Sour cream is often thought of as topping for potatoes or an addition to sauces. Due to its creamy texture, sour cream can be added to a variety of baked goods and recipes in order to yield moister results. The use of sour cream has been associated with the cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, Germany, Ukraine and Russia since the first half of the 20th century. Originally made by allowing cream to sour naturally, today’s commercial version can contain the addition of lactic acid, gelatin or guar gum.
Probably one of the first recipes I ever used sour cream in was coffeecake. I just couldn’t believe how tender and moist it was and the heavenly smell when it came out of the oven. Looking through my mother’s recipe files, I see there were many recipes that contained sour cream that she had used.
I saw this recipe on a site called love2cooksweets.ca It was posted back in 2010. Nothing fancy but makes a wonderful sour cream oatmeal cookie. These can be filed under ‘comfort food’ I’m sure.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugars; beat in egg & vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in raisins & oats.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Scoop dough onto cookie sheet a few inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan about 30 seconds then remove to wire racks.
Today, July 25th, is my sister Loretta’s birthday. As I think of her with fondness on her day, I wanted to feature a special meal that I’m sure she would enjoy. I would much rather be making it for her but distance makes that impossible.
The entree I am preparing is WILD SALMON ROULADE stuffed with SHRIMP & SCALLOPS and served with DILL SAUCE.
Roulades have been around since the 18th century. The things that have made them so popular are that they are simple — once prepared they need little attention while cooking. They are versatile — any meat or fish that can be thinly sliced lengthwise will work. There are many options when it comes to the filling — anything that cooks faster than the outside is suitable. Elegant for entertaining — on the outside a delicate fillet of fish or meat; on the inside a hidden second flavor.
In this recipe, the salmon roulade is stuffed with shrimp and scallops and served with a delicate sauce.
Loretta is a few years older than I am so she has always been in my life. I have lots of wonderful memories from our ‘adventures’ while growing up on the farm together. Thank you, Loretta, for those beautiful moments in life that can never be brought back but I will treasure them in memories forever.
OUR FAMILY CELEBRATES YOU WITH LOVE ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY!
In a bowl, whisk egg white until frothy; set aside. Finely chop shrimp; cut scallops into 1/2-inch cubes. Add seafood to egg white. Add bread crumbs, chives, parsley, lemon rind, tarragon, salt & pepper; toss to combine. Refrigerate.
Butterfly (skinned) salmon fillet; sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread stuffing over salmon leaving a border at edges. Starting at long side , roll salmon, tying with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals. Place on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Roast about 50 minutes or when thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 160 F. Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil & let rest for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix dill sauce ingredients together. Adjust consistency with milk & tartness with lemon juice. Set aside for 10-20 minutes You could use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It is slightly more tangy & low fat tends to be less creamy but does reduce the calories.
You can prepare the salmon roulade up to 2 hours ahead, just cover & refrigerate.
Sheet cakes are sometimes thought of by some as a lazy man’s cake. Yes, they are easy to bake and contain no fancy layers or have intricate decorations but ….
Traditionally a sheet cake refers to a cake baked in a large, shallow rectangular pan such as a jelly-roll pan. They are single layer and almost always frosted on both top and sides.
The famous ‘Texas Sheet Cake’ that is very popular in the US seems to be referenced as far back as 1936. I understand it started out as three layers and ultimately became a one layer, large sheet cake. By the 1970’s these recipes were using sour cream instead of buttermilk and alternative ingredients had evolved.
Today, if you are wanting to make a sheet cake you can find over 300 recipe choices on allrecipes.com alone. At this time of year with so many people hosting block parties, barbecues, family gatherings etc. I thought it would be nice to post a favorite recipe of mine. If you like poppy seed, you will absolutely love this cake.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside in fridge. In a small bowl, combine flour, poppy seed, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, gradually adding sugar, followed by oil, milk, flavorings & dry ingredients.
Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into 2 unbuttered 9 x 13" pans or onto an unbuttered cookie sheet 18 x 15 x 1". Bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool completely.
Icing & Topping
In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients & beat until smooth; spread on cake & cool completely. Melt chocolate & margarine in microwave. QUICKLY spread topping over cooled cake.
I was only needing a small amount today so I made a quarter of the recipe & baked it in an 8 x 8-inch pan. It cuts nicely into 9 or 18 pieces.
Victoria Day is the distinctly Canadian holiday that officially wraps up winter. Even if the date marks the informal start of summer, you could be planning for a backyard barbecue or an impromptu indoor shut-in due to an array of snow, sleet, rain or hail.
Although we are well into the 21st century, in Canada we still celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday over 100 years after her passing. The only other country in the Commonwealth to observe this celebration is Scotland. This is our oldest statuary holiday in Canada and is celebrated annually on the Monday preceding May 25th. In the maritime provinces it is a non-statuary ‘general’ holiday and in Quebec, ‘National Patriots Day’ is observed instead.
While we might hang onto the British queen’s name for old times sake, the tradition of Victoria Day is truly Canadian and has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days, and a lot to do with some great food.
My choice of food for today’s blog should work well with your own ‘barbecue’ meal. It is APPLE-TURKEY SAUSAGE ROLLS and STUFFED POTATO SKINS.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute apple, onion, sage, thyme & allspice in olive oil for 5 minutes. Apples & onions should be soft but not browned. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine cooled apple mixture with ground turkey, salt & pepper. Using your hands, gently mix until everything is evenly combined, making sure not to overwork the mixture.
Unroll the puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured work surface, cut crosswise to make three long, strips ((about 10 x 3.5" each) Brush a line of mustard down the middle of each strip. Divide filling into 3 equal portions. Roll into sausage shapes & place down the middle of each pastry rectangle. Brush edges firmly to seal.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg, & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with plastic wrap & place in the freezer to firm up, about 15 minutes.
Using a very sharp knife, cut each roll into 8 bite-sized pieces & arrange 1" apart on baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown & sausage is cooked through.
Stuffed Potato Skins
Microwave potatoes, uncovered, on high for 14-17 minutes or until tender but firm, turning once. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4" shell ( pulp can be used elsewhere).
Combine oil & hot pepper sauce; brush over potato shells. Cut each potato shell in half lengthwise again. Place on baking sheets coated with baking spray. Sprinkle with the tomato, bacon, onion & cheese. Bake at 450 F. for 12-14 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream.
German-inspired yeasted coffee cake is a very popular type of cake all over Germany and Austria. It is very different from the typical butter cake associated with streusel coffee cake in North America. Whereas a butter cake is rich, sweet and fine grained, kuchen is light and slightly porous with a complexity of flavor that can only be found in yeast leavened baked goods. Of course, there are many different variations, but the important part is the streusel or crumbled topping, which consists of a combination of flour, sugar, butter and spices.
In the past, most German towns and cities had orchards planted all around them, on land that belonged to the community. Cows or sheep grazed underneath the trees and people were free to pick the fruits when they became ripe. Today most of those common lands have been turned into suburbs and the trees are gone. Destruction of the remnants of ancient orchards is ongoing, contributing to the loss of heirloom varieties. Even though the diversity of choice is decreasing, the apple is still by far the most popular fruit in Germany.
Here is my best adaptation of an APPLE STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE that I think you might enjoy to try.
In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/8 cup sugar & lukewarm water; allow to dissolve. Stir in remaining 1/8 cup of sugar, salt, milk, sour cream, lemon juice & vanilla; mix well. Add egg & blend.
With fingertips, rapidly work the butter into 2 1/2 cups of the flour until coarse, meal-like consistency. Add to the yeast mixture & knead in bowl, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, elastic dough. Shape into a ball & place in a lightly buttered bowl. Cover tightly and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled in bulk.
