Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Swiss-Romanisch Capuns

We ate these in Disentis, in the Romanisch part of the Swiss Alps. They were made by the self-proclaimed King of Capuns. If you're watching your cholesterol, avoid these. They don't look like much but oh my, are they delicious.

We were in Switzerland in the off-season, early October, an excellent time to be there. These were served as a side to the most tender and velvety venison I have ever eaten. There was also wonderful French bread and a delicious Swiss wine, red if I recall correctly. It may have been called "grains de malice."

I adapted this recipe from

2/3 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1/8 cup Milk and water mixed
2 Tbsp Chives, chopped
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp Rosemary sprigs, chopped
2 Tbsp Basil, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
½ cup Lean bacon, cut in small cubes
1/2 cup Buendner Salsiz cheese or Landjaeger, cut in small cubes

16 Whole Swiss chard leaves
Salted water

4 Tbsp Butter
2 cups Vegetable broth
6 Tbsp. Heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup grated emmenthal

Mix the flour and the salt together. Mix the eggs with the milkwater combo and add to the flour.Form a smooth dough with the kitchen spoon. Add the herbs, onions and the meat. Let it rest for 1/2 hrs. Cut out the middle white part of the Swiss chard and half the leaves. Cook quickly insalted water. Drain and dry. Spread on a towel. Add the filling with a teaspoon and form littlepackages. Saute them in the butter until browned on all sides.

Pour the broth and the cream over them and grind some pepper overthem.Cook covered for about 15 min next day to finish). Put them all into a big pan or two little ones

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and emmenthal and transfer to oven. Broil for five minutes or until cheese on top is melted. Serve on a plate in a pool of the sauce (as shown).

Swedish Smoked Salmon Spread

This is so delicious on crackers, ry-krisps, blinis or bread. I got this from a generous friend in Stockholm (who also introduced me to the wonders of princess cake.)

16 ounces smoked salmon, chopped up finely
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces thick sour cream
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
4 Tbsp shallots, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Bring the butter to room temperature. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well-blended. Refrigerate. Before serving, bring to room temperature.

“When a blind man carries a lame man both go forward.”
Swedish Proverb

Russian Minsky Salad

I got this recipe from a Russian comedienne. It's a very hearty and piquant salad that goes well with pork dishes. It's also a good hangover remedy after vodka drinking, or so I'm told. I'm skeptical. But the salad is delicious.


1 lb. potatoes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced.
3/4 cup sauerkraut
1/8 cup onion, finely chopped. (We like red onion.)
2 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch salt
Mix oil, vinegar and sugar. Set aside.
Boil potatoes, cool, and then slice. Add mushrooms, chopped onion and sauerkraut and mix. Add dressing and mix gently into potato mixture until all is blended. Serves 4.
The leftovers are great as a midnight snack, or you can mix it up very quickly if you have coooked potatoes in the fridge. I've be known to cook the potoatoes at 1 a.m. and make the salad from scratch.
See what Czarina Alexandra of Russia had for lunch one day in 1914.

Okinawan Sweet Fritters

These are delicious red bean fritters I got hooked on when I lived in Japan. I found this recipe on, and make them a couple times a month.


1 large egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chunky or smooth Japanese red bean paste
6 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

In a small bowl, combine egg and milk. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the egg and milk to the flour mixture; stir until blended. Stir in bean paste. In a wok or shallow pan, heat oil to 350 F (175C). Drop batter into the hot oil by the tablespoonful. Fry fritters 3 to 5 minutes, turning often to brown evenly. Cut open one fritter to be sure the batter is cooked inside. Roll hot fritters in sugar or serve plain. Makes about 12 fritters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Italian Hot Chocolate

When I was younger, and doing the backpack-around-Europe thing with a friend, we had this at a little restauraunt in the Italian alps, just over the border from Switzerland. It's somewhere between a hot chocolate mousse and a hot chocolate drink, and it is pure heaven. I am not sure where the recipe came from, it has been in my recipe file for so long, so I apologize for not having an attribution. The adults like the dark chocolate version. I made a slightly sweeter version for the kids.

