Four Days in Maja’s Kitchen!
Eleven years old and already exhibits passion for cooking!!!!!!!!
This was her first time away from home and was the most independent and pleasant little girl with an innate self-confidence, followed instruction precisely, was pleasant at all times, punctual, never had to wake her in the morning, she set her alarm clock when she went to bed and got up on time….showered, washed her hair and was ready for the day. And, and, she made her bed everyday! I loved her the moment she arrived and loved her even more while she was here with me. With her soft voice saying: “Yes Mam! Thank you Mam! in her southern most precious way……how could one not love her!
As soon as her parents dropped her off and left, we made a grocery list and headed to the store for ingredients that we were going to need for the dishes she wanted to learn to cook.
I could see by her eyes when she experienced the hot bite of the Ginger, she was quite surprised……..but, liked it!
Dinner we had out on that evening, but as soon as we returned home we went to work to make a dessert. We made…….
We used large butter cookies for the layers, and made the Vanilla Custard Cream. The strawberries were macerated with sugar and some lemon juice. There were three layers of cooky, berries, custard cream and all was topped with some unsweetened whipped cream. It was a quick way of making the Napoleons and very delicious! My little student was very pleased!!!
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 egg yolks
Into a sauce pan pour the 1 cup milk, add the sugar and cornstarch…… mix well until all lumps of the cornstarch disappear…..then add the egg yolks and mix well……..
Heat all these ingredients until it begins to simmer……using a whisk with constant mixing until the color changes to a glossy yellow…
Remove the cream from the heat …..and continue whisking until the color of the cream intensifies and the whisk is coated with the cream.
If it did not thicken……return the cream to the heat and keep whisking and stirring until it thickens…….
Do not boil the cream……it will curdle ……and you will have to start from scratch…….
When cream has thickened transfer it to a cold bowl…..and cover with a plastic wrap.
Cool at room temperature………then refrigerate until ready to use for the Napoleons.
If the cream is too thick after cooling……ads a little heavy cream to thin it…..
This day was our hardest ……we were going to really work and learn most of the recipes that she had on her list.
We started with Crepes in the morning, and had them for breakfast!
3 whole eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup half and half cream – or 1/4 cup oil
1 ¼ cups milk or more till batter has the consistency of heavy cream.
Mix the above ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer.
Let the mixture stand for at least 30 minutes or
Strain the mixture thru a sieve to
get all the lumps out of the batter.
Bake the crepes in a very hot crepe pan.
For lunch we made a simple Soup!
Creamed Tomato Soup
1 can (28 oz) of Crushed Tomatoes
1 can Tomato Paste with Roasted Garlic – optional
2 cups of chicken broth….either home-made or store-bought
Chicken Broth (use Chicken Base – McCormick…(2 tsp paste + 1 cup of hot water)
1 small onion – sliced in big pieces
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Heavy Cream – more or less as desired
1 – 2 Tbsp sugar – optional
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a Dutch Oven add 1 Tbsp of oil and the sliced onion.
Caramelize the onion until light brown.
Add the Crushed tomatoes and the Tomato Paste.
Add chicken broth
Add sugar…..and taste…..
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes
With a slotted spoon remove the onion pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
Serve in bowl and add a swirl of heavy cream
When we finished with lunch we made two pastry doughs that needed to go into the refrigerator for a while. One was a pie crust and the other was a butter dough for cookies.
At this time we cleaned up the kitchen and took an hour for some rest. We each went to our bedrooms and spent a little time to recharge.
Upon returning to the kitchen we put together the peach pie. The crust pastry was already made and was taken out of the refrigerator to bring it slightly up in temperature.
Here is how we made the crust and proceeded with finishing the pie.
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
Peach Pie Filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
8 medium peaches (peeled and sliced)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugars, spices) in a large bowl. Stir in peaches and lemon juice.
Add more peaches if desired. Adjust sugar as needed.
Fill the bowl with the peach filling and cover with the second crust.
Bake the peach pie at 375 F for about 40 minutes. If the pie gets too brown around the edges, cover the pie with a ring of foil. Fold a square piece of foil first in half and then again in half.
Now cut the center out from the folded square of foil to make the ring.
Bake the pie until golden brown!
Dinner was next on our schedule.
Wiener Schnitzel made with chicken breasts, and cucumber salad, dessert, of course was the peach pie.
To make the Wiener Schnitzel with chicken breast, one has to first wash and dry the meat, then cut each one in half…. horizontally.
We put two slices in a gallon size plastic bag and pounded the meat gently until it was very thin. The same procedure was done with the rest of the chicken pieces. The pounded chicken pieces were lightly seasoned with garlic salt.
We took another gallon size plastic bag and added about 1 1/2 cups of flour, then another plastic bag was prepared with 2 cups of unseasoned home-made bread crumbs. 2 eggs were scrambled with a little water in a separate bowl.
Each Schnitzel was first dunked into the flour, excess flour shaken off, then dunked into the bowl of eggs, coating it on both sides, then transferred over to the bag on bread crumbs.
Then laid on a board to wait to be fried in just a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan.
