German Rolls

December 5, 2019

IMG_0569Today I’d like to kick off the holiday cookie season by bringing you the recipe for a very unique cookie – The German Roll. Only slightly sweet, coated with a dusting of walnuts, this little delicacy is almost more bread-like than any cookie I’ve nibbled before. I was introduced to them by one of my best friends, John Richards.

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John was my “Man of Honor” when I married.

John’s grandmother would make these every year for Christmas. It was love at first bite for me! Each year I would send some of my Christmas cookies to Ohio with John when he went home for the holidays and then he would return with some of these elusive German Rolls for me.

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These cookies, pictured with the blue linens, were actually made by John’s Gramma in 2012.

I’ve never found their like. I have googled “German Rolls, German Christmas Cookies,” you name it, to no avail. Totally mysterious! I really wanted to get the recipe, so I asked John if his family would be willing to share. He was sure that they would, though he cautioned me that he thought the recipe might be somewhat difficult to recreate. You know, it was once of those recipes that had been passed down for years. One that the family matriarch had mastered; one that they could literally nail in their sleep. But to an outsider, it was full of inaccurate measurements like “a tablespoon” which didn’t mean the standardized tablespoon, but a particular wooden spoon that their husband had carved for them when they first married. And truly subjective instructions like “just mix it up until the dough looks right”. So, although we loved these cookies, we were a bit intimidated and took no action, but kept the idea of making them on the back burner.

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It has been several years now since we lost Cecilia Batya,  John’s Gramma. Today is actually the anniversary of her passing. You might have assumed she was German, you know what with the cookies being called “German Rolls”, but no. Cecilia, born Cecelia Smocer, was from Slovakia.

Cecelia picking flowers similar to those in her wedding veil

She immigrated with her family to the United States at the age of nine and settled into a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania. There she met and married Joseph Batya.

Cecelia and Joseph just before they were married

They had six children,

The family

The Batya Clan

followed by a dozen or so grandchildren and many great and great-great grandchildren by the time she passed at the age of 98 years. Cecelia learned the recipe from her mother, Bubbha. It is thought that she may have gotten the recipe from one of the German women in their local church, St. Hedwig. From what we hear, many folks in the town requested that Cecelia and her mother bake these cookies not only for Christmas but also for weddings and other celebrations.

Cecelia and Bubbha

Cecilia brought this recipe with her as the family migrated further west into Cleveland after the coal mines closed. She taught her three daughters Marguerite, Antoinette and Kathy how to make these German Rolls along with many other of the traditional Slovak dishes like Kolache and Bobalki.

The three sisters in Cleveland

John & his sister Heather have now taken on the Christmas cookie making mantle for the Batya clan and were determined to make German Rolls this year. Their Aunt Antoinette had written the recipe down for me several years ago, so we all got together one afternoon to give it a whirl. Now what I will say is this is a strange recipe! It taught me quite a lot! First of all, we had to find cake yeast. Apparently many stores only stock it around Christmas time and we knew that this recipe might take several times to master, so our efforts had begun in early November. No cake yeast in sight. Literally a cake yeast free zone. So I got busy trying to figure out the conversion so that I could use dry yeast. Scalding the milk was the next thing that I pondered. I was under the impression that when an old time recipe contained this step that it wasn’t really necessary. I thought that it was done in the days before pasteurization to make sure there wasn’t any bacteria present. Turns out, that when making a yeast bread, scalding the milk is actually an important step. The whey protein in milk can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Scalding the milk deactivates the protein so this doesn’t happen. It makes the milk a better food source for the yeast, so you get a quicker rise and fluffier product. The dough is smoother and retains moisture much better.

