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postheadericon Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

As the Easter season approaches, many of us in the Coal Region look to tradition for our final indulgences in foods that were often abstained from during the Lenten season.  The day before the start of Lent, known as “Fat Tuesday” (or Shrove Tuesday) in many regions is often referred to as “Donut Day” or “Fasnacht Day” in the Pa Dutch and Coal Regions. Due to our heavy influence of Eastern European cultures and immigrants, it is also known as “Paczki Day” in many Polish households. As with other cultures in our region, the making of paczki is traditionally a way to use up all of the fat, sugar, and fruit in the house–things that are forbidden during the strict Polish Lenten season. In Poland, Paczki Day, the day when all of the last paczki are consumed, is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. In the USA, Paczki Day is the day before Ash Wednesday. The difference between these and a basic doughnut is that paczki are made with a very rich, sweet yeast dough consisting of eggs, butter and milk. Sort of like a brioche doughnut. Traditionally, paczki are fried in hot fat, but many people either do not have the kitchen equipment to deep fry, or they prefer not to do so due to health or safety concerns. This is a recipe for BAKED paczki that are just as delicious as their fried counterparts and baking them gives you a great kid-friendly recipe and opportunity to involve the younger members of the household in the process to introduce them to family traditions! Paczki can be filled with a variety of fruit jams or cremes, but the most traditional filling is a stewed plum jam or rose hip jam. The easiest way to fill these is to use a pastry bag fitted with a Bismarck Tip. If you do not have a bag/tip, you can cut a slit in the side of the baked dough and spoon in some jam. Fill with your favorite fruit preserve or even lemon curd or custard. Baked paczki last longer than fried, but are still best consumed the day they are made.

Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Baked Paczki (Polish Donuts)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups warm milk (105 to 110 degrees F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter
  • 1 large room-temperature egg
  • 3 large room-temperature egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (or rum)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Optional: Granulated sugar, Confectioners' sugar, and fruit paste or jam for filling

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolks, brandy or rum and salt until well incorporated.
  3. Still using the paddle attachment, add 4-1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for five or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth. The dough will be very slack. If very soft or runny, add up to the remaining 1/2 cup flour.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk approximately 1-1/2 to 2 -1/2 hours. Punch down, cover and let rise again.
  5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Transfer rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets, cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.
  6. Heat oven to 375F degrees.
  7. Place pączki in the oven on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toothpick tests clean when inserted into center.
  8. Remove from oven and roll in granulated sugar while still hot or confectioners' sugar when cool.
  9. To fill the pączki, let them cool completely then pipe or spoon in filling.
  10. Baked pączki are best eaten the day they are made.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/14/baked-paczki-polish-doughnuts/

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postheadericon Fasnachts

Known as “Fat Tuesday” (March 5th in 2019) in many places, in Pa Dutch country and the Coal Region it is know as “Fasnacht Day” or “Donut Day” — it occurs on Shrove Tuesday, which begins the traditional 40-day period of fasting and prayer practiced by Christians prior to Easter (famously celebrated as Mardi Gras, the term for Fat Tuesday in French, in New Orleans. In Dutch country, we celebrate by indulging in eating this deep-fried fasnacht (donut) for good luck and,  traditionally, to clear the animal fat out of the pantry before Lent begins. Fasnachts are made using all remaining supplies of lard, sugar, fat or butter, which were not to be eaten during Lent. Although every cook has their favorite — and often generations-old — recipe, fasnachts are often made using mashed potatoes. Some are round. Some are square. Some have holes in the middle. Some are yeast raised, others use baking powder as the leavening in the recipe. They can be plain, glazed, or covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar. Throughout our region churches, fire companies, schools, scout troops and other organizations sell dozens of fasnachts as a fund-raising opportunity. Many organizations gather volunteers who make their own, often turning out hundreds or thousands of dozen which then get picked up or delivered to those who have placed advanced orders. Many times, these tasty treats will be sold out quickly, so if you have a favorite fasnacht source, always place a timely order! Many local coal region bakeries sell tremendous numbers of donuts on Fasnacht Day directly to customers through their shops in addition to being the source for many groups who sell the donuts to raise funds but who do not make their own. The word Fastnacht originates from the German words “fast”, which is the shortened version of the verb “fasten”, which means “to fast”, and “Nacht”, meaning night, indicating the eve of the traditional Lenten fasting. This version uses both mashed potatoes and yeast so it will require some rise and wait time when prepping. If you would like a version made with baking soda which works up faster, I suggest using my Crullers recipe from this site.

