Sour Cream Rice Pancakes

ENJOYING SHROVE TUESDAY!

Whether you call it Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Pancake Day, Tuesday is the day of feasting and celebration before 40 days of fasting known as Lent. Celebrated by Anglo-Saxon Christians, participants would attend confession in order to be ‘shriven’ (forgiven for their sins). A bell rang to call everyone to church. This bell came to be known as the Pancake Bell and is still rung today.

Shrove Tuesday was the last day to use up eggs, sugar and fats before the fast, and making pancakes was the perfect way to do it! The ingredients of pancakes also symbolize four pillars of the Christian Faith. Flour for sustenance, eggs for creation, salt for wholesomeness, and milk for purity.

While other countries celebrate Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, with extravagant and exotic parades, in England, people race around towns and villages wielding frying pans that hold pancakes. The tradition was created in 1445 when a woman of Olney, Buckinghamshire was making pancakes when she heard the bell summoning her to church. In a rush to get to church, she ran, still in her apron and holding her frying pan. The Olney Pancake Race is now the most popular pancake race in the world. Participants must be local housewives and they must wear an apron. The goal of the race is to run while carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake inside flipping it as you run. In order to win, the woman must successfully toss the pancake three times throughout the race, reach the church and serve the pancake to the bell ringer. Hundreds of people gather every year to participate in this fun tradition!

Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday in French, is largely celebrated in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Parades, parties, and feasts dazzled in colors of green, gold, and purple fill the city for two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday.

Personally, I have always liked pancakes, so in keeping with the Shrove Tuesday tradition Brion & I will be enjoying some today. Although I can’t quite picture myself running in a pancake race, I’m making some sour cream rice pancakes … if you like rice pudding as well as pancakes, these are for you!

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Sour Cream Rice Pancakes
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Pancakes
Blueberry Sauce
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Pancakes
Blueberry Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Pancakes
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, sour cream, butter & vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cooked rice, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture & whisk together. Let batter sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat a nonstick griddle to medium-low heat. Spray with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure, portion out batter on griddle. Cook for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Serve immediately garnished with blueberry sauce or your choice of topping.
Blueberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & blueberries & cook until 'clear' & bubbling. Remove from heat & stir in butter & lemon juice. Serve warm over pancakes.

Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce

Can you believe the New Year is almost here and as the clock approaches midnight, it is a time to reflect and assess the year that has gone by…to hopefully, realize how precious time is. The word ‘new’ brings about thoughts of hope, and an opportunity to focus on a list of fresh goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Many cultures around the world believe the key to a happy, healthy, financially secure, and even productive year begins with eating certain lucky foods. The theory is ‘do good, eat good’, to begin the New Year right.

New Year’s Eve calls for a celebration. Whether you’re spending the night in, or you’re hosting an intimate party with friends, a scallop dinner is the perfect treat to finish off the year because scallops symbolize new opportunities or the opening of new horizons.

Brion & I enjoy seafood a lot so its not hard to fit some elegant scallop crepes into the menu.

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Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Crepes
  1. Place all crepe ingredients in a small blender & whirl for 1 minute at high speed. Scrape down sides, whirl for another 15 seconds. Pour into a small bowl & cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or more.
  2. Brush an 8-inch non-stick skillet lightly with melted butter; heat. Stir crepe batter; pour 2 Tbsp into center of skillet. Lift & tilt pan to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry; turn & cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed.
Sauce
  1. Pour chicken broth into a medium saucepan, add cauliflower florets & bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender. Drain in a colander, reserving the liquid, then place the cauliflower in a food processor & allow it to cool for 5 minutes before blending. Process, slowly adding 1 cup of reserved chicken broth. Add seasonings & process until 'creamy'. Set aside.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, bring scallops, wine & pepper to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until scallops are firm & opaque, 3-4 minutes. Drain & set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, fry chopped bacon until slightly browned. Add 2 Tbsp butter, mushrooms & green onions & sauté until moisture has evaporated from mushrooms. Return scallops back to skillet & add cheese & enough of the cauliflower sauce to bring mixture together into a filling consistency.
Assembly & Cooking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Divide filling among the 12 crepes, spreading filling down the center of each one. Place remaining cauliflower sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Roll up crepes & place in a single layer on top of sauce. Cover & bake until heated through about 30 minutes.
  3. Garnish with sliced green onions if you prefer.
Recipe Notes
  • These crepes look & taste indulgent, but I've made the sauce with pureed cauliflower rather than lots of cream. It sounds a bit odd, but it works beautifully & compliments the flavor of the sweet scallops & salty bacon.

Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts

While certain holidays such as Christmas, lend themselves to giving food as gifts, gift-giving should be thoughtful and sincere.

We give gifts during the holiday season to express gratitude, love, or friendship to those near and dear throughout the year. But the custom of giving gifts goes all the way back to the first Christmas when the wise men brought Jesus three gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Many of the gifts we give and receive at Christmas time, especially ones related to food, have symbolic meaning and tales of folklore behind them. Others are just fun to make and share with family and friends. Sometimes those food gifts become an anticipated tradition that the gifter enjoys making and the receiver looks forward to every year.

These Christmas cookie wreaths seem like the perfect gift for our neighbors. Hope they like them because they where a lot of fun to make.

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Christmas Cookie Wreaths for Gifts
Votes: 1
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
WREATHS
Ingredients
Spicy Wreath Base
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Spicy Wreath Base
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until dough forms. Divide dough in half for 2 separate wreaths. Roll each half into a long strip about 43-inches long. On 2 sheets of parchment paper, draw 2 round circles each about a 13-inch circumference. Place on baking sheets. Following the circle outline, place a strip of dough on each circle. Press with the back of a spoon to flatten to about a 1/2-inch thickness.
  2. Preheat oven to 310 F. Bake cookie bases for about 15 minutes. They should be baked but not overdone so that the centers are soft. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack until ready to assemble with cookies.
Cranberry Lemon Pistachio Cookies
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder & salt. Place butter & sugar in a bowl & beat with a mixer until pale & fluffy. Mix in egg yolks, lemon zest & vanilla. Reduce speed to low & gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Cut out centers using a 7/8-inch round or star cutter.
  3. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before icing.
  4. Stir together powdered sugar & lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread each cookie with icing & sprinkle with pistachios and/or pepita seeds & cranberries. Yield: 24
Anise Shortbread Stars
  1. In a bowl, sift together cornstarch, powdered sugar, flour & anise powder. Blend in butter with a spoon, mixing until a soft, smooth dough forms. If the dough is too soft to handle, cover & chill about 1 hour.
  2. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll dough out about 1/2-inch thick. Using a star cookie cutter, cut out stars & sprinkle with coarse white sanding sugar. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets spacing 1 1/2-inches apart. Place baking sheets in refrigerator & chill 30 minutes. Halfway through, preheat oven to 300 F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are just barely browned. Yield: 18
Persimmon Linzer Cookies
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour & salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar & vanilla until light & fluffy. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as possible. Mix the rest & gently knead until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare persimmon puree. In a saucepan over medium low heat, combine persimmons, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly then transfer to a small food processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch fluted LINZER cookie cutter with a star attachment in the center. Place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or just until edges begin to brown. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature.
  5. Spread persimmon puree on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust & decorate cookies with cut outs using powdered sugar & some more puree. Place decorated cookie tops on bottoms spread with puree, making a sandwich.
Assembly
  1. Arrange cookies on wreath base to your liking. You can either 'fasten' them with an bit of icing that will harden (see notes) or just place them on top base. That way they are easy to pick up by guests without to much trouble. The base can be cut into pieces after the top cookies are eaten for some more cookie goodness.
Recipe Notes

ICING FOR ATTACHING COOKIES TO WREATH:

  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Mix together the warm water, corn syrup and icing sugar for the icing. Make it on the thicker side, so add more icing sugar if needed.

Mini Persimmon Cheesecakes

Persimmon fruit is delicious in their natural state, but they also add wonderful moisture and flavor to baked goods. Fall and winter is the season for persimmons, and with persimmons you can make the most wonderful, sweet or savory things.

A good persimmon (at its peak) has a mild taste that has been described ‘honey-like’. Its texture is similar to that of an apricot and its skin is tougher than an apple.

