Monthly Archives: December 2018

Sauerbraten, Potato and Red Cabbage Knish

You may recall that in my second knish trial I ran out of filling, so I wrapped up and froze the extra dough.

Before going to bed on Christmas day, I placed the dough into the fridge to defrost and, on Boxing Day, I attempted a filling that was inspired by the brisket and sauerkraut knish fillings that I had seen while surfing the net. The proportions of the three ingredients; shredded sauerbraten, red cabbage and riced (or leftover mashed) potatoes, may be adjusted according to your preference, or the amounts of each that you have leftover from the day before.

Knish … delicious with a spicy Dijon mustard

Sauerbraten, Potato Knish and Red Cabbage – makes 9 knish

Half batch of potato knish dough, (see Potato-Leek Knish post link above)

Filling

1/2 cup shredded sauerbraten
1/2 cup riced potatoes
1/4 cup braised red cabbage
salt and pepper to taste

Egg wash

1 large egg
1 tsp cold water
pinch of salt

In a small bowl, add the egg and beat well with a fork. Ad the water and salt and beat again to mix.

* * *

To make the filling, combine the potatoes, cabbage and shredded sauerbraten. Taste and season as needed. Set aside

Preheat the oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/8th inch thick. Cut into 3-4 inch squares. (NOTE: I rolled my dough out into a 10-12 inch square and cut it into nice equal sized squares.)

Spoon about 2 tbsp of the filling into the palm of your hand and squeeze gently to form a firm ball, about 1-1 1/2 inch in diameter. Place each ball of filling in the middle of one of the squares. Be careful not to overfill so that you can seal up the knish. Pull up the dough into the middle, around the filling, and pinch the four seams well to seal.

Brush some egg wash on top of each knish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Rotate the tray half way through so that the knish will bake evenly.

Let cool briefly before serving. The knish are also tasty at room temperature.

You may refrigerate the knish for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.

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Drunken Elf

I was reading fanfiction (PLEASE don’t judge me) last week and ran across a selection of naughty and nice Christmas-themed drinks in one of the stories. One of the ones that caught my attention, mostly because it only had a few ingredients, was the Drunken Elf. For colouring the pink lemonade, I used some of my home made cranberry sauce. The results … delicious.

Drunken Elf – makes 1 drink

1 oz Bacardi Golden Rum
Pink Lemonade
crushed candy cane for rimming the glass
2-3 frozen cranberries, for garnish
1 mini candy cane, for garnish

Glaze For Coating/rimming the glass – Combine 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp water in a shallow plate or saucer. Stir well.

Dip the rim of each glass into the glaze then dip into the crushed candy cane, chocolate shot or Christmas sprinkles. Let dry thoroughly.

In a pitcher, or large measuring cup, add as much of the rum and lemonade as needed per person. Pour into prepared glasses. Add a couple or three cranberries per glass.

Serve with a mini candy cane hanging off the edge off each glass.

For the Pink Lemonade – Add raspberry syrup to your regular lemonade until it’s the colour you like. For a Christmas theme, stir some cranberry sauce into about 1/4 cup of the lemonade. Strain out any berries or seeds and add to your jug of lemonade.

Add some frozen cranberries to your jug before bringing it to the table to serve.

German Themed Christmas Menu – Sauerbraten and Gravy, Rotkohl and Gingerbread Cookies

I had planned on a traditional Christmas meal featuring a roast turkey and its accompaniments, but, less than a week before the event, I changed my mind, and decided on a German themed menu. Perhaps because I made gingerbread cookies. Or perhaps because I ran across an eye of round roast while rooting around in the freezer, which had been labelled ‘for sauebraten’. In any case, this is what I ended up with.

For the vegetable side dish, I went outside my comfort zone and chose to try ‘rotkohl’ or braised German red cabbage. I started with the Better Homes and Gardens recipe but added some more vinegar (cider), because the flavour seemed flat after tasting. I also added a heaping tablespoon of home made cranberry sauce. I cooked the cabbage for about thirty minutes until it was limp but still had some chew to it. If you want it more tender, cook it longer.

Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) – serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil*
1/2 onion, finely diced*
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp salt, add more to taste
dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup coarsely chopped peeled apple
1-2 tbsp cranberry sauce, to taste

* Substitute with 2 tbsp sauted onion.

