Tag Archives: Recipe
Post by Alison Hein.
Once upon a time, long before Google search, people had to work very hard to obtain special recipes. Finding just the right one might involve a trek to the library and a search through hundreds of cookbooks; tricking friends and neighbors into giving up their family secrets; or hours and hours of trial and error and a messy, messy kitchen. Vannilekipferl was just that hard won.
Every Christmas a friend’s mother would whip up batches of these melt-in-your-mouth holiday specialties. Year after year I begged her for the recipe. After about three years, she agreed that I could help her bake. The following year she finally relented and gifted me her hand-written, cherished instructions. Next obstacle – translate the directions from German to English, and convert the quantities from metric to US measurements (my friend’s mother was Austrian). Again, an easy task today with Google translate and a multitude of online converters. But back in the day, it took time and a little fudging to get it just right. I have made these sweet, nutty crescents annually ever since, and they continue to be the favorite cookie on our holiday plate.
Make sure you chill the dough thoroughly before you begin the fussy shaping process. With no eggs in the batter, the dough can be a little finicky. Same holds true when you remove them from the oven. Fragile when hot, they can break easily, so be gentle and give them lots of support when transferring to a cooling rack and rolling them in sugar. If you break a few, by all means, indulge immediately. If you can hold out, save some for a hard won, special breakfast in bed.
As they say in Austria, Frohe Weihnachten!
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely ground walnuts or pecans
1¾ cups flour
Beat butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Add nuts and mix until blended. Gradually mix in flour until just blended. Wrap dough and chill until firm enough to handle, at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 325°. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. On lightly floured board, form each piece into a ½-inch thick rope, then cut into approximately 1½-inch lengths. Bend into crescent shapes, tapering ends slightly. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until light golden and firm. While warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar to coat. Let cool on racks. Recoat with confectioner’s sugar. Store in waxed paper-lined tins for up to 3 weeks.
Yield: 8 to 9 dozen.
Post by Alison Hein.
Brown butter is a delicious and decadent way to dress up a dish. I love it on top of butternut squash ravioli, with some toasted fresh sage tossed in. And one of my very favorite dishes growing up was, believe it or not, cauliflower. My mother would cook the cauliflower, then melt up a big wad of butter and keep it on the heat until it turned a rich, bubbling brown. The final step was to add plain breadcrumbs, and stir them around until they reached the same lovely brown color, and the deep, nutty flavor of the butter. Then she spooned the breadcrumbs over the cauliflower to make a superb side dish.
Well, how about applying that same principle to eggs? It’s best to cook them simply – boiled, poached, or baked – and then let the nut-brown butter add all the depth and flavor. In this recipe, a drop of butter and dash of breadcrumbs has been added to the bottom of the baking dish for a heartier feel.
I recently learned that adding vinegar while heating the butter helps it to brown deeply and evenly. No need to butter your toast rounds – simply dip them right through the buttery layer deep into the heart of the eggs for a delicious and decadent breakfast in bed.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
4 slices of sourdough bread
1 teaspoon fresh curly parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt one tablespoon of butter and pour equal amounts into two small ramekins. Pour an even layer of breadcrumbs on top of melted butter in each ramekin. In a separate small bowl, carefully break eggs one at a time. Make sure the yolks are intact, then pour the eggs one by one into the ramekins, two eggs in each. Season with salt and pepper.
Place ramekins in a baking dish which has been filled with about 1 inch of warm water. Place baking dish in oven, and bake about 20 to 25 minutes until egg whites are firm.
Toward the end of baking, cut the sourdough bread into four rounds and toast until golden brown. Melt the remaining butter in a small pan over medium heat. Continue to cook for a minute or two until the butter starts to bubble. Stir in vinegar and continue to cook for another minute or so.
Pour brown butter equally over each of the two baked egg ramekins, and top each with half of the chopped parsley. Serve hot with toast rounds.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
Merriam-Webster describes the act of mulling to mean “to heat, sweeten, and flavor (as wine or cider) with spices.” The origin is stated as “unknown” (although speculation abounds out there on the web), and the first known use supposedly occurred in 1618 (if anyone can identify this, please let me know!).
Despite the confusing and sometimes misleading archaeology of food history, one thing is certain. It’s autumn, and apples are in peak season. Sweet, rounded juicy red- and green-skinned fruit, rendering tree branches low, beckoning to be plucked and devoured. So of course I dragged my husband out to do just that, returning home with several sweetly scented baskets of apple varieties – ranging from baking tart to noshing sweet. A couple of gallons of fresh-pressed cider made my purchases complete.
Now back to the mulling. Apparently, we’ve known for quite some time (at least since 1618) that adding a little spice, and a little heat, can ratchet up that glorious sweet-tart apple flavor. Some fresh cider, a little cinnamon, a handful of whole cloves, and perhaps a splash or two of brandy, and you’ve got a soothing drink that will delight both young and old.
If you’re out and about, be sure to stop by your local apple orchard. Then, if you’ve got 15 minutes or so, whip up a pot of steaming mulled cider. It makes a sweet after school welcome for kids (without the brandy, of course), a surprisingly satisfying after dinner treat, and a sweetly scented, late harvest breakfast in bed.
2 cups fresh apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 small apple
A splash or two of brandy (optional)
Pour fresh apple cider into a small, heavy pot. Add one cinnamon stick and cloves. Slice the apple into a few slim rounds, and add apple slices to cider mixture, retaining two rounds for garnish. Bring cider to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain cider and pour half into each of two mugs. Make a cut halfway across the retained apple slices, and slice onto the rim of each mug for garnish. Add a cinnamon stick to each mug. Serve hot and add a splash or two of brandy to the cider, if you like.
