Cold Borscht

The perfect thing for a hot summer night.
A little more than 2 quarts
Shopping List

2 bunches of beets (about 21/4 pounds including greens)

1 medium onion

1 TBL sugar

sour salt (citric acid), or a lemon

16 oz container of sour cream

Peel and cut into largish dice (3/8– to 1/2-inch on a side)

  • 2 bunches of beets

Measure the volume (about 6 cups in my case) and place in a soup pot. Note: the beets in this batch weighed about 800g after peeling. Add

  • 1 medium onion (150g), minced finely
  • 6 cups water (actually, it should match the volume of the beets)

Bring to a boil and then start a timer for 15 minutes. Check whether the beets are cooked; they should be soft enough to chew but not mushy. If they need a few more minutes, cook a little longer. Turn off the heat and remove any scum that collects at the top of the pot. Add

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sour salt (citric acid) or 3-4 TBL of lemon juice

Let stand to cool for 30 minutes. Place half the beets and some liquid in the jar of a blender. Run until fully pureed. Return to pot. In the jar of the blender combine

  • 3/4 cup (roughly) sour cream

about a cup of liquid from the soup. Process until smooth and pour back into soup pot. Stir and adjust any seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator.

ATTN My mother would make borscht (with a slightly different recipe) and only add the sour cream just before serving. This allowed her to freeze the soup and serve it at a later time. I do it this way because the sour cream blends thoroughly in the blender and it’s already in use when I’m making the soup. I haven’t frozen this, but I can’t imagine any reason it would fail.

My mother would garnish this with diced boiled potatoes, diced cucumber or diced hard-boiled eggs. I didn’t ever develop a taste for any of these additions.

Basmati Rice Salad

Simple cold salad that shouts summer.
8 servings
Shopping List

1 cup basmatic rice

1 small bunch fresh mint

1 bunch scallions

2 small, juicy lemons (or 1 large)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup frozen edamame or peas

Cook

1 cup basmatic rice

and spread the cooked rice on a large tray or jelly roll pan to cool. That will take about 10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, combine the following in a 2-quart (or larger) bowl:

  • grated zest of 2 small lemons
  • 2 TBL lemon juice
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • 3 TBL finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup  chopped finely scallion greens (save the solid parts of the stems for something else)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Place

  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame or peas

in a strainer and run under cold water until they are defrosted. Drain and add to dressing, along with the cooled rice. Mix everything well (with your hands if you don’t mind doing that) to break up the rice thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

You can serve this right away but I prefer to let it sit in the refrigerator for a bit before serving. It’s great made a day before serving.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

 

Grilled Octopus

Easier than I ever imagined.
8 legs but the servings vary according to appetites and the size of the octopus
Shopping List

1 octopus, 1.5 to 2 pounds (see note)

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano (or alternate herbs)

1 large or 2 small lemons

1/4 cup olive oil

Purchase

  • 1  octopus (11/2 to 2 pounds), cleaned

Note: A larger octopus will work, just make sure it fits in your pressure cooker and adjust the cooking time. I’ve also cooked 2 11/2 pound octopuses at once in my 6-quart pressure cooker.

When you (or the fishmonger) clean the octopus, be sure to remove the beak, eyes and open the head and clean it out. Rinse the octopus, especially inside the head as there might be a little sand in there if it isn’t cleaned out thoroughly.

Place the octopus in a pressure cooker. Add water to cover and

  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, split or smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt

ATTN Be absolutely certain you don’t overfill your pressure cooker!

Bring the pressure cooker to high (15 lbs) pressure. Set a timer for 15 minutes. When the time is done, bring the pressure down quickly and check that a paring knife easily slips into the thickest part of the leg.  If not, close the pressure cooker, bring it back to pressure and cook for 3 minutes; then re-test it. Generally I have found that 15 minutes is enough time.

In a 2-3 quart mixing bowl, combine

  • juice of 2 small or 1 large lemon
  • 3 to 4 TBL olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, marjoram or thyme. (You can also use fresh herbs if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add the cooked octopus and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, turning the octopus at least once in the marinade but more often if time allows.

Light coals or light gas grill. Grill the octopus whole, making sure you don’t char the tips of the legs too much. When it’s gotten some color, it’s done. Remember, it was fully cooked when it came out of the pressure cooker.

Serve, either cut into legs or bite-size bits, drizzled with more olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice or your favorite condiments.

