FOUND: Phil Goldstein of Bethany wrote, “Is it possible to get the recipe for Lender’s salmon chowder you wrote about in 2008?” His wife grew up in New Haven and the Lender’s chowder was a favorite childhood memory. He also requested the “Babkaman’s” babka recipe.
Phil, you mentioned when we spoke that your wife found the recipe tucked in a drawer; however, I thought others who missed that column or are new to the area might enjoy the recipe. Lender’s Bakery Restaurant might be gone, but one of their recipes lives on.
As for the babka recipe, another column from way back came to mind. Phil Weinberger, aka “Babkaman,” who owned the Westville Kosher Bakery, was featured in that column. Although not his recipe, he prepared the Babka Muffins with the baking class he taught at Gateway Community College in 2010. It is a dessert I enjoy at 3G’s Gourmet Deli, a New York-style deli in Delray Beach, Fla., where I always dine during visits to my parents. A couple of these treats are taken back with me each time I visit. Owner Bruce Gannett had given me the OK to share the recipe, which appeared in the Sun-Sentinel a couple of years prior to my column. I think this recipe will fit the bill. Please let me know if you like them as much as I do. You won’t be able to eat just one.
Curious to know the history about babka, I did a bit of research. Babka bread originated from Poland and Ukraine, and is derived from “babcia,” a Slavic word for “grandmother” — perhaps since grandmothers liked to bake. Originally, babka filling was cinnamon, but evolved with several variations: cheese, raisins, nuts and, my favorite, chocolate, which supposedly was used when Jews arrived in New York from Eastern Europe. It is a time-consuming process but worth the effort — having to roll the dough, waiting for it to rise a couple of times, filling it, braiding it … you get the idea. The sweet yeast bread-like dough sometimes is topped with streusel, like the babka muffins. The Polish babka is often baked in a bundt pan and filled with dried fruit soaked in brandy, rum or other liquor. Jewish babka is baked in a loaf pan. Babka can be found in Trader Joe’s, and I recently saw it at Stop & Shop. If you are in New York City, you must pick one up at Breads Bakery or Russ & Daughters; they ship, too. The humble cake was featured on television. Seinfeld fans might remember the episode where chocolate babka played a “leading role.”
If you bake the babka muffins, you might want to double the recipe, because they won’t last long.
Melt butter in a large stockpot and then add the onion and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add flour, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add paprika, thyme, white pepper, garlic powder, sugar and chicken base and mix well. Add hot water and stir mixture until it thickens. Gradually add the half and half, stirring well. Add the sherry and stir. Add salmon and cooked potatoes to the soup. Adjust spices to taste. Makes 12-16 servings.
Yeast dough: In large mixing bowl, whisk cake and bread flours. Move flours to a piece of wax paper. In same bowl, stir together milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk mixture and let stand 5 minutes, until foamy.
Add 1/2 cup of flour mixture to yeast mixture and beat with electric mixer, medium speed, until combined. Add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, egg yolk, sour cream, butter, salt, vanilla and lemon extract, beat until combined.
Add remaining flour mixture in batches and beat well with wooden spoon to combine after each addition. Add more flour if necessary to make a dough that is soft but not sticky, using proportion of 1 part cake flour to 2 parts bread flour.
Scrape dough onto lightly floured surface and knead about 4 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in well-oiled bowl turning to oil all sides.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place, 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Butter 12 regular-size muffin cups. Punch down dough and divide in half, keeping one-half covered.
On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 piece of dough into a 12-in by 8-inch rectangle. Beat the other egg and light cream together. Brush the rolled dough with the mixture. Sprinkle half of the filling ingredients in the order given over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch margin on both long sides.
Carefully, but firmly and lightly as possible, roll up the dough from the long side, jellyroll fashion, and pinch to seal well. Cut with sharp knife into six 2-inch-thick slices and press each firmly into prepared muffin cups.
Repeat process with second half of the dough.
Cover the filled muffin cups with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Streusel: Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly.
Uncover muffins and brush the tops lightly with remaining egg wash and divide the topping among them, pressing down slightly so it adheres to the muffin tops.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place muffins on center rack. Bake 20-22 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly browned. Remove and place on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove gently from pan.
