Shirley’s Apple Pie

When I was growing up, we always had Thanksgiving at our house.  My Aunt Florence, Uncle Larry, and my cousins Karen, David, Debbie were always there.  It was wonderful.  Our yearly menu never changed and will be imprinted in my mind forever.  Here it is:  The hor d’oeuvres were as follows:  3 dozen Cohen’s little hot dogs, 3 dozen Cohen’s potato puffs, 1 dozen Cohen’s egg rolls, my mother’s homemade chopped liver served with party rye,  and  chilled Sacramento tomato juice.  For the main course we had:  brisket, turkey, my Grandma Hindes’s stuffing, cranberry jello mold, candied sweet potatoes, potatoes cooked around the turkey, salad, and French style string beans surrounding glazed carrots.  For dessert we had:  2 homemade apple pies served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip squares, coffee, and milk.  As a little girl, I adored watching my mother make all the food, and I was very involved with lots of the food preparation.  But I think my favorite part (besides eating all of her delicious food) was watching my mother make her delicious apple pies.  I really watched her every move as she rolled out the dough, placed the bottom crust in the pyrex pie plate, spooned the ample pie filling into the bottom crust, dotted the apples with margarine, and finally, lifted the top pie crust and beautifully placed it on top of the apples, masterfully crimping the pie dough to seal in the apple filling.  I think of all the cooking jobs my mother did for Thanksgiving, the pies always loomed over her as a daunting task.  But when those apple pies cooked and the delicious appley smell wafted through the house, and those gorgeous apple pies came out of the oven, she knew, and I knew that every bit of her effort was worthwhile!

for 1 double crust:  (In parentheses are quantities for a slightly large crust.)

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (1 1/3 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup  cold Crisco shortening (1 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons ice water (7 tablespoons)

Mix flour and salt in bowl of food processor or in large mixing bowl.  In processor, spoon shortening over flour mixture, and pulse till mixture is the size of small peas. Or if mixing by hand use a pastry blender.  Then add water and pulse only until dough comes together. If doing by hand, use a fork and blend water into dough  just until dough comes together.  Then dump dough out on floured board, and form into a large ball.  Divide into 2 disks, one slightly smaller than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When dough is sufficiently refrigerated, begin making your filling:

for the filling:

  • about 7-8 very large apples- Winesap, Rome, Granny Smith, Fuji, or a mixture of these or any other baking apples
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • heavy 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or Minute Maid lemon juice from concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine to dot the filling
  • egg wash:  1 egg yolk mixed with 1  teaspoon water

Peel and slice apples into large mixing bowl.  Add sugar, cinnamon, flour salt, and lemon juice.  Roll bottom crust (smaller disk) out to a large enough circle on waxed paper.  Transfer to pie plate.  Spoon filling in.  Dot top of filling with the margarine or butter.  Roll out top crust (larger disk).  Gently lay over filling.  If you are freezing the pie, wrap well in plastic wrap at this point, then with foil.  If you are baking, brush pie crust with egg wash, make a few slits in the pie to allow steam to escape, place pie on sheet pan, and bake at 425 degrees about 40-60 minutes till browned all over.

Note If pie is frozen, then bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and at 375 degrees for another 30 minutes till browned.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Note If you bake this in the morning, you may place it in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes before serving to warm it up.

Mini Pumpkin Muffins With Chocolate Chips

My very nice co-teacher in school, Doris Fisher, bakes these muffins on a regular basis for her friends and family.  Luckily for me, she brought some in to school for me to sample.  They were delicious!  These muffins are a breeze to make and they freeze beautifully, too.  Enjoy!

for the muffins:

  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 16 oz. can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or 2 if you like a more cinnamony flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray mini muffin pans (recipe makes 48 mini muffins)

In large mixing bowl, blend eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Whisk till nicely blended.  Then  and add everything else but the chips, mixing in just until blended with a rubber spatula.  Then add chips and fold in.  Scoop out batter into prepared pans, and bake 23-35 min till muffins are lightly browned around edges and toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Chunk & Walnut Banana Sour Cream Coffee Cake

If You Like Banana Bread, Chocolate, And Walnuts, You Will Love This Cake! 

