I pawned tree decorating on Leilah for years. Then she married and had her own tree to decorate. For a short time Olivia would start it for me, but having two sets of grandparent houses to go to and with her own tree to decorate the assistance she used to give me was dwindling. Jimre was never a decorator, if something doesn’t need building or fixing he is out. Clearly I needed a less laborious Christmas tree.
I secretly desired a Tesla but I also toyed with the idea of getting a Charlie Brown.
In the end I settled for a tiny fake tree from Michaels.
It looks remarkably like a real tree. I hate those fake paper leaves – don’t you? I will decorate it in fifteen and after Christmas I will put it away for next year and next year and next year. I think I am brilliant. It cost me all of fifteen bucks. The pot was ten.
What’s with decorating for Christmas anyway? My girl’s house looks like Father Christmas threw up all over it. There is a lighted village on every table. Each generation wants something different. Well… I never put out the doilies our mothers made for us either. I do give in to nostalgia though, I will put out the small Costco nativity set I bought second hand a couple of years ago. Outside there is a single strip of lights on the house, we don’t want to alienate the neighbours… even though they more than make up for our lack of decorating fervour. There are lights on every surface, giant Mr and Mrs Claus magically inflate in the dark and deflate come morning, and there are reindeers and whatnot all around us. Really, why decorate? I would be a minimalist if I wasn’t so bloody practical. For minimalism to function you have to have nothing or dole out the money. I never had a lot of money so I under-decorate… and… bake. I baked a Snickerdoodle Cake. Happy Birthday my Love! The recipe was adapted from Foodie with Family.
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 cups soft butter
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Preheat oven to 325F.
• Line two 9-inch spring form cake pans with parchment paper.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
• Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.
• Beat the eggs in one at a time, fully incorporating each egg and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
• Beat in the vanilla.
• Add about 1/3 of the milk, beat to incorporate, then 1/3 of the flour, again beating to incorporate.
• Repeat this process, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until all of the milk and flour are added and mixed in evenly.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake in preheated oven. The recipe called for 35 minutes, it took me 10 to 15 minutes longer, I lost count, but make sure to increase the baking time by only 3 to 5 minutes at the time and watch it or use the timer.
• Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out onto the racks to finish cooling.
• Meanwhile prepare the brown sugar cinnamon buttercream.
• Place the whipping cream and the brown sugar in a small pot and heat it on low setting until the brown sugar melts. Set aside to cool completely.
• Beat the butter for 2 minutes.
• Lower the speed and began to add gradually the icing sugar and the cooled down brown sugar mixture.
• Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
• Add the cinnamon and the vanilla.
• Continue beating for 5-7 minutes until very fluffy.• After the cake cooled down completely, decorate with the buttercream.
• Cut each cake into two even layers. Be forewarned. Once cut into two layers, this is not a stable cake. Handle the layers with extreme care. My best advice for the novice baker is to partially freeze the cake before cutting and handling.
• Place one layer on a cake plate then add a layer of buttercream, spreading to the edges and evening out as you go. Repeat with the remaining layers.
• Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream.
• Place in the fridge for half an hour and then finish frosting the top and the sides.
• Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
• Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, this is simple and easy to make. Two sheets of filo will make 8 sticks. Increase the amounts given as needed. As with everything, fresh is best. I buy filo in stores with a large turnover, never with ice crystals on the box and experience has thought me not to buy filo pastry on sale. If the sheets stick together or dried out and cracking, there is no saving to be had.
2 filo sheets
2 Tbsp butter, melted
cinnamon to sprinkle
sugar to sprinkle
1/4 cup pure chocolate chips
1/8 tsp shortening
• Preheat oven to 425F.
• Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
• Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a work
• Brush with the melted butter.
• Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
• Place the second sheet on the top.
• Brush with melted butter.
• Turn the filo sheets over and brush the top with the melted butter.
• Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the top.
• Cut the filo into 8 rectangles.
• Roll up the rectangles fairly tightly, but do not pinch dough.
• Place the filo sticks on the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 6-9 minutes.
• Set the timer and keep an eye on the filo sticks, they burn easily.
• Set the timer and keep an eye on the filo sticks, they burn easily.
• Remove from heat when light golden brown.
• Push the sticks together touching.
• Partially melt the chocolate chips and stir in the shortening.
• Keep stirring until all the chips melt in the residual heat.
