Category Archives: Dessert

Paska

How about cheese cake without the crust? That is often how people describe Paska. It is a sweet, cheese food that has a history back into eastern Europe. I like it as a snack, but it is also used as part of a meal. My neighbor tasted it, and demanded the recipe so she could make it for Purim/Passover to eat with the matzo bread that is eaten as part of those ceremonies. And, from what I find on the network, it is eaten at Easter in a Russian Orthodox home with a special bread kulich.

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Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942. (This was a Russian lady Errol knew in Missoula, Montana.)

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 lbs. cottage cheese (not creamed)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 cup mixed candied fruits and raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

Having made the recipe in January 2012 exactly as we received it from my Mother, I knew I needed to do a lot of experimenting with both the size and the ability to use modern kitchen appliances. Here is the original recipe; I don’t think you should try to use it as it is written.

I made this original version of the recipe with 4 pounds of cottage cheese as it calls out. I must say that sieving that much cottage cheese will develop muscles. I was really tired by the time I finished the sieving. Then, I mixed everything up, and it took two regular bread loaf pans to hold all the paska. I was surprised to find that indeed, I could invert the loaf pans and place them on plates in the refrigerator without the paska trying to drop out and escape.

The trouble came after the week of aging, and draining the excess liquid. When I tried to unmold the paska, it didn’t want to come out of the loaf pans. Even when I ran a knife around the edges of the pan, it was still stuck firmly to the bottom of the pan. I can only say that it was a mess when I finally got it all out of the mold.

So, I had three problems; first, the amount of paska was way too much for me. Second, it is a lot of work to sieve cottage cheese. And finally, I needed to find a way to unmold the paska after it had aged and drained.

The first problem was easily solved; I divided the recipe in fourths, so that only a single pound of cottage cheese was needed. Now, the recipe reads as follows:

Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942.

Modified for only one pound of cottage cheese by Errol Crary

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. sieved* cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1/4 cup fruit**
  • 2 Tbsp raisins**
  • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

I tried breaking up the curd of the cottage cheese in the food processor, and I think that is an acceptable way of “sieving” the cottage cheese. I will admit that my neighbor thought the paska texture was different, and liked the sieved version better. I couldn’t tell the difference. From my perspective, that solved the second problem. Now, I only had the problem of unmolding to solve.

My original direction on solving that problem was to line the bottom of the molds with plastic wrap before I dumped the paska in. But, just as I didn’t want the paska to stick to the mold, nor did the plastic wrap want to stick to the mold. So, when I turned the mold over to drain, the paska fell out. I solved that problem by using nesting plastic containers. After putting the paska in the lined mold, I placed an identical, nesting container on top of the cheese cloth that was on the paska in the first container. Now, I could turn the nested containers over, and the paska would be forced upward by the bottom of the inner container. I would have stopped at this point, but I found that not all nesting plastic containers worked well; some seemed to slope inward too much, and the paska leaked down between the sides of the containers. (I found square blue-top plastic storage containers worked the best, and you would want to use a size that is over 3 cups – 24 ounces for the one pound cottage cheese version).

Paska 7

At this point, I started thinking outside of the box- or mold, and found what I think is the perfect answer- a colander! So now I line the colander with cheese cloth, dump in the paska, place a piece of cheese cloth on top, and then place a weighted dish on top of the top cheese cloth. I would say the only trick left is to find a dish that fairly well covers the surface of the paska without binding on the side of the colander. (My little red colander is measured as a 1.5 quart colander).
Paska 5
The recipe calls for candied fruit; I took that to mean the type of fruit that is in a fruit cake. That is a seasonal item in most stores, and wasn’t available in January when I was first experimenting. So I improvised. I used some dried sweet cherries and Craisins that I had, and diced them down to about ¼ of an inch pieces. That made a pretty red color that was just about right for Valentine’s day when I had hoped to have everything coming together. And, my daughters dislike fruit cake candied fruit, so they were not unhappy with the cherry/Craisin substitution. The main thing to remember no matter what you use is to dice the fruits and nuts down to about ¼ inch.

