Saturday, May 22, 2010

Apple compote

My parents grow their own apples. Occasionally we had many hundred pounds of produce from their trees. Storing the fruit is challenging without a room with appropriate climate. Consequently we usually sold most of the apples while fresh, and stored only a small portion through winter. The apples were examined one-by-one before being stored in wooden crates in the cellar. They maintained their freshness surprisingly well, but toward the middle of winter they inevitably became wrinkled and slightly dried out. The below recipe was a fantastic way to prepare the old apples for a cold winter's evening snack.

Ingredients
2 pound apples
2 sticks of cinnamon
4-5 pieces of cloves
sugar
lemon juice
water

Preparation
Peel and core the apples, then cut them into quarters. Cover them with water, flavor the liquid with the spices and sugar and lemon juice to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 minute. Taste the liquid again, and adjust the flavor.

Allow to cool and set aside during the day. Serve it cold, or -as I prefer it- warmed up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chicken liver appetizers

Where I come from we eat most parts of a chicken. The neck of the bird is cut, the blood is drained into a clean bowl, covered and refrigerated. The bird is then dipped in nearly boiling water. This softens the skin and allows for the feathers to be plucked.

Once the feathers are plucked, the little, hair-like things are burned off over an open flame. Burning keratin generates an interesting, not terribly pleasing smell.

Next the legs and wings of the chicken are removed. Then the torso of the bird is cut along the length of the body, toward the neck. This will allow for opening the chicken. Once the back and breast are separated, the guts are tossed out along with the contents of the gizzard. The actual muscle tissue of the gizzard, the heart, as well as any 'unripe' eggs are saved. The liver is one of the most tasty organs, but it needs to be skillfully separated from the gall bladder. The content of the gall bladder, bile, is bitter. It needs to be cut off from the liver without spilling its contents onto anything you desire to eat later.

From the head the beak is cut off, and from the neck the esophagus is pulled out. Everything else is eaten.

The blood clots in the fridge. It's a weird tissue, liquid while you are alive, but the proteins in it form a solid matrix when the reaction is set off. So once it solidified one can slice and dice it, just like meat. In fact, my grandmother used to dice it into 0.5 inch cubes and fry it with black pepper and salt on sauteed onions. Served with fresh white bread it's a delicious meal. And high in iron :-)

The focus of this post was meant to be arguably my favorite organ from a chicken: the liver. While goose liver surpasses it in quality, well-prepared chicken liver is not to be scoffed at. And while you might be repelled by the idea, let me just share with you the fact that every person in the US I served this to liked it. (Of course I did not tell them what they were being served, only after they tried it).

Ingredients
10-12 chicken livers
oil
salt
ground black pepper
ground marjoram
baguette slices
1 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion

Preparation
Wash the livers and allow them to drip off a bit.

Preheat a pan to medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. Add the chicken livers to the hot oil and dust them with black pepper and marjoram. Hold the salt, it will make the livers hard!

Cook the livers until done (not red and bloody inside). Salt them in the last two minutes. Do not overcook! Allow to cool.

Toast both sides of ~24 baguette slices in butter. Cut the chicken livers in half and place onto freshly toasted baguette slices. Top with thinly sliced yellow or red onion. Serve!

Nope, this is not meant to be elegant or super fancy. As you might have gathered from the beginning of this post, this is not exactly fancy-restaurant food. But it IS delicious!

American pancakes

Another American staple I never had before coming to the US. It is wonderful tough, with some Vermont maple syrup, whipped cream and fresh fruits. Oh, and did I mention, you can add whipped cream to these? The pancake on the above picture is made with white and semi-sweet chocolate chips. It was the fist, squishy one. The first one is always squishy. At least when I'm making them...

Ingredients
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
0.175 tsp salt
0.175 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 beaten egg
2 tsp oil

optional:
1 mashed ripe banana
0.25 cup chocolate chips

Preparation
Preheat skillet to medium heat. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour together and mix a bit. Do not over mix! You may add the chocolate chips at the end.

Cook first side until bubbly, flip and cook until done. Serve with your favorite toppings. My favorite combo is white chocolate pancakes with maple syrup and raspberries. Yumm!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vanillla yogurt with fresh blueberries

I never shared the mission statement of this blog. I guess this is as good a time as any to explain why it exists. As you might have already concluded from the title of the current entry: this blog is not about sharing fancy recipes I invented. Nope, not at all. In fact, I don't know of any fancy recipes that were invented by me.

The blog got started because a few friends asked me to share the recipes of some things I cooked for them. A major additional driving force was the exponential increase in the time it took to locate a recipe in my paper cookbook. This was due to my rapid accumulation of new recipes from family and friends. As illustrated by the current entry, it is also used to remind me of simple food combinations and tricks in the kitchen that I would like to have access to in the future.

If anyone else happens to benefit from the blog, that's even better. Do let me know if you tried a dish listed on here!

