Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Elderflower gimlet

Elderflower is one of the flavors of Hungary. Elderflower syrup is made in many households in the spring, with lemons, sugar and beautiful heads of the white composite flower soaked in the syrup. Coca Cola even had an elderflower Fanta flavor in Hungary. Not quite as good as the syrup diluted with seltzer, but still, a Hungarian flavor. Around here, this is an adult version of the drink.

4.5 tbsp St. Germain liquor
2.5 tbsp gin
4 crushed ice cubes
juice of 0.5 lime

Crush the ice and add to a glass. Add the juice of the lime.

Add the gin and St. Germain. Mix well. Serve cold.

Caraway wheat thins

I was looking for a simple recipe to illustrate the power and relevance of chirality to my students in chemistry. R and S carvone are mirror images. They are the essential oils found in spearmint and caraway. Interestingly, the connectivity of the molecules is the same, simply the three dimensional arrangement around one carbon atom differs. Yet the flavor difference is powerful. These molecules have the same physical and chemical properties, with the exception of how they rotate plane-polarized light, and the way they interact with other chiral molecules. It so happens that most of our taste receptors are chiral, and they recognize this pair of isomers differently. Spearmint gum is easy to find, and these snacks may provide an interesting, exotic flavor for those unfamiliar with caraway.

1.25 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 tbsp sugar
0.75 tsp salt
0.25 tsp paprika
0.5 tbsp caraway seeds
4 tbsp butter
0.25 cup water

Add all dry ingredients into a food processor, with exception of the caraway.

Pulse with the diced butter until it's incorporated into coarse crumbs.

Add the water until a ball begins to form. Add caraway seeds and stir in briefly.

Preheat oven to 400F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out half of the dough into an even, 1mm-thick layer.

Cut with a pizza cutter and bake for 7 minutes. Cool in cookie pans.

Pear compote

I had a bag of fragrant pears from friends, and I couldn't eat them all fresh. With this quick and delicious recipe they turned into an amazing topping for rice porridge.

5 large pears
0.5 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups apple cider
0.25 cup cider vinegar
0.25 tsp cinnamon

Combine butter, juice, vinegar and sugar. Simmer down to about 2 tbsp in volume. It will be very concentrated and delicious!

Saute peeled and diced pears on the butter for about 5 minutes. 

Add the vanilla, cinnamon and the reduced sauce. Stir and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Roasted pepper hummus

It is easier to make friends when happy, drinking good drinks and eating tasty foods. This food was brought to a particular party in the past with no intention to participate in initiating a friendship between two people, yet that is exactly what it wound up doing. It simply tasted amazing, and in so doing, it acted as a catalyst for conversation and ensured a warm and open heart (on my side) toward the person who prepared it. Now we are friends. The recipe is posted with her permission.

14.5 oz can of chickpeas
3.5 tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic
0.25 cup tahini
1 lemon
2 red bell peppers

Roast and peel red peppers. Drain, rinse chickpeas and add to a Pyrex dish. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin, and a sprinkling of paprika and cayenne.

Bake chickpeas at 400F for 20 minutes. Cool. Push around and remove skin that peels off.

Mince garlic and mix with 1.5 tbsp of olive oil. 

To a food processor add the tahini and slowly sprinkle in the juice of the lemon, while blending. Whip until smooth.

Add in chickpeas and garlic oil. Add in roasted red peppers and season with salt. Blend. Serve with pita chips.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Banana crepe cake

If you would like to be fancy with your banana crepes, assemble them into this pretty albeit heavy crepe cake. Delicious!

1 portion banana crepes
8 oz cream cheese
1.5 cup Greek yogurt
0.25 cup sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla extract

0.5 cup heavy cream
0.25 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
0.5 cup chopped walnuts
0.5 tsp vanilla
0.25 tsp Kosher salt

2 ripe bananas

Soften cream cheese in microwave. Add in sugar, yogo and vanilla. Whip until homogeneous and sugar is fully dissolved.

Layer crepes with yogurt filling and slice bananas extra-thin in between.

For the topping, add brown sugar, butter and cream to a pot.

Heat on medium high until it comes to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, stirring more and more frequently as the sauce thickens.

Add vanilla, salt and chopped walnuts. Pour on top of crepe cake and chill before serving.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Banana crepes

These were developed by Smitten Kitchen. They are quite simple to make and nicely banana flavored when served with a simple Nutella cream.

4 tbsp butter
1 large ripe banana
1 cup milk
95 g flour
4 eggs
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp table salt
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cloves

Peel and mash the banana. Add to a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Melt the butter and allow to cool.

Add melted butter to food processor, blend again.

Add everything else and blend until well-combined. Transfer to a bowl and chill for 2-3 hours. Stir well before preparing the crepes.

Heat a 22-cm skillet on medium-high, brush with butter and add a quarter cup of batter. Flip gently. I did not need to butter between crepes, as the batter contained sufficient grease and I used a non-stick skillet. Makes about ten crepes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hungarian mushroom soup

Upon my arrival to the US, one of the most shocking foods I was served was goulash. The goulash of the US has nothing to do with the goulash of Hungary. We do not put pasta, cheese and ground meat in goulash. Nor do we prepare a tomato-based sauce. The goulash of Hungary is heavily seasoned with Hungarian paprika. In addition to paprika, sour cream, dill, onions and garlic are some basic, common ingredients in Hungarian food. So, while the Hungarian mushroom soup sold everywhere was totally unfamiliar to me, it at least contained several of the classic Hungarian flavors. So, I gave it a shot. It wasn't half bad.

16 oz mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
2 large onions
2 tsp dried dill weed
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely-chopped parsley
0.5 cup sour cream

Melt the butter and saute the onions with the salt until softened. 

Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in paprika, dill, soy sauce and broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk the milk with the flour, pour into the soup and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 more minutes. 

Add the black pepper, lemon juice and sour cream. Heat together and stir in parsley. Serve warm.