Sunday, December 6, 2020

 

Lekerli – German-Swiss Honey-Spice cookies from Basel

Basler Lekerli (or Läkerli) are glazed rectangular or diamond-shaped spice cookies that my family love around Christmas. The cookies are tedious and tricky to make, and thus are particularly special for the holiday. It has become a tradition with us, though not because of any Swiss background. The cookies keep for weeks, and improve in both flavor and texture with storage.

Lekerli are the German-Swiss counterpart, developed in Basel, to the originally Bavarian Nuremberg honey-spice cookie, Lebkuchen. Both date back about seven centuries. I found the recipe in a small Swiss cookie cookbook at the book store at World Health Organization in Geneva, where I was doing a work project in the mid-1980s. The book, fortunately, was the French translation, which I can read, of an originally German language regional cookbook, which I could not have read. With some adaptations that I made to the recipe for our local conditions and preferences, it became a favorite, which I baked nearly annually for decades.

When we moved to Athens from Atlanta, the recipe, typed on a single page of paper, disappeared in transit. My wife, Christina, tracked down a copy through a complex communication and locating an old friend of hers who, she recalled, had liked our cookies and photocopied the recipe. Our new copy is a printout of the pfg-transmitted copy of our original, which Sylvie had photocopied. Having just made the Lekerli as a project with several of my grandchildren, I’m now getting it on my recipe blog to keep it accessible.

Basler Lekerli

Mix together in a large bowl:

3 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg (fresh grated is best)

2 teaspoons ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

In a separate bowl:

2 1/2 cups chopped almonds (with skins)

6 tablespoons candied orange rind, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons candied lemon rind, coarsely chopped

Grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons orange juice

 

In a large pan, bring to a boil:

3/4 cup honey (strong flavored, such as wildflower honey)

3/4 cup sugar

Once the mixture has boiled, remove pan from the heat and stir in the almond mixture. Then transfer this all to the bowl with the flour mixture and combine using a strong wooden paddle. This can be difficult. The dry mixture can be kneaded with the hands once it is cool enough to touch.

Place one half of the dough (broken up and scattered) on the bottom side of a greased cookie sheet or greased parchment (not waxed paper) on the cookie sheet bottom. Roll the dough 1/4 inch or thinner, using a waxed paper sheet on top of the dough or lightly dusting dough with flour while rolling. Cut off ragged edges and fill in any gaps so as to get a large rectangle of dough. 

Repeat for the other half of the dough. 

Bake in a 315-degree oven until golden brown, 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven. While still hot, run the edge of a sharp knife underneath the edges of the dough to separate it from the parchment or the pan.

For each sheet of cookies, make the glaze (recipe below). This can be done separately for each sheet of dough, or together (glaze recipe doubled) once you’ve done this a time or two. When glaze is cooked, quickly paint the top of the still-hot baked dough (stick it back in the oven for a minute or so if needed) evenly with glaze using a pastry brush. The glaze will get cloudy and look like icy snow.

Using a sharp knife, cut the still-warm cookies into diamonds (1 1/2-inch wide lengthwise strips then 1-inch wide strips on a diagonal) or cut crosswise into rectangles 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches. Allow cookies to cool thoroughly. Lift them off the pan or parchment with a sharp spatula. Let them dry for a little while. Store in tightly covered tins,

Let ripen for at least a week for best flavor and texture. 

GLAZE for each half of the dough:

6 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons water

Boil in a pan without stirring (but gently swirl the pan occasionally) until the syrup first begins to spin a thread when a little is dripped from a spoon. Do not overcook. Brush quickly on a baked sheet of Lekerli.   

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


Sweet Peppers Sautéed with Chopped Meat: Easy farm-style late summer supper

Gardens in Athens are full right now with late summer produce, and days are still warm and lazy, and our movement is still restricted by Covid. Hunkered down and cooking a lot is one of the activities available.

Our son-in-law, Jason, gave us a bunch of sweet long peppers, both red and green, plus sweet potatoes from his garden. I was not inclined to long or fancy cooking at home. I do plenty of that at the restaurant.

The peppers, cored, sliced and fried with a little onion, garlic, chopped meat (pork in this case, but lamb would be my preference if it were available) and simple seasoning sautéed up into a very bright and satisfying dish served with the roasted sweet potatoes plus some sliced fresh local tomatoes. No exotic seasonings, much as I love them, seemed appropriate to this farmhouse super. It was a bit like what my mother made decades ago when I was a kid.