• Drizzle the melted chocolate across the filo sticks using a zyploc bag.
• Fold the edges of a sturdy ziplock bag out and over so that the bag sits upright on the counter.
• Spoon the warm chocolate into the bag
• Zip it shut [getting out as much excess air as you can]
• Clip a tiny bit off one corner [the more you clip, the bigger your drizzle will be!
• Using a fork, separate the filo sticks about 1 inch apart. If you don’t, the filo sticks will stick together at the ends and when you try to separate them, the chocolate ends will brake off.
• Spoon the remaining chocolate on the ends.
• Chill and serve.
Holy Smoke these are tasty! I am not a fish eater, but I concede that the Fall 2013 smoked sockeye turned out perfect! I can’t take the credit for it, except perhaps for the nagging over the years, “too salty” and “cut down the salt”. Well he did. My handy husband made the loveliest smoked salmon at the end of the summer. It was the last hot day, because had we warm days left I would have insisted that he smokes another salmon. But that is all the good weather that we had left and the following day we had seasonal temperatures and smoking was over.
One more pretty left from our glorious fall, two weeks ago our granddaughter brought in a mum twig. I was reluctant to put it in a vase and then one by one the flowers popped open. It’s still lovely, but soon it will be replaced by a tiny Christmas tree! How time flies.
Using Little Chief Home Electric Smokehouse Ingredients Needed:
About 5 lbs whole frozen salmon
Brine ingredients as follows; adapted from RLROUSE recipe:
4 quarts [16 cups] of cold water
1 cup of non iodinated salt
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lemons concentrate
1 cup of brown sugar
• Outside temperature has to be high twenties/ low thirties [in Celsius].
• Thaw the salmon overnight.
• Fillet and cut the salmon into twelve pieces.
• Combine brine ingredients in a large bowl.
• Place the fish pieces in the brine and cover.
• Soak the fish in the brine for 3-1/2 hours [could be up to four hours].
• Rinse the fish very lightly and let it drain on wire racks for about half an hour.
• Spray the racks with PAM to prevent the fish from sticking.
• Fill the smoker bowel to the brim with large hickory chips.
• Smoke for seven hours.
• Ready when the fish flakes.
• Let it cool, vacuum pack and freeze.
This is a perfect way to use up those stale cookies you have been saving in the freezer. Grind them up in the food processor or put them into a freezer bag and pound them apart with a hammer. Or just simply use graham cracker crumbs. My homemade cookie crumbs had all sorts of nuts and candy bits in it, adding to the deliciousness of this lovely cheese pie.
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup nutella
5 Tbsp melted butter
250g [8oz] cream cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
• Add the sugar, nutella and melted butter to the graham crumbs and blend it into a coarse crumble.
• Line the bottom of an 8 inch spring form cake pan with parchment paper.
• Press the mixture into the pan.
• Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
• In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake filling.
• With a beater combine the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and milk.
• Fold in the strawberries.
• Remove the crust from the freezer then add the cheese mixture on top.
• Put back into the freezer for at least 4 hours.
• Remove the pie from the freezer and immediately peel off the parchment paper.
• Let the pie sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to thaw enough to slice through.
• Cut the pie into slices and serve.
Just look at that shine, it's all candy! Adapted from Cook's.com Honey Roasted Almonds, candied almonds are fabulously tasty things. I couldn't stop eating them so I ended up giving them away. A while back I started to carry a snack bag of plain raw almonds in my purse and since then I have not had to make an emergency stop at Tim Horton’s. I wanted a change, but you know the saying, if something tastes too good it probably is.
2 cups whole raw almonds
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp light olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
• Spread the almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan and place in a cold oven.
• Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375F, stirring occasionally, until the internal colour of nuts is tan.
• Remove from oven and set aside.
• Turn the oven down to 250F.
• In a medium size pan stir together the honey, water and oil and bring to the boil.
• Stir in the sugar and the salt.
• Stir in the roasted almonds and continue to cook and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts.
• Meanwhile line the rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
• Next, transfer the nuts onto the parchment lined baking pan.
• Separate the clumps and continue to roast at 250F until the nuts are glassy and are no longer sticky to the touch.
• These could last well.
