Archives for December 2013

Holiday Traditions by Chef Jean True

Holiday traditions, many based on our ancestry, are what makes this season so special. Perhaps you bring out ornaments from Great Aunt Lizzie, an embroidered tablecloth brought from England by your grandma, or family recipes to be enjoyed by all. Of course, I have my Swedish grandma’s butter cookie recipe, German Sauerbraten, and my Hungarian grandma’s coffee cake. It is made of yeast dough; little balls rolled in sugar and ground walnuts, then baked in an Angel food cake pan – so delicious on Christmas morning.

And, now enters Facebook…a source to connect with friends and family as we all know. Recently, I received a request to be friends with Gabriella Szepessy. What?? Szepessy is my Hungarian maiden name and not that common, especially here in the Midwest. It turns out that she is my fourth cousin (I think), living in Budapest with her family. I couldn’t be happier getting to know her. Turns out she is quite a serious ballerina, a very good student, and happy to know of her cousin in Winfield.

Jean Blog photoSeveral weeks ago I asked her if she might send me her family’s traditional Christmas dessert recipe. And, she sent one of Hungary’s most famous desserts; Zserbo Szelet or Gerbeaud Cake, originally from the famous Gerbeaud Cafe in Budapest. Of course, I had to make it immediately. It is quite easy and turns out perfectly, really! Here’s a picture of it before baking.  Gerbeaud Cake has now become a new tradition in my home.


½ pound walnuts
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups unsalted, cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1  2 oz fresh cake yeast
½ cup sour cream
24 oz. apricot preserves

Process the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Add the 1 cup sugar. Pulse until finely ground and combined; set aside.
Combine the flour, baking soda, 1 tbsp sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times. Add the butter and process till crumbly. Add the egg, yolks, crumbled yeast, and sour cream.
Process till completely combined. Put mixture on a bread board, and knead several minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces
Roll 1 piece to fit a jelly-type baking pan. Place in the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin layer of preserves on top of the dough, and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the nut mixture. Repeat layers, ending with the 4th piece of dough on top. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After the cake has risen, bake for 45 minutes…when completely cooled, trim the edges to a rectangle.
Frost with a thin layer of 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tbsp butter. Spread the chocolate mixture over the entire cake. Set for 30 minutes or so. With a sharp knife, cut into individual pieces, about 2 x 4 inch rectangles.

Bon Appetit and “Kellemes Unnepeket” (happy holiday season)!

Petite Chocolate Cakes with Espresso Caramel Glaze

Petite Chocolate Cakes with Espresso Caramel Glaze
  1. Cake
  2. 31 oz. sugar
  3. 20 oz. flour
  4. 5.5 oz. cocoa powder
  5. .50 oz. baking powder
  6. .50 oz. baking soda
  7. .40 oz. salt
  8. 6.68 oz. eggs
  9. 16 oz. milk
  10. 7 oz. vegetable oil
  11. .40 oz. vanilla
  12. 16 oz. boiling water
  13. Glaze
  14. ½ c. butter
  15. 2/3 c. brown sugar
  16. 2 T. brewed coffee
  17. 2 T. corn syrup
  18. Pinch of salt
  19. Espresso sugar
  1. To Make Cake
  2. Combine all the dry. Combine all the wet but the water. Add wet into the dry with paddle attachment on medium speed. After combined add water. Fill pans 2/3 full and bake at 350.
  3. To Make Glaze
  4. In a small saucepan, melt butter and sugar, add in coffee, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cool slightly and drizzle over cake. Dust cake with espresso sugar or crushed espresso coffee beans.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Tabletop Treasures: Old and New by Anne Lautz

Have you ever wished you could start over with all new dishes in order to set the “perfect “ table for a special dinner?  Our family will be together for the first time in a year, the day after Christmas.  As the mom, I would like that first dinner together to be perfect with much laughter and love being shared around the dining room table as we eat and reminisce.  Since a complete tableware re-do is not an option, perhaps some additions to what I already have is a possibility. With that thought in mind, I recently gathered items from my hutch and closet into a laundry basket and went to Marcel’s where I enlisted help from my co-workers Janie and Rita.  Our creative juices started flowing! 

A beautiful gray Garnier* tablecloth purchased several months ago was the foundation for two possible table settings. The fabric has both gold and silver threads, which compliments the metal tone edges found in my different dish patterns. In each of the tablescapes, I also used beautiful linen napkins* as well as antique silverware inherited from my husband’s great aunt. 