In a large skillet, saute the onion in vegetable oil over medium/medium-low heat until soft and just beginning to get golden brown.

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, caraway seed, water, salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until everything is hot, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shredded cabbage and diced apple. Cook, covered, over medium/medium-low heat 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes or so, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. If you want a tangier cabbage, stir in some more vinegar. For a sweeter cabbage, add a bit more sugar. For a seasonal touch, stir in some cranberry sauce (home made or bought) and let it melt into the cabbage.

Sauerbraten Dinner  – Yes, I forgot to plate the braised red cabbage until after I took the pictures. I may post the sauerbraten recipe I used in the New Year just for my own records. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

For the starch, I stuck with mashed potatoes, but topped them with ‘sauerbraten gravy’ … crushed gingersnaps/gingerbread cookies stirred into the strained braising liquid from the sauerbraten. To be honest, I couldn’t picture this actually turning into a gravy, so I prepared a ‘beurre manie’, a paste consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour which can be whisked into a hot liquid until it thickens to the degree desired. It turned out that the crushed cookies were more efficient at thickening the liquid than I expected and, in future I would use half the amount that I used because I had to thin my gravy down a LOT to get it to be pouring consistency.

Cooking the meal was a true learning experience, and, on the whole, a successful one. I don’t know that I’d repeat the menu in the future but, for this Christmas, it was a delicious meal.

Potato and Leek Knish (Trial #2)

Leftover leeks in the fridge, potatoes sprouting in the basement and a four day stretch at home recovering from a cold, meant I had the ingredients and all the time needed to try a second knish recipe.

I started with Chef Bryan’s recipe on the Klondike Potato website but had to make some changes. Mostly to reflect the shaping technique I used.

I had some concerns about the amount of salt called for in the dough, as well as the filling, and it turned out that my fears were warranted, as the filling was saltier than I would have liked. When cooking potatoes for mashing, I usually throw two generous teaspoons (using a disposable plastic spoon not a measuring one) of salt into the boiling water, which may have contributed to the excess salt taste. And, rather than sauteeing the leeks and the onions in butter (unsalted, though the recipe didn’t say), I used margarine. If I had been thinking, I would have added more mashed potato to the filling I was making to dilute the salt but, obviously, I was NOT thinking. In my defense, I was also trying a new meatloaf recipe at the same time so I was distracted.

Rather than making individual square knishes, I tried to replicate the beef filled version my mom used to bring home from the deli where she worked for twenty years. They made two/two and a half inch wide meat filled logs which were baked and then cut to size for serving. It turned out that I had too much dough (or conversely, not enough filling) as a result of changing the shaping method. In the recipe below, I’ve doubled the filling ingredients to accommodate this.

Aside: About half an hour after my knish roll came out of the oven, I had the curious thought that I may not have measured out three cups of flour for the dough, but only TWO.

Potato and Leek Knish

Chef Bryan’s Potato Knish – makes 16-20 pieces, serves 8-10

Dough

Dry Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Wet Ingredients
1 cup mashed or riced potatoes
1 tsp salt (reduce to 1/2 tsp next time)
1/2 tsp pepper (reduce to 1/8 tsp next time)
1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cold water

Filling

2 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil, divided in half
2 medium onions (2 cups), finely diced and sauteed in half the butter above
1 stalk of leeks (3 cups cleaned leeks), chopped into 1/2 inch squares and sauteed in half the butter above
2 cups mashed or riced potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Egg Wash

1 egg and 1 tsp cold water, whisked together

Prepare a half baking sheet by lining with a sheet of parchment paper.

Making the dough:

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine 1 cup of mashed potatoes, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and mix well until nice and creamy and the potatoes come together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mash together. It won’t come together yet. Add the water to pull it into a dough by creating a well in the middle and adding the water. Mix together until it comes together into a soft dough.

Cover the bowl with a cloth or sheet of plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

Make the filling during this resting period.

Making the filling:

In a large saute pan, fry the onions with some (1 tbsp) of the unsalted butter until softened, but not caramelized. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and set aside. In the same saute pan, fry the leeks with the rest (1 tbsp) of the unsalted butter, until just softened. Add the leeks to the onions sauteed previously.

Add one cup of mashed potatoes to the onions and leeks, as well as the salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

Lightly flour a clean work area. Take your dough ball and cut it in two equal halves. Roll out each portion into a rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick and about 4 inches wide x 14 inches long.