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And then, just when you think the rest of the recipe would be straight forward, you are instructed to wrap the cookie dough in a cheese cloth, submerge it in water and wait for it to float. What! I have never come across this in any other recipe. So I looked around online to see if I could find anything about this proofing method. I was able to find this reference from a book by Andrew Whitly entitled “Bread Matters”. He states that “an original method of judging proof is given in a famous Russian Cookbook and household manual from the 1860’s called “A Gift to Young Housewives” by Elena Molohkovets.” She wrote:

“After molding the dough made with fine flour, you may put the loaves in a bucket of water (the temperature of a river in summer) where they will lie on the bottom until they are fully proofed. When they float to the surface, put them straight into the oven…..Incidentally if you are proofing bread on the table, you can put a small test piece of dough into cold water; when it rises to the surface, you can put all your loaves into the oven.”

Weird right!!! But we did it and achieved flotation! Here is the photographic proof of the proofing!

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Success! From what I understand, if the dough doesn’t float, you are done for. Mission accomplished!

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We were quite happy with these little gems. And having made them ourselves, appreciated them all the more. I’m telling you, a German Roll (or two or so…) is absolute perfection with a nice cup of tea.

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So were these cookies exactly like Cecilia’s? Well they were very close. I don’t doubt that she was smiling down on us with great amusement as we tried to fill her cookie baking shoes, which of course, can not ever be done. Cecilia was such an amazing woman. The true matriarch of the Batya clan and very much beloved, she cemented the family together. We won’t see her like again. By recording her recipe for these German Rolls we have been able to capture some sweet memories and a tradition will continue to endure for new generations to come. We think Cecilia would definitely approve!

Cecelia toasting us all (1)

Cheers!

 

***If anyone out there reading this is familiar with these cookies – I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment.

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German Rolls

  • Servings: full batch 68 - 72 cookies, half batch 34 -36
  • Difficulty: moderate. yeast rise involved. will teach you new techniques!
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recipe from: The Batya Clan

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Crisco
  • 1 Cup scalded milk (heated to 180° F)
  • 1 ounce of Cake yeast (10.5 grams or 3 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp of dry yeast)
  • 6 Cups all-purpose flour ( add up to 1 additional cup as needed)
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the coating:

  • 4 Cups ground nuts (walnuts are traditional, but pecans or whatever you prefer)
  • 3/4 Cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with Parchment paper or lightly grease it.

Place four cups of the nuts of your choice in a food processor and pulse a few times until ground. Add 3/4 cup sugar and pulse to combine. Place in bowl and set aside.

Scald milk by heating to 180° F. Scalding deactivates the whey protein found in milk. This protein can weaken gluten and prevent the dough from rising properly. Allow milk to cool to lukewarm (between 98° – 105° F). Add yeast to milk and stir to dissolve.

Mix flour and crisco together, as you would do for pie dough. You can do this by hand, or in a food processor. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. If dough seems too rich, add up to one cup of flour to firm it up.

Add yeast mixture and beaten eggs to flour mixture. Mix well, until a smooth dough is achieved. No serious kneading is necessary. Again, this can be done by hand, or in a stand mixer.

Fill a large dough rising bucket or Dutch oven or bowl half-full of cool water.

Form dough into a large ball and place in the center of a cheesecloth (or you can use a flour sack kitchen towel). Twist the ends of the cloth loosely around the ball and place it in the water. Add more water to almost cover dough ball.

Soak the dough in water until it becomes boyant, about 1 1/2 hours but no longer.

When ready, put hand under dough ball and undo the cloth, letting the water drain a bit. Flip dough gently onto a large platter.

Drop hearty tablespoons of dough (I used a Tablespoon (size#40) cookie dough scoop – link below- so that all the cookies are uniform) onto the nut/sugar mixture. The dough will likely be sticky, but if you coat it a bit before rolling a shaping,and use a light touch, it works pretty well.

Roll into approximate 8″ strand. Tie it into a loose single loop knot, leaving enough dough (about 2″ at each end) to wrap around the strand one wore time. bring one end around and down through the center and the other end around and up through the center.

Transfer the German Rolls to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15- 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Enjoy!