Peel & slice apples. In a small saucepan, combine all filling ingredients except pecans. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until apples are tender, & juice has evaporated. Stir in pecans; set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon & lemon zest. With fingertips, rub in butter until mixture is coarse & crumbly. Set aside.
When dough has doubled in size, turn out on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. Press out gently into a rectangle about 10 x 14-inches in size. Spread apple filling to within 1/4-inch of edges & very gently press into dough. Roll up from the wide end, jelly-roll fashion.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-inch tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel in pan. Carefully, (dough will be very soft) with the help of the wax paper, fit the roll into the pan so that the ends of the dough join. Pinch ends of together. Sprinkle cake with remaining streusel. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven & allow cake to cool before slicing.
In contrast to it’s name, coffeecake usually does not have any coffee in it but is most often served with coffee. This is a cake that was not invented by a pastry chef but rather evolved from a variety of different types of cakes. Said to have had it’s origin in Europe, coffeecake became famous in Germany, Scandinavia and Portugal. The Scandinavians were advocates of the coffee break and desired something sweet with their coffee, thus contributed to the evolution of this tasty cake.
By 1879, coffeecakes had become well known in America and became common place to most households. As time passed, the original recipe was being prepared with cheese, yogurt, sugared fruits, nuts and spices. The most preferred baking pan for this cake is the ‘bundt pan’. The hole in the center of the pan allows heavier batters to become cooked all the way through without any dough being left unbaked in the center.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake, sometimes called Russian Coffeecake, is one of the most delicious and poplar of all versions. Due to the fact that this dense cake is not overly sweet makes it ideal for breakfast, brunch, snacks as well as other informal occasions. The lactic acid in the sour cream results in a tender crumb as well as keeping the cake fresh longer while the fat contributes to the flavor and moistness. The slight tang of the sour cream underscores the velvety, buttery cake. With the batter being rather thick, it will support a heavy filling or streusel.
This is a cake with limitless possibilities. Personalize it to suit the occasion with fillings such as Apple Nut, Brown Sugar & Nuts, Cranberry Orange, Date or Fig. Of course, instead of a glaze you can always put some streusel in the bundt pan first, giving it a glorious look and taste when baked and inverted on a serving plate.
Today’s recipe combines the use of sour cream and cream cheese. The aroma when it comes out of the oven is heavenly not to mention the taste later.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with apricot preserve until smooth; set aside.
If using streusel on top or inside, combine streusel ingredients well; set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly butter & flour a 12-cup bundt cake pan.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, margarine, vanilla & eggs at medium speed for 2 minutes. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; fold into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat on low speed for another minute.
Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan; spread with 1/2 of the filling. Repeat 2 times. Bake 45 minutes or until tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven to a wire rack; cool for 20 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients while cake is cooling. Invert bundt pan onto serving plate & drizzle with glaze.
If you choose to use streusel, after buttering & flouring the pan, sprinkle streusel in the bottom which will essentially become the top of cake.
Or place some streusel on the bottom of pan & sprinkle some over each layer of filling.
With Valentines Day almost here, I decided to do a prelude post with a few dessert ideas.
In the food industry, this day was always fun to prepare food for. Definitely a more intimate occasion, all revolving around chocolate, ‘hearts’ and roses. Strangely enough, every time Brion and I have tried to go out for supper on Valentines we usually come home wondering why we did that. The restaurants were packed, the wait is long, the music is loud, etc, etc. Nonetheless, I’m always happiest if I can prepare a ‘special meal’ for us to enjoy at home. That being said, my choice of dessert for this Valentines Day areStrawberry Yogurt Parfaits with Chocolate Cheesecake Squares.
The fresh strawberry compote has a nice lemony tang that pairs well with the creamy Greek vanilla yogurt. Brion isn’t much for cheesecake but just loves these chocolate cheesecake squares.
Rinse, hull & slice strawberries. Zest & juice lemon. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, water, lemon juice, zest & cornstarch. Add strawberries, mixing gently while bringing to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool.