Isler is the chocolate covered jam-filled version of two linzer cookies that used to be popular in pastry shops throughout Budapest. Hungarian isler is a large cookie, sometimes the top and sometimes only half of the top is dipped into chocolate. The fully covered islers were generally not as good, because a cheaper chocolate or cocoa based glaze was used to cover them. I glazed my islers with real chocolate and I thought surely it would have been too rich to cover the entire cookie with it.
The old Hauer on Rákóczi út was a favourite coffee house
Take a look at the islers on the bottom, only the tops are chocolate glazed
2 cups flour
1 cup almond meal
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup butter
4 squares of bittersweet chocolate, chopped jam [I used apricot]
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Combine ingredients, roll into two disks and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
• Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut rounds.
• Slide onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until just barely golden.
• Transform to racks to cool.
• Transform to racks to cool.
• Pick a microwave safe bowl that can accommodate the cookies.
• Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl and melt it at 10 second intervals, stirring in between. Do not melt the chocolate fully. You just want to soften it a little.
• Remove from the microwave and stir smooth.
• Dip the top of half of the cookies into the melted chocolate.
• Spread the other half of the cookies with jam.
• When the chocolate hardens, press the two sides together.
• Islers keep well at room temperature.
I was at a reasonably good restaurant recently and I thought I treat myself to chicken fingers. It was dreadful. That's when I decided I have to write it down for the beginner cooks in my family. They range from 74 to 10. The younger ones already made palacsinta and with minimal supervision one of them managed an entire meal last year.
Kristen making palacsinta
Olivia making nokedli
Now everyone loves chicken fingers, but the way the world is going you will not be able to get good chicken fingers anymore. The few restaurants that continue to serve real food are snobbish and will not stoop to make chicken fingers. As for the rest... well forget the rest! This recipe is for keeping the chicken fingers culture alive.
1 pkg. stir fry chicken strips
1/4 cup flour
2 well-beaten eggs
1 cup fine unseasoned breadcrumbs
light olive oil for frying [not extra virgin, it will burn]
• Wash the chicken strips with cold water and dry them with paper towels. You don’t have to touch the meat, wear a pair of thin plastic gloves.
• Lightly sprinkle each peace with salt.
• Place a cutting board on the counter and cover it with plastic wrap.
• Next to the cutting board line up 3 dinner plates.
• Place the flour on the first plate.
• Crack the eggs onto the second plate.
• Beat the eggs with a fork until slightly frothy.
• Place the breadcrumbs on the third plate.
• With a fork dip a chicken strip into the flour and coat it well.
• Next dip it into the beaten eggs and coat well.
• Finally dip it into the breadcrumbs and coat it well.
• Repeat until all the chicken strips are coated.
• To avoid cutlets from sticking, place them on plastic wrap making sure they don’t touch.
• In a large heavy pot, place about 1 inch of vegetable oil for frying.
• This is the point when you need adult help.
• Heat up the oil on medium heat and drop in one or two strips.
• Fry the strips two or 3 at a time.
• The oil is hot enough when bubbles form around the strips.
• Fry the strips to golden crisp. Do not cover the pot.
• To minimize oil absorption, flip the strips with a kitchen thong. Do not stick a fork into the meat.
• Remove the strips when lightly golden and drain on paper towels.
Made from a particularly tender beet, it was easy to slice and delicious raw.
Jimre grew a variety pack of beets last summer and this was just one of them. We had a great and varied crop of beets this year; my only complaint was that the beets finished much earlier than usual and it caught me unprepared, because for the first time we ended up with a large amount of woody beets. “Earth to earth” as the man says. No matter how many signs are cropping up, there are still people denying there is a climate change.
I have no idea where this clipping came from.
The most important components of Hungarian rizottó are rice, peas and mushrooms. We never put cheese onto a hot dish. I don’t think Grandma liked it. But we only ate rizottó with fresh peas. Frozen fruit and vegetables started in Hungary about the time I was a teenager. I remember picking up odds and ends from the közért [grocery store] that used to be on the corner of Dohány and Szövetség utca.
Across the corner where the store used to be
Sometimes I picked up more than I was asked, such as a small frozen packet of red currants. I loved those red currants! I would put it on top of the warm coal stove and I watched it as it sizzled while I kept picking at it. I think I ate most of it still frozen. So the peas were welcome after a long winter. They were still pricey to make a soup or főzelék so Grandma made us rizottó. It used to be a slushy mess, I don’t think Hungarians are good with rice, but I revised it. Instead of water, the rice could be cooked in homemade chicken stock. Either way this makes a nice side dish.
