Tag Archives: raisins

Another Mennonite Dessert … Butter Tart Squares with Raisins

The great thing about Mennonite/Amish desserts is that they rarely require more than very basic ingredients you’re likely to already have on hand. No fancy cooking gadgets or techniques are needed, either.

If you love butter tarts but don’t want to make pastry and then roll out and cut little circles for the base, these squares can be whipped together in no time at all. They’re not gooey like butter tarts but they taste similar.

Butter Tart Squares with Raisins – makes 16 squares

Base

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter

Topping

1 cup raisins
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Making the base

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and brown sugar and then cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Pat into an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan. You don’t need to butter the pan but you may if you wish.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the base is set and just barely coloured.

Making the filling

In a small bowl cover the raisins with boiling water and let soak until the raisins are soft, 5-15 minutes depending on how old your raisins are. Drain the raisins and gently squeeze out any extra water.

Rinse out the bowl used to make the base and use it to make the filling. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the corn syrup, salt, vanilla and the flour and whisk well. Stir in the raisins and pour over the baked base.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.

Cool the baking pan on a rack and then cut into bars or squares.

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Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I’ve got lots of food in the freezer so I didn’t have to do any cooking this weekend. However, I saw some oatmeal raisin cookies on a FB group I belong to and was suddenly struck with the NEED to make them.

I was going to go net surfing for a recipe, then decided to use one of my cookbooks. I chose to make the oatmeal drop cookie recipe that would give me chewy cookies found in Edna Staebler‘s “Cookies and Squares with Schmecks Appeal”.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Drop Cookies – makes 4 dozen

1/2 cup lard
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 water (replaced with 1 egg and enough water to equal 1/4 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

Prepare baking sheets by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together the flour and baking soda.

Cream together the lard and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the water and salt. Mix in the oats and raisins and then the flour and baking soda.

Spoon cookies by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Spread them out so you get a dozen cookies per sheet. (If you prefer you can shape the cookies into 1 inch diameter balls to make sure they’re regular in size.) Flatten each cookie with a fork as you don’t want them thick to start with.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. The cookies will still be soft. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes then transfer, using a thin metal spatula onto cooling racks until completely cool.

Raisin and Ricotta Cheese Blintzes

My livejournal was started years before I thought of writing a blog. There are lots of fun recipes there that I’d like to share here, but rather than rewriting them from scratch, I’m going to copy and paste a few of my favourites with minimal changes, interspersed with new material. My tamales post(s) was the first time I did so. I’ll also share recipes that I posted before I had a camera.

A basic crepe recipe can be modified in many ways to produce savoury and sweet dishes like the meat-filled Hungarian dish, Hortobágyi palacsinta, or Italian crepe manicotti, like this spinach and mushroom version.

This breakfast item, however, makes a great dessert.

My mom worked in the kitchen of a Jewish deli for over 20 yrs. In that time, she learned to make a LOT of Jewish dishes. She even cooked some of them for us. 🙂 But she never made these cheese blintzes, even though she obviously knew how to make amazing crepes.

You can use cottage cheese and cream cheese/mascarpone in the filling, but I went with an Italian ricotta cheese, as well as raisins.

Because blintzes are pan-fried in unsalted butter (or vegetable oil) before being served, the crepes are often only cooked on one side. You put the filling on the cooked side, wrap it up and then, when you fry the outside, it doesn’t get too brown. It also makes the crepes easier to roll, as they’re more flexible if only cooked on one side.

Raisin and Ricotta Cheese Blintzes – makes 10 blintzes

10 9-inch sweetened crepes, cooked on only one side
475 gm (~1 pound) ricotta cheese, well drained
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg
1 cup raisins (omit if you don’t like them)
1-2 tbsp unsalted butter

Garnish: powdered sugar, fruit sauce or sour cream

NOTE: I only added 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp sugar to the basic crepe recipe.

In a small bowl, add raisins and pour 1 cup boiling water over them. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain well (pat dry in a double thickness paper towel, if you wish) and let cool to room temperature.

Combine ricotta cheese, brown sugar, lemon zest and egg. Stir in raisins and refrigerate until ready to fill the crepes.

Divide the cottage cheese filling evenly among the crepes. You’ll probably use 3-4 tbsp for each one.

