Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Russian Teacakes (Mexican Wedding Cakes)

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 14, 2014

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It does not matter what you call them, these are easy to make and delicious!  Our family makes them for Christmas, but today  I am mailing these  to send to my son who is off to college because they keep well at room temperature for several days.  I use the Betty Crocker recipe except that I substitute 1/2 cup of flour with the same amount of almond meal (ground almonds).  I also add almond extract to enhance the almond flavor.  Using the food processor makes the whole thing easy and makes the fewest dishes.  So here goes:


2 sticks (1 cup butter) softened (don’t skip this step)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 1/2 almond meal   (if yo don’t have this simply skip and use 2 1/4 cup flour)

3/4 cup finely ground nuts (I used walnuts)

1/2 tsp salt

Extra powdered sugar to roll the cookies.

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1.  Preheat oven to 400˚F.

2. In a food processor,  finely grind the walnuts and set aside.

3. Add the butter, powdered sugar and the extracts and blend.

4. Add the flour, almond meal, ground nuts, salt and pulse until the dough comes together.

5.  Remove from the processor, shape into a smooth ball and roll into 24 balls.

6.  Place  balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1″ apart.  You may need to do this in 2 batches.

7.  Bake 10-12 min (do not over bake).  The cookies should not be brown when you pull them out.

8.  Roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm, then roll again.

9.  Store in a tight box between pieces of parchment.  The cookie freezes well and as I said above, it also travels well.

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Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

Posted by fourclankitchen on August 17, 2014

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I saw this cake on one of my favorite blogs: Alexandra Cooks.  Just about everything I have made from this website has been great, so I highly recommend a visit.   This cake is called torta caprese, which I am guessing is Italian in origin.  It is gluten free and has no leavening besides beaten eggs and it is grand enough to serve at any kind of gathering.  So it is very versatile.  For grand cakes, it is also simple to make,  but it does require a number of dishes and bowls and proper sequencing.  So read the recipe all the way through before you launch into it.

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1. 2 cups almond meal/almond flour.

(Note: The original recipe calls for 12 oz or 2 cups of whole almonds. I used almond meal, but  when I measured 12 oz of almond meal, it was nearly 4 cups worth.  So I used 2 cups of almond meal, this worked fine.  I have also used 2 cups of whole almonds.  So I think may be the 12 oz is a misprint).

2. 1+ 1/4 cups sugar, divided

3. 8 oz bittersweet, coarsely chopped chocolate (2 bars of Ghiardelli)

4. 1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter (original recipe calls for unsalted butter, but that seemed wrong since know other salt is added)

5. 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

6. 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (I omitted)

7. 2 tsp almond extract (not in the original recipe)

8. Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

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1.  Preheat oven to 325 and shift a rack to the bottom or bottom third of your oven.   Butter a 9″ springform pan, line with parchment paper and butter the paper as well.

2. Separate your egg whites and yolks, putting each in large bowls.

3.  Beat yolks with 1 cup of sugar for about 5 min until the yolks are light lemon colored and have increased in volume by a lot.

4.  Melt 2 sticks butter in the microwave in a largish bowl about a minute.  Then add the chocolate and mix.  Microwave for 30 seconds, mix and repeat if needed to melt the chocolate entirely.  Depending on the microwave, the first 30 seconds should do it, since the butter is already warmed up.  Do not overdo this step, or your chocolate will seize (separate from the cocoa butter and form little criddlies-you cannot recover from this mistake to my knowledge).

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5.  Fold in the almond meal into the egg yolks.  Then add the chocolate mix and almond extract (or grand mariner).

6.  Using a stand mixer, beat eggs whites at a slow speed for a minute or two, then add the remaining  1/4 cup of sugar and beat at high speed  till it forms firm peaks.

7.  Fold in the chocolate mix into the egg whites and mix gently to incorporate (don’t deflate the eggs).

8.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 55-90 min (mine took 80 min), until an inserted tester comes out clean.

9.  Cool in pan for 15 min.  Remove the edges of the pan and cool completely.

10.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

The cake is moist and lasts several days, so it is a good make-ahead cake.

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Cherry Jam (Small batch, no pectin)

Posted by fourclankitchen on August 5, 2014

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I love the idea of preserving summer fruits, but cannot abide canning.  I am always on the lookout for small batch jam recipes, because lets face it,  I don’t want to pit 5 lbs of cherries.  I winged this cherry jam and found that you can add way less sugar than standard recipes  and still have a perfectly flavored and gelled jam. You also don’t need to add pectin to most cooked jams.   The flavor of this jam is truly great.  It takes a while and you have to be around, but it is real easy to put together.

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2.5 lbs cherries

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

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1. Stem and pit cherries (a cherry pitter is useful here).

2. Pulse the cherries in the food processor to obtain a coarse puree. Do not over process.

3. Place the cherries in a medium sized sauce pan with the water and cook cherries uncovered  on medium for 20 min until completely soft.   Stir on and off. Do not leave the kitchen while doing this.