Fasnachts

Fasnachts

Fasnachts (donuts)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white sugar, plus more for coating
  • 2 quarter ounce envelopes active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting, if desired

Instructions

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water by 2 inches and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until very tender.
  2. Drain potatoes RESERVING 1 and 1/2 cups of the potato cooking water. Drain and mash the potatoes until smooth (do not use milk, butter or other seasoning - just mash the cooked potato) . Set the mashed potatoes aside and cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed potatoes, reserved potato cooking water, sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let the mixture rise for 20 minutes; it will look foamy.
  4. Using a sieve, strain the mixture into a large bowl, smoothing out any lumps. Stir in the eggs and melted butter.
  5. Stir 5 cups of the flour, one cup at a time, until a dough starts to form.
  6. Gently knead the remaining 1 cup of flour in until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a large ball. Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to rise for 3 hours.
  7. Dust some flour onto a baking sheet.
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thick.
  9. Using a 3-inch cutter (or cut into 3 inch squares) cut out the donuts and set on the prepared baking sheet. Cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Line a baking sheet with a split brown paper bag or absorbent paper.
  11. In a deep fryer or Dutch oven, pour enough oil to fill no more than halfway up the side.
  12. Heat the oil to 365 degrees F.
  13. Place the donuts into the heated oil, two at a time. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  14. Transfer the donuts to the lined baking sheet to absorb some of the oil.
  15. While warm, place the cooked donuts into a paper bag with a spoonful of powdered or cinnamon sugar and shake gently until the donuts are well coated.
  16. Coating is optional, you may ;eave some or all plain.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/06/fasnachts/

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postheadericon Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

When I was  child in the 60s, I lived in a typical coal region home in a very small town in Schuylkill County. Unlike some towns, ours had mostly single family homes rather than “double-blocks” (known as “duplexs” or “two-family” elsewhere), many having nicely sized yards which were “landsca1ped” by the homeowners with plants, shrubs, and trees that reflected the tastes of the family living there. My home and back yard were no different. In addition to the sand pit and play area Dad put in and the metal swing set with the facing double bench swing on which my Pappy and his good friend, our next door neighbor, spent equally as much time on sitting toe to toe chatting and smoking their pipes as I did playing on it, there were “the gardens”.  Never to grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, they never-the-less brought pleasure to us. One consisted of a patch on which my Dad fed the compost pile all winter long, then turned over the soil each summer and filled with a variety of tomato starter plants bought at the local hardware store. The other patch, located directly behind the house, consisted of two peony bushes serving as bookends to the rest of the patch’s contents — a bleeding heart plant, 2 propane tanks (for the kitchen stove) and the pride and joy of my Nana — a rhubarb plant that made its presence known every spring without fail. I have many a memory of playing on the swing set, hearing the back porch door squeak as it opened then bang shut, watched my Nana come around the back of the house and harvest her rhubarb. She would gather  up the bottom hem of her cotton, ric-rac trimmed apron making a “pouch” into which she dropped the reddish tinted stalks of freshly cut rhubarb. She would turn and head to the kitchen and I knew a rhubarb crumb pie would soon be on the table. Nana loved things made with just rhubarb; the rest of the family, not so much. And so, her rhubarb crumb pie became this Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie.  (Rhubarb can also be found in supermarkets in many areas).

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 1 - 9 inch unbaked pie crust, your favorite recipe or store bought
    Filling
  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
    Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Prepare crust, refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line a cookie or baking sheet with parchment or foil
  3. Toss together rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl. Combine well then set aside.
  4. Prepare the crumbs next.
    Crumbs
  1. In a bowl, mix together the butter, flour, brown sugar, quick oats, and cinnamon. Mix by hand or with pastry blender until crumbs form.
    Assembly
  1. Remove your prepared pie crust in pan from the refrigerator.
  2. Fill the crust with the strawberry rhubarb mixture. evenly.
  3. Sprinkle evenly with the crumble topping.
  4. Place the pie on the baking sheet, place in oven, and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. Then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes until filling is bubbling and the top is browned.
  5. Allow pie to cool for at least four hours to allow the filling to set before cutting..
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/04/strawberry-rhubarb-crumb-pie/

My exact swing set when I was young.