To assemble, spoon the filling in a rectangular block, in the central third of your crepe. Fold the bottom third up and over the filling. Fold in both the sides like you’re making an envelope and then fold the top third of the crepe down over the filling.

Assembly – Step 1

Assembly – Step 2

Assembly – Step 3

Assembly – Step 4

In a 9-10 inch non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp of unsalted butter over medium-low heat.

Blintzes ready to fry – See how pale they are? They won’t be that way for long. 🙂

Put 2-3 filled blintzes, or as many as will fit comfortably, in the pan. You want to leave at least an inch between the blintzes so that you can flip them with a spatula. The crepes themselves are fragile, and the filling will be soft, so they may open and the filling will spill during flipping, if you’re too forceful.

Fry on each side, about 1 1/2-2 minutes, or until golden brown and the filling is cooked through. (If you’re concerned that the filling may not be set, since it’s still quite soft while hot out of the pan, place the finished blintzes on a microwave safe plate and cook for 1 minute on high. If feeding a crowd, you can arrange all of the pan fried blintzes on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 deg F oven, for 8-10 minutes.)

Fried blintzes

You may serve these blintzes warm out of the frying pan, or at room temperature, with icing sugar sifted over the top.

I like a spoonful or two of fruit topping over my blintzes, like this mixed berry sauce, but there are people who prefer sour cream

More Sourdough and a Turkey Soup

Never say never … to sourdough starter.

Soup is a great way to use up leftover diced turkey meat, especially the white meat which can dry out quickly.

For this creamy turkey soup, I used potato gnocchi, and chopped baby spinach and grated carrots for colour, flavour and added nutrition.

Creamy Turkey and Potato Gnocchi Soup – makes 8 cups/ servings

4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
1 tbsp extra virgin oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
4 tbsp/1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups turkey stock (home made if possible)
3/4-1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 pound potato gnocchi
1-2 cups turkey breast, cooked and diced
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2-1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese – optional

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, drain and reserve until needed. Since it only takes 3 minutes to cook the gnocchi once your water is boiling, wait to cook them until you’re almost ready to add them to the soup.

Mise en place

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil, over medium heat. When the onion becomes translucent, add the flour, and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 4 cups of turkey stock, the starting amounts of salt and pepper and the dried herbs.

Into the roux add the carrots and diced turkey. Once the mixture becomes thick add the whipping cream. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi and the spinach. Taste for seasonings, add more salt and pepper if needed, then simmer until the soup is heated through.

Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on each bowl if desired.

And what goes well with soup?

Home made buns or rolls.

I decided to activate some dried sourdough flakes. I ground them up in my coffee/spice grinder first to make rehydrating them easier and converted an old yeast recipe for Dilly-Onion Bread to use the resulting sourdough starter.

The results were pretty good if I do say so myself. Next time, I’m leaving out the dill seeds though as I don’t feel like crunching on them.

Hybrid Dilly-Onion Bread – 2.2 lb/1 kg loaf

1 medium onion, finely diced and fried in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp dill seed
1 tbsp dill weed
1 egg (a second egg may be used for an egg wash)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter, fed about 4 hrs earlier
3 cups all purpose flour, divided

Fry diced onion and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water with 1/2 tbsp sugar. Stir well and sprinkle in 2 tsp dry active yeast. Let proof for 5-10 min or until the mixture is foamy.

In a large bowl, add 1 cup of all purpose hour, salt, remaining 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, dill seed and dill weed, fried onion and oil/butter it was fried in.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, add one egg and beat slightly with a fork. Spoon in 1/2 cup sour cream so you have a total of 3/4 cup of egg/sour cream.

Sourdough Starter

Stir in the sourdough starter and the egg/sour cream mixture. Beat well for a few minutes.

Stir in flour, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is too thick to stir. ( I had about 1/2 cup of flour left at this point.)

On a clean work surface, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour and turn out your sticky dough onto the flour. Knead gently adding more flour until you have a dough that’s still soft but not sticky. This should only take a few minutes. (You will probably have about 1/4 cups of flour left at this point.)

Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rest until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shape as desired using remaining flour to prevent sticking to hands.

