Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List

Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List. https://www.grubstreet.com/2022/06/2022-james-beard-chef-and-restaurant-award-winners-full-list.html

Country Fair: Nostalgic Blue Ribbon Recipes From America’s Small Towns

        There was a time when I would visit several county fairs each summer, taking in the delights of fair food, visiting the Home Economics buildings where pies, cakes, cookies, and all manner of sweets were on display along with jars filled with pickled veggies, fruits, and even meats, and freshly picked fruits and vegetables. It was in short, entire rooms filled with the cooking and farming traditions that date back centuries.

The county fair tradition is woven into the fabric of nearly every American community across every small town. However, the all-American state and county fair tradition is not all carnies, corn dogs, cotton candy, and apple pie. The fair is a place for communities to come together and share some of the most meaningful moments in life that can evoke affection and nostalgia.

Best-selling author and winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Award (2018), Liza Gershman captures this long held tradition in her newest book — County Fair: Nostalgic Blue Ribbon Recipes from America’s Small Towns  Listed as one of the Top Ten Best Books About Food in 2021 by Smithsonian Magazine, Gershman’s book is a visual feast that is jam-packed with the images, stories, and voices of the folks in the tightly knit communities who celebrate this unique slice of Americana each year.

In partnership with Images Publishing, Gershman beautifully illustrates the county fairs throughout the book with stunning color photographs of food, vintage, and retro ephemera. Highlighted here are close to 80 Blue Ribbon–winning recipes from across America’s heartland as well as interviews, from tastemakers behind each region.

From homemade pies and cakes to jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, sweets, to the classic apple pie, chip chocolate chipper, lemon meringue to unique snickerdoodles and chokecherry jelly, Gershman brings us prize-winning regional specialties from all 50 states, as well as ample 4H and FFA livestock events — secret tips for stocking your pantry, and recipes that embodies the legacy of an American institution.

“Fairs have always been a passion, and imagery of carnival games and Americana decorate my mind,” says Gershman. “The cacophony of the Big Top and the midway –packed full with myriad colorfully themed games, amusement rides, and food booths–entice visitors; the scents from the farm overwhelm; the sweetest pink cotton candy aromas wafting through the air. Certainly, I’ve fallen in love at the fair, been amazed and awestruck by crafts, and delicacies, and community coming together as one.

 “This book was made with love during the pandemic. It took a village, as best projects do, and I was so fortunate to have the help of many friends and family lending a hand to this book. Pages include my mother’s watercolors, award-winning recipes from loved ones, and portraits of many of my wonderful growing fairy-godchildren.”

Let County Fair be your travel guide, state by state, sharing the most-loved recipe from each region. This book is not only recipes though; the photographs capture the energy of the carnival games and rides we all know and love.

About the author

Best-selling author and Winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Award (2018), with a master’s degree in English & American Literature and a photography degree, Liza has nearly two decades of industry experience working in all facets of commercial and editorial photography and writing. Liza’s 19 published books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine stories have enhanced her storytelling abilities in her extensive professional background, which includes Creative Direction, Art Direction, Producing, Event Production, Wardrobe, Prop and Set Styling. 

A storyteller in all mediums, Liza specializes in Lifestyle, Food, and Travel. Her passion for people, culture, and cuisine has taken her to more than 55 countries and 47 U.S. states during her career. Liza’s 12th book, Cuban Flavor, garnered numerous accolades, and has been touted on CBS and in National Geographic, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, NPR, and many additional local and national publications and radio shows. Liza was honored to speak for Talks At Google, and on the prestigious campuses of Twitter, Oracle, and Disney, among others.

As a photographer and art director, Liza teaches, writes, and presents for such celebrated companies as Creative Live and Canon USA. She was honored to be selected to nationally launch the 6D for Canon, and the T6. Prior to that, she worked as the in-house Senior Digital Photographer for Williams-Sonoma and continues to freelance for clients such as Goldman Sachs, Hyatt Hotels, Restoration Hardware, Safeway, Party City, Getty Images, Airbnb, and Visa. In 2010, Liza was Governor Jerry Brown’s campaign photographer, and in 2014 was a photographer for the RedBull Youth America’s Cup.

Lisa was a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle Travel Section, writing tips on top destinations for a monthly column called “5 Places” She continues to write about travel, food, and culture in articles and book form. Many of Liza’s notable clients include celebrity chefs, restaurants, wineries, beverage brands, fashion brands, spas, and hotels.

Recipes

The following recipes are courtesy of Liza Gershman’s County Fair.

Whiskey Sour Cocktail Jelly

Terry Sennett, Blue Ribbon Prize

Duchess County Fair, New York State

  • 6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons bottled lime juice
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 4 to 6 ounce package boiled liquid fruit pectin
  • 5 five maraschino cherries with stems
  • 5 fresh orange slices

In a heavy pot stir together the juices, sugar, and bourbon. Cook over high heat until the mixture comes to full rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Quickly stir in the pectin. Return to a full rolling boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon. Place one cherry and one orange slice into each hot sterilized jar.

 Ladle hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jars and rims, adjust lids, and screw bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for five minutes.

Buttery Peach Toffee Pie

Inspired by Emily Sibthorpe-Trittschler, Blue Ribbon Pie

Michigan State Fair

  • Graham cracker crust see recipe below
  • 5 cups sliced Peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 1tablespoon butter flavor
  • 16 toffee candies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling combine peaches, sugar, flour, tapioca, and butter flavor.

Grind the candies thoroughly in a food processor until crumbs. Stir crumbed crumbled candy into peach mixture.

Line the bottom pie crust with mixture. Add top pie crust and seal. Cut vents and top crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Graham cracker crust

Simply double this recipe for a double pie crust

  • 1 3/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup on salted butter, melted

Mix ingredients together until mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Press into a 9 inch pie dish or tart pan, using the back of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass to ensure a flat and even bottom. Bake at 375 degrees for seven minutes before filling.

Zucchini Cream Pie

From Suzanne Heiser’s mother’s recipe box via Norma Malaby, a favorite cousin from Kokomo Indiana.

Indiana State Fair Indiana

  • Graham cracker crust (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup cooked zucchinis
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter  
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Puree zucchini and continue with other ingredients except sprinkle spices. Poor in an unbaked pie shell and sprinkle top with cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake until done and the filling is set.

Apple Cake

inspired by Kathy McInnis, Blackwood New Jersey.

County 4H Fair New Jersey

  • 3 cups flour, unsifted
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 to 4 apples, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided in half
  • 8 teaspoons sugar divided in half

Place flour sugar oil eggs juice vanilla and baking powder into a bowl in order given, beat until smooth.