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postheadericon Choose Your Fruit Coffee Cake

When I find myself staring at the walls or in the midst of a bad case of cabin fever…I make food.  I “cook” as much as I “bake” and if pressed to answer the question, “Which do you enjoy more?” my answer would be that baking squeaks out the win. After doing some soul searching on why that would be my choice, I realized that I have a huge file of recipes for baked goods that I can turn out quickly, often with less stress, mess, and fuss than non-desserts. Plus, there are just some days where a big ‘ole piece of cake wins out over a four-course meal in the happiness department. One of my favorite quick-to-whip-up snacks is this coffee cake which makes use of just about any fruit I might have hanging out in the fridge at any time of year. I have even used a jar of good quality jam as the fruit filling in a pinch (Oooo, I just made it easier to make – now I have no excuses not to!) This cake was a favorite of my parents. My Dad always had a cup of coffee while we were still gathered around the kitchen table after supper together every night and really liked something sweet to accompany it. After I found this recipe and made it the first time, Dad laughingly remarked it tasted “moor-ish” (he wanted “more”) and pretty much demolished the cake by the next day. After that, it became one of my most requested creations and we had a blast trying fruit after fruit throughout the year. We never did have one that emerged as a “favorite”…they were all greeted and devoured with enthusiasm. I cannot remember how many times I baked this coffee cake, but each and every time I do, in my memories I see us sitting at the kitchen table, sharing the laughs of the day with each other.  I think I’ll go stir up this cake — and some memories — right now. (Recipe from a classic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

Choose Your Fruit Coffee Cake

Yield: 9

Choose Your Fruit Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake

Ingredients

    Fruit
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups sliced, peeled apricots or peaches; chopped, peeled apples; chopped pineapple; pitted cherries; blueberries, blackberries or red raspberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    Cake
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons cold salted butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (to sour milk, mix 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar with the milk, stir, and allow to stand for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    Crumb Topping
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold salted butter

Instructions

    Filling
    Apricot/peach/apple/pineapple/cherry/blueberry filling – combine prepared fruit and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until fruit is tender.
  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into fruit. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thicken and bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set filling aside.
    Blackberry/red raspberry filling – Combine fruit, water, sugar and cornstarch. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thicken and bubbly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set filling aside.
    Prepare crumb topping
  1. Mix flour and sugar in a small bowl. Cut in cold butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside.
    Prepare Cake
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. (325F degrees if using glass baking pan)
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in butter, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
  3. In another small bowl, mix egg, buttermilk (or sour milk) and vanilla; pour into flour mixture. stir with wooden spoon until just moistened – some lumps may remain.
  4. Spread half the batter into a lightly greased 8x8x2-inch square baking pan.
  5. Spread cooled fruit filling evenly over batter.
  6. Drop remaining batter in small mounds on top of fruit filling.
  7. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
  8. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve warm or cooled. Store covered with plastic wrap for up to two days.

Notes

Rhubarb-Strawberry Coffee Cake: Prepare as above, except substitute 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cut-up rhubarb and 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened whole strawberries for fruit. Continue as directed.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/23/choose-your-fruit-coffee-cake/

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postheadericon Irish Potatoes (Candy)

Irish potato candy is a traditional Philadelphia confection that, despite its name, is not from Ireland, and this version does not contain any potato. The candies have a coconut cream inside and are rolled in cinnamon on the outside, resulting in an appearance reminiscent of tiny, freshly dug potatoes. The “potatoes” are about the size of a large marble and are especially popular around St. Patrick’s Day. Although they are Philly-based, they are available in many areas and are made commercially by Oh Ryan’s of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, who claims to be the largest distributor of Irish Potatoes, shipping about 80,000 pounds to major chains and smaller candy stores, mostly in the Philadelphia area. See’s Candies, based in South San Francisco, also makes a version.  You will often find these candies featured as a seasonal product in the Philly area and elsewhere in Eastern Pa (and beyond) in supermarkets and candy shops. It is super simple to make your own with a few ingredient! Rarely does a St Paddy’s Day go by that a container of these are not in my refrigerator. Be aware – they are addicting!