***I’m told by the Batya clan that these cookies freeze well!

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for German Rolls

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Cheesecloth


Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter

November 27, 2019

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Oh my gosh, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. And that being said – the full blown holiday season is ready to step full into the spotlight on the very day following…but we won’t think about that today… Back to Thanksgiving … And like many of you, I’ve been stationed in the kitchen a whole lot . It’s weird right? Days of preparation and cooking and BAM! It is all over in about an hour. Well, the eating that is. Then there is the clean up – which is pretty substantial. And then there is the figuring out how to fit all of the leftovers into your fridge. And speaking of leftovers, I do have a great Thanksgiving feast leftover recommendation for you today… That is assuming you have some leftover cranberry sauce on hand. What I’m going to share with you is a wonderful day after Thanksgiving Treat, A Black Friday pastry if you will – Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter.

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Hopefully you are planning to make my Boozy Orange Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving this year. That stuff is like cranberry crack – I’m telling you! It’s so delicious, it shouldn’t just be reserved for one meal out of the year. And it is very easy to make.

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And although today is the day before the big day and the supermarkets are full of scenes from Dante’s Inferno…Seriously – if you head out to grocery shop today – you better steel your nerves because you will be wondering what fresh hell you have arrived in! But, you’ve got this. Take a deep breath. There is still have time to not only plan your feast, if you haven’t already done so, but to go out and hunt and gather your ingredients. So in attempt to inspire you, let me take a moment to give you a bit of a Thanksgiving recipe roundup of delicious recipes which I have shared with you in the past. One of my all time favorite recipes, which I am indeed making this year is Smoky Bacon Cream Biscuit Dressing. The Husband has actually declared Thanksgiving would be ruined if this dish wasn’t on the table. It is so decadent, chock full of homemade Cream Biscuits, mushrooms and one whole pound of bacon (can’t go wrong with bacon!).

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Another Thanksgiving staple at our house are Heavenly West Virginia Dinner Rolls. These moist, tender and slightly sweet yeast rolls are a must for us.

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But we really LOVE bread around here, so I’ve also made these lovely Amish Dinner Rolls. Yes – that is in addition to the West Virginia Rolls. Told you we love bread. I’ll do a few extra revs in the gym – it will be totally worth it!

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And talking about hitting the gym – how about some dessert? Like these Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese.

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Or this ahhhh-mazing Thanksgiving Pie – Toffee Blonde Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crumb Crust, Pumpkin Ganache & Boozy Cranberry Sauce topping.

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And if you do have any leftovers, I shared Holiday Leftover Pies recipe with you.

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But wait! Now that I mention leftovers, I’ve realized that I’m getting completely carried away with all this food! Lets get back to the recipe at hand today, which does indeed involve leftovers – those Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter.  So what you’ll need is some leftover Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce. You whip up some butter and then add that cranberry sauce to it. Bake up a batch of Popovers. Popovers might seem a bit intimidating but I’m telling you they are easy peasy. The recipe I’ve included will yield up a dozen sugar dusted, absolutely divine little treats.

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Make sure to serve them hot out of the oven

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slathered with that magical Cranberry butter. Folks will lose their minds! Now you can spread this luscious Cranberry Butter over anything you want – toast, bagels, biscuits, oatmeal….but hot, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, popovers are pretty impressive you’ve gotta admit. We have enjoyed ours in the past on Black Friday. You know, we had to make sure we’d be fueled up for the take-no-prisoners day of serious shopping. But these popovers would turn any meal into a special occasion and  they elevate that Cranberry Sauce to an even higher level. Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Popovers with Cranberry Butter

  • Servings: 12 popovers
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted slightly from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Popovers:

  • 2 teaspoons bacon grease, butter, or lard
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 241 grams All purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 454 grams whole milk, at room temperature

For the Cranberry Butter:

  • 170 grams unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) Boozy Orange Cranberry Sauce ( Or you can use whatever leftover cranberry sauce you have on hand – though I’m not sure that stuff that slides out of a can will work…)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use the bacon grease, butter, or lard to grease a 12-cup muffin pan or a large, 6-well popover pan. Lightly sprinkle the insides of the wells with the 1 tablespoon sugar.

