Busha’s Mushroom Soup

Busha's Mushroom Soup

Busha’s Mushroom Soup

We made this soup in class the other night. Everyone really liked it. One woman said she had never tasted anything like it- and she meant that in a good way. Sharing this family recipe with other people makes me happy. Like memories of my Busha and my Mother came be shared, too. They would both be pleased to know that someone is still making and loving this soup.

There are many variations of mushroom soup in Eastern European culture. Some have barley, others add sauerkraut. This is my family’s version. Plenty of mushrooms in rich stock, slightly thickened, and made creamy with the addition of sour cream. Ours is served with kluski noodles.

This soup is a tradition in my family. When I was a kid my Busha, (Polish grandmother) would make it every Easter. My Mom made it for Christmas Eve. Now we have it the day before Thanksgiving. It is one of those dishes that brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. I love the rich, earthy flavor of the mushrooms, and the slightly sweet/sour flavor of the broth. It is made with dried mushrooms, usually. I can  remember watching my mom get out a big bowl and soaking the mushrooms to get them clean, and to soften them, before starting the soup. I use dried shiitake mushrooms, but often add fresh mushrooms as well. Sometimes I use other dried mushrooms, too. I like to have a variety of mushrooms  in the soup. I used home canned chicken stock. If made with vegetable stock it could make a great meatless meal.



Busha’s  Mushroom Soup


4 qt. Chicken, beef or vegetable stock

5 c. dried mushrooms, about 4 0z. I use Shiitake.*

Water for soaking

½ c. flour

1 pint sour cream

¼ c. balsamic vinegar

2 T. sugar

1 Lb. Kluski-style noodles, cooked and drained


Soak mushrooms in water for 1-2 hours.  Lift mushrooms carefully out to leave any sand in the bowl of water. Rinse and drain. Set aside.  Bring stock to a boil and add the mushrooms. Simmer, covered for about 1½ hours, or until mushrooms reach desired tenderness. Mushrooms will retain some “chewiness”.  In medium bowl whisk sour cream into flour gradually until smooth. Stir in vinegar and sugar until smooth.  Add a small amount of the hot soup to the sour cream mixture, whisking until smooth.  Continue adding hot soup to the sour cream mixture until sour cream mixture is warm. Add the warm mixture to the pot of soup and stir to combine. Return to simmer and simmer 1 minute, stirring continuously.   Place desired amount of kluski into bowls and ladle over the hot soup. Serves12.

Note:  You can add a variety of fresh mushrooms to the soup to make it even more special. You might use portabellas; crimini, button or whatever mushrooms are at the store that day. Add in addition to the dry mushrooms; don’t reduce the amount of shiitakes.

You can use other cooked pasta. Mom said you might want to try spaetzels or even gnocchi. You might also need more than one pound of kluski, depending on how much pasta your family likes in their soup.

*The dried shiitake mushrooms can be found at specialty grocery stores, some larger grocery stores and at Asian markets.


Homemade Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

I made this spelt bread for a class the other night. Everyone loved it. I am always interested to learn how many people have never heard of spelt flour, let alone baked with it.

Spelt flour is a close relative to wheat. I love cooking with it because it is so easy to work with. It doesn’t require much, if any, kneading when you make yeast bread out of it. Spelt has a texture much closer to white flour in baking other things, like muffins or biscuits. It does contain gluten, so it’s not an answer for people with gluten issues. For those who do cook with wheat, spelt provides whole grain nutrition in a delicate, less heavy package. The bread I baked was so easy to make and gives me all the taste and fiber of whole wheat bread with less work. Spelt flour is still tricky to find. Some larger grocery stores carry it, but you might have to go to specialty markets. Bob’s Red Mill is my usual source, so if your store carries their products, you should be able to locate it.

Spelt Bread

3 ¼ c. whole spelt flour
1 pkt. Active dry yeast
1 c. water
1/3 c. honey
¼ c. oil
1 t. salt
1 egg
Place 2 c. flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Heat together water, honey and oil until warm (120-130 degrees) Add water mixture to spelt mixture and beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, or until moistened. Add egg and beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in enough spelt to make a soft dough. Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and use a rubber scraper to transfer dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, another hour. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cover top with foil during last 10 minutes of baking. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Mom’s Challah Bread



I have wonderful memories of my mother making this bread. Whenever I make it, I think of her. It is a simple egg bread, in many ways, but the braiding makes it look so pretty. You can bake the bread in loaf pans, or on baking sheets. Both look great.