NOTE: You can substitute cocoa for the cinnamon if you prefer (especially if you do not like the “bite” of cinnamon)

Irish Potatoes Candy

Irish Potatoes Candy

Irish Potatoes Candy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/2 - 8 ounce package) full fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 2 and 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon or as needed

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth.
  3. Using your hands if necessary, mix in the coconut. Roll into one or two bite sized balls then slightly elongate the ball into a potato shape.
  4. Roll in the cinnamon.
  5. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill. Store in refrigerator tightly covered.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/21/irish-potatoes-candy/

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postheadericon Battered French Toast

My family was never fond of French toast. We liked the flavor, but took issue with the mushy interior. One evening many moons ago at my Girl Scout meeting working on a cooking badge, the recipe used to teach us basics in the kitchen was for French toast — but this French toast was dipped in a flour based batter, not just eggs and milk.  We cut each piece of bread in half to make a triangle, dipped the slices in the batter, and fried them in a mix of butter and a little oil until browned and crispy on the edges. OMG, I was in love. The next day, I was anxious to share my new found love affair with this version of French toast with Mom and Dad and it was an immediate hit. I could not fry pieces quickly enough to keep up with the demand. To this day, THIS is the only French toast I will eat. Serving options are endless and your choice. My Dad was particularly fond of a good quality grape jam smeared on top. They are great with maple syrup, fruit syrup, caramel or chocolate syrup, fresh fruit, or any flavor jam or jelly. Use your imagination when it comes to bread choices, the only requirement is to use a bread that will stand up to dipping in the batter. Try raisin bread, brioche, panettone, French bread, Italian bread, even Texas toast. If you slice your own bread, make sure to slice to about 3/4 inch thickness.

Battered French Toast

Battered French Toast

Battered French Toast

Ingredients

  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp white sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted plus additional solid butter for pan frying
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 to 12 slices of thick sliced hearty bread (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Vegetable shortening or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar together and mix well.
  2. In a square baking dish or wide bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk well. .Batter will have some lumps.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add 1 T butter and 1 T oil (or use all vegetable shortening) to pan and allow to heat through.
  5. Dip one side of a bread slice in batter, flip it over and dip the other. Allow excess batter to drip off.
  6. Place in heated pan. Repeat with enough slices to fill pan.
  7. Brown one side, flip, brown the other, adjusting heat to prevent burning.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter/bread. Add butter/oil/shortening as needed to fry.
  9. Serve immediately or hold in warm oven for serving.
  10. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, serve with toppings of your choice.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/17/battered-french-toast/

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postheadericon Stove Rags or Lokshe

Made from mashed potatoes and flour, these are kind of like Slovak/Polish tortillas. You can make them with day old mashed potatoes or cook some potatoes, make them into your regular mashed potatoes and use them that way. They are thin pancakes made out of potato dough that are baked on a hot plate or an ungreased frying pan but “back in the day” they were often cooked right on the surface of the hot coal stove.

Stove Rags or Lokshe

Stove Rags or Lokshe

Stove Rags

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cold mashed potatoes( use left-over mashed potatoes or mash hot boiled potatoes. Add milk/cream ,butter, salt as you normally would.
  • Add 2 tbsp. sugar (optional) & cool if necessary.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and shape dough into balls a little larger than a walnut. Roll out dough into circles on a floured board until thin.
  2. Brown each in a dry skillet on medium high (cast iron works well), then turn over and brown on other side.
  3. Put on plate, brush with melted butter, stack on a pile until done.
  4. Roll up and enjoy. Jelly can be used, too.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/14/stove-rags-or-lokshe/

 

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postheadericon Nougat Candy

When I was young, my family went grocery shopping at the local A & P every Friday evening because Fridays were payday for my Dad.  The local store was small, but seemed to have everything we needed at the time. As Mom, Dad, and I embarked from the Buick, Dad would drop a nickle in the parking meter, Mom would gather her pocketbook (purse) from the car and deftly drape it over her forearm, and I would run ahead to secure the perfect shopping cart (sometimes referred to a “buggy” in my area and by my folks); it was important it have no wobbles or wheels that made it undesirable for a trip around the supermarket! Upon opening the door, the smell of freshly roasted coffee hung thick in the air at the entrance/exit; a set of red coffee grinders, shoots caked with coffee grounds from previous users grinding their beans, proudly proclaimed “Eight O’Clock!”. By this time the folks had caught up with me and Mom started down the produce aisle while Dad and I went exploring. Nothing was ever more exciting to me than when we rounded the aisle that contained the thing I longed for most. I would tug on Dad’s shirt sleeve, he would dutifully bend down, and I would whisper in his ear – like I did every week –  “Did you bring some?”  “Yes,” he would answer grinning, “I brought some!”. The “some” was money. Pocket change to be exact. So very important because the object of my affection and the thing that drew me week after week was the display of individually wrapped assorted candies of which you could buy individual pieces! Right there!  Just pick your favorite, drop a nickle in the box in the center of the display, and chow down! And so we did. He picked his favorite (which seemed to vary – something I did not quite understand in my child’s reasoning) and I went right for the nougat. That individually wrapped piece of white, chewy, goodness inside which were little jewel colored gobs of flavored jellies.  Ah, my night was complete! That special little bond in childhood that Dad and I shared in that moment lives on today in my memory. Those displays are still around in markets, although the individual pieces are not 5 cents anymore. I have to admit, they do not hold the same fascination for me now these many decades later as I stand in the mega mart staring at the display. Sure, I still enjoy the candy once in awhile, but it feels like something is missing – and it is; my beloved Pop. This super-easy recipe for jelly filled nougats to create at home makes me think fondly of my Dad. It is among my favorites in my recipe collection

