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Archive for the ‘Side Dishes & Vegetables’ Category

postheadericon Schmearcase (Cottage Cheese) and Apple Butter

This is not a “recipe” in the typical  sense, but is definitely a comfort food enjoyed in the Coal Region and PA Dutch country and I felt it deserved a shout-out. It is not at all unusual to find it on salad bars or as a side dish offering in restaurants and diners in the region. Its popularity does extend to other areas, including the Baltimore, MD area. In Pa Dutch, cottage cheese is known as schmearcase  (smearcase). You can make your own schmearcase, but the extensive availability of commercially made cottage cheese means I just buy my favorite brand and go from there. Being in the Coal Region and Pa Dutch country, I have easy access to a  multitude of brands of apple butter so, once again even though I CAN make my own, I often just purchase a jar from a local market. If you do not have access to small batch producers of apple butter and want to find it in stores, Musselman’s Apple Butter is distributed nationwide, so check with your local grocer. I like both large curd and small curd cottage cheese with apple butter.

Schmearcase and Apple Butter “recipe”
Cottage cheese of your choice
Apple Butter of your choice
Take a dab of apple butter and plop it on to a mound of cottage cheese.  That’s it!

I like my schmearcase and apple butter in lots of ways. Just to name a FEW:

  • In a bowl (then I swirl them together)
  • On toast
  • On graham crackers
  • On rice cakes
  • On freshly baked, still warm homemade bread (yummmm!)
  • On a toasted English Muffin
  • Between two slices of bread as a sandwich

Schmearcase (Cottage Cheese) and Apple Butter

Schmearcase and Apple Butter Sandwich

 

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postheadericon Polish Crepes (Nalesniki)

Eastern European and European roots run deep in the Anthracite region and these treats found their way into many Coal Region kitchens.  Polish naleśniki are crepe-like pancakes. Many know these as blintzes and eat them filled with jam, fruit, cheese or savory fillings. But no matter what you know them as, in Polish they are Nalesniki  (in Hungarian palacsinta, Lithuanians call them naliesnikai, Ukrainians call them nalysnyky, and Romanians, clatita).  They can be made “thick” or “thin”. I have chosen the thick recipe for this post in order for them to be more beginner friendly to those unfamiliar, or inexperienced, with making and cooking traditional thin crepes. This thicker version of Nalesniki is hearty and you can use them as a main dish if desired. Filled nalesniki are often pan fried in butter or baked in a buttered casserole dish until the filling is set. Another option is to dip the rolled nalesniki in beaten egg and then fine, dry bread crumbs, and then fry in butter or a small amount of hot oil until golden all around. You can roll them around their filling like an egg roll or burrito or spread with filling and fold in half, then half again. I have included some filling recipes and ideas for you in the instructions section.

Polish Nalesniki

 

Nalesniki folded

Polish Crepes (Nalesniki)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In blender or food processor with metal blade, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to a a large measuring cup or container. cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes (do not skip this step!)
  2. Using 1/8th cup measuring cup or 2 ounce ladle, portion batter into a nonstick crepe pan or small non-stick skillet that has been lightly brushed with butter. Rotate pan and swirl batter until it covers the entire bottom of pan. Cook until lightly brown or spotted brown on one side, then carefully turn and cook the other side until light brown. You may need to do a few to get the hang of the pour, swirl, cook and turn routine.
  3. Remove cooked crepe from pan and place on waxed paper or parchment. Repeat with remaining batter buttering the pan lightly for each crepe.
  4. Serve immediately or wrap tightly and freeze up to 1 month.
  5. To Fill:
  6. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling of your choice on each nalesniki and either roll like a jellyroll, OR fold the sides in first and then bottom, rolling away from you, as for an eggroll or burrito, OR fold in half, then half again.
  7. Finish either by frying in some butter or small amount of oil, serve as is, bake in a buttered casserole to set cheese filling for example, or dip in egg wash then fine bread crumbs and fry lightly to brown all sides.
  8. Fillings:
  9. Cheese Filling
  10. 2 cups dry curd (or farmers cheese or ricotta)
  11. 3 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  12. 1 large egg yolk
  13. 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  14. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  15. 3 tablespoons sugar
  16. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  17. To Make:
  18. Place cheese in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until fluffy. Divide filling among 12 crepes and roll. Fry or bake to set filling.
  19. Jam or fresh fruit, Nutella, or pie filling of your choice -- use your imagination!
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/10/11/polish-crepes-nalesniki/