Drizzle top of each muffin with 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup and sift confectioners’ sugar over each. Makes 12 muffins.
Liz Larocque wrote, “I am a ‘regular’ at Jake’s in Wallingford — just an awesome bar. The food has always been good but recently they hired a new chef, Steve Allegra. OMG … from presentation to taste to creativity, it’s all amazing. The funny thing is, since he started, I see so much more food coming out of the kitchen and I can see why the owners love him. I wouldn’t even know what to suggest. … Maybe the short rib or pork belly or he has a special ‘CT Chowder.’ He reinvented the menu and has awesome specials. The other night I had the shrimp ramen … it was on point. I think this is a chef you would like to interview.
Liz, thank you for the suggestion. I will contact the chef to see if he would like to be featured in an upcoming column.
Passport to CT Farm Wineries began its season May 3, Collect a minimum of 12 stamps from each of the 40 participating wineries and the Connecticut Wine Festival in Goshen in July, through Nov. 3 to be eligible for one of more than 60 prizes, including a two-week trip for two to Malaga, Spain. Passports are available free of charge at each participating location, and through a new downloadable “CT Farm Wine” app. More details at passporttoctfarmwine.com.
Chefs Table Dinner Series No. 1: May 10, 6:30-9 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, $75. Reservations 203-799-2665, Have a front row seat while Chef Daniel Brelsford prepares a four-course meal consisting of cream of mushroom soup with Porcini oil, risotto with bay scallops, spring peas, asparagus and chives, filet mignon with watercress, bell onions, shaved parmesan, garlic crostini and lemon vinaigrette, chocolate budino with smoked caramel and orange whip cream. Feel free to bring your favorite bottle of wine or beverage to enjoy while you dine. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2LjvSRg.
Brewfest at the Beach: Sponsored by the Rotary Club of New London. May 10, 6-9 p.m., Ocean Beach Park, 1225 Ocean Ave., New London, $25 proceeds benefit Camp Rotary. Tastings of more than 150 beers, brew-friendly food, pizza, chili, wine tasting and live music. More info and tickets at https://bit.ly/2IVIcnV.
Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner: “Mother, Mother” May 10, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489 https://bit.ly/2O3TQzQ, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve.
Wine Dinner, French/American Challenge: Our version of the 1976 Judgment of Paris, May 13, 6:30-9 p.m., Tre Scalini, 100 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-469-4218, $87. It was the tasting that revolutionized the wine world. Forty-three years ago on May 24, 1976, the top people of the French wine establishment participated in a blind tasting that pitted some of the finest French wines against unknown California wines. The final results startled everyone: not one French wine came in first; they were all surpassed by the California wines. We offer our own version on the 43rd anniversary of the Judgment of Paris: 6 pairs of wines, tasted blind. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2Jaub5J.
Surf & Turf Cooking Class: May 17, 6:30-9 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, $89. Reservations 203-799-2665. In this fun, hands-on class, you will enjoy exploring new twists on a classic pairing. Our instructor will walk you through techniques for creating a surf and turf dinner using the freshest, most flavorful ingredients from land and sea. You’ll work alongside other students learning secrets for grilling steak to perfection every time. Each student will also take home a small bottle of our Truffle oil. Menu: Bone in Ribeye with Lobster Butter, Crab Gratin, Cast Iron Carrots, Truffled parmesan polenta fries. Please feel free to bring your favorite bottle of wine or beverage to enjoy during this class. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2ZQ3HMR.
Chefs of Our Kitchen (C.O.O.K.) Series: Francesco d’Amuri Chef and owner and his wife Allison De Renzi of L’Orcio in New Haven. June 5, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 203-285-2617, $65 includes pre-event reception and three-course dinner featuring classic Italian dishes from their award-winning restaurant, with wine pairings. Mingle with Chef Francesco and Allison at the reception and then watch the demonstration of the dishes being prepared as you enjoy dinner. Reservations required. Validated parking (bring parking ticket to event) at the Temple Street Garage. Proceeds benefit Gateway students, faculty and staff. Tickets and series information at https://www.gatewayfdn.org/cook-tickets.