The Colorful Easter Egg!

The history of the Easter egg varies, depending on the historian.   One story tells about the Roman Empire when people believed in many gods and how they obtained favors from them.  The Spring Goddess Ostara or Eastre was worshiped and honored by offering her baskets of colored eggs, and it is also said that her favorite pet was a hare.

During the early Christian era, and particularly during the time of Charlemagne (800-814 AD), Lent was observed by abstaining from eggs.  This practice lasted until 1784.  During the time of Lent all eggs that were collected from the hen houses had to be kept either for hatching, or were kept safely to be eaten at Easter.  To be kept edible for several weeks the eggs were dipped into melted mutton fat or wax.  At Easter they were then decorated to make them more attractive.  According to folklore these pretty eggs were given to children, because it was a pleasant and enjoyable  way of getting rid of the surplus.  It was always felt that “A pretty egg tastes better” and as time went on through the ages eggs began tasting even better when they were made from chocolate.

Color Easter Eggs with Vegetables,

Fruit and Spices!

Today I imagined I lived in the age of Charlemagne and was preparing to give gifts to the Goddess Eastre to obtain from her some special favors……I will not tell you my secret wish, but will tell you how I will entice this beautiful goddess to look upon me favorably.  I will beguile her with a gift that she would love most……..a basket of colored eggs.

Several days ago I stated to collect onion skins, and red cabbage leaves.  However, as I pretend to live in another era, yet live in the 21st century, I  went to the freezer and found frozen blueberries, and in the pantry Instant coffee and Turmeric which give nice colors to the eggs.  A bottle of Burgundy that went slightly bad in my non-refrigerated pantry, heavens… it was not stored in the wine cellar……..will give me a nice deep brown color. Oh, yes, I also found packets of Raspberry Herbal Tea……and wonder what that color would be?  It was a deep, pretty  gray that reminded me of a dove. First step is to boil the WHITE eggs……..you have to use white eggs only…… Wash them in some sudsy, warm water to get any oils off that may have stayed on them before they were packed into the cardboard egg carton……..and rinse them well with cool water. I like to poke a little hole – with an egg poker – to ensure that they do not break while cooking.  One can get that little gadget either in the grocery stores on the gadget wall or any kitchen store. Proceed with your favorite method of cooking hard boiled eggs. When cooked placed them into iced water to give them a quick cooling which helps with removing the shells more easily. This you can do a day ahead and refrigerate the eggs……..

To make the dyes………..

Note……use only stainless steel pots….enamel or china will be discolored with these dyes…..one can use glass containers/bowls or glass coffee cups……..

Yellow eggs with Turmeric

Add 2 cups of water into a 1 quart stainless steel pot…

Add 4 heaping Tbsp of Turmeric, mix and stir until all powder is mixed into the water

Add 1 tsp of vinegar

Bring this mixture to a boil and add your eggs, remove from heat and let the eggs be submerged for about 1 hour or longer.   The longer you keep the eggs in this dye the deeper the yellow color will be….

Rinse the eggs with cold water to remove any spice particles.

Pale blue to deep blue and purple eggs with Blueberries…..

Add 2 cups of frozen blueberries into a 2 quart pot Add 3/4 cup of water Add 1 tsp vinegar Bring mixture to a boil and cook the berries until they start popping, while mixing frequently Mash them with a potato masher to make a thick sauce like consistency.  If it seems too thick add a little more water When the berries are cooked, strain them into a glass coffee cup, it  will submerge  one egg . For a pale blue color – leave the egg in the juice for about 20 minutes.  For a darker blue color leave it in the juice for about an hour…or longer. Rinse the egg from any residue of the juice in cold water

Brown eggs with Instant Coffee…….

Use a glass cup and add about 4 heaping Tbsp of instant coffee, and pour hot water into the cup.  Mix well. Add the egg and let it sit in the coffee for about an hour or longer Rinse the egg briefly and let it dry

Red Cabbage leaves for Robin’s Blue eggs….

Place about 2 cups of chopped red cabbage leaves into a stainless steel 2 quart pot add water to cover the leaves. Bring them to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or longer, until the cabbage is pink in color and has released just about all the color.  Strain the liquid into a glass bowl or cup and place the egg into the dye….let it be immersed for about an hour……or longer.  Check periodically for the color intensity….if you like a light blue color on the egg take it out earlier if you like the blue color be darker……keep it in the dye longer…..it is your choice.