Place half the batter into a well-greased pan. Arrange some apple slices on top of batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and additional sugar. Pour in the rest of the batter and repeat apple slices and cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes. Cool in pan.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: Healthy Eating

Using Blossom Monk Fruit and erythritol sweeteners, Scratch Pantry Essentials has created cake, cupcake, frosting, and other mixes  as well as sprinkles and chocolate chips that are free of sugar, bleached or processed flour, gluten, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, synthetic colors, or hydrogenated oils. The sweetener used is a zero-calorie sugar with a taste very similar to table sugar.

The mixes require just a few additions. For example both the Blueberry Lemon Loaf and Vanilla Cake which calls for butter, water, and eggs. Both have a 100 calories per serving. Or you can use the mixes to create more desserts such as Easiest Baked Donuts (recipe below), Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies, and Vegan Salted Brownies.

Easiest Baked Donuts

DONUTS

  • 1 package of your favorite Scratch Cake Mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened OR coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs OR flax eggs

GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup Blossom Powdered Sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons milk OR plant milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder* (*optional – for chocolate icing)

MAKE ’EM A MASTERPIECE

  • 1/4 cup Scratch Sprinkles

FOR THE DONUTS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour non-stick donut pan. (either traditional flour or 1:1 GF baking flour work best)

Whisk together Scratch cake mix ingredients as instructed on the back of the package.

Pour batter into greased donut pan, filling each 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until they pass “the toothpick test”

FOR THE GLAZE:

In a bowl, combine powdered Blossom, cocoa powder*, vanilla extract, and milk of choice. Stir until smooth. Glaze should be thick, but a pourable consistency.

Glaze donuts by simply dunking the (cooled) donuts in the glaze bowl.

TOP ’EM OFF:

Top off your glazed donuts with Scratch Sprinkles while glaze is still wet.

Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere

For the truly sinful, not to be missed are such classic cookbooks as Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $26.99 Amazon price), a huge, brilliantly illustrated cookbook of the most delicious looking desserts. Greenspan, selected by Julia Child to write the New York Times bestseller Baking with Julia, also authored the James Beard award winning Baking: From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table named the Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She spends part of each year at her home in Paris (it would be so easy to hate her for this wonderful sounding lifestyle if she wasn’t so friendly and nice) and also in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut.

Though France is known for its fabulous pastry shops, in “Chez Moi” Greenspan shares recipes created by home chefs.

“In France you can get all the butter puff pastry you want in the grocery store and buy the most extravagant cakes at patisseries,” says Greenspan. “But it was really a revelation to me that the patisserie desserts are not the same desserts you get in French homes. These are charming, uncomplicated, satisfying, and delicious but they’re not fussy at all.”

Intrigued by what her friends baked at home, Greenspan, who has spent nearly two decades living in France, traveled across the country collecting their recipes—from Alsace she includes both a Christmas Cake and because of the area’s beautiful plump cherries, a cherry crumble tart, Tart Tropezienne comes from Saint-Tropez, Olive Oil and Wine cookies from Languedoc-Roussillon and the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels (be still my beating heart) is often found in Brittany.

It took Greenspan some five years to test all the recipes for this, her 11th cookbook, because it was important to her to bring these desserts to America. That involved testing and re-testing with both American and French flours and even traveling from her home in the U.S. carrying five pound bags of flour—one can only imagine the panic at the airport if the flour containers had busted open. Each recipe begins with a story of how she discovered it and where it comes from.

“The stories make the food more personal,” she says.

Surprising, there are several recipes calling for cream cheese including one titled The Rugelach That Won Over France. Before, says Greenspan, the French thought of cream cheese only to be used to make cheesecakes and spread on bagels.

That was before about a decade ago when cream cheese came to France “big time,” says Greenspan noting the French call it Philadelphia rather than cream cheese. And, of course, there’s Nutella which Greenspan describes as being the peanut butter of France.

She also includes a recipe for Crackle Cream Puffs (along with other cream puff recipes including one filled with mascarpone) noting that just as we have our cupcake shops, right now in Paris there are shops selling nothing but cream puffs and that they can be filled to order while you wait.

For those new to French dessert making, Greenspan recommends starting off with her Custardy Apple Squares and then Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Pineapple. As for me, I’m moving straight on to the Soft Salted-Butter Caramels and the macarons.

Brown Butter-Peach Torte

Makes 8 servings

For the filling

  • 2 pounds, ripe but firm peaches
  • 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Tiny pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or a drop of pure almond extract)
  • Juice of ¼ lemon (or to taste)

For the crust

  • 1 partially baked 9- to 9½-inch tart crust made with Sweet Tart Dough, cooled
  • 1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (recipe below), rolled into a 12-inch circle and refrigerated
  • Sugar, for dusting (sanding sugar, if you’d prefer)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

To make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice cubes and cold water nearby.

Cut a small X in the base of each peach. Drop a few peaches at a time into the boiling water, leave them there for 30 seconds and then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water. When they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If you’ve got some hard-to-peel peaches, you can boil them for a few seconds more or just remove the remaining skin with a paring knife.

Dry the peaches, cut them in half, remove the pits and cut each peach into about a dozen chunks. If the peaches are small, cut fewer chunks; the torte is best when the pieces are about an inch on a side. Put the peaches in a bowl.

Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow it to melt and then bubble. Stay close to the butter as it boils, and when it reaches a light caramel color, pull the pan from the heat. You may see some small dark brown spots on the bottom of the pan, and that’s fine; for sure you’ll catch the whiff of warm nuts. Wait a minute or two, then pour the butter over the peaches. Add the sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and gently stir everything together. Finish with the lemon juice, tasting as you go. I prefer the juice to be a background flavor, but you might want it to be more prominent, and, of course, the amount will depend on the sweetness of your fruit.

To assemble the torte: Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet. Give the filling another stir and scrape it into the tart shell, smoothing the top. You should have just enough filling to come level with the edges of the crust.

Remove the circle of dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for a couple of minutes, just until it’s soft enough to maneuver without cracking. Brush the edges of the tart shell with water, then position the circle of dough over the crust. Press the rim of the torte with your fingers to glue the two pieces together and then, pressing on the rim as you go, cut the top circle even with the edges of the pan.

Use a knife, the wide end of a piping tip or a small cookie cutter to remove a circle of dough from the center of the torte—this is your steam vent. Brush the surface of the torte lightly with cold water and sprinkle it generously with sugar.

Bake the torte for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the crust is deeply golden brown and, most important, the butter is bubbling. If you think the crust is browning too quickly—the thick rim has a tendency to get dark—cover the torte lightly with a foil tent. Transfer the torte, still on its baking sheet, to a rack and allow it to cool until it’s only just warm or at room temperature before serving. As it cools, the buttery syrup will be reabsorbed by the peaches, which is just what you want—so don’t be impatient.

Serving: Whatever you serve with the torte—vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (I like the tang of yogurt with the sweet peaches), softly whipped cream or even more softly whipped crème fraîche—don’t let it cover the top of the torte – it’s too pretty to hide.

