Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pirozhki - Lamb (or Boca) Filled Rolls

Pirozhki are a staple of Russian street food -- whether you're in a cafe, literally walking home from the metro station or at one of the many historic sights, there will be someone selling pirozhki. If I were preparing these for my friends I would use Boca Burger crumbles; if you want to make them authentic style, as my stepdad prefers, use lamb. Don't use beef or you won't get the real flavor.

If you do choose to use Boca crumbles, add 3-4 tbsp of oil to the pan before cooking the crumbles and 1/3 cup of mock chicken or beef broth to the mixture after the onions cook and before the cabbage goes in.

Ingredients for filling:

3/4 lb thawed Boca Burger crumbles or ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
2 small cabbages (size of softballs) or 1 large one, finely shredded
3 tbsp salt, or to taste
pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp dried dill

Dough and cooking:

1 packet yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4-5 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 quart of oil

To begin, start with the dough. Dissolve the yeast into the water and set aside until frothy, about ten minutes. In this time, take a large skillet or pot and begin to cook the meat aspect. Once cooked, throw in the onions and seasonings. Get back to the dough and whisk in the liquid ingredients. Add the sugar and salt then the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth and elastic and set aside in an oiled bowl in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Once the dough is kneaded the onions should be thoroughly cooked. Add the cabbage and broth if necessary. Cover and allow to simmer for around half an hour, coming back frequently to stir so one side doesn't get burnt. Once the cabbage is tender, set aside to cool.

Once the filling is cooled the dough should be ready. Set the oil to heat to 375 degrees in a large pot. Flattening small handfuls at a time, wrap the dough around about 2 tablespoons of filling per roll and pinch the ends back together. They will want to pull apart once they hit the hot oil, so make sure you pinch thoroughly and reinforce any weak spots. Set aside on an oiled cookie sheet and repeat until all are done, or the first batch has been resting for approximately ten minutes. Slide them into the oil and cook until light golden brown, remove onto paper towels or another device to drain any excess grease. Repeat until they're all done. As with the pierogies, these can be frozen before frying for later cooking.

These are best served hot and on their own. Enjoy!

Vereniki (Non-Meat Pierogies)

My stepfather grew up with two nationalities -- German and Polish. His grandfather on the German side was a baker, but every time he mentions a dish he wants my mother and I to attempt it's something from his Polish grandmother's repertoire. The famed cheesecake recipe is coming soon!

Anywho, his birthday runs dangerously close to Christmas day, so my mother and I typically plan a larger celebration on the birthday than on Christmas. This year we went totally Polish and because we made several things, I'm adding that as a tag on my recipe collection. My stepfather's primary request was pierogies -- or vereniki in Russian -- which are essentially wheat pasta pockets filled with some variation of mushrooms, mashed potato, onions and cheese. The following recipe includes the ingredients for all of the aforementioned fillings.

These can be prepared several ways. A lot of people boil their pierogies, but this detracts from the flavor in my experience, as well as causing the homemade variety to fray apart and become pierogie soup. Therefore I recommend a method quite similar to cooking potstickers, which begins with steaming and ends with a short pan fry.

Ingredients for dough:

2-3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp full fat sour cream
1 egg
1/3 c warm water

This is easy -- knead the dough together until smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed. Roll into a ball and place under an upside down bowl for an hour.


2/3 c mushrooms, chopped finely (you may want to use a food processor for this)
4 tbsp chopped leeks
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb boiled potatoes
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups finely cubed cheese of choice (fontina works well)
2 containers, 1/2 cup water in each
4 tbsp butter
large skillet with cover

Boil the potatoes until tender. Mash with the salt and cream until all but the smallest lumps are gone. Heat the oil, mushrooms and leeks over medium heat with a dash of salt and continue to cook until well browned, then set aside. Roll the dough out in small handfuls to about "1/8 and using a "3 cookie cutter, cut pieces of dough and set them aside. Heat the skillet over medium high.

Set to work on filling the pierogies -- we found it easiest and the most fun to mix and match fillings, since all the flavors were compatible. To do this takes practice with the dough but I will attempt to describe how I did it: taking the round of dough in my hand, I smooshed it down one last time to eliminate any large lumps and held it flat in my left hand. Using the right, I put fillings off center and rolled the unfilled end over. I pinched the sides together to get a small half moon. Repeat, setting the raw pierogies on an oiled cookie sheet once completed.

When you've assembled all the pierogies, it's time to cook them. Put 2 tbsp of butter in the pan and once melted, assemble approximately half the pierogies in the pan. Put in half a cup of water along with a dash of salt and cover for three minutes. After this, take off the cover and allow to cook until the water has evaporated. At this point, the side on the pan should be barely browning. Flip the pierogies and allow them to brown more completely on the other side, anywhere from three to seven minutes depending on your stove, so keep checking them.

Chances are with this recipe you'll wind up doing two batches in the pan. If you don't have a large party to serve or want to save some for later, they can be frozen before being fried for at least a month.

Once cooked, serve hot with sour cream on the side. Za zdarovy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tangy Wild Rice with Ricotta Eggs

Don't skip over this one -- the title sounds like some terrible 70's diet cookbook dish, but this is honestly delicious and also quite healthy. I've noticed that in most culinary traditions there's a strong emphasis on mixing grains with protein and this is no exception. The ricotta makes the eggs fluffy and soft instead of rubbery and the rice adds a nice bite, along with the tanginess of the sauce. This is a great meal for when you have a long day ahead and needs something that sticks with you without too many calories. You could separate the eggs and leave out the yolks, the resulting texture would be more or less the same. Anywho, here's how you do it:

1 cup wild rice
3 cups water
dash of salt
3 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tsp lime juice
2 eggs
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup ricotta cheese

Bring the water and salt to a boil, add the rice. Cover and cook for around 45 minutes.