In parfait glasses, spoon layers of strawberry compote & Greek yogurt. Garnish with a strawberry leaf if desired. Refrigerate until serving time.
Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper so cheesecake can easily be lifted out later. In a small bowl, combine the graham crumbs, pecans & butter. Press into prepared pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar & sour cream until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour over crust.
Bake at 325 F. for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled. Freeze overnight.
Melt chocolate & shortening; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Using parchment paper, lift cheesecake out of pan. Gently peel off paper; cut into 49 squares. Remove a few pieces at a time for dipping; keep remaining squares refrigerated until ready to dip.
Using a toothpick, completely dip squares, one at a time, in melted chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; spoon about 1 tsp chocolate over each, reheating chocolate if needed to finish dipping. Let stand for 20 minutes or until set. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Yield 49 squares.
Childhood memories particularly play a role in how we regard food. Foods from our formative years and special occasions can become a very emotional experience, bringing us ‘back home’ to one’s beginnings.
Kase Knepfla is one of those foods for me. The name translates as ‘cheese buttons’ (kase = cheese, knopf = buttons). I have read somewhere, they were probably a version of the Ukrainian ‘vareniki’ that German immigrants developed to suit their own tastes.
To make them you need dry curd cottage cheese. I recall my mother making her own cottage cheese on the back ‘burner’ of our old wood/coal burning stove. Of course, this not being to interesting to a ‘kid’, I really never gave it any thought. It seemed that the milk was put in a certain place on the stove so it wouldn’t get too hot or it would become stringy as it turned to ‘cheese’.
Similar to a perogy, cheese buttons are made of a tender noodle dough. The dough is rolled out thinly and either cut into squares or circles, filled with a cottage cheese mixture, boiled then briefly browned in butter. I have noticed, in looking at numerous kase knepfla recipes, the cottage cheese filling is made with onions, salt and pepper. The only kind that I can remember my mother making was slightly sweet with a touch of cinnamon. No doubt, this was a version my parents grew up with themselves. Nevertheless, I am trying to preserve history one post at a time’….
Traditionally kase knepfla was served with summer sausage and beet pickles. For our meal, I paired them with some homemade pork sausage medallions, squash and fresh broccoli. We loved it!
In a bowl, mix ingredients into a smooth dough, cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
In a bowl, combine dry cottage cheese, egg, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Filling should be thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon.
To make Kase Knepfla
Roll dough quite thin on a floured surface. Using a small scoop, place balls of filling along one end of dough about 2 inches up from outside edge. Fold dough over filling; using a small round cutter ( or small glass) cut out kase knepfla. If edges aren't sealed, just pinch as needed.
Continue until all the filling & dough are used. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop 'buttons' carefully into water & boil slowly for about 5 minutes. Kase knepfla should float when cooked. Drain. I a large saucepan, melt some butter; add buttons, making sure to have only one layer. Brown lightly on both sides.
FILLED OATMEAL COOKIES – The only thing better than an oatmeal cookie is a filled oatmeal cookie, right! It seems they were one of those cookies traditionally baked at Christmas time, probably due to the cost of dates and the time consuming process to make them.
Whenever my mother was doing her Christmas baking, she gradually filled every cookie tin she owned and then started using empty ‘Rodger’s Golden Syrup’ pails to store them in. These pails were good for the purpose because they were airtight. To keep us ‘kids’ from nibbling on them before Christmas had actually arrived, the pails were discretely placed among her jars of canning downstairs. Somehow a pail got missed, so that year we enjoyed some very tasty cookies in about February.
I personally just love dates but Brion, not so much. As an alternative I decided to make half the recipe with Cranberry filling so it would work for both of us.
MINCE-APPLE TARTS – Mince(meat) pies, like Christmas puddings, were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than dried mixed fruit as they are today. The shape was an oval to represent the manager that the baby Jesus slept in, with the tops representing his swaddling clothes.