The recipe will serve 4-6, depending on the amount of starchy side dish. Roasted sweet potatoes worked well, but so should baked potatoes, or a rice dish or a noodle dish – or quinoa?

6 large long sweet peppers, half green and half red (or 2 each red and green bell peppers)
1/2 small onion
1 large clove garlic
1 pound ground pork or lamb, not too fatty
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

De-stem and remove cores and seeds from peppers. Cut into thin (1/8-inch) strips and cut to no longer than 1-inch long. Dice onion. Mince garlic.

Combine vegetables with ground meat in a frying pan and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until meat changes color. Add pepper, salt and lemon juice or vinegar. Stir and fry for several more minutes. Taste and add a little salt, if needed, to taste.

If desired, spoon meat mixture off with a slotted spoon so as to leave excess grease behind. The dish can be served now or refrigerated and reheated for serving later.

Serve hot with roasted sweet potato or potato (quickest cooked in the microwave), or a rice dish or noodles. Accompany with a fresh salad for a summertime supper treat.

Sunday, August 23, 2020


Index for the recipes on this blog

This blog is my low-tech, and continuing, effort at an online cookbook based on my recipes. Unlike most blogs, it was not intended to discuss current topics.

However, the blog format, while a convenient way for me to share my recipes, over 60 so far, is not particularly reader-friendly. It tends to show the viewer the more recent postings and makes earlier ones harder to find. Those earlier ones include some of my favorite recipes, which I started with back in July of 2019. This Recipe Index, hopefully, makes the earlier recipes and their stories more accessible. I will update it from time to time as I post additional recipes.

I’ve grouped the recipes by category (appetizers, meat, desserts, etc.), but I’ve also grouped them by ingredient preference (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.). Many recipes show up in several categories.

Blog posts do not have page numbers. But they do have unique posting dates attached to them. To find an actual recipe from the index, check the date of the recipe posting and go to the Blog Archive for that date, easiest done in the computer version, rather than the I-phone version of the blog. The computer version shows the blog archive over on the right, and you simply click on the month and year when the recipe of interest was posted. The I-phone version requires that you scroll down all the way to the date of the recipe you are looking for. That works, but is more tedious.

Here are the recipes I’ve posted thus far, arranged by topic as well as dietary preferences. I hope you find ones that interest you. Bon appétit!

Appetizers/Snacks
Artichokes with easy dipping sauce                                                    7/6/20
Buffalo Chicken dip, easy                                                                   9/8/19                         
Chimmichurri sauce and Choripan                                                      6/3/21
Creamy Black Bean dip                                                                     12/28/19
Cucumber-Yogurt sauce (Cacik, Tzatziki)                                          8/20/19
Easy Black Bean dip                                                                           9/23/19
Fig (or Apricot) and Feta appetizer                                                    10/28/19         
Fresh Salsa (for dipping tortilla chips)                                                8/26/19
Hummus bi Tahini                                                                               8/7/19
Hungarian Cottage Cheese appetizer                                                  10/2/19
Lentil and Tomato dip                                                                         9/14/19
Roasted Cauliflower with tahini-lemon sauce                                    8/14/19
Sesame-Marinated Broccoli, Korean inspired                                    11/1/19                                     
Turkish White Bean salad                                                                   8/31/19
Watermelon and Feta salad                                                                 6/13/21
                       
Condiments
Apricot or Nectarine chutney                                                             12/2/19
Chimmichurri sauce and Choripan                                                      6/3/21
Cucumber-Yogurt sauce (Cacik, Tzatziki)                                          8/20/19
Fresh Salsa                                                                                          8/26/19
Minted Cream Sauce for salmon or lamb                                           12/28/19
Russian Radish Salad with sour cream and dill                                  10/2/19
Spiced Applesauce for potato pancakes or pork                                 12/2/19

