An ode to dumplings and apricots, a special treat
These dumplings are delicious leftovers from the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia and Moravia (today’s Czech Republic). In Austria, apricots are called Marillen, hence the name. The savory curd dough is stuffed with an apricot, cooked and then rolled in breadcrumbs that are roasted in butter. They can be a stand-alone meal or a dessert.
I make apricot dumplings once or twice every year when apricots are in season. They are a culinary dumpling delight. Think of a Chinese (or any other dumpling) filled with shrimp or meat and now take away the savory stuffing and add apricots instead. What you will get is a taste like no other dish, a sensation of flavors that makes you want more and more. I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for a couple of years. This year, I made them for dessert after a light meal. I kept some dough for the following day so that I could take some photos. I was in heaven, eating them all day long. Marillen Knödel (apricot dumplings) are said to be the favorite dessert of the Austrian composer, Gustav Mahler. I enjoy his music and I enjoy the dumplings.
There are different kinds of dough. I watched some Austrian “youtube” videos about all the various kinds. Boy, do I have a difficult time understanding the Austrian-German dialect. I decided to use a recipe from Delicious Days and the Wednesday Chef. To make these dumplings, you have to have quark, a German soft cheese made from soured milk. Wikipedia explains it quite well. For Santa Cruz locals, you can find quark at Shopper’s Corner. Sometimes I buy mine in Oakdale, a Central Valley town in California. This is a town you will drive through if you go to Yosemite, a great spot to stop for a break for kids and dogs and picnics. They have the best aged cumin gouda cheese ever—and they have quark. They sell their cheeses at quite a few northern California farmer’s markets.Check their website here.
Quark freezes well. Almost every morning, I have toast with quark and jam. Years ago, I bought a yogurt maker that also makes quark . My machine is a Salton Quark Maker . It turns buttermilk into quark. For this recipe, you have to drain the quark in a fine sieve to turn it into Austrian Tropfen, a firmer version of quark.
Enough of quark and back to the dumplings. I recommend you make these if you like to experiment with cooking. They are so different from the food I usually eat. Dumplings can be tricky, but with a little bit of practice, you will be richly rewarded.
We finished reading The Goldfinch for our book club. All of us agreed that the writing was superb and the story was interesting. Art was woven throughout the story. Everybody in the bookclub liked some part of the book. My friend, Virginia, says that the book is a great escape from awkward and boring situations, spiced heavily with decadence, but quite philosophical in the end. My girlfriend, Marie, had recommended it, which is no surprise since she is an accomplished watercolor artist herself. Here is her website. We chose two books for our next read, one of them being Elizabeth Huxley’s The Flame Trees of Thika and Zero K by Don DeLillo. This will give me something to read on my upcoming flight to Germany. I am also reading the last of the four books of the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.
While making the second batch of dumplings, I found a trick on youtube on how to remove the apricot pit. Gently press a wooden spoon lengthwise through the apricot, beginning where the stem of the apricot was (the little black dot) and push the pit out the other side. If this scares you, cut them in half leaving them intact. The best apricots for the dumplings are small to medium sized. Make sure the fruit is covered tightly with the dough and has no creases. Form them with your hands. If you want them sweeter, sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I kept some of the dough covered overnight in the fridge. I think it didn't make that much difference. However, the dumplings should be eaten as soon as they are made. Some recipes call for a sugar cube, which I used for two of them. I personally prefer Turbinado raw cane sugar, but I think brown sugar will also be fine
Whenever I pass by a chocolaterie or candy store, I admire the chocolate-covered fruits that they sell and usually end up buying some. I love them all—apricots, oranges, and my favorite chocolate-covered strawberries. When I saw Roland’s strawberries at the farmer’s market an idea was born. Why not make my own? It couldn't be that difficult. And guess what, it is not.
You just have to get the right chocolate. I tried making them with chocolate chips mixed with bittersweet chocolate, but the chocolate looked horrible and I didn't care for the taste. After several tries, I came up with a satisfying solution. I love orange-flavored chocolate in my baking and that’s what I used this time. Mine do not look like the super fancy ones you get in the store and pay $3 each. Mine have more of a shabby chic look made by some clumsy adult (which happens to be me). This would be a great fun summer project to lure your children into the kitchen. And it’s finger-licking fun. I once made chocolate-covered pretzels with children and it was a real hit. We ended up with some chocolate-coved faces as well.
In two weeks, I will be going to Germany again to attend my niece’s wedding, which will be on our family farm. This will be very special occasion for me and I can’t wait. If my niece and her soon-to-be husband don't mind, I will do a special post about German country weddings
I love to travel. Most of my trips are to Europe because that’s where my roots and my family are. Several times I had to get ready within hours, because my mom was so very ill and needed me. (Click here to read about one of those trips.) In the old days, I would have a suitcase full of gifts for my mom’s caretakers and my grand nephews. I don't even want to think of how many pounds of California almonds I brought to Germany over the years.
I no longer do that now, as I try to travel light. Since I often go by myself, I have to be able to carry my suitcase and anything else. I often get help, but I can’t rely on it. I take two small suitcases, one as a carry-on and the other to check through. I buy lightweight suitcases, and my carry-on weighs six pounds when it’s empty. All my suitcases have four spinning wheels.
I put all my electrical devices in the carry-on: iPad, computer, camera, chargers and converters. I always carry some extra clothes, a scarf, an extra pair of glasses, a small cosmetic bag that holds enough stuff to keep me going if my other suitcase gets lost. Various airlines have lost my luggage several times.