Storing: You can partially bake the bottom crust up to 8 hours ahead and you can have the top crust rolled out and ready to go ahead of time, but the filling shouldn’t be prepared ahead. The baked torte is really best served that day. If you’ve got leftovers, refrigerate them. The crust will lose its delicateness, but the torte will still be satisfying.

Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sablée)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.

Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.

Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.

Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).

To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (Keep a close eye on the crust’s progress–it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash). Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to that the rawness off the patch.

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months I (Dorie), prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer–it has the fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Excerpted from BAKING CHEZ MOI, (c) 2014 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Gluten-free and Easy-to-Make

Remember when gluten-free usually meant taste-free? Thank goodness so many great gluten-free products are now available. I’m constantly trying new ones, not because I’m on a gluten-free diet (lately I feel like I’ve been on a glutton-plus diet but that’s a different post) but because people are always asking what I recommend.

So I was happy when my friend Aly Nardini of Chicago sent me samples of products made by Pamela’s, a leading purveyor of great-tasting, gluten-free mixes for breads, muffins, flours such as almond, cassava, tiger nut, and coconut, cookies, cakes, ramen noodles, pasta, grain-free pancake mixes using nut flours, and more. Pamela’s website is very informative and for each item, there’s a list of ingredients as well as recipes so there’s always something new to try. Besides that, the site provides substitutions so if you’re using, say tiger nut flour, you can use it both as a one on one substitute for other flours or, since tiger nuts aren’t really nuts but a milled vegetable root with a flour consistency, it can be used instead of nut flours such as almond flour. How handy is that?

I always try any recipe before I post it.For example, using Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix, I made their Fall Sheet Pan Pancake with apples and cranberries. According to the website, the mix packet contains brown rice flour, white rice flour, cultured buttermilk, natural almond meal (may appear as brown flecks), tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, potato starch, grainless & aluminum free baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potato starch, sodium bicarbonate), baking soda, sea salt, and xanthan gum. According to their Allergen Information, their mix contains milk and almonds and was manufactured in a gluten-free certified facility, on equipment that processes tree nuts, coconut, eggs, soy and milk. Manufactured in a peanut-free facility.

The following are recipes that I’ve made using Pamela’s Products. They’re all available on her website under the recipes tab. Just click here.

Fall Sheet Pan Pancake

Recipe courtesy (@uncomplicatedchef)

2 cups of Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix (follow package instructions for the batter
1 apple, sliced
1/4 cup of fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Maple syrup for serving


Make the pancake batter as per package instructions.

Slice the apple. In a bowl mix apples and cranberries with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until nice and fluffy. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Lemon Bars

This gluten-free recipe from @soulfooodie features Pamela’s Honey Grahams and Coconut Flour and is a delightful rift on a personal favorite.

CRUST:

  • 2 cups @pamelasproducts #glutenfree Honey Grahams
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of @pamelasproducts #glutenfree Coconut Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

LEMON CURD:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon @pamelasproducts Coconut Flour
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease pan and set aside.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, coconut palm sugar, coconut flour, and salt. Then pour in melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour mixture into pan and press crumbs into pan.

Bake crust for 10 minutes. Let cool before adding the lemon curd.

Lemon Curd:

Whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth. Then whisk in lemon juice and zest.

Add in coconut flour and whisk together until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour lemon curd mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 36 minutes. Cool & serve.

Kabocha Empanadas with Gruyère & Thyme {Gluten-Free}

Recipe courtesy of Snixty Kitchen.

Gluten-free Crust

  • 1¼ cups Pamela’s All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • 8-10 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 small kabocha squash (1-1.5lb and you’ll still probably have some left over!), seeds discarded and cut into ¼ to ½-inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup shredded gruyère cheese

3 tablespoons chopped shallot (1 large)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3-4 large cloves)

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt & pepper

Egg wash

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Gluten-free crust:

Pulse together the Pamela’s All-Purpose Flour, sugar, xanthan gum, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can whisk by hand).

Add the cold butter, but don’t pulse. One tablespoon at a time, dribble ice water into the food processor, pulsing after each addition, until the dough holds together when pinched with your fingers. Add water until it just holds together, but is not sticky.

If you need more water, add a teaspoon at a time. (If working by hand, mix the butter into the flour with your hands, breaking up the butter until the largest pieces are about the size of a pea. Mix in ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just holds together).

Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling as directed below.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ⅛-inch thickness. Use a 4-inch cutter to cut dough rounds and transfer each round to a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out the scraps and repeat until you have 10 dough rounds.

Filling

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Spread the kabocha squash cubes on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil and about ¼ teaspoon each of salt & pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until just tender when pierced with a fork. Place the cooked squash in the refrigerator to cool before filling the empanadas.

When the dough rounds are ready, place filling components in the following on one half of the round: about 1 teaspoon of shredded gruyère, 1 tablespoon cooked kabocha squash, 1 teaspoon chopped shallot, a pinch of minced garlic, and leaves from half a sprig of thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Prepare the egg wash by whisking the egg and water together in a small bowl.

Lightly brush the edge of one half of one dough round with the egg wash, fold the round in half around the filling, lightly crimping the edges together with your fingertips. Repeat with all 10 empanadas.

Brush the egg wash over the top of each empanada.

Bake your empanadas for 30-35 minutes rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops are lightly golden brown. (Tip: Keep an eye on your empanadas after 20 minutes, as the color of your baking sheet can vary the baking time!).

Serve warm.

  • 4½ cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme or 1 TBSP fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1½ tsp dried sage or 1 TBSP fresh sage
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano or 2 tsp fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 cup white wine or broth
  • ½ cup butter or butter alternative
  • ½ cup All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend
  • 1 lb or 3 cups cubed or shredded chicken or turkey
  • 2 cups carrots, diced and cooked (if using frozen, cook according to package directions)
  • 2 cups red or Yukon potatoes, cooked and cubed (if using frozen, cook according to package directions)
  • 1 cup peas (if using frozen, do not cook first)

Pie Crust

 FILLING:

Heat chicken or turkey stock with all the spices on the stove or in microwave (this gives the seasoning time to release the flavors). In a 3½ to 4 qt. heavy pot, sauté onions in a little olive oil until soft, add wine to deglaze the pan and reduce by half. Remove from pan for later use. In the same pot, melt butter and add the All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend, stirring constantly for a minute or two. This is the base for your roux.

Once roux has cooked for a minute or so, slowly add hot liquid, constantly whisking as it thickens. This will take a minute or two. Once thickened, add onions back in and mix well. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until fully thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool until just warm.

In a large bowl, gently mix together the chicken or turkey, carrots and potatoes, and then pour the warm sauce in and gently mix well until incorporated. Last, add frozen peas. Store in refrigerator until totally cool — overnight is best, or you can freeze.

