Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spinach-artichoke dip

My husband tried something similar at a holiday party, and ever since then I've been looking for a recipe for spinach artichoke dip. This is a great one.

2 tbsp butter
4 scallions
3 large cloves of garlic
10 oz frozen chopped spinach
14 oz can of artichoke hearts
8 oz cream cheese
0.5 tsp Sriracha spicy sauce
0.125 tsp nutmeg
4 oz grated cheddar
3 oz freshly grated Parmesan
4 oz mozzarella
black pepper and salt to taste

Clean the scallions and cut the white and light green parts into thin circles.

Thaw and squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach. Drain the artichokes and chop them coarsely.

Finely mince the garlic. Allow the cream cheese to equilibrate to room temperature.

In a skillet saute the scallions. Add the garlic and immediately turn off the heat when the scallions are softened.

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients, except the mozzarella.

Distribute into two glass loaf pans, or for a thicker layer bake in one 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Spread the mozzarella on top.

Bake in a 400F preheated oven for about 25 minutes, then broil the top if it's not yet brown enough. Serve with pita chips. Yumm!

Dill-sour cream rolls

I needed to test this new bottle of dill I got. These rolls turned out very moist and tasty.

0.75 cup sour cream
0.5 cup warm water
2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp dill
3-3.5 cups flour

Bloom the yeast with the sugar and water until frothy. Add the flour, room temperature sour cream, salt and dill. Mix until it comes together, knead adding more flour if necessary. A soft but not overly sticky elastic dough should yield.

Coat with a little bit of vegetable oil and cover. Allow to double in a warm place, about 1 hour.

Form rolls, cover and allow to double again. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool on a cookie rack, covered with a clean kitchen cloth. Serve or freeze up to a month.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Squash pancakes

Inspired by chef John's pumpkin pancakes, this delicious breakfast was a great holiday treat. For two people, a can of squash puree provides two hearty breakfasts, and the opened can may be stored in the fridge in between.

1 cup flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt

0.5 cup squash puree
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp ground ginger
0.25 tsp ground cloves
0.125 tsp nutmeg
1 small egg
0.75 cup milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients.

Combine just until all dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Scoop 0.25 cupfuls into a lightly oiled skillet preheated over medium heat. These need to cook relatively slowly, if you want the inside to be properly done.

Bake one side until bubbles appear on the center of the pancake as well. Then flip and cook until golden brown on that side as well.

Serve with butter and Vermont maple syrup!

Sausage and cheese crescent rolls

A quick and easy appetizer. I have to say, I'm not generally a fan of crescent rolls, they have this super strong sweet and overly salty taste at the same time. But it's perfect for some things, and the mild issue with flavor can be occasionally overcome by the great reduction in effort to make a dish like this.

4 oz cooked sausage
4 oz mozzarella
1 crescent roll package

Cut the cheese in eight, 2-inch-long pieces. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Take your favorite sausage, and cut about 2 inch long pieces out of it. Quarter or half each piece depending on the size of the sausage.

Preheat the oven oven to 350F and unroll the crescent rolls.

To the wide part add the sausage and cheese, roll up and place onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. The cheese should not run out too much if you do the freezer step. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baguette with fried eggs

A healthy dose of protein with some crunchy peppers, toasty baguette pieces and hot sauce.

2 eggs
1/4 baguette
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 cubanelle pepper
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

Cut the baguette piece in half and toast in a bagel toaster.

Heat a skillet to medium hot, add the oil, then crack the eggs directly into it. Salt.

Turn when egg white is no longer translucent, taking care not to break the yolk.

Place eggs onto toasted baguette pieces, add freshly sliced peppers and hot sauce. Break the yolks and allow them to seep into the bread. Serve!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Macedonian Shopska salata

A delicious salad that resembles the US Greek salad the most. Recently I altered this recipe, and I believe it was an improvement. These days I chop the onion and peppers and toss them with some olive oil, salt and white vinegar. Allowing them to sit like this extracts the favors and they become the 'dressing' for the tomatoes later. Pour this mix in the bottom of a bowl and cut the tomatoes on top. Do not salt them, as that would draw out the juices and soak the entire salad. Grate the Feta on top and decorate. Delicious!

