Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! With Porztelchen (Portzelki, New Year's Cookies, Ollie Bollie, etc.)

Happy New Year!

I'm happy to say good-bye to 2013.  It was a very difficult year indeed but I am very optimistic about 2014.

Most people who know me also know that I don't deep fry food.  In fact, the deep fryer at my restaurant was used as a convenient shelf.  All the same, I'm sharing this traditional Mennonite dish that we'll be preparing today.  Another recipe for Portzelki can be found at the Mennonite Girls can Cook! site, http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2011/12/portzelky-new-years-cookies.html.  This recipe is my Gro�ma's with a few variations from the other.  If you have instant yeast, you can skip the first step of starting the yeast and mix into the flour just before mixing.


2  pkgs (~4 1/2 tsp) yeast in 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
Let stand for 10 minutes

2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 lb raisins or currants (soak and then gently dry on low oven on paper towel until water is off but plumped)
Flour for soft batter (~5 cups)
Optional:  good pinch saffron in warm milk

Combine milk, salt, sugar, baking powder, raisins and egg yolks.  Add 2 cups flour to yeast and milk and stir.  Let stand until bubbly.  Add remaining flour.  Beat egg whites to stiff peak and fold into batter.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil (375�F).  Space evenly and do not over crowd.  Allow room for portzelky to turn over.  When fully cooked, drain and cool.

Serve with small bowls of sugar for dipping.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!  Photos coming soon!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chongqing Hot Pot (huo go m� l�) - Perfect for icy cold days

Chongqing Hot Pot

We are also serving this at Christmas time this year!

When I lived in Chongqing, I had this special dish quite often with large groups of people.  It is quite a party or communal fare.  It brings back wonderful memories of my time in China and the wonderful people I got to meet.  

2 cups stock (turkey, chicken, beef)
4 cups water
1 cup chopped mushrooms (button, shitake)
1 tbs garlic black bean paste
1 tbs chili paste
1 tbs chili bean paste
1 tbs chili oil
1-5 whole dried red chilies
1 bunch green onions, 1 inch chop
1/2 cup white wine or Mirin (sweetness balance)

Dry Spices: 3 star anise, 1tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn, 1 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom, 2 dried ginger, 1 piece cinnamon stick, 3 slice liquorice, and 1 tbsp fennel seeds 

Simmer all ingredients together for a long time until a rich broth (you may need to add more water during the eating time as it reduces quite a bit).  Serve at the tabletop with the following optional items to enjoy cooking with chopsticks.  Serve with rice. 

Firm tofu
Garlic Greens
Green Onions
Green Cabbage leaves or baby bok choy, baby Shanghai cabbage or Savoy
Red or Green pepper slices
Enoki Mushrooms
Shitake Mushrooms (without stems)
Bean Sprouts
Thinly Sliced Beef or lamb (buy sliced or slice while half frozen)
Blood Tofu (coagulated pig's blood, not for the picky eater but one eats everything)
Skinned and boned eel slices

Hints:  Eat veggies first.  Serve with dipping sauces that will contrast as well as cut fat or enhance it, Sichuan peanut sauce, Hoisin, etc.

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Braunschweiger Kuchen, Gro�ma's recipe, by request

These cookies are from an old recipe of my grandmother's (Gro�ma Klassen).  The recipe calls for 4 1/4 cups flour but the extra 1/4 cup is not often used.

Braunschweiger Kuchen

 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp ground star anise
1 egg
1tbs lemon juice
1 tbs grated lemon zest
2 tbs milk

Mix the sugar and honey and heat over gentle heat (flame) until melted.  Do not boil.  Add butter, lemon juice and zest.  Cool.

Combine milk to which a beaten egg is added and stir liquids into flour that has been sifted with spices and soda.  Should be a soft sticky dough.

Let stand, wrapped in plastic, overnight.

Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick.  Sprinkle with sugar and roll over once.  Cut into shapes.

Bake at 350�F for up to 15 minutes (I baked for 11-12 minutes until just brown, depends on pans and ovens).  Store when cooled in containers with a piece of apple until cookies are soft - up to 3 weeks.

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicken Tajine and Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup cooking demo

Today I had the pleasure of presenting the following recipes at D. A. Niels Gourmet Kitchenware.  Cooking with tajines is very elegant and simple and always yields a beautiful result.  I've cooked whole a whole 10 lb chicken in a medium-sized tajine in a Korean recipe(Samgeytang) and it was fall off of the bone tender within 1 hour.  

These recipes are adapted from Paula Wolfert's, The Food of Morocco.  Please see her work as a great resource.

Chicken Tajine with Apricots and almonds

1 chicken � (3 1/2 lbs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup apricots
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup whole blanched almonds
vegetable oil for frying

Rub all the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and cumin. Let stand for at least one hour.

Place onions in a wide shallow casserole with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup water, cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Brown the almonds in 4-5 tbs oil in a large skillet and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in the oil and transfer to the steamed onions. Cover with parchment paper and cook in tajine on the lowest heat for about 1 1/4 hours.

Discard the parchment paper. Add the Apricots and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Serve with almonds sprinkled on top.


Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
pinch coarse salt
1 1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs butternut, kabocha, or calabaza squash halved, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (about 6 cups)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp La Kama Spice Mixture (1 tsp each of ground ginger, turmeric and white pepper, good pinch of grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and optional cubeb pepper)
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 lb crumbled chevre
1 tsp or more to taste Harissa paste (available in select stores, including Herat Foods on Pembina)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook onion in heavy bottomed pot or casserole dish (tajine) on medium low heat with the olive oil until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes
2. Add the squash, cover with parchment paper and/lid and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, spices and 4 cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the squash is tender, about 20+ minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Blend in batches or with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream and 3/4 of the cheese and the harissa at the end. Pur�e until velvety.
5. Bring up to heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve into warmed bowls and top each portion with a light sprinkling of the remaining cheese.


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