May 11, 2010

Swedish Coffee Crescents: Gifflar! And a rant about race

Sometimes I think the worst part about most surveys, employment forms, ballots, and similar documents is that they have the optional (or not so optional) "race/ethnicity" section.  The typical choices are often limiting, and I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.  Asian?  What kind of Asian?  Caucasian?  Black?  There are hundreds of flavors in any one of these categories--so what do you glean from pegging someone in one of these general categories?  And more and more, why is this question still "check one?"  Why is it a radio button instead of a "check all that apply?"  I love it when surveys and forms have this option, because like millions of other humans, I don't have a single ethnic or racial heritage.

What do you do when it's "select one?"  I think lots of people who are mixed race pick the one that isn't white.  I do, sometimes.  I think I do because I'm afraid that by not saying that I'm part Asian, somehow that "minority" part of me will be underrepresented on surveys.  But why don't I put white?  Is it because caucasians tend to be overrepresented in surveys, forms, opportunities, etc?  By checking the Asian box, aren't I buying into the archaic "one drop" rule?  I don't know.  But once in a while, I get a pang of guilt for saying simply, "Yes," when someone asks if I'm Asian.  Which is a silly question to ask someone, anyway.  What does knowing the race of a person tell you?  Not a lot!

Recently my great great aunt, a tall, fabulous Swede, passed away.  My Caucasian side is all about the Swedish recipes, especially cookies.  So here's to you, Aunt June.

Swedish cooking is all about buttttttahhhhh.  The veganized version is all about the maaaargarine, but they still taste fucking delicious and don't let anyone tell you that if it ain't buttah it aint worth it.  Filled with nuts, or with cream cheese and fruit, these are wonderful with coffee and tea.  We bake up batches of these with apple or nut filling for Christmas...but I doubt they'd let me "bastardize" them and bring vegan versions.  So I just enjoy these at home!

Swedish Filled Coffee Crescents (Gifflar)

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup non hydrogenated margarine (or vegetable shortening...nom)
1/4 c water + 1.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer OR 1/4 c water + 1 T ground flax seed (equivalent of one egg)

Traditional Filling:
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cream Cheese and Fruit Filling
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup vegan cream cheese
1/4 jam of your choice

oil/melted margarine
Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Sift flour into bowl, add sugar; cut in butter or margarine with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in egg and dissolved yeast. Work dough with floured hands until smooth. Cover; let rise 1 hour in room temperature. In the meantime make the filling; cream butter or margarine with sugar and add chopped nuts, or mix sugar and cream cheese. 

Divide dough into four parts. Roll each part into a circle about 11 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick, cut each circle into 8 wedge shapes. At the wide end put a teaspoon of filling. Roll each wedge shape up by beginning at the wide end, stretching the wide end a bit as you roll it. Place crescents on buttered/margarined cookie sheets. Brush crescents with Garnish . Let crescents rise for another hour at room temperature. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden yellow brown. Makes 32 crescents.

These flakey, tender rolls are so, so good.  Just wait until it's peach season... oh man.  Peach walnut crescents? Hell yeah.

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