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postheadericon AuGratin Cabbage

I love cabbage. It is the Pa Dutch and Eastern European influence of the Coal Region that introduced me to this lovely veggie as a child.  I love it in cold dishes and I love it cooked. Add cheese and buttery crumbs to the mix and I cannot wait for this casserole to come out of the oven. It consists of a smooth, creamy, cheesy sauce tossed with par-boiled cabbage then topped with buttery crumbs and baked until browned and bubbling. It is a wonderful way to use up that partial head of cabbage in the veggie bin. For an extra cheese kick, use finely crushed cheese crackers like Goldfish or Cheez-its for the topping crumbs. Either give the cracker a whirl in the food processor until fine, or place the crackers in a zip lock bag and pound with a rolling pin.  Shake the bag periodically to move the larger un-crushed pieces around and repeat until all the pieces are finely crushed.

AuGratin Cabbage

AuGratin Cabbage

Ingredients

  • Approximately 4 cups shredded Cabbage, medium shred (about 1/2")
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed crackers OR bread crumbs (Goldfish, Cheez-it, Ritz, Keebler Club crackers, etc)
  • 2 T melted butter

Instructions

  1. Cook cabbage in a small amount of lightly salted water with a pinch of sugar added. Do not overcook, should be tender-crisp.
  2. Prepare sauce:
  3. Melt 3 T butter in sauce pan, add flour, salt and pepper. Stir and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add in milk gradually. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth.
  4. Drain water from cabbage. Alternate layers of cabbage and sauce into a greased casserole.
  5. Melt 2 T butter and toss with the 1/2 cup crumbs of your choice until well coated., Sprinkle top of casserole evenly with crumbs.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or till bubbling and crumbs are browned.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/10/09/augratin-cabbage/

 

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postheadericon Creamed Cucumbers

This cucumber salad is very simple, but delicious. It can be found as a side dish offering at some diners and restaurants in the Coal Region and in Pa. Dutch country. You can use common cucumbers in this salad, but the English/European cucumbers – sometimes referred to as “seedless” – have much fewer seeds and are less “watery” making them the preferred choice for keeping the dressing on this salad from becoming too runny. English/European cucumbers are found in the US in grocery stores usually encased in a plastic wrapping. If using regular cucumbers, I peel them, then use a spoon to scoop the interior seed pocket out to get rid of the excess seeds and moisture. Because cucumbers are available in grocery stores year-round, this salad can also be made year-round.

Creamed Cucumbers

 

Creamed Cucumbers

Ingredients

  • 1 - 12 to 14 inch English/European cucumber (also referred to as "seedless"
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • salt
  • 2 Tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1- 2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • sour cream as needed (approx. 1/2 to 1 cup)
  • pepper
  • fresh or dried dill weed (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and very thinly slice cucumber and onion. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and let stand in a colander for a few minutes.
  2. Pat with towel or absorbent paper to take off all moisture possible.
  3. Place cucumbers and onions in serving dish, add the vinegar and sugar and mix.
  4. Toss with enough sour cream to lightly cover the cukes and onion and sprinkle with pepper.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh or dried dill weed to your taste if desired.
  6. Stir and chill before serving to allow flavors to blend.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/10/08/creamed-cucumbers/

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postheadericon Pa Dutch Baked Butter Beans

I am a huge fan of beans and remember eating butter beans as far back as my memory will go. So, it is no wonder this recipe quickly became a favorite of mine.  What makes it different than typical baked bean dishes is that it uses condensed tomato soup rather than tomato sauce or ketchup in the sauce. This recipe was given to me by my best friend who was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania (Bethlehem, Pa.) She married and spent the remainder of her life in the heart of the Coal Region, Ashland, Pa. I have made these beans many times and find them to be a step up from “typical” baked beans. They never last long enough to become left-overs when served at dinners or pot-lucks.  If you are a butter bean/lima bean fan, I recommend you give this recipe a try.  I used canned butter beans in the 40 ounce size from Hanover.  Use any brand canned butter bean available in your area, but do not used “seasoned” butter beans because the added seasonings differ from brand to brand and will alter the results and flavor of this recipe.