Onion Skins for a nice pinkish/brown color…….

You will need about a cup of packed onion skins to make a deep enough dye to color your eggs……. Place 1 cup of packed onion skins into a stainless steel 1 quart pot and add enough water to cover the skins. Bring them to a boil and let them simmer for about 30 minutes or longer….making sure that the water does not totally evaporate……..if the water level reduces add more water to cover the onion skins. When the color of the dye is a deep brown strain it into a glass cup, and add the hard boiled egg Keep the egg in that dye for about an hour or more…….the longer you keep it submerged the darker the color will be.  I like them lighter in color…..with less time they come out almost a pinkish brown color.

A drop of olive oil in your palm……….

When all the eggs are dyed and dried………place a little oil into the palm of your hand and rub it into your hands Now pick up every colored egg and oil them to make them shine………. You need just a small drop of oil……do not make them too greasy.

Here is my basket of colored eggs for the Goddess Eastre………who will hopefully bestow favors upon me and grant my secret wish!

Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material without prior approval is prohibited. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email at: maria@majaskitchen.com   Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, http://www.majaskitchen.com

Thank you!



A few years ago I hosted the Pathway’s Fundraiser, which is a …Towson United Methodist Church Mission Mission Project!

It was held at our home and Maja’s Kitchen.   We had  forty guests…who sat around ten card tables that were set up in every room, except the bedrooms…

Stephanie Kimmons, my friend, provided the flowers on the tables as well as some of the china.  She helped with setting the tables as well….I could not have done all that by myself…..

The pastries were created in Maja’s Kitchen… It seems I baked for several days before…to make sure I would have enough for everyone attending.

It was a great success…!!!!  At this time…I am thinking to organize another  Afternoon Tea…at our church….!!

Here are some of the pictures for you all to see…and hopefully to be encouraged to have a tea at your home as well…

Valentine’s and Mother’s Days are just around the corner…!!!!

If you have any questions…drop me a note and I will answer them “cheerfully.”

                   Fasching’s Krapfen!

                  An Austrian Doughnut

“Carneval is the period between Epiphany, January 6th and Ash Wednesday, given to…. all kinds of rejoicing, and in particular one experiences the pleasures of the table….”  according to “Larousse, Gastronomique”, an Encyclopedia of Food, Wine and Cookery.

Carnevals are celebrated all over the world in all kinds of different ways, like masquerading to be someone one is not, or hiding behind a masque.  This also  is the time when one experiences the best and happiest moments with special meals while gathering and enjoying friends around the table.   Every country enjoys it’s specialties and favorites during this time of celebration, and with it experiences the “last Hurra” before a somber, introverted and self-examining time that leads toward Easter.

I am not as familiar with other countries, but I have lived in Austria and Germany during my childhood and adult life, where I have experienced Fasching in its reality or should  I say non-reality and insanity!

As a budding teenager my first Fasching was a “Kinder Fasching’s Ball” in Kapfenberg, Austria.  My mother made a gipsy costume for me and off I went with my girlfriends to this big event.

It actually was very much like a “mixer” in today’s world.

One late Saturday afternoon in February we took off  to the auditorium where the Fasching’s Ball was held.  It was cold, snow had fallen all morning and we had to wear wool socks and heavy shoes, which of course did not go with our outfits, and we refused to wear coats, since the coats would crush our beautiful Fasching’s dresses. We decided to wear sweaters under our costumes, which made us look fat….horrors!   We had all the teenage problems of self-consciousness and youth.   But we overcame all our complaints, especially the freezing temperature by running most of the way to the “Kinder Fasching’s Ball” …to keep warm.

This was my first experience of being in a huge room with hundreds of people.  I was totally overwhelmed.  It was dark and stuffy, people shouted, the music was blaring, and It was hard to stay with my friends. We kept being pushed apart and were constantly looking for each other.  I finally got completely lost and found myself frightened and close to tears.  Having been a person of quick decisions, even at that age, I found the door where we came in and left.  I ran all the way home, in the dark, having been sickened by fright to the point of fainting.  I had to, for the first time in my life, put all my strength together to put one foot in front of the other.  I got home totally exhausted and collapsed into my mother’s arms.  I never wanted to go to another Fasching’s Ball…..ever!