For Fuyu persimmons, make sure they are very ripe. Peel them, chop them, and remove their seeds. Use a food processor to puree the fruit. If you have ripe persimmons but aren’t ready to make use of them yet, you can freeze the pulp for up to six months. Freeze the puree in 8-ounce containers or ice cube trays. You can add frozen persimmon pulp to smoothies right out of the freezer. If you want to bake with it, bring it to room temperature and use it when thawed.

These little minis are a wonderful mouthful of  light and creamy cheesecake made with fresh persimmon puree and warm holiday spices. Take advantage of this wonderful fruit—in season October through February.

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Mini Persimmon Cheesecakes
Votes: 2
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Base
Cheesecake
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Base
Cheesecake
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Base
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place inserts into bottom of each of the 12 cavities of a mini cheesecake pan.
  2. In a small bowl combine gingersnap crumbs with melted butter. Divide between the 12 cavities & press down firmly with the back of a spoon.
  3. Bake on middle rack of oven for about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while filling is being prepared.
Cheesecake Filling
  1. Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, persimmon puree, sour cream, egg, spices & vanilla. Beat until smooth & well combined.
  2. Divide filling between the 12 cavities in the cheesecake pan.
  3. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until set. Begin checking for doneness after 10 minutes, as oven temperatures vary considerably.
  4. Cool 20 minutes on a wire rack, then using your finger, push up through the hole in the bottom of each cheesecake & remove each one. Remove metal insert & cool completely in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
  5. Garnish with fresh persimmon slices & a bit of whip topping or your choice.

Blueberry Chocolate Yeast Braid

I’m not sure what it is about chocolate that makes it such a good pair with berries. Blueberries for one, are the perfect match for dark chocolate. Bitter, sweet, fruity and awesome!

Some years ago, Brion & I were in California at a winery sampling some of their wines. They offered us some chocolate covered blueberries and that wonderful flavor has never left me.

Since we are already into December and Christmas baking is up front and center, I thought it might be nice to experiment with a different filling for this yeast braid.

Christmas breads are often more decorative and have celebratory qualities to them, such as the Bulgarian Christmas Bread that symbolizes prosperity for the upcoming year. Other classic Christmas breads from around the world include Panettone or Stollen which are filled with fruits and nuts. Whether it’s for the sake of tradition or you just want to make something new and different, this is the best time of the year to get in the kitchen and whip up some beautiful ‘Christmas bread’.

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Blueberry Chocolate Yeast Braid
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Servings
SLICES
Ingredients
Sweet Dough
Servings
SLICES
Ingredients
Sweet Dough
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Instructions
Sweet 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 the 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.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch & lemon juice. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes until it thickens. Remove from heat & cool until ready to use.
Cream Cheese
  1. Slice cream cheese in about 1/8-inch thick & about 4-inches in length. Lay out on a piece of plastic wrap to form a rectangle about 10 X 4-inches in size. Lay plastic wrap with cheese on a tray & place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Assembly/Baking
  1. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll risen dough into a rectangle 13 X12-inches in size. With a straight edge, mark it in thirds lengthwise. On the two outer pieces, mark 1-inch strips. At the top & bottom you will need a 1 1/2-inch piece. The center rectangle should be 10 X 4-inches in size. Cut out the 4 corner 'wedges' as it will make a nice clean braid this way. ( I just made a couple of little sweet dough buns with a bit of jam filling with this excess dough.)
  2. Start with the cream cheese layer. Using the plastic wrap, flip it in the center rectangle. Next, top the cream cheese with blueberry filling then lay the chocolate bar over all to complete the third layer.
  3. Cut the strips on either side of the braid. Pull the end dough pieces up over the filling then start to braid with the side strips until you reach the other end. Using the parchment paper, lift the braid onto a baking sheet. Cover with a dry tea towel & allow braid to rest & rise for about 30 minutes in a draft free place.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. before the braid is finished rising.
  5. Carefully brush braid with egg wash & bake for 30 minutes until it is browned nicely.
  6. Remove from oven & cool slightly before serving. If you have leftovers for another day, warm the bread slightly so that the chocolate will be soft & runny. Yum!

Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Avocado Salsa

When it comes to favorite summer condiments, salsa is top of the list. For many North Americans, salsa is almost considered a basic food group, and not just as a nutritious dipper for corn chips. Packed with garden-fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables that are easy to get your hands on, it’s as terrific a topping for chicken, beef, or seafood as it is a colorful add-in for pasta, rice and salad. Plus, it requires virtually no cooking, making it the perfect dish to throw together when summer heat and humidity make you feel like you’re melting.