Pa Dutch Baked Butter Beans

Pa Dutch Baked Butter Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 - 40 ounce can butter beans, drained lightly but not rinsed
  • 1-1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 - 10.75 ounce can Campbell's condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup diced uncooked bacon
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients except bacon together then pour into baking dish. Sprinkle top with the bacon pieces.
  2. Bake 350F degrees for 55 - 60 minutes.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/10/04/pa-dutch-baked-butter-beans/

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postheadericon Super Simple No Cook Cranberry Relish

Okay, I admit it. As a kid (well, um, as an adult, too…) I was always entertained by the jellied cranberry sauce in a can. Especially when it is released from its tin as a whole log and sliced in rounds to be served up along side “the bird” at holiday meals.  But, my tastes did grow up (some) and I sometimes want something a bit more, shall we say “complex”  in my holiday cranberry offerings.  This super simple, no cook  fresh Cranberry Relish takes the sweet/sour flavors we love in the Coal Region and Pa. Dutch country and brings them together in a side that takes advantage of plentiful fresh cranberries in grocery stores during the final months of the year.  Buy some extra bags when you see them, they freeze beautifully and will allow you to make this relish all year round (goes great with Easter Ham). This relish is no-cook, quick to make, and delicious.

No Cook Cranberry Relish

Super Simple No Cook Cranberry Relish

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh, uncooked cranberries
  • 1 orange, unpeeled
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Place cranberries and orange in food processor or food grinder. Process until fine.
  2. Stir in sugar and walnuts(if using nuts). Combine well.
  3. For best flavor, refrigerate for 24 hours before serving, stirring several times.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/26/super-simple-no-cook-cranberry-relish/

 

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postheadericon Pa. Dutch Potato Filling

This recipe for potato filling has been a staple in my repertoire for as long as I can remember. Although some people in some regions would call this “stuffing”, this is always “filling” to me whether it is a potato based one like this or a bread based one.

I make this several times throughout the year to accompany many meals. I also make it in large batches, portion it into foil pans, tightly wrap it, and freeze for future use. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and simply place foil pan right in the oven to bake when desired.

You can use it to stuff a bird, but I always bake it in a separate well-buttered dish on its own. This potato filling makes a delicious substitute for other potato dishes. This recipe is forgiving and you can alter amounts of ingredients to your taste, but this is the basic “start”. You can brown the top and bottom, or cook it just until heated through. Personally, I love some bottom browned “crust”!

Pa. Dutch Potato Filling

Yield: About 1-1/2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 5 - 6 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk (or more as needed to adjust the final consistency to your liking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped into small dice
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped into small dice (I also use a generous amount of leaves, too)
  • 4 - 5 cups cubed home-style white bread (I often buy day old store bakery bread for this)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously butter a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Cook potatoes in water until soft enough to mash. Drain, mash and beat in milk, salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl.
  3. Melt the 8 tablespoons of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook until soft, about 10 minutes or so. I like my onions and celery cooked well and very slightly browned to bring out the flavors . Add to potatoes, using slotted spoon.
  4. Sauté bread cubes in same skillet until brown and crispy, adding more butter if needed. Transfer bread to potatoes.
  5. Add the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper to potato mixture. Mix thoroughly; transfer to baking dish. Dot the casserole with butter bits. Bake in oven until hot, about 35 - 40 minutes. Cover with foil if top browns too much. I like my filling to get a browned crust along the bottom of the pan, so I bake it a little longer, - up to an hour - just making sure it does not dry out.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/23/pa-dutch-potato-filling/

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postheadericon Colcannon

The Coal Region is home to many with deep Irish roots. The discovery of Anthracite and the plentiful work for miners led many Irish laborers, escaping oppression and the infamous potato famine, to the Coal Region. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish consisting of cabbage (or kale) and onion (or leeks) fried until tender then folded into creamy mashed potatoes. Bacon may be added if desired. Every family has “their” recipe and each will be a little bit different than the others. Colcannon makes a terrific side dish with ham or corned beef, but it can be a meal in itself. Simple, down-to-earth comfort food that’s easy on the budget and sure to please your taste buds. HINT: Form refrigerated leftovers into patties and fry in a pan in some melted butter until browned on both sides.