Toss the cooked rice with the tamari and lime juice and set aside. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a skillet. Beat the eggs with salt and put them into the skillet as well. Scoop the ricotta into a heap in the middle and start scrambling the eggs and mixing it together. Continue to cook for several minutes; you can cook them for a shorter period to get a creamier result but I like mine well done so they get slightly crumbly. Serve over the rice. Easy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

As Irish As You Can Get: Potato Guiness Soup with Dubliner Cheddar

For those chilly days and nights there's nothing better than a nice, thick, filling soup or stew. Unfortunately, many of these winter stews involve red meat and aren't quite worth the calories they're cooked in, at least as far as I'm concerned. But this dish is a keeper -- it's simple, filling and rich with a deep savory flavor. Although the alcohol evaporates away during cooking this is a dish for adult tastes (although there's nothing wrong with giving some to the tykes in your household). So send the kids to bed, throw this soup together and curl up near the fire with any leftover Guiness.

You will need:

12 oz Guiness beer
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3/4 lb Dubliner cheddar
2 tbsp flour
6 tbsp butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
salt to taste

Boil the potatoes until a fork goes into them with no problem, usually between twenty and forty minutes. Mash the potatoes in the pot with a masher or in a separate bowl using a mixer; you don't want all the lumps gone, but you want to make a major dent in it. Return pot and potatoes to medium heat and add the Guiness; whisk together until even, expect to whisk through a bit of foam for several minutes. In the meantime, in a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat then add the onions. Cook them down as you cook down the potato mixture, probably about 10 minutes or until the butter turns a deeper golden and the onions are fully cooked. Add the onions and as much of the melted butter as you can get to the potatoes. Whisk in the flour. By this point the soup should be getting gradually smoother, and you can add the cheddar chopped into small cubes. Whisk constantly until all of it is melted and incorporated into the soup, probably five to ten minutes. After this, allow the soup to boil down a bit more and thicken up -- another five to ten minutes. Lastly, taste a very small spoonful to make sure it's salted to your taste, chances are you will have to add 2-3 tsp to the whole pot to get it where it needs to be. Serve hot, ideally with some bread for dipping.

Chicken Soup: A Vegetarian's Experience

I've mentioned that I am a vegetarian, which is the basis of this blog. I also admit to cooking for large numbers of people on a fairly regular basis, and especially when you're away from home you need something to take you back. One night in particular several guys from our student group in Moscow came to our dorm to attempt blini (Russian buckwheat pancakes). I had a whole chicken and some odds and ends around the kitchen and seeing as the blini weren't going as planned, I decided to try something new that would cure them of their homesickness.

What you need:

1 whole chicken, no innards, thawed
about a gallon of water
1 large onion, diced
4 tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried basil
3 bay leaves
3-5 tbsp salt, depending on taste
a few grinds of black pepper
1 lb spaghetti, broken into "2-3 inch pieces
3 cups shredded cabbage (optional)
sour cream

I never touched the raw chicken. It freaks me out. I don't even want to know what flesh feels like in that state. I will eat things made with broth but as far as the actual meat is concerned I usually pawn it off on someone else. I know, I'm weird. Anyway, I put a large stock pot with the gallon of water on to boil and stick the chicken in whole (after rinsing very well, of course). Add the salt, set the pot to simmer and put the lid on -- then just let that sucker cook for two to four hours. When you come back to it, lift the chicken out and allow it to cool for a few moments. Put the onions, spices, pasta and cabbage (if you're using it) into the pot and bring to a low boil. Pull bite sized pieces from the chicken and place in a bowl, adding them all once the chicken is bare. Put the lid back over it and boil for approximately 10-12 minutes. Take off the heat and pour into bowls. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top and a shot of ice cold Russki Standart to get the authentic experience.

Potato Gnocchi Caprese

Seemingly out of the blue, I found myself with a craving for gnocchi a few weeks ago. Maybe it was the stress of final exams pushing me to consume nothing but carbs or that calm, nearly sedated feeling that arrives shortly after doing so. Either way I got to googling on how to make light-as-air gnocchi without a potato ricer or mill. Turns out there is a method using a fork, which I will detail in the instruction portion of the recipe. I reduced the flour a bit from the original since that's the key to keeping them light and fluffy. They didn't shape nearly as pretty as what you buy in the store, but they were much cheaper to make and tasted better.

As far as the caprese bit, it's a dish that's always befuddled me -- maybe that's because raw tomatoes skeeze me out. I don't know what it is, but something about the smell and texture of raw tomatoes drives me away almost as fast as green peppers. I had to make a dish for a class potluck and wanted to go with a balsamic salad of some sort and caprese was easy to make and transport. However, when I make something for a group, I don't scrimp. I cook to impress. So I got to thinking, how can I turn a caprese salad into something remarkable?

When I make a salad designed for sustenance, sometimes I put some hot pasta over the top to wilt the lettuce a bit and add some protein and carbs (whole wheat pasta has improved remarkably in the last few years, I must admit). That's where the thought of the gnocchi came in. The rest seemed to follow suit and the dish was a major hit at the potluck. Even if you've never made gnocchi before, with the right touch it can be done well the first time.

To make gnocchi:

2 lbs potatoes
2 eggs
dash of salt
3/4c whole wheat flour

Boil the potatoes until tender. Using gloves or some sort of protection from the heat, peel the potatoes while they're still hot. Take a fork and holding the potato in your left hand (if you're right handed) use your right to score the side of the potato. It should result in what I can only describe as soft crumbles; it should resemble streusel to an extent. Once you finish crumbing all of the potatoes, add the eggs and remaining ingredients. Mix gently until the dough is nonsticky enough to be handled, try not to overmix. Take small handfuls, roll them into snakes and chop into "1 sections. Set them aside and repeat until you don't have any potato dough left. Boil a large pot of water and add about a teaspoon of salt, throw in the gnocchis 10 or so at a time and let them cook for 2-3 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. One thing I can't emphasize enough is not to overcook, otherwise you'll just have mushy potato water.