To make the cranberry butter: Beat the butter and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the leftover boozy orange cranberry sauce and mix at low speed until well blended. Set aside.

To make the popovers: In a blender or food processor, combine the flour, salt, eggs, and milk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups halfway.

Bake the popovers for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tops are deep brown. Remove them from the oven and pierce the tops with a paring knife to allow steam to escape. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a warm serving dish. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired; serve warm, slathered with cranberry butter.

Enjoy!

Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Popovers with Boozy Orange Cranberry Butter:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Nordicware Grand Popover Pan

 


Reese’s Cup Werewolf Cupcakes

October 29, 2019

 

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There is absolutely no way you won’t have a howling good Halloween if you make up a batch of these terrifyingly adorable Werewolf cupcakes! And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but this year, just like last year, I am blogging about a Halloween recipe, prior to the actual date of the holiday. So yeah, I guess I’ll just say “Toot Toot!” Not only do these werewolves look irresistible, but they are also made with multiple Reese Cups – full size and minis, so they also undoubtedly taste irresistible to boot. I love Reese Cups, so I am totally psyched about these naughty little treats. Also I must say, Halloween is my favorite holiday! I mean, think about it…You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact, all of that fun stuff is encouraged. How could you go wrong on such a day!

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Halloween actually has Irish origins. Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:

Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)

 

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Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Glaze (traditional Halloween/Samhain)

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To the more whimsical offerings such as:

White Chocolate Mummy Pretzels

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Halloween Cookies & Cream Owl Cupcakes

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Mini Mummy Brownie Bite Cupcakes

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As well as some wonderful boozy libations to kick your celebrations into high gear:

Fireball Cider Cocktail

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Roasty Toasty Cocktail

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A few year’s ago I managed to combined whimsical and boozy altogether in my Halloween treats with these adorable – I mean terribly frightening Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes.

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And last year was all about the whimsy with these

Black Velvet Frankenstein Cupcakes.

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I guess I’m still in the whimsical mood this year because I absolutely could not resist these Reese’s Cup Werewolves when I saw them over at Hungry Happenings.

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She makes the most amazing creations there, so you should definitely take a peek. These little devil dogs were not terribly hard to make, but I will say they were a bit fiddly. You had to have a steady hand and plan ahead by piping out all the fangs ahead of time so that they would harden. But would you just look at the end result!! I don’t think I’m barking up the wrong tree when I say these werewolves are just perfection!

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So, I’ve given you enough time to gather all your supplies to make these lovely lycanthropes. What are you waiting for? I just bet that you and your friends will be howling at the moon come Thursday night! Happy Halloween ya’ll!!!

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Reese's Cup Werewolf Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24 Cupcakes
  • Print

Werewolf Cupcakes inspired by: Hungry Happenings

Chocolate Frosting Recipe from: Sally’s Baking Addition

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cup (290 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups (420 grams) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup (65 grams) dutch process cocoa powder
  • 3 – 5 Tablespoons (45 – 75 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Werewolves:

  • Full Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • White Cookie Icing or White Candy Melts
  • Wilton Candy Eyes
  • Chocolate Candy Melt Wafers (for ears)
  • Whoppers (malted milk balls)
  • Candy Bones (or make them using white candy melts)
  • Chocolate sprinkles (for eyebrows)
  • Valhrona Chocolate Crunchy Pearls (for nose, you could also use a mini M&M)

Directions:

For the Reese Cup Werewolves:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the full size Reese Cups flat. Put a dollop of cookie icing on the top of a corresponding number of mini Reese cups. Attach the mini Reese cup “snout” to the full size Reese Cup. Place in fridge to harden.