The next Fasching’s Ball experience I had  when I spent my year at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.  It was given and held at the different Fraternity Houses.   Needless to say this too was quite an… experience.  However, I was an adult and knew that if I did not drink, I would survive the evening.  I concentrated on checking out the buffet tables and explored the specialties of the chefs.  These tables were much more interesting than all the “rejoicing” that was going on around me.

In Austria this time of year is called Fasching, and being from Austrian heritage I want to tell you about a very special pastry which became known as the…


A Krapfe is simply a doughnut without a hole.  It originated in Vienna in 1615 and was created by Caecilie beim Peilertor, who was a “Luxusbaeckerin” a very creative pastry baker.  To honor her at that time these doughnuts were called “Cillikugeln” (Cilliballs) and  30 years later they and she were again honored with being filled or eaten with Apricot Jam.  From then on Austrians cannot live without Apricot Jam!

It was at Fasching that engagements were announced during the 17th century with a custom that allowed the  girl to break a Krapfe in half and share it with the  young man who would be her betrothed.

There were many “Krapfen-Haeuser,” Doughnut houses, in Vienna, and its culinary archives tell us about a Fasching in 1815 when 10 million Krapfen were consumed during its celebration.

Doughnuts are also called “Bismarcks” in some parts of the U.S. and the Pennsylvania Dutch call them “Fastnacht Kuchen”

To help you celebrate the night before Ash Wednesday here is my family recipe for this wonderful pastry.  If you make them at home with your children and eat them with apricot jam you  just might start a new tradition in your family.

Maja’s Faschingskrapfen!

1 pkg dry yeast + 1/4 cup warm milk + 1 tsp  sugar + 10 min. = proofed yeast

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter – melted

6 large eggs yolks – beaten + 2 tsp Vanilla

1 cup warm milk

Place all the above ingredients into an electric mixer and beat for 10 min. at medium speed.

Let the dough rise in the same bowl in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap.

When the dough has doubled in size punch it down and beat again – 5 min. – with the electric mixer.

Let the dough rise again till double in size.

Dust a surface with flour and pour dough onto it.  Knead it briefly and roll it into a ball.

Let the dough rest, covered with a cloth, for about 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough to a rectangular shape – about ½ inch thick.

Keep dusting the dough with flour because it might be sticky.  It is a very delicate dough ..therefor handle it gently.

Cut out 2 ½ inch round.

Let them rise – about 10 to 15 minutes while the peanut oil is being heated in a wok or a saucier.

Add 1 stick of butter to the oil for a special flavor…..this is optional.

The oil should be only 1 inch high in the pan. This pastry is not actually “deep” fried……..since it is important to achieve a white ring around the Krapfe when it is fried.  Also the oil needs to be on medium to low heat…..to cook this pastry slowly and to assure that they are cooked through.

Place Krapfen into the hot oil – floured side down and fry them till golden brown…..turn them once.

They should have a white stripe around them, and drain them on paper towels.

Sprinkle them with confectioner sugar …and enjoy them when they are still warm.

To eat them the Austrian way…..is to break them in half with your fingers and dip them into the Apricot Jam on your plate!

Have you ever been to a Fasching Ball ……… or a Carneval?





My Chocolate Butter Cream!


I started baking when I was about fourteen years old.  My mother was an excellent cook and baked beautiful Viennese/Austrian desserts.  She did not mind cooking the meats and fish dishes as well as  soups.  She never used recipes, she simply  cooked and baked with whatever we had in the pantry or refrigerator at the time.  All the recipes she remembered from her own mother and the maids who cooked for my grandmother. My mother grew up in a hunting lodge (a beautiful home, in the middle of a Croatian forest).  She was educated, in Vienna, where her special treat on Sundays was a walk from the boarding school (Internat) to Sacher’s where the girls had a cup of coffee and a slice of the Sacher Torte. It was 1928 and Vienna was the “center of the world” for her and many others…she was 16 years old.

But, I digress! I learned to cook and bake from my mother after we arrived in Los Angeles, California as refugees/immigrants in the 1950s.   It was a difficult beginning in a new world with a language we did not speak. My parents found jobs that were nothing like what they had done and the way they lived in Pre-World War II.