Ziplock bags are a life saver and I always have extras. When it comes to shoes, I always go for comfort. Sneakers are “in” in Europe and I always bring a pair that I wear it most of the time. A rain jacket is a must because the weather can change in an instant. I love scarves, as they dress up any plain outfit. I take only the jewelry that I have on me and when I travel to third-world countries, I take all jewelry off. Never take anything you can’t afford to lose. But I always take my own special little pillow
When I start packing, I put a bag in my bedroom and whenever I think of something, I throw it in. My husband makes a list and then packs. He also packs very light. I am so excited that I can barely contain myself. This is going to be a very special trip.
Let's have a toast to the happy couple with this refreshing strawberry punch.
(click for the recipe here)
I used two types of chocolates in this recipe because I didn't have enough of the orange-flavored chocolate. Whatever you use, use quality chocolate. Covering the strawberries with nuts is optional. Roast the walnuts by preheating the oven to 350˚ F. Arrange the walnuts on a cooking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8 -10 minutes, checking them frequently. I like to roast extra nuts to have them available for several days. They make a great snack and are great on salads. The dipped strawberries are best eaten the same day, as the fruit turns mushy otherwise.
Cecilia from The Kitchen Garden, a blog I have been following for years, asked us to post photos of where we work.
Most of my work is done in my kitchen where I do the cooking.
My little desk in my kitchen with some of my recipes and cookbooks
My dining- kitchen table, where I sometimes take photos.
My computer is right around the corner from my kitchen.
I saw the first strawberries at the farmer's market yesterday and some rhubarb in the store. This German Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue cake will make you happy. It is a light cake that brings out the flavors of the strawberries and rhubarb. Enjoy!
A light and refreshing desert with a pudding like texture and a crunchy crust. This cake is easy to make.
Right now my lemon trees are full of lemons. I have been picking them as soon as they are ripe and sharing them with friends and neighbors. Actually, my lemon trees are a hedge along the driveway in front of my garage facing a busy street. Often people take some, which I usually don't mind until last year when someone came and picked all my lemons. I was not a happy camper because these lemons are my treasure and I take pride in caring for them. My favorite are the Meyer’s lemons with their thin aromatic peel and fleshy fruit that is sweeter than others. They are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or orange. Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, brought a plant in 1908 from China.
Wouldn't you know, it was Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley who made it popular in the 1990s.
I have a jar of preserved lemons in my fridge and a bowl of lemons on my kitchen counter. When I run out of my own lemons, I get some from a mature tree in my neighbor, Josephine’s, garden. She graciously shares them with me. The recipe I'm going to share with you comes from Deborah Madison's cookbook The Savory Way. This one, in addition to her Greens cookbook, have recipes from her days as a chef at Greens, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant near the waterfront at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This restaurant was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement almost 30 years ago. Anyway, I have used these two cookbooks for many years and they have never failed me. I have made this lemon pudding cake many times and always get rave reviews. It is easy to make and has a sweet and lemony flavor. I serve it with some fruit, like raspberries or blueberries, and sometimes with a dollop of whipped cream.
Here are some more desserts using lemons . Click on the photos for the recipe.
I use low-fat milk for this recipe. If you want a richer flavor, use whole milk or half and half. Sprinkling the raw sugar over the cake gives it a delightful crunch.
Two recipes for Banana Bread! One is the original recipe from the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, the other is mine.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not another banana bread recipe!” A search on the internet will probably give you over a hundred hits, not to mention Aunt Lilly's handwritten recipe card or your grandmother's recipe. Everybody has a banana bread recipe. I make no claim that mine is the best, as l am convinced that there are some absolutely fantastic recipes that are better than mine. If you have one, please send it to me.
But I have to say that I have been experimenting with my recipe for the last six months. It began several years ago when the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu welcomed us with a loaf of warm sweet macadamia nut banana bread. It was divine (and so is the hotel)—rich, sweet and love at first bite. I posted their recipe (the bread came with the recipe attached). It is such a special treat. My goal was to produce a somewhat healthier version, if there is such a thing. I bought more bananas than needed and started to experiment with it to the delight of my neighbors and friends. I slowly reduced the amount of sugar, used whole wheat flour, used roasted walnuts or pecans, raisins and chocolate chips. My personal favorite is the the recipe I am posting here. It is cake-like, fluffy and melts in your mouth. The raisins and chocolate chips add sweetness and flavor. During one of the earlier version I added ½ cup of oats, some people liked it but it was too dense for me
You can read where to eat and what to do in Maui on my Wanderlust Blog
Two recipes for Banana Bread
I baked this banana bread in one large pan and another time in three small pans. It's a great gift and freezes well.
Hopefully, I will find some time for baking my favorite sweet treats for Christmas. Last year, I baked up a storm, packed most of it to take to the mountains where we have celebrated Christmas many times. As we left on December 23, I got messages from my niece saying that my 91-year-old mother had fallen down and was on her way to the hospital with a fractured hip. I made my poor husband turn around and was on a plane to Germany the next day, December 24, arriving in Germany on Christmas Day. My mom by then had peacefully passed away with my brother's family around her.
