RECENTLY, Mary W. wrote in asking for a recipe for the baba ghanoush formerly sold at Norman's Meats. We couldn't get that exact recipe, but she might want to try this version, submitted by Linda Snider of Glenboro.
And here's an example of the Recipe Swap community at its finest. Last month, Dorothy Earley from Onanole asked for a recipe for hot cross buns originally published by The Western Producer in the 1950s. She realized this was a long shot, but she had lost her copy. Wilma DeVos wrote in with that exact recipe. She used to make these sweet buns in a wood stove when she was first married.
This week we have a request for buttermilk pancakes -- not the fluffy kind, the reader specifies, but the thin kind with crispy edges. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Hot cross buns
(from The Western Producer)
75 ml (1/3 cup) granulated sugar, divided
60 ml (1/4 cup) warm water (100 F or 38 C)
15 ml (1 tbsp) traditional active dry yeast
900 ml (4 cups) all-purpose flour
5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
1 ml (1/4 tsp) allspice
1 ml (1/4 tsp) cardamom (optional)
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
125 ml (1/2 cup) melted butter
175 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten
125 ml (1/2 cup) currants
beaten egg white, for egg wash
Measure out the 75 ml (1/3 cup) sugar. Take out 15 ml (1 tbsp) and dissolve in the warm water. Add yeast and let sit 10 minutes, or until foamy. In a large bowl, combine remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and salt. Make a well in the middle and add melted butter, milk and egg. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Stir in currants. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn until greased all over. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into a 30 cm (12 in) log, divide length-wise into two, then cut each piece into 12 pieces. Form into 24 balls and place on greased baking sheets. Brush with beaten egg white, cover with clean tea towel and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake at 205 C (400 F) for about 15 minutes.
Tester's notes: Very tasty, light in texture, rich with butter, and not too sweet. Wilma copied down this recipe years ago and the instructions were basic (since she knew what she was doing), so I used the steps for the dough from a similar recipe. I found I turned down the heat at about the 8-minute mark and lengthened the baking time because the bottoms were browning too quickly. I also repeated the egg wash during the baking process because the tops weren't browning quickly enough.
Wilma makes an icing using the remaining egg white and some icing sugar. If you don't want to use raw egg, you can use water, starting with 250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar and adding water very gradually until you get a spreadable consistency.
1 large eggplant
60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
60 ml (1/4 cup) tahini
30 ml (2 tbsp) sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) olive oil
Preheat oven to 205 C (400 F). Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place eggplant on sheet and pierce skin with a fork. Roast eggplant for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water and peel off skin. In a blender or food processor, add eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds and garlic, and puree until quite smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to bowl and slowly add olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
Tester's notes: This Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip has a complex flavour, both creamy and slightly bitter. One note: There seems to be an eggplant shortage right now. I went to four stores searching for regular eggplant, and finally settled on 4 Chinese eggplants, which worked fine. (I adjusted the baking time slightly as these small, narrow eggplants cooked more quickly.) Because so much comes down to the seasoning, and because the taste of eggplants can vary, you might want to start with less than the full amount of lemon and tahini and then add until you get the right balance.