Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spicy Indian lentil dish

I'm still working on being temporarily vegetarian. It's funny how much my diet changed since I moved to the US. in Hungary we didn't eat meat frequently, but here it has become an everyday thing. Well, for the last two weeks I've managed to avoid it entirely. This lentil stew coupled with the seed rolls was great help.

2.5 cup red lentils
4.5 cup water
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger puree
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp cardamom
0.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1 can tomato paste
2.5 tsp salt
1 Bouillon cube

Heat the sesame oil and add the finely-chopped onions. Saute until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 30-45 seconds.

Add the spices and heat, mixing for 20 seconds.

Add the washed lentils, the water, spices, salt and Bouillon. Simmer until lentils are soft (about 20 minutes).

Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with yogurt and bread.

Drunken doughnuts

These are the doughnut equivalents we preare in Hungary in time for "fashing" or "farsang", the spring carnival of the year. We call them farsangi fank, but my husband creatively renamed them 'drunkin' donuts' inspired by their rum content. The added rum gives a wonderful subtle flavor to these little snacks. Last, but not least, these must be served with homemade apricot jam. Serve with anything else, and they will not be the same.

333 g flour
120mL milk
45mL water
1 tsp yeast
33g butter
1 egg
33 g sugar
17mL rum

Mix the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

Add the egg, warm milk, bloomed yeast, rum and melted butter. Knead using a kitchenaid mixer until the dough is completely smooth, shiny and elastic. Sprinkle the top with flour and allow to double, covered with foil.

When doubled, knead it gently to deflate somewhat. Roll out into an inch-thick layer. Cut 2.5-inch circles from it. Cover with a cloth and start preheating the oil.

You need to use plently of oil, so the doughnuts can float nicely. When the oil is hot, add a few pieces of dough. Cover immediately and fry covered for 2 minutes. When you remove the cover, the doughnuts will turn on their own. (If they don't, just flip them with a fork.)

Fry this side as well, until golden brown. The heat should be on about medium, to ensure that the outsides don't burn by the time the center is cooked through.

Serve doughnuts warm with apricot jam.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Salmon burgers

I got a buketful of Old Bay seasoning...and I didn't end up using any of it in this recipe. Nevertheless, my husband decreed that it was definitely a keeper. The cayenne gives them a really nice kick (thanks Chef John), and the garlic aioli is a perfect match. Just don't have this before going amongst people.

14 oz of canned salmon
2 eggs
12 saltines
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
0.5 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp capers
1.5 tbsp lemon juice

Drain the salmon and remove the bones. Mash with a fork and mix well with the spices. Add the eggs, crushed saltines, and capers. Mix well. Add the lemon juice.

Mash down into a pile and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Form into four patties. These will be crumbly, but will hold together well after one side is cooked. So if you manage to magic them into the frying pan in one piece, they will be just fine later.

Sprinkle a plate with breadcrumbs and place the patties on it. Sprinkle their tops with breadcrumbs as well.

Heat a tbsp of oil and a tbsp of butter in a pan. Add the patties and cook for 5 minutes on medium. Flip them and cook the other side for 5 minutes as well.

Meanwhile, grate a large clove of garlic, mix with 2 tbsp of mayo, 2 tbsp of sour cream, 2 tbsp of minced onion and 1 tbsp of minced sweet, bread-and-butter pickles. Toast the rolls and spread them with the aioli.

Serve the salmon burgers on toasted rolls with aioli and tomato slices.

Brie and fried egg English muffins

This is an amazing combination, especially if you have good Brie.

1 English muffin
1 egg
1.5 oz herbed Brie cheese

Cut the muffin in half, toast. Slice the Brie. Fry the egg, leaving the yolk liquid.

Place the slices of Brie on the still hot muffin, slide the hot fried egg on top. Allow to rest for 3 minutes. This will make the cheese melt deliciously. Serve with cucumber slices to clear the palate.

Seed rolls

I was looking for a hearty bread to serve with soup as a complete meal. I was inspired by a bag of flax seeds to try a whole wheat, seed bread. To my luck, the local store sells unroasted and unsalted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. These turned out perfect in the bread!