I combined a few of my favorite ingredients, and I came up with this recipe for coffee cake.  This delicious cake is a combination of banana bread, and sour cream coffee cake with the added bonus of having delectable chocolate chunks and walnuts in it.  You will not believe how gorgeous this cake is when it comes out of the oven! 

for the cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

for the filling and topping:

  • 1 (4 ounce) bar of bittersweet chocolate (I recommend
  • Ghirardelli), chopped into small chunks
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the sides and bottom (or tube if using a tube pan) of a 9 inch springform pan, or a 9 or 10 inch tube pan.  Measure the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, mix with fork and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, place the chocolate chunks, the chopped walnuts, the 1/4 cup sugar, the cinnamon.  Then drizzle in the cooled, melted butter  and mix gently with a rubber spatula.  Set aside.  (If you notice that the butter is melting the chocolate a little, set the bowl aside in the refrigerator.)

In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 or 2 minutes.  Add the sugar, and cream until light colored and fluffy.  While the mixture is creaming, mash the bananas with a fork.  Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until fluffy.  Then blend in the bananas, the sour cream, and vanilla on low speed for no more than one minute.  With mixer on low, blend in the flour mixture and mix just until it is blended in. 

Spoon about half of the batter into your prepared pan.  Then sprinkle it with half of the chocolate-nut mixture.  Spoon the remaining batter over the filling, and spread it gently over with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle the remaining half of chocolate-nut mixture evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 55 – 65 minutes.  The sides of the cake should have separated from the cake pan, and the center of the cake should not be sunken.  When the cake is cooked through, the center will have risen as much as the rest of the cake. If you are baking this cake in a round 9 inch springform pan, you may have to give it 5 or 10 minutes more of baking time. (A toothpick should also come out clean when the cake is fully baked.)  

Cool on wire rack, take off sides of pan, using a sharp knife, go under the cake to separate it from the bottom of the springform pan.  Then, slide the cake onto a serving platter.  Or, cut the cake into thirds, and slice a third into beautiful slices, and place on a cake platter.  Put each remaining third of the cake in a ziploc freezer bag, and freeze.     

Hints:  When you are making any cake batter, the time for the high speed is when you are creaming the butter with the sugar, and then with the eggs.  You want this mixture to be light and fluffy.  Your butter and eggs should always be at room temperature for best results.  Often, I decide to make a cake on the spur of the moment, and I don’t want to wait 1 or 2 hours for my butter and eggs to come to room temperature.  So I put my butter in the microwave on power level one for a minute at a time just until the butter feels softened, but is definitely not melting.  Then, I put the eggs in the microwave on power level 1 for about 1 minute.  

My Mother’s And My Outstanding Strawberry Shortcake

Of all the cakes I have ever eaten or baked in my life, this strawberry shortcake is the best! This recipe of my mother’s is indescribably delicious. It was a family tradition for my mother to bake this strawberry shortcake every year for our annual Father’s Day barbecue. Everyone waited for my mother to bring this masterpiece of a cake to the table. When I got married, I started to bake this cake. At my beautiful daughter Randi’s first birthday party, I actually baked three of these cakes because we had quite a crowd of people. Anyway, this cake is so beautiful and so delicious that it could win any first place prize at a country fair. The layers are light and airy and so delicious. The filling, which is just whipped cream and sugar with some fresh strawberries and crushed pineapple is dreamy. This strawberry shortcake takes some time, but if you go step by step, you will succeed at creating a dazzling dessert that people will applaud you for.

for the cake:

  • 1 cup cake flour (sift first, then measure)
  • 6 extra large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

for the filling and the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 pints heavy or whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 1 16 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its natural juice , drained very well

to make the cake: (You can make the layers in advance and freeze them!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I use 2 round 9 inch baking pans with removable bottoms. If you don’t have that type of pan, then place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of your 8 or 9 inch round pans. Do not grease the pans!

Separate the eggs. Set aside. Sift and measure the cake flour. Put it into a mixing bowl with the salt and baking powder, which you mix with a fork or whisk just to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt.

Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until they have thickened are are pale yellow-about 5 minutes. Add the cold water and vanilla; beat again until thick -about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar; beat again for another minute. Add the flour mixture on very low speed just until mixed in. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on highest speed just until they form soft peaks. Then add the other 1/2 cup suar and mix 30 seconds more until they just start to form stiff peaks. Gently, fold the meringue (the beaten egg whites with sugar) gently into the flour and egg yolk batter with a rubber spatula until you can’t see the whites anymore. Be patient while you do this; it takes about 5 minutes. Pour the batter into the two ungreased pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until cake springs back when you touch it, the cake has started to separate from the sides, and it is slightly browned on top.

Cool cakes on wire racks. When cool, take cakes out of pans by running a knife around the edges of each pan. If you are using pans with removable sides, then remove the sides and run a sharp non-serrated knife under the cake to separate it from the pan.

Let cool completely. Then slice each layer in half horizontally using a good serrated knife so that you have four layers. You may either wrap the layers well and freeze them to use in the future, or you can just wrap them well, and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the cake.

to assemble the cake:

Drain the pineapple very well by putting it in a sieve, and pressing the juice out of it with a spoon. Set drained pineapple aside. Then wash the strawberries. Place them on paper towels to let them dry. Cut the green tops off them. Reserve enough of the prettiest berries to place whole on top of the cake (about 1/2 quart or 1 pint). Then slice the remaining strawberries and set aside in a bowl. Place the whisk attachment or your beaters in the freezer along with the bowl you will be whipping the cream in and the spatula you will be using. Let those stay in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Put the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then take everything out of the freezer. Pour the cream into the bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sugar in with the cream. Put the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on the highest setting, and beat. After about 45 seconds, pour the remaining sugar in. Continue beating until the cream is whipped. It should not be liquidy or loose at all at this point.

Place one cake layer on a pedestal serving dish that is large enough to hold it. Spread some whipped cream on the layer, about 1/4 inch high. Then sprinkle about 1/3 of the sliced strawberries on the layer. Place the second layer on top of the fruit. Spread more whipped cream on the second layer. Evenly distribute all the crushed pineapple and some of the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Place the third layer on top of the fruit. Spread whipped cream on top of the cake. Evenly distribute the remaining sliced strawberries over the whipped cream. Place the final (fourth) layer on top of the fruit. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Then place the whole strawberries all over the top of the cake. The pointy side of the berries should be on top. Refrigerate until you serve the cake.

Note #1: If you find you don’t have enough whipped cream to frost the sides of the cake, leave the sides alone, and the cake will look beautiful that way as well.

Note #2: If you are baking the layers and freezing them to use at a later time, wrap them separately first in a good layer of plastic wrap, and then place each layer in a good ziploc plastic bag.

My Cousin Janie’s Moist And Delicious Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

You Can Learn To Make This Yummy Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting – Even If You Think You Can’t Bake!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe for carrot cake that I got from my wonderful cousin Janie Hindes Miller.  I have so many wonderful childhood memories associated with Janie; she was my closest childhood friend.   Janie is a wonderful cook and baker, but much more than that, Janie is a wonderful person.  For as long as I can remember, Janie has been making this carrot cake for yearly family  gatherings, and everyone goes crazy for it.   For me it was love at first bite when I tasted it, probably back when Janie and I were about 16 or 17 years old.  This carrot cake is a breeze to make, especially if you bake it in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  This is a wonderful recipe for a novice  baker.

for the cake:

  • 1 pound peeled and grated carrots (use organic if possible)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (I have now reduced the sugar to 1 3/4 cups- you will not detect the difference)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light olive oil, canola or corn oil (or reduce to 1 1/4 cups- I like the cake more with this reduced amount- June 1, 2010)
  • 2 cups unbleached flour (I prefer to use King Arthur organic unbleached flour, and you do not sift it for this recipe!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the icing:

  • 8 ounces Philadelphia brand cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature (best-using unsalted butter- June 1, 2010)
  • pinch of kosher salt (only if you are using unsalted butter or margarine)
  • 1 pound of confectioners sugar, sifted to get any lumps out
  • 1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces chopped- not too finely – pecans or walnuts- or mixture of the 2 (optional)(June 1,2010)- nuts make the cream cheese frosting better
  • 1- 8 oz. can of drained crushed pineapple in natural juice (optional)- but I prefer icing now without pineapple and only with the nuts!- June 1/10)