4 scallions
3 ripe tomatoes
1 greenhouse cucumber
2 Cubanelle peppers
10-15 Kalamata olives
250g feta cheese
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Clean all the vegetables and peel the cucumber. Cut the scallions into thin circles.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut into semi-circles about 0.25 inch thick.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then quarter each of those pieces.

Cut the peppers into circles, or short strips.

Dice half of the Feta cheese and mix the veggies with it.

Sprinkle with salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (1-3 tbsp, to taste). Mix again.

Top with the other half of the Feta cheese grated through the small holes of the grater. Arrange the olives on top. Serve.

If using onions instead of scallions, mix the chopped peppers, cucumbers and onions with a little bit of olive oil, vinegar and salt. Allow to sit. Then slice the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with Feta and olives.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spicy veggie-scallop soup

This was inspired by my friend Jing. She whips up these amazing soups in a super-short time. So I gave it a go as well.

8 oz frozen bay scallops
2 anchovies
14.5 oz can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
10 oz mushrooms
8 oz broccoli florets
0.25 tsp cayenne
0.25 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp butter
0.25 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth

Toss the scallops with the flour and a little bit of salt. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and brown the scallops lightly. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cook the mushrooms in the remaining butter, then add in the finely minced garlic and cook for about 30 more seconds, until fragrant.

Add in the tomatoes, broth, broccoli florets, chopped anchovies and spices, cook until broccoli is softened somewhat. Add back the scallops and cook for a few more minutes. Do not overcook, or scallops will become chewy.

Serve with your favorite butter crackers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sesame-ginger salad dressing

This is just a result of attempting the production of a home-made Old Cape Cod salad dressing. Currently my favorite flavor on salads.

2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2.5 tbsp rice vinegar
0.25cup soy sauce
1 green onion
1 tbsp honey
0.5 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp water

Mince or grate the garlic. Finely hop the green onion.

Dissolve the honey and brown sugar in water.

Toast the sesame seeds in a hot pan until golden. Cool a bit and add the olive oil and the garlic. Do not heat, just stir and allow to cool completely.

Combine all the ingredients and shake well. Serve or store in fridge up to a few days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baguette III.

Another version of baguette, for which I've tried other recipes in the past, this one uses a no-knead formula. This turned out very tasty, with a wonderful crumb structure and a great crust. But the shape left something to be desired. So...I'm waiting for my Xmas present.

1 cup water
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
0.25 tsp yeast
1.5 tbsp olive oil

The night before you plan to devour the bread, mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then mix in the water and olive oil until all parts of the flour mix is moistened.

Cover with foil tightly and allow to sit for 18 hours.

Prepare a well-floured surface and pour the dough onto it. Deflate and shape into a baguette form. Place onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.

Allow to rise another 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475F. Spray the bread with water, score it and bake until golden brown.

Cool on a cookie rack covered with a clean kitchen towel. Slice and enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quick veggie burritos

I love Mexican food. This likely doesn't resemble anything actually made in Mexico...oh well.

4 flour tortillas
1 can of pinto beans
4 tbsp hot salsa
4 tbsp sour cream
1 bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
4 oz shredded cheddar
0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
0.25 tsp paprika
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Rinse the beans, mash them and microwave them, or heat them in a skillet.

To a hot skillet add the oil, sliced pepper, sliced onions and the spices. Brown lightly. Set aside.

Heat the tortillas one-by-one in the skillet, with the beans, salsa and veggies inside. Right before removing add the cheese and sour cream. Fold. Serve. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mashed sweet potatoes

Back home we used to eat these baked, sweet pumpkins. No yams and sweet potatoes were available though. In the US, I haven't had similarly tasty pumpkins, but baked sweet potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and mashed sweet potatoes, not to mention, sweet potato fries substitute quite well.

5 sweet potatoes
1 orange
1 lemon
2 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp butter

Scrub potatoes, pat dry and brush with vegetable oil. Poke each with a knife.

Bake in a 450F preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Peel and add to a pot.

Grate 1 tsp lemon zest and 1 teaspoon orange zest, then collect the juices. Add the zests to the potatoes. You will use enough of the juice to get the potatoes to the desired consistency.