When we arrived in Los Angeles  we lived on Alvarado St, across from McArthur Park in a small apartment.  Not exactly the best area in Los Angeles at that time.  Every Saturday the four of us (my parents, my brother and I) took the bus to the downtown Central Market.  I remember that my parents bought vegetables and meat at different stalls, trying to convey  their messages in a broken English.  But at the meat stall they spoke German with the butcher. The butcher was most kind selling us the meat at a discount. When we arrived home, each of us had carried two paper bags full of food,  and after storing them properly, mother and I went to the grocer, a half a block from the apartment.  He, too, was German,  and extended his generosity  with giving us fruit that was overly ripe which he could not sell to his other customers. As he packed up  our groceries he always stuck a couple of breads that were a day or two old into our bags as well.  It was nice to find friendly people among so many strangers.

Mother always cooked delicious meals, mostly one-pot meals or soups, and on Sundays she baked something sweet for the 3 o’clock afternoon coffee.  After a while she also baked  bread every week, since we were not used to eating the soft white breads that were in the stores at that time.   This is when I helped her and learned about baking.  Soon I started baking pastries on my own while mother looked over my shoulder. 

At the beginning I baked simple cakes like this Kirschen Kuchen (Cherry Cake). or

Kirschen Kuchen 008 crepes that were filled with a custard. As time went on and the jobs became better and my parents together had a better income  they were able to buy butter and sugar and, layered cakes with butter creams came on  the Sunday’s afternoon coffee table.015_15

That was my beginning in baking and soon I developed a passion for setting the table when we entertained and created floral arrangements for dinner parties.

And today I can tell that I have taught cooking classes during more than twenty years, and have created pastries of all kinds that have been enjoyed by my students, family, friends and customers.

Just recently I made several Chocolate cakes for a friend’s 90th Birthday….and used the following….

Chocolate leave cake 044

Chocolate Butter Cream

This Chocolate Butter Cream is not very easy if you are not somewhat of a baker.  At the same time I do not want to discourage anyone.  I too had to learn by making mistakes and doing this cream several times until it finally worked.  If you read my description carefully you will not have any trouble making this cream. Go slowly and follow each step carefully. The final result will be the best cream you have ever tasted.

 16 oz (1 lb) chocolate morsels

3 sticks butter

1 1/3 cups confectioner sugar

3 to 5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder – Dutch Processed

1 Tbsp Vanilla


Melt the  chocolate morsels (chocolate chips) – in the microwave oven

place the chocolate morsels on a microwavable plate and microwave for 30 seconds

repeat the 30 seconds intervals and check the softening of the morsels….

between each 30 seconds or…until the chocolate morsels are soft to the touch,

but NOT hot!

Take it out of the microwave oven and let it stand for 2 minutes

then mix the chocolate on the plate with a small spatula till creamy 

if the chocolate morsels are not completely melted

return them to the microwave oven for another 15 seconds then mix the chocolate

and let it cool to room temperature

Do not place it into the refrigerator…

the edges of the melted chocolate will harden and you will have to re-melt it again.

Now beat the butter and confectioner sugar very fluffy and until very light in color

add the cocoa powder and the Vanilla– and mix well

add the melted and cooled to room temperature chocolate… and mix till smooth

The melted chocolate has to be room temperature…if it is warmer

it will liquify the butter …..and that cannot happen

After the cooled melted chocolate is incorporated into the butter

place the chocolate cream into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes

before starting to fill and ice the cake

Note:  You can enhance the flavor by adding

1 to 2 Tbsp Espresso Coffee, of course cooled to room temperature.

I use good quality Instant Espresso Coffee

Chocolate leave cake 016

When you fill and ice the cake…

I like to use a Vanilla-Cake for all my Chocolate-Cream Cakes,

since the chocolate flavor is more intense than with a chocolate-base-cake.

Moisten each layer with a little sweetened brandy

1/4 cup brandy + 1 Tbsp confectioner sugar

Using a small brush, dip the brush into the brandy and dab it all around the edges of each cake  layer

Fill and ice the cake with the finished Chocolate Butter Cream

I like to place the finished cake into the refrigerator for a day or overnight

to have all the flavors meld

The Brandy and Coffee is totally optional!

Malory pastry class 015


Member…since 1995!

Maja’s Kitchen



Maja/Maria Reisz Springer

Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material without prior approval is prohibited. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email at: maria@majaskitchen.com   Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, http://www.majaskitchen.com

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If you have any questions drop me a note….

