Great-Grandmother Gansle’s Sauerkraut

from the kitchen of Emily C. Swantner
Writes Emily:

Great-Grandmother Gansle brought this “sour cabbage” recipe with her when she immigrated to the United States from Stuttgart, Germany, just prior to the outbreak of World War I. She fermented the cabbage in a beautiful old stoneware crock. Though I have added the bacon and used fresh onions and garlic (she used dried onions and granulated garlic powder, as I remember), the recipe has remained essentially the same. Great-Grandmother made and served sauerkraut often, but we serve it with holiday meals only. It remains a traditional dish for family and friends on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sauerkraut in a jar is much easier to find in the marketplace, but if you can, use a “packaged” variety, such as Boar’s Head. I do not rinse my sauerkraut, because I like it straight from the package or jar, but feel free to rinse it if you like. The sauerkraut is best made the day before serving, which allows the flavors to meld. This recipe can easily be doubled, as it is perfect with leftovers, hot dogs or sandwiches or just all by itself.

Friend and chef John Connell says his mom used to sauté thinly sliced cabbage with the onions. Give it a try.

Serves 6

1/4 cup goose or chicken fat (or bacon fat if goose or chicken fat is not available)

1 large onion, diced
3 large head garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 32-ounce jar or package of crispy sauerkraut
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons juniper berries
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or more as needed), preferably homemade or low-sodium commercial stock
Freshly milled black pepper
6 slices smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
2 teaspoons Gold Medal Wondra flour, to thicken

Heat the goose fat in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds and juniper berries. Stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the crumbled bacon, if using, and the Wondra flour, stirring, and cook another 30 minutes until thick and creamy. Serve hot.


Aunt Candida’s Italian Beef Sandwiches

by Jeanne Schoditsch

Writes Jeanne:

What would our Italian Christmas celebration be like without Aunt Candida’s Italian beef sandwiches? For years they have been a part of our Christmas Eve celebration, and even at age 98, Auntie is still treating her family to these juicy, delicious sandwiches topped with sauteed Italian sweet peppers. And for her seven great-grandchildren, the real treat comes when Grams unveils a tower of pizzelles—delicate wafer cookies handmade with love from the woman who is at the very heart of our family. Buon Natale from our family to yours! Continue reading

Ricotta Sfinge

from the kitchen of Antoinette Merenda

Writes Antoinette:

This recipe is from my aunt Margaret Merenda. Sfinge is a popular dessert in Sicily (in Naples, they call it zeppoli). My grandfather made sfinge often in the fall and winter. He would use pumpkin in place of ricotta. I loved it so much. Aunt Maria Carbone has a book from the Aeolian Islands that has a recipe for sfinge that was probably close to what my grandfather used. My family used to call these “belly busters,” but the ricotta version is lighter. My grandfather made a special syrup from grapes and poured it over them. The syrup is kind of messy to eat but so good—it’s similar to honey. When I was in Sicily, one of my Lo Schiavo cousins gave the syrup recipe to me, but you can’t get that kind of stuff here in this country.

3 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

a pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Canola or vegetable oil (enough for frying in a deep pan)

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat 3 eggs with 1 cup ricotta. Blend well. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and vanilla. Blend well. Heat oil in deep pot or fryer. The oil must be hot before you drop in the ricotta mixture by the tablespoon. The spoonfuls will roll around naturally. They will swell, so it is important not to overcrowd or they will not really fry. When they are a deep golden color, remove with a slotted spoon to a dish covered with a paper towel, to drain any excess oil. Keep them warm—I just pop them in my oven set at 150 degrees when I make them.

When all are done, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy while warm.



