Stollen Pull-Apart Ring

For me, stollen is  one of those nostalgic foods that brings back lots of great memories. It all started when my mother’s ‘pen pal’ (of 20 years), would send our family a loaf of her homemade stollen bread through the mail at Christmas. She lived in different province of Canada than we did and it seemed so amazing to receive this perishable item through the postal service. Nevertheless, it left a lasting imprint on me to become one of those precious ‘taste of a memory’ foods.

Over time, I have made this traditional German Christmas specialty in various ways. This year my choice is to make it as a pull-apart bread. This term refers to a bread formed from pieces of dough, placed next to and on top of each other in a pan and baked. This bread required no knives to serve.

An interesting concept that has been called many names such as bubble bread or loaf, jumble bread, monkey bread etc. Initially it was formed pieces of yeast dough dipped in butter and baked in a loaf to be served with jam or preserves. In 1942, General Mills (Betty Crocker) promoted ‘Hungarian Coffee Cake’, which consisted of balls of yeast dough dipped in melted butter, then in sugar frequently mixed with cinnamon and/or chopped nuts. It was baked in a ring pan because the central tube helped prevent the center from being under baked and sinking due to all the butter. ‘Betty Crocker’ had a real way for turning unknown recipes into mainstream ideas.

By the 1990’s, General Mills promotions began entitling this sugar coated treat as ‘Monkey Bread’. However, it may have been silent-screen movie star, ‘Zasu Pitts’, who provided this whimsical name. The term and recipe initially appeared in the Thursday, February 8th, 1945 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press (Canada) in the column ‘Culinary Clinic’. Zasu was most often remembered for her extraordinary name, huge eyes and fluttering fingers. Besides acting, she had a passion for cooking and published a 93 page cookbook in 1963.

Most of the early recipes called for rolling out the dough and cutting it into diamond shapes instead of forming balls. The widespread popularization of money bread corresponded to the advent of the commercial refrigerated biscuit dough in the 1950’s. One of the later innovations is to insert a little cinnamon-sugar coated cube of cream cheese in the center of each dough ball or drizzle with a cream cheese glaze.

For my pull-apart stollen, I’m using a yeast-free recipe. It’s an interesting version that mimics the traditional flavor well. To serve, you can pull-apart the bread rolls or slice it  — your choice!

Stollen Pull-Apart Ring
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Servings
14-16
Servings
14-16
Stollen Pull-Apart Ring
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Servings
14-16
Servings
14-16
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Grease a tube pan & set aside. In a bowl, combine candied peel, water & extracts; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, almonds, baking powder, salt, & spices. Cut in butter until it resembles fine crumbs.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. To candied peel mixture, add cottage cheese, eggs, lemon zest & raisins. Combine well with flour mixture. Arrange scoops of stollen batter into tube pan. Bake about 40-45 minutes or until test done. Cool on wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.
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Vintage Ice Box Cookies

The icebox or refrigerator cookie has been around as long as there have been ‘iceboxes’ to store them in. The recipes produce large yields and are the quickest way to make ‘homemade cookies’ in a short space of time. The technique of what has also been called ‘slice & bake’ cookies, is nothing if not do-ahead and convenient. After the dough is mixed and shaped into logs, it may be either refrigerated or frozen. Then, when you’re ready to bake, simply remove the logs from the freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, slice and bake. Just slice off as many cookies as you need; any dough you don’t use can be refrozen. For a little extra pizzaz, roll the logs before slicing in crushed nuts, colored sugar, poppy seeds or finely chopped candied fruit such as crystallized ginger. The rolls of dough will keep in the refrigerator for about three or four days or frozen for up to three months.

The icebox cookie originated  before my time but I do remember my mother making a chocolate icebox cookie with walnuts in them. Refrigeration methods had come a long way by then but the original concept of the icebox cookie never changed.

In early North America, ice was harvested from ponds and then stored in sawdust insulation to last into the summer months. In the advent of the railroad, insulated box cars hauled ice to keep foods cold in the markets and restaurants. In the early 1800’s, iceboxes were developed for home use. They were simply chests with a compartment for food and another for ice. The ice was replaced as it melted.

