Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jødekager (Jewish Cakes)


Jødekager, or Jewish Cakes which is a literal translation, are one of my favorite cookies.   I’ve made them pretty much every year since I learned how to bake.   And helped out my mom and sisters for years before that.

I’m going to throw in a little teeny history lesson first though, before I get to the nitty gritty on how to make these cookies.   We Danes love to bake, OK, so I know that’s a generalization, but many of us do.  And Danish bakers are famous for ‘borrowing’ recipes from other countries and cultures and making them their own.  But they do like to at least acknowledge where the original recipe came from.   Danish bakers brought home Weinerbrød from Vienna, which translates to Vienna Bread, took hamburgers home from Paris and called them Pariserbøf.   Which is probably how Jødekager came to be, a baker somewhere along the line tasted this cookies and brought them back to Denmark, where they are now one of the traditional cookies.   And made sure he acknowledged where he got them from, in the name.

I made Jødekager and Fransk Vafler this year.  I was going to make Brunkager, but my social calendar got a little full, and I ran out of time.  I’m also making some Marzipan fruit,  and I have some Home made caramel, Truffles and the fruitcake I made over a month ago.  I think I have enough goodies to take me to the New Year now.    And since I’m going to a party this weekend, I also have some goodies to take with me there as well.

Here’s the recipe and the how to’s on making Jødekager.

The recipe I use is the one my mom used, and quite frankly I see no reason to try any other one.   When I bite into one of the cookies, I get transported back to my childhood, sigh.  Christmas’s past remembered are always the best.   I can see my sister, my mother, my brother, sometimes my dad or one of my older sisters sitting at the kitchen table, and all of us having a hand in making the cookies.  Making Christmas cookies was a family affair and sometimes, it turned into a marathon cookie making session.  Now, I do it by myself so I’ve learned how to stream line the process a lot.  One essential thing I’ve found though, is I must have Christmas music playing.  For some reason the cookies taste better that way.  Well, I think they do.

So many Danish cookies are rich in butter but short on sugar, we don’t decorate cookies with frosting, we decorate them with chopped nuts and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon in the case of Jødekager.   And that’s OK with me.  I’m not too fond of overly frosted sugar cookies, but then again, I didn’t grow up with them either.
The following recipe is by weight, but I’m got the American measurements as well to the right.

Jødekager
1/2 Kg. Flour                                                             or               2 cups Flour
180 grams Sugar                                                     or              3/4 cup Sugar

1/4 kg. Butter                                                         or              1/2 lb. Butter
2 Eggs
1 teaspoonful Hjortetaksalt (Baking Ammonia)      or             1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

For the topping:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Cinnamon mixed with a half cup sugar or to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds mixed with a half cup sugar

To start with, cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.  Very light and fluffy, then add the egg.   Last add the flour and baking powder, mix well.  This year I was able to get some Baking Ammonia, (YIPPEEE!!!  sorry, got excited there),  and used that instead of the baking powder.  It does make for a lighter, crisper cookie, but baking powder works well also.   I use my stand mixer, cause it saves on the old shoulder, I just can’t mix stuff up like I used to.   Once the flour has been well mixed in, form the dough into two or in my case three equal sized disks, wrap well and put into the fridge for a couple of hours.   You want the dough to rest and cool down.  Otherwise it’s very hard to roll out, with all the butter in the dough it is very soft.   I flatten the disks quite a bit before I put them in the fridge, they’re much easier to roll out then.

Take one of the disks of dough out of the fridge, and flour your board very lightly, you don’t want to add more flour than you need to, this is a delicate dough.   Roll out thinly, then cut out circles with a small cookie cutter, or in my case a wine glass.  I’ve been using this glass for years, I don’t know what I’d do if it ever broke, makes the perfect size cookie.

Brush tops with a beaten egg white, and sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar or finely chopped nuts and sugar.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.   Check to make sure the cookies aren’t browning too fast.   I check at the seven minute mark and take off the cookies which have browned just a little, returning the cookie pan to the oven again.  Sometimes, you’ll put the same pan back in the oven two or three times for about 1 minute at a time.  I didn’t say this recipe wouldn’t be time-consuming, but oh, is it worth it.

Now since I’m a one man band when it comes to cookie making here, I prepare two or three pans full at a time, putting the cookies on parchment paper and then transferring them to the cookie sheets proper when it comes time to bake them.