Using White Cookie Icing or white chocolate melts, pipe “teeth” onto a sheet of parchment paper.  If you are making the bones from chocolate melts, pipe these out as well. Place this in the fridge to harden.

Cut unmelted chocolate melts into triangle shaped “ears”. Set aside.

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your cupcake tins with paper liners.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, add all the wet ingredients. With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix for 2 minutes. The batter will be quite soupy – this is ok!

Pour batter into the prepared cupcake tins, filling just slightly more than halfway. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan to cool completely.

While you’re waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make your frosting.

For the frosting:

Place butter in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat it on medium speed until it is light and fluffy – approximately 2 minutes. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder. Add this sugar/cocoa mixture to the creamed butter 2 – 3 Tablespoons at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add 3 Tablespoons of the cream, the salt and vanilla. Beat on low speed initially, increasing until you reach high speed. Beat for 1 -2 minutes. Add more sugar or cocoa is frosting is too thin or add cream if it seems too thick.

Werewolf Assembly:

Frost  the cupcakes with enough frosting to hold the Reese Cup “wolves” upright.

Remove the Reese cups from the fridge. Using a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #233 tip, pipe frosting fur all over the prepared Reese cups. If you don’t have this tip, you can paint some frosting over the Reese cup and use a paint brush to give it a rough, fur-like texture.

Carefully put the eyes, nose and teeth in place.

Place the Reese cup on the frosted cupcakes. Push two malted milk balls (paws) in front of the decorated Reese cup and pipe “fur” frosting over them.

Add a bit more fur to the top edge of the Reese Cups so that you can attach the candy melt ears.

Place bone between paws.

Enjoy!

Reese’s Cup Werewolf Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Reese’s Werewolf Cupcakes:

Wilton Mini Candy Eyes 
King Arthur Double Dutch Process Dark Cocoa Powder
Ghirardelli White Candy Melts
Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melts
Valhrona Crunchy Pearls
Wilton Graveyard Bones
Wilton #233 Decorating Tip
Wilton Cookie Icing

 

 

 

 


Black Jack Cocktail

October 9, 2019

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Since the weather seems very danged determined to keep rolling out those summer temps, I thought I’d tell you about a nice refreshing cocktail that we have been enjoying – The Black Jack. It is made with a delicious blackberry shrub, a little glug of lemon and orange juice, and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey served with a splash of tonic water over crushed ice. The perfect thing to cool you down while you’re waiting for the season to change!

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So what is a shrub? It is not that small ornamental bush out in the yard. Well, technically it is I suppose. The Shrub that I’m referring to is a concentrated syrup which is made by combining fruit, sugar and vinegar. Just between me and you, when I first read about shrubs all I could think about was the Knights Who Say “Ni” of Monty Python fame. In Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail” these knights will not let King Arthur pass unless he brings them a shrubbery as toll. But I suppose I digress…

So shrubs (the drink) have their roots (yeah, I know I said roots, but I am still talking about the drink, not the plant) in England where vinegar was traditionally used to preserve fruit. This practice then arrived in Colonial America with the settlers. Sailors would take shrubs along with them on sea voyages. These fruity elixirs, being full of vitamin C, helped to protect them from scurvy. In no time folks started mixing that vinegary fruit juice with spirits. Pirates were undoubtedly mixing it with rum. (When in doubt, always blame pirates).  But then, for some reason shrubs fell out of fashion in the 1800s. Lucky for us, shrubs have recently made a big comeback on the cocktail scene.

