By Mary Jo
"I have not touched you in a long time," reads a Lost in Translation e-mail from a Japanese exchange student we hosted, who has been "out of touch." While here, he taught us the joys of washing down salty dried fish with Sapporo beer, the peculiar appeal of pickled plums and sour kombu sticks. In return, well, you can see how much we helped him with his English.
An exchange student myself in high school, I lived with a family of practical jokers in Costa Rica.
They failed to convince me rum was the national breakfast drink, but did convince me it was A-OK to go to the corner store for eggs every morning wearing only my pj's.
The shop keeper wept with laughter. I chalked it up to my horrible Spanish, but no, it's because no one in San Jose leaves the house in sleep wear. Except me, anyway.
At least I thwarted my host family's original plan - that I shop in my pj's while loaded on rum.
I'm part Polish, so you'd think I'd have better luck in that culture. You'd be wrong. Those charming cut glass bowls on the table with morning coffee in Krakow? That's not cinnamon and sugar.
I spiked my coffee with ample salt and paprika. Then my father informs me I'd traveled the country saying "I don't speak to the Polish" instead of "I don't speak Polish."
I'm still not sure he was joking.
So I called in a professional when Sheila Dugger of Anderson Township ended my annual magenbrot search with a recipe in German: Namely Julia Baker, an Austrian native from a family of passionate chefs, who runs JKB Translations in Clifton Heights.
Sheila's odd sticky recipe works without eggs or shortening. The result is Christmas gift worthy. If you can't find candied orange and lemon peel, substitute mixed candied fruit or craisins and apricots with a dash of orange oil.
13/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon zwieback (German twice-baked bread) crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons finely chopped hazelnuts
2 tablespoons minced candied
2 tablespoons minced candied
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baker's ammonia
(or 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
+ 3/4 teaspoon baking powder)
2/3 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 ounce semisweet chocolate
Whisk together flour, zwieback, cinnamon, cloves, hazelnuts, orange and lemon peel. Set aside. In saucepan, heat honey and sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is just boiling, 140 degrees. Remove from heat.
In separate bowl, stir baker's ammonia into milk. Stir warm honey mixture and milk mixture into flour mixture until combined. Don't overwork. Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With wet hands, form dough into 4 logs, 3/4 -inch in diameter. Place logs 3 inches apart on well-greased cookie sheets and bake 25 minutes or until browned and firm. Immediately cut crosswise into 3/4 -inch slices. Let cool.
Make glaze by stirring sugar into water in pan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and continue to cook, while stirring, 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted. Coat cookies with glaze, let dry on waxed paper and store in airtight container . Makes about 3 dozen.
Barbara Flavin in West Chester Township asked for these cookies soon after the last Grote Bakery closed in September 2002. Good things come to those who wait. Here is the official recipe, originally calling for more shortening than I can lift.
Grote Tea Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
21/4 cup pastry flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, slowly adding sugar. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing well. Slowly add flour until blended. Use cookie press or drop by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Can you help?
Virginia Hudson in Harrison could use your favorite balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, especially if it resembles the one served at Dewey's Pizza.
Georgia Sizemore in Norwood would like a baked salmon loaf recipe.
Not a request but a tip: Julia Baker suggests drizzling Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil (made in Austria) on salads. The oil is available in some specialty stores and from www.chefshop.com.
Send food questions, tips, recipe requests and recipes to Saucy Cook, the Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, neighborhood, e-mail and phone number.
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