Odds and Ends

Digsite: Relocated

Greetings again, fellow kitchen excavators!

After a prolonged week of moving (which felt more like a month), I’m finally about settled into my new kitchen and living arrangements. With the oven finally in place, the pots and pans carefully unboxed, and a new fire alarm installed, I’m raring to dig back into some culinary history with you! So, I hope to see you this Sunday for the first recipe to be unearthed from my new location!

Until then, keep digging!

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Relocating the Digsite

Hello again!

Since it’s been a little while since my last post, I felt I needed to explain what’s been going on behind the scenes here at Kitchen Excavation. Over the past week, I’ve been finalizing the paperwork and prepping my belongings for a new apartment I’ll be moving into this weekend! So, with my kitchen currently divided into several tomato-red plastic tubs, I haven’t been able to dig into any new recipes for a little while; and, depending on how quickly I can unpack and restore some semblance of order to my life, it may be another week or so before we unearth any more recipes from humanity’s rich culinary history. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll stay tuned for the next post from my new (to me) kitchen!

Until then, keep digging!

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Returning to the Dig

Greetings again!

As you might already know, some of life’s storms have blown into my neck of the woods recently which has put a damper on my typical posting schedule. However, light is breaking through the clouds, and my stress levels are finally returning to normal. This means that we’ll be getting back to unearthing delicious cultural dishes this weekend with a humble, yet vibrant staple from Ireland’s culinary cupboard just in time for St. Patrick’s day. I hope to see you then!

Until Sunday, keep digging!

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Standing by for Repairs

Greetings, again!

Due to some unexpected technical difficulties, today’s post will (if my camera/computer issues are easily resolvable) be up tomorrow! We’ll be digging into an unorthodox, but incredibly delicious use for the California avocado, so I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to share in my celebration of one the west coast’s greatest agricultural marvels!

Until then, keep digging!

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Another Snow Day

Greetings again!

Once again, the weather will be indirectly responsible for a delay in today’s previously scheduled recipe. With a veritable blizzard staring down the eastern United States, I’ve been called in to work today in lieu of tomorrow, when the storm will be hitting us the hardest. So, as long as the power stays on tomorrow, we’ll dig into a recipe that helped generations of Russian people survive even harsher winters than this one!

Until then, stay warm and safe!

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Year Round Recipes: Sugar and Spice Pull-Apart Bread

With February and Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I was hoping to attempt a dessert this weekend that, for me at least, represents some of the history of the holiday’s founder, Saint Valentine. Unfortunately though, this recipe (which I will hopefully attempt next weekend) required the use of a friend’s typically outdoor deep fryer. And, with several inches of snow allegedly in the forecast (as of this afternoon, the forecast seems woefully incorrect), said deep fryer would have to wait until the skies cleared. So, using what I had on hand, I thought I’d share one of my favorite styles of yeasted dessert in the meantime: pull-apart bread!

Intricately simple, and incredibly delicious!

Intricately simple, and incredibly delicious!

Hailing back to at least the 1940’s, the pull-apart bread is a fun, easy-to-make dessert that can be adapted to any season or taste. Adding a little pumpkin puree to the batter can transform this year round recipe into an autumnal classic, or even throwing a few sliced peaches or strawberries into the mix could suit the lighter, sweeter tastes of summer! However, for beating back the dreary January forecast, I prefer to stick with a classic sugar and spice variation. Typically, my spice of choice would be tried and true cinnamon, but with some mixed spice leftover from our hot cross bun excavation (you can find the recipe for the buns and the mixed spice here: Hot Cross Buns), I couldn’t pass up the chance to experiment with a spicier-than-usual loaf of pull-apart bread!