PicMonkey Collage

Rhubarb Pudding

Marlys loved Rhubarb Pudding! This was her go-to recipe as soon as she found rhubarb in the market-place. This simple pudding can be put together in just a couple hours- one for cooking it. And it can be scaled down in size to be half the 9×13 pan that is prescribed; it can be made in a 6×9 inch pan using just 3 cups of rhubarb- about 1 ¼ pounds. Just cut all the other ingredients in half, also.
Rhubarb 004

The recipe is so easy that I don’t really have any suggestions or hints for making this simple dessert. I made the sample with Splenda.

Rhubarb Pudding

(Aunt Jay, 1980 — Linda N. {Smith} Wing)

  • 6 cups rhubarb (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour, heaping, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice finely the rhubarb. Mix with the rhubarb, a heaping 1/4 cup flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 9 x 13 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 1 1/2 cups flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

Here is how fine I diced the rhubarb.
8 layer dip 001

The final product.
Rhubarb 001

And it goes well with a little cream.
Rhubarb 008

Steamed Bread Pudding

Sometimes the simplest old recipe is one of the hardest to bring forward to the current era. This is certainly one of those. Why? Because it is cooked in a metal can, and those are not as readily available now days as they were a few years ago.
bread pudding sauces 002
Otherwise, the recipe is very simple and easy to make. It uses a lot of spices, but it doesn’t require a mechanical mixer- just a wooden spoon. Before you start making it, be sure to read my discussion below.

Steamed Bread Pudding

(Catherine P. Crary (Errol’s Mother) to Marlys 1963

Lucy Crary (Errol’s grandmother) to Catherine 1932)

  • 2 cups bread crumbs, dried
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (heaped)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Mix together bread crumbs, sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and raisins. Add milk, eggs and butter.

Mix together with a wooden spoon until well blended. Pour into a well-buttered can which has a tight fitting lid. If there is no lid, cover with a double layer of foil (or 1 layer of heavy-duty foil) and tie foil in place with string around the can.

Place the can on a dishrag in a larger pot with a cover. Pour hot water half-way up the side of the pudding can. Cover baking pot and cook for 3 hours at 200 degrees. It will expand about 2 times. If you use two small cans instead of one large, cook 2 hours.

The name itself is interesting; I think I would classify this recipe as sweet bread, and not as bread pudding. The result product is more of a cake than what I think of when I hear bread pudding.
Bread Pudding 003

You want to definitely make this recipe in a metal can! At first, I couldn’t find Marlys’s can for making bread pudding, so I improvised. I went into her stash of cans that she saves for storing Christmas cookies and took one that was starting to show wear- it was a 3 pound coffee can with a plastic lid. I used it, and the recipe came out exactly as I remembered it.

But, what could I recommend to you to use? Coffee is seldom found in the stores in 3 pound cans anymore; more often it is in either bags, or plastic containers. I searched kitchen stores, and even the general food-plus-household goods stores. First, I found Asparagus Steamers and ceramic crocks- they were all too expensive to even consider. Then I found the plastic canisters- the price was right, but would they hold up to the heat of cooking? The temperature of cooking is very low, so they might work. I decided to test the possibility- and met with failure. The plastic canister I used split at some point in the cooking. I can only think that there is a pressure buildup- why else would we be tying double layers of foil on the top of the can?
Bread Pudding 001

Daughter Mindy suggested trying a spring-form pan, so I did that, and again had a failure. What I learned then was that a spring-form pan is far from water tight. So I am left with this word of advice: if you think you have an answer to the metal can, see if it will hold water. It appears to me that you need a can that can hold eight cups of water without leaking.

You need a metal can; you might need to wait until the holidays when you might find one filled with cookies, or Almond Roca. You might look in some of the stores like World Market. Just know that you are going to want to make this recipe, and it requires a metal can that will fit inside your larger pot with a lid.

After thinking I had solved the issue, I finally found Marlys’s steamed bread pudding can. It was a can that came with a fruit cake inside.
BonBons 004

The recipe calls for bread crumbs. Now days, you can buy bread crumbs at the grocery store. I remember how Mom would let the old bread get dry and stale, and then grind it into crumbs. Originally, it was man-power (me) that turned the crank on the grinder, but later she had a grinder that mounted on the stand mixer. For kicks, I decided to try drying the bread and grinding it. I found that eight slices of bread would make the two cups of bread crumbs needed for the recipe.
Bread Pudding 000

So that is the story of how to make Steamed Bread Pudding, and why such a simple recipe became so difficult that I had to make it several times to understand the mysterious process that takes place inside the sealed can. Somehow, the steam pressure and baking soda work to make the pudding expand and be lighter. When water leaked in, and the pressure leaked out, the product was very dense, and not the enjoyable cake-like product I wanted.