Add the black pepper, butter, a little bit of salt and the brown sugar, homogenize.

The addition of the citrus fruits gives the potatoes a fresher, lighter flavor. I loved it.

Friday, December 10, 2010


It took me coming to the US, to truly learn the value of ketchup. Meatloaf is one of those dishes that's really improved by its addition.

1 pound ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
0.5 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp ketchup
2 cloves of garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
0.25 cup ketchup
0.5 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix the ground meat with the eggs, broth, breadcrumbs, spices and the onion and garlic grated or very finely mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Spray a glass loaf pan with cooking oil. Form the meat mixture into a log. Place into loaf pan and spread top with a mixture of the last four ingredients (ketchup, sugar, salt, oil).

Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


To celebrate my 200th recipe here, I chose to share pictures of one of the most often prepared dishes in our household: pizza.

1 portion pizza crust III
1 scallion
basil pesto
1 large tomato
5 oz mozzarella
pepper flakes
black olives
olive oil

Press the pizza dough into a disc and move onto a round, 12 inch pizza pan dusted with cornmeal. Spread with basil pesto, sprinkle with pepper flakes and oregano, then layer on the cheese.

Distribute the scallions, pepperoni, black olives and tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Bake in a 450F preheated oven, for five minutes on the bottom shelf, then finish on the middle shelf. Serve!

Beef and asparagus stir-fry

This tasted a little strange, in particular the asparagus in the stir-fry took some getting used to. But after the first few bites, the meal was rather addictive.

1 lb beef flank steak
1 lb asparagus
1 can water chestnuts
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
0.5 tsp black pepper
0.5 tsp ground ginger
5 scallions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp corn starch

Bake the asparagus at 400F for 8 minutes.

Cut the beef into long, thin strips. Marinade with the cooking wine, sesame oil, black pepper, ginger, 0.5 tsp soy sauce and the corn starch.

Clean the scallions and cut into small circles. Heat the pan on medium high, then add the vegetable oil, when the pan is getting hot. Add the scallions and saute for a short while.

Increase the temperature to high and add the beef. Brown thoroughly.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tbsp water. Mix in the baked asparagus and the water chestnuts. Cook together for a few minutes. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Liver pate

While liver pate is a ubiquitous spread in Eastern Europe, it's rather hard to come by in the US. The Liverwurst sold at often exorbitant prices in select supermarkets is not comparable. First of all, it's often sweetened. Secondly, there is no need to add truffle oil to liver pate to make it wonderful. For any Eastern European it's a comfort food, not a fancy dish.

12 chicken livers
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp marjoram
0.5 tsp black pepper

Wash the livers and cut off any green bits (those got bile on them while being dissected...that part will taste bitter).

Cook the livers in vegetable oil, without salting. Be careful not to break them into pieces.

Remove livers from the oil and cool. Add to a food processor with the softened butter, cream and spices. Blend until smooth.

Serve on crostini made from nice, crusty bread. Add some scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes...and my personal favorite, a little spicy sauce. Either the Hungarian Piros Arany, or the Sriracha brand.

Store in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hungarian jam pastry

Let me correct myself: it's not really jam. Apricot lekvar receives a separate entry in Julia Child's bread book, and there is a good reason for that. It's not a jam. The preparation process is significantly different, with fruit and sugar slowly cooked to a thick spread. No gelatin is added to fix the fruit juices. No. The water evaporates and the juices thicken and concentrate their flavor.

It's delicious stuff, and particularly handy when you are trying to make a yeast-based dough filled with a fruit spread. Jam would soak your bread. Lekvar does become a little more liquidy, but no soaking happens.

Baked pastry filled with any kind of fruit lekvar is the stuff of dreams. Give it a try sometime. BTW, in Hungary this would be called lekvaros bukta.

1 portion of this dough
a jar of apricot lekvar
1 egg

When the dough has doubled in size, press into a square and roll out to a rectangle until the dough is only 0.5 inch thick.

Cut into squares and ladle large heaps of the lekvar in the middle. Seal and place into a greased baking shape next to each other.

Brush with egg wash and allow to double in size again. Bake at 350F, until golden brown.

Serve fresh, or freeze and microwave before serving. It's even better that way :-)