2 cups water
6 tbsp honey
1 tbsp yeast
0.25 cup olive oil
2.5 tsp salt
2.5 cup whole weat flour
2.5 cup white bread flour
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
0.25 cup flax seeds

Mix the flours, seeds and salt. Bloom the yeast with the honey in a cup of water.

Add the yeast mixture, oil and the other cup of water to the dry ingredients. Mix until it xomes together. Knead for 5 minutes.

Form into a ball, coat lightly with oil and allow to double in size in a covered bowl in a warm place.

Press into a 1.5-inch thick rectangle. Cut into 14 equal pieces. Brush with oil lightly and place onto a cookie sheet. Cover with foil again and allow to double in size.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown. About 20 minutes.

Cool on a cookie rack and serve (or freeze) immediately.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whole wheat sandwich bread

I don't like the overly sweet flavor of store-bought wheat breads. Normally, I avoid eating them by simply eating homemade, rustic loafs. However, for the veggie sandwich I ate recently, I wanted to use a bread with soft texture, but without the sweet flavor. This recipe worked out very well. I added some oats to get some nutty overtones.

1.25 cup warm water
0.5 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp honey
1.5-1.75 cup bread flour
1.5 cup whole wheat flour
0.5 cup oats
0.5 tbsp vegetable oil
0.5 tbsp salt

Bloom the yeast with the honey in 0.25 cup water. Add the remaining warm water and the oil. Mix. Mix the flours. Add half of the flour mixture to the yeast in a Kitchenaid mixer. Mix for a minute. Add the remaining flour gradually and mix in on low.

Knead on medium speed until the dough comes together. Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium for 10 minutes, until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

Shape into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Cover with foil and allow to double in size (60-90 minutes).

Butter a 9x5 loaf pan. Press the dough into a 9.5-12-inch rectangle, roll up tightly and seal the seam. Fold the edges toward the seam and place into the baking shape seam-side down. Cover and allow to rest for about an hour, until the dough doesn't readily bounce back when a finger is pressed into it.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for aout 35 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack, removing it immediately from the shape.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Veggie sandwich

After the X-mas season, I have very little desire to eat meat. These sandwiches worked out very well for both me and my husband. Tasty and filling. You have to get (or make) very good hummus for these, though.

4 slices bread
4 tbsp Sabra hummus
1/3 English cucumber
1 tomato
3 oz cheddar cheese
1 large carrot
1 tbsp rice vinegar
0.25 tsp sugar
black pepper

Slice the cucumber lengthwise. Slice the tomatoes into rings. Soak into mixture of sugar and vinegar for 10 minutes. Salt lightly.

Shread carrot through apple grater. Slice cheese.

Spread 1 tbsp hummus onto each slice of bread. Place tomato slices and cucumber slices on hummus on two slices of bread. Salt to taste. Add cheese and grated carrots. Sprinkle with black pepper. Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread. Serve.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Citrus tart

I always thought that the cafeteria versions of this were too sweet. Here is a tangier alternative. By the way, if you can get your hands on Meyer lemons, they are far juicier compared to the common Eureka ones. They are also less sour. I don't know how to prices compare elsewhere, but I got a bag of 8 Meyer lemons for $2.49 here...while the Eureka lemons cost $0.70 apiece.

100g butter
120g flour
2 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt

3 eggs
100g sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp lemon zest
0.5 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla sugar

Mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Melt the butter and mix into the dry components.

Line a 9 inch bakign dish with parchment paper, the sides included. Crumble the dough into it. Press evenly into the shape. Bake in a preheated 360F oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile , juice 3-4 Meyer lemons. Mix the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and lemon zest.

Add the 3 eggs and stir well. Pour in the lemon juice and mix until homogeneous. Do not whisk vigorously.

Pour onto pre-baked crust. Lower the oven temperature to 320F and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until center is barely set.