A custom from the middle ages was that if you eat mince pie on everyday from Christmas until the 5th of January (12 days) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. At one time in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Having pies like this, made in various shapes, meant you could afford to employ the best pastry cooks.
It seems mincemeat is one of those things that people either really like or they want nothing to do with it. Brion and I always enjoy to have a few (fruit) mincemeat tarts at Christmas time. Tossing in a bit of apple, walnuts and some extra rum or brandy doesn’t hurt either.
Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies / Mincemeat-Apple Tarts
In a large bowl, cream margarine & sugar; beat in milk & vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder & salt; gradually stir into creamed mixture until blended. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or longer.
In a double boiler over medium heat, bring dates (cranberries), sugar, water, juice & zest to a boil; stirring often. Reduce heat to low, cover & simmer, stirring occasionally, until fruit is very soft. Uncover & cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until mixture forms a thick paste. Let cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out cookie dough to about 1/8 - 1/4" thickness & cut into 1 1/2 - 2" circles. Place on baking sheet & bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until golden edge is crispy & center is still soft. Transfer immediately to rack & allow to cool completely. Spread filling evenly over smooth side of half of the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies.
Mince - Apple Tarts (24)
On a floured surface, roll out pastry. Using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter, cut 24 circles. With a canape cutter, cut out 24 various shapes such as stars, trees, bells etc. for the top of tarts. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place shapes on an ungreased baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar. Bake cutouts for a few minutes until light golden. remove from sheet & cool.
Press tart pastry sheels into bottom & up the sides of miniature muffin cups. In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Spoon into tart shells. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until filling is bubbly & crust is light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from pans. Top each tart with a cutout.
Due to the fact that the filled cookies will get quite soft after a few days, I like to keep them in the freezer & eat them while they are still slightly frozen.
For the tarts, you can either buy frozen tart shells or I do have my favorite pastry recipe posted on the Thanksgiving blog in October 2016.
I think my mother enjoyed Christmas baking very much. Many of the ingredients for the special things she would bake at this time of year were just too expensive to have on hand all the time. Somehow she would work her magic and make that grocery money stretch to include these things.
While we were at school, over the weeks prior to Christmas, she would bake many different kinds of cookies & squares. When we would arrive home in the late afternoon there was no trace of what she had baked. Every cookie tin and various other containers were being filled with these glorious goodies.
Mom & Dad would make a ‘batch’ of their homemade rootbeer as well. During our Christmas vacation from school, after supper and all the outside chores were done, we as a family gathered around the dining room table. In four of her prettiest dishes, mom would put mandarin oranges, unshelled mixed nuts, Christmas candy and some of her baking. In small little pretty glasses she poured for each of us some homemade rootbeer.
It was such a special family time to visit with each other and nibble on these treats. Life in the fifties had a gentle rhythm to it and I am forever grateful to have been a part of it all.
Even though there is just the two of us at our house, I can never resist finding some reason to do some Christmas baking. I mean, what better gifts for the neighbors and friends than homemade goodies! Over the next few weeks while I’m baking, I’d like to share with you some of these recipes so I’ll start off with a sour cream cookie.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise seed & salt; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat margarine, sugar & egg until light & fluffy. At a low speed, beat in sour cream, orange zest & vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well combined. Cover & refrigerate 1 hour or more.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, cranberries, 2 Tbsp sugar & orange zest. Beat until light & fluffy.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place chilled dough on a piece of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap & roll dough into a 15" ( 38 cm) square. Remove plastic wrap & carefully cut dough into 30 - 2 1/2" (6.35 cm) squares (making sure not to cut through parchment paper).
Place entire sheet of paper with cookie squares on baking sheet. Make 1-inch cuts from each corner toward the center of the dough. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of filling onto center of each square. Fold alternating points to the center to form a 'poinsettia'; pinching gently at center to seal. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire rack & cool. If desired, drizzle with a cream cheese frosting.