 

Almond Polenta Pound Cake

We love this cake, but getting to this point was a little bit of torture. Read the story at the end of the recipe.
Makes one Bundt or 10-inch tube cake
Shopping List

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (4 ounces) almond paste

11/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 eggs

11/2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup coarse cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a Bundt or 10-inch tube pan.

Separate

  • 6 eggs

Reserve egg yolks. With electric mixer beat egg whites with

  • 1/4 cup sugar

until soft peaks form. In an electric mixer, cream together

  • 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add all six egg yolks to butter-sugar mixture and blend well. In another bowl, sift together

  • 11/2 cups cake flour (or 11/2 cups less 3 tablespoons of sifted all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 cup coarse cornmeal (I prefer the consistency of Quaker cornmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Add to the butter-sugar mixture. Add

  • 1 cup heavy cream

Mix until well blended and set aside.

Fold half the egg whites into the butter mixture and incorporate well. Gently fold in remaining whites and pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake 65 minutes. Cake will be done with the top is golden and is firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the cake will come out clean when cake is completely baked.

Let the cake cool on the rack for ATTN 15 minutes before turning out.

The original recipe calls for one 9-inch pan. When Bob mixed the batter, he knew he had a problem: it couldn’t all fit in one pan. He called the Coyote Cafe restaurant in Santa Fe, asked for the pastry chef, and told her his dilemma. She said, “Oh, the old pastry chef contributed most of the dessert recipes, and many of them have problems.” She even went as far as naming one recipe that should be completely avoided. Her suggestion was a bigger pan and longer baking. This is now one of our favorite recipes.

Adapted from Coyote Cafe, by Mark Miller

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)

A dry-style Indian dish. I like it spicy, but feel free to adjust to your taste
enough for several people as a side dish
Shopping List

1 medium-size head of cauliflower

2-inch piece of peeled ginger

3 or 4 cloves of garlic

1 TBL ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder or paprika

1/2 tsp hot chili powder

2 TBL peanut oil

1 jalapeño pepper

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 pound yukon gold potatoes

fresh cilantro

Wash, trim and cut into medium-sized florets

  • 1 medium-size head of cauliflower

Grate

  • 2-inch piece of peeled ginger
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic

Place in a small (2-cup) bowl and add

  • 1 TBL ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder or paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add

  • 2 TBL peanut oil

Heat until shimmering. Add

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed and cut in two halves. I retained the seeds.

Let cook for 30 seconds. Add

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

ATTN It may spatter and the seeds will begin to pop. When they do, add the water-spice mixture ATTNwhich may spatter so be careful.  Cook about 2 minutes, then add the cut cauliflower and

  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the slices into half-circles if they are large.
  • 1/2 cup water

Stir the mixture to coat the vegetables and reduce heat to a low enough level to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Uncover, as the dish should dry out some as it finishes: this is not a saucy dish. Test for salt and add more to taste. When the potatoes are cooked, serve, garnished with

  • 2 TBL chopped cilantro leaves

Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/cauliflower-and-potatoes-aloo-gobi-recipe.html

 

Chicken Tikka

Traditionally made as kebabs, this version uses chicken pieces.
4 servings
Shopping List

2-inch piece of ginger

4 cloves of garlic

2 habanero chilis (or 1 jalapeño if you want a milder dish)

1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (or paprika)

3/4 tsp hot chili powder

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp granulated sugar

1 tsp garam masala

2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces

In a blender, combine

  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 habanero chilis, stem removed seeds left in (or a jalapeño if you want a milder dish)
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (or paprika)
  • 1/4 to 3/4 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala (or use a substitution, below)

Run the blender until a smooth paste forms, adding a tiny bit of water if needed to get it moving.

Trim excess fat from

  • 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces

I’m partial to thighs, but any pieces can work. Large breasts, if used should be cut in half.

Combine the chicken and paste, mixing thoroughly. Refrigerate for for at least 4 hours. Cook on a grill, starting with the skin side up; indirect heat is better. Flip to finish cooking the skin side. (I haven’t cooked this in the oven, this but it should cook for 30-40 minutes at 425º F on a tray.)

Note that if you don’t have garam masala you can make a mixture of the following spices, ATTN using more of the earlier ones on the list and less of the later ones. Everyone’s idea of what’s in this spice mix is different so look around on the web, and if you don’t have one of the ingredients listed,  just omit it and fill in with the others: (all are ground herbs)  coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves.

