Winter solstice

Winter solstice

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Keflee

          It's hard to believe it's been almost a quarter of a century since that cold December day. It had been snowing and there were a few inches on the ground. I trudged across the field toward the old farm house. I knew to go to the basement door and not the front door. The front door was for guests, I was not.  I opened the basement door and went over to the fireplace. All winter long a fire burned in the basement. The heat rose and heated the farm house.  There was a rug there waiting for my wet boots. I kicked them off and started up the stairs. About half way up I could feel the warmth from the kitchen. As I topped the stairs, Paul Baker was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping coffee. He welcomed me and told me to pull up a chair. Frances, his wife, was at the counter mixing a dough. This was the reason I was here. Today was the day I was going to learn how to make Keflee. I had waited for this day since I had tasted my first bite of this wonderful cookie. Both Paul and Frances had come from Hungaria as small children and the food that Frances cooked was rich with that heritage. The cookie has many variations but this was how her mother and grandmother had made it. Some have fruit in the middle, some have nuts. I stood at the kitchen counter with Frances. When I looked out the kitchen window I could see my house across the snowy field. Frances carefully showed me how to roll the balls of dough and then press them out to flat circles in the sugar. I remember her telling me " Now, there's no sugar in the dough so you must press them out in sugar to make them sweet". I watched her do a few and then did some myself. I was surprised at how the dough felt. Not like any cookie dough I had handled before. She explained it was the cottage cheese that made it feel that way. Then she showed me how to shape them into the traditional crescent shape on the cookie sheet. Into the oven they went. While they baked, we sipped our coffee and watched it snow. Francis had a big piece of wax paper spread on the kitchen table. When the cookies were done, she flipped them upside down on the paper. The sugar caramelizes on the bottom of the cookie and it has to harden while they cool. I could hardly wait until they were cool enough to eat. Oh, how I love that crunch of the sugar with the tender cookie.
            Many years have passed since that day and Frances taught me how to cook and bake many things. It was in her kitchen that I first learned how to make a pepperoni roll. Both Paul and Frances are in heaven now but the time I spent in that kitchen is some of my most treasured memories. I will never forget how she took in a young girl, thousands of miles from home and taught me so many things.
            Here is the recipe for Hungarian Keflee:

            1 pound of butter softened
            2 cups cottage cheese
            5-6 cups flour
 
Combine one cup of finely chopped walnuts with one half cup sugar, set aside.  In a mixer combine butter and cottage cheese. Add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is stiff enough to form into balls.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Put a cup of granulated sugar on a plate. Press the ball of dough out in the sugar until about 3 inches across, turning it over and over as you press, pushing the sugar into the dough. Add more sugar to the plate as you need it.   Put one teaspoon of the nut/sugar mixture on the dough and roll up. Form into a crescent shape on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 400 until golden brown. Flip cookies upside down on wax paper and allow to cool.


3 comments:

  1. Wow, this is a great story, complete with a precious recipe! Of course, Mary Ellen and I now live in the Baker's old farm house, and I can just imagine Paul and Francis sitting here looking out at the snow, and across the field to your house, just like we do now. Thanks so much for sharing, Becky!

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