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Several years ago I planted a blackberry bramble in our yard. His name is Chester and this year he grew quite a lot of blackberries. Not enough to make any preserves, or a pie or anything like that, but it was enough to make several batches of blackberry shrub. It is quite easy to make and in addition to mixing it into a cocktail, it can also be used as a glaze in cooking or to liven up a salad dressing. While I did use Jack Daniels for this creation, I must admit mixing the blackberry shrub with some vodka and a splash of tonic is also quite nice. Of course you can also just mix it with plain ole tonic water, without adding any alcohol at all, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do such a thing.   I assure you, the Husband and I have been mixing up the high-test adult beverage versions of this drink. It is deee-lish! On any given night , you might be able to find us out sitting on the porch, toasting to each others health and the much wished for yet slow to arrive Fall temperatures with a  hardy heartfelt “Ni!”

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Black Jack Cocktail

  • Servings: 1 cocktail
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Today Show

Ingredients:

For the Blackberry Shrub:

  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt

For the Cocktail:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Jack Daniels
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounce blackberry shrub
  • Fever Tree Refreshingly light Tonic Water
  • crushed ice
  • fresh mint for garnish

Directions:

Prepare the shrub: Place blackberries  in a nonmetal bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap. Place mixture in the refrigerator and let it sit for 2 days.

Transfer the berry mixture to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes or so, skimming away any foam that should form.

Strain the berry mixture through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing any remaining berries against the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Discard any remaining solids. Store shrub in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. This makes approximately 1 quart of concentrate.

For the Cocktail: Combine the Jack Daniels, lemon & orange juices along with the blackberry shrub in an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake it up until it is chilled and thoroughly combined. Strain over cocktail glasses filled with crushed ice. Fill glass 1/2 way and then top with tonic water. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Enjoy!

Black Jack Cocktail brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Black Jack Cocktail:

Cuisinart Set of 3 Fine Mesh Strainers

Oxo Steel Double Jigger

24 oz. Cocktail Shaker

Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water

La Rochere Napoleon Bee Tumblers

 


Zucchini-Basil Pistou

September 26, 2019

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Well here it is, the end of September already. I’m told that Autumn in upon us. However, as is usually the case in Virginia, no one bothered to forward the “it’s Fall now” memo to the weather department. Yup…we’re still baking around here with temps due to hit the lower 90’s this weekend. I know some folks are just thrilled with this turn of events, but ya’ll know that I really do not like hot weather. Not. One. Bit. So I’m going to have to take comfort in the fact that it will eventually cool off. Patience is a virtue. One good thing happening right now is zucchini is plentiful. I have a fantastic recipe to share with you today that will help you use up some of that delicious squash: Zucchini-Basil Pistou. When I first came across it on one of my favorite cooking blogs, Once Upon a Chef, I was certainly curious “What exactly is a Pistou?” I’m familiar with Pesto, but not Pistou. Turns out that a Pistou is somewhat similar to it’s Italian cousin Pesto. The main difference being that Pistou, a Provençal cold sauce, is traditionally made with garlic, basil, olive oil and salt. It does not contain the nuts found in pestos. The word “pistou” is an Occitan word which means “pounded” , which is pretty much what happens to that basil. This particular Pistou I’m sharing today contains zucchini (Yay!) in addition to the traditional ingredients. Oh and it also has a bit of lemon juice thrown in to brighten it up.

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This seemingly simple sauce is an absolutely amazing flavor enhancer! I tell you it makes everything better! You can put it on pasta, spread it on bread or over crackers, add it to scrambled eggs, serve it with grilled chicken or fish, add a dollop to dress up your veggies or just eat it straight out of the bowl. This recipe originally comes from Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, so I guess it is no surprise how mouth waveringly delicious it is! And here is the cherry on top of this recipe – you can make up a big batch while your zucchini garden is overflowing and then just freeze it! It keeps for 3 months when frozen in an airtight container. Yup – you can be savoring the scrumptious taste of the last hot and hazy days of summer well into the winter when it will (supposedly) be cold. This Pistou is easy to make, so what are you waiting for? Break out your food processor and you’ll have this tasty sauce done is just a few whirrs!

