Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strawberry daiquiri

I have a soft spot for fruity drinks. Florida's mango margaritas and melon mojitos were some of the best drinks I've ever had. This one is a super-fruity strawberry drink.

0.5 cup ice
0.5 cup frozen strawberry chunks
0.5 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp rum
1 tbsp sugar

Add the ice to the blender, blend until finely chipped. Thaw the strawberries a little (so your blender doesn't die, if it's as sensitive as mine). Add to the blender along with the other ingredients.

Blend until smooth. Pour into serving glass and garnish with mint leaves.

Quick and delicious pasta

This was surprisingly tasty, and my husband agreed that we could have left out the meat entirely.

1.5 cup Kalamata olives
2 large roasted red bell peppers
1 jar marinara
1 lb ground beef
0.5 tsp pepper flakes
black pepper
penne pasta

Brown the beef on a little bit of oil with salt and black pepper. Tilt the pan and drain any grease to one side. Remove all grease.

Dice the roasted red pepper, cut the olives in half. Add the the beef along with the pepper flakes. Pour in the marinara. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes.

Boil the pasta, drain, toss with some of the sauce. Serve and top with more sauce. Grate fresh parmesan on top and garnish with julienned fresh basil leaves.

Simple stuffing

Stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving menu. Unfortunately, there is never enough baked in the bird, and the type baked outside just doesn't cut it. So, here's a recipe adapted from ATK that uses turkey bits on top of the stuffing and expands the deliciousness into an entire baking pan.

2 lb white sandwich bread (something substantial)
3 lb turkey wings
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion
3 celery ribs
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp fresh sage leaves
1 tsp black pepper
2.5 cup chicken broth
3 eggs
1 cup craisins
1 lb pork sausage (optional)

Chop the onion and celery into small pieces. Mince the herbs (sage and thyme). Dice the bread into 0.5-inch cubes.

Heat oven to 250F. Bake bread until edges have dried but centers are slightly moist (yield to pressure), about 45-50 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and increase oven temperature to 375F.

Poke wing segments 10-15 times. Brown in oil heated on the stovetop for 4-6 minutes per side. Set aside.

Brown sausage here (optional). In the same pan, heat butter with onion and celery plus 0.5 tsp salt. Cook until veggies are softened but not browned. Add herbs and black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup broth and remove any fond from the bottom of the pan. Add mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes and toss.

Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan with butter. Whisk the eggs with the remaining broth and salt and any juices from the turkey. Mix with bread and gently toss to combine, adding in the craisins (and sausage, if you so choose).

Pour into baking dish. Cover with wings and seal tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 60-75 minutes, cool briefly then serve.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shrimp and asparagus stir fry

I've been experimenting with brown rice, not only due to its health benefits over white rice, but because I really enjoy the texture and taste. It appears that it's definitely not my favorite for use in fried rice. While this dish was tasty, the sticky texture I like in fried rice was missing.

1.5 cup cooked brown rice
10-12 de-tailed shrimp
1 bunch of asparagus
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp chili paste
0.5 tbsp soy sauce
0.5 tbsp fish sauce
0.25 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bake asparagus spears at 400F for 8-10 minutes, until slightly tender. Cut into 1.5-inch pieces.

Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet, heat and add minced garlic and chili paste. Cook for about 30 seconds. 

Add shrimp and cook until just barely translucent.

Mix soy sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar.

Add brown rice, asparagus and the soy sauce mixture. Cook stirring until heated through. Serve topped with sweet chili sauce.

Asparagus with egg and mustard sauce

Asparagus brings the flavor of spring to any dish. This one is exquisite in its simplicity. For the best outcome, you must use an outstanding Dijon mustard. The one pictured below is the best I have tried to this date.

1 lb asparagus
2 eggs
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
0.5 tsp red wine vinegar
lemon pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut off the tough bottom parts of the asparagus stalks. Distribute onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray with oil. Season with lemon pepper.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the stalks get tender but maintain their firm bite. Distribute onto two plates.

Meanwhile, prepare two poached or fried eggs with soft yolks. Also, mix the mayo, vinegar, mustard and a little bit of salt.

Place egg on asparagus pile, drizzle with Dijon sauce. Serve!

Baked mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are best when served fresh. They are rather hard to effectively reheat, and while microwaving works, it still requires rather frequent stirring to achieve an evenly heated dish. This dish is a perfect solution for situations when you may wish to prepare the potatoes ahead of time and just pop them in the oven for a shirt period of time before the meal.