For the caprese:

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 whole sundried tomatoes, preserved in olive oil and finely chopped(don't use dried)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup crumbled sheep's feta
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (to toss with gnocchi)
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 cups fresh greens salad

Put the salad in a large bowl or plate and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and top the salad with the crumbled sheep's feta. Add the rest of the ingredients to the gnocchi and toss gently, making sure to coat each dumpling evenly. Scoop the gnocchi mixture on top of the salad and serve warm.

Latkes: There Can Never Be Too Little, Too Late

Scrolling through my posts I realized I hadn't included one of the cheapest, easiest and oldest recipes in my repertoire: latkes. The pancakes themselves are composed of three to five ingredients, depending on just how good of a chef you are. This is a dish traditionally eaten during Hanukkah although it can be enjoyed any time of the year. Still, this is a wintery food to me, maybe because the potatoes and onions are sometimes all you've got to work with this time of year.

Despite my mother's near-neurotic insistence that potatoes are NOT truly Russian/Jewish/Ashekenazi fare, I'm classifying latkes under all three. She is correct, technically: potatoes were cultivated in the Americas and weren't brought to Europe until around the 18th century. Peter the Great can be credited with bringing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into the Russian tradition, with potatoes becoming a staple due to their ability to grow in the harsh climate. Before potatoes, however, turnips and other similar root vegetables were used not only in Russian cuisine but in Western Europe as well. So while turnips have been substituted with potatoes, the dishes themselves and the methods used date much further back.

One word of advice before I bestow my recipe: if you're not familiar with using a grater, this will take you much longer than it should. I'm normally a do-it-by-hand girl but seeing as I have injured said hands on cheese graters way too many times in my earlier days, I recommend using a food processor with a shredder feature if you have one. If not, grab a cheese grater and start at it. With some practice you'll be safely shredding by hand in no time but don't rush things, lest the thought of grated knuckle in your potatoes is appealing.

You will need:

2 lbs potatoes, shredded (I leave the skin on, they're easier to grip while grating and add some nutrition)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, grated (this is harder to grate than the potatoes so leave one end intact to grip)
1/4 c flour
"1.5 of oil in a shallow pan

Shred the onion first -- its juices will stop the reaction that causes potatoes to turn pink when cut. Follow with the potatoes and mix well. Mix in the eggs and salt, then finally the flour. Heat the oil over the medium setting and, forming a round about the size of your palm and placing it on a spatula, slide it into the oil. I can usually cook 2-3 latkes at a time but remember that they will cook faster the fewer you attempt each round. Cook each side until browned and place on paper to absorb any excess grease. Keep adding, flipping and setting aside the rounds until you're out of potato -- there should be liquid left over. Don't be alarmed if you see it start to pool soon after mixing all of the ingredients. I just get rid of it once I'm done.

There are a number of condiments to serve these with; the traditional Hanukkah way is with applesauce, but that's not to everyone's taste, especially year-round. My personal favorite is sour cream and chopped pickles. Ketchup or pepper, salt and vinegar tend to be popular as well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Hawaiian Almonds and Herb Cream Sauce

Whenever I come home my mom and I usually bring out the pasta maker and allow ourselves to get creative. Sometimes we have additional help from friends who join us in our cooking ventures. This was one of those incidents where I took a well known favorite -- butternut ravioli with cream sauce -- and kicked it up with a few of my own ideas. We served this alongside lemon herb chicken and greens with garlic and olive oil. What really comes in handy is a hunk of sourdough to mop up the extra cream sauce, but that's just me and my family and our questionable way of thinking.

Instead of giving three different detailed recipes for the ingredients involved in this process, I will summarize my own methods and highly recommend that you get comfortable with them before you try to serve this as more than a test. The first method is one I've mentioned before, getting the puree out of a squash or gourd. You want to slice it in half, remove the seeds and guts, place the halves cut side down in a large roasting pan with about an inch of water. Bake for around an hour at 350, remove from the oven and carefully scoop out the puree into a bowl. Mash it and you're set on that end.

As far as the pasta goes, I like to use a mix of bread flour and semolina -- 2 cups of each, 6 eggs, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt. This yeilds enough to feed 6-8 people. You combine the two flours and salt, form a cavern in the middle of the flour and pour the eggs and oil into it. Mix it from the inside working outwards until the dough is an even consistency. Stick it into the fridge for anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, I always mix the dough before starting the rest of the recipe. When you're ready to work with the dough, take small handfuls at a time and knead them first. Once they're stretchy and able to withstand rolling out, either put them through a pasta mill to the next to thinnest setting or use a rolling pin to get the sheet as thin as possible. If this is too much or if you're crunched for time, many high end grocers sell prerolled sheets of pasta -- the only restriction is that it absolutely must be fresh pasta, otherwise the ravioli can't stay intact.

For the filling, you will need:

3 cups butternut squash puree
2/3 cup toasted Hawaiian almonds (cashews also work well), crushed finely
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage
dash of chili powder
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and set aside, try to make it as smooth as possible.

Herb Cream Sauce:

1/2 quart half and half
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
1 tsp dried thyme
2 springs fresh rosemary, leaves crushed and separated
2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter over medium in a saucepan until liquefied; add the flour and mix into a paste with a whisk extremely quickly. Add a cup of the half and half and, again, whisk extremely quickly to incorporate the flour-butter mixture into the liquid. Add the rest of the half and half once you've eliminated most lumps and add the salt/pepper. Keep an eye on it and whisk often, after the sauce starts to get hot youll notice it thicken a bit. Add the herbs at that point. Keep whisking until the sauce reaches the consistency of yogurt -- not as thick as pudding. Take off the heat and set aside.