Per Cup, Grownup version:

2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 teaspoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated fine
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

Per cup, Children's version

2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 teaspoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated fine
1 ounce milk chocolate, grated fine
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

Melt the chocolate and set aside. Combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the arrowroot until smooth. Put remaining milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer. When it begins to bubble, add the sugar. then carefully whisk the arrowroot milk mixture into it until it thickens. Remove from heat, mix in melted chocolate, pour into cups and top with orange zest. Serve immediately.

Esterhazy Flourless Walnut Torte

I made this for a food science class back in high school.

I'd had a series of disasters previous to that, culminating with the garish hot pink hot chicken salad (with bright orange baby carrots and green peas) which made my instructor dizzy, so she was skeptical of my decision to make this fragile cake for a test. But it was remarkably simple, and delicious. The ground walnuts replace the flour in the recipe. I like it with a light lemon frosting or with whipped cream filling and whipped cream frosting. You can flavor the whipped cream as you desire.

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
large pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour or line two cake pans.

Separate eggs. Beat yolks until very light in color. Add ground walnuts and sugar and vanilla and salt. Beat whites until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar a little at a time till it's very light and fluffy. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients until blended. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 25-30 min.


Kids love these. When you make bread, make a half recipe extra for these. Set the extra portion aside and while your other bread is baking, heat 1/8 inch of oil in a pan. Take a ball of dough about the size of your fist and stretch it out until it is about 6-8 inches in diameter. Fry it in the hot oil. Serve with brown sugar, honey or jam, or, as I like it, with a thin layer of sour cream sprinkled with brown sugar.

I like this challah recipe for buckskinners, but any yeast bread dough will do.

This is a fun thing to do on a rainy day. Kids love stretching out the dough and eating the buckskinners.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies . . .

I have vegan friends with vegan kids, so I am always on the lookout for good vegan recipes. This one is from The Urban Housewife.

And I quote:
Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
dash of salt
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Spectrum Brand non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup applesauce mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup warm water
*1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder (optional)
*2 teaspoons semi-sweet chocolate, melted & cooled (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt; set aside. (I like to sift my dry ingredients together, but it's your call!)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, shortening, and applesauce/baking powder mixture & beat for about 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients, milk & water into the wet mixture & beat at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add vanilla & melted chocolate and beat again until mixture is thoroughly blended, but do not over beat, it will be moderately thick.

Using a small ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop by rounded tablespoons onto a Silpat or un-greased non-stick cookie sheet leaving room for the pies to spread. Smooth out the tops of your scoops, as this will affect the aesthetic of your pies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick comes out clean. These are very cake like in texture, be careful not to over bake them.

Let them cool for a few minutes, then remove them from the cookie sheet to cool on wire racks. They need to cool completely before the peanut butter filling can be spread on.

Peanut Butter Filling

1 tablespoon Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons soy milk

In a large bowl, beat together Earth Balance and peanut butter.

Add the confectioners' sugar and slowly add the soy milk, beating with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add more milk if needed, then beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

Assemble your Whoopie Pies!
Take one cookie & spread a layer of peanut butter filling in the center, not quite touching the ends, apply another cookie on top & you're golden! woo.

This yields around 16 whoopie pies, depending on the size of your ice cream scoop.

Quick Creme Frite - Crema Frita - Fried Creams

I love Creme Frite, the Venetian fried cream dessert. But it takes a long time to make it the usual way. Here is a quicker recipe that is almost as good.

1. The "custard"

16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or condensed (not evaporated) milk.
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or 1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour into a well-greased pan to about 1/2 inch thickness (You may need more than one pan.) Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours, until set. The custard must be very very firm. If it is too soft, put it in the freezer for 4-6 hours, until it is firm, but still cuttable.

2. The Coating

Unseasoned bread crumbs, crushed very fine
2 Tbsp flour
2 eggs
cooking oil

Heat oil on medium heat.

Mix bread crumbs and flour. (You can add a little lemon zest if you like.)

Cut cream cheese mixture into 1 1/2 inch squares. Dip squares in egg and then roll in bread crumb flour mixture until completely covered. Fry in hot oil until browned on each side. Drain on paper towels. You can keep them hot in a 250 degree oven for a few minutes until ready to serve.

Serve immediately with lemon sauce, raspberry sauce or the sauce of your choice and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

And here is a Recipe for an Ancient Roman dessert

Monday, October 29, 2007

Veg Lasagna Rolls . . .

This is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables.