Now don’t those look good enough to eat?

I need to go and finish off my Fransk Vafler now.    I’m making a new frosting to put inside this year.   I’m going to use my Best Ever Frosting instead of the Buttercream I usually use.   I think it will be good.   Of course I’m going to experiment on a couple of them first, make sure they taste OK.   If I can’t experiment on myself, who can I experiment on?

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Butter Tarts


During a conversation with a fellow Canadian recently, the subject turned to Butter Tarts, and I got an immediate craving for some.   So, I decided to make some up.    These are not mini Pecan Pies, they are a true Canadian recipe.   I’ve made them both the traditional way and with raisins, I’ve even put Pecans in them, but then they resemble Pecan Pie and that’s just not a Butter Tart.   I even called my sister for the ‘right’ recipe because she makes the best Butter Tarts ever, and she told me she uses the recipe she got off of the flour bag years ago.    And I just googled 5 Roses Butter tarts and just about every recipe was the following one, except for the one on the 5 Roses site. hmmm  Theirs got a little fancy.   So I’m just making this my way.   Well, with one small change, I can’t get currants locally so I use raisins.  But the next time I go to the big city, I’m buying me some currants and keeping them on hand.   For now, I just want a Butter Tart or three.   Oh, did I tell you I also shared them at our monthly Boat Club potluck.

5 Roses Butter Tarts filling
1/3 cup butter, melted (I prefer Land of Lakes butter)
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Cream or Milk
1/2 cup Currants  (can substitute raisins here and I do)
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  (I use my home made here)

Line tart pans with pastry dough, either your own homemade or pre made dough.   Depending on the size of your pan, cut the dough in circles, big enough to fit inside the pan.

Combine the other ingredients, then spoon into the pastry shells, filling no more than 2/3rd full.

Trust me on this, any more in there and it oozes up and over and then you can’t get those little suckers out easily.

Then you have to eat the evidence, and it’s really hard to hide the fact that you ate half the recipe cause the tarts didn’t come out.   Especially if you are planning on having a dozen or so tarts and you only end up with 6.  I know whereof I speak.    Sorry, I got distracted there.
Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the top of the pastry is nice and golden, and the filling has cooked through.

Now, there are two schools of thought on Butter Tarts, some people like the middle a little gooey and some like them firmer, you’ll just have try them either way.   Personally, I like em both ways.  Gooey or firm, I just like Butter Tarts.

Smörgåstårta (Swedish Sandwich Cake)


It was our monthly Tapas night on Saturday and we did a fun Grinch Christmas, also known as Dirty Santa gift exchange.   I just love seeing what people come up with for these, and to see what the most popular gifts are.    For some reason, wine is very popular here.

I wanted to do something simple, fun and different for Tapas night and I think I succeeded.   And I want to say bookmarks are the bomb, or does that date me.  Hmmmm…  At any rate, a long time ago I bookmarked a site and was scrolling through my bookmarks the other day trying to get inspired, when I ran across this site, Smörgåstårta and I had it, something fun, different and I had most of the ingredients in my cupboard/pantry and freezer.    So, I put it together.   In one sense it was very easy to make, but in another sense, it was kinda hard.  But then again, I have trouble cutting layers, just kidding.   But WOW, what fun to unveil it.

To start with I used two frozen bread loaves and put them into a bundt pan.   I let them rise and then baked it for about 40 minutes.   Now, it did do a muffin top a little (kinda like my Boston Cream Pie), but you cut the crust off anyway so, it wasn’t a catastrophe.

I let the bread cool, and while it was cooling made up an egg salad spread as well as the Smoked Salmon spread I make.  I just doubled the amount of salmon for this recipe.   I thought it would lend itself to this and it did.   For the egg salad, I hard-cooked 9 eggs, mashed them with a fork, then added some mayonnaise, yellow mustard, sour cream and about 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.   (and you do need to peel the eggs too).   Just make up your favorite egg salad if you have one.

As soon as the bread was cool, I started slicing layers in it.   Actually I sliced off about 1/2 inch off of the bottom, then spread about a third of the egg salad on it.

Went back and sliced another layer, and spread that with the Smoked Salmon Spread.  Repeated the process with another layer of egg salad, then another layer of Smoked Salmon, and finished it off with the rest of the egg salad.