Meat and Meat Dishes
Arroz con Pollo (Spanish-Caribbean chicken with rice)                     9/4/19
Bolognese, Italian meat sauce                                                             1/3/20
Buffalo Chicken dip, easy                                                                   9/8/19 
Chicken breast medallions Dijon                                                        11/1/19
Chicken Enchiladas, New Mexico style                                             8/28/19
Chicken Fajitas                                                                                   5/26/21                                             
Chicken Medallions roasted with fresh herbs                                     8/21/19
Chimmichurri sauce and Choripan                                                      6/3/21
Chinese braised pork (“Red Cooked”)                                               12/30/19
Golden Chili                                                                                       8/28/19
Green Beans and rice, Cajun                                                              10/6/19
Green Vegetables stir-fried with chicken and garlic                          11/1/19
Greek-Turkish Meatballs                                                                    8/20/19
Grilled Chicken, Vietnamese style                                                     7/25/19
Meatloaf, gluten-free                                                                          1/20/20
“Mongolian” Beef                                                                               9/2/19
Moussaka with eggplant and meat                                                     10/1/19
Northern Thai honey-spiced chicken, plus dipping sauce                 12/11/19
Pad Thai Noodles                                                                               5/11/21                                              Pork and Cabbage Goulash                                                                11/9/19
Russian Meat and Rice meatballs (Tefteli)                                         10/2/19
Russian Meat pie (Pirog)                                                                    8/14/19
Spaghetti Sauce with meatballs                                                          7/30/19
Swedish Meatballs with cream and dill sauce                                    8/30/19
Sweet Peppers braised with chopped meat                                         8/25/20
Thai Massaman Curry with beef                                                         8/31/19
Thai Red Curry with chicken                                                              8/7/19
Turkish Meatballs stuffed with fruit                                                   7/29/20
Wasabi-Miso crusted chicken with chili garlic aioli                           12/2/19

Seafood
Lemon-Dill roasted Salmon, easy                                                       12/28/19
Minted Cream Sauce for salmon or lamb                                           12/28/19
Pan-fried Salmon with brown butter and fried capers                        8/24/19
Sweet and Sour Fish, Chinese                                                             9/13/19

Vegetarian and Vegetable Dishes
Acorn Squash, roasted                                                                        11/5/19
Apricot or Nectarine chutney                                                             12/2/19
Artichokes with easy dipping sauce                                                    7/6/20
Brussels Sprouts sautéed with cream or Balsamic vinegar                11/5/19
Butternut Rosato (Pink) sauce for pasta                                             9/11/19
Cauliflower cheese bake, easy                                                            3/19/20
Cauliflower Gratin, Provençal                                                            8/21/19                       
Cheese-potato “meatballs” for spaghetti                                            2/18/20
Chimmichurri sauce                                                                             6/3/21
Coleslaw, Delicatessen style                                                               5/24/21                                              Creamy Black Bean dip                                                                     12/28/19
Cucumber-Yogurt sauce (Cacik, Tzatziki)                                          8/20/19
“Drunken” Black Beans                                                                      8/26/19
Easy Black Bean dip                                                                           9/23/19
Eggplant Parmesan                                                                             9/23/19
Fig (or Apricot) and Feta appetizer                                                   10/28/19
Fresh Salsa                                                                                          8/26/19
Greek-Style Pasta salad                                                                       6/7/21
Hummus bi Tahini                                                                               8/7/19
Kale braised with apple                                                                      3/29/20
Lentil and Tomato dip                                                                         9/14/19
Lentil and Vegetable soup                                                                   8/23/20
Lima beans prepared like Greek fava beans, with dill                        2/18/20
Neapolitan Spicy Cauliflower with garlic and lemon                         7/29/20
Pesto with Pasta                                                                                   6/10/21 
Quiche                                                                                                 7/26/20
Red Cabbage Coleslaw                                                                      10/29/19
Ratatouille (Provençal vegetable medley)                                          8/21/19
Rice Pilaf with dried fruits and peas                                                   8/24/19
Roasted Cauliflower with tahini-lemon sauce                                    8/14/19
Russian Radish Salad with sour cream and dill                                  10/2/19
Sesame-Marinated Broccoli, Korean inspired                                    11/1/19
Spiced Applesauce (for potato pancakes or pork, etc.)                      12/2/19                       
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese                                                          10/1/19
Turkish White Bean Salad                                                                  8/31/19
Watermelon and Feta salad                                                                 6/13/21
Winter Squash, sautéed, over jalapeño cheese grits                           10/5/19

Salads
Coleslaw, Delicatessen style                                                               5/24/21
Greek-Style Pasta salad                                                                       6/7/21 
Red Cabbage Coleslaw                                                                     10/29/19
Russian Radish Salad with sour cream and dill                                  10/2/19
Turkish White Bean Salad                                                                  8/31/19
Watermelon and Feta salad                                                                 6/13/21

