Category Archives: Snack

Zucchini Oven-Baked Crisps

crisps 002

Normally when we think of crisps, we are dreading having to heat the oil and deep fry the food. These are baked in the oven and come out just the way I like them- tasty and crisp.

I tried a couple ideas when it came to preparing the baking pan that I mention here so you can see the possible choices. I used an 11 x 15 pan. First, I used a small amount of olive oil; it burns easily at these temperatures and left me with a bad cleanup job. Then I tried to line the pan with parchment paper; I was surprised that while the pan seemed protected, there was still burn on the edges of the pan- I don’t know how that burn got there. And the parchment paper was really done for; it crumbled in my hand as I took it out. I think the answer is probable back to a fat with a higher burn point; I believe peanut oil and safflower oil are considered best for being stable in high heat. And remember that the oven temperature actually rises and falls to give an average temperature at which you set the knob- I watched mine one day and it seemed like the excursion of temperature was almost 100 degrees in each way. Perhaps, with that in mind, the answer is to reduce the temperature setting and cook the crisps longer. For now, you will either need to accept where I am in my experimenting, or try changing the parameters yourself.

Zucchini Oven-Baked Crisps

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini (yellow, green, or both)
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. (See the August 17th update at the bottom of the page; lower heat and higher smoking-temperature grease).
  • Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds; this can be done on a mandolin slicer, a meat slicer, or with a handheld knife.
  • Prepare three dishes for dredging the rounds and coating them. In the first dish, place the AP flour. In the second dish, break the two eggs and whip them. Finally, in the third dish, mix the Panko, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder to form the coating.
  • For each zucchini round, dredge it in the flour and shake off any excess, then wash it thoroughly with the egg, and finally dredge it in the coating mix. Lay the coated round on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 25 minutes (See the August 17th update below;- increased cooking time to go with lower cooking temperature). or until the rounds are golden brouwn and crispy. Allow them to cool about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer them to a serving try with a spatula.

August 17, 2015: Made another batch today, and used shortening as the pan grease; it worked well without a lot of splatter like I had with Olive Oil. I also turned the oven down to 400 degrees F., and cooked for 30 minutes– lower heat but longer cook time. I think everything worked like I wanted it to work!

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.

Paska 6

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

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.