Saturday, March 31, 2012

PASKA or EASTER BREAD


Making Paska was a first for me.  I did not really want to do it.
I'm not sure why.  It involved baking something unfamiliar when there were 
 other sweets that I was yearning for and knew just how they would taste.


I am glad that I had this little talk with myself which went something
like this .... 'just go ahead and do it!'


A yeast bread with real citrus just has to be delicious!
I had never peeled an orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler ..
it worked perfectly.


Tossing it all in the blender with the milk, sugar and eggs
seemed like an easy thing to do.  Except I had a little mishap ..
the blade was not quite tightened enough so I had a bit of clean up
to do.  But it went very well after that.


What a beautiful lemony orange colored dough!
This needs a bit more flour but I like to err on the side of
a little less rather than too much.


I love the dome shape of Paska baked in cans ... reminds me
of  mushrooms.  I did not have any empty cans on hand so I
decided to do some flower shapes.  Instead of slicing the
Paska bread, mine will be more like a pull-apart bun.
This picture was to flip and look sort of  like a cross but it did not
  turn for some reason but if you turn your head, you'll know what I mean.


Because I knew that I needed to sample immediately, I baked one
lone Paska roll.  I can testify that was soft and light and wonderful.


Some prefer to use a thin icing glaze for the top but I went
with a cream cheese icing instead.
The sprinkles look so much like Easter and Spring and new beginnings ..
the resurrection of leaves and flowers.
This recipe is from the 'Mennonite Girls Can Cook', cookbook.

PASKA or EASTER BREAD

2 tbsp. active yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water until foamy.

1 medium orange and lemon

Peel orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler.  Remove and discard the
 pith of the orange and lemon.  Cut into slices and remove seeds.
Place into a blender jar and blend until smooth.

1¼ cup milk
½ cup butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
7½ to 8 cups flour

Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until butter is melted.  Add to the
blender and blend until frothy and light and only flecks of citrus are showing.
Add egg, sugar and salt and blend until very smooth, about a minute.

Combine yeast and citrus mixture in a large mixing bowl or dough mixer.
Add the flour 1 cup at a time until it forms a ball and the sides of the
bowl come clean.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turning once to oil
surface.  Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 1½ hours.
Punch down and let rest 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Prepare pans using cooking spray, parchment paper or shortening.
( I used one 9-inch, two 8-inch and four 6-inch round pans)
Make round, rectangle or braided loaves and let rise until double
in bulk, 1 to 1½ hours.  Bake in preheated 350° oven for 20 to 25
minutes depending on pan size.  Remove from pans and cool
on wire racks. Spread with a thin icing glaze or cream cheese icing
and decorate with sprinkles.






Thursday, March 29, 2012

TENDER BEEF AND NOODLES


As I was preparing this beef dish with bok choy and noodles,
I was reminded of beef chop suey.  Whatever the name, this attractive
 mixture of thinly sliced beef and vegetables is bursting with flavor.


Looks can be deceiving ... in reality this thinly sliced steak is
in a glass bowl mixed up with a marinade that makes it oh, so tender.
To make the steak easier to slice, partially freeze.


Bok choy is washed and ready for chopping.


These are the noodles I like to use in a stir-fry type of dish.
If they are not available where you live, substitute Asian soup noodles,
such as ramen.


Garlic, mushrooms, carrots and peppers are sauteed first.


This is chopped bok choy ... not onions ...added to the pan with beef broth.


There is enough broth in the pan to cook the noodles along with
the bok choy without having to boil them separately.


Stir it all together and bring to a boil.


Cover with a lid and simmer until noodles are tender.


Quick fry the beef mixture in a nonstick skillet until brown
and add to the noodle and vegetable medley.
A very tasty one-dish meal!

TENDER BEEF AND NOODLES

1 lb. sirloin steak, cut across grain into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
grated zest of 1 lemon

In a bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients; add beef and stir to
coat evenly.  Set aside.

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
½ cup chopped sweet red and yellow peppers
3 cups beef broth
¼ tsp. ground ginger
7 oz. steam fried noodles
5 cups chopped bok choy

In a Dutch oven or jumbo cooker, heat oil.  Saute` mushrooms and garlic
until mushrooms start to brown.  Add carrots and peppers and
saute` for several more minutes.  Add beef broth, ginger, noodles and
bok choy; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or
until noodles are tender but not mushy.
In a large non-stick skillet, stir-fry beef mixture over high heat until
browned.  Stir into vegetable mixture and heat through.
Yield: 5 to 6 servings

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS


Fresh cranberries are available at Thanksgiving and Christmas but
I like to keep them in my freezer to use in this muffin which I
enjoy year round.  The tartness of cranberries and flavor of orange
combine for a great taste sensation.