I took a tin of cookies with me sharing them at the airline ticket counter and later in Germany. They were a connection to my life in California. Food can be so comforting and nourishing. As long as I can remember, I have baked goodies for the holidays. I don't always bake the same things. My Christmas recipe folder is bulky. Depending on how I feel, I bake different things, some of which I haven't posted yet. For my girlfriend, Marie, I bake the hazelnut
meringue cookies (click for recipe here). My husband's favorite treat are his mom's sugar cookies that my sister-in-law bakes every year for him. His second favorite are my chocolate chip walnut bars (click for recipe here). I like gingerbread cookies, but nobody else does, so I don't make them very often. My Vienna vanilla nut cookies remind me of my childhood (click for recipe here).
My fruit and nut chocolate chunks are a healthy and tasty treat. Click here for the recipe.
I enjoy making individual graham cracker gingerbread house ornaments with young children. These cute little ornaments are a lot of fun and children just love them (click here for the recipe ).
Another staple in my family have been blueberry mini-muffins.These tiny muffins have a crunchy almond sugar flavor with a burst of blueberries and lemon. The recipe comes from an old Gourmet recipe and is my son's favorite.
I hope your holidays are filled with warmth and happiness.
Think of this tart as a giant cookie made with a simple shortbread dough that is used for both the crust and the strudel topping . It is made in no time, and perfect for the beginning baker.
I am having a real problem with time lately—it is simply going by too fast. Summer has gone and fall is here. Another year has just gone flying by. Twenty years ago, which feels like yesterday, my husband and I had a wonderful time visiting Venice and the Veneto. It was such a fun trip. We drove with friends from Munich to Venice, where we stayed for several days. It was February, between Carnival and spring and Venice was not overrun with tourists. After Venice, our friends dropped us off in the Veneto and continued on their trip to Switzerland, while we stayed there and enjoyed this beautiful area without many tourists. We took the train to the Cinque Terre and hiked through all the villages. It was wonderful. We had no reservations until we got to Florence. What I remember most about this trip was hanging out with the locals and hiking until we got tired. I remember on one of these hikes, we ran into an older Italian man resting under a tree on a Sunday morning, drinking wine and pointing at our water bottle. He was shaking his head and saying, “agua bad, vino good.”
This year, I was invited to a beautiful wedding of a charming couple. Although the groom is Italian (from the Veneto), he is now living in San Francisco with his American bride. Unfortunately, I couldn't go. I just hope that one day I can visit this gorgeous area again. In honor of the wedding and the Veneto, I post this wonderfully easy, yet so delicious and tasty, cake. It is really like a giant cookie that even a non-baker can do in no time. The original fregolotta was created by Pasticceria Zizzola, who lives near Treviso. My version is a nutty, lightly sweet and crunchy cake tasting like a cookie. Trust me, you will nibble on this delicious morsel until it is gone. There are seldom any leftovers when I make it for my friends. It is great with an espresso coffee or tea. Buon appetito my friends.
I added fresh blueberries when I made this cake, but I think frozen blueberries will do just fine. You can use different jams or nuts, just make sure the jam is not too sweet.
A German cake that will please your palate
Capitola is about three miles down the road from where I live. It is a cute little seaside village that attracts many visitors from near and far. Each Labor Day there is a Begonia Festival. Local businesses, friends and families decorate floats with begonias and parade them down Soquel Creek under a bridge into a lagoon near the beach. It is a lot of fun and a wonderful Labor Day tradition. The floats are all uniquely beautiful—how can they not be with all those beautiful flowers? This festival has been going on since 1951. Major growers of these tuberous begonias are located in the Santa Cruz area and in late summer they are in spectacular bloom.
Originally, I had planned to post an Italian giant cookie cake. I will do that next. Last Sunday, Ronald, my strawberry farmer, had some beautiful ones and sold me a whole flat: 12 pint baskets of strawberries just picked that morning, sweet and juicy. I had already made strawberry jam from an entire flat the previous week, so I used half of the strawberries to make more jam. We ate quite a few fresh ones and sliced some for my husband’s morning cereal. I had two baskets left. I also had some green rhubarb in my dried out tiny garden. After a quick search on the internet, I found a German recipe I like and this cake was born. It was easy to make and I couldn't stop eating it after it came out of the oven. My husband said it was not his favorite, but he still managed to eat quite a bit. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did.
Galettes made with fresh fruit of the season
For the last four weeks, I have been obsessed with galettes. Since I rarely make them, I made quite a few to try and decide which is the best. Herein lies the problem, as all my tasters liked different ones. So I slowly worked my way though them all and decided to post this one. It is a combination of two recipes, one by Jaques Pépin published in Food & Wine and the cover recipe of the July 2015 issue of bon appétit.
Galettes are all about the dough — and keeping the bottom from being mushy. I tried making crust using cornmeal, but was not impressed with the outcome. I like my fruit to be seasonal, so I made galettes with blueberries, raspberries, apricots and plums (my personal favorite). Sometimes I mix various fruits together that are leftover in my fridge. My final galette had blueberries, raspberries and two figs in it.
Jaques Pépin’s galette is marvelous with a buttery, flaky crust that that comes together in mere seconds. I made a couple of changes, such as adding one teaspoon of sugar to the dough, putting the butter in the freezer (until it is almost frozen), and making sure the water is ice cold. The secret to this dough is not to over mix it. I also brushed a tablespoon of milk on the crust and sprinkled it with a tablespoon of turbinado raw sugar before baking. I made the galette twice, but didn’t add the marmalade on the baked crust the first time. Here is the link to the Plum Galette recipe by Jaques Pépin.
