Friday, January 28, 2011

Hungarian poppy seed cake

We eat poppy seeds in many desserts. I will endeavor to post a bunch of them here. Lesson number one: get fresh, non-stale poppy seeds (this is a big challenge in the US), lesson number two: grind them into a mush if you actually want to taste them. Optimally, use freshly ground poppy seeds.

We mix this delicious, uniquely-flavored poppy seed meal with sugar, vanilla, milk, sour cream, cherries, zucchini...and the list goes on and on. If you take a walk in Budapest, there will be many street vendors offering you poppy seed-squash strudels, poppy seed-sour cherry pies, and other delicious poppy seed-centric desserts. One thing to watch out for: if you have this as a mid-day snack, you will likely need to brush your teeth to continue being presentable. The black little things stick there.

2 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups milk
2 cups ground poppy seeds
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
zest of a lemon
icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease and flour a 9x11 inch baking shape thoroughly.

Take your ground poppy seeds and mix it with the dry ingredients.

Add in the eggs and oil, then mix in the milk until homogeneous.

Pour into the prepared baking shape and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the shape for about a minute, until the edges separate from the baking shape.

Flip onto a cutting board, then flip again so it's face-up.

Allow to cool and cut into pretty moon shapes with a circular cutter. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve.

This is a delicious and moist cake. Julia Child describes it in her baking book as a Hungarian poppy seed torte with a cream. The cream is really not necessary. It's tasty as is. An interesting flavor for those uninitiated.

I think it looks like the recent NorthEast snowstorms. Black and white, soft and warm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pork hock goulash

We have a whole list of goulash stews on this blog by now. Some you can make from beef, others from chicken...there is of course the tripe one. Potato goulash for vegetarians, but we were still missing pork and fish. The fish goulash is one of my favorites, but alas it will have to be saved for another occasion.
My favorite pork goulash uses pork hocks, as the skin and cartilage provide a wonderful sticky-smooth texture to the stew. It's amazing!

3 pork hocks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion
1 cubanelle pepper
0.5 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp Hungarian crushed pepper sauce (Piros Arany)

Clean and chop the onion and pepper. Saute in the oil until soft. Ass the minced garlic for 30 seconds, then all the other spices.

Heat the spices together briefly, take care not to burn the paprika (it will become bitter).

Add the pork hocks, salt lightly and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours.

At this point, remove the pork hocks and separate the meat from the bone.

Return to the pot. Simmer for 2-3 more hours, until the meat is completely soft.

Serve over potatoes, or with a piece of bread.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blueberry maple smoothie

Oh goodness, wasn't this delicious!

3-4 tbsp blueberries
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 crushed ice cubes

Take your ice cubes and place into ziploc bag, hammer with a rolling pin, until smaller chunks are formed. This step is only necessary if your blender is kind of flimsy.

In any case, if you are not sure whether your blender will break, breaking up the ice cubes won't hurt.

To the blender add all the ingredients except the milk. Fill up with milk in the end to nearly cover all the stuff you added.

Blend until it reaches the desired homogeneity.
Serve and enjoy!

Roasted garlic-bean soup

Roasted garlic is good in everything savory. So it's not surprising it gave a fantastic flavor to this soup. This was part of our eat down before moving to a new apartment, and my husband named it pizza soup for it's oregano, ham, cheese, garlic flavor.

BTW, we are moving this weekend. Up in the Northeast. There is a snowstorm outside...and the snow won't be gone by Saturday. And to add to the fun, the UHaul guys told us that their vans have no snow tires.

But I will have a brand new, sunny kitchen to test!

12 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water

3 cans of white beans
1 large yellow onion
1 tbsp butter
2 bouillon cubes
1 cups water
1 bay leaf
0.25 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
0.25 cup milk

2-3 slices of ham
4 oz cheddar cheese

Add the peeled garlic cloves with the olive oil and water to a piece of aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the onion and saute in the butter until soft. Add the spices and saute for a few minutes.

Drain the beans and add one can of beans to the pot. Add the chopped roasted garlic and mash. Pour in the water and add the Bouillon cubes. At this point you way want to go over it with a handheld blender until smooth.

Add in the rest of the beans and simmer for 2 hours. Mix in the milk.

Serve with a slice of crusty bread and add thin-sliced ham and grated cheese to garnish.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BBQ pulled beef

Any cut of beef works, I used a Certified Angus London broil. The beef comes out succulent, and the BBQ sauce adds that little smoky, sweet flavor to it.

1.5-2 lb beef
6-8 pfefferoni peppers
0.5 yellow onion
1 cup water
1 bouillon cube
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp paprika
0.5 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp BBQ sauce

Mix the dry spices. Dry the beef and rub the spices on its surface. Save the leftovers.

Heat a cast iron pot on the stove and when the oil is very hot sear the beef on all sides.

