If I had dinner at your house and asked for a receipt, what would you do? Would you give me a ticket from the grocery store where you purchased the components of the meal? Or maybe you would hand me a list of all your expenses for making dinner. Or maybe you would ignore me because you thought it rude to ask how much dinner cost.
For most of us Americans, our understanding of the word “receipt” is much like this from TheFreeDictionary.com:
Receipt — the state of being received into one’s possession: receipt of goods; a written acknowledgement of payment; a receipt for the order.
Not to be confused with:
Recipe — A set of instructions for making something: a recipe for muffins; a device for achieving something as a recipe for success.
But, if you ever listen to “A Way with Words,” the National Public Radio program “about language and the way we use it,” you may have heard Martha Barnett and Grant Barrett talking about this very thing.
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In episode #1583, a caller named Brian relays a story about visiting friends in western Pennsylvania at dinner when someone asked for the “receipt” for a dish being served, “… using the word ‘receipt’ in the same way that others might use the word ‘recipe.’”
Martha answers Brian by saying that he has “spotted a rare linguistic specimen.” She goes on:
“Both words go back to the Latin word recipere, meaning ‘to take or receive,’ but they entered English at different times.
“Receipt is the older term, originally (referring to) ‘the act of receiving something.’ Recipe is the Latin imperative form of recipere and was inscribed at the top of a list of instructions for a medicinal preparation.”
This recipere was eventually abbreviated as Rx — the “recipe” or list of ingredients or medicines to be taken for illness, 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 purchased from The Yellow Cottage, she offered a list of ingredients and instructions (a recipe) for these delicacies. What I was expecting was a monetary accounting of my purchase.
Doreen and her colleagues are creating an organization for young adults who live with neuro-disabilities like autism. The Yellow Cottage Kitchen, a program that stemmed from The ARC, is now part of Waco Cultural Arts.
The Kitchen trains and encourages these individuals to develop life skills, including culinary herb propagation, kitchen management, food packaging, customer service, marketing and even graphic design while providing traditional homemade shortbread during holidays and the opportunity to financially support this program.
You can find out more about them on the CulturalArtsWaco.org website.
The Yellow Cottage Kitchen sells whole holiday shortbreads for $20 and individually packaged triangles for $2 each. Order by texting 254-723-6830 (limited supply). But if you’re adventurous, try Doreen’s personal receipt (recipe).
The Yellow Cottage Shortbread
This recipe came from Doreen’s old English cookbook
6 oz. (1¼ c less 1 T) self-rising flour
4 oz. (½ c) butter, preferably Kerrygold or European, softened
2 oz. (¼ c) sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and flour and cut in with knife or pastry cutter. Blend with hands until breadcrumb stage (similar to making a pie crust). Add sugar and mix well, forming the dough into a ball by pressing together using hands and the side of the bowl.
3. Place the ball of dough in the center of an ungreased 1-by-8-inch round cake pan and press out to the edges ensuring an even thickness. (This is a bit of a workout. I cheated and used a stainless-steel measuring cup to help smooth it out a bit.)
4. Using a small round cookie cutter placed in the center of the pan, press into the dough.
5. Using a knife, divide the surrounding dough circle into quarters; divide each quarter twice more, giving a total of 16 small wedges around the circle.
6. Using a fork, prick each piece twice.
7. Place in the oven for 25 minutes until lightly golden. (Depending on your oven, may need a few minutes more.)
8. Remove from the oven, rescore with a pastry cutter and knife and prick with a fork again in the original holes.
9. Sprinkle with a little sugar while warm.
10. Allow to thoroughly cool before gently removing from the pan.
11. ENJOY with a nice cup of tea or coffee. (Doreen’s note.)
• • •
Shortbread is a holiday tradition at our house because my sister-in-law bakes a batch and delivers it to us every year. This year, our holiday cookies smorgasbord will include shortbread, thumbprint jam, chocolate chip, chocolate crinkle, and maybe even a chai meringue drops if I have the time.
Until this year, I never made my own thumbprint cookies. My sister, who loved making them when her kids were young, claims that they are like little scones that you can eat in one bite. The cookie dough is just slightly sweet; and my British-born brother-in-law confirms this. (He ate eight in one sitting.)
Below is the recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I altered the cooking directions to suit my personal preferences. One thing they recommend is using 1½ teaspoons of dough. I found that a 2-teaspoon scoop of dough is less likely to crack.
America’s Test Kitchen also suggests using a greased teaspoon for the “thumbprint” indentation. Well, that just takes a little bit of the fun out of it, especially if there are children helping in the kitchen. I must admit, however, that I prefer using my forefinger knuckle instead of my thumb. It makes for a more even “print.”
After baking halfway, I did use a lightly-greased half teaspoon to re-impress the “thumbprint.”
(or Forefinger Knuckle Cookies)
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Recipe (or Receipt)
½ c jam (Cook’s Illustrated says to use seedless. I understand this, but I am rarely willing to go to the trouble of deseeding my favorite raspberry jam or removing the skins from my favorite cherry preserves. It’s your call.)
2¼ c (11¼ oz.) all-purpose flour
½ t salt
½ t baking soda
¼ t baking powder
12 T unsalted butter, softened
⅔ c (4⅔ oz.) sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1½ t vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Fill small zipper-lock bag with jam and set aside.
3. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in medium bowl.
4. Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Add cream cheese, egg and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
5. Reduce speed to low, slowly add flour mixture, and mix until incorporated. Dough will be very soft.
6. Working with 2 teaspoons of dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 1½ inches apart on prepared sheets. Using greased rounded 1-teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each dough ball (or use your thumb or knuckle).
7. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until just beginning to set and lightly browned around edges, about 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and gently reshape indentation in center of each cookie with greased rounded ½ teaspoon measure.
8. Snip small corner off zipper-lock bag and carefully fill each indentation with about 1 teaspoon jam. Rotate sheet and continue to bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving and eating eight in one sitting.
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 spurred her decision to open Gourmet Gallery, a locally owned cooking school. After graduating from Texas A&M with a degree in journalism, she studied culinary arts at 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 one daughter, Molly, and two stepchildren, James and Becky.