pastry

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

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You know that famous Plum Torte so many of us bake for Rosh Hashanah? I decided to use it for a light, summery coffee cake.

Sort of. I replaced the plums (not yet available anyway) with fresh seasonal blueberries.

I gave it a bit of enrichment by adding some yogurt (dairy sour cream would be fine too) and a splash of orange (by way of peel) because the citrus pairs so well with blueberries.

Voila! A terrific, easy, more-appropriate-for-summer dessert. July 4th? Sure. Picnic? Sure. Any time at all.

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup plus one teaspoon sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt

  • 1 pint blueberries

  • lemon juice (about one tablespoon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Mix the flour, orange peel, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix briefly to blend ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for a minute or two at medium speed until a thick batter has formed. Add the eggs and yogurt and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool.

Makes 8 servings

Apple Streusel

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My grandma made her own strudel dough. I remember how deftly she stretched and smoothed the paper-thin pastry over the kitchen table before filling it with all sorts of stuff: usually apples, tender and tart, but gently sweetened and seasoned with cinnamon. Sometimes she filled the dough with mashed potatoes bound with shmaltz-fried golden-brown onions. Like some giant knish!

Whatever was inside, those rolls baked to perfectly perfect crispy-crustedness and all was well with the world.

OY! Those were delicious days.

When she got older she bought packaged strudel dough at a Hungarian grocery near her house. She just couldn’t manage preparing this most delicate of doughs anymore.

I’ve looked for real Hungarian strudel dough but it’s difficult to find. So I made my own dough once. It was good, but not worth the work! So, when I make strudel now I use phyllo dough, which is not quite the same thing and is a terrific product, but not exactly right for strudel.

Anyway, I thought of all this because National Apple Strudel Day is Monday, June 17th. And I thought about making some, but decided to make Apple Streusel instead.

They sound almost the same, right?

And it tastes just perfectly perfect.

Apple Streusel

  • 5-6 baking type apples, peeled, cored and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • streusel

 Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup oats (any kind)

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the apple slices in a bowl. Add the flour, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon and sugar, toss the ingredients and set aside. Spoon the streusel mixture on top of the apples. Bake for 45 minutes or until crusty and golden brown.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with fingers or a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles crumbs. (You can use a food processor: 24-30 short, quick pulses. If so, if you use quick oats, stir them in to the flour crumbs after pulsing.)

 Makes 8 servings

 

 

 

Sauteed Strawberry Strawberry Shortcake

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My birthday is in a few days and usually we get together with the kids and grandkids to celebrate at my house. There’s always an apple pie for dessert at some point because I prefer homemade apple pie to birthday cake. And I always have apple pies in the freezer.

But this is an unusual year for our family: graduation and bat mitzvah celebrations, along with several birthdays, Father’s Day and so on — and so — no birthday get-together at my place.

(Actually, at some point during the week I will invite my sister-in-law Eileen and brother Jeff — and I’ll take out some pie for us to enjoy.)

In the meantime, for the two of us, I will celebrate with individual strawberry shortcakes. I made the biscuits already (they’re frozen). Whipped cream takes about 2 minutes in the mixer. I am hoping to find great strawberries — they are in season, so it should be easy.

Last week I actually couldn’t find wonderful berries, even at the Farmer’s market.

So I bought what they had and gave them a quick saute.

Which is what I will do again if the berries aren’t perfect.

This was quite delicious. Here’s the recipe, for strawberry shortcake when you can’t get the best berries.

Sauteed Strawberry Shortcake 

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 4 cups cut up fresh strawberries

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange flavored brandy or rum

  • Shortcake biscuits

  • Sweetened whipped cream

  • Fresh mint for garnish

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the berries, stir to coat them with butter and cook for one minute. Sprinkle with the sugar, toss and pour in the brandy. Stir, cook briefly and set aside. Cut the biscuits in half. Place the bottoms of each on dessert plates. Layer with some of the berries and some of the whipped cream (reserve some whipped cream for the top). Cover with the biscuit tops. Garnish with a blob of whipped cream and some mint leaves.

 Makes 8 servings

 

Biscuits 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel, optional

  • 8 tablespoons cold butter

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Mix the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon peel, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or use a food processor on pulse). Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. The dough will be slightly sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead a couple of times. Roll the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the bottom of a glass. Place the circles on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned.

 Makes 8

Blueberry Crisp with Oat-Streusel Crust

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Where I live (Connecticut), Memorial Day Weekend is the “official” start of outdoor grill/BBQ season. Sure, some people use their grills all year, even in the depth of winter. And some start around April. But the weather has been crummy, so — no grilling for me until this weekend.