2 lb cooked potatoes
0.5 cup milk
4 tbsp butter
0.5 cup grated Parmesan
0.5 cup grated mozzarella
black pepper

Mash the cooked potatoes and mix with the milk and butter. Add most of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Season with salt and black pepper.

Distribute the mix into a glass baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake uncovered in a 400F oven for about 20 minutes. Serve!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Caveman pops

I love to eat food with my hands. It just feels natural and I find that this simple release of control grants a unique pleasure. I enjoy eating a sandwich containing eggs with their yolks still runny, dripping down my hands. Taking large bites and not caring about the mess (as long as it's constrained to my hands and face...I don't like to get my clothes dirty). Caveman pops, or roasted turkey legs provide a similar release, playing on some primal urge to tear meat with our teeth, hungrily, with gusto. So, while I don't recommend ordering something like this on a job interview, I absolutely endorse caveman pops as a form of returning to childhood.

4 turkey legs
black pepper
4 sprigs of sage
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil

Rub the turkey legs thoroughly with salt. Brush a baking shape with oil. Add the legs and dust with black pepper. Arrange the sage and peeled, crushed garlic cloves in between.

Cover with aluminum foil tightly and bake at a 325F oven for 2.5 hours. Remove foil, sprinkle legs with paprika and roast for another 15 minutes in a 400F oven. Broil to get a crispy skin.

Hungarian sweet pea stew

Children hate spinach, most of them anyway. Hungarian children hate stewed vegetables, and this dish is no exception. It took me a long time to learn to appreciate creamed veggies, and nowadays I eat them as comfort foods. The creamy bechamel sauce with the sweet peas accented by the savory goulash topping usually served with this dish is a very nice, homey combination.

1 kg green peas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
20g flour
100mL milk
100mL cold water
0.5 cup minced fresh parsley

Steam the peas covered in the heated oil, stirring occasionally. When they appear somewhat cooked, add the chopped parsley, salt, 2-3 tbsp sugar and a small pinch of vegeta.

Add the flour and cook for a few minutes. Add the cold water, stirring til smooth, then add the cold milk.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve topped with goulash or hot dogs and a slice of crusty bread.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sweet currant rolls

These are reminiscent of crescent rolls, an amazingly tasty breakfast with some homemade jam or toasted with some butter.

650g flour
4 tbsp butter
80g sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1 packet vanilla sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 egg
0.25 cup warm water
0.75 cup warm milk
100g dried currants
50g dried cranberries

Bloom the yeast with a pinch of the sugar and the water. To the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, add the flour, remaining sugar and salt. Pour in the bloomed yeast with the warm milk and the beaten egg.

Add in the currants, vanilla, and the craisins, as well as the zest of the lemon. Knead in the mixer for 10 minutes on medium.

Allow to rise in a warm place covered with foil. Punch down and cut into 12 equal pieces. Form into rolls, press down the center of each and place rolls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray tops with oil and cover with foil. Allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the tops of the rolls with milk and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Brush with diluted, hot jam while still warm. Cool on a cookie rack.

Nudli (Hungarian gnocchi)

I have posted the recipe for Hungarian plum dumplings here before. Their tender, potatoey dough and crispy breadcrumb crust makes them a delectable, albeit not too sweet dessert to follow a hearty soup. And while plum dumplings are the perfect treat for a fall lunch, when fresh fruit is scarce, nudli offers a satisfying alternative. While the Italians eat their gnocchi with savory sauces, the Hungarians love them both sweet and salty. Nudli uses the dough of plum dumplings and instead of a fruit filling, it is topped with homemade jams.

250g boiled potatoes
150g flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 tbsp semolina
1 tsp sugar

powdered sugar

Mix the flour with the semolina, salt and sugar. Press the potatoes through a ricer and mix with the flour.

Add the egg and knead until a slightly sticky dough forms. Roll out on a well-floured board into a half-inch-thick layer.

Using a pizza cutter cut into half-inch strips, then cut into 1.5 inch pieces. Roll each between floured hands,

Bring a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt. Boil the pasta in small bathes.

Meanwhile, brown some breadcrumbs with a little bit of oil stirring constantly. They burn easily. Add some sugar and cinnamon to taste.

When the gnocchi come to the surface of the boiling water, cook for a minute then remove into the caramelized breadcrumbs. Toss to coat.

Serve dusted with powdered sugar and homemade apricot jam.