You should have several sheets of pasta ready to work with. Take about a tablespoon of the filling and place it near an edge. Slice a square or circle around the filling, leaving about a half inch on each side for attachment. Slice out another piece the same size and put it over the filling on the first, fold the edges together. Square ravioli tends to make the best use of your pasta dough and is easiest to fold by far but with some practice, circular ravioli can offer a different aesthetic to the meal you're preparing.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and set aside a large plate or bowl for the ravioli. Putting about 8 in at a time, boil the raviolis for 2-3 minutes and scoop out with a slotted spoon. Do this repeatedly until they're all cooked. At this point you can arrange them on the plate and top with the cream sauce. Some people like this with a bit of shredded fontina, but when done right, the cream sauce provides plenty of flavor.

The Long Drive Home: Pumpkin Risotto

Whenever I have to drive somewhere over two hours away, I listen to audiobooks in the car. I realize that this is highly unusual behavior for a 23 year old, yet it is genetic seeing as my mother is the one who got me hooked on the habit. She can also be credited in part for my love of cooking and ever-increasing mastery of my own kitchen. It was inevitable that one of these days the book Julie & Julia would wind up in my queue amongst the historical fiction and political jabber.

Despite my rather spotty use of my blog, I think this book resonates with anyone whose started and attempted to maintain a cooking blog. We do this for relief from everyday stress, as something to break the monotony of our lives or just for the hell of it. Keeping this blog is one thing that has pushed me to cook things I never would have thought of in the past. So not only is it a blog for my friends and relatives to check in on to see what's going on in my kitchen, it's my way of preserving recipes that I hope will become a part of the family tradition. Listening to Julie Powell's story reminded me of why I started this blog a few years ago and inspired me to update it with several recipes I've tried lately.

I know I've written about risotto before -- the lemon chicken version with lots of white wine and herbs. A relatively light choice when the cheese is limited, but true Italian food doesn't abide by the rules of caloric dieting. However, its methods are simple and archaic at times and the food can be light yet flavorful or hearty and rich enough to bring about a post-dinner coma. Risotto can go in either direction, although the recipe I'm about to share would fit more appropriately into the latter category.

Pumpkin is seasonal, and while I won't hold it against the most practical cooks to use canned pumpkin pulp in place of the freshly made stuff, it does make a difference in my experience. So this is perfect for when those little soccer ball sized pie pumpkins go on sale in autumn.

To make your own puree, a pie pumpkin should provide somewhere close to the right amount. I tend to make a large pot of risotto at a time so I just add the entire contents of the pumpkin -- this is definitely a dish to be shared with guests! Anywho, you will need a small pumpkin, big sharp knife, large spoon, large deep roasting pan and a big bowl to put all the innards in. Some people save their seeds and roast them, but that's another entry and I'm no expert. Fill the roasting pan with an inch or so of water and preheat the oven to 350. Slice the top off the pumpkin, clean out the fibers and seeds and cut it in half. Make sure there are no dangling fibers before putting the pumpkins, rounded (skinned) side up in the pan. Bake for around an hour. Take them out and let them cool for about 15 minutes, then using a towel or potholder, hold the pumpkin in one hand while using a large spoon to scoop out the puree into a mixing bowl. Using either a mixer or pastry cutter, mash it until most of the lumps are gone. Set aside.

Once you have the pumpkin pureed, you will need the following:

3 cups of arborio rice
3-4 quarts chicken stock (I used mock chicken stock for this and it turned out just fine)
1/2-3/4 cup room temp lager (I used Baltika 7, a Russian beer)
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp allspice
3-4 tbsp oil or butter
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups roasted macadamia nuts, loosely crunched
Shredded parmesan cheese (1/2 cup to 2 cups is a typical range, it just depends on what you like and how many are being served)

Heat the stock in a pot until it reaches a slow simmer, you want it to remain quite hot but not necessarily boil -- otherwise it will reduce and you may wind up having to add salted water midway through the process. I like to put the stock pot on the back burner and the risotto on the front, which keeps the mess from repeated ladeling minimal. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium to medium high heat, depending on your stove.

Once the oil is hot add the onions and stir, cook them until the edges begin to brown slightly. I like to use a wooden spoon for this, as it helps agitate the arborio rice without breaking the grains. Add the rice and stir again, making sure to coat it evenly with the oil and mix well with the onion. Stir constantly until the rice begins to look slightly translucent, usually around three minutes. Take the beer and add it, if the pot is hot enough you will get a surge of steam and a hiss so stand back -- it shouldn't be so hot that the beer explodes on impact nor should it be so cold that it goes off without a hitch. Stir this concoction until the beer reduces and the rice appears to be creamier, usually 2-3 minutes. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup hot stock and stir into the rice for a few minutes, until the liquid is gone and the rice appears creamy, about the consistency of a pudding. After youve done this two or three times add a cup of pumpkin puree instead of broth. Alternate the two until you have no more pumpkin left. Add your spices and stir very well. At this point you should use a fork to lift a few grains out of the pot and taste -- expect that they will have softened but will still be hard in the middle. Keep adding broth and stirring, tasting often to make sure it doesn't get overcooked. Once the rice is cooked all the way through but still firm, stop adding stock and give it one good last stir.