I like the idea of adding nuts to the crust, which is what the bon appétit cover recipe did. They used pecans, but I decided to use almonds instead. I also added some ground almonds, sugar and flour to the bottom of the dough to prevent the galette from getting soggy. I am pleased to share the final version with you. I served this with my homemade
strawberry ice cream.
I wrote about my Paris and Brittany trip under my Wanderlust column. If you like, you can click on the link here (Paris or Brittany) or go under my Wanderlust column on the top of my blog to read about my travels.
Enjoy and have a wonderful week. Life is deliciously beautiful.
This Galette tastes good with different fruits. I made it with blueberries, plums, strawberries, and a mixture of fruits. The most important part to remember is not to over mix the dough. I know I'm repeating myself. Have fun!
This galette makes 6 generous pieces.
Why the title? Because next week if everything goes well, my hubby and I will be in Paris. We will have our sentimental Paris moments sitting on a bench in the Tuileries Gardens. Which flowers are blooming at the end of June? We will discover our favorite places on foot, browse outdoor markets, observe life from an outdoor café and poke our noses into doorways to find hidden courtyards and gardens. We will visit some museums and I hope to discover new little restaurants, cafés, bakeries or anything that has to do with food. We will do what we had planned to do last year in April. But circumstances changed. Read my story here.
Now to the apricots! Originally, I had planned to post some new recipes, but they needed more work before I can launch them into cyber space. But most of all, it is apricot season. I love apricots and I especially love apricot jam. I made my apricot jam this year with different apricots and it turned out fantastic. I love the flavor, so sweet and tangy! I think adding the apricot pits puts it over the top. I've been eating it by the spoonful. I was looking for Blenheim apricots, but they are just getting ready and are only available for a few weeks.
This delicious German apricot coffee cake was one of my first posts. I made it again last week and it was well liked. The cake is easy to make, as it is light and fluffy .The apricots give it a nice fruity flavor and it looks great when you cut it into pieces. This cake will dazzle at any picnic or potluck. Adding a little piece of marzipan where the pit was just adds additional flavor. You can also substitute plums for apricots.
Last but not least is my fruit tart. A marzipan cream is added to the tart before you add the fruit. This tart is yummy. Again, you can substitute other fruit for the apricots. I added some raspberries I had left over. Instead of inviting your friends for dinner, invite them for tea or Kaffeeklatsch as we call it in Germany. Kaffeeklatsch means to have coffee, something sweet to nibble on and Klatsch, gossiping ...
Let me know if you have a favorite restaurant or place in Paris. I would love to hear from you. Cross your fingers and hope that hubby and I are over our colds before we leave.
Robert's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
The perfect treat for a Sunday afternoon or anytime
Several of my friends make great pies and I love to eat them, but I rarely make them myself. Don't ask me why...maybe I will get inspired someday and start baking them. In the meantime, my friend Robert made this delicious rhubarb strawberry pie and he was kind enough to post it on my blog. Thank you, Robert, it was fun watching you make the pie while I took the photos. Robert is not a newcomer to my blog. He and I made tomato sauce with tomatoes from his beautiful garden last summer.
But before Robert tells us how he makes his pie, I would like to share a great day I had in Berkeley with my girlfriend. We went to Berkeley for a book reading of Nancy Vienneau 's new cookbook Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook. It is a book that assembles seasonal recipes from a group of people who come together to share their love of food. It's a great idea and sounds like a lot of fun. I love the book and will make some recipes from it. Nancy has a great blog called good food matters. Go visit her website.
Before we went to the book reading, my girlfriend and I had a glorious dinner at Alice Water's café, Chez Panisse. It is an experience one should not miss when in the Berkeley area. Her food is clean, prepared with finesse, yet not pretentious. I had a piece of halibut cooked to perfection in a sorrel broth with fresh spring veggies. My girlfriend had the mushroom lasagna made with morel mushrooms. We also found a great bakery that had the best croissants I have had in a long time, and the bread was also outstanding. FOURNÉE is run by hard working people making fantastic products. All in all we had a great time. It's nice to run away for a day.
by Robert Lee Kilpatrick
Pie-making in America goes all the way back to colonial times when the English and Dutch settlers brought recipes to the New World. Each Thanksgiving, we are reminded of feasts held in New England by the native tribes and the Pilgrims, with pumpkin pie high on everybody’s list of treats – then and now. A common phrase is, “as American as apple pie.” I can testify from personal experience that it’s very easy to eat your way across America if you eat pie. My family came to St Simon’s Island in Georgia in 1720, so we have been baking pies for a very long time. One of my favorites is the combination of strawberries and rhubarb. This pie is easy to prepare and ideal for a beginner.
There are two main components to all pies: crust and filling. This is true weather the pie contains fruit, or is savory (meat or fish-based). I always begin by preparing the crust because it requires about an hour in the refrigerator to cool once the dough is made. During this time, I prepare the filling.
Pie Tips: here are a few useful tips that will make the experience of pie-making fun and easy. Firstly, always check to be sure that you have all the ingredients called for in a recipe, and multiply quantities depending on the number of pies you plan to make. A last minute dash to the market can really foul up timing. Secondly, put all ingredients within easy reach while cooking. Thirdly, review and understand the recipe before you start; be aware of what you are doing and what times and temperatures are needed. Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment. Recipes are there for a reason: they are a record of what has worked for others, over time. But you may like to try something new, once you have mastered the basic recipe. For example, you can paint the top of a pie crust with milk, or egg white (sprinkling sugar or not), or leave it plain. It all depends on what you prefer.
