Sunday, November 3, 2013

Since The Little Man has entered our lives, it hasn't exactly left scads of time for theatrical pursuits.  But I was able to perform in a short-run production of ‘The Daly News’, a musical about a family in WWII-era Milwaukee, scattered across the globe in various service roles.  I've always hated the term ‘short-run’, which makes it sound like there wasn't as much work involved somehow.  3 months of rehearsing begged to differ.

Anyway, I played the quippish matriarch of the family, and at one point lamented rationing, and the difficulties it caused in making a ‘Krantz’ for one of the kids’ birthdays.  I had never heard of such a beast before, so naturally I did a little homework and came up with my own approximation of the recipe. 

In all fairness, the original recipe was a bit different, more involved, etc.  But I figure, if you got a good thing going, why mess with it, right?  So, I ever so slightly tweaked my cinnamon roll recipe and used it here.

Chocolate Almond Krantz


2 packages active dry yeast
¼ c sugar
1/3 c butter, melted
1 c + 2 Tbs warm water (about 110°F)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 c bread flour
1 ½ c all-purpose flour


1/3 c butter, melted
1/3 c dark chocolate chips
½ c good-quality cocoa
½ c confectioner’s sugar (plus more if needed)

¾ c slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tbs sugar

Sugar syrup:

2/3 c water
1 ¼ c sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, butter and water.  Stir to combine.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes so the yeast can ‘bloom’ (prepare the filling below while you wait).

Attach a dough hook to the mixer and add the salt, vanilla, lemon zest and egg.  Mix for a few seconds to break up the egg a bit.  Add the flours all at once (the bread and a/p flour was the combo I used, but I’m sure you could do it with all a/p – it just won’t be quite as tender of a dough) and turn mixer on a medium-low setting, allowing to mix until all of the flour is incorporated into the mixture.  If the dough seems too sticky to work with, add an additional ¼ - ½ cup of flour.

To make the filling:  in a medium mixing bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips (either in the microwave or over a double-boiler).  Stir in the cocoa and powdered sugar.  The mixture should be the consistency of room temperature butter, so add more powdered sugar if your mixture is too runny.  Separate from the chocolate mixture, process the almonds and sugar in a food processor until the almonds are finely chopped.

Sprinkle a work surface with flour and turn out dough.  Form into a rectangle and roll out to about ½” thickness.  How wide should be determined by how you intend to form the krantz – for two loaves, roll out to about 20” long.  For individual (‘mini’) size, roll out longer.  Spread surface of dough with the chocolate mixture to within about ½” of the edge.  Sprinkle evenly with the almond/sugar mixture.  Roll the dough into a log starting at one of the long ends and then even out the log so that it is a consistent diameter from end to end (about 2” for minis and about 4” or so for the loaves).  With a sharp knife, cut the roll lengthwise down the center.  Moisten one of the ends with a little bit of water and press the other cut end to attach.  Wind the two pieces around each other, forming a ‘rope’, and keeping the cut side facing up.  Attach the other two ends together in the same manner that you did the first end.

For loaves, cut the rope in half and place in two greased loaf pans (cut side up).  For the minis, cut into 2 – 3” pieces and place cut side up into two greased muffin pans.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise an additional 15 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.  When dough has finished rising, place in oven.  Bake approximately 15 – 18 minutes for minis and approximately 30 minutes for loaves (test for doneness by inserting wood skewer into center – should come out clean).  If tops begin to brown too quickly, loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil.

While krantz is baking, prepare sugar glaze**:  Combine water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove.  Bring to a full rolling boil and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.

When the krantz is done (and still hot), remove from oven and immediately glaze with sugar syrup.  As glaze is absorbed, add more.  You will use most, if not all, of the glaze.

Serve krantz warm or at room temperature.

**The sugar glaze is a good way to ‘doctor’ the flavor a bit.  Add brandy, rum or bourbon (a Tablespoon, or up to ¼ cup) to the water and sugar before cooking (reduce amount of water to compensate).  Or add a scraped vanilla bean to the sugar syrup after cooking and allow to steep for a few minutes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Lazy Man's (or Woman's) Pot Pie

Maybe the key to keeping on track with my posting is to not try to be so long-winded in my introductions.  So, I'll get to the point, which makes sense, since this is really about a quick meal.

