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Dzeltenmaize (Latvian “coffee cake”)

Dzeltenmaize (Latvian “coffee cake”)


On this blog, I have already included a number of Latvian recipes that I have made many times over the years: for example Klingeris (Latvian Birthday Cake) and Kaposti (Latvian Sauerkraut). I remember a number of people commenting on the fact that I didn’t put saffron into my Klingeris. Why? Basically because the recipe handed down to me from my mother did not include saffron.

Well, today I used a new recipe that DOES include saffron. The internet author says: “If baked in loaf form, it is known as Dzeltenmaize (yellow bread). If formed into a pretzel shape, it’s called Klingeris”. Well, I will vary from that opinion in that my Latvian Birthday Cake will always be made without saffron.

Dzeltenmaize is often served at Easter which is why I made it today, in readiness for the upcoming weekend. It came out pretty, light and airy in texture and quite delicious! Time consuming – yes. But no way around that when working with yeast dough.


I changed a few things from the original: with the addition of the first cups of flour, I used a Danish Bread Hook. And for the final kneading of the dough, I used the bread hook attachment with my industrial strength (!) Kitchen Aid mixer. They both did a great job.

DSC_0177 DSC_0180



2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups light cream
6-7 cups flour, sifted
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp.)
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1.5 cups raisins (rinsed and dried)
1/2 tbsp. Spanish saffron (0.5-0.7g)
1 egg (for egg wash)
raw almonds, slivered or sliced (unsalted; need not be toasted)
powdered sugar


1. PREP: Grind saffron using a mortar & pestle until it is powder, and add a few drops of boiling water. Chop up butter in a bowl, and let it come to room temperature (or warm for 40 seconds in the microwave). Add water to raisins and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain water and lay raisins on paper towels to dry. Pre-warm oven to approx. 120 degrees and then turn OFF the heat.

2. Warm a 1/4 cup of water to approx. 100 degrees. Add it to a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add 2 tbsp. yeast and a pinch of sugar, and stir it around. Let the yeast rise for 15 minutes in a warm place.
3. Heat 2 cups light cream in the saucepan until a skin forms on top. Do NOT let boil.
4. Pour cream into large ceramic bowl. Sift 2 cups flour into bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add yeast, and stir several minutes (using whipping motion, for aeration) until bubbles form and the dough becomes smooth and sticky. Place clean cloth over bowl and put into a pre-warmed oven (approx. 120 degrees) for 45 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, using an electric hand-mixer, whip butter. Add sugar and whip some more. Add egg yolks one at a time, and beat well, until smooth and fluffy. Add saffron. Add a few more drops of water to mortar if necessary to get every last bit of the saffron out. Whip some more until well-blended.
6. Remove the risen dough from the oven. Mix in butter/egg/saffron with a Danish Bread hook or wooden spoon. Sift in one cup of flour at a time, and mix with hook or spoon. Use between 4-5 cups. (Mine was fine with 4 cups). Add raisins, mix in with hands.
7. Place the dough into a strong stand mixer bowl and knead using bread hook attachment. OR on a floured surface,knead with heals of hands, rotating dough after each fold-over. Knead until dough no longer sticks to hands, or is “shiny.”

8. Put dough back into ceramic bowl, cover with cloth, and return it to pre-warmed oven (120 degrees) for another 1-2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
9. Remove dough from oven, and dump out onto floured surface. Twist dough while stretching it out into as long a roll as you can or into 3 rolls. Transfer dough roll onto the baking sheet and form into a B shape or braid it. If making klingeris, to prevent the dough from closing in on the loops during backing, you can place foil place savers inside the loops.
9 . Turn the oven temp to 360. Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle chopped almonds on top. Once the oven comes up to temperature, return the dough to the oven and let bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on size. (Mine took 35 minutes). This is critical: DO NOT OVERBAKE. You want the outside to be brown, but the inside still soft and underdone.
10. Remove it from the oven and cool.
11. When it’s completely cooled down, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.




Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

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Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes


I keep tabs on my favourite cooking blogs and saw that Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes had posted a new one called Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes. This sure looked a lovely Sunday dinner….and so it was!!

I baked the dish a bit longer than she called for: she said hers was ready in 50 minutes and then rested for 10. I baked for a full hour and rested for 10. The skin was crispy, the meat was done and the potatoes were soft.

The red wine vinegar is noticeable and so is the Dijon mustard, so don’t add more than the recipe calls for. It doesn’t matter if the potatoes overlap – they will still cook through. The amount makes plenty for 2 with at least one dinner of leftovers and a take-to-work lunch.


