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Winter 2016


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The world around me turned white…

The snow fell quietly…

And dressed nature in a while cloak..

It gave the impression of a magical stillness….

 Camera in my hand….

Framing pictures…

While my imagination created…

With a thoughtful eye….

A painting in white…

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Copy Right….Maria R Springer

Maja’s Kitchen LLC

 

 

 

 

 


Pea soup serving 003Yesterday’s Crock-Pot cooking!!! I like to cook large batches of “winter soups”…have one dinner on the day of preparing it…and freeze the rest in 3 cups measure in quart-size freezer bags, or in plastic containers…I line them up in an old Tupperware container and freeze them for days when I do not have time to cook dinner or am too busy baking pastries…I serve this split-pea soup with a dab of sour cream. Oh, and, my split-pea soup is cooked to where the peas are cooked but still have a little crunch in it….

I do not have a recipe for this soup…but will give a description of how I make it.

I had a ham-hock that I cooked in water for a couple of hours the day before. it is not necessary to stir it. After 2 hours I just left the lid on and left it on the stove over night. Having not stirred it or touched it …it stayed sterile on the stove without having had to refrigerate it.

Split Pea Soup slowcooked 001


Next day……I used two bags of dried split-peas, looked through them for little stone and other debris, then rinsed them 3 times with cold water and added them to the Crock-pot. Having removed the fat off the cooked ham-hock and added it with the broth to the split peas I continued adding the following:

1 cup of chopped celery

1 cup of sauteed onion and garlic

1 cup of cubed ham

fresh Thyme

Bay Leaf

Sage

You can add cubed carrots as well

For the liquid I like to use home made chicken broth, and enhance the flavor with a Chicken Paste. There has to be enough liquid in the pot to allow the peas to absorb it,therefore, while it simmers in the slow cooker keep checking if the there is enough liquid, keep adding a cup or two of water until the peas are completely cooked.

If your soup is too liquid you can add a little corn starch to bind it all together….(1 Tbsp of corn starch + 1/2 cup of water ) add that mixture to the soup and keep stirring until the soup thickens.
At the end taste the soup and finish it up with McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning, or any other spices you prefer.

Split Pea Soup slowcooked 003

I like to add a Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar + 1 Tbsp sugar and some salt to your preferred taste.

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Maja’s Kitchen LLC

http://www.majaskitchen.com

Maria Reisz Springer

Member of

International Association of Culinary Professionals

Member of the International Wine and Food Society


The beautiful Plum and it’s irresistible juiciness!

The beautiful plum and its irresistible juiciness makes it the perfect fruit to create a wonderful jam or dropping it into a dough for a perfect ending…

When the plums ripened in the late summer at my grandparent’s orchard in Croatia…life around the house became very busy. Every morning the maids had to go and pick up all the plums that had fallen off the trees and gathered them in large buckets.  Then my grandfather hired men from the village to set up the still just outside the barn and the process of making Slivovic was started.  Sliva is the word for plum in Croatian and Slivovic is the brandy that comes from plums.

I cannot describe the process of making Slivovic, all I remember I was watching the men sitting around this contraption (the still) talking and tasting the drops that came out of a small tube/hose at the bottom of the barrel.  One afternoon I found all four of the  men snoozing in their chairs.  I gathered up my courage to taste the next drop that was hovering at the end of the tube to drop into the container below.  I put my finger under the drop and when it fell onto my finger I stuck it into my mouth and to my horror it had a terrible flavor.   At this point one of the men woke up and I had just enough time to escape his reaching hand that was going to let me know that I was not to be where I was.

I was about 6 or 7 years old….

You see, my grandfather had an Inn  that was a part of the big house called Bela Villa.

And while the Sliovic was brewing, my grandmother was busy making a Plum Cake – Pita od Slive, but not just one, she usually made several cakes to be sold as dessert at the Inn.

Here is my version of a Plum Cake which is translated from my mother’s recipe.

Plum Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

zest of  1 to 2 lemons – depending on the size of the lemons

1 tsp Vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 cup milk

and

2 lbs of any kind of Plums

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Set the oven at 350 F

Prepare a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, by greasing and dusting it with flour.

Remove the stones from the plums by cutting them in half and slice each half into 2 quarters.

With an electric mixer or hand mixer beat the butter and sugar until very light in color, and very fluffy.  Add the eggs  one at a time.  Add the zest of the lemons

and Vanilla.   Mix the flour with the baking powder.  Add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and eggs alternating with the milk.   Mix well until it becomes a smooth, soft dough. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and smooth it with a spatula.

Add the cut plum sections, skin down, on to the dough.

 

Bake the cake at 350 F for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

Cool the cake on a rack completely then transfer it onto a serving platter.

Serve with softly whipped heavy cream sweetened with powdered sugar before serving.

 

Or… just dust it with powdered sugar and serve it with Coffee or Tea!

Everyone loves this cake in my family especially with a big serving of ice cream!

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Do you have a Plum Cake or Tart recipe?

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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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Blondies….


 Blondies

 Blondies!!!!

An American pastry!

It is a very special day today. Fourty-four years ago I found out that to keep a husband happy I had to learn to cook American meals.   I am not sure if I totally succeeded, but we survived our different tastes in food and heritage…and have enjoyed learning from each other and loved every moment of our married journey.

These Blondies always make him smile!

Blondies and Chaocolate Musse Torte 012

When I first became engaged to my husband-to-be, I was invited to visit for the first time with the Springer Family  in Hollywood, Florida; to be introduced to the family and friends during an evening reception at their home.