Crust (Double) for any pie
In a mixing bowl, I place 3 cups of all-purpose flour. I prefer to use King Arthur flour from Vermont. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Then add ½ cup (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces. Blend the butter into the mixture either by hand or using a food processor. Then add ½ cup vegetable shortening, cut into pieces. I always use unsaturated shortening, which is healthier for your body. Then slowly, I mix in ½ cup cold water and work the mixture by hand (or using a food processor) until a large dough ball results. It may be necessary to add a few tablespoons of water, or several pinches of flour to achieve the desired consistency. This is a trial and error process and with experience, it just gets easier. Making good pie crust is truly an art rather than a science.
Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly smaller than the other. Wrap individual pieces in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 60 minutes. Place the smaller dough ball on top of the larger dough ball for ease of use later. The larger dough ball will be used as the base of the pie, and the smaller one will form the top of the crust.
If you are going to go to all the trouble to bake a homemade pie from scratch, always use the best ingredients possible. In the case of fruit pies, ripe fruit is preferred, and therefore while fresh-picked ripe fruit is ideal, frozen ripe fruit is better than so-called fresh fruit that was picked unripe for ease of transport, or fruit that has been sitting around too long.
I strongly advocate cooking seasonally, because you can obtain ripe fruits at the best prices, and Farmers’ Markets provide a wealth of choice. Fresh rhubarb and strawberries are not always available, but then they are in the spring and summer. In the right season, this pie cannot be beat.
Always use organic produce if you can get it. There are many reasons for this, but principally because organic fruit and vegetables do not contain poisonous chemicals.
I begin by taking stalks of fresh rhubarb, washing and peeling them. Then chop the stalks into ½-inch pieces. You will need 2 ½ cups of chopped rhubarb. Note that this is a good time to chop more rhubarb that you need and put the chunks into bags and pop into the freezer for use when fresh rhubarb is unavailable. Rhubarb freezes well. Set aside. Take a bowl of fresh strawberries, wash them thoroughly, and remove the green tops. Cut in half and place in another bowl. The best strawberries are not the largest in size. When you cut them, they are red throughout, and do not have a hollow white core. Smaller berries are bred for flavor, not weight.
Mix the strawberries and rhubarb together in a large bowl. Add 1 ½ cups of sugar and mix. Then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest (by scraping the skin of a lemon), ½ teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir well and set aside.
Bringing it Together
After an hour, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator and set on the workspace. Start with the larger of the two balls. Remove the plastic cling film and discard. Place the dough ball on a piece of waxed paper. Flatten the ball into a flying-saucer shape and then take a rolling pin and roll it out. I prefer rolling pins that have a non-stick coating. If you have a wooden rolling pin, you may sprinkle a small amount of flour on the dough as you work it, so that the dough does not stick to the pin. Roll the dough as thinly as you can, while retaining the integrity of the dough. Bring a pie pan forward and grease the inside lightly with shortening or butter to prevent the crust from sticking, once baked. Lift the crust and wax paper, and place it over the pan as centered as you can, with the wax paper facing up. Set the dough into the pan, but do not force it in with your hand. Remove the wax paper and set aside. The rolled dough should extend beyond the edges of the pie pan. Place four small pieces of unsalted butter on top of the filling.
Gently pour the filling into the dough cavity. The weight of the filling will press the dough down into the pan. Spread it out evenly. Trim the crust to about ½ inch over the edge of the pan, and set aside all the extra dough. Roll the second, smaller dough ball as before, using wax paper, and place on the top of the pie, wax paper on top and peel it away. Discard the wax paper. The top of the pie should be centered, cut the edges of the dough about ½ inch over the edge of the top of the pan.
Now for the difficult part, until you get the hang of it. Take each of the overhanging pieces of dough and tuck them together underneath, folding the dough towards the pie, leaving a small space between the edge of the crust and the edge of the pan. Do not allow the dough at the edge to fold over the pan, or you will not be able to remove the piece once it’s baked and cut. Fold the edge of the crust under all the way around the pie. Take a fork and press down on the edge of the crust all the way around. Using the fork, puncture the top of the uncooked crust 5-6 times to allow gases to escape. Paint the top of the crust with either milk or egg white. Sprinkle with sugar, and bake.
Preheat the oven to 425˚ and cook the pie for 15 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 375˚ and bake for an additional 45-50 minutes, or until the filling starts to bubble. Place pie pan on a drip tray to catch any contents that bubble over. Place the pie down low in the oven. You may have to turn the pie 180˚ for even cooking halfway through, depending on your oven. Once or twice, quickly open the oven and inspect for any signs of burning.
Remove from the oven and let the pie cool. Enjoy the fragrance that will fill your kitchen. After about an hour, serve the pie with a small amount of vanilla ice cream. The pie will be warm, but not too hot. The taste, smell and appearance of a freshly baked pie is worth all the bother that you have gone through.
Here are some related recipes from previous posts:
Click on the name to get a link to the recipe
Rhubarb Strawberry Hazelnut Crisp
Marzipan Fruit Tart
Chunky Pear Nut Cake
A moist and delicious cake, easy to make and flavored with spices and juicy pears.
