Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blueberry sauce

Best for cheese cakes, ice cream and pancakes. But really, I just like to eat it with a spoon.

Ingredients
1 cup frozen blueberries
0.25 cup water
2 tbsp orange juice
0.25 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Preparation
Cook the berries with the water, juice and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat.

Separately mix together the starch with 1-2 tbsp water. Pour into the blueberry mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to the desired thickness.

Remove from the heat and add the spices. Serve!

Baked cheesecake

I always kept away from making cheesecake, for fear of it cracking as I cool it. The waterbath solutions are just too cumbersome, and I'm always afraid the water will seep into the springform pan. This cake was baked without the water bath, and cooled in the oven overnight. No cracks, a silky, dense texture and an overall delicious cake were the outcome.

Ingredients
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
0.5 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz cream cheese
0.75 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs

Preparation
Take a 9inch springform pan and press the graham cracker crumbs mixed with the butter into it, coming up about half inch on the sides.

Mix the soft cream cheese with the sugar, vanilla and milk. Do not fluff it up, this needs to be a dense mixture. I microwaved the cheese briefly, to get them to soften and mixed in the other ingredients with a wooden spoon.

Separately mix the sour cream with the flour. Add to the cream cheese mixture. Pour into the baking shape. Tap the bottom to the counter to remove bubbles.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow to cool overnight, without opening the oven door.

Remove the side of the springform pan and serve with your favorite fresh fruit sauce. Like strawberry or blueberry sauce.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avocado sandwiches

Fresh and healthy. Had I used white bread instead of whole wheat, it could look like the Hungarian flag :-)

Ingredients
4 slices of good, crusty bread
1 ripe tomato
mint leaves
rice vinegar
salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
avocado
lemon juice

Preparation
Drizzle the bread with olive oil.

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle with vinegar, salt, black pepper and mint.

Cut the avocado in half, twist to separate. Remove seed by cutting into it with a knife and twisting sideways. Slice the avocado halves in the peel and remove slices with a spoon. Spread out onto a plate and drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Serve together.

Sour cream rolls

These moist and soft rolls are perfect for sandwiches or to eat on their own.

Ingredients
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water
4 cup flour
0.25 cup sour cream

Preparation
Bloom the yeast with a quarter cup of water and the sugar. Mix the flour with the salt. Add the sour cream and the yeast, as well as the rest of the water. Mix until it comes together.

Pour out onto a well floured board and knead adding more flour as necessary. Knead for 5-6 minutes to get an elastic, soft, smooth dough. Place into a bowl and coat with oil. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down the dough and cut into six pieces. Flatten each piece and rolling the edges under, form into a ball. Place the balls into a greased baking shape, leaving plenty of place to rise. Cover with plastic foil.

Allow to double in size again, and bake in a preheated 375F oven until golden brown (25-30 minutes).

Cool on a cookie rack, covered with a clean kitchen cloth, or serve immediately.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pepper and thyme scramble

I had a bunch of extra thyme, and I do so love fresh herbs...so I tried it in my breakfast eggs.

Ingredients
4 eggs
red bell pepper
1 sprig fresh thyme
mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt

Preparation
Stir the eggs together a bit. Preheat the pan and add the oil. Add the diced pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and pour in the eggs. Salt lightly.

Sprinkle in the chopped cheese and top with the thyme leaves. Cook on low for 5-6 minutes.

Cut into slices and turn with a spatula. Cook until the cheese melts.

Serve with fresh toast.

Garlic-ginger meatballs in pepper sauce

A prime example on how to use up leftover ingredients.

Ingredients
1 pound ground meat
1 egg
0.25 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cloves of garlic
0.5 tsp black pepper
salt
1 yellow onion
1 large bell pepper
1 can beef broth
0.5 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp vinegar
0.5 tsp sugar

Preparation
Slice the onions into strips. Caramelize in a large skillet with the vegetable oil. Meanwhile, mix the ground meat with the spices and form 0.75 inch diameter balls. Place onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 20 minutes.

When the onions caramelized, add the broth, the salt and the sliced bell pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the meatballs and vinegar, and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

I served this with cooked lentils drizzled with lemon juice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Apple, sauerkraut and potatoes side dish

I needed a quick side dish for a pork roast, and felt like trying something with sauerkraut. It's a great source of vitamin C.

Ingredients
1 pound sauerkraut
1 pound Macintosh apples
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered caraway seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
0.5 cup water
2 pounds small gourmet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Preparation
Wash and scrub the potatoes, and cut them in half. Toss with olive oil and black pepper, distribute onto a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes in a 400F preheated oven.

Meanwhile, squeeze out the sauerkraut. Preferably use the fresher, bagged version. It stays crunchy, unlike the canned ones. Peel and core the apples. Slice to thin slices.

Preheat a large skillet and add the vegetable oil, kraut and apple slices. Sprinkle with the spices and fry on high heat until it browns slightly. Add the water and cook for 5 minutes.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from the baking sheet and add to the kraut and apple mix. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the water evaporates.

The flavor really depends on the sweetness off your kraut and apples here. You should aim for a pleasing sweet and sour taste, and adjust the sugar accordingly.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Walnut apricot challah

A simple breakfast bread I tested this weekend.

Ingredients
2 eggs
2.5 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
0.5 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
0.75 tsp yeast
0.25 tsp salt
ground walnuts
apricot jam

Preparation
Bloom the yeast in the warm milk with 1 tbsp sugar. In a separate bowl sift the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter.

Add one whole room temperature egg and one egg yolk. Save the egg white. Add in the yeast mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Coat with oil and cover. Allow it to rest in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down and cut into thirds. Roll out each third into a rectangle. Coat with jam and ground walnuts. Roll up and pinch the ends and seam closed.