In the 1840’s, compression methods for making ice were developed. Eventually, new refrigerated iceboxes became common in homes. By the 1920’s recipes for icebox ‘cakes’ began appearing in cookbooks. These icebox cakes evolved into today’s time-tested, icebox cookies.

At this busy time of year, having a stash of pre-made slice & bake cookies on hand is priceless. Many people love the idea of giving homemade cookies as gifts or using at office cookie exchanges. Thinking about that, I decided to feature a recipe and gift idea for some inspiration on the subject.

The gift could include an inexpensive little cookie jar with some baked cookies in it as well as some frozen logs of cookie dough (ready to slice & bake), a tea towel, a rimless baking sheet, a cooling rack, a flexible lifter, a set of dry measures, a roll of parchment paper and the recipe for  CHOCOLATE TOFFEE COOKIES.

Vintage Ice Box Cookies
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Servings
60 cookies
Servings
60 cookies
Vintage Ice Box Cookies
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Servings
60 cookies
Servings
60 cookies
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in milk, egg & vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt; stir into butter mixture in 2 additions. Stir in toffee bits & nuts.
  3. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of plastic wrap, roll into log about 12-13-inches long. Refrigerate, re-rolling 2 or 3 times to keep round shape if necessary during the chilling time of 4 hours.
  4. Let stand at room temperature just long enough so you can slice them without the dough cracking or changing shape. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, slice into 1/4-inch thick slices; place on baking sheet & bake about 8-10 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies WITH parchment to cooling rack.
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Ham & Olive Bread with ‘Spanish’ Omelettes

About six years ago, I tasted this popular French cake au jambon et aux olives for the first time.  The word ‘cake’ in France refers to a baked savory cake made with ham, olives and cheese. They are exclusively rectangular in shape and made in a bread pan. The texture is between a bread and a cake, making it it good for picnics, cubed as an appetizer with drinks or served with a soup or salad.

This savory cake/bread has endless possibilities when it comes to ingredients. Apart from the original ham, olives and cheese, you can use cooked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet corn kernels, spinach or really any personal choice you have. Well wrapped, it will keep for a few days in the fridge, reheating it or just enjoying it cold.

In this recipe I used  a mix of black and green olives, ham, bacon and a Gruyere/mozzarella cheese combo. I decided to pair it with a Spanish omelette which complimented the savory bread well. The ‘cake’ I had the opportunity of trying the first time was made by a ‘very’ French lady. It set the bar high for my own to turn out as good. We loved it so I guess this recipe is a ‘keeper’.

Ham & Olive Bread with Spanish Omelette
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Servings
2 +
Servings
2 +
Ham & Olive Bread with Spanish Omelette
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Servings
2 +
Servings
2 +
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Olive Bread
  1. In a skillet, saute finely chopped onion with bacon until slightly cooked. Drain on paper towels to avoid soggy dough. Slice olives & chop parsley & ham.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together wine, oil, eggs & salt. In another bowl, sift flour & baking powder. Stir into liquid mixture along with rest of the ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pan & bake about 1 hour or until bread tests done.
Omelette Topping Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil & saute onion for 3-4 minutes. Add green pepper & garlic; continue to cook another 3-4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, salt & pepper; reduce heat & simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover & set aside to keep warm.
Omelettes for Two
  1. Grate cheese; set aside. Slice onions, zucchini & mushrooms, On a medium-hot griddle, saute vegetables just until tender crisp in 1 tsp of butter. Remove to a dish until ready to use. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with salt & pepper. Make 2 circles of beaten eggs on griddle. Top each with 1/2 of refried beans, veggies & grated cheese. Carefully fold each omelette in half enclosing filling; add a tiny bit of water to the griddle (in between the omelettes) & cover with a large lid. When omelettes are cooked remove to serving plates & top with the tomato sauce. Serve with warm olive bread.
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Hazelnut Liqueur Shortbread Cookies

It’s hard to think of Christmas without having shortbread. When I was growing up, fruitcake (or Christmas cake) and shortbread cookies were some of the staples associated with Christmas baking.  Fruitcake has definitely become lost in the shuffle  but it seems shortbread still remains. While the traditional shortbread consisted of three main ingredients — flour, sugar and butter, today it is flavored with any number of ingredients.