Turn off oven and cool for 5 minutes in oven. Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cream scones

I had extra heavy cream ready to expire (ok, I admit, it already expired, but did not taste bad yet), so I was in urgent need of a recipe that uses heavy cream. Few natural laws seem to govern our household, one of these is the disappearance of scones. If they are in the freezer, they won't be there for long...if they are just out of the oven, they won't be there for fact, if they can be found anywhere in our house, they will be gone in no time. No need to mention that another rule states that no food shall go wasted (occasionally a minimum amount does have to be thrown away, and I blame myself endlessly for my careless planning).

So instead of my favorite buttermilk scones, cream scones appeared on our table this time. They did not disappoint, but I have to say: buttermilk wins this race in my field.

2 cups flour
0.25 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1 egg
0.5 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients, crumble in refridgerated butter. Place mixture back into fridge. Mix cream with egg and vanilla. Chill thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Pour cream mixture into flour mixture. Work gently until it just comes together. Do not knead too much. On a floured surface press into a 0.75-inch-thick layer. Cut out 3.5-inch discs. Place onto cookie sheet.

Brush top with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes, until just lightly browned. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then move to cookie rack. Serve with lemon curd.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hungarian cabbage and tomato soup

This is one of my childhood favorites. Interestingly, when I made it for my husband he recognized it from his homecountry's quisine. In Macedonia they use less tomato sauce, but apart from that the soup is very similar. If you are not from Eastern Europe, the name might deter you. Don't let it. This is a very tasty soup served with a nice, crusty bread.

2 pounds cabbage
1 pound stew beef
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
0.5 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp Piros Arany
2 tbsp ketchup
28 oz tomato sauce
56 oz water
3 tbsp starch
2 bay leaves
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Saute the minced onions in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic for 30 seconds. Pull off the heat and add the paprika, Piros Arany and ketchup. Stir around and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the beef diced to 0.5-inch cubes, salt with about 1 tbsp of salt. Coat with the spices and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly browned.

Add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaves. Simmer for 60-90 minutes, until the beef is tender. Meanwhile, shred the cabbage.

When the meat is done, add the tomato sauce and the water, reserving about 0.5 cup water. Mix this water with the starch and set aside.

Add the cabbage and the black pepper to the soup and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cabbage is just slightly crunchy. Drizzle in the water and starch mixture and allow the soup to thicken a little, by bringing it just to a boil. Allow to cool a little and season with salt to taste.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Roasted carrots

I love roasted veggies. If I am to eat them plain, steaming just doesn't do it for me. As a consequence of roasting, the natural sweetness of the carrots is enhanced wonderfully.

1.5 lb large carrots
2 tbsp butter
0.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper

Cut the carrots into equal-size pieces. First half the carrots lengthwise. Then, half the bottom part and quarter the top, cutting along the length of the carrots.

Toss the wedges with melted butter, salt and black pepper. Distribute onto a baking sheet in one layer.

Cover with aluminum foil tightly. Bake in a 425F preheated oven for 15 mintes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn carrots and cook for another 10 minutes, turn again and complete the baking process with another 10-15 minute round, for a total of 50 minutes of baking. Serve.

Mexican rice

This doesn't really follow any particular recipe, so I don't know whether it truly resembles any Mexican-style rice dish. Nevertheless, I thought it tasted amazing. I think I could have eaten the entire potful in one sitting. And I'm not a fan of plain rice.

1 cup parboiled rice
2.25 cup chicken broth
1 small yellow onion
1 garlic clove
0.5 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
0.25 tsp cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
0.5 tbsp starch
salt to taste

Add the oil, onions and rice to a pot. Sautee until rice is very lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the broth, tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is cooked. Sprinkle in starch if you like the rice a little sticky.

Season with salt and serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Poppy seed and cherry scones

I've never had scones before coming to the US. On the other hand, I ate many desserts with poppy seeds. In fact, we grew our own poppy seeds in Hungary (and we did not use the pods). In the US all the dishes that contained poppy seeds used them whole. This nearly completely prevents the strong flavor of the seeds to escape. Which pretty much amounts to wasted poppy seeds.

In this dish I combined ground poppy seeds with one of my New England favorites: scones. We usually offset the deeper, heavy flavor of the poppy with brighter, tangy fruits, such as lemons and sour cherries. Here I chose sour cherries, but grated lemon zest would have worked equally well.

