Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lomo saltado

A classic Peruvian dish combining stir-fry technique with French fries used as a vegetable, and, in this case, alpaca steak used as the meat. My first taste of alpaca allows me to conclude that it is essentially a more flavorful cousin of beef.

1.5 lb alpaca steak
1 red pepper
1 yellow onion
8 oz mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp starch
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 handfuls of French fries
4 ripe tomatoes

Cut the alpaca steak into 0.25-inch-wide, 1-inch-long strips. Toss with 1 tsp starch, cooking wine and 1 tsp soy sauce. Set aside to marinade.

Mix the chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sauce is thickened.

Slice the bell peppers and the onions into 0.25-inch slices. Slice the mushrooms if not presliced. Preheat a cast iron skillet and sautee the onions on medium-high heat until wilted. Remove the onions and sautee the red peppers. Repeat the same with the mushrooms. Add back all three veggies and keep cooking for 10 minutes in a 350F preheated oven.

Peel and crush the garlic. Take a large skillet and preheat on high with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. When shimmering hot, add the meat and brown while stirring every 60-90 seconds. Add the garlic about halfway. Cook until meat is nearly done.

Mix in the peppers, mushrooms and onions. Add in the simmering chicken stock sauce. Finally stir in the fries and serve over rice with Sriracha on the side.

Quince jam

A flavor from my youth, quince, or birsalma in Hungarian, grew in every garden. On my family tree the fruit was ample, and not all of it got used, as it is inedible when raw. The tart flavor puckers the mouth and even the ripe, fragrant specimen are rock hard. However, it does make an especially delicious jam.

1 pound of ripe quince
2 cups and 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice
0.5 tbsp lemon zest
2 cups sugar

Wash the quince and grate it through a large cheese grater, peel included.

Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and bring back to a boil. Stir and lower the heat to medium.

Cook uncovered, stirring frequently until it reaches the desired thickness. This will take about 45 minutes.

Sterilize canning jars by washing and drying them and keeping them in a 200F oven for 10 minutes before adding the hot jam.

Dip the lids in boiling water before covering the jars.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hungarian crepe cake

Apricot jam, dark chocolate, ground walnuts...the traditional dessert flavors of Hungary. Cottage cheese and sour cherries are my other favorites, but the previous trio rules. The below recipe makes "csusztatott palacsinta" or slid pancakes, as they are only cooked on one side and slipped on top of the garnished previous pancake to prepare a stack. This makes the lightest, creamiest, most fluffy pancake cake ever. Its preparation is, admittedly, a little more involved.

4 eggs
60 g sugar
50 g butter
15 g vanilla sugar
300 g flour
500 mL milk
zest of one lemon

100 g ground walnuts
2 tbsp icing sugar
200 g apricot jam
100 g dark chocolate

Mix the ground walnuts with the icing sugar in a bowl. Crush the dark chocolate and collect in a separate bowl. Prepare the jam.

Separate the eggs into two bowls. Beat the egg whites into a hard foam with 2 tbsp of the sugar.

Mix the remaining sugar with the egg yolks and the softened butter until frothy. Add the vanilla, flour, milk and lemon zest. Add a pinch of salt. Mix until smooth. Gently fold in the egg white foam.

Preheat a 9-inch nonstick pan on medium heat. Spray with oil and add a scoopful of batter. Prepare 0.25-inch thick pancakes, cooking only one side. Slide the first one onto a plate, cover with 1/3 of the walnut filling, add the next and top with jam, add the third and top with chocolate, etc.

The chocolate will melt deliciously between the hot layers. Serve warm.

On the picture above you can see the impressive, layered final product...and in the background, the life of a teacher.

Hot and sour soup

One of my favorite comfort foods. Spicy and slightly sour, full of delicious proteins and fiber. Incidentally, also my first cooking experiment with tofu.

8 oz extra firm tofu
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3.4 tbsp corn starch
1 pork chop
3 tbsp and 1 tsp water
1 egg
6 cups chicken broth
5 oz can bamboo shoots
6 medium shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili oil
1 tsp ground white pepper

Drain and cut the bamboo shoots into matchsticks. Slice the shiitake mushroom caps into 0.25-inch slices.

