Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mini Hungarian fruit tart

This is a emergency version, and a smaller one compared to the standard crust.

Just take two thirds of this recipe and pour the batter into the center of the pan. Push to the edges evenly and it will create a thinner crust.

I filled this one with canned fruits I found in the pantry: pineapples are the absolute requirement. They taste absolutely fabulous with the vanilla pudding.

2 eggs
80 g of sugar
70 g flour
50 g unsalted butter
one instant or cooked vanilla pudding prepared according to the instructions on the box
one package of unflavored gelatin
100 mL cranberry juice

Preheat the oven to 320°F. Thoroughly butter and flour your cake shape of choice.

Mix the melted butter with the eggs and the sugar. Add in the flour gradually and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the baking shape and spread evenly. Bake in the preheated oven until golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute in the shape, then flip out onto a plate.

Tres Bonne Cheeses

 I don't contribute to the blog in the form of recipes and cooking isn't my most favoritest activity, but eating good food is my forte. :)

Our local coop regularly offers a selection of small cheese chunks, perfectly sized for tasting. We've tasted a bunch of different cheeses and I realized we will forget which ones we liked. So I decided to scribble down a few notes from now on, whenever we try a memorable cheese. This weekend we tried real Italian provolone, Oka cheese from Quebec and a local Vermont cheese called Tres Bonne.

Our favorite was the local Tres Bonne. It's made in Enosburg Falls by a company called Boston Post Dairy (http://www.bostonpostdairy.com/cheese.html). It has a mild but bright flavor and is softer than the provolone.

The Oka and the provolone were good, as well. The Oka had a crunchy, salty outer layer and a soft, more pungent middle. 

In the second round of taste testing, we tried Invierno (aka winter) cheese from Vermont Shepherd. The cheese is made from mixed cow and sheep milk. It has a nice creamy, buttery taste. 

We also had cave-aged Swiss Gruyere cheese. Livia said it tasted like caveman feet. I quite liked it :) it definitely has a more pungent flavor than the other cheeses we tried. It's also harder than the Oka. 

In the third round of tasting we sampled English Huntsman cheese from England which is a Double Gloucester wrapped around Stilton. It was very good. The milder Gloucester offsets the sharper, saltier Stilton. 

We also had local Vermont blue cheese which fit perfectly with cubes of quince jam. The Stilton paired well with the quince as well. 

In addition, we sampled some Greek feta made from sheep milk. It was very mild but my Mediterranean taste buds liked it. The types I've tried in Macedonia have a more prominent tinge of the sheep milk flavor and are harder. 

The next batch of cheese tasting included a Mango & Ginger Stilton from England, and two local cheeses: Riley's goat and Ascutney Mountain. 

The Stilton was fruity and mild - there was hardly any cheese taste. The mango and ginger combo worked well. Not bad overall. A dessert cheese if there is such a thing. 

Riley's cheese and the ascutney mountain were both pretty mild. 

Cave aged farmhouse cheese from Orbweaver farm, New Haven, Vt
Semi soft cheese, not overly pungent but flavorful. It's tangy and slightly salty. 

Piave vecchio from Italy 
This was a hard cheese resembling Parmesan in texture but with a less strong flavor. 

Bianco sardo sheep milk cheese from Sardinia 
It's a hard cheese, relatively sweet with a distinct flavor of sheep milk. 

Idiazabal Spanish raw sheep milk cheese. Fairly bright flavor, you can tell it is sheep milk but in a good way. Delicious. 

Raclette French cheese. Saltier crunchier rind. Pungent in a good way. The idiazabal was better but the raclette was a solid choice (actually it's a somewhat soft cheese :) 

The Drunken Goat Cheese
I might have a soft spot for Spanish cheeses. This is a semi sweet cheese made of goat milk and "bathed" in red wine. The wine gives the ring a nice kick and the cheese itself is relatively mild. Tasty!

Butterwick from Twig Farm in Cornwall VT.  
Tangy flavor, and similar to blue cheese (a bit). Nicely creamy and buttery. 

Livia was in NJ recently and brought these from a cheese shop:
Mahon: Spanish cheese from cow milk. Soft and mild flavored. I quite liked it. Made by Cypress Grove.
Midnight moon: very delicious goat cheese. Semi hard and very delicious. 
Wild spitz: relatively creamy and tangy. 
Vintage Gouda: this one was pretty hard and salty. I think it reminded us of Parmesan more than Gouda :)

Blue ledge farm Lake's Edge Goat Cheese: nice goat cheese, slight blue cheese tangy ness. 

Consider Bardwell Farm - Toma style raw jersey cow milk cheese: semi hard, yellow, slightly nutty. Smooth and buttery. It's made in West Pawle, VT and it's very tasty. 

Toma de savoie cheese
This was not out favorite cheese. Sharp, earthy flavor with a bitter after taste. Maybe it was this particular batch. 