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornmeal Crust

Much better than those frozen pot pies of your childhood
Shopping List

1 pound cooked chicken meat or 4 chicken thighs

2 medium (or 1 large) turnips

1 parsnip

8 ounces mushrooms

3 medium or 2 large carrots

2 large onion

1 pound potatoes

3-4 TBL olive oil

5 ounces frozen peas

1 cup milk

13/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon chicken base (or 1 cube chicken bouillon)

1/4 cup cornmeal (we prefer the granularity of Quaker brand corn meal)

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

If you have some cooked meat and broth available, skip this step and continue with the mushrooms, below.

Place in saute pan

  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

placing

  • 4 chicken thighs on top of onion slices

add

  • 3 cups water

Bring to a boil, reducing heat to maintain a low, gentle simmer and cook ATTNcovered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, reserving liquid, and let cool. Discard onion pieces. Strain liquid and measure: add water to bring amount to 3 cups. Discard chicken skin and bone the chicken meat, cutting into bite-size chunks.

Continue from this point if you already have cooked meat and broth available. Slice and saute on high heat:

  • 2 TBL oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms

cooking until well colored. Set aside. In the meantime, dice

  • 2 medium (or 1 large) turnips
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 medium-sized or 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat

  • 1-2 TBL olive oil

and saute vegetables for 10 minutes. Then add

  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Continue cooking for 10 minutes stirring often. Stop cooking while vegetables are still a bit crisp, especially the potatoes. Add

  • chicken meat (1 pound or whatever you obtained from cooking the chicken thighs)
  • 5 ounces frozen peas

Spoon into a baking dish or gratin pan. Generally this is about the size of a 13- x 9-inch baking pan or a decorative dish. The pan should hold all the mixture with a bit of room to spare; broader is better because you get more crust surface.

In a small bowl, combine until smooth

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425º F. In a large saucepan, heat

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt

to a boil. Then add the milk mixture. Stir until it thickens. Stir sauce and pour over chicken/vegetable mixture in the baking dish

In a mixing bowl, combine

  • scant 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in

  • 1/2 cup shortening

When mixture resembles coarse crumbs, sprinkle with

  • 1/3 cup ice water

ATTN1 TBL at a time, mixing with a fork in each area where you sprinkle. Add only enough water for the dough to bind together. Roll it out on a floured surface into a shape about 2 inches bigger than the top of the baking dish. Position over filling, folding the 1-inch overhang into a flute. Brush crust with

  • Milk or 1 beaten egg

ATTNCut slits in top of crust. Place on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and transfer to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbling. You may need to cover the edge of the crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Pasta with Spicy Almond Pesto

In a blender, combine to make a runny “pesto” ATTN with some chunks of almonds still visible.

  • 1 cup roasted almonds
  • olive oil to cover

Cook

  • 8 ounces pasta (bucatini, radiatore, etc)

reserving some pasta water just before you drain them. When the pasta is almost done, saute

  • 1 glug olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 jalapenos, cut lengthwise in half (leave in seeds), and then cut in narrow slices

over high heat for about a minute. Add about 3/4 cup of pasta water, the cooked pasta and about 1/2 cup of the pesto. Saute, stirring to mix thoroughly and complete cooking. Season with salt, pepper and

  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

ATTN You will have leftover pesto. Save it in the fridge and use it the next time you want to cook this dish.

 

Oniony Noodle Kugel

Shopping List

12-ounce package of broad egg noodles

2 very large or 4 medium onions (about 11/2 pounds)

Vegetable oil (a few TBL)

10 eggs

Bring a large pot of ATTNwell-salted water to a boil. While you’re waiting for it to boil, peel and dice

  • 2 very large or 4 medium onions

This works best with a non-stick pan, but you can do this in any 11- to 12-inch frying pan. ATTNHeat a large frying pan to a medium-high heat and add

  • 1-2 TBL vegetable oil

and then add the diced onions. Saute the onions, ATTNstirring from time to time, not constantly. The onions need to get well-browned, and don’t worry if a few of them get extremely dark — that is what gives the kugel its flavor. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to them as they cook: check by tasting them. Towards the end of the cooking, if there’s a lot of browned bits stuck to the pan, add 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan, doing this while the onions are in the pan and the pan is still on the heat.

These still need a little more cooking, but they're almost done.
These still need a little more cooking, but they’re almost done.