Our Raw Chocolate Cream Pie!

from the kitchen of Paula Diana

Writes Paula:
When my Irish grandmother retired from the assembly line of Lionel Trains in New Haven, Connecticut, she was finally able to live her own life. She devoted herself to her true passion and set about feverishly baking for her neighborhood.
I spent my summers living with her when I was young. She began her baking projects in the wee hours when the rest of the world was still deep in sleep—a walnut coffee cake for Mrs. McGillicutty, a lemon meringue pie for Mr. McGee, who had just come out of the hospital. She labored happily in flour and sugar, in a time when “homemade” was going out of style.
It was my job to help her roll out the crusts and whip up the fillings, as she patiently guided me. When we ran out of butter, she’d call up the tiny corner store to say I was coming, while I ran down the alley to collect what we needed.
Today the world has changed, but not my love of pie. Along with my husband, I run the Diet for Living Center in Albuquerque. We teach our Raw Food Chef/Holistic Health Coaches how to make plant-based, healthy raw chocolate cream pie with raspberry meringue topping, one that would make my grammy proud. This is our raw version of her pie, now dairy- and gluten-free.

For the crust:
2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked overnight
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup dates, soaked and well drained
Coconut oil

Drain the macadamia nuts and add to a food processor. Mix in vanilla and salt until crumbly. Continue to process while adding the dates. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with coconut oil. Press the dough into the shell and set aside.

For the filling:
¾ ounce Irish moss cut up in very tiny pieces, soaked overnight and strained
1½ cups fresh almond milk*
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup finely chopped dates
¼ cup and 2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon lecithin
1/3 cup raw cacao (also known as raw chocolate)
¼ cup raw agave nectar
* For the fresh almond milk:
Soak 1 cup raw almonds overnight, then strain. Put 1½ cups filtered water in a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth. Pour liquid through a nut milk bag to separate liquid. Set aside.

On high speed, blend the Irish moss with ½ cup of the almond milk until smooth and thick (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining almond milk, vanilla and dates. Blend until smooth. Add coconut butter, salt, lecithin and raw cacao until well incorporated. Pour into the prepared piecrust and put in fridge until set, about two hours.

For the raspberry meringue topping:

5 soft dates soaked overnight
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup organic raspberries, fresh or thawed from frozen

Drain the dates and save the liquid. In a blender, blend cashews, dates, maple syrup, vanilla and raspberries. Add a bit of the date water, if necessary, to keep the mixture running smooth. When everything is creamy, top the pie. Enjoy!


Saya’s Bread Pudding

from the kitchen of RoseMary Diaz

Writes RoseMary:

My grandmother Saya was a potter from Santa Clara Pueblo. (“Saya” is a Tewa word referring to the eldest woman in the family; Mary Cain was her given name.) She was a SWAIA Indian Market Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and an honorary Kentucky Colonel. Her hands were strong and knew the clay well, having shaped hundreds of vessels over a lifetime that spanned nearly a century—a lifetime during which she rode in both a covered wagon from the pueblo to southern Colorado, on trails that skirted the soft, sandy banks of the Rio Grande, and on the Concorde from New York to Paris.
At Christmastime, in her warm, cedar-scented kitchen with its view that breathed in the white-tipped peaks to the east, where winter katsinas live, she set her hands to creating something of varying but equal value, which also kept us tied to tradition: her bread pudding.
Today Saya is present only in memory and spirit. But at Christmas, when I make this pudding, I can almost hear her gentle voice floating near me: “Eat plenty, my children, eat plenty…”
¾-1 loaf plain old white bread, lightly toasted and torn into small pieces (may also use gluten-free or any other kind of bread)

2 cups brown sugar

½ pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

½ pound raisins

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup water (may also use ½ cup water and ½ cup brandy)

Spray sides and bottom of a 2-quart Crock-Pot or casserole with cooking spray. In four equal parts, layer ingredients in order given. Pour water/brandy evenly over entire pudding. Cover Crock-Pot and cook at medium to high heat for 45 minutes, then turn heat to low, add a bit more water (about ½ a cup) and cook an additional 30-40 minutes. Or bake in casserole at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours, adding a bit more water about halfway through. To serve, invert Crock-Pot to remove pudding in one piece or scoop out of casserole.