENJOY with a nice cup of tea or coffee. (Doreen’s note.)
• • •
Shortbread is a festive tradition in our house as my sister-in-law bakes and delivers a batch to us every year. This year our Christmas cookie smorgasbord will include shortbread, thumbprint jam, chocolate chip, chocolate crinkle and maybe even chai meringue drops if I have the time.
Until this year I never made my own fingerprint cookies. My sister, who loved making them when her kids were little, claims they’re like little scones you can eat in one bite. The cookie dough is only slightly sweet; and my British-born brother-in-law confirms this. (He ate eight at a time.)
Below is the recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I have modified the preparation instructions according to my personal preferences. One thing they recommend is using 1½ teaspoons of batter. I found that a 2 teaspoon ball of dough was less likely to break.
America’s Test Kitchen also suggests using a greased teaspoon for the “thumbprint” indentation. Well, that spoils the fun a bit, especially when kids are helping in the kitchen. However, I have to admit that I prefer to work with my knuckle for the index finger than with my thumb. It ensures a more even “pressure”.
Halfway through the baking, I used a lightly greased ½ teaspoon to emboss the “thumbprint” again.
(or index finger knuckle biscuits)
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Recipe (or receipt)
½ c jam (Cook’s Illustrated says to use seedless. I get that, but I’m rarely willing to go to the trouble of pitting my favorite raspberry jam or removing the skins from my favorite canned cherries. It’s yours Decision.)
2¼ c (11¼ oz.) all-purpose flour
12 T unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces. Cream cheese, softened
1. Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Fill small zip-lock bag with jam and set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Add cream cheese, egg and vanilla and beat until well combined, about 30 seconds.
5. Reduce speed to low, slowly add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. The dough will be very soft.
6. Working 2 teaspoons of dough at a time, roll into balls and place 1½ inches apart on prepared sheets. Using a greased, rounded 1-teaspoon measure, make a well in the center of each ball of dough (or use your thumb or knuckle).
7. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until just beginning to set and lightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and carefully reshape the indentation in the center of each cookie with greased, rounded ½ teaspoon measuring stick.
8. Snip off a small corner from the ziplock bag and carefully fill each well with about 1 teaspoon of jam. Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before serving and eating eight at a time.
I hope your holidays are filled with happy receipts and recipes and nary an Rx. ￼
Karyn Miller Brooks’ passion for food, cooking and bringing people together led her to open Gourmet Gallery, a locally owned culinary school. After graduating in journalism from Texas A&M, she studied culinary arts at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and Orange Coast College. Karyn married Joe Brooks in December 2016 and he shares her passion for food and cooking. She has a daughter, Molly, and two stepchildren, James and Becky.