This is one of my favorite sandwich breads, but I also like it for French toast. Challah is a nice option for bread in your holiday stuffing (or dressing) and it makes great bread pudding.

I had a bread class last night, and we made dinner rolls with the dough, instead of the traditional loaves. It gave everyone in the class a chance to play around with the dough. They got about 30 dinner rolls!! If you do choose to make rolls, bake 15-20 minutes.



2 c. hot water

1 T. each sugar, salt and oil

1 package active dry yeast

¼ c. warm water

About 8 cups flour

2 beaten eggs

Poppy or sesame seeds, optional

In large bowl combine hot water, salt, sugar and oil. Dissolve yeast in warm water in small bowl and add to oil/water mix. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and eggs, reserving 2 tablespoons of the eggs for later. Gradually stir in enough of the flour to make soft dough. When dough pulls away from sides of bowl remove to floured surface. Knead dough, adding flour as necessary about 8-10 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease top, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll three of the pieces into 12- inch ropes. Place in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Take one of the remaining pieces of dough and divide into thirds. Roll the pieces into 3-nine inch ropes and place on top of the braid already in the pan. Repeat with remaining dough and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush loaves with reserved eggs and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake 40-45 minutes. When done loaves will be nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: Bread dough can also be placed on greased baking sheets instead of in loaf pans. The result will be longer and flatter, but very pretty.

Challah Bread, baked on a baking sheet, instead on in loaf pans

Challah Bread, baked on a baking sheet, instead on in loaf pans

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

Apple and Cabbage Slaw

How fun to have a couple of unseasonably warm days in October. I know this won’t last, but it has given me a chance to get some work done outside. Expected high temps in the mid-eighties again today.

Normally, this time of year I am thinking about soups and fresh baked bread. But I thought I would use some of my Autumn produce in a salad instead. Apples are in season and cabbage is abundant at my local market. It seemed just natural to pair them up.

I love cole slaw. I think I could eat it everyday. I often make slaw with a creamy, mayo based dressing sometimes. Other times, I prefer a vinegar type dressing. For this slaw I went really simple. Just vinegar, a little honey and celery seeds, along with salt and pepper. Then I added thin strips of crisp, fresh apples to the shredded cabbage. The apples added a wonderful crunch and sweetness to the dish.  So simple and so good. Almost any apple will work in this recipe. I prefer super crisp, slightly tart apples, but use what you like. Here is the recipe.




Apple and Cabbage Slaw

6-8 c. shredded cabbage

2 large apples, cored, unpeeled, cut into thin strips

1/2 c. cider vinegar

2 T. honey

1 t. celery seed

salt and pepper to taste

Combine cabbage and apples in a medium bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well mixed. Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat evenly. Salad can be eaten right away or chilled for a couple of hours.

Ginger Cinnamon Cider

Ginger Cinnamon Cider

Ginger Cinnamon Cider

It’s been chilly lately, and I love a mug of hot apple cider to warm up. I made some recently, but I wanted to spice it up a little. I ended up adding sliced ginger and a cinnamon stick and the result was really good.

I always keep ginger root in my freezer. It is frustrating to buy a piece of ginger and then find it in the bottom of the crisper drawer weeks later looking like a science experiment gone bad. Freezing it solves that problem. When I want to use it, I just  take it out of the freezer, scrape off the peel and grate or slice off what I need. It keeps pretty much forever that way, and I have “fresh” ginger whenever the mood strikes me. You can also finish the cider off with a splash of brandy just before serving.

Ginger Cinnamon Cider

2 cups apple cider

1-inch piece of ginger, sliced

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

Place cider in a saucepan with the ginger and cinnamon. Simmer gently for 5 minutes- or a little longer if you want a more intense ginger taste. Strain and serve. Serves 2.

Note: Some of the cider will boil off so add a little more if you simmer it longer or keep the pot covered to reduce evaporation. I actually like the more intense flavor when it cooks down a little.

Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

Squash Fritters

After cooking up a giant Hubbard squash I needed some new ways to use it. I had already made soup and dinner rolls. I had also made some scones and frozen some of the squash. I still had more, so I thought I would try and make some fritters. I use winter squash and pumpkin in all sorts of sweet dishes, why not fritters? I added eggs, flour, baking powder and a few other ingredients, then fried them up in oil, and ended up with a pretty tasty fritter. Crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. I drained them on paper towels and then rolled them in cinnamon sugar while still warm. You certainly could use a different winter squash in this recipe, or pumpkin.


