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Posts Tagged ‘Dish Amelia’

From Dish Amelia:
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I was casting about for what I would post this month for my SLD, and the topic ended up finding me in the most natural and planetary of ways. There were so many signs in fact, that I had to list the indicators just to look at because everything seemed so connected and clear. (Cycle, Spring, oval, egg, Easter eggs, Easter…)

I decided to try making the kolache. The kolache are a Czech pastry, but it is so much more. I know what these are because both of my parents are from Texas and we would visit sometimes when I was growing up. There is a solid old Czech community near my dad’s hometown, and he impressed on me the importance and specialness of getting the good kolaches in the tiny town of Snook when passing through. (Mom, Dad, kolaches, fruit, wildflowers, jewel tone colors…) It happened that my mom just went on a little road trip to see the wildflowers, and she sent a few pics. And, I just happened to work a catering job at Lincoln Center for the new play “Ann”, abut Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. To add to the Texan reminders, large swaths of Brooklyn were just looking towards or went to Austin for the South by Southwest music festival. (Ann Richards gig, SXSW, Texas, New York, Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Poland, Eastern Europe, Czech Republic…)

I figured that the Tall Pole might have some awareness of this pastry, because many eastern European traditions carry a level of crossover, like poppy seeds. (Traditions, poppy seeds…) The Pole was not really sure, but was not opposed to my investigation, sweet-toothed as he is. I turned to the Eastern European Food section of About.com, an excellent resource, and found the related Polish kolaczki, which was interesting. But this was not the type I was going for, which led me to the obvious next stop: awesome food blog Homesick Texan written by Lisa Fain (who also has a great cookbook). Of course she did a post on kolaches. And weirdly enough she had posted in March of 2007, leading me to wonder about kolaches and springtime. (…food blogs, springtime, traditions, New York…) Her post is wonderful, and I can only add a slightly different angle, and also a bit more sugar, as the kolaches I remember are a bit sweeter than her recipe. I also left off the sprinkled topping. (Hers is adapted from Texas Monthly and the Houston Chronicle, mine is adapted from hers.)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1.2 cup sugar

3 cups AP flour

2 large eggs

3/4 cups melted butter

1 tsp salt

fillings at your discretion

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Photo from mom.

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Prepare your starter. Combine sugar, yeast, 1 cup of flour (whisk) and then milk

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Cover and let it double in size and get foamy.

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Mix together melted butter, salt and eggs

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The starter has become foamy! Mix the butter/egg mixture into this.

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Then mix in flour, a 1/2 cup at a time.

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Knead ten minutes. So fun. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise one hour.

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Look at that! I’m always impressed by yeast.

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Pull off pieces and roll into egg-sized balls…

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Flatten into disks and brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise another half hour.

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Prepare your fillings. I chose mine based on tradition and color variety. There are several Polish pastries I’ve seen in Greenpoint that utilize this chocolaty looking (not chocolate) paste. With some investigation and many questions directed at the Tall Pole (who probably never imagined he would field so many) I found that this ingredient in Polish is called masa makowa, or poppy seed butter, and usually contains almonds and sugar. One can make this easily, but to save time, and invest in some authenticity, I braved the crazy Easter line of the Polish deli to grab some. It’s quite good. I also got some crumbly farmer’s cheese

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The fillings: strawberry, sour cherry, orange ginger, farmer’s cheese (with maple syrup drizzle, my one liberty), and poppy seed paste. Obviously you could (should?) make these too, but for maximum variety I used high quality, few ingredient jams. In the future I think I would just make my favorite or be more experimental, but I wanted to tap into tradition, not expand on it just yet.

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Make a decent indentation with your fingers and spoon in the filling.

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Bake at 375 for 13 minutes. Brush them with melted butter (why not?) when they come out. Let them cool a bit and savor this new rite of spring.

