Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clearance in the Freezer Section

Every year, as the calendar year comes to a close, I realize that with holiday food shopping and all, that I have oftentimes stuffed some otherwise fabulous fruits or vegetables (or soups, or spaghetti sauce) in the bottom drawers of the freezer. This year's treasures included lady peas, green beans from the next door neighbor's garden, two ears of really sweet white corn, and a bag full of the most delicious cherries. I bought those on sale this summer and while we ate a whole bunch of them fresh, I put a bag of them in the freezer. This week, we had the corn and the green beans. This morning, I cooked the cherries. They're really good spooned over some Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Warm Cherry Compote
By Tina Brickley Engberg

Oven: 400 degrees
Prep Time: 10 minutes (pitting cherries)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes


1 lb. cherries (these were frozen), pitted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. butter, cut up into small pieces

Spread the pitted cherries out in a medium sized baking pan (I used my small Pyrex). Dot with small pieces of butter, and sprinkle the teaspoons of almond extract and vanilla extract over the cherries.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve over Greek yogurt for breakfast, as a sweet side for a pork chop, or over ice cream.

Cherry Compote over Greek Yogurt

Cherries now pitted

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes

Each Christmas Eve, our neighborhood women's group puts together a Christmas Eve feast for the fire station up the street. Each year for the last five or so, I've made sweet potatoes. I started out making the ones with the marshmallow festival on top, and have decided that these tubers taste better just a little more plain, and not quite so sweet. 

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes
By Tina Brickley Engberg

Makes: 1 large roasting pan (enough for a crowd)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Preparation Time: 5 minutes, then 20-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes, then 30 minutes (to reheat)


8 good sized sweet potatoes (enough for just over two quarts cooked)
1 lemon (to juice and zest)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flakes
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple
Canola Spray for pan

Wash and prick sweet potatoes and put on a baking sheet (they'll drip a little as they cook). Bake in 350 oven for about 50 minutes. The thicker the sweet potato, the longer it will take to cook. Remove from oven and allow to cool (30 minute to an hour). When potatoes are cool enough to touch, remove the skins and discard or compost. Put potatoes in a big mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher to get rid of the biggest lumps. 

Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, whip the potatoes until soft. Add cinnamon, the juice of one lemon, the zest from one lemon, the pineapple and coconut flakes. 

Prepare baking dish with Canola oil spray and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Reheat before serving about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Roasting sweet potatoes makes for easy skin removal

Mash with a potato masher to break up the big chunks

You might even find a willing helper in the kitchen, and yes, my microwave serves as my "fridge" for magnets.

Firehouse Sweet Potatoes ready to reheat and go to the feast

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Georgia Pecan Pie

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

This recipe for Georgia Pecan Pie is from my late Aunt Jerry. She lived in Winterville, GA, just outside of Athens, and had a number of pecan trees in her yard. Her husband, Bob, still brings grocery sacks of pecans into town. There really is nothing better. And, if your holiday festivities require a pie, don't get one from the store. This is easy-peasy and really delicious. My only word of warning about making pecan pie (and pies in general) is that you need to make it at a time when you have several hours for it to cool before serving. There is nothing worse than thinking a pie is ready, but finding it either like molten lava (pecan) or runny (fruit pies).

Aunt Jerry's Georgia Pecan Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup Georgia Pecan halves
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Cream butter to soften with hand mixer. Gradually add sugar and cream until fluffy. Add syrup and salt. Add eggs--one at a time, beating well after the addition of each egg. Stir in pecans using a spatula. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.

Now, Uncle Bob writes at the bottom, "Have a glass of wine (or two) while you wait." I'll let you decide on that or not.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Venetian Cookies: The Final Straw

Sometimes pride is at stake when I attempt recipes that I receive for dinner club. After all, everyone in the neighborhood who is in the group is going to see it, and probably eat it. It's clear I didn't go to the bakery and carry these home in a cardboard box. I haven't made this 1,000 times. This recipe had me over a barrel today. It wasn't pretty. Chocolate seizing, uneven layers, oy. But, I tried one of the edge pieces after I cut this up, and I've gotta say, it's divine. The apricot layers go so well with the almond in the cakey layers. We can ignore the chocolate on top. It is, shall we say, a labor of love. It is probably much the same for the family of the gal who wrote this recipe as it is for me to make 24 Stollen in a Christmas season.