Tarentaise cheese from Spring Brook Farm in Vermont: delicious!  Creamy, rich taste (the cheese is actually semi hard). 

Manchego cheese from Spain: very good. Nutty, almost caramel flavor. Might have been a tad too salty. 

Von Trapp cheese - Mt. Alice, Vermont: Made with goat milk. Soft, creamy but not rich. The goat milk gives it a good flavor. I liked it quite a bit!

Apricot pancakes

These apricot jammy bits sold at King Arthur Flour Co. are amazing! They were delectable in scones, and a hit in these pancakes as well. Unfortunately, when I went back to their store, they were out. However, you can still order them online.

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1 tsp vegetable oil
0.25 cup apricot jammy bits

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in the other.

Combine dry and wet ingredients. Do not overmix. Cook 1/3 cupfuls in a nonstick pan preheated on medium heat. Flip when bubbles begin to appear at the center.

Serve with maple syrup while still warm.

Chopped salad

During the holidays overeating is rather typical, but after a while it stops feeling amazing. Sadly. At this time, it's all right to bring out the salads for lunch. This one is a hearty and delicious salad.

3 cups salad greens
1 carrot
1 tomato
1/3 seedless cucumber
2 tbsp olives
2 tbsp hot peppers
2 tbsp diced red onion
3 oz cheese
2 boiled eggs
2 oz prosciutto
1/3 cup homemade ranch dressing

Wash all vegetables, dice them and toss together. Boil eggs, cool, peel and add on top of salad.

Sprinkle in diced prosciutto and toss with your choice of dressing. I prefer homemade buttermilk ranch. Serve with a roll or just on its own.

Roasted chicken with smoky paprika

This was an easy way to prepare a delicious chicken, though albeit the breast was tender and picked up some of the smokey flavor...the thighs were still superior. Next time, it won't be a whole roasted chicken, just four trimmed chicken thighs.

1 tbsp smoked paprika
0.5 tbsp hot paprika
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
6 red potatoes
4 lb chicken
3 sprigs rosemary

Wash and dry the chicken. Trim off any extra fat. Grate the garlic into a paste and mix with 1 tbps olive oil, paprikas and the salt. Rub onto the exterior of the chicken. Stuff the rosemary inside and allow to rest overnight on a plate in the fridge, uncovered.

Remove chicken from fridge and allow to equilibrate to room temperature over an hour. Wash the potatoes and cut them into thick wedges (I cut them into six pieces each) lengthwise. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, salt and some black pepper.

Spread out the potatoes onto a deep roasting pan. Preheat oven to 500F. Set the chicken on top of the potatoes and roast for 30 minutes.

Lower heat to 425F and turn potatoes. Return chicken to oven for another 25 minutes, until inside registers 165F. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve.

Apricot scones

I visited the King Arthur Flour factory in Vermont recently, and in addition to their amazing cafe, the store held many fun surprises for me. For instance these apricot jammy bits. They are intensely apricot flavored, jelly-like but great for baking. They do not completely liquefy, but rather turn to a jam-like consistency.

2.25 cup flour
0.25 cup sugar
0.5 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup apricot jammy bits

Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk and the vanilla extract.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture. Add the jammy bits and pour in the buttermilk mix. Fold by hand until no large dry spots remain. Do not overmix.

Pour onto a floured surface, roll out into a 1-inch-thick layer and cut into eight pieces. Brush tops with more buttermilk and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 375F for about 15 minutes. Cool on cookie rack.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Vegetarian curry

This is another ATK recipe. Slightly spicy, very tasty and perfect, even for cauliflower-haters such as myself.

2 tbsp curry powder
1.5 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions
12 oz red potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 jalapeno
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 small head of cauliflower
14.5 oz canned diced tomato
1.25 cup water
15 oz canned chickpeas
8 oz frozen green peas
0.25 cup heavy cream

Dice the red potatoes into 1-cm cubes. Peel the onions and chop with a food processor into small pieces.

In a large cast iron dish heat the oil on medium-high until hot. Add the potatoes and the onion and cook stirring occasionally, until potatoes and onions are golden brown. About 10 minutes.

Meanwhile toast the curry and the garam masala over medium-high heat for a minute, until fragrant. And cut the cauliflower into 1-inch florets.

When potatoes and onions are cooked, reduce heat to medium and add the minced jalapeno and the crushed garlic, the ground ginger and the tomato paste. Cook for a minute, Then add the toasted spices.

Stir and cook for another minute, then add the cauliflower and stir until all the pieces are coated with spices.

Add the canned diced tomatoes, the water, chickpeas and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil a and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until veggies are just cooked. Add the green peas and the cream. Stir until just heated.

