Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kaffe mit Schlag - Not Your Omama's Jause

My mother grew up in Vienna, so I also absorbed the coffee culture known as Jause.  This is along the lines of an English Tea with sweets but with coffee instead of tea.  And, the most important thing, at least for me, is the Schlagobers, whipped cream lighty sweetened and a touch of vanilla.  Typically you would have some sort of strudel, kuchen, torte or other sweet.  To offset the sweets you would have a steaming hot pot of strong Viennese coffee served in small cups.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’d be offered the local Zwetchen or Marillen Brand, plum or apricot brandy.  I’ve put my own spin on this tradition with a variation of an apple strudel and a chocolate square with a big bowl of whipped cream.

Schoko Schnitten

¾ c freshly brewed coffee
1 tbs sugar
½ c prunes, pitted and diced
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tea vanilla extract
1 tbs plus 2 tea  instant expresso powder, divided
3 eggs
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c Cocoa
1/2 tea baking powder
1/2 tea salt
½ c chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1 ½ c chocolate chips divided
16 chocolate covered espresso beans
1/2 c heavy cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.  I line the pan with buttered, non-stick foil, works like a charm.  Place the chopped hazelnuts in a ramekin and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  You can toast the nuts as the oven heats. 

Pour the freshly brewed coffee over the prune pieces, stir in 1 tbs sugar and set aside to plump about 15 minutes.  Drain.

Combine butter, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture.  Gently fold in the nuts, drained prunes, and ½ c chocolate chips.  Spread the cake mixture evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.   Cut evenly into 16 squares.  Place squares on a wire rack that has a parchment lined tray underneath.

Heat the heavy cream to barely simmering.  Put 1 c chocolate chips in a small bowl with the 2 tea espresso powder.  Pour the hot cream over and stir to create a mocha ganache.  Set aside to cool.

Gently spoon the cooled mocha ganache over each cake square.  Place one chocolate covered espresso bean on top of each cake square.  Set aside to let the ganache set. 

Whip 1 c heavy cream with 1 tbs sugar and ½ tea vanilla extract until thick.  Serve chilled with a steaming pot of Vienna roast coffee.

Apfel Strudel Schale

This is a deconstructed apple strudel, taking each element and rethinking it and making it bite-sized.  You get all the elements of the classic strudel without having to make your own pulled dough, something I have yet to attempt.  This may be made ahead up to the point of assembly.  Once assembled, the Schale will only keep for about 30 minutes before becoming soggy.

½ c water
½ c sugar
6 cardamom pods
2 c thinly sliced peeled Gala apple
1 tea lemon juice
15 mini fillo shells
½ c bread crumbs
2 tbs unsalted butter
1tbs sugar
3 tbs slivered almonds
¼ tea cinnamon freshly grated

Bring the sugar, water, and cardamom pods to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the cardamom and add in the sliced apple.  Stir and continue to cook for about 10 minutes until softened.  Set aside to cool.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Once cool, remove the apple slices to a small bowl using a slotted spoon to leave as much of the juices behind in the pan.  Return the remaining juices to the stove.   Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the syrup is thick approx 10 minutes.  Pour over the apple slices and stir.  Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the almonds, bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.   Slowly toast for several minutes until fragrant, stirring often.

To assemble:  fill each fillo shell with a spoonful of the apple slices being careful not to add too much syrup.  Top with the breadcrumb mixture.  Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Schnittlauch Butter Brot

Every spring the first thing to come up in the garden is the chives, Schnittlauch in German. My mother always makes this as soon as the chives are tall enough to cut. I know it's spring when I'm able to make my first Schnittlauch Butter Brot of the season. This is a great appetizer or part of a light lunch.

  • 1 bunch chives, snipped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • slices fresh hearty bread
  • coarse salt, to taste
  1. Spread the bread liberally with the butter. Flip the bread over onto the snipped chives to coat the bread. Cut into smaller pieces if desired. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


What is there about pizza that is so wonderful?  It’s so simple to make, but yet so difficult to get right.  How many bad pizzas have you endured?  I was so spoiled living in the North End of Boston.  I could have all sorts of fantastic pizzas at a moment’s notice.  Now I’m mired in the Land of Bad Pizza.  The much loved local favorite is a sickeningly sweet bastardization.  Abysmal.  Inexcusable.  Just plain wrong.

We grew up making all kinds of bread.  My mother kept my brother, sister, and me entertained with small balls of bread.  Beating them into submission was a favorite past time.  I think I’ve had my hand in it ever since.

I hadn’t found a good pizza dough recipe until my cousin Janet have me a copy of an April 1992 article from the New York Times called “Food, The Primal Pizza”.  This is the dough I’ve used ever since.  It’s fool proof and freezes easily so you can have pizza pretty much any time you like!