***updated icing (March 2016)- oh my gosh this is amazing and I like it better than my original above)

  • 1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8oz. package Philadelphia (full fat) cream cheese (room temperature)
  • about 2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners sugar (I didn’t sift as it seemed very fresh and lump free.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Spray or grease sides and bottom of  a 9 x 13 inch nonstick baking pan; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  Wash, peel, and grate carrots using a hand grater or a food processor fitted with the grater attachment- I use the food processor- it takes no time at all!); set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, by hand using a whisk, mix eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla, just until completely blended.  Then add dry ingredients to the wet batter, and mix just until blended.  Add carrots and fold them in with a rubber spatula.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes on a rack in center of oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to frost it.

for the icing: (wait till cake is completely cool before you ice it)

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese with the butter just until mixture is smooth.  Sift confectioners sugar right in the bowl,  add pinch of salt, and blend on low speed just until blended.  Add vanilla and blend.  Use rubber spatula to mix in nuts by hand if you are using them.  If you are adding the crushed pineapple, be sure to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the pineapple and then blend it in with a rubber spatula because you don’t want to add any extra liquid to the frosting.  Spread frosting on cooled cake.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you serve.

Note #1:  You can bake this in  a 9 x 13 inch pan or 2- 8 or 9 inch round pans to make a layer cake.

Note #2:  You can buy Diamond brand prechopped walnuts that come in a bag and can be found on the baking aisle in the supermarket.

Note #3:  Do not squeeze moisture out of carrots (I have never done that!)

This cake can be baked one day ahead and refrigerated until served.

Shirley’s Refreshing Lime Jello Mold

Add this refreshing and colorful treat to a  brunch buffet!

This is a recipe that I loved as a child and still love as an adult.  My mother, Shirley Fried made this recipe for some special occasions.  When my sons, Danny and Benji had their brisses, I made full brunches that were served buffet style.  I included this jello mold, and it really made a hit. 

  • 4 3-oz. boxes of lime jello
  • 6 cups of liquid (liquid which was drained from crushed pineapple along with boiling water)
  • 16 oz. crushed pineapple in natural juice
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 20 maraschino cherries, cut in fourths (optional-I prefer it without)

Dissolve jello in the boiling water and pineapple juice in a large mixing bowl.  Place bowl in refrigerator.  When the jello has cooled, but has not begun to jell, take it out and add the sour cream.  Mix in the sour cream using a whisk or the whisk attachment of your mixer. 

By hand, add the pineapple and the cherries.  Pour mixture into a large mold.  Refrigerate overnight.  When you are ready to unmold, put the stopper in the sink.  Add a little warm water in the sink.  Put the mold in.  The water should come up halfway to the top of the jello mold.  Swish in water for about 30 seconds.  Then take out of sink.  Place serving platter on top of mold.  Invert.  Jello should come down.  If it doesn’t, then put it back in the warm water for another 30 seconds and repeat.  Refrigerate the mold until you are ready to serve it.

Judy’s Crunchy and Juicy Apple Crisp (Passover too)

Make this delicious apple crisp- it’s so much easier than making pie! 

I developed this recipe because I wanted to have an easy alternative to baking an apple pie.  I probably make this dessert recipe for holidays and special occasions more than any other because it’s so easy to make, and it is an absolute crowd pleaser.

for the topping:

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter (substitute margarine for a pareve dessert)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

for the filling:

  • 10 very large apples (Rome, Winesap, Granny Smith, or a mixture of those)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples
  • 2 tablespoons flour (or matzo cake meal during Passover)
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh or Minute Maid frozen from concentrate)
  • 1 teaspoon  cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease the sides and bottom of a large oval, round, or  9 x 13 x 2 in. rectangular ceramic or glass baking dish with butter or margarine.

For the topping,  combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times.  Take the butter out of the freezer, and cut it into small cubes.  Put the butter into the flour mixture in the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Put the topping in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a plastic container and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the crisp.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the filling, peel and slice the apples.  Cut them into thinnish, irregularly shaped slices or chunks into a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and mix gently with a rubber spatula.  Then sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, and the flour over the apples, and toss together gently.

