Germany: Stollen History and Recipe

Stollen is a traditional German cake made with dry fruits and topped with sugar, powdered sugar, or a glazed icing. stollenslicedMuch like a fruitcake, the cake incorporates chopped candied fruit, dried fruit, nuts and spices. Usually made in a loaf, it is commonly eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. A similar cake, found in Dutch cuisine, is called a Kerststol in Dutch, while in Italian cuisine the panettone also shows a likeness.

The Dresden Stollen (originally Striezel), a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit, was first mentioned in an official document in 1474,  and the most famous Stollen is still the Dresdner Stollen,  sold, among other places, at the local Christmas market, Striezelmarkt. Dresden Stollen is produced in the city of Dresden and distinguished by a special seal depicting King Augustus II the Strong. This “official” Stollen is produced by only 150 Dresden bakers.

Augustus II the Strong (1670–1733) was the Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The King loved pomp, luxury, splendour and feasts. In 1730, he impressed his subjects, ordering the Bakers’ Guild of Dresden to make a giant 1.7-tonne Stollen, big enough for everyone to have a portion to eat. There were around 24,000 guests who were taking part in the festivities on the occasion of the legendary amusement festivity known as Zeithainer Lustlager.  For this special occasion, the court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann (1662-1737), built a particularly oversized Stollen oven. An oversized Stollen knife also had been designed solely for this occasion.

Today, the festival takes place on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent, and the cake weighs between three and four tonnes. A carriage takes the cake in a parade through the streets of Dresden to the Christmas market, where it is ceremoniously cut into pieces and distributed among the crowd, for a small sum which goes to charity. A special knife, the Grand Dresden Stollen Knife, a silver-plated knife, 1.60 meters long weighing 12 kg, which is a copy of the lost baroque original knife from 1730, is used to festively cut the oversize Stollen at the Dresden Christmas fair.

glazed_stollen

The largest Stollen was baked in 2010 by Lidl, a discount supermarket chain in Germany. The Stollen was 70 meters long and was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, at the train station of Haarlem. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Recipe for Quicker Stollen

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) hot roll mix
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup mixed candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds

Ingredients for Glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Additional candied cherries and sliced almonds, optional

*Click here for directions. Recipe and picture of Quicker Stollen from Tasteofhome.com.

Malasada: A Portuguese Confection

malasada (or malassada, from Portuguese “malassada” = “light-roasted”) (similar to filhós) is a Portugueseconfection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. They were first made by inhabitants of the Madeira islands. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings. Malasadas are eaten especially on Mardi Gras – the day before Ash Wednesday.

In Madeira Malasadas are eaten mainly on Terça-feira Gorda (“Fat Tuesday” in English; Mardi Gras in French) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. The reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent (much in the same way the tradition of Pancake Day in the United Kingdom originated onShrove Tuesday), Malasadas are sold alongside the Carnival of Madeira today. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 19th century, the resident Catholic Portuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.

Leonard’s Bakery is a popular stop for malasadas in Hawaii.

 

Fondue Facts for Your Next Party

Historically, I have been a disaster at doing fondue.  One time the pot broke the other time I think I just blocked it out of my memory.  Nevertheless, the effort and fellowship one fun.  Well, not sending someone out to get a new meal.  Here are some facts that may help in cheese purchase and being mindful of temperature.

Fondue (French pronunciation: ​[fɔ̃’dy]) is a SwissFrench, and Italian dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (caquelon) over a portable stove (réchaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s but its origins stem from an area that covers Switzerland, France (Rhone Alps) and Italy (Piedmont and Aosta valley).

Since the 1950s, the name “fondue” has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of hot liquid: fondue_zum_sechstenchocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.

Preparation

Cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine and seasoning. To prepare the caquelon it is first rubbed with a cut garlic clove.White wine, cheese, and often kirsch are added and stirred until melted. A small amount of cornstarch or other starch is added to prevent separation. The mixture is stirred continuously as it heats in the caquelon.

When it is ready, diners dip cubes of bread speared on a fondue fork into the mixture.

Temperature and la religieuse

A cheese fondue mixture should be kept warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot that it burns. If this temperature is held until the fondue is finished there will be a thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom of the caquelon. This is called la religieuse (French for the nun). It has the texture of a cracker and is almost always lifted out and eaten.

Below is a listing of Best Cheeses for fondue.  Over the years people have also become very creative with what food can be dipped in the fondue.

