Saturday, November 26, 2011

                                     Meat & Cabbage Loaf in Pastry
The last time Anna & I spent the day cooking together we tried to re-create something that she fondly remembered her Czech grandmother making. It was a thin pastry encrusted loaf of mostly ground beef and cabbage. So, based on her memories, my cooking experience and our enthusiasm, we did it and I'm sharing the recipe with you below.

For the pastry crust I used an oil based whole wheat dough that is very easy to put together and a joy to roll out. It doesn't shrink back and can be stretched very thin. The filling is a traditional combination of onions, cabbage, beef and seasonings. You could give it more of a stuffed cabbage flavor by cooking chopped tomato, lemon, brown sugar & raisins to the cabbage. I plan on creating a vegetarian version as well.

When served with mashed potatoes and a green salad, a 3" slice was very filling and delicious. You could also cut individual slices, wrap well and freeze. This recipe made two 15" loaves, enough to serve 10 people.

        Meat & Cabbage Loaf in Pastry         by Anna & Bonni 
Make the pastry first and while it is rising for 1 hour, make & cool the filling.

Whole Wheat Yeasted Olive Oil Pastry
Yeasted crusts are easier to manipulate — they don’t crack and tear. Remember to roll this out thinly so that it doesn’t become too bready.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used White Whole Wheat)
1 cup unbleached All Purpose flour (more as needed)
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the sugar, and allow to sit until the mixture is creamy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. Combine the flours and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. You can use a bowl and wooden spoon for this, or a mixer — combine the ingredients using the paddle. Work the dough until it comes together in a coherent mass, adding flour as necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for a few minutes, adding flour as necessary, just until the dough is smooth — do not overwork it. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a couple of times, and cut into two equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball without kneading it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for five minutes. Then divide in half when directed in the recipe below.

Yield: Makes enough to encase two 12-inch meat strudel loaves, or
one 10- or 11-inch double-crusted torte or galette, or two 10-inch tarts.

Advance preparation: You can make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate. Once rolled out, the dough will keep for a month in the freezer if it’s well wrapped.

Recipe by Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at

Meat Filling – makes enough for two 15” loaves

2 lbs ground beef
3 large onions, sliced thinly
1 large head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup dry wine (use white or red, whatever you prefer)
canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 c breadcrumbs (amt may vary based on moisture level of filling)
Salt, pepper & herbs to taste

Egg wash:  beat a whole egg with 1 tsp of cold water or cream
Sauté onions in a LARGE frying pan on medium heat, stirring often after liquid evaporates.  Lower heat, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste, and watch carefully until onions are limp and almost totally soft.  Remove onions to a large bowl. 

Don’t clean the frying pan and sauté the cabbage in the same pan at medium heat, covering for a while to help steam/soften them. Remove cover and raise temperature to help moisture evaporate. When there is no liquid left, add parsley, 1/2 cup wine, salt & pepper to taste, and lower temperature & keep mixing until that liquid evaporates. Cook until cabbage is cooked through, then add to onions in the bowl.

Don’t clean the flying pan, add a little drizzle of oil to the hot pan and cook the meat, breaking clumps up with a fork, until it turns brown. Don’t over-fill the frying pan or the meat will steam and turn grey. When no more red is visible, add the drained meat to the bowl with onions & cabbage and mix well. Taste to correct seasoning. You can add herbs and/or ground garlic to taste.  Add two beaten eggs and enough breadcrumbs to bind everything. Don’t make it overly dry. Cool filling.

When the pastry has risen (it won’t be huge), divide pastry into two equal halves. Roll out into a very thin rectangle of dough. It will be easy to roll and not shrink back. Repeat with other piece of dough. Divide filling in half and form a lightly compact loaf down the length of the pastry, leaving enough dough to fold in at the ends.

Fold short ends up over loaf first, then fold over the long sides. Pinch dough to seal. Turn each loaf, smooth side up, onto a cookie sheet covered with oiled parchment or non-stick silicone pad. Paint with egg wash twice. Using a scissor or sharp little knife, make slits in pastry along the top, approximately 3” apart.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven with two racks placed equally distant in oven. Bake for 18 minutes, then reverse trays back to front, and switch locations on racks top to bottom. Bake another 18 minutes or until crust is fully baked. This crust will not turn very brown so watch carefully.  Remove and cool on a rack.  Slice & serve.

 baking from "Inside the Jewish Bakery" BEGINS

The schedule has been set and the first item in December will be Mohn (Poppy seed) Bars; Lace Cookies (Florentines) the next week, and finally Honey Whole Wheat Challah. Since I'll be in NYC for the holidays, I won't be baking the rest of the Dec. recipes with the group, but will make up those items (Almond Buns and Honey Cake) on my own time, and share it with you. I'm getting hungry already. 

The plan is that Anna & I will bake the recipe initially and I'll share our experience with you via this blog. I'd love to have your comments, questions, memories, etc. The next week we'll bake that recipe to order for anyone who would like to buy some. Details to come.

If you're planning to come to The Village of the Arts for our Dec 2 & 3 ArtWalk, you'll be treated to the annual LIGHTING OF THE VILLAGE Fri night complete with carolers, Santa & unique holiday gifts from the galleries. 

I'll be set up Fri night & Sat in the driveway of my TreeHouse,  932 12th St W, complete with Breadstix, Chocolate Orgasms, Zoo Parade of unique holiday cookies to order and samples of Mohn Bars from the FIRST BAKE. 

I'd love to see you & wish you "Happy Holidays" in person.

Hugs from my TreeHouse kitchen,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In search of the bakery items of my childhood

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY in the 50's . From my earliest memories there was always wonderful bread, (rye, pumpernick or corned rye) on the table. I didn't know anything about fluffy Wonder Bread until I started  school. When our third grade class toured the Wonder Bread factory it ended with each of us receiving an adorable mini loaf, complete with mini-wrapper, to take home.

Those were the days when kids went home for lunch in elementary school. I brought my still warm mini-loaf home and marveled as I slathered peanut butter on a slice and it melted. For me, a kid whose mother only used the oven cavity to store pots & pans, it was a miracle. I had never experienced hot bread before and when the peanut butter melted, I was both surprised and fascinated. Who would have dreamt that half a century later I would become a self-taught baker operating a bakery/cafe.

This blog is a throw-back to that kid. The one whose early years were filled with chewy rye bread, crunchy  onion pletsel slathered in butter and fresh bialys embracing cream cheese & lox. When I was lucky, my father brought home a chunk of seven-layer cake. I admired its architecture on par with Frank Lloyd Wright viewing Fallingwater.

With the October 15, 2011 publication of "Inside the Jewish Bakery" by Stan Ginsberg & Norm Berg, I plan to re-create the unique bakery items I fondly remember. I've joined an international  group of amateur bakers who subscribe to, where the book first took root. We are planning to bake our way through the book, one recipe per week, and compare our results. For myself, I want to taste all of the delicious items I always saw on the other side of the bakery counter. I suspect some memories may be triggered along the way too. 

Anna (who has worked with me since she was 13) & I will be baking partners on this journey. By joining us through this blog you'll have an opportunity to learn, comment and share ideas & memories. The actual recipes will not be published; for that you'll have to buy the book, which I highly recommend.

The following week we'll bake our final version of the recipe. If you're local and would like to taste the results of that week's bake, you can pre-order some. Details to follow. Our journey begins at the beginning of December 2011.