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Zucchini-Basil Pistou

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print

recipe from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 pounds zucchini (2-3 zucchini, depending on size)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

First you will need to core the zucchini to remove the inner seeds. To do this cut the zucchini in half and then slice off the ends so that each piece will stand flat. Cut off the outer flesh of the zucchini, leaving the inner seed cores behind. Discard the cores or save for soup. Cut the remaining zucchini into 1-inch pieces.
In a small saucepan, combine the zucchini pieces with the olive oil and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the basil leaves, stir, and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt. Pulse until you have a chunky purée. Transfer the pistou to a small bowl and serve warm.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The pistou can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.

Enjoy!

Zucchini-Basil Pistou brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaanjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Zucchini-Basil Pistou:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

 

 


Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread

April 19, 2019

IMG_8091Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!

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And not only does the house smell completely irresistible, what with all the baking buns, but I am also ready to share a new recipe with you for Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.

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This tender, sweet and citrus-y yeast bread is shot through with swirls of a chocolatey nut filling. It looks so festive and tastes Ahh-mazing! And here is the truly amazing thing, I have somehow managed to get this blog out BEFORE the actual holiday. Last year I didn’t get the recipe for my Italian Easter Bread published until Easter had come and gone. So this year is definitely an improvement in that regard.

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I tried to play my tardiness off last year by saying “Oh, you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019”. But now I guess now you’ll have to pick between the Italian Easter Bread and this Cozonac or be ahead of the game with a recipe waiting in the wings for Easter 2020!

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I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. I’ve already told you about my Italian Easter Bread last year. The year before I made Tsoureki from Greece.

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There was also the Slovak Paska:

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As well as the impressive Russian Kulich:

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But let me get back to the bread at hand today.

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Cozonac has Romanian origins. It is traditionally baked during both Easter and Christmas. Soft and tender, this bread is slightly sweet and flavored with orange & lemon zests as well as rum. Ha! Now you’re talking huh? The delicious filling has also got a bit of rum in it, so take care that you don’t get too festive over this holiday. Walnuts are typically used in the filling, though the filling ingredients do vary from region to region. I used ground almonds. I think pecans would also be quite tasty.

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Cozonac was pretty easy to make, though keep in mind it does require two rising times and a bit of finesse as you have to roll out four different sections of dough, spread the sticky filling evenly and then roll them up and twist the rolls together. That’s how you get those beautiful spirals in your finished loaves.

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And for all of your effort, you are most definitely rewarded with not one but TWO loaves of this scrumptious bread.

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It is a decadent indulgence just as it is, and I bet it will make some phenomenal French toast. I’ll have to let you know about that. So what are you waiting for? I’ve actually given you a bit of time to get this baked for Easter this year. I promise, you won’t be sorry! Happy Easter!

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Cozonac - Romanian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

recipe from: She Loves Biscotti

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 720 grams (approx. 6 cups) bread flour
  • 8 grams (2¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 200 grams walnuts, almonds or pecans finely ground, about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Directions:

Make the dough:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the butter and stir until butter is almost melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the butter/milk mixture is cooling, add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast to the mixing bowl of a stand mixture, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.

Once the milk/butter mixture has cooled to luke warm (98°F/36°C) add it to the flour/yeast and combine on low speed for 2-3 minutes.

Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, grate the orange and lemon zest and set aside.

With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the are just combined.  Scrape down bowl and mix for about 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract, rum and salt.

Switch to dough hook attachment.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, mixing until combined. Once all the flour has been added, continue to knead for a few minutes.

Add the citrus zests and continue to knead for about 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. NOTE: If you find that the dough is still sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered dough rising bucket or bowl. Make sure to turn the dough over in order to completely coat the dough with the butter.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until double in size.

In the meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling:

Over medium heat, in a small sauce pan, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the ground nuts and stir until a paste-like consistency is reached. This should take about 15 minutes. Stir often. (I used Almond Flour because it was easy – being ground and ready to go.)

Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to stir until a paste like consistency is achieved.

