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Apple Strudel

  • March 6, 2009

Apple strudel is a specialty that’s made and eaten not just in Southern Germany, Austria, and Hungary, but all over the the Northeastern mountains of the Italian Alps called the Dolomites. Everyone has a favorite recipe and some are partial to the dough that’s rolled so thin you could read a recipe through it. I once watched a cooking demonstration in the kitchen at Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace where the cook stretched the dough so finely that she did that exact thing.

But the other type of strudel – and my favorite – has more bite to it. It’s made with what is called “pasta frolla” in Italy – a rich, buttery pastry made with an egg that’s also used to make a crostata. After a bit of experimenting, I think I’ve succeeded in coming close to what became my daily afternoon snack break on the slopes. Oh, to be skiing down those glorious mountains again and stopping for a break at a little refugio instead of stuck home with a sore throat and cold. Well, even if those Alpine peaks are just a memory, I’ve still got the snow here in New Jersey, and now the strudel too.

Apple Strudel


3 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cups sugar
rind of one lemon, grated
pinch of salt
one large egg, lightly beaten


6 apples
3/4 cup finely grated breadcrumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup white raisins, soaked in rum
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of grated nutmeg

Place flour and sugar in mixer with grated lemon rind and salt. Add cold butter in small pieces, mixing until butter breaks down into small bits. Add egg and mix just until mixture holds together in a ball. Remove from bowl and roll out in a rectangle over a floured surface until the rectangle is about 18 inches x 9 inches.

Peel and core apples, then slice finely. Mix together with 3/4 fine breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup pine nuts and 1/2 cup white raisins that have been soaked in a little rum and drained. Add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Place the apple mixture in the center of the rectangle. Using a spatula or a scraper, gently fold the pastry on one side over the apples. Moisten the other long end with water and roll the strudel over on itself until the pastry covers the apples. It helps to have another person helping. If there are some tears in the pastry, it’s no big deal. Seal both ends.

In order to carry the strudel to the cookie sheet without breaking in two (or more pieces), I used a long French chef’s knife and slid it under most of the strudel, in a way that most of the strudel would rest on the knife. With my other hand, I took a kitchen scraper and shoved that under the part I couldn’t reach with the knife. (Where is l’ingeniere when I need him?) Then I picked up both the scraper and the knife and transferred the strudel to a greased cookie sheet. (Gosh, that cookie sheet is a mess.)

Brush the strudel with beaten egg and bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown, turning it once in the oven.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired. It’s also frequently served sitting in a puddle of vanilla sauce. (You’ll just have to imagine the vanilla sauce.)

Bombardino Time and Giveaway Winner

  • March 2, 2009

I’m back …. and we have a winner chosen at random from the responses to my query about the name of the drink.
The winner is Katie of Summertree Cafe, but Katie, you don’t list your email address on your blog. So please contact me so I can send you the chocolates in the photo. Email me at with your full name and address.

I’ll be posting some recipes in the coming weeks from my visit to relatives and friends, and a week of skiing in the Italy’s Dolomite mountains.

I’ll start with the drink that several of you guessed correctly from the picture, even though naming it correctly wasn’t a requirement to winning. It’s a bombardino – great for steadying the nerves when you’re a little apprehensive about that next mogul. The drink is most popular in the winter at ski resorts and it’s made using Vov, a liqueur made with eggs, and rum or brandy or whisky, plus whipped cream on top. It’s almost like drinking a warm (and highly spiked) eggnog with whipped cream. In Italy, you can also find bottles of bombardino already mixed and ready to warm up. It’s always served in clear glass cups, sometimes with a straw and a spoon.

For those of you unable to get to Italy and enjoy a bombardino, I’m posting a recipe for the drink adapted from “Italian Kitchen Secrets.”
My aunt used to make her own Vov and stored it in a cabinet. But just to be safe, I’d recommend keeping it in the refrigerator until ready to consume.

With a foot of snow forecast here today in Central New Jersey, it might be just what you need to spur you to shovel that driveway or sidewalk.

3 cups of non-skimmed milk
29 ounces sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup alcohol (brandy or whisky) and
1 cup rum
(or 2 cups of either brandy, whisky or rum)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Boil the milk with half of the sugar, gently mixing occasionally. Lower to a simmer and cook a couple of minutes, then turn off heat and keep warm.
In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar until creamy and frothy. Add the warm milk in a slow stream, mixing well to avoid lumps. Filter through a strainer if necessary. Add the vanilla, alcohol and rum, mix again and pour into bottles. Wait one week before drinking (if you can), shaking the bottles occasionally.

In our opinion, bombardini are best enjoyed with a slice of apple strudel, ever prevalent on the slopes in the Val Gardena, a beautiful area of three small villages in the Dolomites. The Dolomites are the mountains in the eastern part of the Italian Alps, close to Austria, and are noted for their unique, almost-stalagtite formation and rosy color. The area at one time was below sea level, and many marine fossils are still found today. So we were actually skiing in what once was a barrier reef, hard as it seems to imagine.

Recipe for strudel to follow later.

Time Out for Research and a Give-Away

  • February 12, 2009

If you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, it’s not because I’m not thinking of you. It’s because I’m heading off to Italy and won’t be toting along my computer.

I’ll spend some time visiting family and friends near Piacenza, then on to Padova for a few days. The last week I’ll be skiing in the Italian Alps in the beautiful Val Gardena, a scenic valley in the mighty Dolomites, close to the Austrian border.

I’d love to be able to send you posts of the food I’ll be eating, especially at my relatives in the Emilia-Romagna region (Did I ever tell you my cousin Lucia was Miss Tagliatella last year? Really!) but it will have to wait until I get back. I may get a chance to do a bit of blogspotting here and there, but computer connections are few and far between in the places where I’ll be.

I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back but I look forward to tuning in as soon as I can. So many of you have fantastic blogs and it’s been a pleasure to read your posts, try your recipes and get to know you through the blogosphere. You really are a creative, talented and helpful group of people.

So I’ve decided to have my first give-away. Since I won’t be here for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d make it something chocolate. I don’t know exactly what yet, since I plan to buy it in Italy, but you should be thinking chocolate candy.

The winner will be chosen at random, but the idea is to post a comment on what you think is the name of the drink in this picture. It’s one of the reasons that makes skiing in Italy a unique and delicious experience.

Even if you don’t know what it is, take a stab. You’ll be included in the drawing even you come up with the wrong name. Winner will be announced when I come back in early March, so you can post comments for a couple of weeks. Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day and happy blogging!