Remove the pan from heat when the onions are done, but meanwhile…

When the salted water comes to a boil, add

  • 12-ounce package of ATTN broad egg noodles

Pay attention to how long the noodles cook: you don’t want them to get mushy and in fact, they should be a little firm but not doughy or raw-tasting. My brand’s package said they “should cook 8-10 minutes but no more than 8 minutes if they will be added to cooked more as part of another recipe”. I cooked them just over 6 minutes, sampled one and it was done.

While the onions and noodles cook, in a very large mixing bowl beat together

  • 10 large eggs, shelled of course
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or more to taste)

When the noodles finish cooking, drain them in a colander and run some cool water over them to bring them down to room temperature. If the onions aren’t done cooking yet, add a little oil to the noodles and toss the noodles to coat. If the onions are already done cooking, proceed with the next step without bothering to add any oil. (The reason for this is that you don’t want to combine the eggs and noodles until you are ready to cook everything because the eggs will absorb into the noodles and the kugel won’t hold together. If you leave the noodles drying in the colander without adding the oil, the noodles will stick together making it hard to mix with the eggs and onions.)

In the large bowl, add the noodles and onions. Stir thoroughly. I prefer to do this with my hands to make sure everything is well mixed. Quickly wash off the large frying pan you used for the onions (if you don’t, the kugel will tend to stick), dry the pan and heat it over a medium heat, adding

  • 1-2 TBL vegetable oil

When the oil is hot, add the egg-noodle-onion mixture. Smooth the top of the mixture in the pan. As the kugel cooks, you should see a crust form around the edge of the pan: this might take 5 minutes or so. Run a knife around the edge to separate the kugel from the pan. ATTNThe kugel will cook about 10-12 minutes on this side, so keep an eye on the heat and make sure it isn’t cooking too quickly as you’ll end up with a very dark crust. There will still be some loose  eggs at the point you need to flip it, but not a lot. Before flipping the kugel, run a spatula or knife around the edge of the pan again and ATTNunder the kugel to make sure it’s not stuck to the pan. If the frying pan doesn’t have straight sides, you can probably shake the pan a bit to see that the kugel has been loosened. Put a suitably large plate over the top of the pan, invert the pan and plate together and hopefully the kugel will be on the plate. If part of the kugel sticks to the pan, remove it with a spatula and put it where it should be. It’ll be fine.

Quickly add

  • 1 TBL vegetable oil

to the pan and slide the kugel off the plate and back into the pan. The second side will probably only take about 7-8 minutes to cook.  Again, ATTN loosen the bottom of the kugel from the pan and invert it onto the serving plate. Note that if you had a “separation disaster” the first time around, it is hidden on the bottom of the kugel and no one will see it.

The completed kugel.
  The completed kugel.
This is a diet-sized slice.
This is a diet-sized slice.

Serve hot or at room temperature, cut in wedges. It’s also great cold, eaten while standing in front of an open refrigerator at midnight. This is often served with braised meat (gedempte) that has a sauce.

From my mother, Rita Fitterman, who probably learned how to make this from her mother-in-law, Goldie Fitterman.

 

Gefilte Fish Terrine

Please remember that the Jeffalites were one of the lost tribes.
Serves about 16 people
Shopping List

1 whole pike (about 3 pounds before cleaning)

1 whole whitefish (about 3 pounds before cleaning)

Vegetable oil (for greasing a mold)

4 large onions, divided

4 large carrots, divided

6 TBL matzo meal

4 large eggs

1 lemon

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch chives

1 cup fish stock (if not purchasing whole fish)

white pepper


ATTNYou can purchase other kinds of fish, but the mixture of pike, whitefish and carp is very common. If you like ocean fish, halibut-salmon (in the ratio of 2:1) can be found in Joan Nathan’s recipe, which is the inspiration for this one. You should end up with about 3 pounds of fish fillets.

Ask the fish monger to gut and fillet the fish for you. They should remove the skin from the fillets. ATTN Be sure they give you the head, tail, skin and bones back, wrapped separately from the fish. Wash the skin, bones, etc with cold water until the blood has been removed and place them in a stock pot. Add

  • 2 onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 large carrots, cut in thirds
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper

Add just enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil and lower immediately to a simmer. After 20 minutes of simmering gently, remove from heat. Strain stock and reserve. Discard everything left in the strainer. Chill the stock until needed. This recipe only uses a small amount, so you will probably want to freeze the rest and use it to make a nice fish soup or risotto.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Find a roasting or baking pan large enough to hold the mold you will be using. The mold should be about 10 cups capacity, like a bundt cake or spring-form pan with a center column. (I dislike silicone molds, but that’s what Joan Nathan used.) Grease the mold with a small amount of

  • vegetable oil (spray oil works well)

Fill the roasting pan with 1″ to 11/2” of water, heat it on the stovetop to almost the boiling point and then ATTNcarefully transfer it to the heating oven.