Pour the apple filling mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Take the topping out of the refrigerator.  Flatten the top of the fruit out as much as possible.  Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of the apples.  Then sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake the crisp for about 35-40 minutes until it starts to bubble around the edges.  The syrup around the edges will look a little caramelized.  Serve right from the oven or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Note:  You can make the topping a few days in advance and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.  You can also make the filling in advance, put it in your greased baking dish, wrap it well with freezer wrap or heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze it for a few weeks or up to 2 months.  When you are ready to serve it, take it right from the freezer, sprinkle the topping over it, and bake it.  I would not recommend freezing it with the topping, because the topping will get soggy from any ice that may accumulate on it. 

Topping For Passover:

2 cups matzo meal

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar packed

3/4 cup pecans

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt 

Process all in food processor, nuts last.

Judy’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins, Or Jam Muffins, Or Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is a very simple, but perfect recipe for blueberry muffins.  I adapted this recipe from one I got from a mother of one of my daughter Randi’s friends when Randi was in the second grade.  So I’ve been making this recipe for about 17 years.  And in all that time, I have never tasted a better muffin than this.  I have given this recipe out to countless friends and family.  One of my mother’s and my wonderful friends, Sherill, who is a marvelous baker, adores this recipe.  Whenever she sees me, she thanks me for giving her this recipe.  If you bake a batch, you will discover the wonderful taste and texture of these muffins, and you will be hooked, too!

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (Sometimes, I use 1 cup organic unbleached King Arthur flour plus 1/2 cup organic white whole wheat King Arthur flour, or 3/4 cup of each but my daughter uses all whole wheat- the 1 1/2 cups.  I prefer the mix of the two.  When I do this, I add a little more milk, just maybe a tablespoon to adjust for the heavier flour). 5/31/13- I added about 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice too, as I had the extra lemon- very nice, but not necessary. 5/31/14- I added a little lemon zest and the lemon juice- liked it.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I’ve been reducing this to a little less than the 1/2-somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 now)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use corn, canola, or extra-light olive oil, but light olive oil is my preference)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (You can also use lowfat or skim if that’s what you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (no pulp, and not from concentrate- I have also squeezed juice straight from an orange)
  • about 2 cups fresh- preferably or 1  1/2 cups frozen blueberries, rinsed and then dried with a paper towel, dusted with flour before adding to mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and put muffin cups into a standard 12 muffin tin.  In a large mixing bowl, put flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Whisk by hand just to blend the dry ingredients.  Set aside.

Measure the oil into a one or two cup pyrex measuring cup, add the 1/4 cup milk to the oil, then the 1/4 cup orange juice.  Crack the egg in, then mix with fork to blend.

Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients in; fold the wet ingredients into the dry with a rubber spatula only until they are just blended.  Do not overmix! When the mixture is still lumpy, gently fold in the blueberries.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups- about 3/4 cup full.  Bake them about 25 minutes until they are browned on top.  Cool the pan on a wire rack until the muffins are cool enough to take out.

Note- I make another variety by using jam instead of blueberries.  I spoon a little batter in each muffin cup.  I use a miniature ice cream scoop to measure out enough batter just to cover the bottom of the muffin cup.   Then I put about a teaspoon or so of either raspberry, strawberry, cherry jam on top of the batter.  Then, I top the jam off with another scoop of batter.  Just pop these jam muffins in the oven.  Your children will love these as much as mine do!

Another variation is to leave the berries out, and mix in about 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips with the batter. 

Grandma Hindes’s Apple, Nectarine or Peach, or Blueberry Fritters

This is another outstanding recipe from my Grandma Hindes.  I never had her apple fritters, but I did have my mother’s.  This dish was one of my mother’s favorites when she was growing up.  My mother always mentions what a great cook her mother was, but for some reason my mother didn’t appreciate most of her mother’s cooking when she was growing up.  But my mother did love my grandmother’s apple fritters – a lot.   I remember hearing my mother explain how my grandfather and my Uncle Nat would come home every noon from the dress factory they owned and worked at in South River, N.J. (The South River Dress Company), to one of these delicious full course lunches.  The apple fritters were one of the delicious side dishes she made for them for lunch.  My mother made these when I was growing up, too.  These are delicious!  When most people think of fritters, they think of something that is roundish in shape and deep fried.  These are neither. They are more like a pancake, with a light and airy batter, with delectable chunks of sweet apple inside.  You have to try them.  Really, I can’t tell you how lucky you are to have the opportunity to make this family, heirloom recipe!  Don’t miss this rare opportunity!