Ingredients
vanilla yogurt
fresh, ripe blueberries

Preparation
Mix the desired amount of fruit into the yogurt. Allow to warm up a bit from the fridge-temperature.

Apple butter bisquits

A recipe from cookingbread. I enjoyed these, as surprisingly they were not too sweet. And I like all things cinnamon. And everything that invites extra whipped cream :-)

Ingredients
sauce:
0.25 cup honey
0.25 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup golden raisins

dough:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cold shortening
3 tbsp butter
1 grated apple
2/3 cup cold milk

filling:
2 tbsp softened butter
4 tbsp apple butter
0.25 cup brown sugar
0.25 cup raisins

Preparation
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. Mix the fillings of the sauce and distribute evenly into the bottom of the cups.

Mix the filling and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400F.

For the dough, everything must be cold. Mix the dry ingredients first, then cut in the fats. Add in the squeezed out grated apple bits. Add in the milk and mix minimally until it comes together into a ball.

Roll out on a floured surface to a 10x8 inch rectangle. Spread the with the filling and roll up into a 10 inch log.

Cut into 12 pieces and place those on top of the sauce in the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove after allowing them to cool for 1 minute.

Serve warm with whipped cream :-)

Enchiladas

I got this recipe from a friend of mine at college. It's his mum's original recipe from Mexico City.

Ingredients
3 chicken breast halves
12 flour of corn tortillas
1 yellow onion
1.5-2 cups sour cream
Goya Salsita hot sauce
12 oz grated cheese
salt

I use the white (habanero) and green versions of this sauce as the hot sauce...there are less spicy ones available out there, I just never looked for them:

Preparation
Cook the chicken breast pieces in salty water until done. This will depend on the size of the chunks.

Dice the onion into small pieces.

When the chicken is cooked, shred it and mix it with the onion, 8 oz grated cheese and enough sour cream to make it saucy. This will depend on your taste...you don't want your final meal to be too dry or too soggy though.

Take the tortillas and soak them one by one into the hot sauce heated in a pan. When they are soft, fill them with the chicken mix and roll them up. Place them next to each other in a baking shape.

When all of them are filled, spread some more sour cream and hot sauce on top. Finally, top with the remaining grated cheese and bake in a 350F preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tandoori chicken

The first ever Indian dish I tried. It wasn't half bad.

Ingredients
2 lb chicken
1 tsp salt
0.5 lemon
1.25 cup yogurt
0.5 onion
1 garlic clove
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh cilantro

Preparation
Clean the chicken pieces and chop into grillable size bits. Cut slits into the meat.

Salt the meat and sprinkle it with the juice of the lemon. Mix and let sit for 20 minutes.

Mince the onions and garlic into fine bits. Mix the the yogurt and other spices, with the exception of the cilantro. Spread the mix onto the chicken and marinade overnight in the fridge.

Grill until the pieces are done. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro. It can also be baked at 400F for about 30 minutes.

Bulgogi beef

A recipe from one of my labmates.

Ingredients
1.5 lb beef
1-2 onions
10 ounces of white button mushrooms
0.5 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp garlic
3 tbsp brown sugar
5 green onions

Preparation
Cut the beef into thin long stripes. Slice the mushrooms and green onions, dice the onions and mince the garlic.

Mix everything and marinade for 1 hour in the fridge.

Cook in a pan on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. The below picture is misleading. I attempted to make the dish more saucy, so it had some corn starch in it too...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Asian-ish BBQ

This is from chef John. I have to admit, it wasn't my favorite...but it was pretty good.

Ingredients
1 pound nice steak beef
1 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tbsp chili sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
0.75 tbsp soy sauce
0.5 tsp fish sauce
a clove of mashed garlic

Preparation
Cut the beef into thin slices.

Mix all ingredients and marinade beef for at least 30 minutes. Grill. Serve. Yumm!

Candied sweet potatoes

I never had sweet potatoes before coming to the US. It reminds me of the proper sweet pumpkins we used to get before winter in Hungary. We would bake the pumpkins until they were nicely caramelized, and essentially we would just spoon them in :-) I haven't encountered similarly sweet pumpkins in the US, but sweet potatoes turn out to be an acceptable substitute when I get cravings.

Ingredients
4-5 large sweet potates
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 tsp cinnamon

Preparation
Peel and dice the yams. Boil them for 5 minutes then drain them.

Toss yams with brown sugar and cinnamon. Place them into a small baking dish.

Cut the butter into thin slices and distribute on top of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with vanilla.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 20-30 minutes, until nicely caramelized.

This can be topped with marshmallows...but it's slightly healthier without them.

Cinnamon rolls II.

A very different take on this decadent dessert than my first cinnamon rolls recipe. Unfortunately, the calorie counts are not any lower.

Ingredients
dough:
2.25 tsp yeast
0.5 tsp + 0.25 cup sugar
0.5 cup warm milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2.75 cup flour
0.5 tsp salt
120g butter
4 oz cream cheese
0.25 cup water

filling:
0.5 cup sugar
0.25 cup brown sugar
0.5 cup ground walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
0.25 tsp cloves

topping:
4 oz cream cheese
2-3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation
Combine tsp sugar, yeast and warm water, bloom until frothy.