1 batch of cooked rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp grated parmesan [optional]
• Cook the rice to directions [click on the link], set it aside and keep it warm.
• In a non stick skillet sauté the onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent.
• Add the frozen peas and continue to sauté for a minute.
• Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until the liquid is reabsorbed by the mushrooms.• Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
• Add the sautéed vegetables to the rice.
• With two forks gently toss to combine.
• Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
The combination of billowy whipped cream and deep dark chocolate always reminds me of the Saturday nights in our first flat in Prince Rupert. Back in the days before our first baby was born, Jim would take me to the Italian deli. There we would get some Genoa salami, it was the closest to Hungarian; we would get a small whipping cream and then head for home. We made cocoa, whipped up the cream and then we would settle down for a night of talking. Not very exciting I know, but we were pregnant. We would talk and plan until two in the morning. To this day I cannot eat chocolate and whipped cream without thinking back to those Saturdays. The comfort of food seems to return to the times we once loved.
Prince Rupert, January 1968
1 batch of Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes
6 squares [6 oz] bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp liqueur
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
pure sweetened chocolate chips for decoration
• Make a batch of Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes
• While the cupcake cool make the chocolate ganache.
• Place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl.
• Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.
• Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy.
• Add 1 Tbsp liqueur.
• Yields 3/4 cup
• Add 1 Tbsp liqueur.
• Yields 3/4 cup
• Allow the ganache to cool. The longer you let the ganache cool, the thicker it will set.
• Next whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form.
• Add the icing sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
• To assemble the cupcakes, glaze the tops with chocolate ganache, pipe the sweetened whipped cream on the top and decorate with pure chocolate chips.
Flu season is upon us, but I hope the flu shot will work its magic. When I had the croup my mother made a tent in the middle of our room, [igen nem volt gyerekszobám] and placed a large pot of hot chamomile tea in the middle. Then she made me lean over it and put a towel over my head and kept repeating INHALE! The other thing she did was make us a whipped concoction from egg yolks and sugar. I liked that. And that was the tradition I carried on to my children. We call it zero dessert. We came by the name quite by accident and it stuck. Susie was at the age when a child asks a lot of “what is that” and “why is that”. After a while you give random answers, such as “ask your father” and “just because”. Naming everything “thing” does not always work. So as I handed her a mug of this “thing” she asked me what it was and I told her it was “zero dessert”.
Susie was always a beauty
Today I remembered my youngest asking a while back for the zero dessert recipe… and well here it is. To every egg yolk add 2 Tbsp of white sugar and beat it vigorously for 5 minutes. That means high speed on the electric beater. The egg will become frothy, but because of the concentration the sugar will not dissolve. So when you eat it, it is smooth and yet scrapes the infection off the throat giving a sense of relief plus you get a nice burst of energy at the same time. Zero dessert has no medicinal value except for some strange reason it makes you FEEL better. And that’s the Zero Dessert.
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp sugar
• Place the ingredients in a small bowl and beat vigorously for 5 minutes or until the concoction expands and becomes thick and creamy. Best to use an electric hand beater.
I made this loaf cake about a week ago. It was a big hit. Well who doesn't love a good carrot cake? Everyone in my family loves it, raisins, eh… not as much. So I left the raisins out. The real beauty of it was that we enjoyed it without icing or butter. It was soft and moist and had a lovely orange flavour. The preparation was minimal; all you need is a large mixing bowl, a balloon whisk and a wooden spoon.
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup light olive oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2+ 1/3 cups self raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest of 1 large orange
3 large carrots, grated
1/3 cup raisins
• Preheat the oven to 375F.
• Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
• Place the brown sugar, olive oil and the eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.
• Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and the grated nutmeg and lightly mix with a wooden spoon.
• Add the orange zest and give it a stir.
• Next, stir in the grated carrots and the raisins.
• Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre.
• Let it cool before slicing.
With this last summer’s bounty is over. I made nine apple pies yesterday [our friend, Tony will be well pleased] and after this paprika főzelék [stew] I will be looking for bell pepper buys in the store. The peppers should be sautéed, not boiled. Serve it with a dollop of good sour cream and a hunk of sourdough bread. If you have any pork or chicken drippings, dribble a bit on the top. It will only add to the enjoyment of this simple meal. I used Hungarian sweet yellow, but yellow or orange bells would work too. Never use green though. The texture and taste of green peppers will not work for this stew.