Sugar and Spice Pull-Apart Bread


The groundwork for a tasty loaf of spiced sweetness

The groundwork for a tasty loaf of spiced sweetness

Ingredients for the Bread:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used soy)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon (one packet) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs

Ingredients for the Sugar and Spice Topping

  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice


  1. Place the butter and milk into a small saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from heat, stir in the water and vanilla extract, and let cool until between 100 – 110 degrees F / 37 – 43 C. Stir in the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and let proof for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is light and foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 2 1/4 cups of flour, remaining sugar, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the 2 eggs and set aside.
  4. Pour yeast mixture into the flour and stir until combined. Mix in the whisked eggs until a rough dough is formed. Knead in the last 3/4 cup of flour, turn dough onto a floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and only slightly sticky (you may need to add some extra flour to cut down on the potential stickiness of the dough).
  5. Place your kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in volume.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. When your dough has risen, return it to a floured surface and roll it into a roughly 12 x 20 inch (30 x 50 cm) rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and coat completely with the sugar and spice mixture.
  8. Slice the dough into 6 equal vertical strips (see pictures below for a visual guide). Stack the strips on top of each other and slice into 6 equal stacks of square pieces. Layer the dough squares in a 9 x 5 greased, floured loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rest and expand for 30 – 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C. Bake your pull-apart loaf in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until deeply golden brown (if you remove the loaf when it’s only light brown, the body of the bread will most likely still be undercooked).
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to continue cooling completely.
  11. Enjoy a warm, spicy piece of pull-apart bread!

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As always, thanks for stopping by for this weekend’s recipe!

Keep digging!

Categories: Baking, Bread, Dessert, Odds and Ends, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Recipes: Cranberry Flaugnarde

Still life from the home of Julia Felix in the Roman town of Pompeii

Still life from the home of Julia Felix in the Roman town of Pompeii depicting the use of bird and egg in the home

With my recently acquired passion for French cuisine still burning brightly, I thought it only fair to share an ancient French recipe that’s currently topping my all-time winter favorites: the flaugnarde (pronounced “flow-nyard”)! Now, to be fair, the true origin of this recipe lies not with the French, but with the ancient Romans. Credited with being one of, if not the, first civilization to domesticate and farm chickens, ancient Roman food scientists finally had the raw materials necessary to unlock the seemingly limitless cooking potential held within the humble egg. Out of their undoubtedly delicious research, Roman bakers were the first to produce what is today known as the flan, an egg-based custard dish that we tend to associate with Central and South American cooking. In Rome, the flan was generally considered a savory dish, being made from and served with meat and fish. However, as Rome’s borders expanded, and its recipes charged across the European countryside, the native, conquered cultures began experimenting with Rome’s cutting-edge cuisine. In the Occitan regions of southern France, resident chefs began turning the Romans’ savory flan into a sweet dessert that highlighted the fruits of the region. And, when the Roman empire eventually collapsed and receded back to the Italian peninsula, the French natives were able to freely transition egg custard from the Roman flan to the French flaugnarde, allowing the modern baker to enjoy the fruits of over two thousand years of culinary experimentation!

With a history steeped in cultural alteration, you should feel free to change the contents of this recipe to fit your locale and season! Because of the scarcity of fruits in the winter, I’ve simply chosen a recipe that features cranberries in order to fit my present situation; but, if you find yourself craving a flaugnarde in the summer, perhaps lemon and blueberry would be a better fit, or apple and orange for the fall, or simply whatever you have on hand. But, whatever you choose, know that you’re contributing to a grand, millennia-long experiment to find the perfect flaugnarde!

Cranberry Flaugnarde Recipe

Over 2,000 years of culinary wisdom in a single baking dish

Over 2,000 years of culinary wisdom in a single baking dish


  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/8 cup of all-purpose flour (6 Tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 – 2 cups of fresh or thawed cranberries


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F / 205 C.
  2. Brush the melted butter on the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish (a pie plate worked fine for me), and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar over the bottom of the buttered dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining sugar, flour, and salt until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, and extract until blended.
  5. Mix half of the egg and cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Repeat with the remaining half, and whisk until smooth.
  6. Pour the combined mixture into your prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cranberries (I ended up using about 2 cups of berries, but whatever you have on hand will do).
  7. Place the dish on a baking tray, and bake in your preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the flaugnarde puffs up and begins to lightly brown at the sides (the center will not be fully set when finished).
  8. When your flaugnarde has finished baking, sprinkle it with a bit more sugar, and allow to cool slightly before serving either warm or cold.
  9. Enjoy a sweet, tart bite of French and Roman culinary history!