Pasta Dishes/ Rice Dishes
Arroz con Pollo (Spanish-Caribbean chicken with rice)                    9/4/19
Bolognese, Italian meat sauce                                                            1/3/20
Butternut Rosato (Pink) sauce for pasta                                             9/11/19
Greek-Style Pasta salad                                                                       6/7/21 
Pad Thai Noodles                                                                               5/11/21
Pesto with Pasta                                                                                  6/10/21
Pistou (Provençal pesto) with noodles                                               8/22/19
Rice Pilaf with dried fruits and peas                                                  8/24/19
Spaghetti Sauce with meatballs                                                         7/30/19
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese                                                          10/1/19

International
Arroz con Pollo (Spanish-Caribbean chicken with rice)                     9/4/19
Bolognese, Italian meat sauce                                                             1/3/20
Butternut Rosato (Pink) sauce for pasta                                             9/11/19
Cauliflower Gratin, Provençal                                                            8/21/19
Chicken breast medallions Dijon                                                        11/1/19
Chimmichurri sauce and Choripan                                                       6/3/21
Chinese braised pork (“Red Cooked”)                                               12/30/19
Cucumber-Yogurt sauce (Cacik, Tzatziki)                                          8/20/19
Eggplant Parmesan                                                                             9/23/19
Fresh Salsa                                                                                          8/26/19
Green vegetables stir-fried with chicken and garlic                           11/1/19
Greek-Style Pasta salad                                                                        6/7/21 
Greek-Turkish Meatballs                                                                     8/20/19
Grilled Chicken, Vietnamese style                                                      7/25/19
Hummus bi Tahini                                                                               8/7/19
Hungarian Cottage Cheese appetizer                                                  10/2/19
Lekerli cookies                                                                                    12/6/20
Lemon-Dill roasted Salmon, easy (Greek Cypriot)                            12/28/19
Lentil and Vegetable soup                                                                   8/23/20
Lima beans prepared like Greek fava beans, with dill                        2/18/20
“Mongolian” Beef                                                                               9/2/19
Moussaka with eggplant and meat                                                     10/1/19
Neapolitan Spicy Cauliflower with garlic and lemon                        7/29/20
Northern Thai honey-spiced chicken, plus dipping sauce                 12/11/19
Pad Thai Noodles                                                                               5/11/21
Pesto with Pasta                                                                                  6/10/21
Pistou (Provençal pesto) with noodles                                                8/22/19
Pork and Cabbage Goulash                                                                11/9/19
Ratatouille (Provençal vegetable medley)                                          8/21/19
Rice Pilaf with dried fruits and peas                                                  8/24/19
Roasted Cauliflower with tahini-lemon sauce                                    8/14/19
Russian Meat and Rice Meatballs (Tefteli)                                        10/2/19
Russian Meat Pie (Pirog)                                                                    8/14/19
Russian Radish Salad with sour cream and dill                                  10/2/19
Sesame-Marinated Broccoli, Korean inspired                                    11/1/19
Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs                                                          7/30/19
Swedish Meatballs with cream and dill sauce                                    8/30/19
Sweet and Sour Fish, Chinese                                                             9/13/19
Thai Massaman Curry with beef                                                         8/31/19
Thai Red Curry with chicken                                                              8/7/19
Turkish Meatballs stuffed with dried fruit                                         7/29/20
Turkish White Bean Salad                                                                  8/31/19

Vegan/Fully Plant-Based
Apricot or Nectarine chutney                                                             12/2/19
Brussels Sprouts sautéed with Balsamic vinegar                                11/5/19
Chimmichurri sauce                                                                             6/3/21
“Drunken” Black Beans                                                                      8/26/19
Fresh Salsa                                                                                          8/26/19
Greek-Style Pasta salad (non Feta version)                                          6/7/21 
Hummus bi Tahini                                                                                8/7/19
Lima beans prepared like Greek fava beans, with dill                        2/18/20
Neapolitan Spicy Cauliflower with garlic and lemon                         7/29/20
Kale braised with apple                                                                      3/29/20
Lekerli cookies                                                                                    12/6/20
Lentil and Vegetable soup                                                                   8/23/20
Ratatouille (Provençal vegetable medley)                                          8/21/19
Rice Pilaf with dried fruits and peas                                                  8/24/19
Roasted Cauliflower with tahini-lemon sauce                                    8/14/19
Sesame-Marinated Broccoli, Korean inspired                                    11/1/19
Spiced Applesauce, condiment (using olive oil)                                 12/2/19
Turkish White Bean Salad                                                                  8/31/19