Set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Cozonac:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack at bottom third of oven. Butter two (9 x 5 inch) loaf pans.

Punch down the risen dough and divide into four equal parts. I use a kitchen scale just to make sure I’ve the pieces are equal.

On a rolling mat or lightly floured wooden board, roll out each section into a large rectangle (about 11 x 14). Spread out the 1/4 of the nut mixture (approx. 1/2 cup) to within 1/2″ from the edge for each rectangle.

Starting from the long end, roll the dough to form a log. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Pinch the ends and the seams together.

Twist two pieces of the dough log together and place in prepared loaf pan. Do the same with the last two pieces of dough logs.

Brush the top of the dough with a beaten egg. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap. Allow them to double in size. This can take 45 – 60 minutes.

Sprinkle a little Demerara sugar over the top and bake for about 45 minutes. Feel free to place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the tops to prevent over browning.

Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

Cozonac brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cozonac:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

Silicone Pastry Dough Rolling Mat

King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder


Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Buttercream Frosting

March 17, 2019

 

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Woo-hoo! Today is St. Patrick’s Day!!! It is here, it is here! But this year I am parting with tradition a bit. I have always shared a cupcake recipe for my last post of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon. However, today you are getting a full-sized cake! And when I say full sized, I mean it. This Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Buttercream Frosting is a whopper!

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Kind of like my waist size after I gobbled it all up…but whatever! It was completely worth every inch it added as well as every additional minute I spent in the gym afterwards working it off. This imposing cake features a layer of silky, dreamy Baileys swiss meringue buttercream nestled between two big, tall layers of moist, rich and intensely chocolatey cake which has been frosted with a decadent chocolate ganache. The Baileys Buttercream makes another appearance as the garnish on top of the cake. A chocolate lovers bliss I tell you!

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Even the Husband, who doesn’t really go in for chocolate desserts, couldn’t get enough of it. He must have asked me a dozen times to make sure I saved this recipe. This Guinness Chocolate cake will definitely make an impression!

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So I do apologize for not sharing a cupcake recipe. Once I made this cake and got my first little taste of it, I just couldn’t wait to share it with you. I suppose you could make it into cupcakes if you wished, but I gotta admit I am a fan of the stature of this full sized decadent delight!

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Well it looks like I’ve gotta get going…my blogging is done for a while. I’ve got some Patrick’s Day festivities to attend to. So see you in a week or so, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

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Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Buttercream Frosting

  • Servings: 1 (excuse my french ) - Big Ass Cake, 16 servings or so depending how you slice it
  • Difficulty: moderate - nothing too difficult, but lots of steps!
  • Print

recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 2 cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

For the external Chocolate Ganache frosting

  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the internal Baileys Buttercream frosting

  • 2 Extra – Large Egg Whites
  • 3/4 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Cups (2 sticks) Butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, cool but not cold
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8″ or two 9″ cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9″ pans are at least 2″ deep.

For the cake: Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.

Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.

Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.

Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.

Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans.

Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8″ pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9″ pans, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.

For the Ganache frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely smooth.

Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the icing is spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

For the Baileys frosting:

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color is milky white, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium-high speed (start slowly at first) until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and beat on medium-high speed (start slowly at first) until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If the buttercream looks like it is breaking, don’t worry, it will eventually come together.

Add the salt and Baileys Irish Cream and beat for 5 seconds to combine.

To assemble: Trim one cake layer to have a flat top, if necessary (otherwise the layer will crack when you place it upside down on your cake plate).

Line the edges of a serving plate with parchment or waxed paper to keep it clean, and then place the layer upside down on top. Spread 2/3 cup of the Baileys Buttercream over just the top of the layer.

Top with another cake layer, top side down. 

Spread the chocolate ganache frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment or waxed paper. 

Place remaining Baileys Buttercream frosting in piping bag and pipe onto the top of the cake. Garnish with chocolate candies if desired.

Enjoy!

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Buttercream Frosting:


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