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As always, thanks for stopping by the dig! I hope to see you this Tuesday for another look at a recipe that’s filled with as much history as it is flavor!

Keep digging!

Categories: Baking, Dessert, History, Odds and Ends, Winter Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Greetings again!

Thanks to the life-altering mayhem of a new job, our regularly scheduled recipe will be up tomorrow instead of today. So, I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to take a look at an intensely delicious, French dessert that’s overflowing with winter flavor!

Until then, keep digging!

Categories: Odds and Ends | Leave a comment

Year Round Recipes: Twisted Cinnamon Kringle

For much of the continental US, the past few weeks have been a veritable maelstrom of unpleasant weather. Average snowstorms have turned to ice, chilly winter temperatures dropped to record-breaking, below-zero lows, and now, at least in central Pennsylvania, our notion of winter has been turned on its head as we enter into a weekend of almost 60 degree (F) temperatures, perpetual fog, and pounding rain. So, in an attempt to culinarily bring the household out of these spiraling gray doldrums, I thought unearthing a literal spiral of European pastry might do just the trick!

(c) Solvang Bakery

An example of the golden kringle adorning a baker’s storefront.

So, our treat for the weekend has been a modern, sweet and spicy variation of the centuries-old kringle (or kringel), first devised, according to legend, by 13th century monks as they brought Christianity to Nordic Europe. Since the 1200s, the kringle has come to represent a style of forming dough into twisted shapes using a variety of doughs, fillings, and toppings. One incarnation of the kringle that most of us will recognize is the classic, salted pretzel (or saltkringler), which we took a look at not too long ago. The pretzel-shaped version of the kringle has long been a symbol of Danish baking, and acts as the logo for baking guilds across Europe. But, as we’ll see today, the kringle does not have to be savory, as a wide range of sweet kringles, typically speckled with raisins, nuts and coarse sugar, exist across the globe. The kringle has even become a sweet staple of Wisconsin in the United States, as 19th century Danish immigrants brought a filled version of the kringle to America. So, wherever you’re from, and whatever ingredients you have on hand, you’re more than welcome to experiment with and enjoy the twisted form of the kringle!

Twisted Cinnamon Kringle Recipe

Our twisty, tasty kringle all ready to bake!

Ingredients for Pastry

  • 1/2 cup of warm milk or milk substitute (between 100 – 110 F / 37 – 43 C)
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast (or one packet)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg yolk

Ingredients for Filling

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon


  1. In a small container, mix the warm milk, yeast, and sugar together. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy.
  2. Pour the yeast mixture into a medium bowl and add in the flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons butter, and egg yolk. Stir until you form a rough dough.
  3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-5 minutes, or until the dough easily forms a ball.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, turn once to coat with oil, cover with a clean towel, and let sit in a warm spot for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Preheat your oven to 390 F (200 C), and combine the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
  6. Punch down your risen dough, return to a floured surface, and, using a rolling pin, flatten the dough to a thickness of 1 centimeter (1/3 of an inch).
  7. Brush the flattened dough with most of the melted butter (save some for a final glaze before baking), and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  8. Tightly roll the dough and cut lengthwise with a sharp knife (see pictures 10-11 below).
  9. Twist the two halves of the dough together, and try to keep the layered sides of the dough facing outward (pictures 12-13 below). When the dough is completely twisted, join the two ends together to form a ring. Transfer to a greased baking sheet, and brush with whatever melted butter you have leftover. If you have any extra cinnamon sugar, feel free to add another dusting over the top of your kringel for an added layer of spice!
  10. Bake in your preheated oven for 5 – 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 355 F / 180 C, and continue baking for an additional 20 – 25 minutes, or until the kringel is golden brown.
  11. Enjoy this truly tasty, twisted treat from old-world Europe!

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As always, thanks for stopping by the dig! Be sure to stop in next Tuesday for another international bread recipe!

Keep digging!

