Cheneys in China

This page has a recipe and also a birthday greeting from Mika and Char and Josh:

August, 2011

Written in one of the China Cheney kitchens, in Char’s and Josh’s kitchen, Beijing, China. Mika is here, and the three doggies, Hermes, Cricket, and Xixi (She-she).

Elyn asked them what their favorite Cheney recipe was so that she could get it on the site. This is what they said:

Our Choice

How is it possible to choose among all the recipes? Together we’ve consumed more than 60 years of the wonderousness of the Cheney kitchen, presided over by Grandpa Dick. Sitting here, in Beijing, on the kitchen floor (as is only fitting for this manifesto), with our heads together, we had a Eureka Moment. (Eureka Moments often begin with lots of hard thought, and end in gales of laughter.)

We couldn’t pick a recipe. Char would suggest one dish, only to be followed by Mika thinking of something that might be just a leetle bit better, which was then inevitably trumped by something else. This went on. And on.

So we sat back, and tried to find the common thread that made them all so outstanding. Was it special sea salt? Perfectly aged ingredients from the refrigerator? The ideal temperature on the well-loved stove? The gorgeous table arrangements? Yes. They all factor in. But they aren’t The Secret Ingredient.

There is a secret ingredient that goes into every dish that comes out of the Cheney kitchen, that graces the table headed by Grandpa Dick. It’s not an ingredient that can be bought at the store. In fact, it’s a mix of several things, and we took it upon ourselves to write the recipe for it

The Secret Ingredient

Bite 1, bite 2.

“Wow, this is something!”

Bite 3.


Bite 4, bite 5.

“Gee, this sure is swell!”

Bite 6.

“My God, Ginny! This is delicious! Mmm!”

Bite 7, bite 8.

“Have you ever tasted anything like this?”

It turns out that the 60 plus years of our culinary education in the Cheney kitchen have taught us that the most important ingredient to any fantastic creation, is having the presence of mind to appreciate it, and share that appreciation with everyone at the table. We are so grateful for this continuing lesson!

Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa Dick!


Mika and Char and Josh

And a recipe from the Cheney kitchen which we have eaten every year since we were babies:

Paula Peck’s Stollen – originally Dad’s recipe but tweaked by Elyn and Mika

Makes 2 big ones.  You have to start the day before you want to eat it.  This takes some effort, but it is so worth it!

Mix these ingredients together and let sit overnight.

1 cup white raisins

¾ cup currants

1 and ¼ cup mixed candied fruits.

Char hates orange and lemon peel, so we use

      ½ citron and  ¾ candied cherries, and it is excellent.

¼ cup cognac.  Elyn likes Cognac.  Mika likes brandy.  Brandy is fine too as long as you have some decent brandy.  The cheap Chinese stuff doesn’t quite do it.


½ cup blanched almonds which are kneaded into the dough with the fruits at the end.

They taste better if you heat them in the oven and toast them very lightly before using them.


Set out to soften

1 and ½ cups (yes, 3 sticks) butter


Make dough:

4 packs yeast

½ cup sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup cold milk

1 cup sour cream

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

3 egg yolks

5-6 cups of flour (dough will be soft and fairly sticky)

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Dough TRICK:  The original recipe said you should make the dough, and then add in the butter at the end.

Over the years we have settled on adding 3 of the cups of flour to the wet ingredients of the dough,

and then adding half the butter, and then add the rest of the flour, and then the rest of the butter.

Otherwise the dough gets too dry and hard to add the butter at all.  At the end I add the fruits, and the almonds.  Don’t knead them for too long or the fruits will get all squished up in the dough and have no character.

Rise until not yet doubled in bulk.  Refrigerate four hours before using.   I like to make the dough the day before, and then baking it the next day.

When you want to bake it:      Cut dough in half.   Roll into an oval about 1/3 inch thick, and fold over not quite in half.

Allow to rise again, at least an hour.  Brush with butter.

Bake at 350 for one hour or more, then brush with butter again when still warm, and again after it is cool.

Dust with vanilla sugar.  You can also add a log of marzipan flattened to the middle and gild the lily.

Our European friends in Shanghai like it this way!