MAKING INDIVIDUAL POT PIES:

You will need ramekins or glass baking cups/bowls, large enough to hold enough filling for 1 person, about 1 cup. You will need approximately one recipe pie dough from either Pie Dough with All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend or Pie Dough with Bread Mix. Depending on the size of ramekins used, you may need to double the crust recipe.

Mix together pie dough according to directions. Divide dough in half. Pat one half into a square, wrap in plastic wrap, and set aside.

Spray a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap with non-stick spray and flatten and pat the remaining dough into a rectangle or square. Spray another piece parchment or plastic wrap and lay it on top. Roll the dough to desired thickness, no thicker than ¼ “. Place rolled dough on a sheet pan and refrigerate while rolling the second piece. It is easiest to cut and remove scraps when dough is chilled and stiff. Using a pot lid or knife, cut desired size circles. You want the dough 1½ to 2” bigger than the top of your ramekin. Cut as many circles as you can, then re-roll scraps and repeat process until all dough is used. Keep circles chilled, covered, and with wax paper in-between, until ready to use.

ASSEMBLY:

If cooking right after assembly, pre-heat oven to 425°. Take out dough to let rest a minute until it warms up just a little and can easily be manipulated with your fingers. Spray ramekins with non-stick spray, fill almost to the top with chilled filling, and repeat until all are filled.

Cover each ramekin with a dough circle slightly larger than top. Gently try to pull dough flat so the crust is not all lying on filling. Using your fingers press the top dough over the rim, crimp the dough up like a pie crust, then press the remaining dough down onto the sides of the ramekin, so it sticks to the sides. Make sure it is securely attached all the way around to prevent seeping sauce down the sides. (You can leave the edges plain with no crimp, and then add a decoration of small shapes cut from the extra dough with very small cookie cutters.) Place on parchment-lined, rimmed sheet pan in refrigerator to chill and let edges of dough set. Repeat until all pies are completed and chilled. Once the dough is chilled and hard on top, cut 3 or 4 slits in the top. Bake, or wrap well and freeze.

Optional egg wash: Brush tops with one egg yolk mixed well with 1 TBSP milk or water for a nice brown top.

BAKE:

Bake in pre-heated oven at 425° for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 375° for about 20 minutes until crust is golden and the filling is bubbling a little under the crust.

Chef’s Note: left over filling is great served with rice.

Weelicious: Fourth of July Meals and Beyond

Red, white, and blue food is always part of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and so this year, I turned to Catherine McCord, founder of Weelicious, a website and cookbooks dedicated to healthy eating, getting kids into the kitchen and to the table. She also is co-founder of One Potato, the first organic home meal delivery kit service designed getting family meals together in 30 minutes or less and that are kid-friendly so that children can help. All the ingredients for One Potato are pre-prepped, making it easy indeed.

As if that wasn’t enough, McCord, has authored several cookbooks including Weelicious: One Family. One Meal with 140 original recipes and Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox created to go beyond peanut butter and jelly sandwich and featuring more than 160 recipes.

A former model, actress,  and culinary school graduate McCord, the mother of three, who has been on the cover of such magazines as Glamour and Elle magazines, also appears as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games.

Named by people magazine as “one of the 50 most influential “Mommy Bloggers.” She updates her blog with a new recipe a day. Visit her at www.weelicious.com

The following recipes are courtesy of McCord.

Fourth of July Parfaits (makes 8 parfaits)

Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 0 mins

Angel food cake (store bought or homemade, recipe below)

  • 1 cup strawberries, stemmed & quartered
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Coconut whipped cream (recipe below)

Homemade Angel Food Cake:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cut the angel food cake into 2-inch cubes.

Alternately layer the angel food cake, coconut whipped cream, and berries in clear glasses or mason jars so you can see all the colors and textures.

Homemade Angel Food Cake:

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Whisk the flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl.

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high until the egg whites are very foamy and barely form soft peaks, about 45 seconds longer. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until whites are firm and glossy and hold stiff peaks (if you over beat, the meringue will look dry and curdled). Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice.

Sift one-third of the dry ingredients over the meringue. Continue to beat on low speed until just incorporated. Continue the sifting and mixing process 2 more times. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and fold batter several times with a large spatula to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into ungreased tube pan. Using a spatula push the batter all around the pan as it will help with a more even cake after baking. Scrape remaining batter into pan and spread the top evenly.

Bake the cake about 40 minutes or until top is puffy and golden. Immediately invert the pan onto a baking rack. Allow the cake to cool at least 1 hour.  Turn the cake right side up and using a thin metal spatula, cut around sides and loosen cake. Release the tube from the cake pan. Using thin metal spatula, loosen cake from bottom. Invert cake onto a plate or cake stand and remove bottom. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting into cubes.

Coconut Whipped Cream

Makes 1 ½ cups

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Place the jar of coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Being careful to not shake the can, open the coconut milk.

Spoon out the thick coconut cream into a large bowl, which is about 2/3 of the can. Once you get to the liquid, stop and discard or save for smoothies.

Beat the coconut cream with a handheld electric or stand mixer for 1 minute.

Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 30 more seconds.

Fruit Wands

  • 1 watermelon
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 20 skewers

Slice the watermelon into 1/2 inch round slices, and then cut out star shapes using a three-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.

Gently slide the blueberries on wooden skewers* and finally place a watermelon star on the top.

Place the skewers in a tall glass or in decorated floral foam as an eatable centerpiece.

Red, White & Blue Pops

Makes 8 Popsicles, depending on the size of your molds

Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 0 mins

  • 12-ounce bag frozen blueberries, defrosted
  • 6 tablespoons agave, divided (you can also use honey)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (you can use cow’s milk, almond, rice or soy)
  • 12-ounce bag frozen raspberries, defrosted

Place defrosted blueberries and 2 tablespoons agave or honey in a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the blueberry puree 1/3 way up each popsicle mold and freeze for 30-45 minutes.

Combine the yogurt, milk, and 2 tablespoons of agave or honey in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Pour yogurt mixture 2/3 way up the popsicle molds on top of the blueberry mixture, gently tap to even out the yogurt layer, and freeze for another 30-45 minutes.

Place defrosted raspberries and 2 tablespoons agave or honey in a blender and blend until smooth.

Finish the popsicles by pouring the raspberry puree over the yogurt, place sticks in and freeze 6 hours to overnight, until frozen through. 

*Because all popsicle molds are different sizes, you may have left overs. You can refrigerate the remaining berry purees and use as toppings for yogurt, granola, pancakes, etc.

This article also appeared in the Food section of the Herald Palladium.

Angela Medearis: The Ultimate Kitchen Diva

Photograph by Penny De Los Santos-Diabetic cookbook, Author Amgela Medearis

“People are eating African American food every day, but they don’t know it,” Angela Shelf Medearis says to me when we chat on the phone. In part, she’s talking about James Hemings who, in the complicated way of slavery, trained in the culinary arts in Paris and became a noted chef de cuisine and yet lived most of his life enslaved. Hemings either created or introduced a variety of the foods we eat now such as macaroni and cheese, ice cream, French fries, meringues, crème brulée, and French-style whipped cream.  Another dish he created that we don’t eat regularly if at all is his handwritten recipe for snow eggs–soft, poached meringue, set in puddles of crème anglaise.