Spoon half the filling into the center of one of the rectangles.

Brush some of the egg wash along one of the long edges of the dough and fold other end of the dough over the filling onto the egg washed edge. Press the dough down to seal the filling into the roll. Turn the roll over, so the seam is on the bottom and transfer the knish log onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush some of the egg wash over the top.  Repeat the assembly process with the rest of the dough and filling.

Place the half sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Let the knish cool until it’s barely warm, then cut the knish rolls into 2 inch bars.

Serve warm or room temperature with ketchup or spicy mustard.

I served my knishes with a couple of slices of meat loaf and found that the sweet, tang of the ketchup-mustard glaze paired well with the heaviness of the knish.

Cream of Leek Soup

I haven’t made this soup in ages. I had a recipe for a kale, leek and potato soup but since I didn’t have any kale I net surfed for one that featured just the leeks. I decided on this recipe from the “Cooking with Campbell’s” website, though I left out the cream, after tasting the pureed soup. It just didn’t need it.

For a very elegant presentation, serve your soup in a delicate bone china cup.

Or, for a hearty home style presentation, use a sourdough bread bowl. Since I didn’t have any fresh herbs for garnish, I used a pinch of cayenne pepper for colour and to give a bit of zing to the very subtly flavoured leek and potatoes.

Sauteed leeks and potatoes in a purchased low salt chicken stock cooked until the potatoes were just tender … before and after being pureed.

Chicken Knish (Trial #1)

I’ve been meaning to make a batch of  knish for some time … years actually. But something always got in my way. I’m home sick today so I pulled a half pound of raw, cubed, chicken breasts out of the freezer, thawed it enough so I could mince/grind it up in my food processor and made what was the easiest dough/filling recipe that I found in my internet searches.

I should have had my suspicions when there were no reviews posted.

Oh, well. You live and learn.

The recipe wasn’t a complete FAIL and the knishes tasted alright, but there were some issues.

The dough – Very soft and wet. I kneaded in some more flour before oiling the plastic wrap, wrapping the dough up in it, and then refrigerating the dough while I made the filling.

The filling – I eyeballed a ‘cup’ of chopped chicken breast to equal about 1/2 lb/227 gm and froze it away a couple of days ago. However, the directions (1 tbsp of filling) seemed … off. And it was. A cup comes out to about SIXTEEN tablespoons, even if you ignore the contribution from the small grated carrot and chopped onion.

So, did that mean I was to roll out sixteen circles and fill them? The problem was that I didn’t have a HOPE of rolling out that miniscule amount of dough thin enough in order to do so. I rolled out the dough about 1/8th of an inch thick and was able to cut out four (3 3/4 inch) circles. I divided the filling into four portions and shaped them into balls which I placed on top of each of the circles of dough. Picking the knishes UP was another problem. And the dough was SO soft and sticky that wrapping it around the giant ball of filling was almost impossible as it kept tearing. I was determined to succeed however. Because I’m FRUGAL and didn’t intend to discard the trimmings from the dough, I gathered them up and roughly shaped and rolled them out into a FIFTH circle of dough. Then, I re-portioned the chicken filling so I could fill all five of the knishes.

I floured my hands and shaped the knishes as best as I could. The last knish was shaped a bit differently as I wrapped the dough completely around the meat filling.

The baking temperature – I did a fast conversion of the baking temperature (180 deg C /~350 deg F) but realized that the dough wasn’t getting as brown as I wanted in the time suggested, so I increased the temperature to 375 deg F, for the last 15 minutes. And then I baked the knishes for another 10 minutes. I even turned on the broiler for a few minutes but they were still pale.

The knishes were baked on a dark metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper and the bottom was lovely and brown. It was also HARD. The sides though were nice and tender, even if pale. The filling was moist and bouncy, so it was not over-baked. Even without any dipping sauce (Dijon mustard or ketchup), the knish I ate was very tasty.

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Sweet Japanese Thin Omelettes

I found the recipe for these omelettes on the “Just Hungry” blog as well as some interesting ways of using them. I’ve rewritten the recipe posted below to reflect the number of omelettes I made

Inari Sushi Topped with Thin Omelette

Sweet Japanese Thin Omelette (Usuyaki Tamago)

Sweet Japanese Thin Omelettes (Usuyaki Tamago) – makes 4  9-inch omelettes

3 large eggs
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/8th tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water (optional)*
vegetable oil to oil the pan

* The cornstarch adds extra body to the omelette so that it can be used as a wrap for beggar’s purses and shell-shaped sushi.

