Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pat Prager’s Private Recipe Dessert from Kitchens of the Great Midwest

In J. Ryan Stradel’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a hometown cook successfully beats out more sophisticated chefs in a prestigious cooking contest with her simple five ingredient recipe.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Pat Prager’s Award Winning Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup melted Grade A butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon Grade A butter

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs. melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Put into a greased 9×12 inch pan. Melt the chips and butter and spread them on top of the bars. Set into the refrigerator until firm. Cut into bars.

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Hallelujah

By page ninety of Rachel Joyce’s The Music Shop, I had to stop reading to find a pen and pad to note the music.  Each time Frank, the music shop owner recommended a song to  one of his patrons, I wanted to hear it.

658px-Beethoven_piano_sonata_14_mvmt_1_bar_1-4.svgNot only a story of true love and redemption, The Music Shop was a resource for old favorites as well as new classics.  Now I have new playlists.  How many of these have you heard lately – or ever?

  • Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
  • Spirit in the Dark – Aretha Franklin
  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
  • Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic
  • Barber’s Adagio for Strings
  • Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans

colorful-music-clipart-music-staff-blueWhen Frank courts Isle Brauchmann with his music lessons, I found a list for the next time I can’t sleep on a plane:

  • Chopin’s Prelude No. 15
  • Heyr, Himna Smiour with the Iceland Chorus
  • Brahm’s Piano Concerto No. 1
  • Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven
  • Perotin’s Beata Viscera
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

And, the most redeeming of all – Handel’s Messiah.

Although Frank would have preferred my listening to vinyl, my music is on iTunes.

Zeppole for St. Joseph Day, March 19

While the bakeries sold fancy concoctions for the feast day, my Italian grandmother used a fast and easy traditional recipe for a bite-sized donut covered in powdered sugar, resembling a beignet.  You can whip up a batch in about ten minutes – best when hot.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta

Directions

Mix dry ingredients together.  Stir vanilla and ricotta into beaten eggs.  Combine dry and wet ingredients.  The dough will be sticky.

Heat about 2 inches oil (the only oil my grandmother used for everything was olive oil but you can use vegetable oil, if you prefer) in a pot.

When oil is hot, drop a  tablespoon of dough into the oil and fry until puffed and brown – about 3 minutes – flipping over about halfway through.  Try your test donut to check the timing – break it open and eat it.

Continue cooking, about three or four at a time.  Then transfer finished zeppole to a dish with a paper towel to absorb the oil.  Roll in powdered sugar and eat hot. Try not to eat them all yourself.

 

Reading Goals

Grant Snider offered his “Reading Goals in the Book Review section of the New York Times.

75px-Hot_chocolate_p1150797  I need to remember:

“I will journey far outside myself,,,without leaving my chair.”

See the full cartoon – here.

Baking Bread

Robin Sloane’s novel – Sourdough – inspired me to think about favorite bread recipes.  The fragrance of the baking bread is second only to the pleasure of beating the dough into submission.

imagesSince I have no friendly neighborhood chefs who can give me a starter for sourdough, I am giving you my recipe for Christmas morning yeast rolls. I usually make them the night before while “the children are nestled all snug in their beds,” form the dough rolls into a Christmas tree, and refrigerate overnight.  I pull out the pan to come to room temperature on Christmas morning while the coffee is brewing and wrapping paper is flying off presents.

Christmas Tree Buns

2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 cup sugar
6 to 8 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mace
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks, plus extra for garnish
2 cups whole or 2% milk, warmed
1 cup chopped blanched almonds, plus extra to garnish
1 cup currants, plumped in warm water and drained well

Mix the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and half cup warm milk. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to bubble.   Add the the eggs, egg yolks, remaining sugar, and milk to the yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, work the flour together with the softened butter. Stir in the salt and mace.

Mix in the flour-butter mixture with the egg mixture. Add the almonds and raisins. The dough will be smooth but still a little sticky.

Knead by hand for 7 to 8 minutes — just until the dough is smooth. Clean out the bowl, lightly oil it, then transfer the dough back into the bowl to rise. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls, arranging them, touching, in the form of a tree, starting with one ball at the top, two below, three below, and on.  Finish bottom with one ball as the trunk.

Lightly oil the tops and cover loosely with parchment or waxed paper, then plastic wrap, and finally a towel.  Let rise for an hour.  Then, place in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, take the dough out, uncover, bring to room temperature and let sit for about twenty minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Just before baking, brush the loaf with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle chopped almonds on top.

Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes; serve warm.