This is where I and most other people who make risotto differ -- they make smaller batches and add the cheese directly to the batch while I make a large pot and let guests put the desired level of cheese over their own serving. If you want to be authentic about it you take the pot off the heat, mix in the cheese and throw half a stick of butter over it and cover for ten minutes. If you're like me, you let it rest for a few moments before serving. Top each plate with the roasted macadamia nuts and you're ready to chow down! Just make sure you have a place to take a nap when you're done eating :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This is a Russian potato-mushroom pancake, essentially. I had them as my first real meal in St. Petersburg and made it a point to get to biz-nes-lench (funny cognate!) on time when possible. They're definitely best served with sour cream and a bit of salt.

What you need:

about 4 large potatoes, lightly boiled and shredded
1c white mushrooms, chopped (I don't remember the actual name but you know the ones I'm talking about)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/3c flour
3 tbsp vegetable oil

This is an easy one. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high and whisk the potatoes together with the eggs, add the flour and salt and stir until well mixed. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir until even. Spoon the batter into the skillet and let it cook until the surface browns -- this can go from three to ten minutes depending on the temperament of your stovetop. Flip, as with any pancake, and serve after it browns on both sides :)

Lemon Chicken Risotto

I'm back from Russia and it has been amazing! Not only did I learn a huge amount about another language and culture but I picked up some little known recipes and cooking methods. Part of the challenge was the lack of an oven or toaster; we had 3-6 burners to work with and a limited number of pots and pans. Similarly, when it came to finding ingredients I was left to improvise quite a bit. I wasn't always sure what I was coming home with. But with the ingredients that became available I made it into an interesting culinary and life experience.

About the chicken bit of this recipe -- I've been vegetarian for around 13 years now, more for preference and health reasons than anything else. However, I was cooking for more than one person most of the time and most people want a little meat in their diet. The produkti near our dorms in Moscow carried whole chickens for not a whole lot of cash and this recipe came about. I will admit that I had to have someone else cut up the raw meat and such but the broth added a lot. If you want to skip the chicken just use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and you can leave out the actual meat -- a lot of people like squash or pumpkin as a filler.

What you need:

a large bottomed, shallowish pot
a small stockpot or very large regular pot
4-6 oz ladel
medium frying pan
apx. 2c arborio rice (gotta be arborio)
3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/3c white wine
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
2 tbsp oregano
1-2 large chicken breast(s)
1 large lemon
1 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
apx. 3 qt water
4 tbsp salt, or to taste
2 vegetable bouillon cubes

Bring the water in the stock pot to boil; add the salt and bouillon cubes. Cut bite sized pieces off of the chicken breasts, set aside and put the remains (bones with some meat still on them in the stockpot). Let it boil for at least an hour, two or three is ideal but keep an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over.

When the broth tastes right and turns a golden color, turn it to simmer and heat the vegetable oil in the shallow pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent; if they begin to brown immediately after hitting the oil it's too hot. Add the arborio rice and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until it begins to look translucent -- about three minutes. Add 3/4 of the white wine and stir quickly, it will evaporate fast so once the rice looks "creamy" get your ladel and stock ready.

Add one ladel of stock to the rice mixture and stir -- continue stirring gently until most of the liquid is gone and the rice appears creamy rather than soupy. Continue to do this three or four times.

Around the fourth ladel, start preparing the chicken. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chicken. Cut the lemon into quarters, remove the seeds and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Throw the rinds in with it. Add the herbs and about a teaspoon of salt, stir with a spatula and cover the skillet with a tight lid. After about five minutes add the remaining white wine and cover again. Get back to the risotto.

Add another ladel of broth -- the rice is done when it's al dente, which takes about 6-8 ladels for this recipe. The only way to really know is to taste it though; it shouldn't be mushy but it also shouldn't be crunchy, good risotto takes about 20-35 minutes total. Just continue adding stock and stirring, stirring, stirring. Check on the chicken and once it's done to your liking remove the lemons, add to the risotto and mix. Ideally, add the chicken before the last ladel of broth goes in.

When all is said and done, serve it hot with parmesan cheese over the top. Some people say to put the cheese over the risotto in the pot and cover for a few minutes but I've found that different people prefer different amounts. It's a long recipe but this has been a crowd pleaser and it's pretty easy to get right!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

From Russia, With Love

I'll begin with a long overdue apology for not updating this blog in a few months. On top of the typical student life I've had some other issues to deal with, nothing too dire, just busy. As of right now I'm in St. Petersburg, Russia and am going to Moscow for the next five weeks. Needless to say this has been an experience in culture, of which food is a major component. I'm going to be returning with tons of recipes and new concepts that I hope will bring just a tiny piece of Russia into both of our kitchens. Za zdarovy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tahitian Blinis

Tahitian blinis -- it's a contradiction in and of itself. Blinis, also known as blin or blintzes, are a traditional Russian food often seen in Jewish cooking as well. Pineapple and vanilla don't need an explanation, but when combined they create a taste that is way beyond the sum of its parts. I like to put a little vanilla extract in the syrup pineapple comes stored in, it adds a hint of luxuriousness to an otherwise simple and sunny fruit. Blinis are often filled with everything from meat and cream cheese to various regional fruits.

This recipe took a bit of practice; without going into detail I'll just say that the initial first attempt at the filling was an utter failure. The blinis themselves took some handling but I got the hang of it by the second or third one. The batter is supposed to be very thin, and a large nonstick skillet without tapered sides is your best bet (i.e. the flat portion at the bottom of the skillet is large versus curving inward like a wok). This gives the batter plenty of surface area to spread out and create the characteristic thinness. You could also use a crepe maker, as the dishes are quite similar. This recipe makes around 20 blin, but they store very well in a freezer bag in the fridge for a couple of days. I found them much easier to work with the second day.