Categories: Baking, Dessert, Odds and Ends, Year Round Recipes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Winter Recipes: How to Seed and Juice a Pomegranate

In this hemisphere, warm-weather pomegranates always arrive with the snow

Every year, right about when the first waves of snow envelop our part of Pennsylvania, an unassuming red fruit starts showing up in the local markets. These jewels of warmer climes may appear to some like a lumpy apple that’s much better for staining clothing than consumption, but to those who know how to unlock their ancient secrets, the pomegranate is a veritable treasure to behold. And, with pomegranate seeds being high in an array of vitamins, minerals, and blood-pressure reducing compounds, the benefits of this ancient fruit go far beyond its almost unearthly spectrum of sweet, yet tart flavors.

Digging up the Pomegranate’s Mythical Past

In modern food culture, pomegranates have recently been heralded as one of the “superfruits,” a collection of plants that provide a variety of generally accepted health benefits. But, despite the amazing nutritious effects pomegranates truly offer, our modern beliefs surrounding the pomegranate pale in comparison to those of the ancient world. In ancient Persia (modern Iran), where the pomegranate is rumored to originate, the mythological figure Isfandiyar (or Esfandiyār, depending on the translation) is said to have been granted superhuman invincibility after consuming a single pomegranate. In other ancient cultures, particularly in Islamic and Judaic traditions, the pomegranate symbolized increased fertility and abundance, and played a part in many marital customs. It was believed that newlywed couples who ate of the pomegranate would be blessed with children as numerous as the pomegranates seeds. By the time of the ancient Greeks, this focus on fertility evolved into the pomegranate symbolizing everlasting marriage. It is for this reason that the Greek goddess Persephone was forced to eternally wed Hades, god of the underworld, after she ate six pomegranate seeds while trapped in his domain.

The jeweled interior of the legendary pomegranate

Now, while the pomegranates of today don’t offer blessed invincibility, increased fertility, or the promise of a never-ending marriage, they are still worth picking up while they’re in season! In order to enjoy the benefits of the pomegranate to the full, we first have to crack it open and extract the seeds without turning our entire kitchen red. There are many ways to do this, but I thought I’d show you the process I’ve used for quite some time which hasn’t stained me yet! And, if you’re looking to make a pomegranate-based sauce, syrup, or beverage, we’ll take a look at how to simply and easily juice a pomegranate as well. Let’s dig in!

Seeding a Pomegranate


  • Pomegranates!


  1. Using a serrated knife, make a shallow cut near the stem of the pomegranate and completely cut off the top. Avoid cutting too deep as this could puncture the seeds.
  2. Once you have removed the top of the pomegranate, you should be able to see a starburst of white pith (the material that the seeds are stuck to). Place the pomegranate in a bowl to protect your counters, and cut the pomegranate into several segments by cutting along the lines of pith. This will limit the number of seeds your knife will run into.
  3. Pull the segments apart and cover with cold water. Working strictly under the water, scrape the seeds away from the rind. Thanks to the physics of pomegranate composition, the pith will rise to the surface of the water and the seeds will always sink!
  4. When all of the seeds are out of the rind, use a strainer or slotted spoon to fish out as much of the pith as possible. When you’ve retrieved the majority of the pith, pour the seeds into a colander and rinse off any remaining pith.
  5. Congratulations! You’re now ready to enjoy several hundred (613, according to Judaic tradition) nutritious, delicious, and mythical pomegranate seeds!

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Juicing a Pomegranate

One pomegranate will produce between 1/2 – 3/4 cup of pomegranate juice


  • The seeds of one pomegranate


  1. Place your cleaned pomegranate seeds into a blender and pulse just long enough to pulverize the seeds and release their juice – the finished mixture will not be smooth!
  2. Pour the blended seeds into a fine strainer placed over a bowl. Let the mixture drain, and then press the seeds to squeeze out as much juice as possible.
  3. Transfer your processed juice into a sealable container and refrigerate until needed!

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As always, thanks for stopping by for the first excavation of 2014!

Happy new year, and keep digging!

Categories: Drink Recipes, History, Odds and Ends, Winter Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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