Gluten-Free
Acorn Squash, roasted                                                                        11/5/19
Apricot or Nectarine chutney                                                             12/2/19
Arroz con Pollo (Spanish-Caribbean chicken with rice)                     9/4/19
Artichokes with easy dipping sauce                                                   7/6/20
Bolognese, Italian meat sauce (minus the pasta)                                1/3/20
Brussels Sprouts sautéed with cream or Balsamic vinegar                 11/5/19
Buffalo Chicken dip, easy                                                                   9/8/19 
Chicken breast medallions Dijon                                                        11/1/19
Chicken Enchiladas, New Mexico style                                             8/28/19
Chicken Fajitas                                                                                   5/26/21
Chicken Medallions roasted with fresh herbs                                     8/21/19
Chimmichurri sauce                                                                              6/3/21
Chinese braised pork (“Red Cooked”) (use gluten-free soy sauce)    12/30/19
Coleslaw, Delicatessen style                                                               5/24/21
Creamy Black Bean dip                                                                      12/28/19
“Drunken” Black Beans                                                                      8/26/19
Easy Black Bean dip                                                                           9/23/19
Fig (or Apricot) and Feta appetizer                                                   10/28/19
Fresh Salsa                                                                                          8/26/19
Golden Chili                                                                                       8/28/19
Green vegetables stir-fried with chicken (if G-F soy sauce)              11/1/19
Grilled Chicken, Vietnamese style                                                     7/25/19
Hummus bi Tahini                                                                               8/7/19
Hungarian Cottage Cheese appetizer                                                  10/2/19
Kale braised with apple                                                                       3/29/20
Lemon-Dill roasted Salmon, easy                                                       12/28/19
Lentil and Vegetable soup                                                                   8/23/20
Lima beans prepared like Greek fava beans, with dill                        2/18/20
Meatloaf, gluten-free                                                                          1/20/20
Minted Cream Sauce for salmon or lamb                                           12/28/19
Neapolitan Spicy Cauliflower with garlic and lemon                         7/29/20
Northern Thai honey-spiced chicken, plus dipping sauce                  12/11/19
Pad Thai Noodles                                                                               5/11/21
Pan-fried Salmon with brown butter and fried capers                         8/24/19
Pesto (sauce only)                                                                                6/10/21
Pork and Cabbage Goulash                                                                11/9/19
Ratatouille (Provençal vegetable medley)                                          8/21/19
Red Cabbage Coleslaw                                                                       10/29/19
Rice Pilaf with dried fruits and peas                                                   8/24/19
Roasted Cauliflower with tahini-lemon sauce                                    8/14/19
Russian Meat and Rice Meatballs (Tefteli)                                         10/2/19
Sesame-Marinated Broccoli, Korean (use gluten-free soy sauce)       11/1/19
Spiced Applesauce, condiment                                                           12/2/19
Sweet Peppers braised with chopped meat                                         8/25/20
Thai Massaman Curry with beef                                                         8/31/19
Thai Red Curry with chicken                                                              8/7/19
Turkish White Bean Salad                                                                   8/31/19
Wasabi-Miso Crusted Chicken with chili garlic aioli                         12/2/19
Watermelon and Feta salad                                                                 6/13/21
Winter Squash, sautéed, over jalapeño cheese grits                            10/5/19

Baked Items
Acorn Squash, roasted                                                                        11/5/19
Cauliflower Gratin, Provençal                                                            8/21/19
Chicken Medallions roasted with fresh herbs                                     8/21/19
Eggplant Parmesan                                                                             9/23/19
Fresh Fig Tart                                                                                      8/10/20
Fruitcake Bars                                                                                     1/11/21
Lekerli cookies                                                                                    12/6/20
Moussaka with eggplant and meat                                                     10/1/19
Quiche                                                                                                 7/26/20
Russian Meat Pie (Pirog)                                                                    8/14/19

Desserts
Fresh Fig Tart                                                                                      8/10/20
Fruitcake Bars                                                                                     1/11/21
Lekerli cookies                                                                                    12/6/20