Ingredients for blinis:

4 eggs
1 1/2c whole milk
1 1/2c flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the salt and sugar and continue to whisk. Finally, add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, I used a tiny bit of butter before each blin to make them easier to handle after cooking. Using a 1/4c measuring cup, put one scoop of batter in the skillet. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sides begin to curl up and you can shimmy a spatula under the blin. Flip and allow the other side to cook for about 30 seconds, then take the pan and flip the blin onto a plate. Do this until you're out of batter.


*This makes enough filling for all the blinis, adjust accordingly if you're making fewer and don't want leftovers. This goes nicely on bagels as well.*

1 1/2c finely chopped and shredded pineapple (if you're getting it from a can, strain all the syrup out first and reduce the sugar by 2-3 tsp)
12 oz cream cheese
8 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature and cream it with the sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in the pineapple until the consistency is about even and there are no chunks of cream cheese left.

Taking the blini, put a tablespoon or two of filling into the center. The way you roll these is very similar to the egg roll method; bring the right edge over, tuck the top edge down and the bottom edge up and roll from the folded side. Once all of these are done you can either serve them as is or fry them.

Some people choose to fry these, especially on Hanukkah when frying is a religious observance. To do this, heat about an inch of vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet. Very carefully place the blinis seam side up in the pan; you will probably have to hover by them and use a spatula or tongs to keep the seams from falling apart. After a few minutes flip to the other side with tongs. Allow to brown for another minute or so and transfer to a paper towel. Do the same with the rest of the blinis; fit as many as you can into the pan without crowding them and giving yourself ample space for flipping. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Candied Carrots and Beets in Red Currant Sauce

As I've said, I'm a sucker for a bargain. What I haven't said is that I'm a sucker for unique berries. I've always been a fan of huckleberries and boysenberries since I picked them from the bushes at my grandmother's house. I saw these small, ruby red berries on special and saw that they were red currants. I immediately thought of black currants and threw them in my cart.

When I got home I tasted them and was unprepared for the tart flavor. It wasn't as bad as a raw cranberry, but still sour. I also had these beautiful beets and carrots waiting to be used, and thought it might be a good alternative to the sour flavor of lemon in a more sweet dish. Thus, this was born.


2 large beets, about the size of a softball each
6 small carrots or 4 medium ones, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/3c sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 box red currants, about 6 oz

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the beets and slice them into quarters. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes, then add the carrots to the boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes longer. Drain and allow to cool. Running under cold water, pull the skin off the beets. Slice them into bite sized pieces as well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pull the currants off of their stems and rinse well. Combine with the sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat until it becomes syrupy, toss with the beets and carrots in a casserole dish. Bake for around 20 minutes or until it bubbles. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve with chilled sour cream.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Veggie Enchiladas

I love enchiladas, and I tend to be a purist when it comes to what I enjoy -- a slightly spicy sauce, melted cheese with beans and maybe some onion wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla served piping hot. However, I know most people prefer a bit more punch to theirs so in this recipe I've added some more vegetables, feel free to omit them or add your own. I should also add that this is one of the few recipes that has turned out phenomenal on the first try; it is traditional but it's also hard to go wrong.

It's interesting to note that this is essentially one of the oldest foods in existence in the Western hemisphere. Way before the colonization and eventual invasion of North, South and Central America by the Europeans one of the staple crops was maize. They also heavily utilized various potatoes in regions of South America, but that's another entry. Corn has a complex nutritional structure and needs to be crushed to "activate" these -- the minerals the Native Americans (referring to all 3 Americas) in the stones used to do the crushing couldn't have hurt either. The practice of wrapping corn tortillas around fish originated in Mexico; the recipe for enchiladas also appeared in the first Mexican cookbook: El cocinero mexicano ("The Mexican Chef"). With basic staple ingredients and simple preparation, this traditional food has undergone very few changes since its invention centuries ago.


3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 corn tortillas
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/3c finely chopped mushrooms
1c enchilada sauce (you can make your own or get it from a jar, I get mine from the jar. Frontero mild to be exact!)
~1 1/2 c shredded monterrey jack cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using tongs, put a corn tortilla in and allow to heat for 2-3 seconds, then flip. Move to a paper towel and do the same with the rest of the tortillas. Mop up any extra grease with a paper towel. Do not turn off the heat.

Put the chili powder, mushrooms and onions in the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the surfaces begin to brown (5-10 minutes). Take off the heat and set aside.

Holding a tortilla in your hand, put some of the cheese and veggie mixture in the center of it. Fold one side 3/4 of the way over and roll it up. After a few tries this will come naturally. Transfer to a baking dish, repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Top with enchilada sauce and sprinkle with leftover cheese, if desired. Bake at 450 degrees until the cheese melts, around 5-10 minutes. Serve hot!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Golden Winter Root Veggies

I can't for the life of me think of a decent name for this recipe. It was born out of necessity, as so many great things are. The short backstory: I cannot pass up a bargain on produce. Okay, so maybe I won't be buying 3 for $2 bell peppers anytime soon but as long as it's something I like or would like to learn how to use. Hence my discovery of the rutabaga.

My mom recommended them after I raved about the beet salad a friend brought to our house. She says "it's kinda like a beet, kinda like a turnip and kinda like a potato". When I saw them in the produce aisle with their dark, rubbery skin I was dubious but picked up a few anyway.

I've been roasting lots lately, mainly because it's such a good way to combine the flavor of vegetables with spices in a way completely unrelated to boring ol' boiled dinners or something out of a can. These rutabagas roast beautifully, and the golden beets added a nice difference to the texture (although the rutabagas are quite mild themselves). This dish is a bit time consuming but not labor intensive, so if you have an evening to get work done at home this is a great dish to try out.