Austrian Cucumber Salad with Dill
6 large Cucumbers
1 cup dairy Sour Cream
1 tsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 to 2 Tbsp fresh chopped Dill or 1/2 Tbsp dried Dill
1 Lemon – juice and zest
More lemon juice and salt if needed
Peel cucumbers and scoop out the seeds, slice them in a food processor with a #1 blade. This can be done the day before and kept in the refrigerator over night. The next day, just before serving add the sour cream, zest of a lemon and its juice. Add the mustard, garlic salt and dill to finish the salad. Mix gently until all the cucumber slices are coated and serve.
After dinner we made a Quiche which we refrigerated for our dinner the next day.
Maja’s Ham Quiche
Use a store-bought – Pillsbury Pie Crust
1 cup any kind of grated cheese
I like a combination of Swiss and Cheddar
1 cup of finely chopped cooked ham – all fat removed
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups Heavy Cream
McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
Use a 10 inch Quiche baking dish or a 10 inch deep-dish Pie baking dish
Spray the baking dish with Pam or grease the Quiche pan with Crisco before placing the pie crust into it.
Add the chopped ham and the grated cheese into the unbaked Quiche pan.
Mix eggs and cream – and pour mixture over the ham and cheese
Sprinkle Montreal Steal Seasoning over the ham and cheese
Optional…….add and decorate the Quiche with slices of tomato and bell peppers.
Bake in a preheated oven – 350 F for about 1 hour – or until Quiche puffs up and begins to brown.
Bake on lowest shelf in oven to enhance browning of quiche’s bottom.
Let the Quiche stand for a few minutes before serving, or if not served immediately let it cool and freeze until ready to serve.
This day we spent at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The Science Center was of great interest and after lunch we took a Water Taxi to Fort Mc Henry where the largest United States Flag was grandly displayed and was proudly flying the breeze.
Dinner was the Quiche that we prepared the evening before with a bowl of ice-cold fruit. No sooner did we clean up after dinner when – my little cook was ready to cook some more.
Out of the refrigerator came the butter dough and while it was warming a bit, we made Buttermilk Biscuits. A simple recipe from one of the Southern Living Cookbooks.
1 cup butter or margarine
4 cups self-rising flour
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
Cut 1 cup butter into flour with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly;
Add buttermilk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface;
Knead 3 to 5 times. Pat or roll dough to ½ inch thickness, and cut with a 2 inch round cutter. Place dough on lightly greased baking sheets. re-roll excess dough, and proceed as directed. Brush with ¼ cup melted butter. Bake at 425 F for 10 to 13 min. or until golden.
Makes about 5 dozen.
The butter cookie dough was just the right temperature when we finished with the biscuits.
Austrian Butter Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 whole egg + 1 Tbsp brandy
Process the above ingredients in a Food Processor to make a dough.
Let it rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer.
When starting to work with the dough it should be cool to the touch. Cut the dough into four sections and roll each piece on a flouer dusted surface…..to about about a 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to make any shape you like. Bake this pastry in a 375 F oven until barely browned.
Here are the different cookies we made!
Sunday morning we went to church and after ward we visited an Herb Garden at the Historic Hampton Mansion which was near our church. My little cook wanted to start an herb garden when she got home and wanted to see what one looked like. It just so happened that the Garden Club that I belong to is maintaining the Historic Hampton original herb garden. We talked about the herbs, rubbed and smelled them, she learned how they are used and in what dishes that they are most prominent…….and in what countries that they are favored.
We had omelets for lunch which I prepared and then we needed to do one more recipe that her mother requested……….dinner rolls!
1 cup whole milk
2 packages of dry Yeast
½ cup butter – melted
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs – warmed to room temperature
4 ½ to 5 cups all purpose flour
More melted butter….to dunk the rolls before baking
Use a medium size bowl….
Warm 1/3 cup of the milk to luke-warm……baby bottle temperature
Add 1 tsp of the sugar
Add the 2 packet yeast
Mix well…….and let the yeast stand until it is bubbly
Use a large bowl………or put into the electric mixer bowl
Add 3 cups of flour
Add the salt…….and mix well
Add the rest of the sugar
Add the 2 eggs
Add the ½ cup butter
Add the rest of the warm milk
Add the bubbly yeast
Mix all these ingredients in an Electric Mixer, and while mixing add the last 2 cups of flour
Mix well…….for about 3 minutes…….the yeast dough has to become stringy…..in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place…about 40 minutes.
Transfer the dough unto a well floured surface and knead for several minutes.
Now punch it down and transfer it to the well floured surface…add more flour if it is sticky
Cut the dough into 4 sections and pat each section down to about 1 inch high…..and make small rolls
Dunk the rolls into melted butter and place them into round baking pans. Let the rolls rise another 30 minutes or so…..and bake them at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned. If the tops gets too quickly brown……cover the rolls with a sheet of foil to prevent the rolls to burn.
Auntie Maja’s Cooking Camp….. ended the next morning when I took my little cook to the airport and handed her over to her father who came to pick her up to take her home to Georgia.
It was a strange feeling when I returned home to an empty kitchen. I missed the whirlwind activity and the gentleness of this little girl who was so eager to learn all she could in just four days.