Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tzatziki sauce

Every country in my region happens to have a version of a garlicy, creamy cucumber salad. Here is a thicker one, that goes well with sandwiches.

Ingredients
0.5 cucumber
1-2 tsp dill
6 cloves garlic
2 cups sour cream
0.5 tsp vegetable oil
salt to taste

Preparation
Shred the cucumber. Mix with salt and set aside.

Peel and crush the garlic. Add some oil toward the end, to extract the flavors.

Squeeze out the juice from the cucumber, add the sour cream, dill and garlic. Mix and salt to taste. For the best outcome, allow to sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Use with Macedonian burgers or chicken skewers.

Greek chicken skewers

Also called chicken souvlaki, these grilled bites of chicken are lightly flavored and perfectly complemented with some cucumber salad and fresh veggies, rolled up in a soft, whole-wheat pita bread.

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs
3 cloves of garlic
0.5 lemon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
salt

Preparation
Chop the chicken thighs into bite-sized, equal pieces. Zest and juice the lemon and mince the garlic. Mix the chicken with all the ingredients, including all the lemon juice and 0.5 tsp of lemon zest. Marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers. I prefer the reusable, metal ones. Arrange the chicken pieces, so all pieces on a skewer are about the same size.

Grill on a medium-high temperature grill until done: browned outside, juices run clear.

Serve with all the trimmings.

Roasted tomato pasta salad

The flavor of summer.

Ingredients
16 oz rotini
0.5 cup oven roasted tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar
0.5 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes
bunch of basil leaves
1 cup parmesan cheese

Preparation
Chop the garlic and tomatoes, blend with the vinegar until smooth. Add olive oil, salt, pepper. Blend again.

Cut tomatoes in quarters, chop basil leaves, half olives.

Cook pasta, drain, toss with roasted tomato sauce and basil. Add grated cheese, tomatoes, olives and toss again. Cool and serve.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sausage pizza

This was amazingly simple and simply amazing.

Ingredients
1 portion pizza dough
1 hot Italian sausage
fresh basil
roasted tomatoes
4 oz fresh mozzarella
olive oil
oregano
corn meal

Preparation
My roasted tomatoes and basil were stored in olive oil. Chop tomatoes and basil into desired size.

Press dough into pizza shape sprinkled with cornmeal, brush with the olive oil that come with the basil and tomatoes. Distribute the basil, tomatoes and oregano on top.

Squeeze out the filling from the sausage and form little balls. Distribute onto pizza. Spread top with mozzarella.

Bake at temperature required by dough. Cool on cookie rack, serve!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sweet corn pudding

I love corn. Growing up, my grandmother used to cut the corn off the cob for us children, and sprinkle the kernels with a little bit of salt or sugar. We got to pick. I always picked sugar.
Of course, we never had the expensive sweet corn, just the corn grown for animal feed. It's a starchier, less sweet version, virtually inedible when ripe.

This corn pudding is mildly sweet and custardy, the the dominant flavor is still that of corn.

Ingredients
1 can cream style corn
0.5 can low-sodium sweet corn kernels
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter + some extra for buttering the shape
2 tbsp corn starch
0.25 cup milk
2 tbsp sugar

Preparation
Butter a 1.5-2 quart baking dish. Melt the butter, mix with the beaten eggs.

Add in the sugar and starch, mix until smooth. Add in the milk and corn. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Pour corn mix into the buttered shape. Bake for about 45 minutes, until set. Allow to cool a bit, serve.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Basil-tomato-mozzarella salad

A refreshing summer favorite with a good slice of crusty bread. Oh, and red, white and green are the colors of the Hungarian flag as well. Of course, making it out of paprika, onion and Hungarian peppers would be more appropriate :-)

Ingredients
2-3 ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 oz fresh mozzarella
lots of fresh basil
salt

Preparation
Dice the tomatoes and cheese.

Chop up the basil and crush the garlic in a mortar with some olive oil. Mix everything. Allow to sit for 15 minutes stirring occasionally, serve.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Salmon spread

My all time favorite food in Norway was smoked salmon. This summer in Finland I was reminded of this delicacy, and finally I got hold of some in the US. Not that it's hard to find smoked salmon here, it's just not very cheap. But the flavor is totally worth it. Not to mention the omega-3 fatty acid content :-)

Ingredients
8 oz smoked salmon
8 oz cream cheese
2-3 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp dill
0.25 tsp black pepper

Preparation
Chop the salmon into small pieces.

Microwave the cream cheese lightly, just until it's easy to stir. Add the sour cream, dill and black pepper.

Add the chopped salmon and mix thoroughly.

Serve on a whole grain bread with tomato slices. Yum!

Basil chicken pizza

This was surprisingly delicious. Basil is my favorite!

Ingredients
1 portion pizza dough
0.5 cup Ranch dressing
0.25 cup chopped onion
4-5 large basil leaves
4 oz fresh mozzarella
1 small chicken breast
3 tbsp chopped pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano

Preparation
Cook the chicken breast in salty water. Shred and mix with 2-3 tbsp ranch dressing.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Spread out the pizza dough, cover with olive oil and the remaining ranch dressing. Sprinkle with basil, chicken, oregano, onion and pepper.