Colcannon

Colcannon

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, chopped (or substitute with kale)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, reserving drippings, crumble and set aside. In the reserved drippings, saute the cabbage and onion until soft and translucent.
  3. Drain the cooked potatoes, mash with milk and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the bacon, cabbage, and onions, then transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the melted butter. Serve immediately.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/20/colcannon/

 

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postheadericon Pa. Dutch Pepper Cabbage

A sweet and sour side dish, this features a German, Pa. Dutch, and Coal Region favorite — cabbage — but this time it is not in a creamy dressing as in Cole slaw, but a sweet/sour clear syrup dotted with colorful specs of sweet bell peppers. Some purists use only green pepper, I use a mix of red and green…I like the look!  Some people add some onion, celery, or even carrot, I do not.  I’m “sorta” purist!

This lasts a long time in the refrigerator thanks to the vinegar content.  I love to serve it with many dishes including my Pa. Dutch Chicken Pot Pie.   It’s great to take to a potluck or picnic because it contains no mayonnaise. You want your cabbage and veggies finely chopped like in the photo. You can use a box grater to prep by hand or a food processor, but if using the processor, do in small batches to avoid ending up with a mushy mess of watery veggies.

Pa. Dutch Pepper Cabbage

Pa. Dutch Pepper Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 1 - 2 pound head cabbage, quartered and core removed
  • 1 large sweet red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1 large green bell pepper, quartered and seeded (OR use all green bell pepper)
  • Dressing:
  • For the sweet and sour dressing:
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper or to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the cabbage into 4 quarters, remove the core from each quarter, then coarsely chop each quarter into smaller pieces to aid in grinding nicely in the processor . Working in batches, place one quarter of the coarsely-chopped cabbage in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Using a series of 25 -30 rapid on-off pulses, process to a fine chop. Transfer cabbage to a large baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and a few layers of paper towels and refrigerate for about an hour to drain.
  2. Prep the bell peppers as directed, and, in two batches, using a series of 15 rapid on-off pulses, process them to a fine chop. Place chopped peppers on a paper towel lined plate and refrigerate for about an hour to drain.
  3. Place the cabbage and peppers in a large bowl. In a bowl, stir all of the dressing ingredients together.
  4. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and peppers and stir thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate, several hours or preferrably overnight, giving it a stir whenever it's convenient.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/19/pa-dutch-pepper-cabbage/

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postheadericon Browned Butter Egg Noodles

It does not get any simpler than this…Tender cooked egg noodles tossed with nutty, roasted browned butter and bread crumbs. I am Dutchie and Coal Cracker through and through and never met a noodle I didn’t like.  Top them with browned butter and I am in love. This is a dish that can accompany many meats and vegetables as a side, especially yummy with gravy or sauces, but I have a confession — I love them all by themselves, nestled in the middle of a warm plate, just begging to be adored and devoured! My childhood is filled with memories of Mom making these and they are still an absolute favorite of mine. A tip: do not walk away while browning the butter.  It can go from “not-quite-there-yet” to “well, that didn’t go as planned burned” almost in the blink of an eye.

Browned Butter Noodles

Browned Butter Egg Noodles

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles, size noodle of your choice from thin to very wide
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until brown, watching carefully to make sure it does not burn. Heat slowly, stir often, and DO NOT WALK AWAY!
  3. Once lightly brown and emitting a slight "nutty" fragrance, immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Add breadcrumbs and stir until the crumbs are well coated. Add the drained noodles, toss to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle with the parsley when serving. Serve immediately.
  6. Notes: You can use more or less butter as desired. When browning butter, stir at the bottom of the pan. That is where the butter browns and burns the fastest. If your pan has a dark interior, you will have to scoop some of the butter into a spoon to check the color.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/19/browned-butter-egg-noodles/

 

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