Puck Pies: In Honor Of New Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock...

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Ok, I don't even know if he's had it before, but this seems like something that he'll find out about sooner or later. Gooey Butter Cake. Awww, yeah. The St. Louis dessert that is so rich you can have about one square before you get ill, but in a goooood way.

From Wikipedia, the tale of how this happy accident happened:


A legend about the cake's origin is included in Saint Louis Days...Saint Louis Nights (ISBN 0-9638298-1-5), a cookbook published in the mid-1990s by the Junior League of St. Louis. The cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of sugar and flour.


John Hoffman was the owner of the bakery where the mistake was made. The real story is there are two types of butter "smears" used in a bakery. A gooey butter and a deep butter. The deep butter was used for deep butter coffee cakes. The gooey butter was used as an adhesive for things like danish rolls and stolens. The gooey butter was smeared across the surface, then the item was placed in coconut, peanuts, crumbs or whatever was desired so they would stick to the product.

John hired a new baker that was supposed to make deep butter cakes, but got the two butter smears mixed up. The mistake wasn't caught until after the cakes came out of the proof box. Rather than throw them away, John went ahead and baked them up. They sold so well, John kept producing them and soon, so did the other bakers around St. Louis.

And there you go. After the jump, the recipe for this wonderfulness.

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Puck Pies: A Doughnut By Any Other Name...

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Ok, a few reasons why I chose today's selecton. 1) Drew Doughty plays for the Kings, and his nickname is "Doughnuts." 2) I'm happy he's out (not that he's hurt, but that the Blues don't have to worry about him - I'd ather no one be injured). 3) LA has a large Hispanic population. 4) I don't do nearly enough dessert on here.

I enjoy something sweet once in a blue moon. Usually my snack of choice is a Cadbury candy bar, like a Crunchie specifically, but I have an affinity for doughnuts. I could, quite possibly, live on them until my heart gave out. Cream filled, custard filled, cake, glazed, iced - you name it. Growing up as a little kid and getting fresh doughnuts from the bakery has made me into a bit of a snob, but I'm never, never above a field trip to Dunkin Donuts. Ever.

Today's Puck Pies is the Spanish version of the wonderful concept of fried dough: the churro. These are easy, but a couple things first - wear an apron in case of oil splatters and you should have a piping bag with a large star tip to get the distinctive churro shape.

These'll make about 3 dozen or so - invite some friends over.


1 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Place water, butter, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat; add flour. Beat with spoon until dough forms ball and releases from side of pan. Vigorously beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until mixture is smooth. Spoon dough into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 3X1-inch strips onto waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze 20 minutes.

Pour vegetable oil into 10-inch skillet to 3/4-inch depth. Heat oil to 375°F. Transfer frozen dough to hot oil with large spatula. Fry 4 or 5 churros at a time until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Remove churros with slotted spoon to paper towels; drain.

Combine remaining 4 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon. Place in paper bag. Add warm churros, 1 at a time; close bag and shake until churros is coated with sugar mixture. Remove to wire rack. Repeat with remaining sugar mixture and churros; cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months.

A special treat is melted chocolate for dipping. Get a double boiler, break up a dark chocolate bar (I suggest Green and Black's Maya Gold Mexican style - not sweet, but it has orange and spices in it and it's amazing). Put the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and WATCH IT closely so it doesn't burn. Add a tiny bit of milk and stir to create a dipping sauce, and enjoy!

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Puck Pies: Faux Russian Spuds

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Tonight I decided to combine three of my favorite things: hockey, Russian history, and potatoes. Ok, well, hockey food, Russian history, and potatoes. While it's still warm enough to grill outside, these are the perfect accompaniment to a good medium-rare steak. Do some carrots steamed in chicken broth with dill or rosemary, and it's a good dinner to settle down with in front of a hockey game - even if it is still preseason.

In honor of the Blues' new Russian preseason breakout, Evgeny Grachev, I give you Potatoes Romanoff. No, I don't know if these were served at the Romanov court, and I find it doubtful that they were considering the court's penchant for French food - but they're good.


6 medium Russet potatoes 
3 shallots
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 pints sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese

Wrap potatoes in tinfoil and bake at 425 for about an hour. Take them out, let them cool - cover them in a container and let chill overnight, preferably. 

When you're ready to make the dish, grate the potatoes into a mixing bowl - it might be easier to feed them through the grater attachment of your food processor than doing so by hand. Finely dice the shallots, add half of the cheese, and add the salt and pepper. Mix well, then add the sour cream. 

Continue to mix until smooth, and then spread into a casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350. Feel free to garnish with diced green onions and bacon if you'd like. 

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Puck (Whoopie) Pies

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Prospect tournaments are starting, and I'm pretty sure that everyone had a reaction similar to "WHOOPEE!"

Ok, mine was "oh, thank God, there's live hockey on my TV - I haven't watched the Blues take a hundred penalties and lose live since April!"