The first shortbread recipe appeared in a Scottish cookbook dated 1736. Early formulas called for yeast, but by 1850, most were utilizing only flour,  sugar and butter combined in a ratio bakers still use today. Originally it started out as a twice-baked medieval bread roll that was dusted in sugar and allowed to harden. For a number of years, Scottish shortbread (biscuits) were classified as a bread by bakers so that they could avoid the tax placed on biscuits.

There are infinite variations on the classic version such as additions of nuts, alcohol, citrus zest, dried fruit, anise spice, floral water, chocolate, lemon curd, caramel or ganache.

Some years ago, I started using a hazelnut liqueur in some of my Christmas baking. It adds a wonderful richness we really enjoy. My favorite is the Frangelico brand. It is distilled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy from an alcohol and water infusion of the nuts. Natural flavoring extracts such as cocoa and vanilla are added before blending with alcohol, sugar and water to meet the bottle strength. It’s origins go back over 300 years to the Christian monks who inhabited that area of Italy. The name Frangelico is derived from one of the monks, Fra. Angelico. The bottle itself, reflects this heritage, which looks like a glass monk complete with a rope belt. A bit pricey but if you are using it only for baking, the bottle lasts a long time. 

This recipe was featured in a ‘Canadian Living’ magazine in December 2002. The perfect shortbread for the upcoming season.

 

Hazelnut Liqueur Shortbread Cookies
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Servings
48 cookies
Servings
48 cookies
Hazelnut Liqueur Shortbread Cookies
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Servings
48 cookies
Servings
48 cookies
Ingredients
Shortbread Cookies
Hazelnut Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
Shortbread
  1. In a bowl, beat butter with sugar until light & fluffy followed by the liqueur & vanilla. Stir in cornstarch & salt. Next add flour, 1/3 at a time combining to make a smooth dough. Add nuts, then divide dough in half & chill until firm but not hard, about 30-60 minutes.
  2. Roll out each disk of dough to a 1/4-inch thickness & chill again at least 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut into desired shapes, re-rolling scrapes. Place 1-inch apart on baking sheet; chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. bake shortbread cookies for 15-20 minutes or until LIGHT golden. Remove from oven & place on cooking rack. Spread with glaze if desired.
Hazelnut Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, liqueur & 2 Tbsp water (adding more water if needed to make spreadable). Spread over shortbread cookies.
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Parmesan-Shrimp Bread Sticks with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

It seems we never get enough of taking just about anything we do to the next level. Case in point would be pizza dough. It started as a very thin, crispy crust and evolved into whatever thickness you wanted to make it. Enter the ‘stuffed’ crust with a ring of cheese encased in the outer edges of your pizza! Then, of course, the actual pizza fillings can be virtually anything that you choose or have available.

Bread sticks, on the other hand, aren’t something that have remained unscathed either. Probably the original simple design was ‘grissini’ (as they are known in Italy). Today’s bread sticks come in many forms from super crispy, thin ones to the larger ones often served with spaghetti and used to mop up excess sauce. Now, here’s where it gets one step better. Enter ‘homemade stuffed’ bread sticks. For inspiration all you have to do is think about all of your pizza toppings. Use them as options for either mixing into your dough or actually stuffing into a bread stick.

Being shrimp and Parmesan lovers, the natural thing for me to do was  incorporate both into some bread sticks. The next step was to pair them with a nice light broccoli-cheddar soup. A match made in heaven even if I do say so myself.