2 cups flour
0.25 cup poppy seeds
1 stick butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 cup sour cherries

Grind the poppy seeds in a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix the flour with the poppy seeds, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Mix the buttermilk with the vanilla.

Cut the butter into the flour mix. Pour in the buttermilk mix and the sour cherries, bring together to form a ball. Spread out onto a well-floured surface and roll into a 0.75-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into eight pieces.

Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 375F preheated oven for ~15 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack. Serve with lemon curd. The lemony flavor complements the poppy extremely well.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gin and tonic

Our favorite highball cocktail around this time of the year. Gin tastes like pine trees :-)

1.5 oz gin
4.5 oz tonic
1 lime wedge
1 large ice cube

Well, it's pretty straight forward. Mix and drink.

We had one major issue: the last gin we tried (Gordon's) was not very flavorful. Our tonic testing already concluded that Schweppe's is by far the best available around these parts. But which gin to complement it with?

Well, we tested Tanqueray, Gordon't and Gilbeys. Gordon's is tastless. If you like 'hard gin', Tanqueray and Gilbey's are preferable. Gilbey's costs about a third of the price of Tanqueray; and surprisingly, we preferred it over the more costly Tanqueray.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Molten chocolate cakes

There are manygreat recipes for these little treats. Some others use a home-made chocolate truffle to provide the molten chocolate filling in the middle. This one is a little less labor-intensive, but much harder to get right. Essentially, you need to remove the cakes from the oven just when they have set around the edges, with the centers still gooey.
As far as baking shapes go, I use a set of cylindrical metal tubing. These can be easily replaced with Pyrex or ceramic ramekins. My preference stems from the fact that these cylinders allow easy removal of the entire cake, without the risk of breaking it. I got them from amazon, they are called "cake rings".

(for 4 cakes)
2 tbsp butter
8oz semi-sweet chocolate
0.5 cup sugar
3.5 tbsp corn starch
4 eggs
4 egg yolks

vanilla ice cream for serving

Chop the chocolate, add the butter and melt gradually in the microwave, stirring occasionally.

Mix the sugar with the starch in a separate bowl. Beat the eggs in a third. Add the eggs gradually to the molten chocolate mixture (make sure it's not too hot), then mix in the sugar and starch.

Distribute into the four cake rings. Allw to cool in fridge overnight. Bake at 400F for about 8-14 minutes. This will hugely depend on the shape you decide to use, as well as your oven.

When done, cut around the cake and slide a metal spatula under the cake. Press out onto a serving plate. Serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Roasted Brussels sprouts

Another attempt to find green veggie preparations of the edible kind. While I enjoyed these, they were not my husband's favorite...

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Clean and trim the sprouts, cut into halves. Toss with water, olive oil, 0.25 tsp salt, and a small pinch of black pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet with cut sides down. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 12 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until sprouts are browned but not burnt.

Toss with balsamic and extra salt if necessary. Serve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wheat blueberry scones

These days I tend to use as much whole wheat flour in my baked goods, as possible without loss of flavor and diminishing the quality of the food's texture. Whole wheat includes more of the fiber necessary for a healthy diet; furthermore, it retains the essential oils and other micronutrients contained in wheat. It does reduce the shelf life of the flour. Unfortunately, not only do the oils oxidize and become rancid, but various fungi can grow on the unmilled grains, and in the preparation of whole wheat flours there is a higher likelyhood that these are included in the milled grain product. However, considering that most foods that are good for us are also preferred my bacteria and fungi...I keep using whole wheat and hoping that the benefits outweigh the costs.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1.25 cup white flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
0.25 tsp salt
1 stick butter
1/3 cup frozen blueberries

Mix the flours, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter to pea-sized bits.

Mix the vanilla with the buttermilk. Pour in the liquids and add the blueberries. Minimally working the dough, bring it together into a ball. Press into a 0.75-inch thick rectangle on a well-floured surface.

Cut into eight pieces, brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a cookie rack. Serve warm, with lemon curd.