1 large rutabaga
3 small golden beets
3 tsp juice from preserved lemons
1/2 white onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4c olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
~1/2c grated parmesan

Put a large pot of water on to boil and slice the tops off of the beets and rutabaga. Scrub them well and allow to boil 20-40 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the rutabaga. Remove from the boiling water and allow to cool.

Peel the roots (the skins of the beets should come off by hand, you'll need a peeler for the rutabaga). Dice into bite sized pieces and toss with all ingredients except the parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, toss again and bake for another 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Panettone French Toast

January is a magical month -- namely, magical in the sense of post-Christmas sales. Everything from winter coats to holiday food staples are redlined, put under clearance signs and left to fend for themselves in the masses of holiday crazed bargain hunters. After a few weeks, the remnants of the holidays are all but gone, the last of which to go are the grocery store items. All the cans of pumpkin have been reshelved, the boxes of dark brown sugar safely nestled with other forms of glucose rather than being precariously stacked in the produce aisle.

It was amid these skeletons of the festivities of 2008 that I came across Panettone on sale at Whole Foods. Especially for Italians, this bread is the very symbol of the holidays and joins the ranks of other seasonal superstars like the latke and Christmas cookies. It's a very soft, almost cakelike bread with raisins, candied orange zest, citron and other things I'm surely forgetting that's been allowed to proof for over 30 hours. In it's regular form it's the perfect complement to a cup of coffee or tea, a jovial breakfast loaf to be enjoyed for the days of recuperation in early January.

So, what exactly is my not-at-all-Italian self doing with such an "inside" staple? I can't take complete credit for this masterpiece; Foodblogga posted a lovely recipe for this dish, along with the suggestion on the box. Not all French toast is created equal, even if it's made with Italian bread. My verdict on the dish itself? PHENOMENAL! The best French toast I've ever eaten -- it's creamy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside and packed with a symphony of flavors. It was almost a little too sweet, but that may have been thanks to my generosity with the maple syrup.

Ingredients for 3 large servings:

3 slices of panettone, apx "1 in thickness
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4c whole milk
maple syrup
butter for the skillet

Combine the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs. Whisk together until uniform. Place each slice of the panettone into the custard and let it soak for exactly 30 seconds; flip and do the same for the other side. Heat a skillet over medium low and melt some butter to prevent sticking. Very carefully place the slices of bread in the skillet (they will be really fragile). After 3-5 minutes, or when the bread is browned when you peek under it, flip and brown the other side. Serve hot with a bit of maple syrup or confectioner's sugar.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Roasted Kohlrabi with Garlic Curry Sauce

A spice that I've recently looked into is yellow curry -- I remember my first year of college having some tofu in curry cream sauce, and since then I haven't had the chance to replicate it. Well, at least until this evening. The roasting of root vegetables causes them to caramelize, releasing their inner sweetness. Combined with the spicy creamy sauce, this makes for a celebration of flavors. Let's hear it for new improvised recipes!

3-4 small to medium kohlrabi bulbs
3 oz cream cheese (try neufchatel for a lower fat version)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp juice from preserved lemons
1 tsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Bring a pot of water to a boil, chop the leaves off the kohlrabi bulbs and drop them in. Boil for around 20 minutes, or until it's easy enough to poke them with a fork. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the kohlrabis and chop into bite sized pieces, place them in a ceramic casserole dish or cast iron skillet. Add the spices and lemon juice, toss with the kohlrabi pieces until evenly coated. Drop the cream cheese into the casserole dish and allow to bake, covered, for about 10 minutes or until the cream cheese melts. Remove from the oven and toss to coat the veggies for a second time, put them back in uncovered and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until bubbly.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts in Cream Sauce

I think winter is officially my favorite season -- fall is nice in many areas of the country but around here, the weather doesn't drop below 50 before November. I love the clothing, the cold wind on my cheeks and the celebration of the holidays. Recently, I discovered something else about winter that I like: the seasonal produce.

But Rasta, you may ask, what's seasonal in the middle of winter? Among many other things, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, mushrooms and brussels sprouts top the charts (for the complete list, click here.) Depending on your area it may be local or it may be shipped across state lines, but buying seasonal is a great way to get both cheaper and fresher produce.

This is another recipe that utilizes the preserved lemons mentioned in the beet salad entry. The measurements are a bit rough, but this isn't a dish where everything has to be exact. Feel free to experiment with different spices or cheeses.

~1 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-4 slices of preserved lemon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4c heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
cheese to sprinkle over the top (parmesan is good, but I used manouri and it was fabulous as well!)

Steam your brussels sprouts until they're slightly soft and still green, maybe 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450. In a large baking dish, combine all the ingredients except for the cheese and toss until evenly coated. The butter will still be in a chunk, that's okay. Top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove and allow to cool.

Limoncello Ricotta Drops

These were in Foodblogga's Eat Christmas Cookies event, thanks to MyGourmetConnection. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I made these, but the result was unique and appreciated by all. I didn't use actual Limoncello, so following the instructions for the non-alcoholic version I increased the lemon extract to 1 tsp and 2 tsp of milk for the dough, along with using lemon juice for the glaze. Milk could be used too.


2c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2c softened butter
1c sugar
1 egg, beaten
1c ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest

3/4c confectioners sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and mix until creamy. Add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon extract and zest. Add the dry ingredients gradually; again, don't overmix or the cookies will lose structure.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove and drop cookies onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes and allow to cool completely.

In a bowl mix the glaze ingredients together. When the cookies are completely cool, drizzle the glaze over them. You can top with a sprinkle of lemon zest for an extra kick. Make sure to keep these in the refridgerator between snacks!

Italian Christmas Cookies

I will begin by saying one thing; nobody beats the Italians when it comes to Christmas cookies. These in conjunction with the lemon ricotta drops, which I'll elaborate on later, impressed me in a way that cookies normally don't :) Not only is it a creative and aesthetically pleasing recipe, but they have a unique flavor without being overly sweet.