Braid the rolls and place into a 9x5 inch buttered loaf pan. Cover and allow to rest for another doubling.

Brush with egg white and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until done.

Allow to cool on a cookie rack. Serve with butter and jam.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hungarian cottage cheese pastry

These delicious, moist and fluffy pastries are similar to Danishes, but the cottage cheese filling makes them less fatty and richer in protein. I enjoyed eating them for breakfast, but they are perfect as dessert, too. And for some reason I keep calling them Hungarianishes...when they really should be cottage cheese hungarians :-) I also have to mention, this is one of the best doughs I have ever worked with.

Ingredients
dough:
500g flour
300mL lukewarm milk
1 pinch salt
2 tbsp sugar
75g butter
2 egg yolks
2 tsp yeast

filling:
250g Hungarian cottage cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
grated zest of a lemon
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp semolina
1 egg

glaze:
1 egg white
1 tbsp water

Preparation
Bloom the yeast in a portion of the milk with the sugar. Meanwhile, sift the flour and cut in the butter.

Add in the eggs and the yeast mixture, as well as the remaining milk and the salt. Knead until smooth.

Coat with oil and allow to double in size. Meanwhile, mix the filling.

When the dough is ready, roll out into a 1 cm thick rectangle. Cut into 10cmx10cm squares.

Fill with the cottage cheese mix, and some jam, if you desire. Traditionally it's prepared with raisins...but I'm not a fan.

Brush with the beaten egg white and water glaze. Cover and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes again.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool covered on a cookie rack. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Pepper crusted pork tenderloin with cherry vinaigrette

Another delicious dish from Chef John over at foodwishes. I loved the pork.

Ingredients
1 pork tenderloin
2 tbsp freshly crushed black pepper
1 tbsp oil
salt

vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic
0.5 cup chicken stock
0.5 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp butter

Preparation
Remove the silver skin from the meat. Salt and coat in black pepper. Brown in a skillet over medium heat, giving it 3 minutes on all sides.

Immediately move to a baking shape, and bake for 20 minutes in a 375F oven until it reaches 165F internal temperature.

Meanwhile add the garlic to the skillet, and soon after the other ingredients, except the butter. Cook for 30 minutes to reduce to half volume. When done, whisk in the butter.

Slice the pork roast at a bias and serve with the cherry vinaigrette.

Orange crush cake

This cake is also called Mirinda cake or Fanta cake in Hungary, but can really be prepared with any kind of orange juice. I would have preferred a less chocolaty version, since my favorite part of the cake is the toppings. So, feel free to use any kind of sponge cake as the bottom layer. The recipe here is for a 9 inch round baking shape, inspired by the one on wiselady's site, which I found slightly too sweet for my taste.

Ingredients
cake:
3 eggs
100g flour
20g cocoa powder
50g sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 tsp vinegar
salt

filling:
250g cottage cheese
75g butter
100g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
0.5 tbsp vanilla sugar/extract

topping:
1 package vanilla pudding (for 500mL milk)
1 tbsp sugar
300mL orange juice

Preparation
Cut out a baking paper for the bottom of the shape. Place in the shape and carefully oil it, without getting any oil on the sides. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Sift the cocoa powder with the flour and salt. Using an electronic mixer, whip the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until a white foam forms. Add the vinegar and continue whipping for 3 more minutes.

Fold in the flour and cocoa powder mixture in thirds. Add in the oil at last, to avoid deflating the cake.

Pour into the baking shape and pull up the dough so it sticks to the sides. This will yield a nice, flat cake. Bake for 5 minutes at 350F, then lower the heat to 320F and continue baking for 20 more minutes without opening the oven.

When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the baking shape.
Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the filling.

When the cake is cool, cut it around the edge and remove from the shape. Peel off the paper from the bottom, which should be on the top in the assembled cake.

Place back the ring of the baking shape and top with the cream. Cool for 30 minutes.

Mix the vanilla pudding with the sugar, then add the soda and cook. I don't know if this would work with the no-cook versions of the pudding. Someone should test it!

When the pudding mixture got thick, remove from the stove. Allow to cool and spread on top of the cake.

Cool before slicing!

And enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meat internal cooking temperatures

Just a useful little note for myself:

140F: beef, veal, lamb rare

145F: beef, veal, lamb medium rare
pre-cooked ham fully cooked

160F: beef, veal, lamb, pork medium
fresh ham fully cooked

165F: chicken fully cooked
ground turkey fully cooked

170F: beef, veal, lamb, pork fully cooked
chicken breast fully cooked

180F: duck, goose fully cooked
whole chicken, turkey fully cooked

Orange and flax whole wheat bread

This weekend I needed a quick bread for the sandwiches I packed for a hiking trip. It was very tempting to just buy a store-packed, plastic sandwich bread...and I nearly folded. But creativity won out, and I prepared the following loaf.

Ingredients
1 cup water
0.5 cup orange juice
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp honey
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 cup flax seed
2 tbsp orange zest
2 cup all purpose flour
1-1.5 cup whole wheat flour

Preparation
Bloom the yeast with the honey in 0.25 cup warm water. Add in the remaining liquids. Add in most of the flour, keeping 0.5 cup separate.

Grind the flax seeds and add to the bowl together with the orange zest. Mix until it comes together and continue kneading using the remaining flour.

Coat with a little bit of oil and cover in a bowl. Allow to double in size.

Punch down and shape into a loaf. Brush with oil again, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 more minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F, and score the loaf right before baking. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

It yields a very nice, easy-to-slice loaf. Fill with maple ham, cheddar and your choice of veggies!