Pour in the water and add the bouillon cube, coarsely chopped garlic, onion and the pfefferoni peppers without their seeds. Cover.

Preheat the oven to 275F. Place the cast iron pot in it and cook for 5 hours. At this time the beef should be easy to shred with a fork.

Remove the beef from the broth and shred. Drizzle with BBQ sauce and add some of the broth to it for additional moisture.

Serve on toasted whole-wheat butter rolls with coleslaw.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Revisiting the Danish

Blueberry, cream cheese Danish pastry. I usually have issues with not baking it long enough, and then it needs to go back into the oven.

There are many 'easy', food processor versions of this out there, but the flaky, layered pastry is worth a little bit of effort. How much?'s described here.

Count the layers!


I never knew cabbage could taste this good. It must be all the mayo...not to mention all the sugar.

16 oz coleslaw mix
2 tbsp chopped onion
2/3 cup mayo
1 tbsp and 0.25 tsp white vinegar
0.5 cup minus 1 tbsp white sugar
0.25 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix the onion with the slaw.

Whip up the dressing in a separate bowl.

Mix and allow to sit for at least 2-3 hours in the fridge. It will let out some juices, and become very creamy. Mix again before serving.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Macedonian Maznik

My first attempt at homemade fillo dough. Well, it's not really fillo dough, but the Macedonian equivalent of paper-thin dough layers. The homemade version is vastly superior to anything you can buy in a store, so maybe you should give it a shot!

The filling options are many and varied, from sweet cheery to simple cottage cheese filling. Here I made it with spinach and Feta.

In Macedonia it's a traditional meal on the 14th of January, for the celebration of the "old New Year". I was quoting my husband here. Well, it's the new year of the Julian calendar, which I guess is retained by the Orthodox churches. On this day, a coin is baked into the maznik, and after slicing, the family member who gets the slice with the coin will have luck for the new year.

Ingredients (for 2 people)
250g of flour
0.5 tsp salt

100mL vegetable oil
100mL lard

8 oz spinach
6 oz Feta
1 egg
0.5 tsp dried dill


Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix a dough from the sifted flour, salt and enough water to bring it together. Do not make it a very sticky dough, or the layers will cook instead of frying. Cut it into three pieces.

Melt the lard and mix with the oil. Soak the dough in it for 15 minutes.

Squeeze out the wilted spinach and mix with the Feta and egg until spreadable.

Remove one piece of the dough from the fat and press into a circle. Start pulling on the edges, stretching the dough evenly until paper thin.

You must take care not to rip the layer, so apply force with care. When the dough is stretched, spread a third of the filling in a strip.

Fold the edges over the filling, and start rolling it up, removing the thicker edges as you go. When you get a tube with filling, lay it down on a greased pizza pan forming a spiral at the center.

Repeat with the other two pieces of dough to complete the process. Spread the top with some more fat.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown.

The maznik should be sliced as a pizza. It will be crispy and flaky on the edges and softer in the middle.

Serve with plain yogurt!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sugar roasted carrots

My friend recently bough four pounds of 'baby-cut' carrots. He couldn't eat them all as a snack. I don't like to let food go to waste, so I roasted the remaining carrots with brown sugar. They were way too easy to eat this way. I ate them all :-)
BTW, does this baby-everything mania in the food industry disturb anyone else? Every time a recipe calls for a baby-something, I feel my stomach churn. Seriously. Can't we come up with a better descriptor?

1 lb baby-cut carrots
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 tsp salt

Mix the spices. Preheat oven to 400F.

Take your favorite Pyrex dish. Toss the carrots with oil and half of the sugar mix. Distribute in Pyrex dish.

Bake covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and bake for 10-20 minutes more. Until golden brown. Eat them all.

Quick noodle bowl

This was a first in many ways. I never used Udon noodles, broccoli rabe or frozen seafood before. In fact, I never bought any of these before. I had no idea how broccoli rabe tasted, and I was scared of seafood prices. Well, bay scallops are relatively cheap. Broccoli rabe is bitter and strange, but if you cut off the thick stems, the flavor can be reigned in. Also, it goes well with spiciness. Udon noodles don't get soggy like I feared. So, give this a shot, if you feel like experimenting.

Also...this was the first time I used anchovies as a soup base. Wow. That part must be repeated.

1 can anchovies
0.5 lb broccoli rabe
1 lb bay scallops
14 oz fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion
1 package Udon noodles
1 can chicken broth
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp extra vigin olive oil
0.5 tsp paprika
0.25 tsp black pepper

Wash the broccoli rabe, cut off the thick stems and shred.

Peel and slice the onions into medium length strips. Add to a pot with the olive oil and brown.

Drain and rinse the anchovies, chop into small bits. Add to the browned onions with the hot sauce and spices. Saute for about a minute.

Pour in the canned tomatoes, juice and all. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the scallops and cook until not translucent any longer (this is very quick).

Turn off the heat. Allow to cool a little and serve.