 

 

I then wrapped it up in a piece of plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for a couple of hours, to let the flavours mingle.

While it was in the fridge, I dived into the freezer and pulled out some frozen shrimp, poached it in my special poaching liquid, (yeah right, it’s whatever I think to put into the water, some rosemary this time, cayenne, black pepper, lemon juice, salt and some parsley) let the shrimp cook, til they were done, pulled them out of the water and since I was limited on ice, spread them out on a cookie sheet to cool down.  Peeled the shrimp and put them in the fridge for later on.

I had fun decorating this ‘cake’.   Basically, you spread it with a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise.  Yup, sour cream and mayonnaise.   I used half of a pint of sour cream and a cup of mayonnaise.   I think you could probably also amp up the flavour here, but I choose to go with the simple approach.

And just slather the ‘frosting on there.   You don’t really have to be especially neat, or fancy, cause you’ll be decorating it with the shrimp and some hard-cooked eggs and cucumber later on.      Use your imagination,  and HAVE FUN!!!  I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who are more talented at decorating than me, but I don’t really care, I had fun.

I sliced up a cucumber, then cut some of the slices in half.

Then I went to town…

 

As you can see from the pictures…

And finished it off with some fresh parsley from my almost (semi-recovered) plant.

And if I was a really good food blogger, I would have grabbed the camera to show you pictures of it as it was cut, but hey, I was at a party and having fun, so you’ll just have to make your own and take pictures.   You could send them to me, if you like.   Seriously, I live in the real world, I like to share my adventures (and misadventures) in the kitchen, and I don’t always think about how something is going to ‘look’ or to take the ‘right kind of pictures’, I have fun with food.  So there…

Oh, and this was not only fun to make, show off, it also tasted totally awesome.    If you want to google Smorgastarta, (Smörgåstårta) you’ll find all kinds of ideas.

December Tapas Night


I’m tired today and when I got up this morning it looked like a party had taken place in my house.   I didn’t get it cleaned up all the way last night, it was late, I was tired, and quite frankly I like to take my time when it comes washing all those wineglasses.  Many of them are crystal, and also I love to reflect while I’m washing them, and putting them away.

I thought I took a lot of pictures of the food last night, but honestly I think I missed some and some of the pictures were too blurry to post.   I had a houseful, and it was almost like SRO, standing room only.   Well, we had stools and chairs and people kind of mingled and had a good time.
We did a Grinch Christmas gift exchange, and had fun with that.

So without further ado, and if I missed taking a picture of your offering, I’m sorry, but really, it’s my party and I can mingle and have fun and miss taking pictures.   Although, as usual, we had a wide variety of foods.   From the Smorgastata I made, to christmas breads, cookies, cakes, quiches to a great soup, dips, spreads, and I don’t know what else.

My Yule tree, I went with a minimalist approach to decorating this year.

 

Above and to the side here, some of the sweet treats that were brought.  Clockwise, Cookies, Coconut cake, more cookies, Cranberry Bread, Chocolate cake, and Chocolate cake balls.

 

Cheese ball and Crackers and in the lower left a Lasagna (it was all gone by the time I got over there to get a taste.)

Sorry for the blur, Pimento Cheese triangles.  I’d never had Pimento Cheese til I moved south, and now, well, I really like it.  I’ve even been known to buy the spread, haven’t tried making it yet, but I will.

In the back some sliced sandwich meat, and in the front a really interesting spread, I did get a chance to taste it.   And the bread, well I love a good bread and this was one.

Another view, and to the right, another of my favorites, cream cheese with pepper jelly to spread on crackers.   Personally, I could make a meal of it, oh, wait a minute, I have made a meal of cream cheese and pepper jelly.  Sorry, I get side tracked sometimes.

There were two Quiches brought and I tasted both of them.  I don’t know what there is about quiche, but I just love them.  To the right in the back were some interesting rolls, like a blueberry pancake rolled around a sausage.

Smörgåstårta  (Swedish Sandwich Cake)
I’ll be posting the how to’s on this later on this week.   It was a lot of fun to make.   Also in the background here, the other Quiche.

Very blurry picture of the Pecan Pie.  I do love me a good Pecan pie.

Deviled Eggs with a kick.   Don’t they look pretty?   Harriet put curry powder in them, and we were all trying to figure out what was in them.  I could taste hot, but guessed it was some Chinese Hot mustard.  I thought they looked so festive.