2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (less or more depending on how much you like mustard, we like it with 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried herbes de provence (can sub Italian seasoning or dry thyme or 1 Tbsp of fresh chopped herbs such as thyme or tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds chicken thighs, bone in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick or less)
1 cup sliced, peeled shallots (can sub thinly sliced onion that have soaked in water for 10 min)
3 to 4 whole garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Several whole sprigs of fresh tarragon or thyme (optional)
More salt and pepper to taste
1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle all sides of chicken thighs with kosher salt and set aside.
2 In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbes de provence, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
3 Spread a teaspoon of olive oil over the bottom of a large (9×13-inch) casserole dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with the thinly sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Distribute the sliced shallots over the potatoes, and sprinkle again with a little salt and pepper.
4 Place the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top of the shallots. Place the garlic cloves between pieces of chicken. If you have fresh herbs such as tarragon or thyme, you can wedge them in along the border, between the chicken pieces and the dish. Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour it over the chicken, spreading it with your fingers to make sure the chicken is well coated.
5 Bake uncovered in a 375°F oven for 50 minutes, or until the thighs are well browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.



(Very) Crispy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

(Very) Crispy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


These oatmeal cookies are super-crispy and delicious! Part of their crunch comes from lots of butter and pre-toasting the chopped pecans. (DO NOT skip this step!)

The original lists the baker as Suzanne Allgair’s mother Janet, but I’m sorry I cannot find a link.

Please bake these and enjoy a few (or lots!). They are a bit addictive!



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg at room temperature (leave egg in a cupful of very hot water for a few minutes)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped, lightly toasted pecans (5 minutes at 35oF in a toaster oven – cool)



1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes.

3. Scrape down the sides and add egg and vanilla. Beat to combine

4. In a small bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 additions, scraping down the sides between each addition.

6. Mix until just combined and then add the oats, raisins and cooled pecans.

7. Roll into 1″ balls or drop by large teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets, leaving 2″ space around each cookie.

8. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown and just set (they will crisp up as they cool)

9. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 30-40 cookies





Swedish Meatballs with Dill

Swedish Meatballs with Dill



There’s a certain famous Swedish furniture store that starts with the letter “I” that not only has terrific low-priced beds, dressers and linens but it has a fantastic restaurant upstairs! Numerous times I have treated myself to their meatballs with lingonberry preserves.

THEN I found this recipe! Now I can make these at home (and I did and they were uber-delicious!) I served them with mashed potatoes, broccoli and wild lingonberry preserves. I didn’t have leftover stuffing so I improvised. Because of my milk sensitivity, I substituted greek yogourt for sour cream.

The original recipe recommends this dish be accompanied by Sibling Rivalry Pink VQA or Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc.


½ cup (125 mL) packed leftover stuffing (2 slices bread, toasted and cut into small pieces)
¼ cup (60 mL) milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
Generous pinches of allspice
Generous grinding black pepper
1 lb (500 g) ground veal
1/3 cup (80 mL) dried bread crumbs
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

4 tsp (20 mL) each butter and all-purpose flour
1¼ cups (310 mL) homemade turkey stock or chicken broth (or store-bought)
1/3 cup (80 mL) sour cream (or Greek yogourt)
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped dill
1½ tsp (7 mL) grainy Dijon mustard



1 Finely chop stuffing. Place in a large bowl with milk. Press down on bread to immerse it. If needed, add 2 tbsp (30 mL) more milk. Let bread soak until mushy, about 5 minutes.

2 Add egg and spices to bowl. Stir, then add veal. Mix gently until combined. Milk mixture may be quite wet. Place bread crumbs in a flat dish such as a pie plate. Form meat into 1-inch (2.5‑cm) meatballs then roll in bread crumbs. Set aside on a baking sheet. They may not be perfectly round depending on how wet the mixture was.

3 Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium just until it begins to bubble. Add meatballs to pan but do not crowd. Brown all over and cook through, 5 to 7 minutes. DO NOT overcook. Remove to a platter. Repeat with remaining meatballs, adding more butter if needed.

4 Add 4 tsp (20 mL) butter to pan and melt. Whisk in flour then gradually whisk in stock. Continue to whisk until stock boils and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in sour cream, dill and mustard. Return meatballs to pan to warm. Serve as an appetizer or over buttered egg noodles or rice.


Makes about 30 meatballs

Spinach and Lemon Risotto with Shrimp

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Spinach and Lemon Risotto with Shrimp


Last fall, I went to the Delicious Food Show at Exhibition Place in Toronto. My girlfriend and I sat through a number of really interesting cooking demonstrations, one of which was done by Montreal Chef Chuck Hughes. He was a hilarious, extremely talented chef  and restauranteur from Montreal and I looked up his show – Chuck’s Day Off – on the Food Channel when I got home. I watched a number of the episodes and they convinced me that I need to buy his cookbook. (Yessss….just one more cookbook :)

I tried one of the recipes from the book last week and it was spectacular! The risotto was richer than I have made before because it had several cheeses melted in it. The wilted spinach was a neat addition.

I noticed that Chick suggested parmiggiana or  pecorino to substitute for the Kefalotyri cheese. It’s good that he offered these substitutions because I could not find any Kefalotyri. I also used the chicken stock, not homemade veal stock.

