Cheryl’s Cusine: January 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

One of my most fervent wishes for the new year includes the opening of restaurants.  Oh, how I miss meeting my friends for lunch.  

This brings me back to memories of one of my favorite New York City restaurants, which I frequented quite often….The Russian Tea Room.  Of course, the restaurant no longer exists, but memories remain.  My sister and I would hop on a bus in Scranton and go shopping for the day.  It was usually lunch at the Tea Room and dinner at La Fondue or Katja.  

It was 40 years ago that my sister and I were shopping in the city and we came upon “The Russian Tea Room Cookbook”.   I thought I’d died and gone straight to heaven.  I had never seen the book sold around here.  I grabbed up a copy and now, 40 years later, it is one of my most cherished items.  The pages are worn and stained from use. The recipes make some of the most wonderful, delectable meals you will ever enjoy.

Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated in January, and being of Russian heritage,  my Christmas decorations remain up throughout the month.  So this month, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite recipes from the cookbook.

Hot Borscht

6 cups beef or chicken consomme’  ( I use stock)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups julienne strips of raw beets
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced fresh dill weed
Sour cream

Pour consomme’ into large soup kettle.  Add tomato sauce, cabbage, carrots and onions.  Bring to boiling point and turn heat to low.  Skim soup.  Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender but still keep their shape.  Skim as needed.  Stir in sugar and add the beets. 

Simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes or until beets are tender.  Check seasonings; if necessary, add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in vinegar.  Pour into individual soup bowls and sprinkle with dill.  Serve hot with sour cream on the side.  Serves 6.

***

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs. lean boneless sirloin or bottom round, in one piece, trimmed of fat and gristle
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. powdered yellow mustard or 1 Tbsp. prepared Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine ( I use Chablis or Chardonnay)
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. dry white wine
1 cup sour cream, warmed

Cut meat into 1/2″ thick slices.  Place between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  Pound with mallet until meat is 1/4″ thick.  Be careful not to tear the meat.  Cut meat into 2″x 1/2″ slices.  Place slices in one layer on large platter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. 

Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in heavy, deep frying pan or shallow saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients.  Add sliced onion and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until beginning to soften.  Add meat to pan. Cook for 3 minutes, turning beef slices constantly so they are evenly browned on all sides.  

Stir in flour and mustard and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.  Add the 1/2 cup wine and tomato paste.  Reduce heat to low, cover pan,  and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  In another frying pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the minced onion and the mushrooms.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, add the 2 tablespoons of wine and cook for 2 more minutes; mushrooms should still be firm.

Add mushrooms and their liquid to the pan containing the meat.  Check seasoning and stir in sour cream.  Over lowest possible heat, simmer for about 5 minutes to heat dish through.  Do NOT boil.  Serve over a bed of hot cooked rice or wide noodle.  Serves 4-6.

***

Ham a la Russe

2 lbs. lean, cooked ham, 1/4″ thick
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 tsp. flour
1/2 cup Madeira
3 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup sour cream
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Trim fat from ham.  Make small incisions around edges to prevent curling during cooking.  Cut ham into serving pieces; the number depends on the shape of the ham slices (round or rectangular), but there should be 3-4 pieces for each serving.  Blot ham slices dry on both sides with paper towels.  Heat butter and oil in large heavy frying pan.  Add as many ham slices as frying pan will hold in 1 layer and without touching.  Cook ham over medium heat for about 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned.  

Transfer cooked ham to heated serving dish and keep hot in low oven (150-175 degrees F.)  Repeat with remaining ham and, if necessary, lower the heat.  Remove rest of ham to serving dish.  If there is too much fat left from frying ham, pour off all but 1 teaspoon.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir flour into pan drippings.   Cook for 1 minute.  Stir in Madeira and water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thickened.  Stir in sour cream, pepper and any juices in serving dish containing the cooked ham.  Cook, stirring all the time, until sauce is heated through, but do NOT boil.  Spoon sauce over ham, allowing 2 1/2 tablespoons for each serving, or serve sauce separately. 

NOTE: For double the amount of sauce, use 2 tsp. fat, 4 tsp. flour, 1 cup Madeira, 1/3 cup water, 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups sour cream, and pepper to taste.

***

Mushroom a la Russe

3-4 quarts water
2 Tbsp. salt
2 lbs. mushrooms
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup minced onion (1 medium onion)
1/3 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine water and salt in large kettle and bring to boiling point.  Meanwhile, trim mushrooms, place in a bowl and wash quickly, but thoroughly, under running water, swishing them around with your hands.  Drain mushrooms and put them into boiling water.  Cook over medium heat for no more than 2 minutes after water has resumed boiling.  Drain in a colander.  Place drained mushrooms stem side down on a platter lined with 3 thicknesses of paper towels to drain further.  Pat dry with more paper towels.; they must be as dry as possible or dish will be soupy.  Cool mushrooms and slice thinly.  Reserve.

