Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cajun chicken salad

It's not the sweet kind, as I prefer the spicy.

two chicken breast halves
black pepper
cajun pepper
one red bell pepper diced
half a yellow onion diced
1 tsp mustard
0.5 tbsp lemon juice

I know many chicken salads call for simple cooked chicken. I much prefer to roast the chicken meat for this. So, take the washed chicken breast halves, salt them and allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan with oil. Take the chicken breasts and lightly dust them with black pepper and cajun pepper. Place into the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Cut a small slit to allow water to evaporate.

Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20, spooning the liquids on the chicken every 5 minutes. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Dice the chicken and add the mustard and lemon juice. Mix in mayo to taste (I like mine on the barely sticky end). Add in the diced onions and bell pepper. Taste and add more spices as necessary. Cover and store in the fridge for at least an hour before serving (I like the flavors blended).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Focaccia revisited

This recipe is still perfect. Or even better.
Preferment, rise three times twenty minutes, then allow to rise again in the baking shapes until very puffy.

Top with some herbs and use for sandwiches, like my personal favorite: mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar to dip in.

Hungarian no-bake cookie

Simple and tasty, chewy and soft. I know I shouldn't tell you this, but when I was little I used to call these cat poop cookies.

250g icing sugar
250g plain/vanilla cookies
100g butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Place the cookies in a plastic bag and crush them into irregular bits with a rolling pin (I didn't have mine, so I used a glass).

In a pot stir the sugar, eggs, melted butter and cocoa powder until smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

Mix in the broken up cookies.

Lightly dust a cookie sheet with sugar and using a tablespoon build little mounds of the well-blended mix on it.

Allow to sit at room temperature for 12 hours. It stays perfect for consumption for a few days, kept at room temperature.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hot chocolate truffle rocks

This was my Valentine's day project for my husband. We don't really celebrate the holiday, but we do celebrate every weekend. This particular weekend happened after not having seen each other for two weeks, due to some work-related scheduling.

I might have mentioned already, that I don't like chocolate. My husband likes it for me too. So I set to work on Chef John's hot chocolate rocks recipe. I wish I could say I turned out delicious. I was tempted enough to try it, and after forcing myself to swallow it, I sadly concluded that I still do not like chocolate.

It did get a better rating from Petar. He said that the chocolates tasted like the inside of my molten chocolate lava cake, which may be his favorite dessert. So, for all of you chocolate lovers...

0.5 pound dark chocolate
0.5 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
cocoa powder

Chop your chocolate in small bits. Place into a bowl. Add the salt and cayenne.

Heat the heavy cream in a pan on medium-high until it's boiling. Pour onto the chocolate bits.

Allow to sit for three minutes undisturbed.

Then slowly begin stirring with a spatula, until it becomes smooth and glossy.

Scoop onto an approximately 9x11 inch plastic foil, to form a log. Cover with the loose end of the foil and form into a longish shape. Allow to cool in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, dice into irregular 'rock' shapes. Toss them in cocoa powder.

At this point, you can store them at room temperature. Tasty! (If you like chocolate...)

Beer battered fish

My mum usually breaded fish using the usual flour, eggs, home-made breadcrumbs coating. It's a delicious way to fry fish. But this particular recipe is to pay homage to a college favorite of ours. My husband has been craving this dish for a while before we decided to make it.

Why the delay? Well, I have to admit I'm not big on deep frying. Don't misunderstand me, it's not due to some health-related concern. I love fried food. It's actually all about my fear of smoke detectors. We don't have them in Hungary. Most houses don't. So I never got used to hearing them, and my goal is to never set one off. A note to myself: use a deep dish next time!

8 cod fillets (~2 pounds total)
1 cup flour
1 beaten egg
1 bottle of beer
black pepper, paprika and salt to taste
oil for frying

Heat the oil (in a deep dish) to 190C. Season the fish pieces with salt and black pepper.

Mix the dry ingredients for the batter, then gradually add in the egg and finally the beer. The resulting batter has very low viscosity!

Dip the fish pieces to coat with flour, then quickly coat them in the batter and move them to the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. When done, remove them onto paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve with fries, beer and hot sauce (if I'm among your guests)!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cow bar

These pictures are old and not very good, but the cake is nevertheless tasty!
You will again need to acquire the Hungarian 'turo' or Polish 'twarog' version of cottage cheese...or sacrifice your room mate's pillowcase (this was my math professor's suggestion in high school, when I looked to him for a solution to the soggy cottage cheese draining problem), of course, some of you may own a very high-tech cheese cloth for just this purpose.

