Sunday, March 28, 2010

Caramel chocolate coins

As my other chocolate recipe, this also came from Chef John. I had some extra heavy cream, and needed a good way to use it. This recipe has been at the back of my mind for a while now, and finally I made it, tried it, and I have to admit, for being a chocolate hater, I quite liked it.

6 oz (170g) of dark chocolate
0.25 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp granulated white sugar
coarse salt

Break up the chocolate into a metal bowl. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then turn off the heat under it. Place the bowl of chocolate bits on top and set aside. The chocolate should partially melt.

Take a dry pan and add 1 tbsp of sugar to it, spreading it out a bit. Heat on medium for 15-20 minutes to slowly melt. Do not burn, just brown the sugar. When it starts to form big bubbles, carefully pour in the heavy cream. Keep heating until the caramel dissolves (this should happen pretty quickly, if it doesn't, you may need to turn up the heat).

When the caramel dissolved into the cream, pour the mix onto the chocolate bits. Mix until it becomes smooth.

Quickly spoon onto a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. I used teaspoonfuls, you can use larger or smaller portions, as desired. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of salt.

Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and press down on it carefully with another baking sheet. Place into the fridge until it solidifies.

Toss with some cocoa powder to coat.

Pizza crust II.

I tried this long-ferment pizza crust last weekend from PW. It's rather different from the quick and easy version, but both are delicious in their own right.

We topped this one with basil pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and grated Parmesan.

2 cups flour
0.75 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
2.5 tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp dry yeast

Mix the flour and the salt in a large bowl. In a cup sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and dissolve stirring a few times. Add the olive oil and the yeast solution to the flour.

Mix and knead in the bowl until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball. Add a little bit of oil to a bowl and turn the dough in it a few times to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge at least 24 hours and up to 4 days before using.

When baking, stretch the dough into a lightly oiled baking shape. Keep in mind that it's going to spring up to about twice its size, to be patient and stretch it rather thin.

Spread lightly with your favorite sauce, top with mozzarella and then any other desired toppings. Bake at for 10-15 minutes in a 450F preheated oven. Sprinkle with oregano when it's done.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Traditional retes (Austro-Hungarian strudel)

I would like to make this once from scratch. The real thing, not made of Phyllo dough or puff-pastry, is so much better than the quick and easy versions. You have to try it once to truly appreciate it.

My favorites are the farmer's cheese (turo), sour cherry and ground poppy seed, squash and ground poppy seed versions. When well-made, one of the best things on Earth!

Check out this video on how an 88-year-old Hungarian grandmother stretches the dough.

I've learned so much about cooking from my grandmother, it makes me glad to see that people are trying to preserve this traditional knowledge.

Savory beef strudel

This is my husband's specialty, so unfortunately I don't have pictures. A tasty treat that freezes well.

0.75 pound of your favorite mashed potato
0.5 pound ground beef
1 small onion
1 tbsp canned horseradish, drained (or 2-3 tbsp of the mayo version)
salt, black pepper to taste
one puff pastry sheet
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Chop the onion and saute in the oil until translucent. Add the beef, spice with with salt and pepper and cook until done.

Mix in the with the mashed potatoes (preferably the kind made with sour cream). Allow to cool and add the horseradish, and more sour cream if necessary to adjust the consistency of the mixture.

Fill the puff pastry according to the instructions on the box. (Roll out, cover 2/3 of the area with the filling, fold up the edges, then roll up to close. Place on a baking sheet seam down.)

Brush the top with egg wash prepared by whipping the egg with one tbsp of water. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown (about 30-40 minutes).

Serve with veggies!

This pastry freezes well, so don't worry if you are only cooking for 1-2 people!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spinach lasagna

It's really the same as the white lasagna, except I mixed in 1 pound of steamed, chopped spinach into the sauce part.

I also had to add some more milk to the sauce, to keep it the same consistency.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Waffles with banana and vanilla pudding

A variation on the previously introduced favorite in our household.

4 waffles
250mL milk
0.5 package vanilla pudding powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 ripe banana
whipped cream

Cook the vanilla pudding. Slice the banana into thin circles.
Cover the bottom waffle with vanilla pudding, top with banana slices. Add the second waffle and repeat the same layers. Allow to cool somewhat. Serve with whipped cream (and chocolate sauce, if you so desire).

The picture below is of my favorite shop-bought donuts. Hmm, I want some now!