I will also confess that I'm not a fan of anise or anything licorice-ey. The recipe said that the anise extract could be substituted with vanilla, lemon or whatever else you desire. I have a good bit of rosewater waiting in my cabinet and decided to put it to use here. It added an extra "something" to these cookies, but I should have used more to make the flavor really come out. This recipe makes quite a few cookies, so I'll include my modifications. Just remember that if you're not using rosewater, only use 2 tsp of your chosen extract.

A last note: I know that I'm super against shortening and hydrogenated oils and considered omitting this recipe for that reason. However, because the recipe makes so many cookies and the amount of shortening is so small I went ahead and made it with no substitutions. It seems important to the texture of the cookie, but if you have any ideas for a better substitution I'd love to hear them!


1/2c butter
1/4c shortening
3/4c sugar
4 eggs
3c flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp rosewater

2c confectioners sugar
2-4tbsp milk
sprinkles or sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter and shortening together and add the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the rosewater then gradually add the dry ingredients. The dough should be soft but firm enough to roll into balls with your hands, if it's too sticky add a bit of flour. Roll them into small balls, about an inch in diameter -- they puff up a lot when they bake! Bake for about 8-10 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Combine the confectioners sugar and milk and dip the tops of the cookies into it. Sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles when it's wet and allow to harden, about an hour. Repeat with each cookie. These ship and present beautifully when dry!

Buttery Jam Cookies

Another winner from Castsugar! I needed an easy "filler" recipe, and seeing as I had just enough lingonberry jam to use up it seemed perfect. Mine didn't come out nearly as pretty as Nemmie's, but I think I overthunk it -- they would have been lovely as fork-scored rounds, similar to peanut butter cookies. Instead I just had to get all fancy and attempt to pipe them out of a freezer bag. They looked more like squished pretzels than cookies, but they still tasted great.

2c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2/3c sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 fruit jam (I used lingonberry, but anything would work)

Preheat the oven to 375. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add the egg and beat for about a minute. Add the milk and vanilla and beat for 30 more seconds, finish by adding the jam and beating for about one more minute. Add the dry ingredients and blend until they're just mixed in. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for around 10 minutes.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

This is another recipe from Nemmie's blog, and was the hands-down favorite from the slew of holiday cookies. It's a little labor intensive, but compared to real cinnamon rolls it's a cinch. You see, I was going to make cinnamon rolls but between finals and preparing for the holidays time managed to slip away from me. I still wanted to include a spicy, cinnamony cookie in the packages when I found this recipe.

The cookies were a bit crumbly after the rolling process and I had to be really careful putting the log into the freezer. I think this problem would be solved by wetting the dough slightly before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar over it, so I'll add that step to this recipe. I also omitted the 1/2 tsp powdered egg whites, primarily because I couldn't find them anywhere. I'm sure it works great either way!

Cinnamon Sugar:

2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2c white sugar

Cookie dough:
3c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1c room temperature butter
zest of 1/2 orange
1c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1c confectioners sugar
1/4c warm water or milk

Cream the butter, orange zest and brown sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients for the cookie dough and add it to the wet ingredients gradually. Make sure not to overmix so the dough doesn't lose structure.

Line a 16 x 9 inch pan with wax paper and roll the dough out. Brush the surface with a tiny bit of milk and coat with 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar. Roll it into a long log and dust the outside with the remainder of the cinnamon sugar, brushing with milk if needed. Wrap in plastic and chill for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds and arrange on a greased baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes and allow to cool. When the cookies are completely cooled, combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle it over them. Let the glaze dry until hardened, usually about an hour.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pinwheels

This year I went all out on holiday cookies -- although I have plenty of cook books and reliable recipes at my disposal, I wanted to make some new recipes. Needless to say, when I found FoodBlogga's Eat Christmas Cookies project the possibilities for my beautifully packaged perfect cookie boxes. I was sure they would be an effortless hit, with such detailed instructions and a few days of baking time.

I'm not one to back down from a challenge, but this is a spin on the traditional pinwheel cookies (no pun intended!) which turned out to be a lot harder than everyone else had said. The dough didn't want to roll out and certainly didn't want to turn into adorable pinwheels. In frustration I made snakes out of the dough, mashed them together and wound up with marble cookies. They tasted great, but technically weren't pinwheels -- so if you're not a fan of roll-out cookie dough, feel free to arrange these however you please.

While these weren't the favorite, they were a solid hit and kept especially well. The recipe makes a lot, so make sure you have plenty of friends to give them to!

Cream Cheese dough:

2 1/4c flour
1 egg yolk
1c white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1c butter
3 oz cream cheese (this is one where you shouldn't use low fat, just get the regular stuff)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar, add the cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and chill the dough for at least 8 hours before use, otherwise it will be too soft to work with.

Chocolate dough:
2 1/2 c flour
7 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2c butter
1c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Follow the same procedure as you did with the cream cheese dough -- cream the butter and sugar together, blend in the other wet ingredients and then add the dry gradually. Put this dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes before using, but it will not be nearly as soft as the cream cheese dough.

Roll out the chocolate dough using a "1 deep cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Do the same with the cream cheese dough. Brush the top of the chocolate layer with a tiny bit of milk and stack the cream cheese one on top. Roll the stack so the longest side ends up as the length of the roll -- for example, if you've rolled your dough into an approximately 9 x 13 rectangle, your log should be "13 rather than "9 in length.

Place in the freezer for thirty minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the log(s) from the freezer and using a sharp knife, slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide rounds. Place them about 1/2 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes -- don't worry if you don't see browning, they will be done all the way through if they're sliced thin enough. Allow to cool and eat!