          Hemings was the son of Elizabeth Hemings, an enslaved woman and  John Wayles, the man who “owned” her. The two had six children together.  Wayles also had a more traditional family and his daughter Martha married a plantation owner named Thomas Jefferson. Thus, James was the half-brother of  Martha Jefferson who “inherited” James  (that’s so creepy I even hate writing it) when Wayles died. James was eight when they all came to live at Monticello. His youngest sister, Sally was just an infant. To make matters even more complex, after Martha died and Sally reached some type of maturity—she was probably in her mid-teens, she became Jefferson’s mistress and had six children by him, four of whom lived to adulthood.

          So, Sally Hemmings was Martha Jefferson’s half-sister, and her children were half-siblings to Martha and Thomas’s children. I only mention all this to show how intertwined Black and White families were and also how the foodways of both merged.

          But while Hemings introduced the Frenchified cookery to America,  

Medearis, the founder of Diva Productions, Inc., the organization that produces her multicultural children’s books, cookbooks, videos, and audiocassettes, points out that people weren’t eating black-eyed peas before Africans arrive in this country.

          “Back then they even thought tomatoes were poisonous,” she says. “But when they shipped slaves, they also shipped  the foods they ate with them  because that was a cheap way to feed them,” she says. “The recipes for those foods traveled from one place to the other. If they stopped in the Caribbean or South America before coming here, then the recipes changed with the foods and spices available and the types of cooking techniques.”

          Medearis, a television chef known as the Kitchen Diva, has written 107 books. Many are children’s books, but she also is a cookbook author focusing on both the historic roots of African American cookery and healthy eating like The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook: 150 Healthy, Delicious Recipes for Diabetics and Those Who Dine with Them.

But she didn’t start out to be a cook.

          “I only cooked enough that social services wouldn’t come and take away my children,” she says with a laugh. But her mother, after she retired, decided she wanted to market her raisin pie for some extra income.

While her mother and sister did the cooking, Medearis who often wears feather boas during her TV appearances and on her PBS cooking show and isn’t shy about being in the limelight, did the marketing.

But when her mother and sister decided to quit, Medearis knew she had to learn to cook if she wanted to keep her food business going.

Now she’s so full force that celebrity chef and restauranteur Bobby Flay arrived for a Jerk Chicken Throwdown while she was marinating jerk chicken for a family get. It was for his Food Network show Throwdown with Bobby Flay. 

          Who won I ask?

Medearis’s Jerk Chicken

          “My chicken had been marinating for hours,” Medearis replies. “He just arrived from Manhattan and threw some spices on his chicken. It burned. I beat Bobby.”

Watch it here.

Though she originally didn’t cook Medearis had written several loved historic research. Did I know that George Washington Carver drove a food wagon around to introduce people to healthy foods?

No. I knew that Carver, who famously said, “There is probably no subject more important than the study of food,” was born a slave and became a botanist, author, educator and agriculturalist. He also collaborated with auto magnate Henry Ford on growing peanuts and soybeans.

And don’t even get her started on Carver and black-eyed peas.

“Black-eyed peas, okra, peanuts and sesame seeds, and the oil they produce, are documented contributions from Africa via the slave trade to our American cuisine,” she writes in her syndicated column. “I prepared black-eyed peas any number of ways while doing research for my first cookbook.”

That would be The African-American Kitchen: Cooking from Our Heritage, a best seller that even now 30 years later is considered a standard on the foodways African Americans bought to this country.  The problem though was getting it published. Her award winning children’s books were published by Dutton and when she brought the idea for her cookbook, she found an editor there who loved the book. But the editor at the next level turned it down, saying he’d published an African American cookbook almost 30 years earlier and no one bought it. He didn’t think the country was ready for another.

What’s a Kitchen Diva to do? Make a peach pie, of course, as it’s representative of both Black and Southern food history.

“You could hardly get a peach pie anywhere back then in Manhattan,” says Medearis. Wrapping up both the peach pie and the manuscript, separately we presume, she sent both off to the publishing company.

She got the contract.

“That book sold so many copies it was crazy,”

Overall, she’s written 107 books seven of which seven are cookbooks. Published in seven languages, she’s sold a total of 14 million books. But despite that, she’s not ready to stop.

“People ask me when I’m going to retire,” says Medearis who lives in Austin, Texas. “Why should I? I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m doing what I want to do.”

Creole Chicken Stew

Makes 8 Servings

“This is a quick and healthy version of New Orleans-style gumbo,” writes Medearis about this recipe, which was published in her book, the . “Using frozen vegetables is a real time-saver when making this tasty stew; it’s also the perfect way to use kohlrabi when in season. Select small, tender okra pods for this recipe, and don’t slice them until right before you add them to the stew.”

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onions

1 cup coarsely chopped carrots

¼ cup chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons diced seeded jalapeño chile

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch-wide strips

1 cup peeled cubed Yukon Gold potatoes or kohlrabi, or a combination

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup halved okra or frozen cut okra

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 green onions, chopped, including green parts

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, jalapeño, salt, pepper, and thyme and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate, leaving as much oil in the pot as possible. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Gradually whisk in the broth and cook for another 5 minutes, whisking until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the chicken, potatoes or kohlrabi, and zucchini. Return the sautéed vegetables to the pan. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the okra and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over ½ cup of rice per person and sprinkle with the green onions.

Kitchen Diva: Tap Your Inner Chef With DIY Recipes

Angea Medearis, the Kitchen Diva, wrote one of her syndicated columns on creating Do-It-Yourself recipes.

“Basically, a DIY dinner recipe is about finding a way to retain the flavors of the recipes you love while using the ingredients that you have on hand,” Medearis writes. “If you have always wanted to free yourself from the restraints of a recipe, now is the time to do it! Think of the current lack of ingredients as permission to tap into your inner chef.”

To ease into creating your own DIY dinner recipes, Medearis suggests starting by making a pot of chowder.

“No one really knows the origin of the term chowder,” she writes, “but whether it came from French, Caribbean, Portuguese or Brazilian cooks, the basic meaning is connected to the large pot that the meal is cooked in.”

Medearis is a history buff paritcularly when it comes to food.

“Chowders were introduced to North America by immigrants from France and England more than 250 years ago. Native Americans called the dish ‘chawder’.” she says noting the word interpreted as “chowder” by early settlers and fishermen in New England.

“The original versions of the dish consisted of a pot filled with a mixture of fresh fish, salt pork, leftover hardened biscuits (which were used as a thickener), onions, water and whatever spices were available, writes Medearis. “A chowder is a delicious way to use the ingredients you have on hand to create a meal that does not require extensive prep or simmering for hours. My recipe for Seafood and Sweet Corn Chowder uses the basic techniques.”

