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Flurry of recipes

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Boy, do I love a blizzard. Our telephone was ringing all day last Sunday, as friends wanted to know what I intended to cook during the snowstorm.

There are special foods that I always associate with snowstorms. Hot chocolate made from scratch, brownies and chocolate-chip cookies immediately come to mind. Still, we have to eat more than goodies to keep up our strength for all that shoveling.

Hearty one-pot meals are essential. If you’ve stocked enough produce, you can vary the salads. Soup, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, roasts and a good grilled steak are often on our blizzard menu. The thing is, you must be prepared.

While standing in the Reading Terminal Market early last Saturday, my husband Edward advised he wanted chopped liver and choucroute. The chopped liver would be easy, but finding the ingredients for choucroute — a most delicious dish from Alsace, France — would take some planning. After we bought our produce, chicken livers, a dozen eggs and an 8-pound capon, we hopped into the car and drove to the Northeast to get Jewish deli. That’s when the light went off.

I have heard about Rieker’s, an authentic German butcher shop and market somewhere in the Northeast. I could find the smoked pork chops and variety of sausages and fresh sauerkraut needed to make choucroute. We deduced it must be in the German neighborhood and, to our good fortune, it was right across the street from the Blue Ox Brauhaus at Oxford and Rhawn in the city’s Fox Chase section.

I had a field day at Rieker’s. The owner wanted to sell us a boneless pork loin, stuffed with ground German sausages and larded with bacon, but Edward still had his heart set on choucroute. We bought one pound of fresh sauerkraut and an assortment of sausages for our dinner. Since I roasted the capon on Saturday night, I had lots of leftovers, including some buttered egg noodles. They were turned into a delicious kugel with saut�ed mushrooms and onions.

On Sunday afternoon, while the snow was really coming down in big, fat flakes, I made chopped liver, using my mother-in-law’s wooden chopping bowl and mezzaluna. I never made it by hand before — I always use the food processor — but for some reason this old-fashioned way gave me a feeling of accomplishment. I really enjoyed it.

A neighbor told me she always keeps several boxes of brownie mix on hand should a snowstorm sneak up on us. I leafed through a recipe book and found how easy it is to make brownies from scratch.

Here are recipes for the next snowstorm.

Choucroute

Ingredients:

2 heaping tablespoons rendered chicken fat or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 pounds fresh sauerkraut, thoroughly washed with cold water in a colander and well-drained
2 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
3 smoked pork chops
3 large bay leaves
1 pound Polish kielbasa
2 smoked bratwurst
2 unsmoked bratwurst
2 weisswurst

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chicken fat or vegetable oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saut� until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, chicken stock and white wine. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and bury the pork chops in the sauerkraut. Add the bay leaves, cover and place in the oven for one hour.

While the choucroute cooks, place the kielbasa and other sausages in a microwave-proof dish. Pierce each sausage a few times with the tines of a fork. Cover the dish and microwave on high for about five minutes or so, depending on the size of your oven. You will have to microwave at least two batches.

Place the drained sausages in a skillet and sear all over. You may have to add a little vegetable oil to the skillet before searing the sausages. Once they are done, drain well on paper towels. Cut each sausage in three or four pieces, depending on their size, and add them to the sauerkraut. Place the pot back into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Serves four to six.

Note from Phyllis: Boiled potatoes go well with choucroute. Like a good soup, choucroute is a free-form recipe. You can use turkey sausage or just about any type of sausage in this dish. Some smoked pork is essential and the pork chops are a must. It reheats well on top of the stove. I used a Pinot Blanc from Alsace in this dish and we sipped the rest with dinner. Any dry white wine works well here.

Leftover Noodles for Kugel

Ingredients:

1/2 pound medium-width egg noodles, cooked and tossed with butter
2 tablespoons butter
3 large mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cooked egg noodles in a colander and run water all over them so they separate. Drain well. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and onions and saut� just until the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms and onions, and blend well. Add the beaten eggs, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend well.

Spray a baking dish large enough for the noodles with cooking spray. Pour the noodles into the baking dish and smooth evenly with a large spoon.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until noodles become brown on top.

Serves four.

Note from Phyllis: This recipe can be easily doubled.

Easy Brownies
From Hershey’s Chocolate Treasury

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Blend butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well, using a spoon. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the egg mixture. Stir in nuts.

Spread the batter in a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Makes about 16 brownies.


Recipe redo

Last week’s column contained a recipe for Do-Ahead Egg and Sausage Bake from Betty Crocker’s Bisquick Cookbook. When preparing that dish, make sure the sausage is completely cool before mixing with the eggs.

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