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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ciao..Chef Tell & Kugelhopf !

Today, I want to post a tribute to a truly talented chef- one of the first 'chef entertainers' as the newswire has called him.

His passing took us all by surprise. But I was fortunate enough to have interviewed him for a magazine column a few years ago. When contacted for an interview I was quickly invited for dessert and coffee and what a wonderful chocolate pastry it was-reminiscent of desserts I have had at Austrian coffee bars

We had a wonderful conversation of his life in Europe and his favorite places in Italy, his past restaurants, recipes for some of my favorite German desserts and life in general.

he took me through the restaurant kitchen and what a European inspired kitchen it was- reminded me of the kitchens in some of the top hotel restaurants in Europe. He couldn't believe that I knew what Kugelhopf is ( a dessert bread that Marie Antoinette took with her from Austria to France). It is popular in Europe especially during the Holidays-he shared his favorite Kugelhopf recipe with me. And I couldn't believe that he was so familiar with certain parts of Italy-like Lake Garda-where he told me he vacationed a lot with his family!

He was certainly bigger than life-his personality, his pursuits-he owned many well known restaurants and undertook them all with the same passion. he truly had a zest for life and food.

My interview with him began with conversation and note taking for the article but then went on and on. he had such an interesting sense of humor and such a colorful take on life. It was one of the longest interviews I spent interviewing a chef, but seemed like the shortest since it was so interesting. But I remember very vividly how when the interview ended I had told him that I was writing my first book- a recipe novel about Italian Food. This was a subject he told me he was very fond of. I asked if I could send him a copy before it was published for his opinion and suggestions. And he encouraged me nad wished me luck and told me to send a opy to the restaurant. Ciao- he said--it is usually the word of choice for many Europeans to say Goodbye!

And he kept to his word. After sending him my book , I got a phone call early one morning-about 8 PM- in that distinct German accent- "Is Maria there, this is Chef Tell?" how could it have been anyone else- with that distinctive accent.

And he spent a few minutes discussing things he liked about my book but also asked if he could write something for me to include with the book-how could I say no.

After emailing back and forth -he sent me what he wanted to appear in the book-

"a memory about Italian food that makes a perfect gift, But the recipes are so delicious , you'll want to try it first yourself!!"


small cube of fresh yeast ( if you can't find fresh used 1 package of dry)
cup granulated sugar
cup warm water
cups all-purpose flour
cup softened unsalted butter
tablespoon salt
cup light raisins

cup sliced almonds
Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in the warm water and let it proof.
Sift the flour, putting 2 cups in each of two bowls.
Set one bowl aside.
Work together 2 cups of flour and the soft butter (this may be done in the electric mixer).
Mix in the salt and the eggs, one at a time, beating until very thoroughly incorporated.
In alternate batches, add the remaining 2 cups flour and the yeast mixture.
Mix in the electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended and elastic, then stir in the raisins.
Put in a large, lightly floured bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down.
Heavily butter a standard 10-inch Kugelhopf mold or a 10-inch tube pan and sprinkle half the sliced almonds around the bottom of the mold (the butter will make them adhere).
Pour or spoon half the dough into the mold, sprinkle in the rest of the almonds, and add the remaining dough.
Let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated oven at 475 degrees F.
for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until nicely browned, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 3 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.

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