New Castle News

January 18, 2013

Culinary Conversation: Woman shares family recipes

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — As far as Cindy Hickok is concerned, the best room in the house is the kitchen.

It’s a busy place where everyone who gathers there can enjoy sampling her cooking and baking.

Cindy’s recipes were passed down from her mother’s mother, and she plans to pass them on to her grandchildren.

“My family spends a lot of time in the kitchen,” she said. “I love to cook and have my family and friends over.”

Always on the lookout for new recipes, Cindy has also been trying to win the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off for the past 15 years.

“I am very much like my 82-year-old mother, Rose Marie LaCava of Ellwood City,” she said. “If you know anyone from little Italy, you know the Italian ladies of Ellwood City are always cooking and exchanging recipes.”

Cindy is our inaugural guest Culinary Conversation contributor for 2013. She submitted recipes for pecan nougats, which she described as an easy cookie, and chocolate marshmallow melts, which her mother makes every Christmas.

The manicotti is her mother’s recipe and is a crepe filled with ricotta cheese.

“I just love this recipe.”

As for the homemade pasta, Cindy’s daughter, Liz, 16, helps her turn the handle on the pasta machine that attaches to the table.

“Homemade pasta is a very easy recipe and once you make it, you will be hooked.”

A big thanks goes out to Cindy for sending in her stories and delicious-sounding selections. We look forward to many more contributors throughout the coming year.

Sometimes Cindy is joined in the kitchen by her granddaughter, Alexis Jo Hickok, who Cindy described as a big help.

Cindy’s son and daughter-in-law welcomed another daughter on Dec. 20 and asked Cindy to baby-sit Alexis.

“That day she put on her Pillsbury Bake-Off hat, and her best Christmas apron and helped me bake. We made pecan nougats, with the Christmas songs in the background,” Cindy said. “My 3-year old little helper never moved from her chair; she listened to everything I told her to do. First I made the batter; I let her break the eggs and roll the dough into balls.”

According to Cindy, Alexis also placed the pecan halves on each of the cookies and sprinkled them with decorating sugar.

A future baking pro is in the works.

Cindy wrote that she feels blessed to have family and friends for which to cook a meal, and added that the recipe for memories includes planning and preparing mixed with love.

Homemade Pasta

Put flour in large bowl; make a well; add eggs, salt, water and oil. Mix well. Knead until smooth on a floured board. Cover with an inverted bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into four parts. Roll dough out very thin with rolling pin. If you have a pasta machine, use it. Just pass the flattened piece of dough through the plain roller at least four times.

Allow the strips to dry for a few minutes before cutting. Then insert the cutting roller on the pasta machine and cut.

Drop into boiling, salted water. They are done when they rise to the top; after about 10 minutes, check to see how you like your noodles cooked. Drain well and cover with favorite spaghetti sauce and grated cheese.



Spaghetti sauce

Yield: 30 crepes

For crepes, mix eggs, flour, water and salt in blender. Let stand until foam is gone. Heat small iron skillet, swirl 2 tbsps. (or enough to cover bottom of pan) of batter in skillet. Let set until it has lost its gloss. You may use a crepe pan or crepe maker. Use same procedure as making crepes.

For filling, mix all ingredients together. Spread 2 to 3 tbsps. of filling across crepe; roll tightly and place in sauce-covered baking dish with seam side down. Cover with spaghetti sauce and grated cheese. Bake at 325 until bubbly; about 20 minutes.

Crepes can be made several days ahead. Put in sauce just before baking.


Marshmallow Melts


Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto each cookie; bake 2 minutes longer. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, beat butter, confectioners sugar, cocoa and salt until smooth. Add enough milk to achieve a spreading consistency. Frost cookies. Makes 3 dozen.

Pecan Nougats

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, vegetable oil, 1 cup white sugar and confectioners sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in remaining white sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets and place pecan half on the top. Press lightly.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven or until the edges are golden.

Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Makes 8 dozen.