Parmesan-Shrimp Bread Sticks with Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Parmesan-Shrimp Bread Sticks with Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Parmesan Shrimp Bread Sticks
Lite Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Servings:
Instructions
Parmesan Shrimp Bread Sticks
  1. Combine all ingredients, in the order listed, in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium-low until the dough comes together. Continue to mix on medium-low for 5 minutes to knead. Dough is ready when it is stretchy & smooth. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Bread Stick Filling
  1. Peel, devein & slightly chop raw shrimp; place in a bowl. Grate & slightly chop fresh Parmesan cheese. Combine oil, minced garlic, spices & Parmesan cheese with chopped shrimp.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch dough down; on a lightly floured work surface, press dough into roughly an 8 X 12-inch rectangle. Top with shrimp filling & sprinkle with dill weed. Slice lengthwise into 8 strips; fold each strip in half enclosing filling. Twist each strip slightly & lay on baking sheet. Top each bread stick with some grated mozzarella cheese (or you could put it on as soon as they come out of the oven). Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with soup.
Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
  1. In a large saucepan, saute onion & garlic in olive oil until tender. Stir in flour; cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Add the broccoli, tarragon, thyme & pepper; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Add milk; cook, uncovered 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
  3. In a blender, process about half of the soup until smooth. Return to saucepan; heat through. Reduce heat. Add 100 grams of cheese; stir just until melted. Serve immediately, garnishing with remaining cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • When time is of the essence and you need to speed up the process, use a tube of purchased refrigerated pizza or bread stick dough instead of making your own. 
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Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns

As I mentioned in a previous blog, persimmons are definitely underrated. If you haven’t used them before, now is a good time to give them a try. Where we are, here in Canada, you start seeing them in the grocery stores around October. A bit pricey at first but they get better as the winter rolls along. There are unlimited ways to use them posted on the internet.

The persimmon is Japan’s national fruit. The most commonly found varieties are the ‘Hachiya’, round with a slightly elongated, pointed base and the ‘Fuyu’, smaller and more tomato shaped. When ripe, both have a red-orange skin and flesh, creamy texture and a tangy-sweet, vanilla like flavor.

Today, I’m using a Fuyu persimmon to make some nice little sticky buns. This recipe makes a small amount and tastes amazing.

Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Butter 5 or 6 custard cups. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter; add brown sugar. Stir until sugar is melted & begins to bubble. Divide sugar mixture between custard cups. Place a pecan half (upside down) in center of each cup. Place sliced persimmon quarters in a circular fashion on top of sugar & pecan. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, beat remaining 4 Tbsp butter & granulated sugar until fluffy. Whisk in vanilla, egg & milk until fully blended.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder & salt. Add to wet ingredients, mixing ONLY until blended. Carefully fold in chopped pecans.
  4. Divide batter between custard cups & bake for 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in custard cups. Invert on serving platter & serve.
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‘Ube’ Sweet Rolls

I received an email from Pinterest the other day with some interesting recipe ideas. One was to do with Filipino breads. I noticed many centered around a purple yam. A very popular tuber in the Philippines, widely used in desserts and called ube ( pronounced ooo-bae). While purple yam is a relative of the sweet potato, they are not the same tuber. It is also not the same as taro root.

Just like any other tuber, purple yams can be boiled, steamed or baked. Once cooked, they don’t actually taste like much. It’s flavors are enhanced, when combined with sweeteners and liquids such as sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. Ube adds an earthy, nuttiness to baking and is so visually striking with its vibrant purple color.

Swirl bread or rolls are made of a soft, yeasted, sweet dough filled with purple yam paste. Shredded Edam or queso de bola cheese is often sprinkled on top, giving it a sweet/salty flavor. I decided to try my luck at making some ‘ube rolls’. After scouring the usual grocery stores for purple yams with no luck, Brion and I found an Asian grocery store. They sold grated and frozen ube in 454 gram packages. Perfect! I looked at numerous recipes on the internet, then did my usual. Piece together a few different recipe ideas and ingredients that looked like it would work for me.

It just happens, Brion works with a Filipino lady by the name of Janice. I was hoping to share some of the finished product with her family to see if I had got the taste right. To my surprise, she said it was exactly how it was supposed to taste. Wow! Sometimes you get lucky.