To each fanbase goes their own reactions, I guess. But, to celebrate the return of actual puck, let's have some actual puck-shaped whoopie pies. Sadly, regular hockey pucks don't come with nummy marshmellow filling. If they did, could you imagine how much people'd fight for them when they get shot into the stands. More than usual, I'm sure. They'd also hurt significantly less.

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Puck Pies: Labor Day Burgers

Written by Laura Astorian on .

These burgers aren't just for Labor Day. Oh, no no no. These are perfection for hockey tailgates, too. Sure, in some locales tailgates are better done in the pre-season or during post-season play, when the frost either hasn't shown up or has slipped away. No one wants to make ribs and burgers in twenty degree below zero temperature - not even Green Bay Packers fans (I'm assuming). 

Helpful hint: I know everyone likes to either be healthy or pretend to be healthy, but don't ever use all lean beef in making burgers. Unless you enjoy eating hockey puck shaped lumps of sawdust, cut your beef with something with some fat in it.

These make about 4 servings.

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Puck Pies: Avocado Pasta Salad, AKA The Greatest Pasta Salad Ever

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Everyone needs a pasta salad for Labor Day. It's mandatory. Who wants that nasty mayo based store kind, though? You know the stuff. The kind that you take two bites of and then reach for another deviled egg. It's just... blech.

Spruce that pasta salad up a bit, huh? The olive oil based ones are 100x better than the mayo ones, healthier, and generally more diverse. I've made them with cilantro, feta, black olives, green olives, and artichoke hearts, and they're outstanding. But do you want to know the veggie that's more amazing than artichokes in pasta salad? AVOCADO.

Yes, that egg looking thing that makes everything better. Put it on a BLT? Awesome. Salad? Awesome. quac with blue cheese? Yup. Eaten alone with salt and pepper (or even bacon salt)? Perfection. Why not put it into a pasta salad? You'd be daft not to.

Apologies for no photos, but it was gone before I could get to it.

This is adapted from the Maine Summers Coobook, by Linda and Martha Greenlaw.

12 ounces elbow macaroni

1 large avocado pitted, peeled, and chopped

1/2 cup assorted Spanish olives pitted and chopped

One 8 ounce jar pimentos, drained and chopped

1/2 cup minced red onion

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute

Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the macaroni according to package directions. Cook until tender, but still firm. Rinse the macaroni under cold water and drain thoroughly. Place in a large bowl and gently mix the avocado, olives, pimentos, and red onion into the macaroni.

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the macaroni mixture and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until mealtime. serve cool or at room temperature.  Serves 8.

I used 2 avocados and added extra onion and olives. You may need to adjust the olive oil and lime juice according to taste.

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Puck Pies: Quickie Dinner After A Long Day

Written by Laura Astorian on .

We've all had those days - never ending days that just drag on, leaving you so tired that the concept of anything more complicated than beer and a frozen pizza makes your head throb. You just want to flop onto the couch and watch a game. I understand. I feel your pain. 

I'm going to mention something to you that will possibly gross you out, but it's actually a super healthy, well balanced dinner that has all sorts of nutrients and helped Alton Brown (of Good Eats fame) drop the ton of weight he put on after eating his way up the Mississippi River. It's an open-faced sandwich. It's got avocado, parsley, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, toasted sourdough bread... it's yummy.

It also has sardines on it. 

I know, I know. "Ew!" you say. "That's the little fish in a tin can with bones and skin and stuff. Disgusting!" How about if I tell you that you can get them sans bones and skin? Heck, even with bones that you can't feel or taste these things are freaking calcium bombs? Keep that gross scene from The Burbs out of your mind, and try this. It's no fishier than tuna out of a can, and the sardines put that jar of fish oil supplements in your medicine cabinet to shame. Toss in avocado, and you have all sorts of heart-healthy fats.


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Puck Pies: Panko Fried Scallops With Spicy Duck Sauce

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Scallops are, it has been said, like the fillet Mignon of the sea. Large, succulent sea scallops, lightly coated with flour, salt, and pepper... pan sauteed in butter... there's little better.

Good quality sea scallops, not previously frozen and pumped full of liquid to fluff them out, are oftentimes priced as high as a good fillet, too. Three or four of them can cost you probably between $20 and $25 a pound, depending on where you purchase them. It's often more economical to buy the little bay scallops, but they're so often ruined by people trying to "dress them up." Cheese, sauces, tossing them in pasta... anything to cover up the fact that sometimes they can be chewy... when overcooked.

That's the danger with bay scallops. They're easy to overcook. Luckily, frying - when done correctly - can prevent this from happening. Sure, you can panko crust and bake these little guys, but that's healthy and not fun. Panko can get smushy in the oven, and scallops hold liquid. 

Panko crusting and frying... that's the ticket. They still hold liquid (and therefore a hell of a lot of heat), but they're crunchy little balls of awesome. With a spicy and sweet duck sauce, they're the perfect snack for a hockey gathering. With some steamed rice and fish sauce and some stir-fried veggies, they're the perfect dinner.