Here goes.

Venetian Cookies

From Good Housekeeping

GH Recipe Developer Gina Miraglia helps her mom, Marie, make these rich almond-flavored bars every year in their Queens, NY, kitchen. Mother and daughter pack the cookies in Christmas tins along with other Italian goodies for lucky relatives and friends. We were thrilled when the Miraglias agreed to share this prized recipe with us. Tip: For best flavor, make the cookies up to 3 days before serving and store them covered in the refrigerator.

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Oven Temp: 350 degrees


4 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

1 can(s) (7 to 8 ounces) almond paste

1 1/4 cup(s) (2 1/2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 drops red food coloring

20 drops green food coloring

1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves, strained (see note below)

4 1-ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans;* line pans
with waxed paper, allowing waxed paper to extend over ends of pans. Grease and flour
waxed paper.

2. In small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks
form; set aside.

3. In large bowl, with same beaters, and with mixer at medium speed, beat almond paste and
remaining 1/2 cup sugar until well blended (there will be some small lumps of almond paste
remaining). Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in margarine or butter until blended. Beat in
egg yolks and almond extract until blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and salt just
until combined.

4. With rubber spatula, fold egg-white mixture into almond mixture, one-third at a time, until

5. Remove one-third of batter (about 1 1/2 rounded cups) from large bowl to small bowl.
Remove half of remaining batter from large bowl to another small bowl. (You should have
equal amounts of batter in each bowl.) Stir red food coloring into 1 bowl of batter until evenly
blended. Repeat with green food coloring and another bowl of batter.

6. Spread white (uncolored) batter in 1 jelly-roll pan. With metal spatula (offset, if possible),
spread batter as evenly as possible (layer will be about 1/8 inch thick). Repeat with red batter
and another pan. Repeat with green batter and remaining pan.

7. Bake layers 10 to 13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking time, until layers are
just set. It is important to undercook this batter slightly to ensure moist cookie layers. (If you
don't have enough oven space for 3 pans, you can bake 2 layers at once, then bake the last
layer separately.)

8. Let layers cool slightly in pans on wire racks, about 5 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, leaving
waxed paper attached; cool completely.

9. When all 3 layers are cooled, remove waxed paper from green layer. Place green layer on
serving tray or platter; spread with half of apricot preserves. Place white layer on top of green
layer, waxed-paper side up; remove waxed paper. Spread with remaining apricot preserves.
Place red layer on top of white layer; remove waxed paper.

10. With serrated knife, trim edges (about 1/4 inch from each side). Spread melted chocolate on
top of red layer (not on sides); refrigerate until chocolate is firm, at least 1 hour. If you like,
after chocolate has set, cover and refrigerate stacked layers up to 3 days before cutting and

11. To serve, cut stacked layers lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 12 small
rectangles. Store cookies in tightly covered container, with waxed paper between layers, in

Tips & Techniques

*If you have only 1 jelly-roll pan, you can still make this recipe. Just bake layers 1 at a time, and be sure
to let pan cool completely before reusing.

*To strain preserves (and you WILL want to do so), heat the preserves up in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for about 90 seconds. Strain through a sieve, and rub the preserves with the back of a spoon. I saved the fruit pieces and put them in an already open jar of peach preserves in the fridge. Waste not, want not.

Venetian Cookies

Almond paste

Folding egg whites into almond paste and butter mixture

Folded batter

Batter three ways: white, pink and green. Preppy cookies. 

Good thing I have three jelly roll pans

Heat the preserves and then strain them. 

Spread preserves over cookie layer

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What's The Story Morning Glory?

Every time I make this recipe for Morning Glory muffins, the song from Oasis pops into my head. I'm glad I like the song.

This recipe is going to suggest to you that we eat a lot of muffins. We do. I make them and freeze them. When I pack snacks for school, the boys will often have one of these. They're loaded with veggies and fruit, and are delicious pretty much any time of the day.