Zuppa Toscana, so tasty.   Kathy comes up with some fun stuff.   She’s going to get me the recipe.   I’m still waiting for the Cuban Chicken recipe too, so, in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy her offerings.

I did manage to get an unblurred picture of some of the great Christmas breads, see, there in the back right on the green platter?   And in the foreground were some Latkes.  I do like Latkes.  Now, I just have to learn how to make them.

 Another dip with some great crostini and carrots.   In the foreground the Mushroom Quiche.   Did I mention, I like Quiche?   Sorry, some things just bear repeating.

Last but not least,  a Christmas tree, a fitting end to this.   The tree did not survive intact though, I noticed a lot of branches missing as well as some of the garland as the evening progressed.

As usual a lot of good great food, wonderful company and well, gee, what can I say, I love to do Tapas night, and have friends over.   I also get to meet new people all the time, and reconnect with old friends.

Collard Greens and Ham


If my mother could see me now, eating my greens and enjoying them.  She would be so proud.  OK, so that’s a little misleading, but when I was younger I wasn’t that fond of vegetables, at least, not of most of them.  Luckily for me I grew up, and now I love my veggies.      And then I moved to the south and was introduced to Collard Greens, and I fell head over heels in love with them.  I never understood the term ‘pot likker’, but now I do, and I happily douse my cornbread in it and then lick the bowl.

Well, I would if no one was looking.

Luckily for me Robin taught me how to make it, the real southern way, when we were cooking at the Senior center this year.   Robin took the mystery out of it.   And since I had a nice ham bone in the freezer and some frozen collard greens and I was craving some ‘greens’ I made me up a pot.   And let me tell you, it was hard to wait til it cooked down enough to eat.   I also made some cornbread to go with it, cause ya can’t have greens without cornbread.

To start with, stick a nice meaty ham bone or some smoked ham hocks into a pot

and then put a couple of packages of frozen collard greens in with them.  Pour in enough chicken stock to cover it all, and add some red pepper flakes to that.  I used about a half teaspoon and then added a little more after it had cooked down some.   I also added a couple of garlic cloves, sliced up a little.  Garlic is good food as well.

I like my greens on the hot side, in more ways than one.   Put the lid on it and let it simmer for 2 hours.  YUP, two hours.   And let me tell you it was hard to wait.   Really it was.   You can simmer it a little longer if you like, I was hungry so I did it the bare minimum.

I made a batch of cornbread, the right way, no sugar added, but I did cheat and add some yoghurt cause I was out of buttermilk, and it was good.   Actually I cooked the cornbread in my wok, but don’t tell any of southern friends that, they’d just laugh at me.  Not the last time I cook it in the wok either, got a lovely crisp edge to it, and the yoghurt actually kept the cornbread moist.

About a half hour before the greens were ready, I pulled the ham bone out and took the little bit of meat left on it off, and tossed the ham bits back into the pot.  Let it simmer and then served it up.   And it was so good.

Now, please excuse me, I need to go and finish my lunch.    OK, so yesterday it was a nice lunch, this morning it’s breakfast.   Nothing like starting the day off right.

Æggekage (Danish baked Omelette)


We’ve been eating a lot of heavy meals lately, and I want, no I need to have something lighter for dinner to balance out the stews, casseroles, etc.

Mom used to make this for dinner from time to time, I loved it, and never realized that she might have made it to help stretch out the food dollar, or maybe we’d had a lot of heavy meals the previous week, or maybe she just didn’t feel like cooking.   I don’t know which it might have been and it really doesn’t matter.

Bacon and Eggs is a nice change for dinner, but as much as I like a nice fried egg, I really want something a little different, so many times I’ll make a simple meal of Bacon and Eggs for dinner, but for myself I’ll put together an Æggekage.  I used to make this for DH when we first got married, and think I was making him something very special, when in reality, he’d rather have had the plain old bacon and eggs.  Mom would serve this with strips of bacon on top, or some lovely mushrooms and always, always with some chopped chives on top.