The history of salsa sauce originated with the Inca people. Salsa, which has typically been a combination of chilies, tomatoes and other spices, can be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. In recent years, the use of different fruits combined with vegetables makes for a spicy fruit salsa.

Modern North American cooking has become a fusion of traditions, flavors and dishes from virtually every part of the globe. The tradition of eating tomato-based salsa was likely regional until the practice of eating Mexican food spread throughout the continent. Exactly how mango salsa reached North America isn’t really known, but it was likely brought from the Caribbean by travelers. Modern North American salsas are still primarily tomato based, but many people appreciate the sweet, salty, sour and spicy combinations of flavors in a well-balanced mango salsa.

Versatility and adaptability are salsa’s biggest selling point. Chunky or finely diced, spicy or mild, crafted with fruit or vegetables, and sometimes both, salsa is unlimited with possibility.

The salsa that Brion & I are having with our salmon today is an interesting mix of avocado, mango, grape tomatoes & red onion marinated in lime juice. Should be good!

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Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Avocado Salsa
Instructions
Salmon
  1. In a small bowl, mix melted butter & all other salmon ingredients. Rub the spice mix all over salmon in foil ( mainly on the no-skin side but getting a little on the other side as well). Leave at room temperature while the grill heats up. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
Salsa
  1. In a bowl, combine salsa ingredients & refrigerate until salmon is ready.
Grilling
  1. Grill the salmon wrapped in foil for about 15 minutes or to your liking. Salmon should flake easily & not be overcooked.
  2. Serve hot on a bed of rice with the mango salsa on top.

Lemon Gel ‘Crumble’ Wedges

Nothing says spring more than the zesty, fresh flavor of lemons. I think this lemon dessert is the perfect way to celebrate spring.

Crumbles are a true British dessert, which can be made any time of the year. They are believed to have originated around the time of World War II which brought the world to a standstill; shops were closed, people were left unemployed. As the war progressed, food scarcity became a major scare and due to inflation and rationing, the accessibility to basic food ingredients became a problem. In these hostile times, British housewives came up with many recipes; some of these recipes were lost in time, but some stayed and even gained cult status with time. One such British recipe is that of ‘apple crumble’.

Typically, crumbles use soft fruit like apples, pears, rhubarb or plums, but berries or even a lemon filling can be used. The crumb topping can be made with flour, nuts, breadcrumbs, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, or even breakfast cereal.  

This dessert is very different from the usual crumble. You start with a crumble crust/ topping but the filling is uncooked. It is so nice with fresh lemon juice and zest in it. As it bakes, it becomes almost gel-like and the top crumbles soak slightly into the filling. The flavor of lemon always seems to give such a refreshing taste to everything its used in.

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Lemon Gel 'Crumble' Wedges
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword lemon crumble
Servings
Ingredients
Crust & Crumble Topping
Lemon Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword lemon crumble
Servings
Ingredients
Crust & Crumble Topping
Lemon Filling
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Crust/Crumble Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Mix well with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup of topping; set aside. Place remaining topping in a 14 x 4-inch baking pan pressing it up the sides as well as on the bottom. Set aside.
Filling
  1. Mix all filling ingredients well, then pour into crust.
  2. Place baking pan in oven & bake for 30- 35 minutes or until filling is set & crust is golden.
  3. Remove from oven & cool completely. This dessert is best refrigerated overnight or at least 6 hours. Cut into wedges or bars & serve with WHIPPED TOPPING.

Stuffed Raspberry Cream Pancakes

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.

As I grow older, I realize how many ways I unconsciously emulate my mother. I loved everything about her and as a kid I could never imagine life without her. But in the natural sequence of events, that’s not how it works. I guess along with many other things, I’m grateful for the fact that she was there through my childhood. She passed away at the age of sixty and although she is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on in our hearts forever.

We are fortunate to still have Brion’s mother, Dolores. In January this year, we were able to spend four days visiting with her. It was so wonderful to be able to do that once again.  

This blog is especially to honor: the special memories of my mother for her endless giving of selfless love – my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her kind ways and raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with – to my sisters, who have given so much of themselves to be such great moms.