Combine in a small bowl and set aside

  • 6 TBL matzo meal
  • 1 cup fish stock, at room temperature

Using a meat grinder, grind

  • 3 pounds fish fillets
  • 3 onions

Rinse and pluck

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves (you only want the leaves, no stems)

Rinse and add

  • 1 bunch chives

And chop the herbs finely.

In food processor, chop

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

You may add the herbs if you don’t think you chopped them finely by hand, but I have to say that the herbs tend to be chopped better by hand, especially the chives.

In the bowl of an elecric mixer, combine the ground fish-onion mixture, chopped carrots, herbs, matzo meal/fish stock mixture and

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBL lemon juice
  • 21/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper

Run the mixture with a paddle in the mixer for 10 minutes, stopping once or twice to stir down the mixture and clean the paddle. At the end, place 1 spoonful of the mixture in the microwave oven for 40-60 seconds . When it’s cooked, taste it, and adjust the seasonings as needed.

IMG_20150402_111938991
The mold, about to go into the oven.

Fill the greased mold with the mixture, smoothing the top. Transfer the mold into the roasting pan in the oven. The water only needs to come up about 1″ to 2″ on the side of the mold.  Bake for about one hour: it will be firm to the touch. ATTN If your mold has center opening (like a Bundt cake pan), one hour should be enough, but without the center opening it will probably take a bit longer to finish cooking.

 

IMG_20150402_123854735
The cooked terrine, with freshly-grated horseradish.

Remove from pan and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. If your mold has straight sides, cut around the edges. Place a plate on top of the mold and inver the whole thing ATTN using caution as some water is definitely going to pour out of the mold when you do this. It may need a shake to loosen it from the mold. Drain away any excess liquid and chill several hours or overnight. Garnish with dill sprigs and serve with horseradish.

 

Inspired by Joan Nathan’s Alaskan Halibut and Salmon Gefilte Fish Terrine

 

Dried Fruit Fruitcake

My mother found the basis for this recipe in Family Circle or Good Housekeeping magazine around 1970 and made it several times. Before eating this, I thought fruitcake was awful, but this is a real delight.
2 loaves or 1 large round cake

Combine

  • 2 cups dried apples, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces dried apricots, chopped
  • 8 ounces pitted whole dates, snipped into small pieces
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup calvados (or apple juice)

(Note that this totals to about 8 cups of fruit but the volume will vary depending on how it is packed and how large the pieces are cut.)  Let mixture stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, stir together and set aside

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice

Preheat over to 300º F. Make batter by creaming

  • 1 cup butter

Blend in

  • 1 cup sugar

One at a time, beating after each, add

  • 6 eggs

Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with a total of

  • 16 ounces applesauce

Stir in fruit after incorporating flour. Grease and flour pans: I use 2 9- by 5-inch loaf pans, but you may choose to make one large cake in a 10-inch tube pan.  The tube pan takes 2 hours to cook and the loaf pans take about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Cool cake(s) and remove from pan(s). Soak cheesecloth in

  • brandy as needed

wrapping cake(s) in cheesecloth, then in a plastic bag. Store the cake at room temperature, but avoid hot places. Check back on the cake every 2 weeks and if the cheesecloth has dried, be sure to re-soak the cloth and re-wrap the cake. The cakes will need about 6-8 weeks of aging before they are ready to eat.

ATTN The brandy you choose will change the flavor of the cake. A fruit-flavored brandy, such as Calvados or Grappa would probably be great. I’ve used Metaxa and been quite happy, but I’ve also had great results with cheap blackberry-flavored brandy, which is what my mother always used.