Steamed Bread Pudding can be eaten just as it is, as a sweet bread, but we were spoiled and always put a sweet sauce on it. My favorite was a Chocolate Sauce, but Mom also made what she called her Favorite Sauce– I remember it as having a lemon flavor. In some previous posts, I have included two other sauce recipes –Rum Sauce and Lemon Sauce; you might want to investigate them as accompaniments for your Steamed Bread Pudding.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

Strawberry Tart 002I have made this tart several times; it is easy, and is a real treat for the strawberry lovers. I particularly like the balance of the cream cheese and sour cream against the sugar in the glaze. The result is that the pie is not excessively sweet.

Here is how to make this tasty tart.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

  • 9 or 10 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts strawberries

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Red food coloring

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Spread on bottom of pie shell and refrigerate.

Wash and hull berries. Mash enough uneven ones to make 1 cup. Force through a sieve and add water to make 1 cup juice, discarding berries.

Mix the sugar and the cornstarch together. Add 1/2 cup water and the berry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is clear and thickened; then boil 1 minute. Stir to cool slightly and add a little red food coloring if necessary.

Fill shell with remaining berries, tips up, and pour cooked mixture over the top evenly. Chill 1 hour before serving.

For the pastry shell, I buy the frozen kind and then blind bake it. It use to be that we would fill the shell with dry beans to keep it from rising, but the directions now are to prick it all over with a fork. The directions on the shells I bought said to bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes; I thought it came out perfect.

We no longer seem to buy strawberries by the pint basket; I bought a 3 pound container of berries, and I think that maybe the weight follows the old saw about “ a pint a pound the world around”. So my 3 pounds would have been 1½ quarts. That was plenty of strawberries with about a half dozen left over.

To decide how many berries I can afford to mash and use for the juice, I take a second pie tin and arrange the good looking berries to fill the space. This allows me to try to ensure the best berries are whole and in the pie shell, and not mashed.

To mash the “uneven” ones, I first spin them in the food processor; I suspect a potato masher would work, but the food processor really gets the juice flowing. I still put them through a strainer to eliminate any remaining pulp, and all those seeds.
Strawberry Tart 007
I hope you will make and enjoy this different type of a fruit pie.

Errol

Apple Pudding

PicMonkey CollageOriginally, this recipe was for a Rhubarb Pudding; Marlys loved rhubarb pudding. Then, Mindy saw that it was a good basic pudding recipe and made it with apples- giving us an Apple Pudding recipe. A 9×13 product is too much for me in most cases, and so I decided it needed to be scaled down a bit; luckily it scaled perfectly. So now, we start with the smaller Apple Pudding- one that an individual going solo can eat in just a few meals, and then we show how to make it full size again for the family.

Apple Pudding

Basic Recipe — Linda N. {Smith} Wing 1980,

Updated to Apple Pudding by Mindy Crary)

  • 3 Apples- I found Golden Delicious to be good, but Gala, Fujii, etc will do
  • 7/8 cups flour, heaping, divided as 2 Tbs + 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/4 cup butter; better cut it into small pieces before it gets warm
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and slice the apples. Mix with the apples, a heaping 2 Tablespoons flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 6 x 9 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 3/4 cup flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

To make a larger amount of pudding, double the recipe and use a 9 x 13 baking pan. The oven temperature and time stay the same. Remember the smaller amount of flour is used to coat the apples in the bowl, and the larger amount of flour is part of the topping.

  • 6 Apples-
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, heaping, divided as ¼ cup to coat the apples and 1 1/2 cups for the topping
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter; cut it into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar

I always make it with Splenda; since the sweetener goes into the bowl with the apples to coat them, the Splenda starts to dissolve in the apple juice and the bowl is real sticky after finishing that operation. Don’t worry; enough of the sweetener got on the apples that the finished product will be good.