I did use the ouzo and we did try lighting it. It burned blue for a few seconds but I was unable to capture that in the photograph. The liquorice flavoured ouzo did give the shrimp a delicious fragrance and taste.

One more terrific comfort food for this non-ending winter!!



For the risotto :

4 cups (1L) of Chuck’s veal stock (or low sodium chicken stock) (1L)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

2 cups (500 mL) of Arborio rice

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter

1 cup (250 mL) grated Kefalotyri* cheese (or pecorino)

1 cup (250 mL) feta cheese, cubed + more to garnish

4 cups (1L) of spinach

Juice and zests of 1 lemon

1/4 cup (60 mL) parsley, finely chopped

*Kefalotyri is a Greek cheese that can be found in speciality and gourmet shops.

For the shrimps :

1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil

12 large shrimps cleaned and de-veined, tail intact

2 tablespoons (30 mL) ouzo

2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, bring stock to a simmer on medium-low heat.

2. In a large saucepan, cook onion in oil over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring until each grain is coated with oil. Add about 3/4 cup of simmering stock and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock, 3/4 cup at a time, still stirring constantly and letting each batch be absorbed before adding the next, until about half of the stock remains. Reduce heat to moderate if necessary to keep the risotto at a simmer. Continue adding the stock in the same manner until rice is tender and creamy looking but still al dente, about 20 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low, add the butter, then the cheeses. Mix well. Add the spinach and the juice of the lemon and continue mixing. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

4. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shrimps for 2-3 minutes. Take the pan away from the heat and immediately add the ouzo and light it. As soon as the flames go out, put the pan back on the heat and add the butter. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. In a small bowl, mix the parsley with lemon zest and a splash of olive oil.

6. Garnish each portion of the risotto with grilled shrimps and the parsley mixture.

Yields : 4 servings


Crab Cakes with Ginger and Lime

Crab Cakes with Ginger and Lime


When we vacation in Florida, one of our ultimate favourite foods to have is crab cakes. Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes had a neat recipe which I tried tonight. I have made some adjustments for next time so they would contain more of a ginger and sriracha “punch”.

Even using the trick of refrigerating them before frying, I found they were still very fragile but wow!! when done, the texture and the taste were fantastic.

I made them larger than her one inch rounds and we ate them as a light main course, but you certainly could make them smaller and serve them as appetizers.



  • 8 ounces fresh lump crab meat, well picked through to remove any bits of shell (I used 2 120 g cans of lump crabmeat)
  • 3 scallions, including green parts, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 T finely chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 T freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice, plus a little more for sprinkling on at service
  • 1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce, depending on how spicy you would like the crab cakes to be
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 2 T of panko bread crumbs for crab mixture plus 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs for breading
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • Lime slices for garnish


1  In a medium bowl, combine the scallions, cilantro, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, sriracha sauce and mayonnaise. Stir in the lump crab meat and the 2 T panko to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

2 Using your clean hands, form the crab mixture into 1-inch diameter round balls (or 2-3 inch balls as a dinner entree).

3 Set out 3 bowls, one for flour, one for the beaten egg, and one for panko bread crumbs. Roll each crab ball in first the flour, then the beaten egg, and finally the panko. Set aside on a plate. *** Make sure you completely clean your hands after every second crabmeat cake or it will be very difficult to form the patties. The meat will stick if your hands aren’t clean.

4 Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan on medium high heat. Swirl in the butter. After the butter has foamed up and melted, gently place the panko coated crab balls into the pan and press down gently with a metal spatula. Do not crowd the pan, you may need to work in batches. Cook a minute or two, until golden brown on one side, then gently turn the crab cakes over and cook until golden brown on the other side.

5 Serve immediately  or if frying in batches, remove to a paper towel lined plate or to a sheet pan in a low oven to keep warm. Sprinkle with lime juice to serve, and serve with a slice of lime.


Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue


Tonight for Valentine’s Day dinner, I made us a cheese fondue. Haven’t had this in so very long!


I used Tyler Florence’s recipe – it was excellent except that I missed the fact that it served 4-6 people. Oops! (Any ideas what I can do with a LOT of leftover melted cheese???



1/2 pound Swiss cheese, shredded

1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 cup dry white wine (or more if needed)

1 T lemon juice

1 T cherry brandy, such as kirsch

1/2 tsp dry mustard

pinch freshly grated nutmeg



1. In a large bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside.

2. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic, then discard.

3. Over medium heat, heat wine and lemon juice in large pot and bring to a gentle simmer.

4. Gradually stir the cheeses into the simmering liquid. (Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue)

5. Once melted and smooth, stir in the brandy, mustard and nutmeg. Add extra wine to thin, if needed.

6. Transfer to ceramic fondue pot. Light flame, put on protective cover and set pot over flame.

7. Serve with bite-sized pieces of french baguette, blanched asparagus and Granny Smith apples. Gherkins also go nicely with this.

8. Spear with fondue forks, dip, swirl and enjoy!

***if making this for 2, reduce recipe by at least half.



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