Debbie Trenton is a fearless foodie. Her cooking is as multilayered as the strudels she makes for special occasions: flavorful yet nonfussy.
Debbie and her husband of 24 years, Steve, have two college-age children, Andrew and Emily, who are appreciative eaters when they’re home. Debbie’s creativity in the kitchen stems from her food philosophy that there’s still a lot to learn.
Residence: Mission Hills
Occupation: Homemaker and community volunteer
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Special interest: Creative cookery
Is food your creative medium? I love to cook, and I love to eat. The whole process is fun, but I enjoy the end product. I love reading cookbooks for inspiration. Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks are a go-to for me. I also love the “Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. And then there’s the classic “Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer when I just need to get back to basics.
It seems to me that you are forever a student of food. I love reading cookbooks, and I am to the point where I can look at a recipe and tell if it’s going to be good.
I am not afraid to try new recipes, and sometimes they’re winners, sometimes they’re not. But I always learn something. I love recipes that aren’t complicated, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time. Like Ina’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip, the onions take almost an hour to caramelize, but is it worth it in the end!
Do you like to go out to eat and try to re-create recipes at home? I do like to go out to eat, but often it’s just easier to make what we like at home. My cooking is really a combination of using recipes and using my creativity. It’s bittersweet, now that our children are off to college. Now it’s just me left to lick the beaters.
Why did you choose this particular recipe to share? When I was growing up in Omaha, we would go over to my great-aunt Rose’s house for holidays or just to visit. Either she had just made strudel or she was putting another pan in the oven. My favorite was and still is the end pieces. I started making her recipe for strudel years later.
I have always made the strudel with this preserves combination — you can find the pineapple variety at Hen House. People always think that it’s an apple strudel, but it’s so much more flavorful and easy to make it this way! I’ve often thought it would be fun to make a strawberry-rhubarb preserve and to use that as strudel filling. That’s the fun of food: There are so many tasty possibilities.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Just Like Great-Aunt Rose’s Easy Strudel
Makes 4 (10-inch strudels), yielding 40 (1-inch) pieces
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
1 (10-ounce) jar apricot preserves
1 (10-ounce) jar pineapple preserves
1 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
1 cup white raisins, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy using a stand electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add sour cream and salt, and beat until well incorporated. With mixer running on lowest possible setting, add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix until a soft dough is formed.
Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Place each segment onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form each piece of dough into a rectangular shape, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place 4 wrapped rectangles of dough in the refrigerator and leave for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Stir apricot and pineapple preserves together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Take a rectangle of dough out of refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a 12-inch-square piece of waxed paper. Lightly sprinkle dough with flour and place a second 12-inch-square piece of waxed paper on top. Roll dough out between two pieces of waxed paper until pastry is approximately an 8-by-10 rectangle. Remove top layer of waxed paper.
Leaving a 1/4-inch border from the edges, spread 1/4 of preserves mixture over rolled-out dough. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup raisins evenly over spread preserves. Starting with the 10-inch length of dough, carefully roll it by lifting waxed paper to help pastry roll upon itself. Transfer 10-inch roll onto prepared baking sheet seam-side down and crimp to seal all edges of dough.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle 1/4 of cinnamon-sugar mixture over unbaked pastry.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Continue the making-and-baking process until dough and ingredients are used. Allow strudels to cool completely before cutting into 1-inch segments.
Per piece: 153 calories (45 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 23 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.
Source: Cookbook by the National Council of Jewish Women, Omaha, Neb., Chapter, 1973