Serve over rice with chutney.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chocolate chip, date and pumpkin cookies

I always thought dates tasted of honey. They were a traditional winter delicacy along with dried figs in my parents' house. These cookies are mildly cake-like, with pockets of liquid chocolate and chewy bits of sweet dates in them. They freeze well, and are amazing when microwaved after.

1 packed cup of pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup diced dates

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the pumpkin, sugars, oil and egg. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips and the dates. Stir in the vanilla.

Drop 1.5 tbsp batter on the parchment paper. leave an inch of space between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are set at their center. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Butternut squash salad

It's the season of winter fruits, and the most abundant one here up north is butternut squash. This dish is a very filling, sweet and savory salad. Use it if you are bored of your various roasted squash and soup recipes.

2.5 lb butternut squash
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
15 oz canned garbanzos
2 tbsp chopped red onion
0.25 cup chopped fresh parsley
0.25 cup lemon juice (from one lemon)
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp water

Dice the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, one clove minced garlic and salt. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast at 425F until soft.

Remove squash from oven and cool. Meanwhile juice the lemon. Wash and drain the chickpeas.

Mix the lemon juice with the other crushed garlic, tahini, water and 2 tbsp olive oil. 

Mix the squash, red onion, parsley and toss with the dressing. Serve warm for optimal flavor.

Cheese blintzes

These are essentially a more decadent, buttery version of crepes, folded and browned in butter or deep fried for a crispy outside with the superior flavors of the Maillard reaction intensified in the experience.

4 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup flour
0.25 tsp salt
2 cups ricotta
2 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp grated lemon zest

Add melted butter, milk, eggs, flour and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth scrapind=g down the sides if necessary. Set aside for an hour in the fridge.

Cook the crepe wrappers in a pan heated on medium-high and brushed with butter. Brown both sides lightly and collect them on a plate.

Meanwhile, mix the ricotta with the sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Foll the crepes burrito-style with the cheese filling.

Freeze or cook at this point.The frozen ones can be microwaved and then fried before serving, to ensure that the filling is warm.

Melt some butter in a skillet and add the wraps, brown on each side. Serve with a fruit sauce,

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Homemade soft cheese

It's actually incredibly easy to prepare a homemade ricotta-style soft cheese. The product can then be served with savory or sweet dishes.

3 cups milk
1 tbsp vinegar
cheese cloth

To a pot add 3 cups of whole milk. Bring to 185F stirring constantly to prevent scorching at the bottom. Take off from the heat and stir in 1 tbsp of vinegar. 

Allow to sit for 10 minutes on the counter top. The cheese should curdle into large chunks.

Meanwhile, set up a colander lined with two layers of cheese cloth. Set into a bowl. Pour in the curdled milk and allow to drain for 60 minutes. Tie the cheescloth and suspend over a bowl in the fridge overnight.

Remove from cloth and pat cheese into a ball. Season with salt and some freshly cracked pepper. Or a little salt and honey.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BBQ boneless ribs

Such succulent, smoky, sweet and salty deliciousness. BBQ pork is very simple to make, and this recipe is lifted by the smoked paprika added to the seasonings.

3 pounds of boneless pork ribs
black pepper
smoked paprika
1 cup brown sugar

Rinse the meat and pat dry. Place onto a layer of aluminum foil.

Sprinkle liberally with salt, black pepper and paprika. Pack on the brown sugar. 

Preheat oven to 275F. Seal the aluminum foil package and wrap into an additional layer of foil. Place onto a baking sheet and on the middle rack of the preheated oven.

After baking for 2.5 hrs, remove from oven and allow to cool unwrapped on a cookie rack. Before serving, baste with juices and broil lightly on top.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Curried chicken salad

A tangy, flavorful lunch option. Best served after a day of marinading.

2 chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
2 green onions
1 golden delicious apple
1/3 cup golden raisins
0.25 cup toasted pecans
0.25 cup seedless green grapes
1/3 tsp curry powder
3 tbsp mayo
pinch black pepper

Cook the chicken breasts and dice into 0.5-inch cubes.

Slice green onions, dice apples and celery. Mix all ingredients. Allow to sit overnight in the fridge before serving.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Coke zero float

I have never tried this popular American dessert. The root beer version is a little too sweet, or so I am told. This one was very tasty, though not a winter treat.

0.5 cup vanilla ice cream
0.5 cup Coke Zero

Poor the Coke Zero onto the ice cream. Serve.

Hungarian mulled wine

I had week after week of terrible colds this fall. So, I resorted to various feel-good home remedies. This one burns and makes your sinuses drain. But also puts you to sleep because the alcohol and sugar give it a huge kick.

150 mL dry white wine
150 mL dry red wine
0.5 tsp vanilla sugar
5 cloves
3-4 sq cm of cinnamon
a shake of pepper flakes
4 tsp sugar

Add wines to glass. Add spices and bring to a boil in the microwave. Keep at a simmer (very low simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir and drain the spices from the mix. 

Add in the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Serve hot.