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From Dish Amelia:

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Nalewka (Pronounced Nah-Lef-Kah) is a Polish cordial or aged homemade alcoholic tincture. This variety happens to be lemon and honey but you could make it with nearly anything. It is meant to be sipped and is even regarded as having a medicinal purpose; whether to calm the stomach or make you sleep soundly (heh). I got curious about this concoction when my favorite tall Pole described it to me as a popular traditional project. Then messages had to be sent, many questions asked, and a loose recipe transcribed and then tested. Looking through a variety of recipes, I would say this is a Polish version of Limoncello, perhaps. I now want to make a cherry and a ginger one. You know, for medicinal purposes.

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1 bottle Spirytus (This is grain alcohol which is scary stuff. One reason this is so easy to make is that you can dilute the alcohol as much as you choose, and a bit at a time) Start with this amount and it will go quite far.

10 lemons, juiced. (The Pole noted to keep at least a seed or two, and as much pulp as possible, as this is a homemade product and this helps to signify this.)

water (You must do this to taste. We started with 1:1, but this was too strong, so we added 200 more ml. (When you make this drink you have to use the metric system.)

a bit more than 1/2 cup honey. (Also to taste)

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Pour the honey and a bit of water into a saucepan and heat, so the honey dissolves into the water. Let this cool a bit or put it in an ice bath. Mix all of the ingredients, pour into bottles, shake, and store in the freezer. Serve in tiny glasses and sip.

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From Dish Amelia:
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A person makes beans for a lot of reasons…economy and health spring immediately to mind..I made these ones in honor of Rico, a very good bean maker, a remarkable “maker” in general. My dad gave me a bag of these Anasazi beans a while ago from New Mexico. They are in the pinto family, but maybe slightly larger and differently dappled. He also gave me the awesome micaceous pot I used, which is as fabulous for cooking beans as it is to look at.  He also gave me a number of old New Mexican cookbooks, (almost all pamphlet-size, as old regional ones often are), which I consulted before riffing on the bean making. He actually gave me all those nice items at different times, they just happened to convene at the perfect moment early in this New Year.  (Thanks Dad). And here you go Rico.

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2.5 cups dry beans

3 cloves garlic, smashed

A few pinches dried New Mexican red chile

1 tsp sugar

1 tablespoon lard

2 tsp kosher salt

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Wash the beans and then cover them with an inch of water and let them soak overnight.

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It’s great if you have a bunch of work to do at home the next day, and you can mind the beans. (It doesn’t take forever, and there are ways of shortening the process, but if you have the time, why not take the long way. It’s prettier. )

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Put the beans and the remaining soaking liquid into your pot. Add the smashed garlic and tsp of sugar. Bring this to a boil. The first time it does this it will kind of foam up, so turn the heat down a little and it goes away.

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Cook the beans, giving them a stir once in a while. You may need to add a little water as it evaporates. One of the benefits of the form of this pot is that it’s deep and the shape sort of restrains the way the contents evaporate. Cook for 2 hours. When beans are tender and nearly done, add the salt, chile and lard. Stir a bit and let it come together maybe fifteen minutes more. They really taste fantastic. These Anasazi beans cook a little faster than regular pintos, which could take up to four hours. The beans should be getting somewhat dry, but I like all that soupy business with rice etc, so you be the judge. Here’s to health, wealth, and timing.

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From Dish Amelia:

Late summer into fall is as exciting to me as early spring. Spring’s bleak odorless stage features the easily spotted first-time life sprouting pale crisp colors into the air. The transition to fall gives us robust summer bounty which is almost bittersweet, and there is a pressure to make the most of it. Honeycrisp apples appear, and the first yearning to make cozy dishes, like oatmeal, pumpkin soup, and mushrooms on polenta. You can make anything in the fall and spring, just like you can wear anything you like, flip-flops or boots, jackets for chilliness or fashion. You can make light bright food with huge basil, heirloom tomatoes, and shaved vegetables galore. It’s a toss-up whether I’ll go for hot coffee or iced. On a recent shorts-and-sweatshirt clad trip to the farmers market, I discovered piles of oval Italian plums. Not seeing a ton of other fruits I figured I would just cook with these somehow and I went on my way. Once home I washed and split the plums and tasted them to see what I would do. Six or seven plums later I had to act so as not to make myself sick, and so I would cook with them as I had told myself I would. Man they were SO good. Luckily I made an excellent plum chutney which lasted longer than the fresh fruit, but not by much.