It is a very simple recipe and easy to make. Enjoy the pudding plain, or add a little milk/cream on the served piece. And enjoy if as an after-school snack.
Enjoy;
Errol

Red Apples

Red Apples  Collage
Are Red Apples a dessert, or are they a snack? I think they are both. They are a good, healthy snack, and they also make a vibrant dessert. I gave a batch of Red Apples to my neighbor with a 2 year old grandson, and the report came back that both the grandfather and grandson liked them and cleaned them up.

As you might be able to tell from my blog, Marlys had a lot of simple recipes that used only a few ingredients but made good food. As a widower, I find that I still use these simple recipes most of the time, rather than making more complex recipes. I am lucky to have a recipe book with so many easy to make good foods, and when I get stuck, I can call a daughter to get her take on what the directions mean. I am hoping that the discussion following the directions for the recipe will give you the hints, and alert you to the issues that you might encounter in using the recipe. And again, I am also trying to find scalability in the recipes so that you can make them for yourself – solo- or for a small dinner party.

I like Red Apples, and often have some in the refrigerator upon which I can snack. And this recipe is really scalable. Finally, I’ve changed the recipe as it appears here to use Splenda instead of sugar, but you can easily substitute sugar for the Splenda. So, here is how to make Red Apples

Red Apples

(Catharine P. Crary 1970)

  • 5 lbs. cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Rome are good!)
  • 4 oz. red hot candies (cinnamon rounds – Cinnamon Imperials)
  • 1 1/2 cups water.
  • 1/2 cup Splenda for Romes, 1 cup Splenda if using Granny Smith

Melt together in large cooking pan with a lid, the red hot candies in the water.
Add to pan the apples and Splenda. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring often.

On electric stove, turn off and let sit on burner until cooled.

On a gas stove, they will have to be cooked about 5 minutes before turning off and allowing to cool.




This is a very simple recipe. I don’t think you can go wrong with it. If you decide to scale it down, just divide each ingredient by the fraction you want; for example, half a recipe would use 2 ounces of the Cinnamon Imperials and 3/4 a cup of water. The Splenda and amount of apples would also be cut in half. You could even go smaller; just remember that ¼ cup is 4 Tablespoons, so you might be changing the amount of Splenda into Tablespoons from fractions of a cup.

One reason for cutting the recipe down is that 5 pounds of apples is about a dozen apples. That is a lot to peel, core, and slice. The pictures were taken with the recipe cut in half- with 6 Braeburn apples. I treated them like the mentioned Rome apples and used 1/4 cup of Splenda.

Rome Beauty apples were quite popular when I was younger, but I seldom see them in the store anymore. I think the suggestion for using either Rome Beauty or Granny Smith apples is because they were both considered cooking apples; they didn’t break down when cooked. The difference in the amount of sweeting for the different apples is because of their taste characteristic. The Granny Smith is a tart apple, while the Rome Beauty is considered mildly sweet.

The Braeburn apples I used are considered sweet and tart, and so I treated them like the Rome Beauty’s mild sweetness. I was concerned that they might not be crisp enough to hold up to cooking, but I had no trouble in that area; the results were very similar to when I have made Red Apples with Granny Smiths.

Peeling and coring a large number of apples is a task. We bought one of the peeler-corer-slicer machines and have used it. Marlys hated it, and made me do all the apple preparation. The machine helps, but isn’t perfect; many times the peeler will miss a section of the apple and I have to go back and use a paring knife to remove the last of the skin. Even then, I can prepare the apples in just a few minutes.

Finally, I do add a few drops of red food coloring to make the final color more vibrant and deeper red than what the Cinnamon Imperials leave the apples. It is a recipe for Red Apples, and not pink apples.

I encourage you to try this recipe and enjoy the Red Apples as a snack, and give some to the children in your life- they will like them, too.

Errol

P.S. I don’t think they have to be refrigerated; that just happens to be where I store mine.

Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississpi Mud Pie 002

This recipe appeared in the November 2012 Food Network Magazine. I received a copy from Penny DeLancey after I tasted her cooking of it and announced it as a keeper.

I have since found the recipe on the Food Network web site; here is a pointer to it: Mississippi Mud Pie Recipe.

The only suggestion I have is in making the crust. The crust becomes quite hard, so keep it thin. Be especially careful at the transition between the bottom of the pie plate and the sides; it is natural for this to build up to support the crumb on the sides. If the sides are not fully crumbed, it is no problem.