10 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp vegetable oil
13 tbsp milk
13 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs
1/2 tbsp baking powder

1 pound drained cottage cheese
4 tbsp semolina/farina flour
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract+1 tbsp sugar)

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Grease and flour a 9x11 inch baking shape.

Mix the cottage cheese with the egg, semolina, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

Separate the eggs. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Blend in the oil, milk and finally the flour pre-sifted with the baking and the cocoa powders.

Whip up the egg whites until it forms hard peaks. Fold into the rest of the batter.

Pour the batter into the baking shape and drop little spoonfuls of the cottage cheese mix all over on top. They will sink in to variable depths as you bake the cake.

Bake until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 2 minutes in baking shape, then flip it out onto a cake board. This is the test of your baking shape greasing and flouring skills.

The cake should come out beautifully in one piece. Use another board to flip the cake right side up. It looks just like a cow, right? A strange, rectangular, genetically-modified one.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cauliflower bake

One way my husband is willing to eat cauliflower.

1.5 cups rice, cooked with two garlic cloves
1 cauliflower head
1 pound ground meat
one onion
one garlic clove
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

Clean and mince the onion and garlic. Saute the onion in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic for 30 seconds and add the ground meat. Spice with paprika, black pepper and salt. Cook until the meat is cooked through and browned, then add 1 tbsp flour and stir. Pour in the cold water and mix immediately. Bring to a boil again and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Clean the cauliflower and place into boiling, salty water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and drain. When cooled, pull apart into little florets.

Into a lightly buttered 9x11 inch pan spread out the garlic-flavored rice.

Top it with the cauliflower florets.

Spread the meat and sauce on top. Then pour in the lightly beaten eggs mixed with the milk.

Mix the sour cream until smooth and spread on top of the meat. Distribute the grated cheddar on it.

Bake covered at 350F for 30 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the top is browned.

Many variations on this dish exist, so feel free to spice it up!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Turogomboc (Hungarian cottage cheese dessert)

I'm posting two recipes in one day, just in case people don't like liver. The dessert in question is hard to prepare anywhere outside Eastern Europe, because finding the appropriate cottage cheese can be rather challenging. And no, this will not work with American cottage cheese. Ricotta may work better, if you don't have anything else available.

The Hungarian cottage cheese is essentially the equivalent of the American one, except the liquid gets filtered off and the solid parts get compressed into a drier, more uniform mass. I successfully made this in Norway, having used some creative measures to filter off the liquid from the Norwegian cottage cheese. It was delicious, and my room mates from all over the world all loved it.

The recipe is delivered to you thanks to the Polish community of Philly, who supply the local supermarkets with proper 'twarog', or 'turo' in Hungarian.

500g (1 pound) turo twarog, well-drained cottage cheese
250mL semolina/farina
2 tbsp flour
100g melted butter
5 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs

Homogenize the cottage cheese, if possible press it through a potato press (used for mashing cooked potatoes for potato doughs in Hungary). In a bowl mix the cheese with the semolina and the flour. Add in half of the melted butter and the salt, mix well.

Separate the eggs and mix in the yolk with the cottage cheese mix. Keep the egg whites covered in the fridge. Cover the cottage cheese mix as well, and move it to the fridge for 6 hours.

6 hours later put a large pot of water to boil. When ready, whip up the egg whites till it has hard peaks, and fold it into the cottage cheese mix. Shape the mix into 1.5 inch balls and lower into simmering water. Boil a few more minutes once the balls rise to the surface.

Meanwhile toast the breadcrumbs until they reach a golden color. You may want to add some sugar to it, and melt it into the breadcrumbs. As the balls are cooked, you are going to remove them into the breadcrumbs to coat them with it.

Serve with sour cream and icing sugar. I usually prepare a sauce using sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla sugar.

An excellent, healthy dessert after a hearty soup.

Resztelt maj (a liver dish from Hungary)

Liver is not very popular in the US, except with anemic people who have it prescribed as medication. In fact, when I bought the ingredients for this, the cashier lady started chatting with me once she saw I was buying liver. She admitted that although liver is unpopular with her family, she got absolutely addicted to it after her doctor recommended she ate some.

1 pound beef liver
1 cup milk
3 yellow onions
black pepper
salt to taste

Soak the liver in the milk for one hour, keeping it covered in the fridge.