Add the remaining sugars, milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the flour and salt, knead well. Mix in the softened butter. Keep adding flour until a slightly sticky, elastic dough forms.

Allow to rise till double in size, greased and covered in a large bowl.

Mix everything for the filling, except the butter.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch down, work it a bit then allow to sit about 5 minutes under a cloth.

Roll out into a 10x10 inch square. Spread the cream cheese on top and fold into a letter fold, repeat the fold from the longer side to get a square.

Close the seams and roll out carefully into a 10x20 inch rectangle. Brush on half of the melted butter (4 tbsp), leave 1 cm free on the edges. Sprinkle on filling and gently press it into the dough. Roll up. Using tooth floss cut into 8 equal slices. Place into a 9x13 inch buttered baking shape.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning remove from the fridge 1.5 hours prior to baking.

Bake in a 375F preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes.

Cool on a cookie rack. Brush with the remaining melted butter while still warm.

Top with the frosting.

Waffles

I learned how to make waffles in high school. They make a lovely breakfast, and served with chocolate pudding and whipped cream, an elegant dessert as well.

Ingredients
1 cup flour
0.5 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg
0.75 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
0.25 tsp cinnamon

Preparation
Mix all liquid ingredients and all dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine in one until smooth.

Preheat the waffle iron. Bake waffles until light brown.

Cool on cookie racks and serve while still warm. Above shown with peanut butter and strawberry jelly, as well as some strawberries dusted with powdered sugar.

Cream of wheat

This has been one of my favorite comfort foods ever since I was a wee little kid. The grain is coarsely ground wheat, and in Hungary we cook it in milk.

Ingredients
1/3 cup semolina flour
2 cups milk
2 tbsp sugar
cinnamon and sugar for topping

Preparation
In a pot bring the milk to a boil.

Mix the sugar and semolina well, add to the boiling milk while stirring.

Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the grain swells. Scoop onto flat plates and spread out to form a half-inch layer. Top with sugar and cinnamon while warm. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pizza crust III.

Yes. Pizza again. But I can't help trying new recipes for the crust. This one is nearly perfect.

Ingredients
0.5 tsp honey
1 tsp yeast
0.5 cup warm water
1.5 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Preparation
Bloom the yeast in half the warm water with the honey for 5-10 minutes.

Add in the salt and oil. Mix and add in the flour progressively. Knead for 5-10 minutes.

Coat with oil and allow to rise for 40 minutes in a warm place covered with a wet towel.

Punch down and allow to rise again for 20 minutes.

Spread and place onto cornmeal-dusted pizza pan.

Brush with oil and top: hot pepper flakes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, thin-sliced fresh tomatoes, parmesan.

Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 5 minutes on the bottom rack and for 5 minutes or until done on the middle rack.

Cool on cookie rack. Serve!

Fruit salad

The best. We used to eat this in Norway at our house mentor's place.

Ingredients
strawberries
bananas
grapes
milk
vanilla pudding powder

Preparation
Clean and chop the fruits. Prepare the pudding according to instructions. You need a cold pudding here.

Pour pudding onto fruits, mix gently and serve.

Grillusion spice

A delicious marinade used by my mum on pretty much any kind of meet. It's so good, you won't believe it until you've had a bite!

Ingredients
3-4 tbsp mustard
1 tsp ketchup
1 tbsp Piros Arany (Hungarian paprika spice)
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
0.5 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic

Preparation
Mince the garlic and mix with the other ingredients. Salt the meat to taste and marinade in the above mix for 6-12 hours.

Grill!

White sandwich bread

The bit of butter in it makes it brown nicely in a toaster. This is not the squishy, preservative-loaded, sweet, white bread from the store. It's something much better.

Ingredients
1.25 cup water
0.5 tbsp yeast
sugar
salt
3.5 cups flour
15g butter

Preparation
In a quarter cup of warm water bloom the yeast with the sugar. Then mix in the salt the remaining water. Add half the flour and mix. Then add the remaining flour and knead the hard dough for 10 minutes.

Work in the butter. Your dough will come apart at first, then stick together again. Knead for 5 more minutes. This should yield a beautiful, elastic dough.

To a large bowl add a bit of oil and coat the dough with it. Cover the bowl and allow to rise for 1.5 hours.

Punch down the dough and press into a 10 by 12 inch rectangle. Fold into a letter fold and seal the edge.

Fold up the ends of the bread and place into well-buttered baking shape (9x5 inch) seam-side down. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise until finger poked into it leaves a mark (about 45-60 minutes). All of this needs to be done in a warm place.

Bake in a 375F preheated oven on the middle rack for about 30-40 minutes.

Cool on a cookie rack. Freeze or store up to two days.

Served here with a Macedonian roasted pepper spread, ajvar.