Without further ado, take two eggs per person, beat them together with a couple of tablespoons of flour, and a couple of tablespoons milk,some salt and pepper to taste, pour into a greased (I use a little bacon grease) preheated pan, and let it cook for a minute or so on top of the stove, then place in a 375 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes for two eggs, or 15-20 minutes for 4 or 6 eggs, and cook.    This will puff up and expand and look so pretty for about 10 seconds after you pull it out of the oven, but then it collapses into itself.   It still tastes good though, and is something you can prepare for a crowd if necessary.   Mom used to serve it cut into wedges, and garnished with some bacon and chives.    I just serve it like this.

Preheat oven to 375, and preheat a pan with a little bacon grease.
Per person
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons flour beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
Salt
Pepper

Beat the flour mixture into the eggs and pour into the preheated pan, the eggs will start cooking right away, then place the pan into the oven, (turn on the light so you can watch the magic), and bake for about 15 minutes or so.

The eggcake will puff up and start to look almost like a giant puff, and this is a good thing.    Take out of oven and place on a plate, garnish with some chopped chives, a little bacon, some mushrooms (cooked of course) or even some sliced tomatoes.  Serve with toast and enjoy.

Truffles, an easy way.


I love truffles, not really all that fond of chocolate, but I love truffles.   I guess I said that more than once huh?   Have you seen the price of truffles in stores?  I mean really, they are a little outrageous.  So since I had some leftover whipping cream in the fridge, and some Bakers Chocolate in the pantry, I thought TRUFFLES!!!

They are dead simple to make, I mean if I’d known just how easy, well, let me say this, now that I know, I can make them more often.   Well, whenever a special occasion presents itself that is.

So, anyone having a birthday, or life celebration soon?   Just let me know and I’ll whip up a batch for you, just so long as I get to taste one or two along the way.  Was that too blatant a hint?

I think I’ve mentioned this before, I live in a small town, well, a few miles out of a small town, and while our local grocery store stocks necessities, it really doesn’t stock a whole lot of other stuff.  We have the basics, and if I want something more exotic, I need to drive over 30 miles to the nearest halfway decent grocery store or 60 miles to really shop for fun stuff.   But that’s OK, cause I have all I need to make Truffles just down the road.  Maybe the chocolate’s not Valrhona or Scharffen Berger but I’ll use what I can get here.   And honestly, I don’t know as if I can taste the difference, at least not when it’s covered with some unsweetened chocolate shavings, or nuts.
So for starters, chop up four squares of Bakers Semi-sweet chocolate, into chunks.  Heat a half cup of heavy whipping cream to almost boiling, pour over the chopped chocolate and let it set a couple of minutes.  Then stir it together.  Whatever you do, don’t get any water into it.  The chocolate will ‘seize’ up and you won’t be able to finish.  You can still eat it, but, why waste good chocolate and cream?     At first it will look really strange, and you’ll wonder what you did wrong, but just keep stirring, it will all come together.

Now, once it’s reached this stage, you can place it in the fridge for a couple or three hours to firm up.

Try not to taste it too much, you do want some left to make into truffles.   Oh, did I forget to mention that at this point you have made a Ganache.   And if you don’t want to make it into truffles, you can also pour it over a cake, or cupcakes or …  It makes a lovely rich frosting.   I guess you didn’t realize I was leading you on a different path, huh?  Now you know how to make a Ganache, the world is your oyster.    Sorry, got carried away there.

Next up, after you’ve chilled the ganache down, you want to dunk it into some kind of covering, otherwise it just melts all over your fingers and everything when you try to eat it.   Which isn’t bad if you like licking your fingers, but I want to add another dimension to the truffle.
Grate a couple squares of unsweetened chocolate,

chop up some pecans or walnuts,

very fine, or even some coconut.

Form the Ganache into little balls using a melon baller,

and roll in any of your toppings.

You can also enrobe (which means cover) the ganache balls with some tempered chocolate, but I like my truffles with some grated chocolate or coconut or just nuts covering it.   And since I like it like that, you get to see how I make them.   Another hint, you can also put a good liqueur in the ganache after you finish it, and that will also add a nice dimension to the flavour profile.   I used a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier for part of the ganache.  It did make it a little trickier to handle, cause it softened it up a lot.   Another trick for the next time I make this, I will not let it set up quite so much before I make it into the balls, I had to let the ganache ‘warm’ up a little before I could form it into balls.

I just had to show off the finished truffles.   Before I took them with me to a function, where they were very well received.   So well in fact, I only had to eat a couple afterwards.
Someone had to clean up, why couldn’t it have been me?