Bake on the low shelf for 5 minutes. Sprinkle on the mozzarella and bake until done. Cool on a cookie rack, serve!

Also...be sure you use basil that hasn't flowered yet. Apparently the leaves lose much of their flavor after that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hungarian sour cream toast

Sour cream and paprika are central to Hungarian cuisine. This recipe calls forth the traditional flavors in a quick and easy meal.

Ingredients
bread
sour cream
Piros Arany (Hungarian crushed paprika spice)
bologna or ham
cheese

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the bread and place slices onto cookie sheet.

Mix 3-4 tbsp sour cream with 1-2 tsp Piros Arany. Spread onto bread slices.

Top with cold cut and cheese. Bake until cheese is lightly browned. During baking, the sour cream and paprika mixture will become something infinitely more delicious. This really only works with the popular Trappist cheese used in Hungary, and real, Hungarian white bread.

Taco salad

I never had a taco salad ever before. But last time I had an iceberg lettuce and a pot of Hungarian-style chili on my hands I served it up together and enjoyed it.

I usually store iceberg lettuce washed in a large plastic bag. When using it, I cut off a quarter and shred it. Here I topped it with a little bit of sesame-ginger salad dressing and a bunch of chicken chili.

Turkey sloppy Joes

One of my favorites from the dining hall, made a little healthier. I emphasize "a little". If you make it with ground beef, drain off all the grease once you browned the beef.

Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey
0.75 cup ketchup
3 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
0.5 tsp garlic powder
0.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
0.25 cup chopped onion
0.25 cup chopped pepper
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
salt
black pepper
1 cup water

Preparation
Add the ground meat to a cold skillet and cook, slowly mashing it into tiny pieces so it completely falls apart. No chunks left.


Add the peppers and onions and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until it reaches the desired thickness.

It should be able to stand on a bun without falling apart or flowing down.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Flax and sour cream bread

With a slightly denser inner texture and a perfectly crusty outside, this is a very nice bread to serve with tuna salad or salmon and cream cheese.

Ingredients
1.25 cup water
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tsp yeast
0.25 cup flax seeds
1.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp instant coffee
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
0.5 tsp sugar

Preparation
Bloom the yeast with the sugar in 0.25 cup warm water. Add the remaining water, sour cream and instant coffee.

Grind the flax seeds coarsely, add it to the mixture with the flours and the salt. Knead until smooth.

Coat with oil and allow to double in size. Press into a rectangle and roll it up like a jelly roll. Place onto an oiled cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush with oil, cover with a wet kitchen towel.

Allow to double again, and bake in a preheated 350F oven spraying it with water every 5 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack.

Hungarian cottage cheese pie

Turos pite, or cottage cheese pie, is a delicious Hungarian dessert. Many recipes circulate, but this one is my favorite.

Ingredients
dough:
250g flour
0.5 package baking powder (0.5 tsp?)
100g sugar
0.5 packet vanilla sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg yolk
125g butter
50mL sour cream

filling:
250g farmers cheese
100g sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 egg yolk
200mL sour cream
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 egg whites

Preparation
Mix the dry ingredients for the dough, then add the wet ones and knead together. I usually soften the butter in the microwave. Add more sour cream if necessary.

Form into two balls and refrigerate. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Mix the ingredients for the filling until smooth, with the exception of the egg whites. Beat those into a foam and add at the end.

Roll out the dough balls, and lay down one into a 9x11 inch baking shape lined with one piece of baking paper, that hangs over on the sides. This will allow removal of the cake later.

Pour in the filling and cover with the other piece. Puncture with a fork and bake at 350F until light brown. Do not overbake.

Cool in the shape, then remove onto a board and cool in the fridge before slicing. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hajtovany (Hungarian cheese snacks)

This was quite tasty, but would be better with a cheese other than Monterey Jack.

Ingredients
dough:
500g flour
250mL milk
50mL water
1 egg yolk
50mL oil
0.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

filling:
100g butter
1 tsp salt
0.5 egg (save the other half for egg wash)
150g of cheese

Preparation
Bloom the yeast with the sugar in warm water. Add the warm milk, oil and egg yolk. Mix and add in the flour and salt. Knead until smooth and elastic. Coat lightly with oil and allow to double in size.

Meanwhile, grate the cheese and mix it with the salt, egg and slightly melted butter. Save a little cheese for decoration.

Roll out the dough to be 1/8 inch thick. Spread with the cheese filling. Roll up like a jelly roll.

Cut at an angle into trapezoids, turn so the narrow part is on top (see picture). Place onto oiled cookie sheet. Brush lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size again.

Preheat the oven to 350F, brush the cheese snacks with egg wash. Before placing them into the oven, brush with egg wash again and sprinkle with a little bit of grated cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. Next time I would use a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar in this.