There was a lovely buffet of appetizers and desserts for everyone’s enjoyment while the cocktails were served. Since I do not like alcoholic drinks I went straight to the dessert section of the buffet.  Holding a plate in my hand I picked up something small.  It was a square little bite that looked simple but intriguing. The little piece was light brown in color with chocolate pieces peaking out of  its cake.  It had no icing or any kind of cream on it which promised my fingers would not get messy or sticky.   It definitely was a very safe bite that would not even mess up my lipstick, yes, I am vain when it comes to looking my best and this was an evening when I wanted to be as “perfect” as I could.

This little bite of pastry was delightful.  It had a pleasant density, a crumbly feeling on the tongue and the chocolate melted in my mouth like a sauce that enhanced every goodness that it held…

Through my “culinary” life I have seen many recipes that are almost identical to Elenore’s Cookies, they are called “Blondies.”

Blondies and Chaocolate Musse Torte 005

Today I want to share my version of this simple little cake/pastry and hope you will bake it as often as I have throughout my many years of marriage…after all it is my husband’s favorite treat.

Ingredients

3/4 cup Margarine

1 lb light brown sugar

3  Extra Large eggs

2 cups of flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 cups of finely chopped walnuts – I chop them in an old fashioned nut grinder

1 cup of chocolate chips

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Pre-heat oven to 350 F

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Melt the margarine in the Microwave oven using a large glass mixing bowl

Add the light brown sugar to the melted margarine and add the 3 eggs one at a time while mixing well with an electric hand mixer.

Now add the Vanilla Extract, the flour, and the baking powder to the above mixture, and mix well

When the batter consistency is uniform add the finely chopped walnuts and the chocolate chips using a spatula

Pour the batter into a large baking pan and…

Blondies and Chaocolate Musse Torte 016

bake Elenore’s cookies at 350 F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Remember, every oven is heating differently, check the pastry before the 35 minutes, it might be baked sooner than you think.

Cut the “cookies’ into little squares and dust them with a touch of powdered sugar before you place them on a serving platter.

Blondies and Chaocolate Musse Torte 003

The powdered sugar is my Austrian signature!

Sekelji Gulas


Jozef Sekelji was a Hungarian author who composed Hungarian songs,  wrote newspaper articles, and obviously was a cook.

Sekelji Gulas

Sekelji Gulas 009

This is one of my favorite meals.  My mother cooked it often after we immigrated to the USA.  It was usually served with bread dumplings, but also with steamed potatoes or rice.

Here is my mother’s recipe

1 large onion, peeled and choped

1 lb bacon, browned and fat discarded

2 Tbsp light oil

1 1/2 pounds lean pork, diced – or beef

2 Tbsp paprika

2 med. fresh tomatoes – seeded and skinned

1 Bayleaf

2 pounds sauerkraut – preferably fresh or in a plastic package

1 small head cabbage – shredded

1 smoked ham hock

1/2 cup fresh sour cream + 2 Tbsp Shake and Blend flour

Salt to taste

2-4 cups beef broth…..or chicken brothRinse the sauerkraut and drain it. If it tastes too strong, rinse a second time. Squeeze gently and set it aside.

  1. Brown the bacon and drain it on paper towels and set aside
  2.  Caramelize onions in a Dutch Oen with 3 Tbsp oil
  3. Add the pork and paprika then mix well. Cook the meat for about 5 minutes

Sekelji Gulas 001 Sekelji Gulas 002

Sekelji Gulas 006 Sekelji Gulas 005

4. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, tomatoes and ham hock. Ham hock can be precooked   and the broth can be used instead of stock.

5. Cover and cook the meat over low heat until it is just done.

6. Add the Sauer Kraut and the fresh hopped cabbage and mix it all together then cook another 30 minutes until the meat is very soft and starts to shred.

7. Salt should be added only at this point and if needed.

8. Spoon the Sekelji Gulas into bowls and add a dollop of sour cream with a sprig of fresh parsley on top of each serving.

Typically Semmel Knoedel, Bread Dumplings, or boiled potatoes are served with this meal. It freezes well.

 Sekelji Gulas 011

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Member…since 1995!

Maja’s Kitchen

maria@majaskitchen.com

http://www.majaskitchen.com

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

Find me on:

Face Book

LinkedIn

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If you have any questions drop me a note….

I will help in any way I can.

 


So many have asked for the recipe of my Viennese Pound Cake...so, here it is!

 Wiener Kugelhupf 

Viennese Pound Cake

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

6 whole eggs – separated

2 cups of flour, measured then  sifted

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp Cointreau

6 Tbsp Milk

½  cup of raisins – optional

Zest of 1 orange

Powdered sugar

Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 F – Grease and dust Kugelhupf form….or…. 2 loaf pans!

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Cream butter and sugar until light and very fluffy

Add egg yolks – one at a time, beat well after every addition.

Sift together flour and baking powder

Add orange zest and the liqueur to the butter mixture

mix

Add flour and milk alternately, mixing gently

In a separate bowl……..

Beat egg whites to medium peaks and mix into the above dough.

Add raisins

Pour into prepared Kugelhupf form…….Bund cake form

or 2 loaf pans!

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 min.

Cool 15 min and turn out on to the platter

Dust with powdered sugar

075

080

Serve with whipped cream…….mit Schlag!

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Member…since 1995!

Maja’s Kitchen

maria@majaskitchen.com

http://www.majaskitchen.com

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

Find me on:

Face Book

LinkedIn

Pinterest

If you have any questions drop me a note….

I will help in any way I can.

 


My Chocolate Butter Cream!

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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

 Procedure

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

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Member…since 1995!

Maja’s Kitchen

maria@majaskitchen.com

http://www.majaskitchen.com

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

Find me on:

Face Book

LinkedIn

Pinterest

If you have any questions drop me a note….

I will help in any way I can.

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