Winter Squash Fritters

1 c. cooked, mashed winter squash or pumpkin

2 eggs

2 T. brown sugar

2 t. baking powder

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 c. flour

oil for frying

cinnamon sugar for rolling- powdered sugar would work, too

In mixing bowl combine all ingredients, except the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in flour. Batter will be thick. Heat oil to 350 degrees.* There should be enough oil in the pan top be at least 1 inch deep- or deeper. To save oil I used a smallish pan and cooked 3-4 fritters at a time. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into hot oil and cook, turning once until golden brown on both sides. This will take about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels then roll in cinnamon sugar while warm. Makes 24-30. Best served warm.

* Fun way to know when your oil has hit 350 degrees. Place an un-popped popcorn kernel in the oil. Popcorn pops at 350 degrees.

Smoky Squash Soup

Smoky Squash Soup

Smoky Squash Soup

I had this Hubbard squash……It was a really big squash, but it had a nick, and needed to be cooked up soon, before it spoiled. I took a large cleaver to it and was able to get it open.

When they call winter squash hard squashes, they had to have Hubbard squash in mind. My sister, Cindy, tosses her Hubbards off her deck to break them open. I hacked at it and was able to get reasonable sized chunks. I scraped out the seeds and placed the pieces in a large baking pan. I added a little water, covered the pan with foil, and baked it until the pieces were fork tender. It took about an hour. Once the pieces were cool enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh, and ran it through my food mill. I ended up with a gallon of cooked squash.

I will freeze some of it, but I made this soup to share with friends this weekend.  The soup actually had a lot more than just squash in it. A mix of veggies, simmered with smoky ham, then pureed and finished with half and half, the soup was creamy and full of flavor.  It turned out just great. It made a big batch, but it freezes well so you can have some whenever you want. I think my friends are going to really enjoy it.


Smoky Squash Soup

2 qts. water or chicken or veggie stock

2 lbs. uncooked smoked turkey on the bone, or a ham bone with lots of meat

2 onions, peeled and halved

3-4 large carrots, peeled and chunked

1 cauliflower, cut into flowerets

2-3 ribs celery, sliced

1-2 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut up

1 can (about 14.5 oz.), tomatoes – I used a pint of home canned tomatoes

4 c. cooked winter squash- or you could use pumpkin

2 c. half and half

2 T. Italian Seasoning ( I like Tuscan seasoning, recipe follows)

Salt and pepper to taste, plus a healthy dash of hot sauce


Place all ingredients, except seasonings, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender and meat is cooked and tender, at least 1½ hours and up to 3 hours. Remove meat to cool and add half and half and herbs. Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables. It does not have to be completely smooth, but it should be close. Adjust seasonings if needed. If you like, cut the meat off the bones and return meat to the chowder. I used a ham bone- so I had the smokey flavor, but not a lot of meat. I think the soup is just fine without it. Serves 10+.
Note: I make it in even larger batches because this soup freezes well. You can add other vegetables like corn, potatoes, green beans or whatever else you have around. I often add cabbage and zucchini. If you want thicker chowder add a potato or two to the recipe. You can also add smoked sausage, if you like. Just remove the sausage, puree the chowder, slice sausage and return to the pot. I also use leftover chicken or turkey and just add a little liquid smoke for another way to get the smoky flavor. This is also a good way to use up a ham bone or leftover ham or turkey ham.

Tuscan Seasoning

½ c. dried basil
½ c. dried oregano
½ c. dried marjoram
3 T. dried minced onion
2 T. dried minced garlic
2 T. dried rosemary
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. crushed red pepper

Use this blend in tomato sauce or other Italian dishes. Also, you can add to vinegar and oil with a little salt, if desired, to make a quick salad dressing.

Maple-Glazed Apple Bacon Fritters

Maple-Glazed Apple and Bacon Fritters

Maple-Glazed Apple and Bacon Fritters

This time of year, with apples in season, it is fun to use them in all sorts of recipes. I’ve made an assortment of both sweet and savory dishes with them. This is one of my favorites. What could be better than combining apples with bacon in a sweet treat? The sweetness of the apples pairs so well with the smoky/saltiness of the bacon.

