Next best thing to the kitty bjorn

Gjetost likes to cuddle on my lap so much that sometimes she becomes a pain while I'm trying to use my laptop. This morning I decided to do a Kalia (our friend Kalia keeps her huge orange cat Sam in a Baby Bjorn while she’s working at her computer) and try zipping her into my fleece vest, for better kitty volume/positioning control. She seems to like it!

Step 13: Guest recipe from Magdalena

Magdalena brought an Apfelstrudel that was out of this world–gorgeous, with an amazing aroma, and unbelievably delicate. I do believe it might have been the most popular item served (after the lutefisk, of course). Magdalena graciously agreed to share her family recipe with us. So here it is, in her words.

I don’t know how this is possible, but somehow I don’t have any pictures of Magdalena. Sorry!

This Apfelstrudel is a family recipe handed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me. The original is in German and it is a bit different from the recipes you will find on the web.

Ingredients for 3 rolls of strudel.

For the apple filling:
  • 4 pounds of apples (Granny Smith, Fuji or similar)
  • about 4-5 tbls. of sugar (lately I have taken brown or more unprocessed sugar)
  • 1 lemon (peel + juice)
  • 1/2-1cup of rum
  • 2 tsps. of liquid vanilla
  • 1/2 tsps. of nutmeg
  • 2-3 tbls. of cinnamon
  • 2 tsps. of creamed wheat

None of the quantities above are cut in stone, they depend on your taste.

For the dough and the finishing:
  • 1 box of Fillo dough (sheets)
  • 1/2 pound of whipped, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound of margarine
  • 2 tbls. of powder sugar in which you have kept a vanilla stick for at least 3 days for vanilla flavoring

If you prefer, you can only use butter for the dough, but I use it whipped and mixed with the healthiest margarine I can find for health reasons.

Cooking the apples:
  1. Wash and core the apples, no need to peel them.
  2. Grind the apples (the grinder of the Cuisinart is wonderful for that, it takes just minutes).
  3. Place the apples in a pan at fairly high temperature and add the sugar. The idea is to get all the juice out of the apples as fast as possible.
  4. You need to stir often, otherwise they will stick to the pan and become unedible.
  5. Add the ground lemon peel, the juice of a lemon, and, when there is almost no more juice, the rum and the vanilla.
  6. Do not forget to stir and make sure that all these ingredients are well distributed in the apple mass.
  7. Do not hesitate to taste and see if you like it. Add sugar, or lemon juice or more spices, as needed.
  8. When all the liquid has evaporated, turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the stove and add the nutmeg, the cinnamon, and then the creamed wheat, mixing vigorously in the process.
  9. Take your pan to a cool place to let it cool a while.
Rolling the strudel:
  1. The Fillo dough needs to be completely defrosted before you open the box.
  2. Take the sheets out, count them, and divide them into 3 parts (one third for each strudel).
  3. Cover the sheets you are not working onat least with a paper towel, so they do not dry out.
  4. Liquify 1/3 of the butter + 1/3 of the margarine (the microwave is well suited for the operation). Repeat this operation before you start on each of the strudels or when you are out of liquid.
  5. Placeone dough sheet on a clean and flat surface and use a soft and wide kitchen brush to brush a thin layer of the liquid butter-margarine mixture on the sheet. Then place the next sheet over it and repeat the operation until1/3 of the sheets are piled up. Do NOT put any butter or margarine on the last sheet.
  6. Place1/3 of the apple mixture in a rollat the endof the longer side of the sheet, but leave about 0.5-1 inch free at both ends.
  7. Loosely roll the sheets around the apples and then close the ends by crimping them together. Place the strudel in a baking pan (teflon is ideal).
  8. Generously brush the strudel with the butter-margarine mixture.
  9. After you have finished all 3 strudels, punch them densely with a toothpick, so the hot air has some way out and does not break the strudels.
Baking the strudel and getting it ready to serve:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325-350 degrees.
  2. Place the strudel pan in the preheated oven and let it bake for about 30 min. or until the strudels turn light brown.
  3. Take the strudel pan out of the oven, otherwisethe strudels might get brown and taste burned.
  4. Cut the strudel with a very sharp knife. It is easier to cut and better to eat while it is warm.
  5. Let it cool just a bit andput the vanilla-flavored powder sugar in a small tea sieve and stir it with a teaspoon, while moving the sieve over the strudel.
  6. Continue until all 3 strudels are covered with a layer of powder sugar.

The warm strudel can also be served with vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream (Schlagobers, as the Austrians would say), for me it is a bit too rich.

Guten Appetit (also mostly Austrian)!

Step 12: Guest recipe from Katja

Getting back to the Smørgåsbord blogging, at long last! We’re no longer working in chronological order, here, but I want to get these guest recipes (this post and the next, lucky step 13) up soon.

This recipe, graciously provided by the aforementioned Katja, is a beautiful, beige salad. You wouldn’t think it would be attractive, but it’s all shades of beige, and it’s all julienned, and the effect is stunning. I wish I had a picture of it, but by the time Katja, Paul, and the salad arrived, I was up to my elbows in goose fat and taking pictures was beyond me. Just trust me, it was beautiful, and here instead is a picture of its maker.

I’ll post the recipe in Katja’s own words:

Below you will find the (easy) recipe for the salad I made for your party. It is basically a Wurstsalat but in my family, it has always (or let’s say as long as I can think) been called “Lieblingssalat” (=the favorite salad). Of course, you can make this salad and time of the year but in the Zuske family, there are only two times a year when it comes onto the table: Christmas and my brother’s birthday. I guess that is why we kids liked it so much – create interest by rarity 😉


  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Berlin- or Spreewald-style pickles
  • Apples (Cox Orange Pippin, Braeburn or similar)
  • Fleischwurst (or Virginia- or Blackforest-style ham)

For the sauce:

  • Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, and/or yoghurt
  • Lemon
  • Liquid from the pickle jar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Basically, you use 1 egg per 1 pickle per 1 apple but in the end, the ratio changes with the size of your ingredients and also your taste, of course.

On Sunday, I used something like 5 eggs, 4 apples, 6 Spreewald pickles and about a half inch slab of Virginia-Style ham, mixed with 3 table spoons of mayonnaise, the juice of half a lemon, and almost half of the liquid in the pickle jar. Again, try and see what you like.

The salad is best the day it’s made (although it lasts about a week – well, not in my family…), however, it needs to rest a couple of hours before serving. Right before serving, have a taste, usually, it is good to add some more pepper at that time.

All ingredients are easy to find here. I collected them in my yard and at the Farmer’s Market, Trader Joe’s and Lunardis. Dittmer’s would have been a good source too.

Voila. Easy!

And yummy!