Bake as per loaf, buns or braid. Buns were baked at 375 deg F for 30 minutes. The epi was baked at 450 deg F for 15-16 minutes.

  

And then cause I had some starter left over I fed it and made a sweet sourdough starter recipe … Cinnamon-Raisin rolls. The recipe came from here.

 

 

You can’t tell in the savoury buns, especially with the sour cream in the dough, but with these rolls, there was a definite sour back note. It was good but I’m not fond enough of the taste of sourdough that I’d make it again, especially when regular cinnamon rolls are so good.

Sweet and Savoury Egg Rolls

I love egg rolls but haven’t ever made any myself until this past weekend when I brought home a package of wrappers and enough inspiration to try both a sweet and savoury filling.

For the sweet filling, I made up a batch of cinnamon-apple caramel syrup which I’d showed in the July roundup and used to fill wonton cups and as a topping for pancakes. I didn’t post the recipe then so I’m including it below, with the addition of 1/2 cup of raisins for added flavour.

If using this filling in egg rolls, drain off any excess liquid, as you want a dry-ish mixture so your wrappers won’t get soggy.

Cinnamon Apple Caramel Syrup – makes ~4 cups

4 large (6 cups) Granny Smith apples
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4-1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
squeeze of lemon (~1 tsp)

Peel, then quarter the apples. Cut out the core and cut each quarter into 3 or 4 chunks or slices, depending on what you’re going to use it for.

Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.

Place the remaining ingredients into a saucepan along with the apple slices and cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the apple is tender (but not mushy) and the sauce has thickened to a syrup consistency.

Depending on the amount of juice in your apples, you may need to add a splash of water to get the syrup to your desired consistency. When ready, set aside and keep warm.

The savoury egg rolls were pretty amazing too. I used a jarred sweet Thai chili sauce but next time, the dip below is great too.

Turkey/Cabbage Egg Rolls – makes 6 cups of filling, enough for 36 egg rolls

Egg Roll Filling:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey**, chicken, pork or beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp fresh ginger, freshly grated or finely diced**
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1 14 oz bag coleslaw mix
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup carrot, finely diced
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

EDITED: Add 1-2 cups of bean sprouts to filling along with the coleslaw mixture.

Egg wash to seal egg rolls – 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of cold water
36 egg roll wrappers (2 pkgs of 18)
vegetable oil for frying
Dipping sauce recipe follows

Prepare a baking sheet by covering with a couple of thicknesses of paper towel and setting a cooling rack on top.

In a large saute pan, brown the meat in the vegetable oil. Add the 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving as much of the oil behind as possible.

Add the diced onion, ginger and garlic and fry until the onion starts to get lightly browned.

Add the cabbage mix, carrots and celery, mix and cover and cook until the cabbage is wilted and crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the seasoned cooked meat. Stir in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste. If additional salt is needed, add another 1/4 tsp or so.

Cool to room temperature before filling egg rolls. Drain off any excess liquid that may accumulate on the bottom.

NOTE: You may refrigerate this mixture until the next day if you need to put off filling and frying the eggrolls. Otherwise, freeze the mixture and thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Prepare a deep fryer with oil, it should be about 2 inches deep and 350 to 375 degrees F. You can also shallow fry the egg rolls in a cast iron frying pan. I found that 1 inch of oil was plenty in that case. Since I couldn’t measure the temperature with my thermometer, I turned the temperature knob on my stove to medium (5) and preheated for at least 15 minutes so it would get to the correct temperature. I dropped a very small cube of bread into the oil and checked how quickly it began to brown … almost immediately, so I turned the heat down to 4. Make certain your oil is hot enough. Slow cooked egg rolls will be greasy.

Lay a wrapper with the points of the wrapper facing you, like a diamond. With a pastry brush, paint a thin strip of the egg wash around all four edges of the wrapper.

Take a heaping tablespoon or two of the mixture and place it on the wrapper.

Fold over the bottom point of the wrapper, and tuck the mixture in, as tightly as you can manage, and continue to roll until you have a few inches of the wrapper exposed. Fold over the two outside edges, and press down to seal in the filling.

Continue rolling until the top point seals the roll.

Repeat until all of the egg rolls are finished.

Carefully add about four or five of the egg rolls into your heated oil and fry for a couple of minutes, or until golden brown. Turn if frying in the pan to make sure the second side browns as well.

