14 December 2012


Pogaca are little cheese/herb-filled Turkish pastries that I got a sudden hankering for last week.  My sister-in-law has never been afraid of making Turkish foods that she loves, so I was inspired to try these even though I'd never made nor seen them made before.  

First off, we must work on our pronunciation.  It might be tempting to look at "pogaca" and want to say "po-gak-a".  Um, no.  I apologize for not having Turkish characters (or not knowing how to access them), but the "g" should have a curl on its head (making it silent, drawing out the preceding vowel) and the "c" really needs it's tail (making it a "ch" sound).  Thus, we say "poh-ach-a" with a kind of dip in the voice after the "o".  All right, then.  Practice makes . . . good enough.

I found a great recipe online that yields a dough with a kind of flakiness.  It was very easy to work with and the pogaca were delicious--cold or re-heated--several days following.  The only changes I made to the recipe were to make a 1/2 batch (which I made into 20 pastries) and to use a mixture of feta and cottage cheese rather than all feta to make the inside a little creamier.  I think next time I would even go 1/2 and 1/2 on the cheeses; I would also make a 1/4 batch and do something like 15 pastries to get more of a two-bite size rather than a four-bite. 

I shaped mine by taking the ball of dough in both hands, sticking my thumbs in the center and turning it as if making a vase or cup on a pottery wheel.  You don't have to kick your foot as you do this, though.  Once I had the "walls" of the dough thin enough I put about a TBSP of filling in, pinched it shut, then turned it over and smoothed it back into a ball shape. 

As the recipe says, there is no need to pre-heat the oven (fun!), but I would recommend checking on them after about 25 minutes to see if they're browned to your liking.  I thought 35 minutes got them a little too dark for my taste.

If you're looking for an easy, fun pastry project that tastes delicious and keeps well, try making pogaca!  Did you remember to say "poh-ach-a"?

13 December 2012

Easy, Easy Truffles

So I'm the dummy who can't figure out how to melt chocolate for dipping without scorching it in the microwave (I think I'll just use the stove next time).  BUT, I'm also the genius who turned all that slightly scorched chocolate into yummy, smooth truffles!

I found this recipe for almond truffles (requirement being "uses evaporated milk instead of heavy cream"), but I'll re-write it here since I made enough minor alterations . . . 

Almond (or any flavor) Truffles
yield: about 24 1-inch candies

1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp almond, vanilla--or any--flavoring (amount is for extract--proceed with  caution if you are using oils, adding just a little at a time)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup coating of choice (nuts, sugar, cocoa powder, etc.)

Method: Bring evaporated milk and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove.  Once it boils cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth.  Add flavoring and salt and stir again.  Refrigerate for a few hours until hard enough to mold.  Roll into one-inch balls and coat with cocoa powder, powdered sugar, toasted and crushed nuts, etc. to match the flavor of the truffles.  Enjoy!

My Hot Cocoa

Mmmmm . . . what could be better than a snowy day at home with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book?  Now, if only it would snow and the baby would sleep long enough for me to grab that book!  Well, at least I can have the hot cocoa any time I want.

In searching for recipes, I realized that most of them include coffee creamer.  Huh?  Doesn't hot cocoa already have powdered milk?  In order to avoid the creamer (which has way too many un-pronouncable ingredients), I had to come up with my own recipe.  I decided to use malted milk powder to add some depth of flavor (possibly missing if I didn't use the creamer) since I already had some on hand.  Once it's gone, I might try making the mix without too, just to see if it's still yummy.

But in case you need some hot cocoa today, here's my first recipe:

Anita's Hot Cocoa Mix
yield: 4 cups of mix (16 servings)

2 cups powdered milk
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup malted milk powder (plain, not chocolate)
1 tsp salt 

Mix together and store in an airtight container for as long as it will last!  I usually do half of the ingredients at a time in my food processor, so that any lumps are worked out nicely.  Then I stir it all together in a bowl.  Use 1/4 cup mix to 8-10 ounces of hot water (or add a little milk in place of some of the water to make it even creamier!).

Notesseems like maybe you could just use granulated sugar and skip the powdered sugar, but I haven't tried that yet.  The extra starch in the powdered sugar may add to the texture in a good way.  Also, I'm sure chocolate malted milk powder would be delicious too, though that's not what's in my cupboard.  Also, if you're not put off by coffee creamers, you could have lots of fun with different flavors (just use creamer in place of the malted milk powder).

Festive Cookies

Want some festive, colorful cookies for Christmas but can't stand the idea of all that icing (and the inevitable mess that goes with it)?  Not that I have anything against icing, really.  It's just that I've got extremely limited counter space, and all of it accessible to a 15-month-old-stool-pushing-and-climing-onto toddler.  Yeah.  Add icing to that mix.  

Instead, to get my holiday color/sparkle fix I mixed up a batch of plain old snickerdoodle dough (I love snickerdoodles!) and rolled the balls in colored sugar instead of white sugar.  How simple is that?  I'm sure about a million other people have already done this, but in case you hadn't thought of it yet, either . . . 

red:  this comes out looking pink when done, but still pretty


I like the green!  Reminds me of St. Pat's Day too!


So here's to your sticky-free but still colorful and bright Christmas (if you choose to go this route)!  If not, well I guess I still hope you have a colorful and bright Christmas too.