Pancakes are one of mankind’s oldest prepared foods, which is why you’ll find some iteration of them in virtually every cuisine around the world.

For most North Americans, the word ‘pancake’ conjures a stack of fluffy, hot-off-the-griddle ‘flapjacks’, a pat of butter slowly melting beneath some maple syrup. But pancakes take many forms around the world, from delicate French crepes sprinkled with sugar to spongy, sour Ethiopian injera to chewy-crisp Japanese okonomiyaki, studded with seafood and drizzled with sticky brown sauce and mayo.

Both pancakes and flatbreads embody the idea that the most common and basic ingredients can combine into a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. They’re quick-cooking and don’t require anything more than a pan (or a rock) and a heat source, but they’re also the basis for more involved cooking methods, canvases for countless ingredient combinations. They’re staple foods to be peppered with seafood, poultry, aromatics, or fruit; topped with whipped cream or cheeses, syrups, caviar, chutneys, or jam.

Have you ever made stuffed pancakes? If not, you’re going to love this recipe! Stuffed pancakes do take a bit more time to prepare than regular pancakes, but they are really worth it.

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Stuffed Raspberry Cream Pancakes
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Servings
Ingredients
Raspberry Sauce
Cream Cheese Filling
Sour Cream Pancakes
Servings
Ingredients
Raspberry Sauce
Cream Cheese Filling
Sour Cream Pancakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Raspberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & raspberries; cook until 'clear' & bubbling. Remove from heat & add butter, lemon juice. If you wish , press sauce through a sieve to eliminate the seeds. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining filling ingredients beating until smooth. Set aside.
Pancakes
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, milk, sour cream, butter & vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to the liquid mixture & whisk together until no large lumps remain but don't overmix. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes. You can even refrigerate it overnight & cook the next morning.
  4. Heat a nonstick griddle on medium-low heat. To ensure your pancakes cook all the way through, you'll want the heat a little lower than for other pancakes.
  5. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup & scoop the batter to fill it up & pour an evenly round circle of batter on the griddle. I find using the bottom of the measuring cup helps to create the circle.
  6. Let it cook until little bubbles form, then pop, & the indentations stay on the batter. Pipe a small amount of the filling on half of the pancake, making sure not to get too close to the edges & not to overfill it.
  7. Fold the uncooked pancake over the filling. The edge of raw batter on the top half should touch the raw edge on the bottom when folded. It will continue to cook & seal itself on the griddle.
  8. Put a 'lid' over the pancakes to help them to cook through. Flip as needed to keep the browning even. Allow them to cook until all the batter looks cooked through.
  9. Serve with fresh raspberries & sauce.

Sweet Onion Pie w/ Ritz Cracker Crust

Ritz Crackers are a universal favorite. They’ve been a comforting fixture in grocery stores for well over 80 years. Ritz are the perfect balance of salty, crispy, and buttery.

When Ritz crackers were released in 1934, the name was associated with the epitome of luxury. Anything calling itself Ritz in the 1930s was advertising itself as high-class. Many people think that Nabisco invented vintage ‘mock apple pie’. Nabisco was obviously not the creator, as mock apple pie recipes have been found as far back as the 19th century, when they were usually made with saltines or water crackers, but definitely played a huge part in the popularity of the creation. The buttery cracker rounds appeared on the market in 1934 and they were an instant hit. By 1935, the National Biscuit Company (or Nabisco) had sold 5 billion units of crackers. Shortly thereafter, the recipe for mock apple pie appeared on the back of the boxes. The recipe came at the perfect time due to apples being expensive during the Great Depression.

Ritz taste buttery, toasty, and salty. Apples taste sweet, sour, and juicy. You wouldn’t think that you could make a convincing fake apple pie filling with Ritz crackers, but it actually works. The secret is the cream of tartar, a powdered acid that’s produced as part of the winemaking process. Since cream of tartar comes from grapes, it has a fruity flavor that infuses the crackers and makes them taste vaguely like apples.

While they are great to eat them on their own, it seems there are many ways to use them in recipes, so we can enjoy them for whole meals and even as leftovers the next day, instead of for the mere 10 seconds it takes to get through a whole cracker sleeve. Crumbled Ritz make amazing toppings for  casseroles, main courses, side dishes and desserts. Ritz can bring buttery flavor and a slightly flaky but ultimately crunchy texture to just about anything, so the real question is, why wouldn’t you want to make good use of them?

