by: Barb Randall, Alice Richmond's Armenian Baklava took first price in the Review and Tidings' annual Holiday Best Kept Secret Recipe Contest.

Oooh!!! Aah!!! And Ho Ho Ho!'

Those were the sounds heard in the newsroom of the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings last Thursday when our judges eyed the entries in this year's Best Kept Holiday Secret Recipe contest. We had ethnic desserts, child-pleasing cookies, and fragrant and festively decorated savory treats.

The news staff took their judging responsibility very seriously. They systematically tasted every entry, considering the eye appeal, aroma, texture and, of course, taste. The oohs and aahs turned to moans of satisfaction as they diligently sampled yet another bite.

After much deliberation they were able to come to a consensus of the top placeholders, though they consider all the entries winners.

In today's colum, we share a number of the recipes our readers submitted.

Thanks to all for taking time to enter this festive contest - we appreciate your participation!

Bon Appetite and Happy Holidays!

First place in the Hors d'oeuvres Category went to Sarah Duwelius for her spicy shrimp recipe.

Annie's Spicy Shrimp

Since you won with this recipe, we think it's OK for you to rename them 'Sarah's Spicy Shrimp!'

¾ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp, tails left on

2 teaspoons crushed basil

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and salt and heat until sizzling. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink. Add the basil and crushed red pepper flakes.

Serve with sliced French bread to get all the drippings.

Submitted by Sarah Duwelius, Lake Oswego

Second place in the Hors d'oeuvres Category went to Ken Hessian for his Santa's Veggie Torte. Ken took first prize in the Holiday Presentation category with his artful decoration (see photo). Review Editor Martin Forbes said, 'I thought it was a dessert!'

Santa's Veggie Torte

1 ½ pound carrots

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

1 10-count package 8' multigrain flour tortillas

1 cup low fat sour cream

4 ounces light mayonnaise

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese

1 tablespoon horseradish

Finely grate carrots. Set aside.

Defrost spinach, squeeze and drain all liquid. Set aside.

Mix in a bowl sour cream, mayonnaise, seasonings and horseradish.

Put half of sour cream mixture in with carrots and stir and blend. Put half of sour cream mixture in with spinach and stir and blend.

Soften cream cheese.

Place a tortilla on plate, cover with thin layer of carrot mixture, place another tortilla on top and cover with a thin layer of spinach mixture. Alternate nine layers and finish with carrot mixture and a final tortilla on top.

Coat the stack with cream cheese as for a cake. Decorate in a manner of your liking.

Enjoy each slice.

Ken Hessian

Lake Oswego

And in the Dessert Category, what can I say? 'It puts me in the Christmas Spirit! All these delicious desserts!' said Sustainability reporter Cliff Newell. All we lacked was a big mug of steaming coffee.

First place went to Alice Richmond for her Armenian Baklava, which she says was first created by Armenians.

Armenian Baklava

1 box (pound) philo dough

3 sticks unsalted butter, clarified

1 generous cup walnuts

Dash of cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups light corn syrup

1 ½ cups water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Butter each layer of the philo with warm clarified butter. Stack up ½ sheets, using the whole box, into two stacks

Finely chop walnuts and mix with cinnamon, sugar, syrup, water and lemon juice. Spread the walnut mixture over the first layered stack, continue with the rest. Cut into diamonds before baking.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat 325° F and bake 30 minutes until golden.

Alice Richmond

West Linn

And second place went to Bonny Carlson for her decadent Peanut Butter Pie - absolutely beautiful! Who could resist? Nobody!

Peanut Butter Pie


¾ cup unsalted peanuts, skinned and finely chopped

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Filling:

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 egg at room temperature

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Peanut Butter Filling:

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

½ cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

Ganache Topping:

1 pound semi-sweet chocolate (2 ½ cups)

1 1/3 cups whipping cream

To prepare crust, combine peanuts, cracker crumbs and brown sugar, adding melted butter to bind ingredients together. Press into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Chill.

To prepare chocolate filling, cream the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg slowly. Add melted chocolate and vanilla. Continue mixing until fluffy. Spread mixture over chilled crust. Chill.

To prepare peanut butter filling, cream the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whip the cream and vanilla until stiff. Fold into the peanut butter mixture and spread this mixture over the chocolate layer. Chill.

