Monday, August 30, 2010

Tomato sandwich

As part of the aforementioned tomato-fest, we indulged in several delicious tomato-sandwiches. I could eat these every day for the rest of my life, as long as the tomatoes are tasty.

Ingredients
1 home-grown large tomato
1 stalk fresh mint leaves
salt, black pepper to taste
2 tbsp blue cheese
1 tbsp mayo
0.5 tbs rice vinegar
1 spicy jalapeno
2 bread rolls

Preparation
Wash and slice the tomato into quarter inch thick slices. Marinade in the vinegar, salt, black pepper and chopped mint leaves for 15 minutes.

Cut the rolls in half and toast them. Allow to cool a bit.

Spread half of the mayo on each roll. Crumble half of the blue cheese on each and top with thin sliced jalapeno, using the entire pepper.

Add the marinated tomato slices on top. Serve!

Tomato salad

Last weekend one of my husband's colleagues brought us a bunch of Vermont home-grown tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. In celebration I made the theme of the weekend a little Vermont tomato fest.

If you have never eaten local tomatoes, you must go to the nearest farmers' market and get hold of some. They are not comparable to the supermarket stuff.

We also had some mint growing in the back yard, so the first dish I made was a simple tomato salad.

Ingredients
2-3 large tomatoes
3 stalks of fresh mint leaves
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
0.5 tbsp rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar

Preparation
Wash and slice or dice the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the vinegar, salt, black pepper and chopped mint leaves. Mix and allow to marinade for 15 minutes.

You can do this with tomato slices, and use them for burgers. Simply superb!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roasted beets and carrots

A super easy side dish, that makes a welcome change from good, old roasted potatoes.

Ingredients
3-4 medium sized beets
5 carrots
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black pepper
0.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
0.5 tbsp brown sugar

Preparation
Peel and dice the roots, then toss with oil and the spices.

Bake in an aluminum foil-lined baking sheets at 400C for 30 minutes.

Toss the carrots in the melted butter and brown sugar. Serve!

Oh, and a warning: you will pee red after this meal :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fast food

The following pictures will stand testimony to my inability to ever become a proper foodie. I often get into discussions about the flavors of McDonalds and Taco Bell products, and the carefully engineered tastes will always be among my favorites.

No, I did not grow up on McD food. In fact we didn't have a McDonalds in our city until well after I left my homecountry. I had my first McD vanilla shake as a 14-year-old, and I was immediately hooked to the flavor. There is something to say for foodchemists cooking for you, they sure know how to engineer perfectly addictive tastes. ...and lets leave the health benefits to another post.

So, it is not below me to enjoy fast food, canned food or frozen food. Yes, on most occasions the home cooked version of the same dish supersedes its junk food equivalent, but the canned wonders allow us to escape cooking on occasion. This is an accounting of my latest foray into fast food land.

Ramen noodles are bad for you. Particularly if you are a college student living exclusively on them. The little spice pocket contains enough salt to increase your blood pressure as you consume it. But the noodles cook quickly, and who says you need to add the entire salt pocket.

Frozen veggies are generally thought to be healthier than their canned equivalents. They go straight to a freezer bag...no cooking, chemical treating, or BPA-exuding container.

So, take a bag of Ramen noodles, break the noodles into four pieces, and cook it in barely enough water to cover up the broken up noodles. Add a tiny pinch of the salt pocket contents. Simmer until the noodles are nice and soft, and all the water has evaporated or got absorbed.

Take a Birdseye Tuscan veggies frozen meal, and reheat the veggies. Add a few drops of Sriracha spicy sauce.

Serve them side-by-side topped with a few spicy pfefferoni peppers. Bon appetit! ;-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Deep fried challah

This is a little bit like donuts, but made with a richer dough. Very tasty with home made apricot marmalade.

Ingredients
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
0.5 cup warm milk
0.25 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 room temperature eggs
1 tsp yeast
2 cups flour

Preparation
Add the butter and sugar to a bowl, dissolve in the warm milk. Add the vanilla and salt, and reheat the mixture to warm. Mix in the eggs, do not scramble in the hot milk!

Add 1 tsp of yeast, the mixture needs to be warm at this point, to dissolve the yeast. Mix in 2 cups of flour, one half cup at a time. Knead until smooth. Place in oiled bow, allow to rise for 1-1.5 hours.

Pat down and roll out into 0.5 inch thick. Cut out round shapes, and allow to rise on a lightly floured shape until double in size.

Fry in 350F oil for about 2 minutes per side, until they are golden brown.

Allow to coll for 10 minutes, then serve with fruit jam.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cow stomach goulash

Tripe goulash is a traditional Hungarian dish my mum and dad prepare for me every time I visit home. It's definitely one of my favorites, up there with fish goulash and tomato-cabbage soup.

We rarely have to deal with the stomach before cleaning. But if you can only purchase it that way, it needs to be washed and cooked through in salty water several times. In Hungary you can buy frozen, pre-washed tissue, while in the US I saw freshly packaged, cleaned tripe for sale.

Tripe has a very interesting consistency, slightly rubbery, full of villi (the little extensions that make the pieces look 'hairy').

I don't have the exact preparation instructions, but it gets cooked in a tripod, with the primary flavors being supplied by paprika, onion and salt. The onion is sauteed in the oil, then some garlic and paprika are added and cooked for a few seconds. Diced Hungarian spicy peppers and some tomatoes follow, with the addition of the cleaned and diced tripe, bay leaves and water at the end. The stew is cooked for hours in a tripod, and it acquires a light smoky flavor. It's spicy and the delicious sauce gets stuck among the villi :-)

Try eating it once if you have the chance. Just make sure you experiment with it at a place where it's prepared well! Or grab some Hungarian friends, and have them make it for you!

Vegetarian sandwich "meat"

This was again created in the effort to empty my fridge before the big move.

Ingredients
8 oz frozen spinach leaves
0.25 cup feta cheese
6 eggs
salt
1 onion
2 cloves of mashed garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp butter
0.5 tbsp cooking oil

Preparation
Dice and saute the onions. Add the garlic and the spinach. Mine was frozen to start with.

Add the spices and cook for a few minutes, or if frozen, until melted. Allow to cool.

Mix with the Feta and eggs. Pour into a buttered loaf pan and bake at 350F until done (about 20 minutes). Can be topped with shredded cheddar.

Cool, slice and serve in sandwiches. It was strangely tasty between two slices of toasted bread spread with muffaleta.

Pita bread

Proper, pocketed pita breads. The trick is to use a very hot oven, cook them one or at max two at a time, roll out 2-3 minutes before tossing it in the oven. Also, their surfaces should be floured, not oily!

Meat balls in chili bean sauce

A simple, quick dish I made while I was aiming to empty my fridge before moving to a new place.

Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp chili bean sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 clove of garlic, mashed
0.25 cup red wine
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt

Preparation
Chop and sautee the onion till its translucent. Add the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the beef , salt and don't stir for 2 minutes. Cut into 1 inch clusters. Add the other spices and continue cooking until the meat balls solidify. You don't want to break up the clusters.

When the balls are browned, add the wine and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust spices as necessary.

On the picture below the dish is served with no-knead bread and salad.