If the cranberries are large, it is a good idea to cut them in half.


The wet and dry ingredients are folded together just until moistened.


An attractive muffin that is moist and so yummy!


CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

In a mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients.

2 eggs
½ cup orange juice
grated peel of 1 orange
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans

In a small bowl, beat eggs; stir in orange juice, peel, butter and
yogurt.  Stir into dry ingredients with cranberries and nuts, just until
moistened.  Spoon into 12 large greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
Bake in preheated 350° oven or 20 to 25 minutes or
until golden brown.
Yield: 12 large muffins

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A FOREVER FEAST, SNOW


Not everyone will share my gratitude for snow near the end of
March.  But those of us who are closely associated with the land
know that we were in dire need of moisture.
We also know that it does not stay long and the inconvenience
is momentary and the rewards are lasting.
The fear of wild fires is non existent for now and I am so glad.


Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
Psalm 147:7,8  NIV

Saturday, March 24, 2012

STRAWBERRY CREAM ROLL


One of my favorite springtime desserts!
Truly decadent, each slice features a profusion of berries spilling
over a luscious cream filling in a soft cream roll.
This large-size dessert is ideal for a potluck dinner or other family
gathering.  Can be made ahead and frozen.


The soft cake roll or 'jelly roll' as it used to be called, is not hard to make
but does take a bit of time because of the 'beating' involved.
In this recipe the eggs are separated and whipped in separate bowls
before they are folded together.

The whites are beaten until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
It takes some serious beating to turn the egg yolks into a light and
lemon-colored foam.  After the sugar is added, they are beaten for
a time longer until the batter becomes thick and fluffy.
This is an important step in the creation of the cake.


Pour the thick egg yolk mixture over the meringue in batches.


Gently fold the eggs yolk mixture into the meringue with a rubber spatula.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, folding in just until blended.


The mixture will be thick but airy.  Carefully spread into the prepared
baking pan and pop into the oven.


After removing from the oven, dust the top of cake roll with powdered sugar.


Invert cake onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll up.


After cake is cooled, unroll and spread with cream filling.
Re roll, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Wrap in foil and place in plastic bag if you are going to freeze roll.


Strawberries are not in season here yet ... but they are in season
somewhere.  And the ones in the store are quite nice.


The fresh strawberry sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated
for several days.  The cream filling can also be made a day ahead.
Even though this recipe is involving, it can be
made well ahead of serving.


When ready to serve, cut cake roll into slices and top with
fresh strawberries in sauce.  A dollop of whipped cream or ice cream
would add a pleasing final touch.

STRAWBERRY CREAM ROLL

Grease a 11 x 17 -inch or 13 x 17-inch baking pan.
Line with parchment paper, extending paper 1 inch beyond sides.

6 egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each
addition until meringue is stiff and glossy.

6 egg yolks
3 tbsp. water
1/2 cup sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla

In another mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored.
Add water, sugar and vanilla; continue beating until thick and fluffy.
Pour over meringue in batches and gently fold together until blended.

1 cup + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

Blend dry ingredients.  Sprinkle over egg mixture, folding in with
rubber spatula just until blended.  Spread into prepared pan; bake in
preheated 375° oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until wooden pick
inserted in center comes out clean.
Spread large tea towel on counter; cover with a sheet of parchment paper.
Sprinkle paper with powdered sugar.  Invert cake onto powdered sugar.
Peel off and discard the original parchment paper.
Roll up cake from long side with towel.
Let stand until completely cooled.
Unroll cake; spread cream filling over cake.  Re roll cake and place
 on a serving plate.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap; refrigerate.
When ready to serve, cut into slices.  Top with
fresh strawberries in sauce.

CREAM FILLING

½ cup sugar
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup pineapple juice
1 egg, beaten

In medium saucepan, combine sugar and flour.  Add milk, juice and
beaten egg; stir to mix.  Cook over medium hear until thickened,
stirring constantly.  Chill.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together.
Whip cream and vanilla together until stiff.  Add cream cheese and
cooled pudding mixture; continue beating until smooth.
Refrigerate up to 2 days before using.