SOME HINTS:

  • extend parchment out ends or sides of pan to form “handles” to help with removal from pan before cutting into squares.
  • mixture is sticky, a piece of lightly greased parchment paper makes a good tool to push down and level our the mixture in the pan.
  • use a very sharp knife when cutting the nougat into squares
  • be sure to cool completely before cutting (several hours or overnight)
  • to make ahead or store: layer the cut pieces of nougat between pieces of parchment paper and place in an air tight container and freeze. To serve, let them sit for about 1 hour or 2 to bring them to room temperature.
  • you can use the gumdrops of your choice; red and green for the holidays, even spicy gumdrops, but be sure to use fresh gumdrops and SMALL gumdrops (otherwise you will need to cut large gumdrops up into smaller pieces and that’s not the best use of your time!!). Other types of “gummy” candies may not work correctly in this recipe (too tough, etc.)

Nougat Candy

Yield: About 60 bite-size pieces

Nougat Candy

Easy Nougat Candy

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 bags mini marshmallows (250g per bag)
  • 2 bags white baking chips (225g per bag)
  • 2 cups small gumdrops

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 9 inch x 13 inch pan by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Melt first 3 ingredients together, stirring often, until smooth over low heat in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in gumdrops.
  4. Spread on parchment lined 9 inch x 13 inch pan.
  5. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Cut into squares.
  6. Can be stored n refrigerator or frozen.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/14/nougat-candy/

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postheadericon Raisin Filled Cookies

Sometimes, there is a food we see, taste, or smell that evokes vivid memories of times past, and if we are lucky, of someone very special.  Raisin-filled cookies immediately bring to mind my Nana (my Mom’s mother) both because she absolutely loved these cookies and she made them all the time for us. My Nana had some real specialties in her repertoire; her chow chow, her fudge, her homemade bread, and these soft, luscious cookies with sweet cooked raisin filling sandwiched between two disks of sugar cookie dough baked to golden perfection. As a child, I always knew something special was coming out of the kitchen when Nana opened the closet door, took her over-the-head, full-bib, cotton print trimmed with ric-rac apron from the hook inside the door, pulled it over her head, patted down any loose bangs she might have displaced and started to gather ingredients needed for her current project. Now, in the 60s when I was a child, my Nana did what a lot of women in the Coal Region did – she worked Monday through Friday in a local garment factory. I remember her being dropped off by a co-worker after work (Nana never learned to drive), walking in the door wearing a cotton dress, penny loafers, and white ankle socks that were completely caked with gray and black fibers when she would take them off at night; a result of the garment factory conditions and fiber dusts the workers were exposed to. My Nana was a somewhat tall woman, opposite of my short, bow-legged Pappy (her husband), and she wore her very dark hair cut short in the back with pin curls in her bangs. She cut a commanding figure in the kitchen when she set about to create something and I can close my eyes and see every detail about Nana and the family kitchen yet today. And though it may not seem to some people that this woman who still lived in the home she was born into in 1901 and grew up in, married to a coal miner who was the love of her life for nearly 60 years, factory worker by day, would ever be described as “regal”, but that is exactly what she was to me. Regal. Gone from my life since 1975, I wish we had had more time together.  Miss you, Nana. Thanks for the memories (and the cookies!)