Two large (8 inch square) lasagna noodles

1 beaten egg

1 large can tomato sauce

¾ cup grated skim milk mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan

herbs to taste

Filling of your choice

Parboil noodles until they are flexible but not fully cooked.

Place on greased surface.

Spread with desired filling.

Roll up like a jellyroll. Seal edges with a bit of beaten egg.

Cut into ½ inch pieces and place in greased baking dish.

Cover with tomato sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes

Suggested fillings:

I often put broccoli chopped fine, grated carrot and spinach in them, but you can put in whatever you like. Sauteed mushrooms, ricotta cheese, chopped artichokes, savoy cabbage and string beans also work well.


These delicious Uzbek-Afghan lamb dumplings are lightly spiced.

2 lbs ground lamb
1 large onion chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
ready-made wonton wrappers
3 tbsp canola oil

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic. finely minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped finely
1 cup red kidney beans, cooked and cooled
pinch of salt

Make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate overnight so the yoghurt absorbs the flavors.

Heat oil and fry onions until caramelized. Add garlic and meat and stir so the meat doesn't clump. Add salt and pepper.

Let meat mixture cool so you don't burn your fingers. Place 1 tsp. in the middle of a won ton wrapper, then seal with a tiny bit of water if necessary. Reserve 1/4 cup of lamb mixture.

Place dumplings in a steamer and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with the yoghurt sauce, and sprinkle with remaining lamb.

Note: I find lowfat yoghurt works as well as regular yoghurt, but nonfat is a little thin.

If you live place where ready made wonton wrappers aren't available, there's a decent recipe for the homemade version here.

"A porcupine speaking to its baby says, 'O my child of velvet.'"
Afghan Proverb

Mint Cucumber Salad

This is similar to the Greek Tzaziki, but with the addition of fresh mint. It goes well with Kabuli Pulao and any mutton dish.

1 cup plain yoghurt (I use nonfat yoghurt)
1 tsp fresh mint, shopped finely
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Mix ingredients and store overnight, covered, in fridge. This allows the yoghurt to absorb the mint flavor.

2 large cucumbers, peeled, quartered and sliced

Stir yoghurt dressing into cucumbers and mix until they are well-coated.

Kabuli Pulao

Also known as qabuli pulao, this is a wonderful and tasty rice dish full of good things. I ate this with an Afghan friend and modified the recipe slightly to make it less spicy. Chicken and chicken broth can be substituted for the mutton elements.

2 cups basmati rice
2 cups mutton broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup cauliflower flowerets, cooked
1 cup peas
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cardamon
1 lb. stewing mutton

Stew the mutton ahead of time, preserving two cups of the broth. Refrigerate the mutton pieces. (I do this a day ahead, and refrigerate the broth too so it's easy to skim the fat off it.)

Grease a casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute nuts, carrots and cauliflower in 1 tbsp of butter, stirring often, until lightly cooked.

Make the rice using the broth to substitute for 2 cups of the water required. When the rice is almost done, add the other ingredients, including the remaining tbsp of butter, except for the mutton pieces, and cook five more minutes. Add mutton and pour into large greased casserole or dutch oven and bake 10-15 minutes, covered. If rice is too dry add 1/4 cup water or mutton broth before baking. Serve with Afghan bread or pita bread and cucumber yogurt salad. Kids love this dish too and it microwaves nicely the next day. The Afghans eat this with their hands while sitting cross-legged on cushions.
"If you deal in camels, make the doors high."
Afghan Proverb

Jac'y's Apple Pie

This sounds strange to some people, an apple pie with a cheddar cheese pastry crust. But it is delicious. My family used to have this once a month, usually with vanilla ice cream.


3 cups flour, pastry or all-purpose
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup finely grated mature cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
5-6 tbsp. cold water
Put shortening and grated cheddar in food processor and mix until cheese and shortening are well-blended. Refrigerate mixture one half hour. Mix flour and salt. Cut shortening mixture into flour mixture until it is pea-sized. Add cold water one tbsp at a time until the mixture sticks together without crumbling. Refrigerate one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Form two portions, and roll each one out until it is large enough for a 9" pie pan.

7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. flour
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add apple slices and mix until they are all well-coated. Pour into pie plate and cover with top crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is light brown.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
Jane Austen