Recipe: Vanilla Kipfel

vanilla kipfel

These Eastern European cookies are buttery and fragrant with vanilla and almonds. They look great on a Christmas cookie tray but are excellent anytime of the year with a cup of tea or coffee.

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

7/8 cup butter

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 egg

3 teaspoons vanilla sugar

1 1/4 cups ground almonds

additional ½ cup confectioners sugar mixed with ¼  cup vanilla sugar for coating finished cookies 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt and the flour. Cut in the butter and mix in with your hands.Add the confectioners’ sugar, the egg, the vanilla sugar, and the ground almonds to the flour mixture. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into several parts. Make rolls that are approximately 1 inch thick. Cut the rolls into 1 inch pieces, and bend the pieces into the shape of a semicircle ( just like a croissant). Place the kipferl on a baking sheet, and leave them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes. When done, remove kipferl carefully. While still warm, roll the kipferl in a mixture of confectioners’ sugar and vanilla sugar.


Oktoberfest in Las Vegas

Sauerbraten, Schweinbraten and beer…not a polka tune but a mantra of the annual German festival called Oktoberfest. A number of German folks call Las Vegas home and planted delis and restaurants to prove it. You can get your yodel on and celebrate the annual beer fest at one of the following German restaurants assured that there will be plenty of beer and wurst. Lederhosen optional.hofbrauhaus

Hofbräuhaus Restaurant and Deli  4510 Paradise Rd will kick off the annual tradition with a ceremonial keg tapping from Siegfried & Roy on September 19 in their beer hall. They feature nightly live German music.

Cafe Heidelberg

Café Heidelberg  German Market and Restaurant  610 E. Sahara 

And if getting your yodel on in the privacy of your own back yard is more your speed you can stock up on German groceries at  the International Marketplace 5000 S. Decatur. They stock a nice selection of German foods if you decide to do-it-yourself 

Recipe: Hungarian Potato Casserole


Called Rakott Krumpli in Hungarian, my cousins & I only ate this when we were little because we liked to say it. Now that I’m a grown-up this is comfort food I crave. Omit the sausage from the recipe to make a classic eastern European side dish to serve with roasted meats. 

6 medium potatoes, boiled and cooled

4 hard boiled egg, sliced

16 ounces sour cream

1 lb cooked smoked sausage, sliced

Salt and pepper 

Grease an 8 inch baking dish or casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Layer the sliced potatoes, eggs and sausage spreading sour cream between the layers seasoning the potato layer with salt & pepper to taste. 

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot & browned on top.

Recipe: Ricotta Cake

ricotta cake

This easy to prepare Italian cake is perfect with sliced fresh fruit or just fine all by itself.

1 1/4 pounds fresh whole-milk ricotta

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon flour

4 tablespoons sugar

4 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind

½ cup apricot preserves

4 tablespoons colored sprinkles

Place ricotta in a sieve and set aside to drain for approximately one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a large bowl, mix together drained ricotta, salt, flour, sugar, egg yolks and orange rind. Beat well for approximately five minutes until mixture is thick.  

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold gently but thoroughly into egg yolk mixture.  

Butter and flour a deep, round, springform cake pan, 8 1/2 to 9 inches in diameter. Pour batter into pan – it should not be more than half full. Place in oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until middle is firm to the touch and cake is lightly golden brown on top.  

Remove from oven and set aside to cool. As the cake cools, it will shrink somewhat. When cool, remove sides of pan and gently transfer cake to a serving dish.

In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the apricot preserves until warm and liquefied.  Push through a sieve to remove large pieces of fruit.  Pour evenly over the top of the warm cake.  Dust with colored sprinkles.

Battista’s Hole In the Wall

Battistas neon

Frank Sinatra ate here. And Dean Martin and all the other paisan did too. Back in the day this must have been home away from home for all the east coast Italians looking for a pile of linguine. Tucked away in a sort of little parking lot across from the Flamingo Battista’s Hole In the Wall has all the charm of an old Italian neighborhood red and white checked tablecloth Italian joint. Very little real estate has been around as long as this place or the old guy that has been playing the accordion there every night for probably 40 years. 

You don’t go to Battista’s for the world class food and wine, you go for the atmosphere. It’s not bad food mind you. It’s the kind of Italian fare you remember from when you were a kid-lasagna, ravioli, eggplant parmesan, linguine with clams, garlic bread-you get the idea. And at less than $25 for complete meals that include a house wine who cares. Gordie the accordion player is a Vegas institution that will take your mind off those uppity celebrity chef joints. He’ll make you smile even if you hate accordion music. We like this place because it’s a great little unpretentious place to just kick back and enjoy the Las Vegas strip without dropping big bucks for dinner. The place is a gem.

Battista’s Hole in the Wall
4041 Audrie St. (behind the Flamingo Hilton)


Recipe: Apricot Dumplings

Apricot Dumplings

Apricot Dumplings

A traditional German fruit dumpling perfect for breakfast or dessert

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup plain cottage cheese, drained and sieved (8 oz.)


2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1 1/2 lb fresh apricots (about a dozen)

12-14 sugar cubes

2 1/2 quarts water

1/3 cup butter 

 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

powdered sugar for garnish

In a large bowl, combine 5 tablespoons melted butter, cottage cheese, pinch of salt, eggs and enough flour to make a soft dough. Shape dough into a roll; cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Wash and dry apricots. Cut in halves; remove and discard pit. Place 1 sugar cube between each pair of apricot halves; set aside.

Bring water to a gentle boil; add 1 teaspoon salt.

On a lightly floured board, press or roll out dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch squares. Place a stuffed apricot (2 halves with a sugar cube in the middle) in center of each square of dough. Press dough around fruit, covering completely. Add to gently boiling water; cook 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels; arrange on a platter.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in a medium skillet. Add breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar; sauté until golden brown. Sprinkle browned breadcrumbs over dumplings. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Ellis Island Casino and Brewery


We’d like this place even if it wasn’t in Las Vegas. It’s not a big shiny Strip casino but it is a casino with plenty of slots & table games and its location just one block off the Strip behind the Hilton on Koval makes it easy to get to whenever the mood strikes for a little gaming and prime rib. Ellis Island is a lot more than just a cool little local’s casino, it’s also a micro-brewery with brews that get high marks with the brew-pub crowd. The biggest draw is the food. The ambitious menu features all the standard Vegas fare including prime rib, steaks, seafood and Italian dishes as well as genuine BBQ. The best part of all is complete dinners, including a pint of their beer or their homebrewed root beer are all less than $12.00. In addition, befitting a Las Vegas casino a large breakfast menu is available 24 hours a day. Located in the shadow of the Strip, Ellis Island is a great place to fill up on Vegas grub without breaking your gambling budget.