NOTES:

  • Use margarine as called for in this old recipe. Butter and margarine have different characteristics; butter will alter the spread and texture of these cookies.
  • There is no need to manually seal the two disks of dough over the filling. The soft dough will seal itself as it bakes and the process will allow steam to escape.
  • Do not over-fill the cookies. Make sure to keep clean edges around the sides of the disks of dough to aid in the cookies self-sealing when baking.

Raisin Filled Cookies

Yield: 2-1/2 dozen approximately depending on size

Raisin Filled Cookies

Raisin-filled Cookies

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine (no substitutes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white vinegar added, stirred and left to rest for 5 minutes
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
    Filling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 oz of dark, seedless raisins (about 1-1/2 cups)

Instructions

    Dough
  1. In a stand mixer, or by hand cream the sugar and butter. Add the salt, egg, milk, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla; mix until combined.
  2. Turn off the mixer (if using) and add all 3 cups of flour. Turn mixer on low (or stir by hand) and mix until a soft, sticky dough ball is formed.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for several hours.
    Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch well to blend and smooth any lumps.
  2. Add water and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the lemon juice and raisins and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  4. Reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Filling will be thick.
    Assembly
  1. Divide dough into 3 parts, refrigerate remaining dough while working.
  2. Dust work surface with flour and roll out dough to 1/8 inch to just under 1/4 inch thickness.
  3. Cut into 2-1/2 to 3 inch rounds with cutter. Make sure to cut even numbers of rounds.
  4. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Top each bottom cookie round with a teaspoon or so filling. Do not allow filling to go all the way to the edge of the round and do not over-fill. Press the mound of filling down lightly with dampened finger if necessary to flatten somewhat.
  6. Top the cookie and filling with another cookie round. There is no need to seal the edges, the soft dough seals and bakes together.
  7. Bake 375 F for 10 to 12 minutes rotating the sheet pan half way through. Cookies should only start to be a bit golden brown on the bottom and should stay soft.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/07/raisin-filled-cookies/

Assembly of Cookies

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postheadericon Meatless Borscht (Red Beet Soup)

A twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper is traditionally prepared in many Central European and Northern European cultures, especially those that were formerly part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian. Many modern age descendants of immigrants from those areas who settled in the Coal Region embrace some, or all, of their heritage’s Christmas Eve and Day customs. The meal consists of twelve meatless dishes representing the twelve months of the year (and perhaps in more recent times, the 12 Apostles). The tradition of the supper can be traced back to pre-Christian times and connected with remembrance of the souls of deceased ancestors. Fish, mushrooms, pierogies with assorted fillings and sweets in some cuisines are part of the meal. The Christmas Eve supper is usually held under candlelight and starts in the evening after the first star appears in the sky. The star symbolizes the birth of Jesus in Christian tradition and a soul of deceased ancestors in pre-Christian beliefs. In Poland, Russia and Ukraine an extra plate and seat are always left at the table in the belief the spirits of the departed members of the family visit on the night. It is also very customary to be even more hospitable and invite unexpected visitors to the supper. This soup is often found on the table for Christmas Eve and is a meatless version because in many of these households, Christmas Eve is a fast day and no meat is consumed (In Ukraine, for example, some people abstain from eating all-together for the whole day, until the first star appears, when a 12 course meatless meal is served for the whole family, to break the fast.). To serve this at any time when it is not necessary to be meatless, use chicken or beef broth as the base. (Source of historical information: Wikipedia)

Meatless Borscht (Red Beet Soup)

Meatless Borscht (Red Beet Soup)

Meatless Borscht

Ingredients

  • 6 cups boiling water, or vegetable soup stock
  • 2 medium red beats, peeled and shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs fresh dill , chopped
  • Sour cream for garnish

Instructions

  1. Saute 1 chopped onion in 2 Tbs oil until golden.
  2. Add shredded beats, carrot and celery.
  3. Cook for about 10 min.
  4. Add tomato paste and white vinegar, or lemon juice (I use vinegar)
  5. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add to the boiling water or soup stock.
  7. Add whole onion, bay leaf , peppercorns.
  8. Bring to boil again and simmer for 20 min.
  9. Add shredded savoy cabbage.
  10. Simmer for another 15 minutes, or until cabbage is done.
  11. Remove the whole onion , bay leaf and peppercorns.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Add chopped dill (for a more tangy flavor, you may add more vinegar, 1 tsp at a time).
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/12/21/meatless-borscht-red-beet-soup/

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