For the ganache, place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Bring cream almost to a boil and then pour over the chocolate. Let stand two or three minutes and then stir by hand until smooth. Pour warm ganache over the well-chilled pie. Sprinkle with a few chopped peanuts; chill for at least two hours and remove from pan.

Bonny Carlson

Lake Oswego

Two desserts tied for third place, Homemade Oreos and Pearfully Decadent Cake.

Homemade Oreos

2 chocolate cake mixes

4 eggs

1 ½ cups shortening

Mix cake mix, eggs and shortening. Mixture will be stiff. Roll into ½ inch balls and slightly flatten on pan. Bake 9 minutes at 350° F.

1 pound powdered sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter

8 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix filling with a blender to a frosting consistency. Put filling between two cookies. Enjoy!

Lora Froust

West Linn

Pearfully Decadent Cake

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup hot coffee

½ cup hot water

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

8 ounces marscapone cheese

½ cup chopped walnuts


½ cup water

5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

7 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

5 ounces high quality milk chocolate

2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

2 ½ cups whole milk

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup mini marshmallows

3 Anjou pears, poached

Cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray two 10 inch springform pans with 2 ½ inch sides with nonstick spray. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee and hot water over; whisk until smooth. Using electric mixer, beat oil and both sugars in large bowl for one minute (mixture will be crumbly). Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in sour cream. Mix in half of dry ingredients. Beat in chocolate mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pans on rack.

Pears: Peel pears, cut in half and core. Cover with water and simmer pears with one or two teaspoons of sugar for about 35 minutes.

Topping: Place ½ cup water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over; let soften 10 minutes. Place both chocolates in large metal bowl. Combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla extract in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture; whisk to dissolve. Pour cream mixture over chocolates in bowl; whisk until completely melted.

Place bowl over larger bowl of ice water. Stir often until mixture thickens like pudding, draining off water and adding more ice to larger bowl as needed, about 30 minutes. Remove from water.

Spread marscapone cheese over one of the cakes. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

Pour half of the sauce over marscapone and walnuts (mixture may drip down sides of cake). Freeze 45 minutes. Keep remaining sauce at room temperature.

Remove pan sides from second cake. Using a large metal spatula, carefully slide cake off of pan bottom and place atop of the other cake pan. Pour remaining sauce over, filling pan completely.

Chill overnight.

Patti Galle

West Linn

Danish Puff

2 cup flour, divided

2 sticks butter, divided

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

3 eggs


2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon almond flavoring


For the dough, sift 1 cup of flour and cut one stick of butter into it. Add the water. Roll into a ball and dividing in half. Pat dough into two long strips (12 x 3 inches). Place on one greased cookie sheet a few inches apart.

Bring one stick of butter to a boil. Add almond flavoring and remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup flour all at once. Add three eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth.

Divide in half and spread onto first mixture (dought). Bake at 350° F for 60 minutes.

Make glaze with mixing melted butter, powdered sugar, almond flavoring and milk, a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.

While still warm, frost with glaze and sprinkle with colored sugars and sliced almonds.

Sarah Duweilus

Lake Oswego

Banana Fudgies

A great use for overripe bananas!

1 box chocolate cake mix

½ cup sugar

2 bananas

2 eggs

1 cube butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix and sugar.

In a blender combine bananas, eggs and butter. Pour the banana mixture into the cake mix and mix well.

Spray a 9x13' pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Serving idea: Cut into 4' squares and top with vanilla ice cream.

Ruth Froust

West Linn

Baba au Rum

Baba au Rum is a French holiday tradition. Most often it is made into a log effect or a crown, per Alice Richmond.

For short cut use:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package vanilla pudding

4 large eggs

½ cup cold water

½ cup rum (I use all rum, forget the water!)

½ cup real vegetable oil

Rum glaze:

1 stick butter

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup rum

Chocolate topping for effect (optional) use 4 ounces semi-bitter chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon butter

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and pour batter into pan. Bake at 350° F for about 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted into cake comes out clean.

Mix glaze ingredients; it will be thin.

When cake is done cool on rack in pan for 5 minutes before turning out of pan. Cool completely before glazing and drizzle with chocolate topping.

Alice Richmond

West Linn

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at [email protected] .

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