I need a nice, summery dessert for after, right?

Here it is. Blueberry Crisp. Really simple and easy. Oaty, lightly sweet and with a gently crispy crust. You can make it dairy or parve. Goes well after anything you might have grilled for dinner. Good stuff for Father’s Day too. And July 4th.

Notice that there isn’t too much sugar in either the filling or the crust. Doesn’t need more.

Blueberry Crisp with Oat-Streusel Crust

Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Crust:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup quick cooking or rolled oats

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, vegetable shortening or margarine, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and flour in a baking dish. Set aside. Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal (or pulse in a food processor). Place the oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown.

Makes 4-6 servings.

 

 

Frozen Dough Hamantashen

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I’ve made all sorts of hamantashen over the years. Cake dough. Cookie dough. Pie dough. With all sorts of fillings from old fashioned apricot, prune and poppy seed to nouveau halvah and chocolate mousse/chocolate chip.

I’ve experimented with savory goat-cheese and chili fillings and also barbecued brisket. I even created a recipe for lamb-in-phyllo hamantashen with lemon-tahini sauce. That recipe won an award in a contest sponsored by Soom Foods.

But, to be honest, I like traditional, sweet, mostly apricot or prune hamantashen the best. And this year I read about frozen-dough hamantashen in a post by Melissa Wilkenfeld whose blog, Little Kosher Lunch features kosher lunch-box meals for school kids (I also follow her on Instagram).

So I used her recipe to bake a pile of hamantashen, which were so good it hurt to give any away. But I actually always give food away to my usual “tasters” — all of whom gave high marks to these.

I don’t have enough left for Purim so I will have to make some more. Which I will, because these are awesome.

I asked Melissa for permission to post her recipe. She agreed, also telling me she got the recipe from a friend (Patti Golden).

So, ladies, thank you both for this recipe. A keeper. I’ve changed the language to conform to the way I write recipes, but otherwise, it is yours. Mazal tov.

Happy Purim.

Frozen Dough Hamantashen

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 -1/4 cups flour, sifted

  • milk, water or egg white for sealing

  • Lekvar or jam 

Beat cream cheese, butter and salt in an electric mixer set at medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and thoroughly blended (or in the food processor with the plastic blade attachment). Gradually mix in the flour on low speed until the dough is a uniform color and pulls together into a ball. 

Form dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 or 4 hours, or overnight. 

Remove one ball of dough and roll out on a floured surface until thin, about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut out circles with a cookie cutter (or use the floured rim of a drinking glass or jam jar). 

Place about one teaspoon of lekvar or jam in the center of each round.

Moisten the edge of the circle with milk, water or egg white.

Fold up three edges of the circle to form a triangular base, pinching at the corners to secure.

Place the filled hamantashen on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reroll scraps of dough to make more hamantashen. Repeat with all balls of dough.

Refrigerate the hamentaschen until ready to bake, at least 30 minutes after shaping.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until delicately browned.

Cool on racks.

Makes about 4 dozen 

Fruit Roll Cookies

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Our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but we do celebrate cookies, which are as ubiquitous during the Christmas season as doughnuts during Hanukkah and matzo balls during Passover.

Every December I make a load of cookies. I give most of them away as gifts, but of course, keep (in the freezer) a container or two of family favorites for us.

Depending on how much time I have, I make these oldies but goodies: Fannies, Grand Finale cookies, Dutch butter-almond cookies, peanut butter cookies, lemon bars, cheesecake cookies, Chinese cookies and Orange Marmalade cookies.

Last year I added these Fruit Roll cookies, based on my mother’s wonderful “frozen dough” nut roll. They were a big hit, so I’m going to make them again this year.

Fruit Roll Cookies

Dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 pound butter, cut into chunks

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 cups mixed diced dried or candied fruit (such as cherries, pineapple, orange peel, cranberries, apricots, dates, figs

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup orange marmalade

To make the dough: place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and beat at low speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is crumbly (you may also do this by hand or using the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the sour cream and mix it in to make a smooth, uniform and slightly sticky dough. Dust the dough with flour, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To make the filling: Place the dried fruit, raisins, nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the marmalade and mix it in to coat all the fruit.

To assemble: Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the dough into 5 pieces. Working separately with each piece of dough, roll the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle about 12-inches by 6-inches. Place 1/5 of the filling on each rectangle, forming the mixture into a strip along one of the long sides and to within 1/2-inch from the ends of the two short sides. Roll the dough and place each roll, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Score each roll along the top with a sharp knife at 1-inch intervals. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, let cool, then cut along the score lines.

