Swedish Pancakes (The Spirit of Food)

Nancy J. [Erickson] Nordenson is a creative writer and a medical writer. On the creative side of things, she is a recent graduate of Seattle Pacific University's MFA in Creative Writing program and author of Just Think: Nourish Your Mind to Feed Your Soul (Baker). Additional work has appeared or is forthcoming in Relief, Harpur Palate, Desert Call, Under the Sun, and Comment. One essay has received a Pushcart nomination.

On the medical side, she writes for a variety of venues including continuing medical education, journals, legal reference books, corporate advisory groups, and national and international medical symposia. She is a member of the Authors Guild, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the Loft Literary Center, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the American Medical Writers Association. Nancy and her husband have two sons and live in Minneapolis. She can be contacted through her Web site at http://justthinking.typepad.com/

Fresh eggs; my 12-year-old son has 18 laying hens and provides me with all the eggs I need. I do have to pay for them, as the other buyers do. (But I get 10% off for taking him to buy his feed and delivering eggs to his customers.)
Getting lingonberries, fresh or frozen, in Savannah, Georgia is a no-go. When I called the grocery stores, after a silence, I was asked to spell it for them. After that, I knew I needed to go to my favorite online store: Amazon.com

The Roland's Ligonberries are delivered in a 11 pound container. ELEVEN pounds seemed like way too much. But the moment I tasted them, I knew they wouldn't last long in my house! These are the best sweet-and-tart berries I've had. You get 15% off the price with Amazon.com's subscribe & save.
Now the pancakes. Simply a flour, sugar, and milk mixture.

Nancy says to "heat a heavy skillet over medium-high until drops of water sprinkled on the pan 'dance' on its surface". And yes, they are dancing!

Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan.

Quickly pick up the pan and tilt it as needed so that the batter forms a thin circle. Cook until batter turns opaque and the shininess of the wet batter disappears.

Flip and cook the other side until it is lightly browned.

Arrange the pancakes and serve with maple syrup or lingonberries.

This simply wonderful recipe of Nancy J. Nordenson can be found in The Spirit of Food.

Thank you, Nancy, for this great recipe and for your book. You have taught me to nourish my body and mind!

Recipe 11 of 31


Hazelnut Chewies

I have really enjoyed the great dessert ideas from America's Test Kitchen, Holiday Cookies 2010 Edition. These cookies were featured on the cover of the magazine, and instantly caught my eye. On top of that, when I saw they were made with Nutella and hazelnuts, I was convinced that my church family love would them!

To toast hazelnuts, spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Baked in 350-degree oven for 7-10 minutes until fragrant. This extra step intensifies the wonderful nuttiness in hazelnuts.

Then to remove the skin, rub cooled nuts between two clean kitchen towels.

Amazon.com grocery has the best price on Nutella spread. If you have Amazon Prime (the best thing since sliced bread) it ships for free.

Dough is chilled and shaped into balls. Roll dough balls in chopped hazelnuts first, then in powder sugar. Baking a few different sizes of cookies, I felt that a little larger dough balls, the size of golf balls, looked prettier when baked.

With a nutty hazelnut taste and texture inside and out, these soft, chewy cookies will become a crowd pleaser.

Hazelnut Chewies

Makes about 3 dozens

3 cups (15 oz) of all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) Nutella spread
4 Tablespoon (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups (9.3 oz) granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
1/3 cup milk
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, and chopped fine, divided
1 cup (4 oz) confectioners' sugar

1.Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Set aside.

2. In a medium size bowl using a hand mixer, mix softened butter, Nutella, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, espresso and mix until well incorporated. Reduce speed to low and alternate additions of flour mixture and milk. Mix until just combined, not over beat the dough. The dough will be thick. Fold in 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts. Cover and refrigerate dough for about 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Adjust oven rack to middle positions. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place remaining chopped nuts and confectioners' sugar in two separate bowls. working with chilled dough, roll into 1-1/2 inch balls (size of golf balls), roll in hazelnuts, then in confectioner's sugar.

4. Place balls 2-inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until just set, 8-12 minutes, depending on the oven. Do not over bake. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Make ahead tips: When baking these in large quantities, measure out dry and wet ingredients separately, label and store in refrigerator or dry storage until ready to bake; this will save you time and conversion errors.

Bag 1: Flour, baking powder, salt combined
Bag 2 : Butter & Nutella
Bag 3 : Granulated Sugar
Bag 4: Prepared hazelnuts


Dinner Boxes for March for Life

This morning, 45 of my church members, including my husband and our three teenagers, will be among the 350,000** people marching at March for Life held in Washington D.C.

It's a short but grueling 36-hour trip from Savannah to Washington D.C. and back. Most often, the weather is frigid for the march but each year, over a quarter of million people gather. Because 4 in 10 unintended pregnancies in US are terminated by abortions and our law allows them. And because the unborn must be heard, too.

Thank you WTOC for local TV coverage!

Though my role is small for this IPC annual event by preparing the boxed dinners, I am grateful to know that attendees can enjoy a good meal on their bus trip up to D.C. Here is what and how to pack delicious dinner boxes for a group.

