The Elegant Cook

M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Cook Notes

Walnut Tart

Posted on February 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Starbucks' Blonde Willow Blend

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Starbucks' Blonde Willow Coffee: Do Not Confuse Light Roast with Weak Cup!
Fresh-tasting and robust, Starbucks' new Blonde Roast is coffee the way it tasted in the United States and Scandinavia before the dark-roast craze made everyone forget.... Yes, there is a good, old-fashioned coffee available in the ubiquitous Starbucks cafés, and you can take home a bag of the ground beans and brew it to your desired strength. My Scandinavian mother-in-law brought me this bag of Starbucks Blonde Willow Blend ground coffee lately, and as I made it for dessert in our French press, we passed it round the table so that we could breathe-in its lovely aroma. Usually, coffee smells better than it tastes, but not in this case--Starbucks'new offering, which I brewed using two tablespoons per cup because we Scandinavians prefer it strongly-brewed--tastes delightful (many who patronise Starbucks confuse strongly-brewed with darkly-roasted, and they are two vastly different things).
©Jeanne "M-J" de Mesterton

Potica or Povatica

Posted on February 16, 2011 at 11:25 AM

From Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Spain comes this coffee-time treat composed of walnuts and sweet dough:

pavatitsapotica My mother, Lorraine, wrote and published this recipe in her 1990 food-history book:

Potica, Povitica, Pavatitsa or Povatica (updated and adapted by M-J)

Dough for Six Twelve-inch Loaves: 2 packages of active dry yeast,

1 tablespoon salt,

1/2 cup of warm water,

1/2 cup of soft butter,

2 cups of scalded milk,

4 egg yolks, beaten slightly;

1 cup granulated sugar,

About 9 cups of sifted flour (I prefer unbleached, white flour),

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Combine scalded milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Cool until lukewarm. Stir slightly beaten egg yolks into yeast mixture. Add 4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly. Add the remaining flour one cup at a time, forming a stiff but not sticky ball of dough. Knead the dough until it is soft, light and smooth. Place it in a greased or buttered bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place for an hour and a half, or until doubled in bulk.

Walnut Filling for Six Twelve-Inch Loaves 1 lb. finely ground walnuts,

1 teaspoon vanilla,

1 cup of cream or half & half,

1/4 cup of butter,

1 1/2 cups of granulated, white sugar;

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

1 teaspoon of salt 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Process walnuts until they're finely ground. Heat cream in a large saucepan until almost boiling. Add the butter and let that melt. Mix the walnuts, sugar, salt and vanilla bread crumbs into the hot cream and butter. Then, gently fold your stiffly beaten egg whites in to the walnut mixture. Divide the dough into six equal parts; do not knead. With a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a large rectangle. Spread thickly with the walnut filling. Roll this jelly-roll style, carefully from the short end, pulling the dough thinner as you go along, so that the filling will be thick in between the dough layers. Twist the ends of loaves to seal them. Place loaves on greased cookie sheets (or, use loaf pans). Let the loaves rise in a warm place for an hour. Bake them in a 375* oven until lightly browned. After cooling for 15 minutes, remove loaves from the pans. and butter the tops of them lightly. Pavatitsa (also spelled "pavateca", potica, and povitica) can be frozen.

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Elegant Survival, December 2008

Elegant Brownies

Posted on February 19, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Elegant Swedish Semlor Buns

Posted on February 14, 2010 at 2:51 PM


This is a traditional Swedish sweet bun that is baked for Shrove Tuesday or Fettisdagen,the second Tuesday in February. It is similar to cardamom braid, but baked in bun-form, split-open and filled with both an almond cream and whipped cream. I believe that semlor were the inspiration for the very popular “Beard Papa" brand dessert of Japan. Some Swedes put the semla (singular of semlor) in a bowl with warm milk, also known as‘hetvägg,’which means ‘hot wall’.  I prefer to eat semlor buns with coffee. An accompanying cup of  light-to-medium roast coffee is a must.


Yield: 16 -20 Semlor Buns

Ingredients for the Buns

75 g butter (about 3/4 stick)

1 cup of milk

One tablespoon (15 ml) or about 25 g of yeast

A half-teaspoon of salt 2.50 ml

10 teaspoons (50 ml) of sugar

3 cups (720 ml) of white or unbleached flour

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

2 eggs, beaten in a small bowl (you will need a pastry brush to apply this egg-wash to the buns before baking)


The Fillings


300 g (10.5 oz.) of almond paste

1/2 cup of milk (120 ml)

Crumbs from interiors of the baked buns (you will make these after the buns are baked)

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) of heavy whipping cream

One-half cup of confectioners' sugar for adding to the whipped cream and dusting the finished semlorna




 Melt the butter in a saucepan, pour in the milk and cook the mixture until lukewarm (99° F).

 Put the yeast in a bowl and, adding a little of the warmed butter and milk, whisk until the yeast is completely dissolved.

 Addthe rest of the butter, milk, salt, sugar, cardamom and most of theflour (set aside a little flour for the work-surface). Knead the dough until it is smooth, shiny, and will not stick to other surfaces, then place it in a large mixing-bowl. Cover the ball of dough with a tea-towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

Dust your work-surface with flour and place the dough there. Gently divide it into about 16 to 20 balls that will fit in the cupped palm of your hand.

 Place the semlor buns on a baking sheet, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 440° Fahrenheit.

Brush the semlorna with the beaten egg, then bake them for about 10 minutes in the middle of the oven. Let these buns cool on a rack.

Cut the tops off of the buns, and remove from them some of their inner crumb, and put this in a mixing-bowl. Mix the moist crumbs with almond paste and 1/2 cup of milk until a soft cream has been created.

 Distribute the filling into the buns. Whip the cream with a half-cup of powdered sugar until it is quite stiff, and put a large spoonful  of it on to pof each filled bun. Replace the bun-tops, and dust some powdered (confectioners’) sugar over your finished Swedish semlor buns.