Makes about 60

 

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

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When I was a kid my mother sometimes made macaroni-and-cheese using somewhat older, hard-around-the-edges American cheese that didn’t look fit to eat. I thought it was appalling.

But she told me that these cheese wasn’t spoiled, just hard because maybe it wasn’t wrapped quite so well, and that in any event she would never make any dish for us using an ingredient that could be harmful.

Of course.

And also, why waste perfectly good cheese that’s going to melt anyway. So if it isn’t perfect to eat cold, as is, it is perfectly fine for macaroni and cheese.

And it was. She made delicious macaroni and cheese.

My children are appalled if I use an ingredient that’s past its sell-by/expiration date. I feel the same way my mother did. I would never use an ingredient that is spoiled or harmful. But some of those expiration dates are meant more as a “use them soon because the flavor or texture won’t be perfect” than “do not eat this EVER!”

So recently, I noticed that in addition to some fresh bananas turned black-spotty, my snack packages of applesauce were a month beyond their expiration date. Rather than give the applesauce to my grandkids and have my daughters feel appalled, I used it in chocolate cake, in the place of eggs.

Not only was I able to use up a perfectly good ingredient, the cake was delicious and also a good vegan choice.

So there.

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 medium ripe bananas

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup apple juice (or orange juice)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8”x8” cake pan. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set the flour mixture aside. Mash the bananas and place them in the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer and bowl). Add the sugar and mix at medium speed for a minute, or until well blended. Add the applesauce, juice, vanilla extract and melted chocolate and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until throughly blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 9 servings

Rhubarb Oat Bread

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You know how, when you have company for dinner and you make a lot of food, you sometimes forget to serve one (or more) of the dishes you cooked?

I did that recently. I made stewed rhubarb because my brother was coming to my house for dinner and it's one of his favorite things to eat.

Not only did I forget to serve it, I forgot about it in the fridge for a couple of days.

It was still good, of course, and we ate some, but there was some left over too.

So I made banana bread but used the stewed rhubarb instead of mashed bananas. (Also added some lemon peel which I thought would work nicely with rhubarb.)

Voila! This is sometimes how good recipes are born. It was well-loved.

And if you don't have stewed rhubarb, you could use applesauce or mashed banana.

 

Rhubarb Oat Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups stewed rhubarb
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch (8-cup) bundt pan. Mix the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and lemon peel together in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the coconut oil, vegetable shortening and sugar at medium speed until well blended, about one minute. Add the rhubarb and blend it in thoroughly. Add the eggs and beat the ingredients well. Add the flour mixture and beat until batter is well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 12-16

 

 

Peach (or Nectarine) Galette

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At the end of every September I buy a bushel of Rhode Island Greening apples and bake at least a dozen pies over the course of a few days. It's a ritual for me, as constant as making mujadarah for my annual break-the-fast or makfrying latkes on Hanukkah.

But right now, it's the height of stone-fruit season and I bought so many peaches and nectarines! Way too many to have just as a snack. So of course I could make pies.

But I don't feel like baking pies.

I might make a crisp or two. Or maybe some chutney or barbecue sauce. Maybe make a roasted dessert or soaked fruit for weekend company.

Or maybe a pie-like but much easier galette. Yep, that's it! 

Nectarine or Peach Galette

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups sliced nectarines or peeled peaches
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the crust: mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut the fat into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender or by processing on pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add 5 tablespoons milk and mix to form a soft dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a circle about 14-inches in diameter (about 1/8-inch thick) and transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.

For the filling: slice the fruit into a large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour and toss the ingredients to completely coat the fruit. Place the fruit on top of the dough circle, leaving a border of about 1-1/2-inches. Fold the dough over the fruit but not completely; leave a circle of fruit showing, about 7-8-inches. Pleat the dough to give it a rustic look. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon milk. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Best when served warm.

Makes 8 servings

Banana Bread with Cherries

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This summer's cherries have been especially delicious. I've been buying (and eating) tons of them.

So, when I had to think of what to do with the usual leftover bananas, I decided to use some in a new version of Banana Bread. I also added some orange (peel and juice) -- just a hint to bring out the best in both of the fruits.

Pitting cherries can be a real drag. But there's an easy way to do it and you don't even have to buy a cherry pitter. Look here.

Banana BREAD with cherries

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup orange juice 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cut up fresh cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan. Mix the flour, orange peel, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set it aside. Beat the sugar and vegetable oil with a handheld or electric mixer set at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mash the bananas and add them to the sugar mixture. Beat thoroughly until the ingredients are well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the juice and vanilla extract. Fold in the cherries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a cake rack.

 Makes one bread serving 10-12