Boxed Dinners for 45

Fried Chicken Sandwich with Shallot-Caper Aioli
Garden Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Fruit Salad
Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mint Candies

Fruit is prepped two days prior. Here's how. Layer each fruit rather than mixing all the fruit together to keep fresher.

Mustard Vinaigrette and Aioli are made up to four days ahead and stored in 2 oz cups. Condiments and salad dressing are kept separate. This way, the food will be fresh even hours after assembly.

A few mints to keep their breath refreshed.

Chicken breasts are fried and cooled completely before the assembly. Click here for frying tips.

When all the prep work is done, the assembly begins.

This was very basic, low cost boxed dinners but you can really fancy-it up by using beautiful boxes/containers, colored tissue papers & napkins, and more elegant desserts and sandwiches.

Click Here to Print Make-Ahead Tips

Do-Ahead Tips:

A week
or more ahead:
Chicken breast cutlets are pounded, layered with plastic, & frozen Click here for how to prep
Make Cookie Dough and freeze
Fours Days Prior:
Make Salad dressing & Aioli, put in 2 oz containers; store in fridge
Two days Prior: Prep fruit click here for tips;
Bake cookies, cool completely, store in zip lock baggies & refrigerate
One day prior:
Thaw chicken breast in fridge, all containers, utensils, buns if using are ready for assembly
5 Hours prior:
Lay out containers in an assembly line fashion, put any non-perishable items
(utensils, Handi-wipes, etc)
Cut fruit and store fruit individually and temporarily store in fridge
Wash and prep veggies for salad, I used mixed green and cherry tomatoes
Prepare to fry
2.5 Hours Prior: Fry chicken breast and cool completely on wire racks
1.5 Hours prior: You will need 3 sets of quick hands to do this in 1 to 1.5 hours
Begin assembling the boxes, layer fruit, place salad, sandwiches, cookies, utensils, etc.

**Estimated attendance record for 2010


Oatmeal Fudge Bars

I have a confession to make: I am a savory-kind of a girl; not much of a dessert eater. I blame it on my Korean heritage where fruit is usually served after a meal.

Here's another confession: I baked my first cake when I was 25 years old. So when I bake desserts for my church family, they're almost like my taste test crew. If they like it, then it's worthy to be served another time!

I tried the Oatmeal-Fudge Bars on the Wednesday Noon Service crowd. And they L-O-V-E-D it.

Melted butter is tossed in dry ingredients.

For the fudge filling, chocolate and butter is melted in a double boiler. Add egg(s).

To intensify the chocolate flavor, espresso powder, along with sugar and flour, is added.

Chocolate mixture is rather thick and grainy when spreading.

Top it with the streusel. I added chopped pecans for added crunch and flavor.

Then I took a bite. For the sake of the photo. And I must say, the chocolate filling was moist and wonderfully chocolatey. The crust and topping had the perfect amount of crunch and texture.

I loved that one bite.
Then my youngest son ate the rest of it.

Oatmeal-Fudge Bars

Crust and Streusel:
1 cup (3 oz) of quick-cooking oats, do not use old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (7 oz) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoon (4 oz) melted unsalted butter, cooled
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Fudge Filling:
2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (9 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
2 teaspoons instant espresso or instant coffee
1/4 cup (1.25 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.75 oz) brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
1. For crust and streusel, line 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over pan edges. Combine oats, 1 cup of brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in bowl. Stir in melted butter until combined. Reserve 3/4 cup mixture for topping. Add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts in the topping. Set aside.

2. Sprinkle remaining mixture into prepared pan and press into even layer. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Keep oven on.

3. For fudge filling, combine in a small bowl, 1/4 cup of flour, brown sugar, instant espresso and salt. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and 2 tablespoon of butter and cool slightly. Chocolate mixture will be thick. Add egg and whisk until combined. Stir in flour-espresso mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix.

4. Pour thick filling over cooled crust and spread with a knife. It will be like thick icing. Sprinkle with reserved topping streusel.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack, about two hours. Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan and cut into squares. Yields 16 bars.

Make-Ahead Tips: If you can't bake and freeze desserts ahead, measure/weigh all the ingredients, store in storage bags, along with the recipe until ready to bake. This saves you time from converting and measuring recipes.

*Up to two+ weeks ahead: Make crust, bake, cool. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap, then foil the whole pan. Put reserved topping in freezer bag. Freeze. Thaw before baking with chocolate filling
*Measure butter & egg. Label, date, and store in refrigerator until needed.
*Measure/weigh chocolate chips, store in plastic bag.
*Combine instant coffee, flour, sugar, and salt in one plastic bag until ready to bake.

When making in large scale, weighing your baking ingredients is critical.
To yield 80 bars (cutting 5x8 on each pan) or 90 bars (cutting 5x9) : use two 12x2x2.5 steam pans,
recipe X 5 for crust and streusel and X10 for the chocolate fudge filling


Blackened Salmon Sandwich

After one full year of blogging, I am realizing how I can best use this blog to help others and which direction it should go. I get frequent emails requesting how-to's on recipe conversions and cooking tips.