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 finely diced onion
4 cups of chopped yellow or orange bell peppers
salt to taste
1 cup water
2 Tbsp flour several sprigs of fresh parsley 14% sour cream
• Place a non-stick fry pan on medium heat.
• Melt the butter and add the onions.
• Add the chopped peppers and sprinkle with salt.
• Sauté the peppers for 4 minutes, but make sure they don’t brown.
• Transfer to a pot. • Stir in 2 Tbsp flour.
• Add the water and bring to slow simmer.
• Stir in the chopped parsley.
• When sauce thickens, remove from heat and cover.
• Let the stew rest for a few minutes and serve with sour cream.
The taste of this simple potato stew is akin to Hungarian stuffed peppers. The first time I made it with fresh tomato sauce and it was spectacular. After that I used canned tomato sauce and I was less than happy with the result. But acidity wasn’t the only thing bothering me. It didn’t make sense to discard the potato water and then add water to the pot. I used the reserved potato water, but most of the potato water still went down the drain. So instead of experimenting with various brands of tomato sauce or finding the right amount, I radically changed the recipe. This may not be the traditional way to cook this dish, but it works and delicious.
3 Tbsp light olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-2 bay leaves
salt to taste
6 red potatoes with skin on, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 fresh or frozen tomatoes [more if small]
1-1/2 cups water
1-2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup cold water
• Place the pot on medium heat; add the oil and the onion and sauté until translucent.
• Add the bay leaf, the potatoes, fresh parsley and sprinkle with salt.
• Add the skinned tomatoes and 1-1/2 cups of water.
• Bring to slow steady simmer and cover pot.
• Slowly simmer for 25 minutes.
• Uncover and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes. This will reduce the sauce.
• Adjust the salt and add a little sugar to taste.
• Make a paste from 1/4 cup of cold water and 3 Tbsp flour.
• Add to the pot and gently combine.
• When the sauce thickens, remove from heat, cover and let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving.
From cabbage pasta to tomato based sauces Hungarians sometimes flavour savoury dishes with sugar. Still it would have been unusual to serve meat with a sweet sauce or with a sweet accompaniment when I was growing up. This reminds me of the good old days and the old Prince Rupert Hospital, staying for 6 days of real rest following normal childbirth, the babies whisked in for feeding and then whisked out and you could pick what you ate from the menu and the food was made fresh and lovely downstairs in the kitchen. When my son was born the nurses brought in a new immigrant and asked me to translate. After that until I went home I had a constant visitor. Most of our discussions circled around food and her dismay over the strangeness of it. When we got a huge ham steak with pineapple sauce and mashed potatoes she rushed into my room “that good ham was smothered in a sweet sauce!” While it was comfort food for most of us, to the lady it was a total sacrilege. And even though I enjoyed my meal, I knew what she was talking about. Expectations on food of course vary but some preferences never change. For instance I like apple sauce, but I would never put it on a slice of garlicky pork roast. Over the years of course I realized that fruit goes nicely with pork as long as it is used with restraint. The amount of dressing this recipe makes is just right for stuffing a large pork roast or if baked in a casserole dish it can serve six as a dressing.
4 slices of light rye bread
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 apple, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp thyme
2 sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
• Cube 4 slices of light rye.
• Place bread cubes in a large bowl and set it aside.
• Chop the onions and set it aside in a separate small bowl.
• Chop the celery and set it aside in a separate small bowl.
• Peel, core and and thinly slice the apple and set it aside in a separate small bowl.
• Sauté the onions in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until soft.
• Add the celery and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
• Add the sautéed onions and celery to the bread cubes.
• Add the shredded apple.
• Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and parsley.
• With clean hands loosely combine.
• Butter a small casserole dish.
• Bake at 350F until bread cubes begin to get a little colour, but make sure they don’t brown.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Hater – will you have one of these? Ever since I discovered I am allergic to alcohol I look for recipes with liquor. Cooked, I still get to taste booze without reaction. Adapted from “Eat In Eat Out” Magazine, this was classified as a dessert and I can’t argue with that. It is yummy, so yummy that a pumpkin hater could enjoy it. It’s all in the scotch. I replaced the rum with good scotch, cut the recipe in half and added 2 chopped white chocolate squares. It made 10 good sized desserts. Sorry I can’t bring myself to call them muffins… these are so much more.