Swiss

  • Neuchâteloise: Gruyère and Emmental.
  • Moitié-moitié (or half ‘n half): Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin.
  • Vaudoise: Gruyère.
  • Fribourgeoise: Fribourg vacherin wherein potatoes are often dipped instead of bread.
  • Innerschweiz: Gruyère, Emmental and sbrinz.
  • Appenzeller: Appenzeller cheese with cream added.
  • Tomato: Gruyère, Emmental, crushed tomatoes and wine.
  • Spicy: Gruyère, red and green peppers, with chili.
  • Mushroom: Gruyère, Fribourg vacherin and mushrooms.

French alpine

  • Savoyarde: Comté savoyard, Beaufort, and Emmental.
  • Jurassienne: Mature or mild Comté.

Italian alpine

Chocolate is also a very popular fondue choice.

Info from Wikipedia

 

Review of Recipes to Remember- An Italian Cookbook

Recipes to Remember is an engaging cookbook fueled by family love.  I strongly encourage readers to take the time to recipes-to-rememberread the section near the beginning of the book described as, “My epicurean journey.”  It will help the reader appreciate each recipe preserved by author Barbara Magro.    She is not afraid to invite you to sit at the table while she explains the character arc of her life, how she arrives at the creation of this cookbook.   Her subtitle says, “My epicurean journey to preserve my mother’s Italian cooking from Memory Loss.”  The title quickly grabbed my attention because I could relate to it.  When I step in the kitchen, especially for the holidays it helps me connect with family no matter how far I am and who has passed.  Stirring ingredients stirs up memories.  Sharing the recipes preserves tradition and history.  Magro recognized with beginning stages of her mother’s memory loss would go a huge part of her family’s history.  With a sense of urgency, Magro stepped up to the challenge of saving her family’s culinary legacy. When Magro did this for her family, she tapped into a helping other Italian families conjure up pieces of family memories and I believe it would help any family to be inspired to get in the kitchen with your relatives to understand the importance of culinary family traditions.

The vibrant mostly in color cookbook is filled with 100 classic Italian recipes from antipasti (appetizers) to holiday recipes.  I appreciate that Magro does not opt to merely lump certain dishes into the standard sections.  The holiday dishes are highlighted from Easter to Christmas.  Look forward to finding recipes for antipasto classic, pasta e fagioli, various sauces, polpettone(meatloaf),  sausage stuffing for turkey,  veal parmesan, zeppole, pizza rustica, biscotti de mandoria(almond biscotti) and more.    If you have ever desired to learn more about Italian cooking starting with the cookbook of classics is a great way to start.  Seeing how the holiday recipes are grouped together is an excellent shortcut way to learn about Italian culinary traditions.

Most people do not pick up a cookbook to read a biography; however, this cookbook includes a compelling inspired story of creation. This book has one key ingredient many other cookbooks miss…soul.  It should be a gift to yourself and to put in someone’s culinary library.   A portion of the proceeds from Recipes to Remember benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sauerkraut with Mushrooms “Kapusta z Grzybami”- A Polish Christmas Recipe

Tradition calls for twelve courses to be served during Wigilia.  All the dishes are meatless kapusta-z-grzybami-8-891x500and should be made from foods that come from the four corners of the earth: forest, sea, field and orchard.

Polish cooks over the centuries had to be very resourceful, working within these limitations, and it is a tribute to their creativity that they came up with such a rich variety of recipes based on root vegetables, dried mushrooms and dried fruits, potatoes and cabbage, local fish, and flour-based pastries and dishes, such as kluski and pierogi.

These recipes are loved by Poles everywhere and in spite of the fact that Christmas Eve is no longer a day of fast and abstinence and even though fruits and vegetables as well as imported seafood are now widely available, on this day the traditional recipes are lovingly prepared in kitchens all across Poland and around the world.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dried mushrooms
  • 16 ounces fresh mushrooms (portabella mushrooms preferred)
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed in cold water, and drained
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper

Directions: Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for 2 hours drain, and squeeze dry in a cheesecloth. Chop finely. Wash and coarsely chop the fresh mushrooms and onion and sauté in the butter in a skillet for 5-7 minutes. Add sauerkraut to mushrooms; cook and stir for another 10 minutes.