Basically, I was looking for a chicken pot pie without the pie crust (which I hate to make).  So I settled on biscuits instead, but went with a skillet version, so it didn't even require rolling and cutting.  This was a 30 minute meal that was soul-satisfying.

Lazy Man's Chicken Pot Pie

Pot Pie Filling:

1 rotisserie chicken
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups cubed Yukon Gold potatoes (the smaller the cubes, the quicker they'll cook - also, I didn't bother to peel mine)
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper (I like a lot of black pepper in this - adjust accordingly)
2 Tbs flour
1/2 bottle hard cider
2 - 3 cups chicken stock


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp black pepper
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes + 1 Tbs for skillet
1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 425°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Allow the butter to melt and just begin to sizzle, then add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.  Add the potatoes, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over the top and combine into other ingredients.  Allow to cook for a couple of minutes.  Pour cider and 2 cups of chicken stock over the mixture.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, adding more stock if the mixture gets too thick.

Meanwhile, prepare biscuits.  Add 1 Tbs butter to a cast iron skillet and place in the oven to allow the butter to melt (keep and eye on it and pull out of oven once butter has melted).  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, Parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add butter cubes and cut into mixture using a pastry blender or two knives.  Pour buttermilk over the mixture and stir just until completely combined.  If mixture is still dry (a lot of loose flour on the bottom), add additional buttermilk, 1 Tbs at a time, just until mixture is moistened and sticks together.

Drop spoonfuls (about twice the size of a golf ball) into the prepared pan, allowing the biscuits to just touch.  Place in oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until tops are golden.

Meanwhile, pull meat off the chicken and cut into large cubes (you will not need to use the entire chicken, unless it is small).  Add to the vegetables in the skillet and stir to combine.  Again, if mixture is getting too thick, add more chicken stock.  Heat through and keep at a low simmer.

Pour mixture over biscuits to serve.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



That’s the only way I can think of to describe what happened to the time and my motivation to keep current on my little blog.

With O2 working full-time now, I could say that my impetus to cook on a regular basis has diminished somewhat, but that’s not really true.  In her stead is this rambunctious little scamp who eats practically everything.  Truly, I think the only thing I’ve seen him turn down is lettuce.  He LOVES food.

{side story having little to do with the subject of the current post}
I was at the Saturday Market down in Eugene a couple of weekends ago and bought a pint of fresh strawberries.  I had the Munchkin in tow, and when he saw the strawberries, he indicated in no uncertain terms that he wanted them…  like, NOW.  So I handed him one and continued along.  He made short work of it and was given another and another.
He was obviously enjoying himself, becoming quickly covered in strawberry juice (in a white polo shirt, no less) and eliciting comments from the occasional passer-by.  About this time, I started to realize that I didn’t see a collection of leaves and stems.  And so I watched him devour yet another strawberry from the top down to the tip, greenery and all.
That story somewhat ties into this post because it was during that trip that I happened upon a shop selling infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars and other related items (pastas, seasonings, etc).  After a little tasting session, I came away with a nice, fruity, Italian olive oil and a peach-infused balsamic vinegar.  I immediately knew what I wanted to do with them.
This makes for a good summer-centric meal since the chicken can obviously be grilled outdoors, and the only indoor cooking would involve making the quinoa on the stovetop (couscous would be another good option here).  But here in Oregon, it’s June, and we’re still enjoying mildly warm days, so I just used my grill pan on the stove.  This was a big hit with the Munchkin (who got it as is, minus the almonds, since I wasn’t confident he’d actually chew them first), even with the heat from the chipotle powder.  He discovered that he loves fresh peaches almost as much as strawberries.
Grilled Chicken with Almond-Peach Quinoa
1/4 cup peach-flavored balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (good quality)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
Zest from one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
About 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp salt
1 peach, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/3 - 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper.  Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.  Pour out about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a shallow dish.
Set a grill pan over medium-high heat and season with a little olive oil (or prepare outdoor grill).
Rinse and pat the chicken thighs dry.  Season with mixture of garlic powder, chili powder, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Add to dish with the vinaigrette mixture, along with lemon juice.  Turn to coat chicken with mixture.
When grill pan is hot, add chicken and cook, turning when it is brown on one side, approximately 10 minutes total.
Meanwhile, set a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbs olive oil.  Add quinoa and allow to toast for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add water or stock and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to sit for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.  Pour in remaining vinaigrette mixture, add peaches and almonds, and stir to combine.  Serve with grilled chicken.