These days, I wander around grocery stores like I used to wander around clothing stores. In Santa Cruz, we are fortunate to have several grocery stores that carry a wide variety of healthy food. I have my favorite stores and several weekly farmers' markets to choose from. We have some great bakeries and delicatessens too. I feel spoiled when I look at all the choices I have. I like to know where food is coming from—not enriched or altered with unnecessary chemicals and additives. I trust some stores more than others. One of the reasons I don't bake as much as I used to is that it is just so tempting to get something very tasty from one of my favorite places. But there are times when I need to have something homemade on my kitchen counter, like this moist and easy-to-make pear cake.
The credit for this well-loved cake goes to Gale Gand, a nationally acclaimed pastry chef from Illinois. I found her recipe in an old magazine years ago and have been making it whenever pears are in season. However, this cake is easily made with any other fruit and whatever nuts you have in the pantry. I roast my nuts, and prefer using pecans instead of walnuts. The spices in the recipe add a distinct flavor and are well balanced. I also reduced the amount of sugar by one third. I use canola oil, but any vegetable oil will do. The cake is flavorful, moist and tastes even better the next day.
One of my first blog posts were crepes filled with goat cheese and mushrooms. I make them for my niece when she comes to visit me from Germany.
A moist and delicious cake, easy to make and flavored with spices and juicy pears.
A healthy and tasty treat
I have made these chunky nut and chocolate bars for years. They are easy to make, no cooking is required, and since they make a healthy snack, they are not just for Christmas. They look great on the cookie platter and make a nice gift. This is also a fun project to do with children. Everybody loves to lick the bowl at the end. Choose whatever is your favorite nuts and dried fruit to put into these crunchy chunks. Last year, I added pistachio nuts, raisins, dried cranberries and candied orange peel. For my latest batch, I used mixed nuts, dried figs, raisins, and crystallized ginger. The sky is the limit. I always roast the nuts unless I use pistachios.
Put the things you love into these chocolate bars.
May your holidays be peaceful and filled with love and good food
Christmas is defined by traditions. Making gingerbread houses has been one of mine.
It began years ago when a friend from school gave me the instructions how to make them. These little hand-made ornaments became an instant hit with my first graders — and from then on I had to make them every year. What I liked about them is that each child had something to take home and share. What I didn't like was having to cut graham crackers to make the houses. I don't know how many late nights I was using inappropriate language while assembling them. I made the houses for my first graders and they decorated them with pieces of candy. Each child would get a bowl with small pieces of candy, some for decorating and some for snacking, Each year, it turned into a fun and joyful activity.
After I retired from teaching, I would volunteer and often do them in different schools. Wrapped in foil and put in a zip lock bag, these gingerbread houses will last for many years. They are edible, but if you give the children enough extra candy and graham crackers, they are happy to use them for decoration. I think if you make them at home with two or three children (not 20 or more like I did in the old days), you can do all the steps with the children and have fun. While assembling the houses, make sure you add the bow for the hangers. The frosting will keep covered at room temperature for several days.
For this post, I revised the size of the gingerbread houses. I made them larger, only having to cut the gable for the roof. The graham crackers are easier to assemble and cut if you leave them unwrapped for a couple of days. Divide the candy for the children into individual bowls for each child , leaving about half for snacking.
I had planned to make them with my girlfriend's grandchildren, but it didn't work out. So here I was having to decorate them myself. Oh well, you can see the results on the photos ... need I say more? I will deliver whatever is left to my girlfriend so that she can make them later with her grandchildren. Children are so much more creative, if you just provide them with the right tools, which in this case is a lot of small candy. Some of the candy I bought was too big, so the smaller the better.
Plan on buying at least two packages of graham crackers, because a lot of them will break.
Let the children have fun! These little houses makes a precious gift for grandparents, aunts and uncles, or neighbors.
If you are still looking for a cookie recipe, my Vienna Vanilla Nut Kipferl are a wonderful treat. My Hazelnut Meringue Cookies are light and easy to make. If you want to impress people with your cooking skills for the holidays (or any other time), try my French Country Paté.
You'll need a small cone with a small tip and bag for putting the icing on the crackers, parchment paper, a razor blade or small sharp knife for cutting the graham crackers and some ribbon for the hangers.
A plethora of persimmons
When persimmons are in season our local papers are full of recipes from pudding cake, nutted persimmons, sweet potatoes with persimmons, to persimmon chutney. I have made most of them but I'm leaving for Germany on Wednesday. I will freeze some of my ripe persimmons and hope that the ones that are not ripe will last until I return. Back to my persimmon bread, it is loved and shared with all my friends, especially those who supply me with persimmons. The different spices give it a wonderful flavor. I baked it a couple of days ago and still enjoying it, even though I forgot to add sugar. Oops or a blessing, I don't know? All my friends and even my husband who has a distinct sweet tooth enjoyed the sugarless version. I realized my mistake when I put the bread in the in the oven and sprinkled some sugar over them. I recommend you add ½ to 1 cup of sugar even though the persimmons and raisin add a natural sweetness. I also like baking them in small cake forms because they freeze well and make nice gifts. You can bake them in a regular rectangular bread form.