Heat butter in large deep frying pan or shallow saucepan.  Add onion.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes, or until soft; do not brown.  Add mushrooms.  Cook, stirring all the time, for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour, toss well and cook for 2 more minutes.  Combine milk and sour cream in small saucepan, and heat, stirring;  do NOT boil.  Add to the mushrooms and mix thoroughly.  Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and ground coriander.  Turn into individual baking dishes or a 10-12 cup baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cook in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Serve hot. Serves 6.  

***

Russian Cream

1/2 cup water
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
1/4 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 drop red food coloring
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1/3 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/3 cup grenadine syrup

Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it.  Stir to blend.  Set the bowl in a pan of boiling water and dissolve the gelatin.  While gelatin is dissolving, beat cream until almost stiff.  Beat in sugar gradually, a little at a time beating well after each addition.  Do NOT overbeat.  Stir in food coloring into whipped cream.  Cool gelatin to lukewarm.  Place softened ice cream in a large bowl.  With a wire whisk, beat cooled gelatin into the soft ice cream.  Fold in the whipped cream.  

Spoon equal amounts of the cream into 6 individual dessert dishes, or preferably, long-stemmed dessert glasses.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  At serving time, sprinkle each dish with 1 tablespoon slivered almonds and top with 1 tablespoon grenadine syrup.  Serves 6.    

NOTE: This dessert is “out of this world” wonderful!

Cheryl’s Cuisine: December 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Well, as I’m sitting here watching Covid numbers rise, it seems we’ll be celebrating a very different family Christmas!

My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving, just the two of us…my family members all stayed in their own homes.  Not really a “holiday.”  It seems Christmas will be the same, or very similar.

Friends of mine who ordered large turkeys donated them rather than cook a 20 pounder for two people.  So, when we’re planning our meals for the holiday…we need to plan for less.  

Actually, right now I’m only planning on baking homemade cookies from old family recipes.  Cookies freeze beautifully and can be packed for gift-giving.  Maybe we need to return to “old fashioned” holidays, where we bake homemade recipes and hand them out in lieu of outrageously expensive gifts. 

Since many of us (including me) didn’t shop this year (thank you, Covid), homemade cookies and breads will be a different gift, made with love.

So for this month’s column, I’d like to share my family’s special holiday baked treats.  Enjoy!

Mother’s Butter Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

With rotary beaters, blend butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, which have been well-beaten.  Sift in flour and salt.  Add vanilla and mix until smooth and light.  Drop by teaspoons onto buttered baking sheets.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cookies will be just set.  Cool on rack.  May be frozen when cool or put in cake tins with waxed papers between layers.  Worth every calorie!!!!!

***

Holiday Macaroons:

2-7 oz. bags flaked coconut
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
2 tsp.  vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Candied fruit or nuts for garnish  ( I use maraschino cherries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk and extracts; mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto generously buttered baking sheets; garnish, if desired.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  IMMEDIATELY remove from baking sheets. (Macaroons will stick if allowed to cool on baking sheets).  Store in loosely covered container.  Makes about 4 dozen.

***

Mrs. Z’s Cookies:

1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 tsp. baking soda
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars together.  Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Then add eggs, evaporated milk and continue beating.  Fold in walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut.  Chill for 1 hour.  Drop from spoon onto greased baking sheet.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Makes 5 dozen.

***

Pixies:

1/2 stick butter, melted
4 pkgs. pre-melted baking chocolate (Nestle’s Choco Bake)
1/2 cup cocoa

Melt butter first in saucepan, add pre-melted baking chocolate and cocoa.  Melt together.  Place mixture in mixing bowl and blend in the following:

2 cups sugar
4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Sift:

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Add these dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and mix well.  Put in refrigerator overnight or at least 6-8 hours.  

Pour powdered sugar on waxed paper.  Put palms of hands in the sugar.  Shape about a teaspoon of cookie mixture into a ball and roll in powdered sugar until all white.   Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 12-15minutes at 300 degrees.  NOTE:  Make sure dough is cold or powdered sugar will melt into it.

***

Macadamia Nut Bread:

1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained
1-9 oz. jar macadamia nuts, chopped (2 1/4 cups)
1 cup packaged sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup flour (sifted before measuring)
1/2 tsp. salt (reduce to 1/4 tsp. if nuts are salted)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Grease 3- 5″x3″ loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.   Mix pineapple, nuts and coconut in large bowl.  Sift flour, salt and baking powder over nut mixture.  Add sugar and mix gently until nuts and fruits are well coated.  Beat eggs in small bowl; when foamy, stir in vanilla.  Pour over nut mixture and stir until well mixed.  Spoon into prepared pans and bake 60-70 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn out loaves on wire racks to cool.  When fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and, if possible, keep 4 days before slicing.  Store in refrigerator or freezer.  Cut into thin slices to serve. Makes 3 small loaves.