Place the tofu in a pie dish and squeeze out the liquid by adding a plate and a heavy can on top for 10 minutes. Discard liquid and cut tofu into 0.5-inch cubes.

Slice pork chop into matchsticks. Mix with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp corn starch. Set aside to marinade.

Beat the egg and mix with 1 tsp water and 0.5 tsp corn starch. Mix 3 tbsp corn starch with 3 tbsp of water, set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil, add mushrooms and bamboo shoots and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tofu and pork, stir well and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch-water mix and bring to a simmer. Stir in white pepper, 3 tbsp soy sauce, chili oil and vinegars. Turn off heat.

Drizzle in the egg. Allow to sit for a minute or two without stirring. Bring back to a boil and serve.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quick teriyaki dish

This was a quick dish that utilized my homemade teriyaki sauce. The wheat berries made it rather filling as well.

1 cup wheat berries
4 eggs
0.25 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup julienned carrots
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
8 oz mushrooms

Toss the julienned carrots with a pinch of salt, sugar and vinegar. Set aside.

Brown the mushrooms in a pan. Simmer the wheat berries in lightly salted water until tender, about 45-60 minutes. Drain.

Prepare four soft boiled eggs (6-minute eggs). After chilling, crack the tip and remove the end, reach in with a spoon and remove them whole.

Serve up half of the grain, half of the carrots, half of the mushroom and two eggs in each of two bowls. Cut the eggs in half in the bowl. Drizzle both with teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with Sriracha if desired.

Teriyaki sauce

This was a delicious sauce on several Asian-style dishes, and would be wonderful with various meats as well.

1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
0.25 cup sugar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

Add all ingredients to a pan. Heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Simmer until desired thickness is achieved (syrupy, where the bubbles almost leave tracks as it boils).

Carrot salad with crispy chickpeas

This was a delicious salad developed by Smitten Kitchen. I absolutely liked the combo, and the ingredients are simple staples (which is rare for most fancy food bloggers' recipes).

1 lb carrots
0.25 cup fresh parsley
15 oz canned chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp cumin

1 garlic clove
0.25 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
pepper flakes

Drain the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the chickpeas with 1 tbsp olive oil, 0.5 tsp salt and 0.25 tsp cumin. Spread out onto a sheet pan. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Whisk together minced garlic, lemon juice, tahini, water, olive oil, salt and pepper flakes. Set aside.

Shred carrots and toss with fresh parsley. Mix with dressing. Top with crispy chickpeas right before serving. Delicious!

Crispy oven fries

Oven fries will never have the same flavor as French fries. But they can come pretty close in deliciousness and texture. The extra step here is totally worth the effort.

3 large Russet potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
black pepper

Preheat oven to 475F with rack at the bottom of the oven. Slice the potatoes into even wedges about 0.25-inch-thick. Cover with hot water for 10 minutes.

Drain and pat dry. Toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 0.5 tsp salt and some black pepper. Coat a large pan with remaining oil. Spread out potatoes evenly on sheet pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake for 5 minutes covered, then remove foil. Bake for another 18 minutes, then flip potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Serve warm.

Herbed goat cheese

Such a simple way to turn simple goat cheese into something prettier and tastier.

4 oz goat cheese
1 tsp dill
0.5 tsp paprika

Cut goat cheese log into half. 

On a plastic wrap, spread out the spices and roll the goat cheese pieces in them. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fried green tomatoes

Autumn has come and killed off all the garden plants. There were a few huge green tomatoes left when the plant gave in. This provided a perfect excuse to try some fried green tomatoes.

2 large green tomatoes
0.5 cup buttermilk
0.25 cup flour
0.25 cup cornmeal
cayenne pepper

Slice the tomatoes to about 0.25-inch-thick slices.

Soak in buttermilk in a plastic bag. I prepared the buttermilk by mixing 0.5 cup milk with 0.5 tbsp lemon juice and waiting 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, cornmeal, some salt, pepper and cayenne in a bowl.

After the tomato slices soaked for 30-60 minutes, dip them in the cornmeal mixture.

Heat oil on medium-high until hot. Add dredged tomato slices to hot oil. Brown both sides and remove onto paper towels. Serve with remoulade sauce and some creole shrimp.