For our first table, salad plates from my mother’s wedding china were paired with my mother-in-law’s china dinner plates.  Since both of these women were wonderful role models for our family, it will be a tribute to and memory of them.  Under the dinner plates and centerpiece we placed gold tone Chilewich Dahlia pattern placemats* that complimented the gold threads in the tablecloth and the edges of the two china patterns.  A white mercury Christmas tree* provided a great centerpiece.  Here’s what that table looked like:

Anne's Blog Pic 1

For the second table, this time we layered white salad plates edged in grey and silver, with Arte Italica glass and pewter rimmed dinner plates*.  The centerpiece was a silver mercury Christmas tree* sitting on a gorgeous Arte Italica cake stand*. 

Anne's Blog Pic 2

I appreciated the ability to accessorize and update old family keepsakes with new treasures from Marcel’s.  Have fun if you incorporate some new pieces into your tablescapes; I know I did!

*Indicates Marcel’s treasures

Prosecco Pear Cocktail

Prosecco Pear Cocktail
  1. 6-8 cardamom pods, crushed
  2. 1 cinnamon stick
  3. 1 – 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and crushed
  4. ½ cup water
  5. ½ cup sugar
  6. 1 cup pear nectar
  7. 1 bottle Prosecco
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the cardamom pods, water, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon stick to a boil. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Syrup should thicken slightly. Return heat to medium high and add pear nectar.  Bring back to a boil and remove syrup from heat. Cover and let stand 30 minutes to infuse cardamom. Strain syrup and chill until ready to use. Fill glasses with 2 oz. syrup and top with Prosecco
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Vanilla Cakes with Citrus Marmalade

Vanilla Cakes with Citrus Marmalade
  1. 1½ c. butter, softened
  2. 2 c. brown sugar
  3. 1 c. sugar
  4. 5 large eggs
  5. ¾ c. milk
  6. ¼ c. Dark Rum
  7. 2 t. vanilla
  8. 3 c. flour
  9. 1 t. baking powder
  10. 1 t. salt
  11. s.a.l.t. sisters Vanilla Sugar
  12. Citrus Marmalade
  13. 600 g. Cleaned Fresh Lemons, Oranges, Meyer Lemons, or combination of all three
  14. 420 g. Sugar
  15. Additional additions: thyme, basil, rosemary, star anise, vanilla bean, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, mint,
  1. Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy about 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add sugars, beating 4-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated. Combine milk, rum, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add to butter mixture, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared tart pans. Bake 15 minutes then cool in pan for 10 minutes. Once cooled, core out a small hole in the top of each tart. Fill with citrus marmalade, dust with vanilla sugar, and serve.
  6. Marmalade
  7. Clean citrus by first washing them well in warm water. Cut citrus into big slices avoiding the core but leaving the skin on. Weight slices to get total recipe weight of 600 grams. Plus the citrus to desired chunkiness in the food processor being careful not to puree. Add sugar, cover and refrigerate overnight (easiest to refrigerate in the pot you will be cooking the jam in and when covering, press the saran down in contact with the surface of the citrus/sugar combination.
  8. Return to low heat and stir continuously until skin/rind appear translucent. Pour into sterilized jam jars or suitable container.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Chicken Bisteeya

Chicken Bisteeya
Serves 8
  1. 2 T. unsalted butter
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  3. 12 bone-in chicken thighs
  4. 2 c. water
  5. Cilantro
  6. Parsley
  7. Crushed saffron threads
  8. Black pepper
  9. One Cinnamon Stick
  10. ½ t. ground ginger
  11. ¼ t. turmeric
  12. 4 large eggs
  13. ¼ c. plus 1 T. confectioner’s sugar
  14. 2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  15. ½ c. unsalted butter
  16. Almond Mixture
  17. 2 c. whole blanched almonds, toasted
  18. ¼ c. confectioner’s sugar
  19. 1 t. cinnamon
  20. 1 box phyllo dough, thawed
  1. In a Dutch Oven, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron, and turmeric and cook over medium heat, stirring until softened. Add the chicken, the water, cilantro, parsley, and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken in the juices and cook for 15 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chicken cool in the broth. Set a large strainer over a saucepan and strain the chicken from the broth. Discard the seasonings. Rough chop the chicken into ½ inch pieces and place in a bowl; set aside. Bring the chicken broth to a gentle boil. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Adjust the heat under the broth to low and slowly stir the eggs into the simmering broth. Cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes or until the eggs are set in small curds. Set a strainer over a bowl and drain the eggs. Discard the broth. Add the cooked eggs, chopped parsley and cilantro, ¼ c. of the confectioners sugar, the lemon juice, 1 t. salt and pepper to the chicken pieces. Stir gently to combine
Make the almond mixture
  1. Combine the almonds, confectioner’s sugar, and the cinnamon in a food processor to a find grind. Set aside
  2. Assemble the bisteeya: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Coat the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with melted butter. Layer four sheets of phyllo, each separated with melted butter into the pan. Spread half the almond mixture on top of the first layer of phyllo. Layer four more sheets of phyllo, each separated with melted butter, into the pan. Arrange all of the chicken mixture evenly on top. Layer four more sheets of phyllo, each separated with melted butter, into the pan. Spread the remaining almond mixture. Layer the final four sheets of phyllo, each separated with melted butter, into the pan. Push the excess phyllo from around the edges down along the sides of the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes of until the phyllo is dark and golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before cutting into wedges and serving
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Ham & Gruyere Thumbprints