My recipe for Seafood and Sweet Corn Chowder uses the basic techniques for making a chowder, but is designed to accommodate the need to vary ingredients based upon what you have on hand or what you can purchase at the store.

Whether you decide to make a seafood or vegetarian chowder, feel free to create your own version of this DIY dinner.

SEAFOOD AND SWEET CORN CHOWDER

If you don’t have all the vegetables, seafood or spices on hand, omit or substitute the ingredient with what you do have. This chowder will still be delicious without it!

3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil

1/2 cup (about l large stalk) chopped celery

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon dried dill or tarragon, or 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth, seafood stock, clam juice, bouillon fish base or water

1 to 2 large Russet potatoes, or 3 red skin or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 2-inch cubes, about 2 to 3 cups

2 large carrots, chopped

2 cups frozen corn, thawed, or 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel or cream-style corn, or 6 ears sweet corn, husk and silk removed, or frozen corn on the cob, thawed with kernels cut from the cobb

2 cups heavy cream, half and half

Whole milk or 2 (14-ounce) cans evaporated milk

1 3/4 to 2 cups fully cooked, skinless salmon chunks, or 1 can (14 3/4 ounces) salmon, drained, flaked, bones and skin removed, or 1 to 2 cups fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp, cooked peeled and deveined shrimp, or cooked crab meat (checked for pieces of shell) or a combination of the seafood equaling 1 3/4 to 2 cups.

1. Place the butter or oil into a large saucepan or Dutch oven placed over medium heat. Add in the celery, onion, green bell pepper, garlic or garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper, dill, tarragon or dill pickle juice, and the cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Saute, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the broth, stock, juice or water, potatoes, carrots and the remaining teaspoon of he salt and pepper. Cover and bring the chowder to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low; stir the mixture, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly tender. Stir in the corn, cream or milk, and the salmon, shrimp or cooked crab meat (or a combination of seafood). Simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.

4. Garnish with lemon wedges, chopped parsley or green onions. Serve with toasted French bread or crackers. Serves 6

Here’s the Jerk Chicken recipe that won the Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Scotch bonnet chili, serrano, or Thai bird

chiles, seeded and minced

3 bay leaves

3 peppercorns

1-inch piece cinnamon, crushed

2 tablespoons ground sage

1 tablespoon ground thyme

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

5 pounds chicken pieces

Combine the oil and vinegar in a medium glass bowl. Stir in the orange and lime juice, molasses, soy sauce, cilantro, green onions, garlic, chili, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, sage,thyme, allspice, pepper, and nutmeg.

Place the chicken pieces in a large baking pan and pour the spice mixture over them, coating each piece well. Cover with plastic wrap and place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate 12 hours or overnight, turning once.

Allow the chicken pieces to come to room temperature before grilling. Heat the grill until the coals are somewhat white with ash; the flame should be low. Place the chicken on the grill and cover with the lid. Grill for 30 to 35 minutes, turning pieces to cook evenly. Baste pieces with remaining marinade.

For more information including recipes, https://www.medearis.com/

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to taste Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes

Love the food served at the Disney Parks? While we can’t take home the rides or just the feeling of being there, we can cook some of the dishes that make eating there so enjoyable. For that we have Ashley Craft, author of The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to taste Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes to thank.

From the book: “The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook offers one hundred easy recipes for the best of Disney’s magical cuisine. Whether you’ve been to the parks a hundred times and are craving your favorite Disney dishes, or you’re just looking for something Disney-inspired to make you feel like you’re on vacation, each recipe has been thoroughly tested to ensure a taste worthy of a certain mouse. The recipes are also organized based on the Disney Park where each one is featured, beginning with the first park to open, Disneyland, and ending with the newest park, Disney California Adventure.

Ashley Craft from Ashleycrafted.

Craft grew up so close to Disney World that she fell asleep each night listening to the music coming from the park. She later worked there and about three years ago started her blog https://ashleycrafted.com/

Organized by parks, Craft’s recipes include dishes from Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney California Adventure. She opens each of her chapters with the park intro, the types of dishes you’ll find and a map so that you can actually located them.

A bestseller on both The Wall Street Journal Bestseller​ and USA TODAY Bestseller lists, the book is published by Adams Media ($14.99 Amazon price).

The following recipes are excerpted from The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft. Copyright © 2020 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Mickey Pretzels

Serves 4

1.5 cups warm water (110°F)

1 (1⁄4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons salt, divided

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon room-temperature water, divided

1⁄4 cup baking soda

1 large egg

4 teaspoons Kosher salt

‌In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit 10 minutes.

‌Add brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Using the flat beater attachment, beat on low speed to combine. Mix in flour. Switch to dough hook attachment and knead 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

‌Remove dough and spray bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Return dough to bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large ungreased baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 cups water to a boil.

‌Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into a rough heart shape. Using a sharp knife, lightly score or scrape the Mickey shape into the dough. Once you’ve achieved your desired shape, cut all the way through the dough.

‌Add baking soda to pot of boiling water. Working with one Mickey at a time, use a big, flat spatula to carefully lift a dough Mickey into baking-soda bath, and poach 15 seconds. Remove to prepared baking sheet.

‌In a small bowl, mix together egg and remaining 1 tablespoon water. Brush onto Mickeys. Sprinkle remaining salt over pretzels.

‌Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Gaston’s Giant Cinnamon Rolls

Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Disney Parks have sold cinnamon rolls for a long time—regular, boring-sized cinnamon rolls. But in 2012, they upped their cinnamon roll game when they introduced the Warm Cinnamon Roll to their line-up. It is about 8″ square in size and is smothered in frosting and butterscotch topping. It is perfectly made for the man who eats five dozen eggs each day—or your whole family!

SERVES 8

For Dough

3⁄4 cup salted butter, melted, divided

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

6 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 (1⁄4-ounce) packets active dry yeast

1⁄2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup room-temperature water

2 large eggs

‌Grease a 9″×13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.To make the Dough: In a medium bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup melted butter and milk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 1⁄2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add water, eggs, and butter mixture. Using the flat beater attachment, mix until well combined. Add remaining flour 1⁄2 cup at a time while mixing until Dough starts to form a ball.

‌Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead Dough on low speed 5 minutes.

‌Remove Dough from bowl, sprinkle some flour in bowl, and place Dough back in the same bowl. Let rise 10 minutes in a warm place.

For Filling

2 cups light brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup salted butter, softened

To make Filling: In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter together. Set aside.‌

Roll out Dough into a long rectangle, about 3′ × 2′. Spread Filling evenly across the whole surface of the Dough. Starting at short end, roll Dough like a jelly roll. Make a cut in the center of the roll, and then cut about 6″ from the center on either side to make 2 giant rolls.