Makes two servings.
Variations: add fruit such as orange or lemon peel, try sweeteners from honey to maple syrup, experiment with alcoholic additives like flavored brandy, port or whiskey.
Post by Alison Hein.
I coerced my good friends Rosie and Jeff to invite me for breakfast – a full English breakfast, that is. Although Jeff had never done a proper English fry-up before, he’s a talented, inventive cook who’s always up for a challenge. First, he located the nearest butchery where he could buy handmade, authentic bangers, the quintessential English sausages. (No way did the 150 mile round trip stop him!) Next, he studied up on English Breakfast history (a filling meal to tide one over through long working days), and painstakingly visited six stores before he found authentic HP Sauce, the traditional brown sauce used to spice up breakfast bangers and beans. (Originally made inBirminghamand named for the House of Parliament, it’s now made in theNetherlands, to the dismay of many Englishmen.)
Jeff spent more than one hour watching over his many steaming pots and pans with the grace and timing of an orchestra conductor. Then, while Rosie set a perfect harvest table and brewed a big pot of stout English Breakfast Tea, Jeff sautéed and spiced, poached and plated, fried up and finished a very proper, English breakfast in bed.
Here are Jeff’s tips if you want to try your own hand at a Proper English Fry-Up:
- Poach bangers in a slow water bath to keep them juicy and cook evenly. This may even help prevent banger explosion!
- Bring eggs to room temperature before cooking for a faster cooking time and a lighter, fluffier texture.
- Replace simple salt and pepper with a hardier seasoning, such as Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning, which contains salt, pepper, mustard, coriander, garlic, paprika and chili pepper.
- Black Pudding is optional!
Savory British Bangers
Vegetarian Baked Beans
Thick-Cut Slab Bacon
Buttered Mushroom Slices
Black Lace Eggs
1 8-ounce can vegetarian beans (made inCanadapreferable)
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 8-ounce package baby portabella mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes
2 slices soft, thick white bread
1 bottle HP Sauce (or other English Brown Sauce)
Pour about 4 cups of water (enough to cover bangers) into a heavy pot and heat to 150º. Add bangers, and cook for about 20 minutes, using a thermometer to maintain temperature at a steady 150º. Remove bangers from water and set aside.
Add beans to heavy pot and warm over medium heat. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Pour about 1 tablespoon canola oil into a heavy non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 18 to 20 minutes until browned and lightly crisp, turning once or twice. Remove from pan and place in oven to keep warm. Retain bacon grease, and reduce heat to medium low.
Add bangers to bacon grease and cook, low and slow, for 15 to 20 minutes, until well-browned. Remove bangers from pan and place in oven to keep warm. Remove pan from heat and maintain bacon / banger grease.
While bangers are cooking, add 1 tablespoon butter and remaining canola oil to a second heavy non-stick frying pan. When melted, add mushrooms, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through but still lightly firm. Remove from heat and place mushrooms in oven to keep warm.
While bangers and mushrooms are cooking, lightly spray a heavy, cast iron grill pan with cooking spray. Slice tomatoes in half and trim ends. Place on grill pan, and broil, approximately 4 inches from heat source, until tomatoes are cooked through and lightly blackened on top, about 8 to 10 minutes. Keep warm.
Reheat bacon / banger grease over medium-high heat. Add bread slices and cook until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes. Keep warm.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and about 2 tablespoons of bacon / banger grease to a large, heavy frying pan. Heat over medium heat until bubbling. Break eggs into a small bowl, two at a time, then add to pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook, basting frequently with pan drippings, until whites are cooked through and yellow centers are still soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Place bangers, beans, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast and eggs on warmed plates and serve immediately.
Makes 2 Full English Breakfasts
Post by Alison Hein.
Enter autumn, with a cornucopia of glorious bounty. Kick off your fall with these lightly sweet, aromatic buckwheat waffles. Top them with homemade apple compote, and you’ll want to curl up with a good book in front of the fire. Well, after breakfast anyway. 😉
Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free and unrelated to wheat. Rather, it’s a herbaceous plant related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Its name derives from the German “Buchweizen,” meaning beech-wheat, because buckwheat’s unusual triangular seed resembles the much larger seeds of the beech tree.
Some of the world’s most richly satisfying dishes – galettes from Brittany, Japanese soba, and Russian blinis – are made with buckwheat. In this recipe, rich, smooth batter almost glides across a hot waffle iron, and toasts up in minutes to a hardy crisp. Sweet, seasonal apple compote makes a simple complement to the burnished buckwheat for a glorious, bountiful breakfast in bed.
Buckwheat Honey Waffles
2 ½ cups buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup vegetable oil, or butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup sour cream
1 apple (tart varieties such as Granny Smith work well)
¼ cup of water (add more for a thinner topping
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup slivered almonds (optional)
Dollop of sour cream
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, add milk, eggs, honey and vanilla and beat until frothy. Pour oil or melted butter into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in sour cream.
Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and heat to high. Pour ½ cup to ¾ cup batter into center of iron, making sure you have enough batter to evenly spread across the surface of your waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and crisp and waffle pulls away easily from iron, about 3 minutes. Serve warm with apple compote. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of mint.
Makes approximately 6 waffles.
To make compote, pare, slice and finely chop apple. Place in small, heavy pot and add water, honey, golden raisins, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir in slivered almonds, if you like. Bring apple mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until apples are cooked through but still hold their shape, about 15 minutes.
Makes approximately 1 cup apple compote.