Potica Cake

Potica (pronounced poe-TEET-sa) is a delectable Slovenian yeast pastry, filled with cinnamon and nuts. It's a lot of work to make. The flavors of this recipe are reminiscent of potica, with far less work.
Makes one 9-inch tube cake
Shopping List
3/4 cup margarine or butter
11/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
11/2 teaspoon baking soda
11/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. sour cream
11/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream, until fluffy

  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter

Add gradually

  • 11/2 cups sugar

until light. Add, one at a time

  • 4 eggs

and mix well. In a mixing bowl sift (and we really mean   sift, not combine) three times:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 11/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11/2 teaspoon baking powder

Add this mixture to the egg mixture in three parts, alternating with

  • 1 pound sour cream

Beat after each addition until smooth. Add in

  • 11/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine, to make filling:

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Into a greased and floured 9-inch tube pan, alternate layers of batter and filling, starting and ending with batter. When finished, cut through with knife. Bake at 350° F for 75 minutes, or until done. Cool cake 15 minutes before removing from pan.

This comes from a dear family friend, Nell Simala.

Creamy Coffee Pops

When making this recipe, choose strong coffee. I used decaf to accommodate our friends. If you have already got ready-made coffee, you need about 11/2 cups of coffee. Or starting from the basics, in a French press,  brew

  • 3/4 cup  ground coffee (I used decaf espresso to accommodate our friends)
  • 2 cups boiling water

In a mixing bowl, combine

  • 11/2 cups strong brewed coffee
  • 2/3 to 3/4 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly, adjusting the sweetness to your taste by varying the varying the amount of sweetened condensed milk. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour and pour into a frozen pop mold.

In my mold it was enough to make 11 pops, but it will vary according to the size of the molds you use.

 

Jerk Chicken

This is a recipe that really demands cooking on the grill with a source of smoke, such as wood chips. It’s probably good cooked in the oven, but it won’t be the same. Note that it’s pretty spicy, but you can tone it down by reducing the number of hot peppers or substituting milder peppers such as jalapeños.

In the jar of a blender (or food processor), measure the following:

  • 6 scallions, cut into 4″ pieces
  • 1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled
  • 3-4 habanero or Scotch bonnet chilies, stems removed but the seeds left in.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 11/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into slices across the grain
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 heaping TBL ground allspice
  • 1 generous TBL soy sauce
  • 1 heaping TBL brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp cider or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Run blender until a smooth paste forms. If you taste it at this point, just be aware that it’s very concentrated and the flavors will soften somewhat when it’s on the chicken and cooked.

Trim excess fat from

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into quarters or 8-10 chicken thighs or 4-6 leg quarters

The amount of chicken the paste will service will vary with the surface area of the parts. Spread it around on all the outside surfaces and put the chicken in a bowl or zipper-sealable bag, and refrigerate for 18-36 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, set up the grill and be sure to have soaked some kind of wood for smoke. I love hickory chips, but you might prefer something else. You’ll need enough fuel to cook the chicken for up to 45 minutes. If you’re using coal,  arrange them for indirect heat or cook at/under 300 if you’re using gas.  Make sure you have a lot of smoke going and place the chicken skin side up, cover the grill and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it just to make sure you don’t have any flare-ups. The chicken will be a lovely color at this point. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes. Start to check whether the chicken is cooked through. The timing will vary depending on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is going to be dark (not burnt) on the outside when it’s fully cooked.

 

Maafe

Mah-fay is a stewed dish found in many countries of Africa with variation, but always having of ground peanuts in its sauce.
About 6 servings, depending on your appetites

Remove the skin from

  • 10-12 chicken thighs

You may wish to brown them in some

  • vegetable oil to coat bottom of 3 quart pot

If you do brown them, reserve the chicken after browning. If not, and I am inclined not to bother, put the oil in the pot and continue by cooking

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt

until it is softened. While it cooks, prepare

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 peeled butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers, stems removed and discarded. Cut peppers half, then slice crosswise. I leave the seeds in because I like more spice in the dish. You can omit the seeds or reduce the peppers according to taste.

When the onions are soft, add the vegetables, chicken and

  • the complete contents of 1 can (32 ounces) of plum tomatoes
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of peanut butter (I used smooth this time)
  • a few shakes of garlic powder or some minced garlic
  • 1 TBL grated ginger
  • 1 cup water

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Make sure the heat is just hot enough to keep it at a simmer. Move chicken around in pot after 20 minutes and again 20 minutes later.

You can serve the dish as soon as the chicken is cooked through (about 40-45 minutes total) but ATTN it will taste much better if you reheat it and serve it the following day.

Note: this dish can be made with goat, beef or probably even firm tofu instead of the chicken. You may wish to vary the vegetables to include potatoes or other root vegetables.