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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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