Remove the egg rolls with tongs, draining as much of the oil as possible, and allow to cool on the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining egg rolls.

Serve with the dipping sauce below or any commercial sauces ie. sweet Thai chili sauce, sweet and sour sauce or plum sauce.

Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 – 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Basic Pie Crust: Kentucky Derby Pie and Raisin Butter Tarts Revisited

I’ve baked butter tarts before but it’s been SO long that you may not remember these wonderful little Canadian treats. You can bake them plain or add raisins or nuts. You can even add chocolate chips to the filling. But they ALL start with a basic pie crust.

So that’s why today’s post is titled as it is.

A pie crust is the start of many great dishes, sweet OR savoury. And I’m not talking a fancy French ‘pate sucree’, like Martha Stewart whips up. I’m talking about a plain and simple, tender crust with REAL LARD!! Not butter. I used the recipe on the Tenderflake lard box, this time, but I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the basic recipe.

Why you may ask?

Cause that’s what Edna Staebler does. She’s the author of the cookbook, “Food That Really Schmecks”, among others, based on Mennonite cooking as it is practiced in the Waterloo, Ontario region. I own 4 of her cookbooks and thought that I should really start cooking out of my cookbooks more, rather than depending strictly on the internet for recipes.

Of course, I’ve said that I’d start doing that ages ago. Good intentions and all that.

The only drawback is that SOMETIMES, the cookbooks, leave out important information. Like how big you should cut out your pastry circles when making tarts and how many tarts the filling will FILL. 🙂

Tenderflake Pie Crust – makes enough pastry for  6 x 9 inch pie shell bottoms or 3 x 9 inch double crust pies

1 1 lb package of lard, roughly cut into 8-16 pieces
6 cups pastry flour or 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cold water as needed (~7/8 cup)

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the shortening is in pea sized pieces. (They don’t all have to be the same size.)

In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar. Add enough cold water to make one cup.

Stir the liquid into the flour mixture, adding just enough to make the dough cling together. Then gather the dough into a ball, and separate into 6 portions.

Wrap each portion in food wrap (Saran Wrap) snuggly and pat lightly into a disc.

Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Before rolling the dough out, leave it at room temp for 15 mins.

Lightly flour surface and roll into circles, then pat the dough into pie pans, following pie recipes. Be careful not to stretch the dough.

Kentucky Derby Tarts

Inside the Derby tart

Kentucky Derby Pie or Tarts – makes enough filling for 1 x 9 inch pie or 18 large tarts, pie serves 6-8

1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
1 cup white sugar (or half white and half brown or yellow)
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or sugar
2 tbsp Bourbon, dark rum or rye (I used 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp of my rye whiskey vanilla extract in place of the vanilla and Bourbon)
1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecan, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts cause that’s all I had)

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs, corn syrup, salt, vanilla and the liquor and whisk together so it’s well mixed.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the pecan pies over the base of the unbaked pie crust.

Pour the filling carefully over the chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is set and the edges of the pastry is a golden brown. There will be almost no jiggle in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.

A scoop of ice cream or a tbsp of sweetened whipped cream is a great addition to this already decadent dessert.

Tart Variation:

For making the tarts, you’ll need enough pastry to make TWO 9 inch pie shells.

Spray the inside of the muffin tins lightly with PAM or other cooking spray to help in removing the tarts from the tins.

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch thick and cut 4 inch circles. Lay inside large muffin tins and gently press into shape.

Sprinkle ~1 tbsp each, chocolate chips and chopped nuts in bottom of every muffin tin.

Fill each muffin tin with ~2 tbsp of the pie filling and place in the preheated oven. IMMEDIATELY reduce the oven temperature to 350 deg F and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and the underside of the tarts have browned.

NOTE: Bake the tarts in the bottom third of the oven so that the bottom of the tarts will cook through and brown.

Let the tarts cool to room temperature in the muffin tins before running a butter knife around the edge of the tins and removing.

Raisin Butter Tarts – baked as a pie

I apologize for the sloppy cut picture above. I was also making 2 large pizzas and by the time I had kneaded the dough and done all the rolling etc for the tarts, I was too tired to do more than snap a quick shot.