Stir fry a la Jing

My family doesn't usually eat eggplant. But this version by Jing will be a sure hit at home as well.

1 eggplant
0.25 pound lean ground beef
0.5 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
0.5 tbsp starch
0.25 tsp ground ginger
0.25 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp chili bean paste

Mix the ground beef with 2 tbsp soy sauce, the starch, cooking wine, ginger and black pepper. Set aside.

Wash the eggplant and cut off its top. You can also peel off some of the skin. Slice into circles about 0.5 inch thick, then cut the circles into 0.5 inch thick strips. Soak in very lightly salted water for 20 minutes.

Clean and mince the garlic cloves.

After the 20 minutes have passed, preheat a large skillet with the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and allow to sizzle until fragrant. Then add the drained eggplant and fry on high heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned and cooked.

Add the meat and the rest of the soy sauce. Allow the meat to cook in one corner, before chopping it into smaller bits. We don't want the ground meat to disintegrate into small bits.

Cook until the beef is done, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Then stir in the chili bean paste. Serve with steamed white rice.

Stir fry a la Sean II.

I enjoy preparing stir fry. So quick, healthy, yet it contains everything from meat through starch to veggies.

2 pieces of beef steak meat
2 tomatoes
4 scallions
0.5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp starch
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
soy sauce

Slice the beef into long, thin strips. Mix with the wine and starch and a bit of soy sauce. Set aside to marinade.

Wash the scallions and the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into larger chunks. Chop the scallions into thin circles. Separate the white and the green portions.

In a large skillet heat the vegetable oil. Add the white part of the scallions and allow to sizzle for 15-20 seconds. Add the beef and stir.

Allow the beef to brown all around, cooking it through.

As soon as it's done, pour in soy sauce to taste, drizzling the entire surface with it. Then add the tomatoes.

Cook just long enough to make the tomatoes slightly softer, but not a mush.

Serve on steamed rice, topped with the green part of the scallions.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hungarian fried meat balls

I have a love for most things deep fried. I think you will love these too!

1 pound lean ground meat
2 cloves of garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 cup breadcrumbs
0.5 tbsp paprika
4 eggs
salt and black pepper to taste
0.25 cup fresh parsley
vegetable oil

Grate or very finely mince the garlic and the onion.

In a bowl mix all the ingredients, until homogeneous.
Allow it to sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. This gives time for the breadcrumbs to absorb as much liquid as they desire. Once removing it from the fridge, adjust the consistency by adding more milk, if necessary. The mixture should be on the soft side.

Form small balls and roll them in additional breadcrumbs or flour.

In a pot preheat 2 inches of vegetable oil until it sizzles if you throw in a breadcrumb. Fry the meatballs until browned on both sides. Remove onto paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve with your favorite side and some salad. These make scrumptious sandwiches as well, add some tomatoes and some nice bread...delish!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vegetable pancakes

This dish was inspired by Jing's description of a pancake-like food she prepared. I got to try it, and found it rather tasty.

1 egg
2-3 tbsp flour
5-6 green beans
0.5 tbsp chili bean paste
0.25 tsp baking powder
salt to taste

Mix the flour with the beaten egg. The outcome should have the consistency of thin cake batter. Add in the washed green beans cut into thin circles, as well as the salt, baking powder and the chili paste. Mix well.

Add a little bit of oil to a heavy frying pan. Heat on medium until warm, then pour in the batter. Cook slowly until one side is browned. Flip and brown the other side as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Macedonian baked beans

My favorite bean dish. One evening recently I made a two-meal portion to eat for lunch on the coming two days. Unfortunately, even though I already had dinner, I ended up eating half of it for a midnight dinner, and the other half for breakfast the next day. And it felt good. In Macedonia it is called tavce gravce, and it is prepared in a traditional earthenware pot.

2 cups white beans
2 raw spicy Italian sausages
1 yellow onion
1 Hungarian or Cubanelle pepper
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oil
0.5 tbsp paprika
salt to taste

Wash the beans and soak them overnight in water. The beans will swell, so make sure you have an extra two inches of water covering the beans when you start out.

The next day, pour off the excess water from the beans and add fresh water to cover them. Have an extra inch above the beans. Peel the onion and add to the beans. If you plan to remove it later, leave it uncut, otherwise quarter it before adding it to the pot.

Clean the pepper and remove the seeds. Slice into half-inch-wide strips. Add to the pot.

Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then simmer until the beans are done. Do not overcook.

Take a frying pan and add the oil and flour. Prepare a roux, frying the flour until light brown. Add the paprika and mix, fry for 15 more seconds.

Remove from the heat and scoop a large ladle of the water from the beans into it. Mix quickly to avoid knotting. Pour the sauce into the pot with the rest of the beans. Mix, salt to taste and pour into a baking shape.

Now take the Italian sausages and squeeze the filling out, forming small sausage-balls and topping the beans with it.

Finally, bake in a preheated 375F oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the sausage balls are cooked.

Serve with roasted peppers, tomatoes and bread.

If you wish to make the dish simpler, skip the sausage and the baking step. This makes a delicious bean soup as well! Of course, you must have the flavorful Hungarian or Macedonian paprika, not the one they use in the US only for color.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Apple crumble pie

I had some oldish Golden Delicious apples, and this pie was just the place for them.

crust (9-10 inch):
0.5 cup oil
0.25 cup milk
0.5 tsp salt
1.5 cup flour

4 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples
0.5 cup flour
0.25 cup white sugar
0.25 cup brown sugar
0.75 tsp cinnamon
0.25 cup ground walnuts

crumb topping:
1/3 cup sugar
0.75 cup flour
6 tbsp butter

Measure the crust ingredients directly into the pie shape. Mix and press into the shape.

Mix the apples with the flour, sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat the slices.

Pour them into the pie crust. Dust with the ground walnuts.

To prepare the crumb topping, mix the sugar and the flour, and cut the butter into it, until crumbly. Distribute on top of the pie.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 75 minutes, or until the apples are not crunchy anymore, when you insert a fork into the pie.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! The brown sugar makes a caramel sauce between the apple slices, and the walnuts give this pie a very unique, delicious taste. I use ground walnuts, because I don't like the chunkiness of chopped walnuts. Grinding the nuts makes them blend in well with the apples and the top crust, and you get that perfect situation, where the flavors combine to create something better, without individual tastes 'sticking out'. Try it!

You can of course make this in more 'complicated' pie crusts, but this one is very simple and still makes a good pie crust.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Barley egg noodles

An interesting alternative to rice, traditional pasta and quinoa. It took me a while to find these in the US. In Hungary they are very popular under the name of tarhonya.

1 cup barley egg noodles
2 cups water
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste

First lightly brown the noodles in the oil, but do not burn them!

Then add the water and salt, then bring to a boil.

Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until all the water is absorbed. These are not the package instructions, but the pasta is much tastier this way!

Serve with any Hungarian stew as a side dish. On the picture they are mixed with a sour creamy chicken goulash.

Hungarian sour creamy chicken stew

This is delicious on top of potato pancakes. I know, I haven't shared a recipe for those yet, but I promise I will upload my favorite one at some point. Until then, have this tasty stew with some barley-shaped egg noodles.

2 chicken breast halves
1 yellow onion
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp flour
salt to taste

Clean and chop the chicken breasts and onion, mince the garlic.

Saute the chopped onion on the oil until translucent. Add the minced garlic for 30 seconds, then add in the paprika and stir, heating for 15 seconds.

Add the chopped chicken, salt it and stir, heating on medium-high until the chicken is white. Then add water if to barely cover the chicken pieces and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream with the flour until smooth.

When the chicken pieces are tender, fold in the sour cream with the flour. Bring to a boil again, and simmer for 2 minutes, adjust salt and spices at this point, if needed. The flour and sour cream mix should thicken the stew.

Serve warm with potato pancakes, or barley noodles as a side dish!

Banana Bundt cake

The first time we made this at home, I tried to bake it in a slightly too small Bundt shape, and it grew and grew, until the top reached the top heating element. It was in my mum's new
This tastes like real bananas, and is drier and more dense than the boxed cake mixes baked in a Bundt shape.

5 eggs
400g flour
100mL milk
1 tbsp baking powder
300g mashed banana
120g (1 stick) butter
240g sugar
pinch of salt

Blend the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg yolks one by one.

Mix in the milk followed by the mashed bananas.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then mix into the liquid ingredients.

Finally, carefully fold in the egg whites, beaten till they form hard peaks.

Bake in a greased, floured Bundt shape (12cup version), on 300F, until it passes the toothpick test. This may take 1-2 hours.

Dust with icing sugar, or serve coated with white chocolate ganache.