Adapted from Susan Spungen from Bon Appetit/Epicurious

6-7 plums (Italian or otherwise) pitted and chopped (I did not peel them)
1 small red onion, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled into thin strips and finely diced.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 T chopped garlic
scant 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 T mustard seeds
a few liberal shakes and grinds of cumin, cardamom, coriander and black pepper
1 bay leaf
kosher salt
1/4 cup water



Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Cook the onion and the carrot until they begin to soften, and add brown sugar, water, vinegar, spices, garlic, mustard, leaf, and salt. Cook until this becomes very fragrant, then add plums, cover and simmer gently for 8 minutes. Uncover, stir and cool until thickened, about 20-25 min. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cool.



Apply to anything and everything. I ate this several times on a tortilla with scrambled eggs and arugula. Revel in the sun and clouds of the season, before they slip away.

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From Dish Amelia:

One of the food jobs I’m lucky to have is working for Nourish, the company headed up by nutritionist Marissa Lippert, who approaches food with an eye for beauty, seasonality, straightforwardness and integrity. I cook in the homes of her clients, and sometimes other catering gigs.

I originally made these brownies for a client who couldn’t have dairy. I’ve made them many times since, and messed around with them a lot — trying them with only agave, honey and brown sugar to sweeten, and with whole wheat flour and ground flax seeds. (Health food city!!). However, the following recipe is for brownies that are still totally reasonably healthy (right Marissa?), fantastic in texture and interesting in flavor. Try them, they are a hit!

Yield: 20 or so 2-inch brownies, or a quarter sheet tray.

3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cocoa
2 oz chopped chocolate
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
1 cup chopped walnuts ( or NOT)
1/3 cup fresh dried lavender, buzzed momentarily in a spice ginder

Heat oven to 350. Stir lavender into oil first while you place out all other ingredients. Prepare the pan: spray pan, apply one sheet of parchment, spray well again. (I use handy olive oil spray).


Whisk cocoa with 1/2 cup+2 T of boiling water, add chocolate, whisk more. Add in the oil, then eggs, then sugar, then flour. If you are using nuts, pour half of the mixture into the tray, scatter the nuts evenly across, then add rest of mixture over the top. If you are not using nuts, just pour entire contents into pan, and nuts or not, sprinkle the top with maldon salt or fleur de sel, enough so that you know that each square you bite will have a fabulous flake present.


These brownies have a tricky bake time. Too little and they taste underdone in a bad way. Too much and they just candy themselves, amazing right out of the oven but becoming hard rock weapons when cool. The top should form a beautiful crust and the interior will maintain a gooey ideal.

Bake the brownies for 45 minutes but test them a couple times. Take out the pan and let them cool in it. When it’s cool, use a bench scraper or knife to loosen the edge from the sides. Turn the pan over and push in the middle to make giant brownie fall out. Remove paper and slice neatly into trapezoids. I mean squares.


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From Dish Amelia:

I’ve been cooking for a family in the city recently that needs (among other things) fresh homemade chicken soup on tap. Meaning, I go in there twice a week and make chicken soup from scratch and now I can do it with my eyes closed. I mean, I knew how to make chicken soup, and stock, and green chile stew, and Mexican style chicken soup, and lemony Mediterranean chicken soup, etc, but now I feel like I can really bang out a chicken soup pretty good. There are a million ways to do it, and I do it a little different each time, but I felt like sharing it because its a staple we all need at some point, for illness, or comfort, or hunger, or memory. It’s healing, and it can get us through.