Beat eggs and water together in a small bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the egg mixture and beat together to combine. If you want an extra smooth omelette batter, you can sieve your mixture before making your omelettes

Place a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat and when heated, wipe the surface with a paper towel that has been dipped into a bit of vegetable oil. Add about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture and swirl to evenly cover the surface of the frying pan. When the edges of the omelette are dry and start to curl just a bit and the surface of the omelette is still a bit shiny, free the edges and flip the omelette out onto a large plate. Swipe the frying pan surface with the oiled paper towel and repeat until you’ve used up all the egg mixture.

NOTE: Your pan may gradually get hotter so watch that the bottom of the omelette doesn’t brown for a professional omelette quality. Remove the pan from the heat briefly to cool it down if you’re making a lot of omelettes at a time. If you don’t care that the omelette gets a bit brown, it won’t BURN, don’t stress. Expert omelette makers may be able to use only about 3 tbsp per omelette for a truly THIN omelette but, as with crepes, I find that 1/4 cup of the mixture is perfect for my pan and I don’t rip the omelette when removing it from the pan.

Sauteed Kale and Cheese Omelette

A bundle of fresh kale is quite versatile … use it to make a pot of Zuppa Toscana soup, a topping for a meatless pizza AND as a filling for this delicious three egg omelette.

Kale and Cheese Omelette

Kale and Cheese Omelette – serves 2

5-6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
2 cups kale, cleaned, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
pinch of salt and black pepper
4-6 tbsp grated or crumbled cheese of choice (ie. old cheddar, feta)

Garnish – 1 ripe avocado, cubed, hot sauce or salsa

Add the oil to a 9 inch non-stick pan, over medium heat, and saute the onion, just until lightly golden. Add the kale, tossing gently to coat the kale with the oil and mix with the sauteed onion. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top. Cover with a lid and let steam for 3-4 minutes until the kale is wilted. Transfer kale and the onions into a small bowl and set aside

Return the pan to the heat and add half the beaten egg egg mixture. When almost set, scatter half the sauteed kale and cheese over the top of the omelette.

Fold over and continue cooking until the egg is set.

Repeat with the remaining half of the egg mixture.

Serve with the garnish of your choice. In this case, I topped each omelette with half the diced avocado and a couple of tablespoons of spicy salsa.

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Kale Pizza …. with or without hot Italian sausage – saute two cups of sliced kale, a pinch or two of salt and a pinch of black pepper and a quarter cup of finely diced onion in a tablespoon of olive oil. Let cool and top pizza.

Bake for 15-18 min at 425 deg F in a preheated oven.

Homemade Savoury Boursin … Spread and Pasta Sauce

I recently found a recipe for boursin, a soft and creamy cheese, posted on “The Frugal Hausfrau” website and knew that I had to give it a try. It makes an amazing spread but it also works as part of a creamy pasta sauce. I made a change to the original recipe … I substituted purchased crispy fried onions for the dried chives since I didn’t have any.

Roasted chicken and creamy boursin and mushroom fettuccine

Creamy Boursin and Mushroom Pasta – serves 2 or 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 1/2 – 2 cups (~227 gm) mushrooms, halved and sliced (white and cremini)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup boursin cheese spread (purchased or home made*)
salt and pepper, to taste
200-210 dry pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserve about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce in case it tightens up before serving.
2-3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

* See recipe below

In a large saute pan over high heat, add the oil and butter. When hot, add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium/medium-high and add the whipping cream and cream cheese. Stir gently until the cream cheese melts into the sauce and the cream starts to bubble a bit. Add the cooked pasta and stir through. Serve with some chopped parsley on top, for garnish.

Savoury Boursin Cheese

Savoury Boursin Cheese – makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp crispy fried onion

In a medium sized bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, salt, white pepper and garlic powder with a hand mixer. Stir in the parsley and fried onions by hand.

Transfer to a small bowl or ramekin, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate so that the flavours will marry. Remove from the fridge 1 or 2 hrs before serving so that the boursin will be soft enough to spread.