Here in California we are blessed with persimmons this time of the year. Originally cultivated in Japan and China for centuries, this fruit now is grown in Italy and other Mediterranean countries and here in the USA. I fell in love with them when I moved to California. They are tasty, fun to eat, and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. I can bore you with all the nutritional facts but believe me these lovely bright orange colored fruits are loaded with all sorts of good stuff like anti-oxidants, minerals, you name it, and they taste fantastic. Persimmon season runs from November to February and it is not difficult to find somebody with a tree that is willing to share the bounty. I have several friends who always share with me. There are several varieties, in this recipe I'm using the acorn-shaped Hachiya persimmons. The Hachiya needs to be eaten when they are soft as jelly, otherwise you encounter a bitter, pucker-your-mouth effect. I usually get them when they are hard and I put them on a plate to ripen. It makes me happy when I share my home with them. I use them in smoothies or just purée them with a banana and a little lemon juice and end up with a healthy and tasty treat. Once ripened the Hayicha has a short shelf life, but they are easy to freeze by peeling and blending them in a food processor or blender with lemon juice. You will loose the beautiful orange color. I also like the smaller, rounder Fuyu persimmon which can be eaten when they feel like a hard peach. I slice them and put them in salads.
My recipe yielded 6 small breads. I like using the plump yellow raisins for this recipe. To get the persimmons ready , slice off the top, peel them and squeeze them into the food processor removing the large black seeds. Blend them with some lemon juice.
An easy recipe for chocolate lovers with only three tablespoons of sugar added.
We are spending some time at our cabin in the Sierras and my sister-in-law and her family are coming to dinner. My husband is barbecuing his famous rack of lamb. Usually, I make my stuffed tomatoes with them, but as we were driving up the mountain, we bought fresh corn at a food stand. It had just been picked. So the menu changed, and we are now having corn and tiny potatoes with the rack of lamb. Everything is barbecued by the Grillmeister (master of grilling) himself. That leaves me in charge of the salad and dessert. Early this morning, the woodpecker woke me up (he thinks our cabin tastes yummy). This time of the day is the best for getting halfway decent cell phone reception, so I looked for some recipes involving raspberries. I had brought some beautiful organic ones up the mountains and even after an occasional nibble, I had some left. I came upon an old Gourmet magazine that I used as a reference. I did use their tart crust recipe, but thought it could be improved. The ganache was outstanding; I used orange chocolate and my orange marmalade. The original recipe called for Kahlua or coffee-flavored liqueur, but I used creme cassis instead. Everybody loved it and ate a lot. The mountains give you a healthy appetite.
Fast forward and I'm home again. This time, instead of using a 9-inch tart form, I made individual tarts. I also used a different crust recipe. This was simpler and less sugary. I think it complements the chocolate flavor. This is not a sweet dessert. The whole recipe has only two tablespoons of sugar in the crust, as well as the sugar that was added to the chocolate. What it does have is a strong, full chocolate flavor. It is divine! If you are a chocolate lover, this recipe Is for you. It is important that you use very good-quality chocolate. I love to cook with Lindt chocolate and I found an orange dark chocolate called theo at Whole Foods. This chocolate and my orange marmalade add a citrus taste to the chocolate ganache.
Two weeks later, and I'm still not happy with my crust. Everybody liked it, but I'm on the search for the perfect crust. It’s the German in me. The second crust recipe was very easy to make, a little bit more flaky and complemented the strong chocolate flavor. I made the second crust one more time using the food processor and cooling the dough a little more before baking. Voila! I had a winner. I ran out of orange marmalade and used plum jam instead, and for the chocolate I used cherry-flavored chocolate with tiny pieces of almonds in them—very nice with a wonderful flavor and the tart is delicious without the raspberries. I just like to have a little nibble when I have a cup of tea. You will be able to make this tart in no time, yes it is easy to make.
Apple strudel cake or Apfelkuchen as we call it in Germany is a delicious mouth-watering treat to celebrate the change of season or any other occasion.
The French have their apple tart, in the United States we have our apple pie, and in Germany there is Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) or Apfelkuchen (apple cake). I combine the two and make apple strudel cake. This is the closest thing to an apple strudel without a tremendous amount of work, expertise, and the time it takes to make an apple strudel. The filling has cinnamon, apples, almonds, and raisins, just like an apple strudel. The crust is flaky and buttery and complements the filling nicely. This cake is an old friend of mine, as I have baked it for many years. It is a treat that my family and friends always enjoy. My hubby loves eating it with vanilla ice cream. I prefer Schlag (whipped cream). The cake improves with age and is a great party or dinner pleaser.
My friend, Robert, has beautiful apples in his garden that I used for this cake. Any firm, tart, not-too-
juicy apple will do. I used Gravensteins.
I enjoy making this cake by hand. It is like playing in the sand box, but if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can make the dough in a food processor. Just make sure you don't over mix the dough. Mix the dry ingredients first, add the butter and egg, and use the on/off control on the food processor to mix. Flatten the dough by hand into two disks, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
Have tea for two…make cookies for a crowd…or bake them with children. These cookies are crunchy and full of flavor
Do you remember the little treats that come with your cappuccino or tea when in Europe (or any nice place) that always leaves you wanting another? These tasty morsels remind me of them—buttery, sugary, hazelnut cookies with a texture unlike any other. They are delicate and will melt in your mouth. As a matter of fact, while writing this post I ate too many. Thank God, butter is in again and is supposed to be healthy. I'm all for that because I love butter. These cookies are easy to make and have few ingredients. If you don’t eat them all, they will last for a week in an airtight container.
Here in the mountains, I have a few folders with recipes and is where I found this one. The original comes from an old issue of Gourmet magazine.
The original recipe says that the dough freezes well and that you can double the recipe. This is a good recipe for children.