FRESH STRAWBERRY SAUCE

2 cups strawberries
1 1/3 cups water

Wash, drain and hull strawberries; mash lightly.  In a medium saucepan,
simmer strawberries and water for 3 minutes.  Strain mixture through
sieve and discard pulp.

1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice
2/3 cup water
4 to 5 cups sliced fresh strawberries

In medium saucepan, blend sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and water.
Add strawberry juice and bring to boil.  Boil for 1 minute stirring
constantly.  Cool.  Fold strawberries into cooled glaze.

Friday, March 23, 2012

ZUCCHINI QUICHE




A friend invited me to a lovely brunch where she served zucchini
and Italian sausage quiche as the main entree.  It had a wonderful
flavor and I am happy to share the recipe with my readers.
The recipe makes two pans but can easily be divided to make only one.


Saute grated zucchini and chopped onions in butter until tender.


Spread zucchini mixture into pastry-lined pie pan.
Sprinkle meat on top. I chose to use ham but
Italian sausage or bacon is a great alternative.


Add a layer of sauteed mushrooms.


Sprinkle with cheese and pour egg mixture over top.


Bake until golden brown.


Serve with fresh fruit and muffins.

ZUCCHINI QUICHE

Prepare pastry; line two 9-inch deep dish pie pans or quiche pans.
Trim pastry to fit; flute edge.

4 cups grated zucchini (no need to peel)
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. basil
¼ tsp. oregano

Saute` zucchini and onions in butter until tender; stir in seasonings.
Spoon into pastry-lined crusts.

½ lb. Italian sausage
(Or use bacon or ham)

Saute` sausage in frying pan until sausage is browned; drain off fat.
Sprinkle over zucchini in crust.

2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp. butter

Saute` mushrooms in butter until tender; sprinkle over sausage.

2 cups shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

Sprinkle cheese over sausage.  Whisk beaten eggs together with
milk and cream; pour mixture into pastry shells.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 50 to 55 minutes or
until lightly browned.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

UPSIDE-DOWN APPLE PECAN PIE


When I served this pie, the unanimous vote was a resounding
indorsement.  In all likelihood I will never make an old-fashioned
apple pie again because this one was clearly a winner.


I want to be making Spring types of food soon.  But first I had some apples
 that needed to be used and besides we had a dump of snow on
the weekend.  My daughter alerted me to this recipe which
starts with a wonderful caramel and pecan mixture in a pie pan.


And then the procedure is like a normal apple pie.


The pie will sit on top of the caramel layer and wonderful things
happen as it bakes.


Fold the top crust in half and place on the apples and unfold.


Make sure the edges are well sealed, crimped and fluted.
Baking the pie on lower oven rack is very important
so that the caramel does not scorch.


The thought of upsetting a lovely apple pie did not appeal to me
at first. That is really why I waited so long to try this recipe.


 I forgot all about my hesitation to do the
upside-down thing when I saw this beautiful round.


A slice of extra ordinary apple pie!  I had my piece with
vanilla ice cream ... scrumptious!

UPSIDE-DOWN APPLE PECAN PIE

¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. corn syrup  (or Rodger's Golden)
½ cup pecan halves

Combine brown sugar, melted butter and corn syrup in 9-inch pie plate.
Spread evenly to coat bottom of pan. (warming the mixture in microwave
makes it easier to spread)  Arrange pecans over top.

Pastry for 9-inch two -crust pie
Place bottom pastry over mixture in pan, gently pressing onto nuts.

5 cups pared tart apples, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt; stir in apples.
Turn apple mixture into pastry-lined pan.  Cover with top pastry.
Trim edges, fold edge under bottom crust; seal and flute.
Cut slits to allow steam to escape.

1 - 2 tsp. cream
Brush top crust with cream.
Bake on lower oven rack in preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes, then
reduce temperature to 325° and bake for 25 to 35 minutes longer,
until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.
Let set for 5 minutes, then loosen edge of pie and carefully invert
onto serving plate.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: if desired, line pie pan with parchment paper before you add
the caramel /pecan mixture to make it easier to invert pie after baking.
It is a matter of preference because it worked well for me not to use
parchment paper.