Even better - if you don't like scallops, do it with shrimp! It's just as awesome.

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Puck Pies: Lazy Gourmet Toasted Cheese

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Sometimes, you just want something easy - some sort of comfort food. Usually for me during the hockey season, comfort food consists of the kind that comes out of a tap. During the off-season, however, I usually have a bit more time and free cash to go for something more special. Special and gourmet doesn't have to cost a ton of money, though. A little extra, sure, but it's worth it.

I suggest for your stay at home meals - that Saturday afternoon where you don't really feel like going out and getting lunch, but you'd still like to have something more adult than ramen noodles (not that there's anything wrong with those) - you get better quality ingredients. They're better for you, better tasting, and keep you full for longer, so there's less of a chance of overeating. It's easy to be lazy and grab two pieces of white bread, some butter for the outside, a piece of bologna, and some American cheese. And yeah, a toasted bologna and cheese sandwich isn't bad, especially as a late-night snack. But this isn't a snack. This is lunch or; with the addition of some french fries, a salad, or some veggies, this is dinner. 

Fancy toasted cheese sandwiches are the new gastro-trend now that fancy hamburgers and ritzy hot dogs seem to be played out. It's super easy to mimic these $7 or $8 dollar sandwiches at home for a fraction of the cost.

I suggest going somewhere like Trader Joe's for your ingredients. They're all very high-quality, and they're cheaper than other places like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. A weekend shopping trip there left me with some rosemary ham, herb-crusted goat cheese, and some low-fat Havarti. Toss in a sourdough loaf, and oh look! Sammiches. The cost of all of those items together was around $10, and the total output is probably six toasted cheese sandwiches.

I suggest doing this in a seasoned cast-iron skillet. They get hotter than the non-stick pans, and they form a better crust, too. Prepare the bread in the usual toasted cheese manner. Butter one side of a piece of sourdough, and on the other non-buttered piece, layer a slice of Havarti, some ham (no more than two slices, or else the cheese won't heat all of the way through), spread some goat cheese, and place another sice of Havarti on top. Cap off with buttered bread, buttered side out of course, and lay that side down first in a very hot cast-iron skillet. It should sizzle when you place the bread in. If not, it'll get more soggy than crispy. Butter the top of the sandwich, and press. Flip every minute to minute and a half to get an even toast, and to keep an eye on the crispness of the bread.

Another way you can do this is put it in a panini press or a George Forman grill. If you don't have either of those, and don't mind a little clean-up, you can use two cast iron skillets. Get the bottom of each very, very hot on a burner. Flip one skillet over, place the sandwich on the bottom, and put the other one on top. If the weight of the skillet itself isn't enough to press the sandwich, get a very heavy can of something - or a brick - and place it into the top skillet. Wait about 30 seconds to a minute, and you have an oozy piece of goodness that looks something like this: 


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Puck Pies: Off-Season Drunchies

Written by Laura Astorian on .

Admit it. The off season sucks. Free-agent frenzy's calmed down to less than a trickle, the prospect and development camps are about to end (or in the Blues' case, never happen), and you have over 70 days until the start of the season. Sure, September's right around the corner, when training camp and preseason starts, but the end of July and all of August just suck.

When you get bored, what do you tend to do? Yep. Have a sip or two. It's no hidden fact that hockey fans drink more per capita than fans of any other sport. We drink constantly in the regular season, because two thirds of hockey fans are fans of teams that frustrate the hell out of them. The other third are in denial. This recipe is useful for long summer weekend nights, or long nights during the season, where you probably need to munch on something. I will warn you, though - this involves deep frying, so make sure you're comfortable with that before plunking things into oil. Either a deep fryer or a candy thermometer that you can hook onto the side of a non-stick (NOT ALUMINUM, please) pot or a dutch oven. Also, a splatter screen's always helpful.

This is from an issue of Bon Appetit, but I'm not exactly sure which one.

Ham and Rice Croquettes 

Makes eight croquettes, and these are super good, so they should last all of two minutes once they cool off. 

2 cups cooked white rice, cooled (it's suggested you use the in-the-pouch kind, or minute rice)
3/4 cup finely chopped cooked ham - about 3/4 of a pound
1/3 cup grated parmesean
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 plain dry bread crumbs (seasoned wouldn't be bad either - personal preference)
About 3 cups veggie oil for frying

Stir together rice, ham, cheese, one egg, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Put remaining egg, lightly beaten and bread crumbs in seperate shallow bowls.

Heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches oil to 350°F in a 10-inch skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, dampen your hands and form 1/4 cup amounts of rice mixture into 2 1/2 inch cakes. Lightly coat with egg, then with bread crumbs. Fry croquettes in two batches, turning once or twice, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes each batch.

You can serve these with hot sauce or Tobasco (I dig the chipoltle with these), but honestly eating them plain's addictive enough. 

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