This strawberry ice cream has a rich fruity flavor
After I bought some strawberries at the farmer's market, they started to look sad in my refrigerator, so something had to be done with them immediately. While looking for a recipe, I came across one that was egg and custard free—just right for a busy day. I had ½ cup of my homemade raspberry sauce which I added to the ice cream. However, the ice cream would be fine without it. Instead of cream, you could use half and half too. This ice cream has an intense berry flavor, like the one my mother used to make when I was a child. She would mix strawberries, cream and sugar and put it into ice cube trays and freeze it.
A fruity summer treat
The man in my life loves cobbler, because that's what his mother always made. (His sister is still working on their mother's recipe.) My husband thinks she used Bisquick mix. As I'd rather not use the mix, I'm still trying to recreate Bisquick. So, let me know about any recipes you have. My topping is different (so my husband informs me) — softer and more flaky, like a cake. He likes his crunchier—like a biscuit—my brother-in-law says. Both of them had second helpings, so I guess they liked it. I served mine with vanilla and my homemade strawberry ice cream.
For the filling, I used apricots and raspberries, because that's what we brought up to our mountain cabin in the Sierras, and they needed to be used right away. I love cooking up there because if you don't plan ahead, you make do with what you have. But the original recipe from the Cooking Light Magazine called for peaches and blueberries. I made the cobbler a second time at home with blueberries apricots (the one you see in the picture). There is an old-fashioned grocery store up in the Sierras that has almost everything—but no fancy stuff and not much fruit. However, you can find all the plumbing supplies you need and cans of nearly everything. I have to admit, the plumbing and electrical items come in very handy. Our little cabin in the woods has been my place to recharge and reboot for many years.
A sorbet that tastes like rich ice-cream with a refreshing flavor
This is the easiest ice cream you will ever make. And the best you will ever taste. It has been one of my old standbys for years. However, you do need an ice cream maker. This recipe takes minutes to assemble, a few hours in the fridge for the flavors to develop, and then it is ready to go into the ice cream maker. What comes out is a rich and creamy sorbet. The buttermilk gives it a refreshing flavor and taste, yet you won’t know it’s buttermilk. Granted, ice cream made with cream has a richer flavor, but I prefer the lighter version. I often serve this with fruit sauce, fresh fruit or with cake. It is especially refreshing after a heavy meal.
Take a break in the afternoon, have a piece of this tasty cake with a cup of tea.
This time of year, my lemon trees are producing gorgeous fruit. I flavor my water with them, I give them to friends, and I use them in as many recipes as I can. This recipe comes from my friend, Linda, who is an excellent cook. She helped me find my passion for cooking. However, I changed the recipe somewhat. This simple bread is compact and infused with lemon juice, is easy to make and tastes great by itself. But it also makes a stunning dessert when served with ice cream and fruit sauce or compote.
In Germany, this kind of cake is called Topfkuchen, meaning a cake in a pot. It is a dry rectangular cake (mimicking bread), not fancy but meant to be dipped in coffee or tea. There are different variations.
These buttery vanilla nut cookies are irresistibly delicious
The city of Vienna has a wonderful coffeehouse culture. Here you will find plates with scrumptious little sweet morsels made with the fruit of the season on a delicate crust topped with Schlag (whipped cream), rich pieces of cake, layers upon layers of nuts and chocolate, cream and caramel. The Kipferl is a crescent-shaped pastry, an ancestor of the croissant going back to the 13th century. The Vanillakipferl in this recipe is a nutty, crunchy, buttery cookie that will melt in your mouth. Shaped into small crescent moons and rolled in powdered sugar (flavored with vanilla), they make an irresistible treat. My friend Inga has baked these cookies for years and shared them with my family. They are so good that I decided to put the recipe on my blog to share with all of you. Let me know if you like them as much as I do.
These cookies have a rich buttery, nutty flavor
I used regular powdered sugar mixed with a store bought package of vanilla sugar for the dusting of the cookies . You can just use powdered sugar or you can make your own vanilla sugar by placing 1and1/2 to 2 cups of sugar in a pint jar. Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and with a tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds into the jar with the sugar. Add the vanilla pod to the jar and shake well. Let stand for a few days, shaking the jar occasionally. You now have vanilla flavored sugar. Grind the sugar mixture in a food processor to make powdered sugar.
A cookie you can't resist
My friend, Tory, introduced me to these bars years ago. The recipe came from a 1976 Cuisine magazine and it has been in my Christmas folder for many years. The crust is buttery and has only one teaspoon of sugar which combines well with the chocolate and nutty topping. These bars are rich, so I cut them into small pieces. It's a yummy treat throughout the year. I've taken them to many events and they always have been a hit. They are easy to make and will last up to a week. I don't have a chance to freeze them because my family just eats them as fast as I can make them. But the original recipe suggests that they can be frozen for up to 6 months. Instead, I keep them in a covered container and hide them from my family.
These are not your usual meringue cookies. They are delicate, dense, frothy and chewy, more like a macaroon. My French girlfriend calls them macaroons. Over the years, I have reduced the amount of sugar in them, so do not put less sugar than is in this recipe.
I played with the topping and this time I added chocolate chips. A whole hazelnut is another option. The ground hazelnuts provide a distinctive nutty flavor. You could also substitute ground almond meal, available at Trader Joe's. Since I have never made them with ground almonds, let me know how they taste.
These cookies are easy to make and will last for a week—and they are gluten free!
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.