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup of regular milk
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour 
  • 2 generous pinches baking powder (each one about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 pinches Kosher salt (each one about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 large Rome, Winesap, Granny Smith, Yellow Delicious, or other baking apples, cut into thinnish chunks (or blueberries, peaches, nectarines- see note below)
  • oil for frying ( corn or canola)

Peel and slice the apples.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk with the eggs.  Whisk in the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the sugar until the mixture is as lump free as possible.  I usually need to add the 1/4 cup more flour mentioned above if the batter is too thin.  Fold in the apples with a rubber spatula.

Heat corn oil or canola oil in a large frying pan, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch high.  Drop spoonfuls in about the size of silver dollar pancakes.  The batter will get a bit puffy, and when it is nicely browned on the bottom, flip over with a spatula.  Brown on the other side, and drain on paper towels.  I serve them with granulated sugar served on the side, but I guess you could sprinkle them with confectioners sugar.  The taste of the granulated sugar on them is perfect, though! 

Note:  These may be frozen in an aluminum tin.  Lay them so they are not overlapping.  Then put a sheet of aluminum foil over the first layer, and repeat with a second layer of fritters.  You can heat them directly from the freezer.  Put them on a half sheet pan or on a cookie sheet covered with foil into a preheated oven, about 350 degrees until they are hot and bubbly (about 20 min.) 

In the summer, I substitute peaches, nectarines, or blueberries for the apples.  Nectarines, I don’t peel, which is great.

This morning- June 26, 2011, I just made the above batter, divided in half, added about 1 heavy cup of blueberries to the one half of the batter, and 2 or 3 nectarines, cut up, to the other half of the batter.  Now we have some of each!

Aunt Helene’s Easy, Light and Creamy Cheesecake

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert Baker To Bake Your Own Outstanding Cheesecake!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe for cheesecake that I got from my ex-husband Joe Kahn’s wonderful Aunt Helene. Aunt Helene is a wonderful cook and baker, and I was lucky to have the chance to eat some of her delicious homemade food. This recipe for cheesecake is one of her specialties. I make this recipe for cheesecake often. It calls for less cream cheese than my other recipe and it is a little smaller. You will be surprised when you see how easy it is to make homemade cheesecake. Say goodbye to Sara Lee!

for the filling:

  • 1 pound (2-8 ounce bars) of Philadelphia brand cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 6 extra large eggs (cracked and set aside in a bowl)
  • juice of one fresh lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • dash of kosher salt (1/8 teaspoon)

for the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

to make the crust:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides going 3/4 up from the bottom of the pan of a 9 inch springform pan.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted margarine or butter. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and 3/4 of the way up the sides of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Take out and cool.

to make the filling:

In large bowl of Kitchen Aid or other electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat room temperature cream cheese until it is smooth and as lump free as possible. Add the sugar and mix till blended. Then add the sour cream and blend on low speed. Pour in the eggs, the fresh lemon juice, the vanilla, and the dash of salt. Blend on low speed till filling is very smooth.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Place carefully in center of oven. Bake for 1 hour. a cure for genital herpes Turn oven off. Let cheesecake sit in oven for at least 3-6 hours with door closed. Take out. Let sit on counter until it isn’t warm at all. Then take the sides off the pan. Place the cheesecake (which is still on the bottom of the springform pan) onto whatever cake plate you will be serving it on. Wrap the cheesecake well with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Serve the next day.

Serving Suggestion:

Slice 1 – 2 pints of fresh strawberries and pile on top of cake right before you serve it, or serve a bowl of sliced strawberries on the side.

Hint #1: If you like your cheesecake to be really light and fluffy, then separate the eggs first and set the egg whites aside. Add only the yolks to the cream cheese mixture initially. When you are done mixing all of the ingredients for the filling, whip the egg whites separately until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Then fold the egg whites in right before you pour the filling into the crust.

Hint #2: I start baking the cake around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the day before I plan to serve it because of how long the cake stays in the oven after it finishes the actual baking. Helene just keeps the cake in the oven overnight and refrigerates it the next morning. I don’t feel that is necessary, but I’m sure keeping it in the oven overnight won’t hurt it.