Primal Pizza
1 c warm water
1 tbs yeast
¾ c whole wheat flour
2 ¼ c all purpose flour (more or less)
1 tea Kosher or sea salt
½ c plain yogurt
Olive oil for the bowl and to flavor crust
Cornmeal for the baking stone
2 c marinara sauce, preferably homemade
1 lb mozzarella, shredded
Misc toppings of your choice

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and mix.  Let sit for 10 minutes to activate.  Mix in the yogurt, salt, whole wheat flour and enough of the all purpose flour to create a nice ball of dough.  This will be anywhere from 1 ½ c all purpose flour to the entire amount.  Much will depend on the brand of flour and the ambient humidity of your kitchen.  Knead for several minutes.  Lightly oil a medium sized bowl, drop in the dough swirl around to coat the dough ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.  Punch down and proceed with the recipe or divide in half, place into lightly oiled plastic containers and freeze for future use.

Place a pizza stone on a rack in your oven.  Preheat your oven to the highest temperature available. 

Cut the dough into 4 even pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, covering the remaining pieces with a towel.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out a ball of dough into a rustic circle approx 15” in diameter.  Sprinkle a piece of parchment or nonstick tin foil with a light layer of cornmeal and place onto a pizza peel.  Slide the rolled out dough onto the parchment or foil Lightly brush the pizza with olive oil or use a sprayer such as Misto.  Evenly spread about ½ c of marinara sauce over the dough avoiding about a ½” at the edge.  Cover with a healthy handful or two of the shredded mozzarella.  Garnish with your favorite toppings.  Slide the parchment or foil onto the pizza stone using the peel.  It’s a little scary the first time, but you get used to it.  Cook until nicely browned about 10 minutes.  Slide the peel under the parchment or foil and remove the pizza.  Wait a couple of minutes before cutting and serving.  Proceed with the remaining dough.  Makes 4 pizzas. 


If you want to make calzones use the same dough recipe but divide the dough into half.  Fill with your favorite goodies down the center of the dough circle leaving an inch edge.  Fold the dough up over the long ends of the filling, and then fold over one side of the dough over the filling.  Gently force out any air.  Continue to fold over, place the seam on the underneath side.  Cook the same way as the pizza leaving in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Makes 2 calzones.

If you are using frozen dough, take out of the freezer 2 or 3 hours ahead of time and leave on the counter to thaw.  Or take it out the freezer in the morning, place in the fridge.  It should be ready to use at supper time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pancetta Horseradish Dip and Chips for Company

I have fond memories of the tubs of Bacon Horseradish Dip you could get in the 70's. Now that I know better, I make it myself. This is one of the things I came up with after making pancetta for Charcoutepalooza which I am "auditing". Use pancetta from the store or substitute your favorite bacon. Freshly-grated horseradish is best here, but the kind in the jar is ok. 
For the Dip:
1/4 pound homemade pancetta cut into lardons
3/4 cups sour cream
3/4 cups non-fat GreekYogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel, Meyer if you can get it
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For the Chips:
1 packet sandwich size pita bread
olive oil in a pump (Misto)
your favorite course salt

Cook the pancetta lardoons in a heavy bottomed frying pan until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels & let cool.
Chop the parsley, chives, and thyme together until fine.
Mix the sour cream and Greek yogurt in a bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or longer.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each pita around the edge with a small knife or scissors to yield 2 circles. Cut circles into 6 wedges. Spread on a sheet pan in one layer. You may need to do in batches. Spray the pita wedges lightly with olive oil. I use my handy dandy Misto. Sprinkle liberally with your favorite course salt. Toast in the oven until evenly golden brown. Watch them carefully! Cool on a rack.
Serve with the chips and your favorite cut vegetables.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Elegant Artichokes

I adore artichokes.  They're so beautiful and so delicious!  Unlike most of my suburban elementary school classmates, we would have artichokes frequently and always had lots of fun eating them.  They were great kid food, kept us all occupied while the parents could have a moment's peace and quiet.  I still make them when ever I can find nice one's in the market.  To save time I normally do them in the pressure cooker, but you can cook them in your favorite manner and then proceed with the recipe.  These are a great side dish or appetizer.  You can either serve just one half per person if you are having other dishes, or serve both halves if you are having a lighter meal.  It's wonderful with fish.

2 whole large artichokes
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
½ lemon, in wedges

Trim the artichokes as follows:
            Trim a small bit off the cut end
            With a large knife, cut off the top 1” or so
            Snap off the bottom row or two of leaves
            With a paring knife carefully trim off the outside fibrous layer and the base of the 
            lower leaves

Cook the artichokes until tender by using one of the following methods:
            Simmer in lots of salted water with 1 tea sugar
            Pressure cooker for 10 minutes with 1 cup water w/ ½ tea salt & ½ tea sugar

Check for tenderness by pulling off one of the lower leaves and eating!  If it’s still tough, give it a few more minutes.

Remove the artichokes from the stove and drain.  Cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, place them upside down on a cutting board so that you can cut them in half north to south.  Carefully remove the choke and small leaves in the center with a paring knife.

Melt the butter with the olive oil and salt in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add the artichokes cut side down.  Cook over medium low until the cut side is nicely browned.

Notes:  serves 2 to 4.  If you would like, you can melt additional butter and pour over before serving, but you really don't need to.