***

Mom’s Holiday Quick Bread:

1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped nuts ( I use either walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup Maraschino cherries, cut either in halves or quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease loaf pan. Combine all ingredients except nuts and cherries.  Stir, then beat on high for 2 minutes.  Fold in nuts and cherries.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or 40-45 minutes, depending on size of your pan.  When done, let cool on rack.  

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. cherry juice

Combine sugar and cherry juice until all pink.  Glaze loaf when cool.

***

From our house to yours:  Merry Christmas and Happy 2021!!! We’ve earned it!

Cheryl’s Cuisine: October 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Apples, apples and more apples….whether  you get them at area Farmer’s Markets or travel to Ritter’s in Mount Cobb, as we do, it’s definitely apple season.  Apples are one of the most versatile fruits and, honestly, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like apples.  

From appetizers, breakfast, main meals, soups to desserts, apples are on the menu.   Some of my favorite varieties include Honeycrisp, Red and Golden Delicious,  Fuji, Gingergold and Gala.  

So, let’s explore ways to serve this perfect fall fruit not only for Thanksgiving, but also anytime…

German Apple Pancake

1 cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 apples, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 °.  In medium bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt.  Whisk until smooth.  Put butter in 13x9x2″ baking dish and place in oven until butter is melted. Add apple slices to baking dish and return to oven for 5 minutes.  Remove baking dish from oven and pour batter over apples.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Return to oven and bake 20 minutes.

***

Fall Apples and Chicken

2 large onions
5 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 boneless, chicken breasts, halved (approximately 2 lbs.)
3 medium apples, sliced
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup unflavored breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 °.  Coat baking dish with spray or butter.  Saute’ onions in butter, but do not brown. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken breasts.  Arrange over apple slices.  Combine cheeses with crumbs.  Sprinkle over chicken and apples.  Drizzle with cider.  Bake 35 minutes.

***

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

4 pork chops, 1″ thick
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup herb seasoned stuffing mix
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped celery
1 Tbsp.  chopped onion
1 Tbsp. chopped raisins
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. water

Cut horizontal slit in each pork chop to form a pocket. Combine butter, apple, stuffing mix, cheese, celery, onion, raisins, orange juice, and salt in small bowl.  Mix well.  Fill each pocket with stuffing mix; secure opening with wooden toothpicks.  Arrange pork chops in 12×8″ dish.  Mix Worcestershire sauce with water and brush on chops.  Bake in 350°oven for 45-60 minutes or until thermometer reaches 160-170°.

***

Scalloped Apples

5 large apples, peeled
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

This one is one of my husband’s very favorite side dishes. Slice apples into thin wedges and place in microwave-safe bowl.  Cover apples with all remaining ingredients and toss to combine.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and poke a small hole to vent.  Microwave on High for 4 minutes.  Stir well and microwave an additional 3-5 minutes or until apples are tender.  Serve hot.  

***

Glazed Apples and Carrots

10 fresh carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and sliced
5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp. golden brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter 
Dash of salt

Place carrot slices in steamer basket.  Toss apple slices with lemon juice and add to carrots in steamer.  Cover and steam just until tender.  Meanwhile, in large saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and salt.  Stir constantly over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar dissolves.  Add steamed carrots and apples, turning to coat with glaze.  Serve hot.  Makes 8 servings.

***

Autumn Salad

1 head cauliflower

2 bunches broccoli
1 large cucumber
3 stalks celery
3 carrots, peeled
1 green pepper, seeded
1/2 red onion
2 Red Delicious apples
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raisins
Buttermilk dressing

Dice vegetables, apples and cheddar into bite-sized pieces.  Combine with raisins in large bowl. Drizzle with Buttermilk Dressing.   Serves 6.

Buttermilk Dressing:

1 egg
3 tsp.  Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 cup buttermilk
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. basil
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 cups mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients in large container, whisking until well mixed.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator.  Yields: 5 cups.

***

German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen)

4 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup flour
1 tsp. lemon rind, finely grated
2 Tbsp. milk
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.   Using mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.  Add salt, lemon rind, and vanilla extract.  In separate bowl, measure flour and baking powder.  Whisk together to combine.  Add flour to sugar/egg mixture alternately with milk until a loose dough forms.  Spread batter into greased 10″ springform pan. 

Peel, core, and quarter apples.  Using a knife, make 6-8 slits into each apple quarter, leaving the slices connected on one end so apple will fan out.  Place apple fans over batter in circles to cover the batter.  Bake 40-50 minutes.  Cool  Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut and serve with sweetened whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream), or better yet…Manning’s Apple Crisp Ice Cream!!!

***

Quick Apple Crisp

6 cups peeled and sliced apples
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash salt
1/2 cup cold butter

Whipped topping or Vanilla Ice Cream or Manning’s Apple Crisp Ice Cream

Place apple slices in lightly greased, medium baking dish.  In medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Cut in butter with fork or pastry cutter until crumbly.  Sprinkle over apples in dish.  Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes, or until apples are tender.  Serve warm with whipped topping or ice cream.  Serves 6.