So from now on, I would like to focus on sharing tips on how to cook in a large scale, along with tasty recipes which can be made ahead. With each recipe, you will find "Make Ahead" tips that can be used for a big gathering.

Blackened salmon is always a hit at the Wednesday Noon Service lunches. Here is how we prepare delicious blackened salmon fillets for a crowd.

Thaw salmon fillets completely if frozen. Pat dry the filets with paper towels and sprinkle your favorite rub or this dry rub on the meat. Heat the griddle or cast iron frying pan until smoking point. Drizzle vegetable oil and sear and blacked both sides of fillets.

See how the exterior has a good blackened crust but the center is still raw? When you need to serve hot foods all at the same time, par-cooking is the key. Par-cooked salmon can sit room temperature up to one hour before finish cooking in the oven.

15 minutes before serving time, breads and fixin's are readied. Use lettuce as a barrier to sauces or juicy tomatoes to keep the bread from getting soggy.

Minutes before serving, hot salmon is placed on the sandwich and drizzled with extra sauce. Notice how we use plastic storage bag to pipe the sauce : quick and messy free!

Blackened Salmon Sandwich

Boneless, skinless salmon fillets, 4 to 5 oz each per person
Your favorite dry rub or click here for The Best Dry Rub recipe
1/2 stick of melted butter
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil for the pan

For sandwiches: Add anything that inspires you.
Hoagie Buns
Iceberg lettuce or your favorite greens
Tomato slices
Avocado slices
Your favorite aioli or click here for Pesto Aioli
Pat dry the fillets well with paper towel.

Brush salmon fillets on both sides with melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with the dry rub mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat (nearly smoking point), drizzle 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and cook salmon fillets until blackened, about one minute. Don't move the fillets until a good crust is formed. Turn fillets, blackened the other side.

Put fillets on a jelly roll pan or any baking sheet with a raised edges, loosely cover until ready to bake. Can be done up up to one hour prior to baking. Remove cover before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

15 Minutes prior to serving, place sliced bread/hoagie bun and top lettuce, sliced tomatoes, avocado and drizzle sauce.

10-15 minutes before serving, bake salmon until cooked through (Internal temp. 140 degrees F) about 8 -12 minutes, depending on the size.


Days/Weeks ahead : Make Dry Rub
Up to 4 days ahead: Make Aioli, store in plastic ziplock baggie
Up to 4 hours ahead: Thaw, if frozen, salmon fillets; Thinly slice lettuce, tomatoes, avocado can be sliced and dipped in lime juice, cover with plastic food wrap.
Up to 1 hour ahead: Blacken salmon fillets ready to bake


Random Food Photo Day

Though many of my dishes are made at church and at home, only a small fraction of the food I prepare make it to the blog. Part of this is because the lighting is not ideal for photos in the church's basement kitchen. And too often, it gets a bit too hectic to take pictures right before a wave of hungry people descend upon the kitchen.

That being said, here are some photos for you to feast with your eyes. Later this year, I hope to post the accompanying recipes along with more pictures for you.

Hand Cut Fries

Korean Beef Barbeque (Bul go gi)

Radish Kimchi

Garlic-Cheese Biscuits with Parsley Butter

Pickled Garlic Cloves and Jalapeno Peppers

Fried Taco Shell for Salad

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Grilled Veggies for Pasta Salad

Veggies for Lemon Cole Slaw

Elvis Cream Pie (Yep, bananas & peanut butter!)

Korean Pork Lettuce Wrap

Cilantro Pesto Pasta Salad


Spicy Tomato Soup (The Spirit of Food Recipe)

Brian Volck is a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Through the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, he founded an elective in literature and medicine and helped design a curriculum on poverty, justice, and health. He regularly travels to rural Honduras and the Navajo Nation to provide medical service. He is the coauthor of Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine. His essays have appeared in Doubletake, Image, and other literary and medical journals, and he is currently researching a book on the intersection of history, culture, and healthy among the Navajo people.

When I tasted a great tomato soup at the recent visit to The Tea Room, I immediately thought of this Spicy Tomato Soup recipe from The Spirit of Food. And I couldn't get home fast enough to make some for my family.

Sautee the diced onions in olive oil...add tomatoes (fresh or canned diced tomatoes) and chicken stock.

I make a large amount of homemade chicken stock and freeze in a 2 or 4-cup container. It makes it so convenient to have delicious stock in minutes.

Add chopped Italian Parsley, bay leaves, basil leaves, paprika, a pinch of sugar, cloves, and....

A bit of freshly ground nutmeg....if you have never used whole nutmeg, please do try. You will love the flavor and aroma in freshly ground nutmeg. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or garnish with fresh parsley.

I served this wonderful, savory soup with some grilled cheese sandwiches using four cheese blend and sour dough bread. This has become my family's favorite soup.

The recipe can be found in The Spirit of Food.

I am cooking my way through 31 recipes in the book.
Recipe 10 of 31.

Personal Note: I added a teaspoon or more of sriracha hot sauce to give a more little kick. I couldn't help it. It must be a Korean thing.