'Ube' Sweet Rolls
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Servings
18
Servings
18
'Ube' Sweet Rolls
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Servings
18
Servings
18
Ingredients
Ube (Purple Yam) Filling
Sweet Roll Dough
Servings:
Instructions
Ube (Purple Yam) Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & stir everything together. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture will be thick & sticky. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a crust. Transfer the ube paste/jam to a container & set aside.
Cheese
  1. Grate cheese & set aside in refrigerator until needed.
Sweet Roll Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down. Divide into 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece with a rolling pin. Spread the middle of each piece with ube filling & SOME of the grated cheese. Close up the piece over the filling like an envelope, pinch long edges together, & roll it with your fingers into a rod shape. Coil each rod into a rounded snail shape. Place in greased baking dish & cover with plastic wrap/towel. Allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. Sprinkle with sugar & more grated cheese.
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Orange Tempura Chicken

Though called Chinese food in North America, ‘orange chicken’ is rarely found in Chinese restaurants in China. It seems its more an Americanized mutation of the sweet & sour dishes found in China.

Chef, Andy Kao is credited with inventing orange chicken in 1987. Inspired by flavors from the Hunan Province of China, he developed the dish while he was employed as Panda Express’ executive chef in Hawaii.

I, personally, have never enjoyed eating anything that is coated in a heavy batter. Tempura is different from other fried fare due to its distinctive batter. It uses no bread crumbs and less grease than other frying methods. The light batter is made of cold water (sometimes sparkling water is used to keep the batter light) and soft wheat flour. Eggs, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, oil and/or spices may also be added.

Tempura batter is traditionally mixed in small batches for only a few seconds. Leaving lumps in the mixture along with the cold batter temperature, result in a unique fluffy and crisp structure when cooked. Over mixing tempura batter will result in activation of the wheat gluten, which causes the flour mixture to become soft and dough-like when fried.

The orange chicken I’m making today uses a nice light tempura batter, is grilled instead of deep fried, then coated with a unique and quick orange sauce (from kraftcanada.com). Add some Jasmine rice and veggies — perfect!

Orange Tempura Chicken
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Orange Tempura Chicken
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Prepare vegetables & saute in 1/2 cup chicken broth ONLY until tender-crisp. Drain broth & reserve for sauce when vegtables are sauteed.
Orange Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine dry jelly powder & cornstarch. Add broth, dressing, garlic & gingerroot; stir until jelly powder is dissolved. Add reserved broth from vegetables & cook until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently.
Tempura Batter & Chicken
  1. Slice chicken into strips. In a small bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda & salt. In another small bowl, whisk egg with veg oil, soy sauce & ice water. Add to dry mixture, mixing only for a few seconds. Batter should be somewhat 'lumpy'.
  2. Heat oil on an electric griddle to a medium heat. Dip slices of chicken in tempura batter with a fork, draining off excess. Place on griddle & fry about 7 minutes or until cooked through. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Prepare Jasmine rice & place on a serving platter. Top with sauteed vegetables & chicken. Ladle orange sauce over vegetables & chicken. If you prefer, serve rice, veg, chicken & sauce all separately so everyone can make up there own combination.
Recipe Notes
  • We always like quite a bit of sauce but if you don't, just make half a recipe of the orange sauce.
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Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling

Potato pancake variations are present in National cuisines all over the world and considered by many to be pure comfort food. The nice thing is, you can create this great meal by using leftover mashed potatoes. It can be kept simple or you can amp up the flavor with cheese, onion, bacon or a variety of spices. I recall my mother making them. I think she just added some eggs, onion, a bit of flour and some salt & pepper to the leftover, mashed potatoes. They were made into patties and pan fried as you would a pancake.

Depending on which part of Eastern Europe you come from, the name varies — Kolduny, Zrazy, Kartoffelpuffer are just a few. Regardless of the name you call them, they are just simply delicious. The Russian version takes it a bit further. The potato pancake is stuffed with a filling and then fried to a golden brown.

After reading through numerous recipes, I decided to ‘meld’ some of them into my own creation. These are what developed — nothing pretty but really good flavor. Yes, truly comfort food.

Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling
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Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling
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Ingredients
Potato Pancakes
Servings:
Instructions
Pork Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine pork filling ingredients; divide into 8 portions & form each into a patty shape. Refrigerate until potato pancake 'batter' is prepared .
Potato Pancakes
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until crispy; drain on a paper towel until cool. In skillet with remaining bacon grease, saute onion & garlic until translucent.
  2. In a large bowl, crumble bacon into small bits. Add cold mashed potatoes, onion, garlic, beaten egg, cheddar (if using), flour, salt & pepper. Combine well. Using a large piece of waxed paper, form 16 patties. On top of each one, place one of the pork patties & then top each with the remaining potato patties. With a pair of scissors, cut waxed paper to separate filled potato pancakes so it will be easy for you to place them on a griddle for frying.
  3. Lightly oil a frying pan or griddle. Using the waxed paper remaining under each pancake, carefully flip each filled pancake onto the griddle. Flatten a bit & press edges to enclose filling better. Fry first side to a nice golden brown then carefully flip with a spatula & brown second side a few minutes. Cover with a lid (or foil) for remaining cooking time to ensure pork is cooked through.
  4. Once cooked, remove from griddle & serve with sour cream or Ranch dressing.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to make the pancakes the size that works best for you.
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Halloween Cookies

The end of October! Seriously, it seems like we were just getting into spring and now its Halloween. Brion and I were in a store around the end of September that already had Christmas displays up. For me, that really doesn’t work. Maybe it just comes as we get older, but I really enjoy to try to stay in the ‘moment’ and enjoy each day, season and year as they unfold. That time will never come again, so why do we feel the need to rush it so. I guess you could call it, ‘making the most of your own personal journey’.

Nevertheless, it is time to think about some treats for the special ‘little people’ next door. We have just wonderful neighbors on either side of us. One family has two boys and the other side, two girls. I especially enjoy to come up with something unique each year for them on Halloween.

This year I decided to do some apple ‘mummy’ pastries (apple instead of pumpkin for kids, right?!), chocolate bats and black cat cookies. If these treats turn out they should look great! Fun! Fun! Fun!

Halloween Cookies
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Halloween Cookies
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Ingredients
Apple Mummy Cream Cheese Pastries
Filling & Topping
Black Cat Cookies
Servings:
Instructions
Apple Mummy Pastries makes 12
  1. FOR CRUST: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt & sugar, then add butter. Pulse until only until coarse meal texture is obtained. Add chilled water 1-2 Tbsp at a time. If your dough doesn't come together in clumps add remaining water. Divide dough into two portions & shape each into a 5-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap & chill for one hour.
  2. FOR FILLING: On a cutting board, chop apple pie filling into smaller pieces. In a bowl, soften cream cheese & combine with apple filling & 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cover bowl & chill until ready to assemble cookies.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out first disk of dough to about 13 X 11-inch rectangle. You will need to have straight edges so you may need to trim a bit. Make twelve 4 X 2 1/2-inch rectangles. Roll out second disk of dough & cut into 1/2-inch strips.
  4. Space rectangles on prepared baking sheet & spread 2 heaping Tbsp of apple filling onto each one, leaving a rim on all sides uncoated. Brush uncoated edges with egg/water mixture. Top with strips to create a 'mummy' look, then seal edges with your fingertips & trim any excess. Brush strips with remaining egg white/water mixture & sprinkle with combined sugar & cinnamon. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until golden. When cooled secure edible candy eyes.
Chocolate Bats
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; set aside. Remove wrappers from Reeses cups. Gently separate Oreo cookies & scrape off frosting. Cut cookies in half to form 4 bat wings. Fill a plastic baggie with cream cheese frosting. Cut off the tip of one corner & pipe frosting onto one corner of each cookie half.
  2. Press one cookie piece on the left of the Reeses cup & another cookie piece on the right forming your bat in flight. Pipe frosting on the back of the edible eyes & secure on top of the center of the Reeses cup.
Black Cat Cookies
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add egg, & vanilla; combine then stir in flour, dry pudding mix & nuts. Combine well but do not over mix. Roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thick between 2 sheets of parchment. Place in freezer for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut cooled dough into pumpkin shapes & place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  3. In a small double boiler, melt black candy melts. Pour melted wafers into a piping bag fitted with a fine tip. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface with a printout of black cats underneath. Trace cat shapes & fill in after. Allow to set completely, then peel shapes from waxed paper.
  4. Ice cooled pumpkin cookies with orange frosting then lightly press a black cat on the top of each one. This recipe should make about 30 cookies.
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