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Deborah Madison's Fig, Fennel and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

-----Original Message----- 
From: Arden 
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:08 PM
Subject: Looking for Deborah Madison's Fig, Fennel and Crème Fraiche ice 
cream recipe

I'm looking for Deborah Madison's Fig, Fennel and Crème Fraiche ice cream 
recipe.  Can you find it for me?

Many thanks.


Hello Arden,

The only mention that I can find of a Deborah Madison recipe for Fig, Fennel and Crème Fraiche ice cream is in a comment from "Laura" on this page below the fennel ice cream recipe: Smitten Kitchen

The only recipe that I can find by Deborah Madison that is similar to the recipe that you describe recipe is this Fig and Anise ice cream recipe. It has both the figs and the crème fraiche, but it calls for anise seed rather than fennel seed: Fig & Anise Ice Cream

This website has most of Deborah Madison's cookbooks indexed. The recipes themselves are not there, but lists of the recipes in each book are given: Eat Your Books
The only fig ice cream recipe that I found listed in any of them was this: "Summer Treat Fig Ice Cream from The Vegetarian Table: America by Deborah Madison", but it contains lemons, figs, sugar, half and half, cream, ground cloves, and eggs. I might have missed it, though. You can double-check me. If you find it in one of her cookbooks, then you can order that cookbook. There would likely be used copies on Amazon.

Deborah Madison has a website. Your best bet might be to write to her and ask about the recipe: Deborah


Shortbread with Cornstarch and Sweet Butter

From: Debbie 
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 8:36 PM
Subject: shortbread cookies

Dear Phaedrus, 

The dog ate my recipe!  Truth! I sent my adult daughter home with some of our favorite recipes to copy and 
sure enough her dog ate the best shortbread recipe I have ever made. It was from either SOS, Signal newspaper, 
or LA Times paper. It was a different recipe in that it had cornstarch in it and sweet butter instead of 
salted butter. Could you help? I miss those cookies so much! Of course I have scoured the Internet and even 
purchased a couple of old SOS cookbooks on line and no one seems to have this very different recipe.


Hi Debbie,

I believe you. When I was young and in school, the dog ate my homework many times - grin.

I’m finding your request to be a bit problematic for these reasons, enumerated:
1) I must take issue with the idea that shortbread recipes with cornstarch and unsalted butter are unusual because I found them to be numerous. See the links and recipes below.
2) I only found one shortbread recipe that said it was from the LA Times, and it did not have any cornstarch.
3) By “SOS”, I think you mean the recipe request column from the L.A. Times. I did not find any shortbread recipes with cornstarch and “sweet” or “unsalted” butter from that column. I also have two cookbooks of recipes from the SOS column.
4) I have never heard of “Signal Newspaper”, and could not find any mention of it.
5) Be careful specifying “sweet butter” if you mean “unsalted butter”. There is a product called “Sweet Butter – lightly salted”, and I found some recipes that called for that. I searched using both the terms “sweet butter” and “unsalted butter.” I found recipes calling for “salted butter” and cornstarch, but the majority of shortbread recipes that I found simply say “butter” without specifying salted or unsalted or sweet. In spite of that, I still found many shortbread recipes with cornstarch that called for “unsalted butter” or “sweet butter.”

There are shortbread recipes calling for “unsalted butter” or “sweet butter” plus cornstarch on these sites and below. Hopefully, one of them is close to your lost recipe:

Grandma's Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Recipe

Hambelton Hall's Scottish Shortbread

Scotch Shortbread

Grandma's Shortbread



1 lb. sweet butter
1 c. confectioners' sugar
3 c. sifted flour
3/4 c. cornstarch

Cream butter, adding sugar gradually.  Measure flour and cornstarch; stir together in separate bowl.  
Gradually work into butter and sugar.  It will be stiff, we usually dig in with our hands! Divide in 
half, turn out 1/2 onto board liberally dusted with flour and powdered sugar.  Pat dough into circle 
about 3/4 inch thick.  Turn onto foil covered cookie sheet and prick lightly all over with a fork.  
Repeat with other half of dough.  Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 
5 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 45-60 minutes.  
Shortbread should be golden, not browned.  Cut into squares while still warm.  

1 c. unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 c. superfine sugar
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and have 8 or 9 inch cake or pie pan ready.  Cream butter with sugar until 
smooth, beat in vanilla.  Sift the flour with the cornstarch and salt and add to butter mixture.  Beat 
until well blended, taking care not to overwork dough.  Flour hands lightly and pat dough into pan.  
Prick dough all over with fork.  With knife divide dough into 8 wedges, without cutting all the way through.  
Score outside edges of shortbread dough with the tines of a fork.  Bake 40-50 minutes until pale golden brown.  
Cool shortbread in pan 20 minutes.  Turn shortbread out onto a rack to complete cooling.  Cut in wedges to serve.  
Shore Cottage Shortbread

8 oz. unsalted butter
3 oz. caster sugar
1 oz. 6x sugar
11 oz. plain flour
1 oz. cornstarch

Cream butter until very smooth and gradually work in remaining ingredients.  Press into a tin and mark 
with a fork.  bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Covers an 8 x 12 inch pan.  Yields 24 fingers.  

Simpson Sears Macaroni & Cheese

From: Brian
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2014 5:03 PM
Subject: Simpson Sears Baked Macaroni and Cheese


I don't know if you do Canadian recipes. As a child my mother used to take me to Simpson Sear’s in downtown Toronto. 
The restaurant was in the basement of the store and I always order the mac and cheese.


Hello Brian,

Sure, I look for Canadian recipes or recipes from anyplace in the world.

I didn’t have any luck with this, though. I found a couple of nostalgic notes on message boards about how good the mac and cheese at Simpsons-Sears was, but nothing else - no recipes.

I’ll post this on the site. Maybe a reader can help.


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