Ham & Gruyere Thumbprints
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
  2. 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  7. 1/2 cup finely chopped or ground Black Forest ham (2 ounces)
  8. 1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese, plus 36 cubes (1/2 inch) for centers (8 ounces total)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring butter, salt, and the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flour; stir vigorously until incorporated. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture pulls away from sides of pan and a thin film forms on bottom of pan, 1 to 2 minutes; Remove from heat; let cool 2 minutes. Transfer dough to a large bowl; add eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon to incorporate each before adding the next, about 2 minutes; Stir in pepper, ham, and shredded cheese. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip. On baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper, pipe rosettes (each 1 1/2 inches wide), 2 inches apart. Make a deep indentation at the center of each with your thumb (dampen thumb to keep it from sticking to dough). Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven; press a cheese cube in each indentation. Continue baking until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Savory French Toast Bites

Savory French Toast Bites
Yields 60
  1. 1 head garlic
  2. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  4. 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1 1/3 cup milk
  8. 1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 medium (12-oz) loaf challah bread (or brioche), or approximately half a large loaf, cut into 1-inch thick slices
  10. 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  11. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves thinly sliced for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Cut the top off the head of garlic, leaving the remainder intact. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and wrap in foil, then place it in the oven. Roast the garlic until very fragrant, about 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then squeeze out the softened garlic and mash into a paste.
  2. To make the French toast batter, begin by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, then whisk in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese which will make the batter lumpy. If using challah bread, pre-cut the slices so they lay evenly in a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish, sort of like creating a jigsaw puzzle. Remove the bread and set aside. Coat the baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. One at a time, dip each piece of bread in the batter and turn over to coat both sides. Arrange the bread in the baking dish. Stir the roasted garlic, diced tomato and chopped basil into the remaining batter and mix well. Spread the batter evenly over the French toast.
  4. Bake the French toast uncovered at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool for 15 minutes, then use a 1-inch round cutter to portion the French toast into bite-sized rounds.
  5. If making ahead, arrange the rounds snugly in a baking dish and chill. To reheat, bake at 250°F for 10 minutes.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes

Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes
  1. Good olive oil
  2. 1 cup (250 mL) chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
  3. 2 tsp (10 mL) minced garlic
  4. 2 cups (500 mL) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved through the stem
  5. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 1/2 tbsp (22 mL) good balsamic vinegar
  7. 1 1/2 tbsp (22 mL) julienned fresh basil leaves
  8. 2 lb (1 kg) salmon fillet, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  1. Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté an additional 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, a little salt (a pinch or two), and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar and basil. Cover with a lid to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large 10-12-inch cast iron pan on high heat for 5 minutes. Brush the salmon with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place the salmon skin side up in the pan. Cook the fish for 3 – 4 minutes without moving them, until they are browned. Turn the salmon skin side down with a metal spatula and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove the fish to a serving platter. Cover with the tomatoes, and serve.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Teri’s Gingerbread-Raisin Scones

Teri’s Gingerbread-Raisin Scones
Yields 8
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  6. 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  7. 6 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
  8. 1/4 cup milk
  9. 1 egg
  10. 3 Tablespoons molasses
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  12. 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place parchment on baking sheet. Blend first 6 ingredients in processor or with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat milk, egg, molasses and vanilla to blend in large bowl.
  2. Add flour mixture and raisins; stir gently until dough forms. Gather dough into ball. On lightly floured surface, press dough into 1” thick round. Cut round into 8 wedges. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 mins.
Marcel's Culinary Experience