I will help in any way I can.


etucchini alfreado 002

I learned to eat Fettuccini in Torino, Italy while I worked for a year at the University of Torino;Immunology Department. as a Laboratory Medical Research Technologist.    I had wonderful teachers during that whole year.  The doctors in the laboratory made it their mission that I would learn their language and learn to eat the food of their country.  I quickly learned that the Pizza I ate in America was not that of Italy, and so it went with all the American Italian Food.

I loved exploring the various meals that we ate after working hours at the Hospital Dining Room….There was of course a lot of laughter about my surprised looks when I could not understand what was said and how I said sentences that came out of my mouth.   It was all hilariously funny and good natured.  I never felt that they ridiculed me or made fun of me.  I so loved them all.

My Italian improved quickly, and within three month I spoke Italian pretty well with a pronunciation so perfectly that I amazed everyone around me.  Little did they know that I inherited the gift of learning languages from my father who was a linguist and spoke five languages.

One of my most favorite meals was Fettuccini.  I could have eaten this meal every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Here is how I learned to make and eat this most delicious meal!

Fettuccini Alfredo….

Fetucchini alfreado 006

Cook Spaghetti in  boiling water  until cooked …al-dente…

Alfredo Sauce

1 cup of Heavy cream….or 1% milk

½ cup or more of grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 or 2 garlic cloves finely chopped

Add the 3 ingredients  above in a sauce pan and heat until the cheese melts…

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour over the Spaghetti/Fettuccini and mix

To this dish one can add any favorite cooked vegetables…

And sprinkle with Parmesan cheese…before serving


Fettuccini Carbonara

Fetucchini alfreado 004

Cook spaghetti or fettuccini till al-dente and set aside

In a skillet cook a few strips of bacon till nicely browned….

Remove the fat…then add a chopped onion and cook until caramelized
Add the cooked fettucccini and mix into the cooked onion, add the bacon slightly crumbled

And add an egg or two…mix all together until the egg is slightly cooked….the egg is the cream for this dish…so it should not be cooked completely….

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese…

Buon Appetito….  e mangiare bene!!!  






It was a hot summer day and cooking a meal was just not in my program today….I feel I have to make dinner within half an hour…that means setting the table and sitting down on our balcony and enjoying the evening breeze….

 A quick meal for me is a meal that I can put together within 30 minutes… A cold soup or a salad are my choices… The Black Bean Salad came to mind.   I had made that salad a while back in one of my cooking classes…   It is actually nice to revisit my old recipes and maybe change them slightly…

So here it goes….:

Black Bean Salad ….from Maja’s Viennese Kitchen …..re-visited!


Black Bean Salad
1 15-20 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10 oz. can Mexican Yellow corn, drained
1 diced avocado…optional….the avocado needs to be just slightly soft to the touch!
1/4 c diced red onion…I use spring onions
1/2 of a large red pepper, diced….I use 1..either red or yellow peppers or both
1 tbsp. olive oil
juice of 1 1/2 limes (or to taste)
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley

I use a Balsamic Vinaigrette instead of the olive oil and lime juice.

My Salad Dressing for this Summery Bean Salad

2 packets of Good Seasons Italian Dressing

½ cup of water

½ cup of Balsamic Vinegar

½ cup of olive oil

1 tsp mustard

Place all these ingredients into a bottle or a glass container…and shake it well to mix…..keep refrigerated!

Use as much or as little as you like for this bean salad….I like to have this salad dressing in my refrigerator all the time!


Hope your Summer is going well?!  Before we know it Fall will be upon us and then the Winter…time goes much too quickly….at least for me!


I will be happy if you leave me a message and let me know how you liked this Bean Salad!  I sometime make it several days ahead  and keep it in refrigerator.

Visit me on Face Book…..under Maja’s Viennese Kitchen….or Maria Reisz Springer!



A  Bundt Cake or a Kugelhupf baking form are really very similar.  The cakes or breads that are baked in them are usually served either at Breakfast,  a Morning Coffee or an Afternoon Tea.  I love them because the form of this cake is a “festive” form…and not just a bread loaf.  However when it is served at the occasions I mentioned above it should be plated in a way that it is inviting and ready to be served with a cake server.  Most people just put the cake on a platter and cut it at the table.  I find when one does that the cake is usually  cut into  pieces that are too large and the slices leave a lot of crumbs behind. Here are some of my Bundt Cakes/Kugelhupfs and how I like to serve them.

Almond Kugelhupf

Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

Maria Reisz Springer

Maja’s Viennese Kitchen