1 extremely high quality and cute whole chicken, 3 lbs (organic, free range, local)
1 bunch very skinny asparagus, cut in one inch pieces, at an angle
8 carrots (I like doing 4 normal carrots, and 4 Kyoto carrots. These are sometimes found at the farmers market and they are pink. PINK!)
1 small onion, quartered
1 bunch of celery, base cut off, stalks divided into two piles
half a bag of frozen peas (or 4 oz fresh peas)
1 bunch dill
some sliced mushrooms
a few cloves of garlic
S&P

Get a pot and bowl. With your awesome poultry shears that can cut anything, cut chicken into four pieces.

Pull off any skin you can and throw it out (some will remain). Wash the pieces and put them in the pot. You will divide your vegetables into the “Ugly” and the “Pretty”. The uglies will go directly the pot. The uglies are half of the celery, cut into large 2-3 inch pieces, the 4 regular carrots, cut into big pieces, the quartered onion, a few mushrooms if you want and a couple cloves of garlic. Cover all the chicken and uglies with water and add an inch or two more. Cover and put on medium low heat.

Prep your pretties: Thinly slice the kyoto carrots and remaining celery, and put in the bowl with peas and asparagus segments. Set aside.

Make five other dishes. To finish soup, check chicken by reaching in with tongs and grabbing the drumstick. If the bone slips right out, you are ready to rock and roll. Pull out al the chicken with the tongs and let them cool in a bowl. With a shallow perforated spoon lift out all the ugly vegetables, as they are through doing their beautiful work. Discard them. Lift out as many impurities as you can see.


When the chicken is cooked enough to barely handle, pull the good meat off the bones. I like doing this part and it reminds me of this scene in Amelie when the guy shows his grandson the “oyster” of a roast chicken. I discovered something I didn’t know about chicken anatomy while doing this. When you dissect it this way there is a perfect piece tucked up next to a shaft of cartilage in the breast that looks like a lobster claw or some dang thing. It makes me smile every time.




Put the chicken meat back in the pot, add the pretty vegetables, some dill, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Let it simmer a bit more until vegetables are tender but still bright green. If asparagus turns brownish you’ve gone too far. When soup is cool enough, chill in the fridge. Skim off any other fat or impurities you don’t want. Heat as needed. Drink the broth, pick out what you don’t like, add rice, ladle a little bowl or have some with a sandwich.

Whatever you want to do, it will help get you there.

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From Dish Amelia:

My first solid food was a pickle. I am told that while stopping for lunch on a driving trip with my godmother, my mother went to the bathroom and I reached out for and obtained a pickle. She returned and to her horror I was gnawing on it, toothless wonder that I was, and my godmother shrugged. I’ll be 30 in few days and have been doing the kind of stock-taking (not stock making) that I tend to do around the birthdays. I also found out just this week that my great-great-great grandfather was born in Warsaw and is buried in Greenwood cemetery right here in Brooklyn. And coincidentally, perhaps, I’ve made this pickle soup. Pickle soup sounds weird and gross, but its not. This one is kind of based on a recipe from a beautiful Polish cookbook called Rose Petal Jam and they call it cucumber soup. Really, its a brothy soup with lots of vegetables and some salt brined (not vinegar-brined) half sour pickled cucumbers grated into it, for a subtly sour, satisfying and refreshing soup. It’s called Zupa Ogorkowa. (Pr. “Oh-gor-koh-vuh”). I’ve made it twice, but I think it might have already been in my DNA.

1-2 qts chicken stock, (box or homemade)
2 parsnips, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
a few stalks of celery, chopped
a 6 inch piece of smoked kielbasa, chopped (optional)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 (brine pickled not vinegar pickled) pickles, half sour or sour, grated
1/3 cup or more of sour cream
1 bunch dill
s&p to taste
chopped green chile (optional)


If you are using kielbasa, fry it for a long time in olive oil with the onion and bay leaf. Add the parsnip and the carrot and cover with stock and water. When it comes to a boil add the celery and potatoes. When the potatoes are tender, take out some of the stock in a pyrex measuring cup and whisk in the sour cream, then add it all back to the soup. Add the ogorki (pickles) and a bit of green chile, if you like. Makes about four quarts.

Sprinkle fresh dill on top to serve.

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