After the liver is ready, clean and slice the onions. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a saucepan and add the onions. Heat on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and lightly browned. Do not fry the onions, they are supposed to caramelize in their own juices. This process will take a while, but don't get impatient!

While cooking the onions, slice the liver into thin slices. Cooling it down in the freezer until it solidifies a bit can help.

Add the liver to the caramelized onions. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally until completely cooked through. The milk will keep the liver pieces from becoming chewy or hard.

Spice with black pepper and salt in the end. May use vegeta (Hungarian spice) as well.

Serve with rice pilaf and pickles, or anything else you think would go well with it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mushroom 'tokany', a Hungarian creamy turkey stew

This was one of the earliest recipes I introduced to my family. It was a success, though some people I know prefer to pick out the mushrooms from it.

1.2 pound (600g) turkey breast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 pound (150g) mushrooms
1 yellow onion
50g butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 bell pepper
salt, black pepper to taste

Clean and dice the bell pepper, and bring to a boil in lightly salted water. Cook for 1 minute, then drain. Set aside the pepper bits.

Slice the turkey breast into long, thin strips. (2x0.25x0.25 inch) Season with salt and black pepper. Add the oil to a saucepan and brown the turkey in it. Remove the meat from the oil, set aside covered, and keep warm.

Clean and chop the onion and slice the mushrooms. Add the onion to the oil in which the chicken was prepared previously. Saute for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms and the butter.

Cook for a few minutes and then sprinkle with the flour. Stir and fry until the flour gets a light brown.

Pour in the cold beef broth and the cream, stirring quickly to prevent knotting of the flour. Return the meat to the sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8 minutes, then add in the pepper bits and simmer for 1 minute more.

I don't have a picture of the final outcome, but the sauce from the above photo should thicken until creamy.

Serve with rice of french fries (for me).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Savory scallion pancakes

These were inspired by Jing's lunch :-) They taste a lot like zelnik, but are a lot simpler (and cheaper) to make. They are likely more healthy as well, thanks to the use of unsaturated fats, rather than shortening.

2 cups flour
1-1.5 cup water
1 tbsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
5-10 chopped scallions

Mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. Pour in 1 cup of coiling water and mix. Add more boiling water until the dough comes together. Knead until elastic well mixed. Allow to rest for 2 hours covered at room temperature.

It's important to use boiling water in order to 'cook' the flour at this step.

When the dough is ready, roll it out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thick (you can cut it in three portions, and repeat repeat these steps with each). Brush with oil. Spread with chopped green onions.

Roll up, cut into 4 pieces (if you are working with a third of the dough). Now you have four little tubes of scallions. Twist these, to get a circle, then flatten with a rolling pin, or with your palm.

Fry in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat until crispy outside.

Serve with spicy sauce and plain yogurt!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Orange cake

I rarely make cakes as there is rarely an occasion, and I like to stick to healthy foods, whenever possible. This particular one was for my friend, who wanted the recipe more than the cake :-)

4 eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp grated orange zest
150g confectioner's sugar
100g flour
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp hot water
1 package vanilla pudding powder (the cooking kind)

1 package vanilla pudding powder (the cooking kind)
2 cups pulp-free orange juice
400mL whipping cream
80g confectioner's sugar

250g confectioner's sugar
0.5 cup water
4 oranges

Cook the pudding using orange juice and the sugar. When thick, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely in the fridge.

While it's cooling, prepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Grease and flour an 11 inch spring form cake shape.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, salt, orange zest and water until fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and the pudding powder. Add to the egg mix and blend. Finally whip up the egg whites and carefully fold them into the rest of the cake mix.

Pour into the cake pan and bake until it passes the toothpick test.

Remove onto a cookie rack and allow to cool.

When the cake is cool, cut into three layers, using a cake knife, or non-waxed tooth floss.

When the cake layers are prepared, take your orange pudding and mix it up with a mixer until smooth and soft. Then whip up the cream until it's a hard foam, and fold it into the orange pudding until evenly mixed.

Spread onto the cake layers and coat the cake using the same creme as well. Allow to rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, for the topping, use the water and sugar to cook a syrup. Clean the oranges from as much of the white peel as possible. Slice them into 1/4 inch slices and soak them in small batches for three minutes in the hot syrup.

Remove onto a cookie rack and allow to cool

When the cake is ready, top it with the orange slices. Serve.

I imagine this cake would be delicious with a mango creme and mango slices as well!