Fritters aren’t difficult to make. They really don’t take that long to make, either. I prefer to make them close to when I am serving them- so my guests can enjoy them warm.

They make a wonderful dessert, or a fun addition to a breakfast or brunch menu. I dipped them in the maple glaze, which also went well with the apples and bacon.


I must warn you, they are addictive.




Apple and Bacon Fritters

2 c. flour

2 T. sugar

2 T. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 c. milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 T. melted butter

1 c. diced apples

1 c. cooked, crumbled bacon

oil for frying- I used coconut oil

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together milk with the eggs and butter. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened and add the apples and bacon. Heat oil to 375. If using gluten free flour, heat oil to 350. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Don’t do more than 4-5 at a time. It will take about  4 minutes in total but you need to turn them to brown evenly so 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Dip in maple glaze (recipe follows) while warm. Makes about 32.

Maple Glaze

1 c. Powdered sugar

1/2 c. maple syrup

a little water if mixture gets too thick

Combine all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

Winter Squash Ravioli Soup

Squash Ravioli Soup

Squash Ravioli Soup

After cooking up a Hubbard squash, I was looking for a way to use some of it in a soup. It is chilly here and I was in the mood for soup, but I wasn’t in the mood for a pureed soup. I found inspiration in my freezer. I was putting some of the squash in the freezer, when I noticed a package of won ton wrappers. I decided to use the squash as a filling for ravioli, then just put the ravioli in the soup. I played with the spices and added some butter to the filling, too. It needed that extra bit of fat for flavor. It worked well. I just cooked the ravioli right in the soup, but you could also enjoy them without soup at all. You can just cook the ravioli in water. Once they are tender, drain and top with the sauce of your choice. I like brown butter with a little sage, but even a red sauce would be nice with the ravioli. Here is the recipe- for both the ravioli and the soup. Almost any winter squash or pumpkin could work in the filling, too.


Squash Ravioli Soup

24 round won ton/dumpling wrappers
1 cup cooked winter squash or pumpkin
2 T. softened butter
1 T. chopped parsley
1 t. paprika
1 t. nutmeg
½ t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

2 T. oil or butter
2 onions, peeled and sliced
6 c. stock- chicken or veggie
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 c. thinly sliced collard greens
Salt and pepper
Dash of hot sauce
Fresh chopped parsley

Combine ravioli filling. Adjust seasonings. Place a rounded tablespoonful of filling on one of the wrappers. Dampen edges with water and place another wrapper on top. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Continue with remaining filling and wrappers- you should have 12 raviolis in all. Set aside while making the soup.
Heat oil or butter in a pot and add the onions. Cook until onions are tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add carrots and collards and cook until veggies are tender. Add seasonings and bring soup to a boil. Add the raviolis and let the soup simmer gently until they are cooked- about 4 minutes. Stir a little to keep them from sticking, but gently. They get a lot bigger and are sort of delicate. Transfer gently with a large spoon to soup bowls and ladle over the soup. Serves 4- 6.


Classic Apple Cake

Classic Apple Cake

Classic Apple Cake

I have posted this cake recipe in the past. It truly is my favorite apple cake ever.  I had a request for this recipe yesterday, so here it is. I’ve had this recipe since I was a kid. My Aunt Josie gave it to my mom. Not sure where she got it but it has been a family favorite since we first made it. It’s a simple recipe that comes out moist and flavorful. I normally bake it in a 13×9- inch pan but it can also be baked in a Bundt pan. While the recipe calls for cinnamon sugar- I sometimes add a little fresh ground nutmeg, too. Pretty much any apple works in this recipe- except maybe Red Delicious. Perfect for dessert or even served with brunch.  Who am I kidding? I would eat this cake for breakfast.

Note: The batter is really thick. Don’t think you’ve done something wrong.





Classic Apple Cake

1 c. oil
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. orange or lemon juice
Combine above ingredients and set aside.
Mix together the following dry ingredients. Make a well and stir in egg mixture to make a stiff batter.

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt

Mix ½ c. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon and set aside

Peel, core and slice 4 medium apples.
Grease a 9×13 inch pan or a Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Place ½ of batter in prepared pan. Arrange apple slices on batter and sprinkle on ½ of the cinnamon mixture. Pour on remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

Bake 1-1 ½ hours. One hour for 13×9-inch pan and 1 1/2 hours for Bundt. I find that sometimes it takes less than an hour- check at 50 minutes.

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