This sweet onion pie is a great way to showcase sweet onions. It’s salty, a little sweet & cheesy.

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Sweet Onion Pie w/ Ritz Cracker Crust
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Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Place 2 Tbsp butter in a large pan & cook onions over a medium heat until starting to soften. You want the onion to still have a little bite so be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Combine cracker crumbs with 5 Tbsp melted butter & press into bottom & up the sides of a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan. Spoon onions on top of crust.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & Tabasco sauce. Pour mixture over onions. Sprinkle with cheese & paprika.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.

Blackberry Dampfbuchteln

When I was growing up, I remember my mother making something she called ‘dampfnudeln’. The taste was wonderful and as I recall, these were sweet yeast dumplings in a vanilla custard sauce. I’m not sure if they had anything in the center or not.

Dampfnudels have been a pretty big deal in Germany since the 1600s. As legend has it, during the war, a hungry Swedish army arrived in Freckenfeld, a small town in Germany. The army had threatened to murder everyone there and destroy the town, however, they agree to leave in peace if they were fed. That was the moment town baker, Johanes Muck, rose to the occasion and along with his wife and apprentice, made 1,286 dampfnudels. To honor his heroic efforts, Johanes’ grandson, built a gate known as Dampfnudeltor, made with 1,286 little stone bumps.

The people of Freckenfeld still celebrate the origins of the dumpling and the heroic baker 400 years on with an annual festival. The Dampfnudeltor is even featured in the town’s coat of arms. And if that isn’t enough not only is there a song about them, but a film too – the Dampfnudel Blues!

Traditionally, cooks steam dampfnudel dough as it bakes. Once these ingredients are mixed, they are formed into tight balls of dough and placed close together in an iron pan. The pan is covered with a lid and placed in the oven to cook. The lid is required to create the soft, noodle-like texture associated with this dish. By the time the dish is done, all the liquid will have evaporated from the dish.

Depending on whether the dish is served as a meal or a dessert, dampfnudel may have a sweet flavor. As a dessert, this dish is typically topped with a sweet vanilla sauce, or served with a rich custard. It can also be eaten with stewed fruit. As a main dish, this dough is typically served with vegetables or sauerkraut. It can also be used as side to dip in stews or soup and may even be steamed in chicken broth when served in this manner.

It seems there are endless recipes and preparations, variations on recipes and variations on variations …. ROHRNUDELN, HEFENUDELN, GERMKNODEL, DAMPFNUDELN, BUCHTELN and on and on. Basically, they are all yeast dumplings, sweet (or savory) but the preparation varies somewhat. Some are poached in a milk/sugar liquid, whereas others are baked. Some are filled, some not. Most seem to be served with a vanilla custard.

For mine, I’m trying to incorporate some blackberry compote in a soft, sweet yeast bun with some vanilla custard. I think I’ll call them ‘dampfbuchteln’. Buchteln are a typical Bohemian dish from the region in the middle of Europe that was formerly German. It was from there, that recipes like this made their way into German and Austrian kitchens. That name seems fitting, having the characteristics of both kinds of buns.

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Blackberry Dampfbuchteln
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Rate this recipe!
Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Blackberry Compote
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Cardamom Sauce
Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Blackberry Compote
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Cardamom Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Blackberry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch & salt; add juice & stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, simmer until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in blackberries. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. I found it easier to make the compote a day ahead of the buns.
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 together flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture, 1 cup at a time combining well after each addition. Once the flour has all 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 & a tea towel. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down & turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces & roll each into a ball. Place under a tea towel so they won't dry out. Take one ball & shape it into a flat circle large enough to hold a spoonful of compote.
  5. Fold over & pinch the edges, then carefully shape into a ball again. Place in a buttered 12-inch spring form pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Cover with tea towel & let rise for another 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake buns for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. When completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.
Vanilla Cardamom Custard
  1. Sift together cornstarch, flour & cardamom. Using a whisk, combine the beaten eggs & the flour mixture until powders are dissolved. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together milk, sugar & salt. Once sugar & salt are dissolved, add in the egg mixture & keep stirring everything until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in butter & vanilla. Nice to serve warm under the blackberry dampfbuchteln.