4. Add the sugar and turn down the heat so that the jam is at a bare simmer. Stir frequently. Boil until the jam starts to leave tracks on the bottom of the pan (mine took about 45 min, but this can differ quite a bit depending on your heat level). You an also use a candy thermometer and cook to 220˚F (the temperature at which jam sets) , but I find eyeballing to be simpler and pretty accurate.

5. Allow to cool, then ladle the jam into clean jars. Freeze if not using immediately.   This makes 1 ½ jars of jam, not worth canning. Freezing the bottle not targeted for immediate consumption works just fine for me. But by all means consult some other resource for canning to ensure safety.

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Homemade Marzipan and a Marzipan Streusel Cake with fresh fruits

Posted by fourclankitchen on July 12, 2014

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I found this recipe on this fantastic blog called the Daring Gourmet when I was searching for instructions on how to make marzipan at home.  This blog has a recipe for marzipan and it was a revelation.  It took all of 3 minutes to make and was about 5x more flavorful than the store bought log.  It was also significantly cheaper.   As I read the recipe for the streusel cake,  I could tell it was a winner.   I did not have all the stuff needed for it, so I improvised.   Instead of using 2 cups of cherries,  it used 1 3/4 cup mixed fruits (blueberries, peaches, cherries).  I mixed in 2 tsp of strawberry freezer jam into the fruit mix to enhance the flavors of some rather dull tasting blueberries.  I substituted the buttermilk with full fat yogurt.  Finally,  I took out the vanilla extract and added almond extract because a cake cannot be almondy enough for me.

Marzipan:photo 1


1 1/2 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp almond extract.

1 egg white.


Whiz the almond meal and pwd. sugar in the food processor,  stir in almond extract and the egg white.  Pulse till the marzipan comes together and resembles pie dough.   The original recipe called for rosewater, which I don’t like.  So I skipped it.

The recipe also says that this can be stored in the fridge for 6 weeks and longer in the freezer.   I simple made half a recipe and used it all up for the cake.  If you do this, then the egg white cooks with the cake and you don’t have raw egg issues.  You can do this if are squeamish about raw eggs or you can just buy the marzipan (not the same as almond paste).

Marzipan Streusel Cake


For the cake:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup Marzipan
1 egg
½ cup yogurt (the original recipe calls for buttermilk)
1 teaspoon pure almond extract (the original recipe calls for vanilla)
1½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved (I used a mix of fruits because that is what I had at home)

For the Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup  Marzipan (see recipe above), crumbled
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Powdered sugar for dusting  (I did not use).


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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a  9 inch springform.
2. Make the streusel:

a) Combine the flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the marzipan and butter and use your fingers to combine the mixture until it resembles sandy clumps. Set aside.

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3.  Make the cake:

a) Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the marzipan and almond extract and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat until combined.

b) Then add the yogurt, almond extract and marzipan.  Beat till combined with the butter-sugar mix.  The mixture will be grainy.
c) In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
d) Stir  the flour mixture into the batter  about a 1/3 at a time and mix well.  Do not overmix.

e) Spoon the mixture into the greased springform, smoothing the top.

f)  Mix the prepared fruit with the jam and place on top of the batter, then sprinkle the streusel topping over it.

g) Bake on the middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Mine took 55 min (maybe because I added the jam).

h) Let the cake sit in the springform for 10-30 minutes before removing, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cooled, sift powdered sugar over the top (I did not do this).

Link to the original recipe is below.
Read more:

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Baba Ghanouj

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 2, 2014


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I know that no one needs another baba ghanouj (ghanoush, ganoush)  recipe.  But this is my archive and I simply need to have it here so I don’t have to go looking all over the web when I am ready to make it.  This is my version and it adds a serrano pepper, some sesame oil and cilantro: this is what makes my tongue happy, but you can omit these if you want.  I make it frequently and almost always eyeball it, so the measurements here are  not that precise.  When we run out of left overs,  it serves as a great lunch.  All you have to do is to add a pita, naan or tortilla.


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2 medium-large eggplants (Italian Globe eggplants are just fine).

3 cloves of garlic, peeled (scale according your preference).

1 serrano pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1/3 cup sesame paste (Tahini):

3 tbs. olive oil, more for drizzling if you are into the picture perfect look.

1-2 tbs toasted sesame oil (I used 2)

2-4 tbs. lemon juice or to taste (My eggplants were large, I used 4)

salt, to taste  (I used 1 1/2 tsp)

pinch of cayenne, optional.

a hand full of cilantro (you can use up your stems if you like),  optional.


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1.  Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil.  Cut each eggplant into half and lightly oil and salt them.

2. Roast, cut side down for about 40 min.  The eggplants should be wrinkled and completely soft.  If not,  continue to roast until they reach this stage (you can do this on a hot grill: it takes about 30 mins, with frequent turning).

3. Let the eggplants cool till they can be handled, then peel off the skin (I often don’t bother, it makes no difference to the flavor).

4.  Put all ingredients in the food processor (except salt and lemon) and zap until you get a perfectly smooth baba ghanouj.  A few bits of cilantro  might not blend, but it still tastes great.

5. Add salt and lemon, taste and adjust.

6. It may need a bit more sesame oil to make the sesame flavor more intense, so adjust accordingly.


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Posted in condiments, middle eastern, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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