Blend 1/3 cup water into flour, beating gently to remove lumps. Add slowly to sauerkraut and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

See other Polish Christmas Recipes

 

Caprese Salad Recipe

Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish)

See this recipe from Living Eventfully

Ingredients

  • 1 large package of cherry tomatoes
  • 8-10 sticks of mozzarella string cheese or 1 container pearl sized buffalo mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Click to See Directions

For the Beltramis, making olive oil and cheese is a family affair

in the Rusticucci Palace, once owned by a 15th century cardinal and now the Beltrami family’s olive oil factory, Cristiana Beltrami explains the process of making the oil. The family is also known for its cheese: Italian-American chef Lidia Bastianich has called Cristiana’s father, Vittorio, the “Einstein of Cheese.” (photo by Elizabeth Zabel)

Ciao!” says the short, elderly woman standing behind the counter. On her apron are the words “Gastronomia Beltrami, Cartoceto, Italy.” This is Elide Beltrami, wife of Vittorio Beltrami, a man who has been ordained the “Einstein of cheese” by famous chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. With a wide, warm smile, Elide makes me feel as welcome as if I were walking into my local corner store.

However, Gastronomia Beltrami is not just your average corner store. Inside the front glass case are piles of pecorino cheese, made from the milk of the Beltramis’ sheep. To the left, stacked on wooden shelves, are jars of fig and other fruit jams, made by Elide and her family and wrapped in brown paper and ribbon. Lastly, on a wide oak cupboard are bottles of glistening green olive oil—a product that brought this family name much praise in the early 1900s—harvested from the Beltramis’ groves and pressed in a 500-year-old palace.

A petite woman in her mid-thirties with short dark-brown hair comes from the back and flashes a smile. This is Cristiana Beltrami, the daughter of Vittorio and Elide Beltrami. “Let’s go on a tour,” she says and I follow her to her car. As she drives, Cristiana explains that she has worked at the shop for 15 years, since graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Urbino.  READ MORE

See More Articles by Nandi Alexander

London Olympics 2012: Olympians Served High Tea

By JULIE LEVIN Cronkite News-LONDON – At the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel, you can be an Olympic queen for one afternoon. Or an Olympic king, for that matter.

Tea, anyone? And here’s your chocolate gold medal to go with it.

Afternoon royal tea, a British staple, and dishes inspired by Queen Elizabeth II are served in the Wellington Lounge at the swanky hotel. Pastry chef Luis Meza even caters to the Olympians staying at the hotel, creating chocolate gold medals to deliver to their hotel rooms.

The hotel is on the site of the queen’s childhood residence at 145 Piccadilly. The queen’s current residence at Buckingham Palace is nearby.

READ MORE

UK Healthy Snacking & Eatwell Plate

British Nutrition Foundation-It is fine to snack – so long as you maintain a healthy balance of foods and keep yourself active. If you
feel hungry between meals, or you know it will be a while before you eat your next meal choose snacks that provide energy (preferably in the form of starchy carbohydrate), vitamins and minerals and not too much fat, sugar or salt.
You can use the eatwell plate as a quick, at-a-glance guide for choosing healthier snacks. The eatwell plate shows the types and proportions of foods that we need to eat to make up a varied and well balanced diet, so foods from the four main food groups make good choices for snacks. Try to make sure that that snacks you choose compliment other foods you eat during the day, i.e. choose a snack from a food group you may not have already had. For example if you had toast and fruit juice for breakfast, a yogurt would make a good morning snack. If you ate cereal and milk for breakfast, a banana would be a good morning snack choice.

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta 
These foods contain plenty of starchy carbohydrate to provide the body with energy throughout the day. They are a good choice if you are particularly active, especially before or after sport. They are low in fat, and contain even more fibre and minerals if you choose wholegrain types.

Try these easy snack suggestions:

  • A plain or fruit scone (with low fat spread and jam)
  • A small bowl of wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk
  • A small sandwich or slice of toast with banana and a little honey
  • A handful of rice crackers or a rice cake
  • Half a bagel with low-fat cheese spread
  • A hot cross bun or two slices of malt loaf with low fat spread

SEE FRUIT, MEAT & DAIRY SUGGESTIONS

Wolfgang Puck’s Watermelon Granita Recipe

Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily,
although available all over Italy (but granita in Sicily is somewhat different from the rest of Italy), it is related to sorbet and italian ice. From Wolfgang Puck’s Facebook page-For hot-weather entertaining, or just summer snacking: Watermelon Granita. Granita is like an Italian snow cone, made by freezing fruit puree and scraping it into icy flakes. It’s easy and a healthy alternative to ice cream or overly sugary frozen sweets.

(See Recipe)