Place both rolls swirl-edge down in prepared pan.

Drizzle remaining 1⁄4 cup melted butter over rolls. Allow rolls to rise at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Bake rolls 20 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and bake another 10 minutes.

For Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese

1⁄4 cup salted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons heavy cream

‌To make Cream Cheese Frosting: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add cream cheese and butter. Combine and heat until melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla, cream, and salt. Stir, then set aside.

For Butterscotch Topping

1⁄2 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons salted butter, softened

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make Butterscotch Topping: In a separate medium saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, butter, and cream. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add salt and vanilla. Set aside.

‌To serve, place each giant roll on a large plate. Drizzle cream cheese frosting in one direction along each roll’s swirl, then drizzle with butterscotch in the other direction.

COOKING TIP

The dough leftover on either end of the giant rolls need not be wasted! Make cuts about 1–2 inches along the extra roll. Lay swirl-side down in a glass 9x 13baking dish greased with cooking spray and bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Mangonada Smoothies

Hollywood Land, Disney California Adventure

This delicious and refreshing Mexican treat sure helps beat the heat on a California summer day. The mix of salty, spicy, and sweet is so satisfying. Actually, a recent study found that adding salt to a sweet treat helps release the sugar flavors and brings out even more of the sweetness!

SERVES 2

1⁄2 cup pineapple juice

1⁄2 cup guava juice

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1⁄2 cup frozen peach chunks

1 whole fresh banana, peeled

4 teaspoons chamoy sauce, divided

1⁄2 cup fresh chopped mango

1⁄2 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning

‌Combine pineapple juice, guava juice, frozen mango chunks, frozen peach chunks, and banana in a blender and blend until smooth.

‌Drizzle 1 teaspoon chamoy sauce each inside walls of 2 drinking glasses. Divide smoothie mixture into glasses, add 1⁄4 cup fresh mango to each cup, drizzle another 1 teaspoon chamoy sauce in each glass, and sprinkle 1⁄4 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning on each.

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook is s one of nine in a series of unofficial cookbooks that includes The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, all published by Adams Media.

Dealing with Winter Gloom? Instant Mood-Lift Dishes from Lithuanian Kitchens

Potato Dumplings © Andrius Aleksandravičius

“The global pandemic caught the world off guard, at the same time forcing people to seek out things that represent familiarity and security,” says Lukas Pereckas, Blue Oceans P.R . “That is why some are even proclaiming that 2020 is the Renaissance of comfort food because of its ability to soothe the nerves and provide psychological comfort.”

Cooking at home is a great outlet to release pent up energy, indulge our creativity, and bring new flavors and tastes ot our meals, but after awhile experiencing with the culinary options from other countries can help tamper our hanking for travel while helping us explore the world outside our door.

The interior of Šiauliai Cathedral looking east in Šiauliai, Lithuania. Photo courtesy of DAVID ILIFF. Wikimedia Commons.

“There has never been a better time to see what other nations bring to the table as comfort food,” he says, noting that one of the least known cuisines of Eastern Europe, Lithuanian foods are just now gaining popularity as more and more travelers experience the flavors of this old world cookery. “What better way to see where your travels will take you in the future then by enjoying the tastes of Lithuanian at home.”

Seven Lithuanian Feel-Good Dishes Worth Trying

“For tourists, asking where the Lithuanian food comes from, I always say that the majority of the ingredients come from the province, yet Lithuanian culinary heritage is multicultural, as all nations that once resided in Lithuania contributed something of their own to the Lithuanian gastronomic peculiarities,” says Ieva Pikžirnytė, Lithuanian food guide, coffee and taste training expert.

Nerijus Paluckas_Zagarelia

            Lithuanian foods are also heavily influenced by other ethnic cuisines such as Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Tartar, Russian, and Karaite which over the centuries have been adapted with tradition Lithuanian ingredients , cooking techniques, and flavors.

 “Tourists are usually most fascinated by our hash browns and stuffed cabbage. A lot depends on the season as well. For example, in cold weather they prefer mushroom soup and potato dumplings (cepelinai),” says Pikžirnytė  who shares shares a list of Lithuanian comfort dishes most liked by by locals and visitors alike.

Potato Pie @ Beatos Virtuve

Filling Potato Pie (Kugelis)

Potatoes have ruled the Lithuanian cuisine for 150 years and most families have a favorite potato dish recipe passed down through generations.

Potato pie or pudding (kugelis), with its crispy exterior and soft consistency inside,  is an easy-to-make  favorite.

Hearty Hash Browns (Bulviniai blynai)

Restaurant Lokys. Photo courtesy of Ruchika Anand

Like the majority of Lithuanian dishes, hash browns or potato pancakes (bulviniai blynai) contain lots of carbs, fat, and salt – all essential  ingredients for satisfying our emotions and food cravings. Go ahead and indulge.It’s been a tough year. The recipe can be found here.

Famous Potato Dumplings (Cepelinai)

When it comes to potato dishes, probably the most well-known are potato dumplings (cepelinai) that are filled with a variety of ingredients, some typical such as meat or cheese and some more unique apples, herring or sauerkraut.

Fast Fried Bread@Beatos Virtuve

Fast Fried Bread with Cheese (Kepta duona su sūriu)

One of the most popular snacks in Lithuanian, fried bread quickly becomes a favorite of visitors as well. The treat goes well with a pint of beer and takes little effort to make. All you need is a loaf of rye, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, cooking oil, a pinch of salt and cheese

Cut the bread in strips, fry in oil until crispy, then rub the garlic onto the hot bread, sprinkle with salt and top with grated cheese. Voila! The perfect hot, filling, cheesy and garlicky –what could be better?

Savoury Pastry Pies (Kibinai)

Crescent-shaped pies of butter pastry stuffed with meat, mushrooms, or vegetables are one of the dishes brought to Lithuania by another nation – Karaites. Around 400 Karaite families were invited  to Lithuania by Vytautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, from the shores of Black Sea at the end of the 14th century, and those who have made Lithuania their home, added their national dishes to the Lithuanian cuisine, hence – the savory pastry pies. The dish is best devoured in the historical capital of Lithuania – Trakai – where the variety of both savory pastry pies and restaurants serving them is astounding. This recipe is a great way to pass time while planning a trip to try a Lithuanian spin on savory pastry pies the following year.

Trakai Castle. Photo courtesy of Victor Malyushev 

Delicious Cocoa Cookie Bar (Tinginys)

A national treat, this uncooked cocoa cookie bar, called “lazy cake” by the locals since the recipe requires little effort. calls for minimal to none cooking skills. Just crush a pack of tea biscuits, melt 100 g of butter on medium heat, add a can of sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder. Mix the ingredients, wrap the mixture in a cling film, shape it as a sausage, chill it in the fridge for several hours and voilà!

