Part of being a family is cooking together. Kyla, Kelsey, and I (Kirsten) love fixing meals and treats for our family and friends. We especially like to try recipes that feature the unique flavors of fall. Here are some of our favorites, from our family to yours. Recipes served at Vala’s are marked with an asterisk. Enjoy!
Strawberry Pie with Almond Crust
This is Kyla’s favorite pie and she begs Kirsten to make it all the time. Kirsten always makes two so that Kyla can have a whole pie to herself. This is a great Spring and Summer dessert, originally from the April 2003 edition of Bon Appetit.
1 c. slivered almonds, toasted
½ c. graham cracker crumbs
¼ c. sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 c. quartered hulled strawberries (about 24 ounces)
1 c. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 ½ c. chilled whipping cream
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Coarsely chop almonds in processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and sugar; process until finely ground. Add butter; process until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish.
Bake crust until set, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
Place 2 cups strawberries in medium saucepan. Mash strawberries with potato masher until chunky. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils and thickens, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. Cool to room temperature. Stir in remaining 3 cups strawberries and grated orange peel. Mound filling in crust. Chill pie until cold and set, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Using electric mixer, beat cream in large bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream decoratively over filling. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Poppyseeds are popular in Czech cooking. Grandma Vala would always make sure to find one or two occasions during the year to make this impressive torte, usually the finale to a dinner of sauerkraut and dumplings. The fudge-like ganache frosting is the best part.
3/4 c. poppyseed
1 c. milk
2 c. flour
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
4 egg whites beaten stiff
Soak poppyseed in milk for two hours. Cream butter and sugar. Add milk and dry ingredients alternately. Fold in egg whites. Pour into 3 wax paper lined 9 inch layer pans. Bake at 375 degrees, 20-25 min.
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk
1 T. cornstarch
3/4 c. walnuts
4 egg yolks
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and milk -- cook 10 min. Add yolks. Cook 1 min. longer. Cool, add nuts and spread between layers.
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 T. milk
6 T. oleo
Boil 30 sec.
Add Kahlua and 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips. Beat until thick.
I had fun making these sandwiches with my grandma when I was young. They’re a great variation on grilled cheese.
6 slices sandwich bread
6 slices Velveeta cheese
Make 3 cheese sandwiches. Cut each into quarters
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. flour
Dip and cover each with this batter. Coat with cornflake crumbs. Deep fat fry at 375 degrees. Makes 12 Frenchees. These can be frozen before frying.
Grandma Vala's Kolaches
This Kolache recipe was given to Grandma Lois when she married into Grandpa Vala’s Czech family. Great-grandma Vala was worried that a Swedish woman wouldn’t be able to master the recipe for this traditional Czech pastry, but Grandma Lois was soon famous for making the best Kolaches around. She used to make them almost every Saturday, but now she leaves the baking to her five grandaughters. This recipe is all about nurturing the yeast and it is well worth the extra effort required.
Any fruit filling may be used. Solo fillings in prune, poppy seed, and apricot are traditional. Cherry and sweetened cream cheese fillings are the Vala sisters’ favorites.
In a large Mixing Bowl (KitchenAide)
Dissolve 2 pkgs. dry regular yeast, in 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. melted margarine
2 egg yolks
2 c. half & half (warmed)
2 tsp. salt
5 c. flour (plus or minus), to make a nice soft dough
Beat well and let rise in a warm place until about doubled. Place raised dough on floured board and roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with small round cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Press down center of dough and place filling in center, let rise for 30 min., bake in 425 degree oven 10 min. or until golden brown; do not over bake. Remove from oven and brush with melted margarine; cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Grandma's Swedish Pancakes
Swedish Pancakes were a treat to look forward to whenever we spent the night at Grandma Vala’s house. Grandpa Smith is also famous for making these thin pancakes whenever we put in a request. They are traditionally served filled with lingonberry sauce (a Swedish condiment), rolled up, and topped with syrup or whipped cream.
2 c. milk
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. melted butter
Beat eggs until light. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Heat 1 T. of butter in 10 in. skillet. Pour in 1/4 c. batter and fry until golden brown; flip.
Servings: 4 nine inch pancakes
Note: Serve with lingonberry sauce, powdered sugar, syrup, and/or whipped cream.