Morning Glory Muffins
Makes 24 medium sized muffins
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 20-23 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded apple (Rome works well)
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Shred carrots, zucchini and apple and stir into flour mixture, along with raisins, coconut and pineapple. In a smaller bowl, mix salt, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, eggs and egg whites and stir to mix. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just moist. Scoop or spoon into lined muffin pans. Bake 20-23 minutes.

You can't beat these for healthy muffins

Peel your carrots. The peel can make your muffins bitter. 

I shred in the food processor one thing after another.

Mix your liquid ingredients separately so they incorporate well. I do the salt here so it dissolves. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stollen (Another Family's Tradition)

My friend Rob saw me this afternoon and asked, "When's Stollen Saturday?" If someone were to have overheard that, it most certainly would have made little to no sense. Stollen? (Or Sch-toh-lehn if we say it in its gutteral German pronunciation--think "Hogan's Heroes".) Fruitcake, less the doorstop-like characteristics. Worth having with a cup of coffee.

So, Stollen Saturday this year is going to be a Stollen Friday, because I will be driving to Dayton, OH, my father's childhood home, for my Uncle Bob's funeral, on what would otherwise be Stollen Saturday.

I come by this recipe, not by family, but by a friend. My friend Julie Petersen. She now lives out in Colorado. I wish she were still here. The Christmas I was pregnant with my first son, she brought me a stollen for Christmas. I took it with me on a trip to Florida and ate it in secret, like it was the last food on earth and I'd best not share it. Granted, I was pregnant, but it's that good. My grandparents, both of German descent, had stollen from the local German bakery at their Christmas celebrations in Boca. It was good, but this is even better. I'm not a fan of marzipan. This has almonds, but not almond paste.

Stollen nestled all snug in the oven.

This is the step where you add the flour to the scalded milk. Let this cool a while before adding the yeast.  
Flour mix goes in with the butter and sugar and then you keep adding flour, and more flour

Stollen Dough on a rise

Roll out and brush with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and fold into thirds. This rises for one more hour before baking.  

Grandma Severance's Stollen 
with gratitude to Julie Lewis Petersen

3 oz. compressed yeast (5 cakes or envelopes)
1 quart whole milk
1 lb. butter, softened to room temperature (plus an extra stick for finishing)
16 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind (dried)
3/4 lb. currants and raisins
1/2 lb. sliced almonds
1/2 lb. glazed cherries
1/2 lb. glazed lemon or orange
1 lb. mixed glazed fruit (NOT Olde English, which has a particular flavor)

Icing: Powdered Sugar/Milk/Vanilla (optional)

Mix two cups flour with glazed fruit, dried fruit and nuts (except the glazed cherries) in a bowl or a plastic bag (I do this the night before and have it ready to go in the morning). 

Scald the milk (almost to a boil with a slight film on the surface) in a medium sized saucepan. 

Add six cups of flour to hot milk and mix; when cool enough, add yeast (If you can tolerate sticking your finger in the mix, it will be fine, if not, it's too hot and you'll kill the yeast). 

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer (I use an old KitchenAid stand mixer) with wire whisk attachment or paddle attachment. 

Add eggs, lemon/orange rind and salt (ideally you're on the 2nd speed of the mixer). 

Put dough hook attachment on mixer. 

Add flour/yeast/milk dough to mixer. Mix until dough forms a ball. 

Transfer to large bowl and add fruit/flour mixture and knead in the bowl until elastic and not sticky (add the last two cups of flour, as needed). 

Add cherries, knead some more. 

Turn and cover with a little butter. Cover with a cotton towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk (4-6 hours). 

Once the first rise is done, cut the dough in the bowl (don't punch it down) into 12 pieces. 

Roll dough on floured counter top into a circle that's between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. 

Brush dough with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, fold over 1/3 of dough from each side to create a loaf and brush the top with butter. Place each finished loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Once you've done this for all twelve loaves, allow to rise one hour (SECOND RISE) on the baking sheets with a cotton towel over it. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. 

Cool and decorate with a confectioner's sugar/milk/vanilla frosting if desired. 

Freezes well.