Deep-Fried Pastry Strips (Žagarėliai)

These twig-shaped and deep-fried pastry strips made with curd or sour milk provide the same type of feeling of satisfaction that we get biting into a freshly made donut. Quick and easy to make, they’re surely will lighten anyone’s mood. Even better, the recipe is easy to make.  

Familiar and comforting flavors with some unusual twists represent a side of Lithuania that is sure to be explored by foodies in years to come. Meanwhile, all eager to experience Lithuanian gastronomic peculiarities can take a look at the Map of Authentic Lithuanian Flavors and make a list for their future explorations of Lithuania.

Pažaislis Monastery, Kaunas, Lithuania.

About Lithuania Travel

Lithuania Travel is a national tourism development agency responsible for Lithuania’s tourism marketing and promotion, acting under the Ministry of Economy and Innovation. Its strategic goal—to raise awareness of Lithuania as an attractive tourism destination and to encourage inbound and domestic travel. The agency closely collaborates with tourism businesses and organizations, presents Lithuanian tourism products, services and experiences on social and digital media, press trips, in international travel exhibitions and B2B events.

More information available at Lithuania travel and Facebook page Lithuania Real is Beautiful.

Media contact

Greta Skridailaitė

greta.s@blueoceanspr.com

Old Fashioned Fairs and Food

            I love going to food festivals and state and county fairs and seeing what great home cooks both young and adult are doing. One such favorite that I never miss is the Berrien County Youth Fair in Southwest Michigan which always hosts an annual Baked Fruit Pie Contest, an event highlighting the lush and lovely fruit of the region.  The competition JulyAugust 2018 246features JulyAugust 2018 246threecategories—the Adult Division, the Youth Division and Most Eye Appealing which went to   Brianna Anthony for her Peach Blueberry Pie. The winners in the Adult Division were  1st Place:  Sandy Vorrath – Pineapple-Mango Crumb Pie, 2nd Place:  Chris Dohm – Baked Fresh Cherry Pie, 3rd Place:  Michelle Foxworthy – Blueberry Apple Pie, 4th Place:  Ruth Vorrath – Fresh Red Raspberry Crumb Pie and 5th Place:  Joyel Timmreck – Blueberry-Cherry Streusel Pie.

            In the Youth Division  1st Place:  Elise Barber – Strawberry Crumb Pie, 2nd Place:  Brianna Anthony – Peach Blueberry Pie, 3rd Place:  Clara Berry – Blueberry Pie, 4th Place:  Brianna Anthony – Cherry Almond Pie and 5th Place: Adrianne Barber – Cherry Pie.IMG_20180818_221234

            Sponsors were Kilwin’s, Lemon Creek Winery and the Eau Claire Fruit Exchange for donating the prizes for the baked fruit pie contest.IMG_20180818_221234

Sandy Vorrath’s Pineapple-Mango Crumb Pie

Filling Ingredients:

2 cored pineapples, chopped

1 cup chopped mango

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup pineapple juice

½ teaspoon lemon juice

3 drops coconut extract

½ cup flaked coconut

Crust Ingredients:

1¼  cups all-purpose flour

½ cup butter flavored shortening

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon. powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

¼ cup iced pineapple juice

Topping Ingredients:

½ cup butter cut into pieces

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

¼ cup flaked coconut

Crust:

Mix together all of the crust dry ingredients.  Cut in the shortening to make little crumbs.  Mix together the egg and pineapple juice.  Add to crust ingredients a  little at a time until the dough holds together.  Roll dough out onto a floured counter top to about 1/8 inch thick and fit into a pie plate.  Trim and flute the crust edges, put pie crust in the freezer until ready to use.IMG_20180818_214707

Filling:

Mix together the sugar and corn starch in a large cooking pot.  Add the pineapple juice and lemon juice.  Over medium heat bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the pineapple and mango chunks and bring mixture back to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the coconut extract and coconut.  Mix well.  Let the mixture cool.

Topping:

Mix together the flour, sugars and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until crumbs form.  Add the macadamia nuts and coconut.  After filling has cooled, pour it in the frozen crust and top pie with crumb topping.  Bake pie at 350⁰ for 40 minutes, or until pie is brown and filling bubbles.

Brianna Anthony’s Peach Blueberry Pie

Crust Ingredients:

¾ cup cake flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons salted butter

5 tablespoons shortening

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoon white vinegar

3 ice cubes

½ cup cold water

Filling Ingredients:

¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls

4 medium-sized peaches, pitted and thinly sliced

1½  cups fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lemon zest

1 egg white

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon white sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375⁰

To prepare crust:

Measure butter and shortening on a plate, put in freezer for 20 minutes.

While butter and shortening are in the freezer, measure both flours, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl.  Mix until combined.  Put ½ cold butter and ½ cold shortening in bowl with dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Take remainder of the cold butter and shortening and cut into bowl very briefly, leaving visible pea-sized chunks.  Do not over mix!

In measuring cup, mix egg yolk and vinegar and add ice cubes and water.  Let chill 3- 4 minutes.

Sprinkle approximately 4-5 tablespoons of the egg/water mixture a little at a time and mix gently with fork.  Do not over wet the dough or over mix.  Place dough in plastic bag and chill in refrigerator for a few minutes.  Remove and roll out for pie.

Filling:

Brush the egg white mixture on the inside of the crust.  Finely grind the tapioca in a food processor for about 1 minute.  Combine the blueberries, peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and tapioca in a large bowl.  Add the mixed ingredients to the bottom crust.  Place a lattice crust on top of the pie.  Brush the top with egg yolk.  Stir together 1 Tbsp. of white sugar and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the pie.  Bake in a 375⁰preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Elise Barber’s Strawberry Crumb Pie

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 – 8 tablespoon ice cold water

2 pounds (about 4-4½ cups) strawberries, sliced

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup finely ground instant tapioca or tapioca flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

For Crumb Topping:

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fine salt

5½ – 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Crust:

Cut shortening into flour and salt, using pastry blender, until particles are size of coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon. at a time, until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl.  Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Brown Sugar Crumb Topping:

Put oats in food processor and pulse until oats are texture of coarse cornmeal.  Pour in a bowl and add flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Add melted butter and blend with fork until butter is incorporated and mixture gathers into small clumps (you may not need to add all of the butter).  Place bowl in the refrigerator and chill crumbs before topping pie.

Filling:

Preheat oven to 375⁰.

In a large bowl, stir strawberries with lemon juice, orange zest and vanilla extract.  Stir well.  Whisk sugar, ground tapioca, and cornstarch together in small bowl.  Combine sugar mixture with strawberries.

Roll out pastry according to size of pie plate.  Pour filling into pastry.  Top pie with , spreading in even layer and covering all fruit.

Place on baking sheet and put in oven.  Bake 25 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350⁰ and baked 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until juice bubbles up through crumb.  Top with foil if overbrowning.

Place baking sheet on wire rack and let pie cool overnight, uncovered at room temperature.