1/4 cup good scotch
1/4 cup water
1 cup raisins
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
3/4 + 1/8 cup pumpkin puree
2 squares of white chocolate, chopped
• Heat the scotch and the water until very hot.
• Pour over the raisins and let it soak overnight.
• Preheat the oven to 375F.
• Butter a muffin tin and set it aside.
• Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
• In a smaller bowl whisk the eggs, oil and the pumpkin until well combined.
• Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.
• Fold the chopped white chocolate and the drained raisins into the batter.
• Fill the buttered muffin tins almost full.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
• Makes 10 large fluffy muffins
Adapted from a recipe by Jill Dupleix, fruity and light, it solved two problems for me; what to do with the remainder of the pineapple and finally getting to taste the darn thing. Cooking the pineapple mellows it out; I love pineapple, but my stomach is on a different opinion. It was a simple cake to make and the crumb turned out superb! After all, it is the crumb that determines how good a cake is and not how it is decorated. Olivia enjoyed the cake part and I was happy to take on the pineapple topping. Nothing is wasted at this house. As the saying goes “jó takarmány hasznosítók vagyunk” [we utilize feed well].
1/2 small ripe pineapple (about 350g), peeled
1/2 cup + 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup less 1/8 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
• Preheat the oven to 170C.
• Line the bottom of a spring form cake pan with parchment paper. Cut the paper about 1 inch larger than the bottom and cut into the circle about an inch. This way the paper will fit the pan and create a seal around the edge of the pan. Butter the side of the pan well.
• Cut the pineapple into 2 wedges, remove the core and thinly slice.
• Heat 3 Tbsp of the butter and 2 Tbsp sugar in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
• Add the pineapple slivers and cook a couple of minutes turning and shifting the slices until lightly cooked.
• Arrange the pineapple slices on the base of the lined cake pan, overlapping the slices so there aren’t any gaps.
• Beat the remaining butter and remaining sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until fluffy and almost white.
• Beat in the eggs, one by one, then the lemon juice and vanilla extract. • Add the flour and coconut and combine well using the electric mixer on the lowest setting. • Spoon the batter over the pineapple in the cake pan.
• Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
• Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out and allow cake to cool completely.
• Cut into wedges and serve.
… and many other worthy things.
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I think the last costumes I made for my two grandchildren who live in California was a cross between a princess and a witch for the girl and Dracula for the boy. Kristen’s was goth and beautiful and Josh’s was suave and debonair. She was charming of course, but I was sorry to see him with fake blood and horrid eye makeup. But that was quite a few years ago. After that they had other plans such as growing up. Costume making has been a little more rewarding for Olivia, she doesn’t favor the macabre, and in fact she has been emphatic about never wanting to be anything scary or gross for Halloween. I go all out with the costumes and they end up costing me far more than anything the stores sell. Well that’s just fine with me, I could never relate to dressing up to a bloody, half dead trauma patient for fun. But that’s just me so I continue to make beautiful costumes for the girl as long as she wants them.
Pumpkins! The giant all American monstrosities, tasteless and full of water are only good for jack-o'-lanterns and when finished composting. Trust me; it’s not worth the trouble to cook them. There is an actual pie pumpkin, much smaller and of course more flavourful than the jack-o'-lantern. But still not as good as the European pumpkin, the type street vendors used to sell from their drum stoves along with roasted chestnuts in times long gone. I hold onto the romantic notion that the vendors still come out on chilly days in old Budapest...
After I get the girl from school today we will get a couple of pizzas and head up the hill for a quick bite and to record her getting ready to go out trick or treating with a girlfriend and the little cousin. When they leave the house I am coming home to hand out mini chocolate bars to the neighbouring kids. Once again the front yard is covered with maple leaves, its fun wading through the crunchy leaves. When the tricksters are gone I am hoping for a wind to carry the leaves next door haha, that way there will be less to rake into bags. Going by events of previous years, the next door’s tree will add to our pile. I can’t rake at the moment, the man won’t let me so I suppose once again it will be all up to him to tidy up the front yard. Have a great Halloween!
CHEF JOHN’S PUMPKIN PIE
I used to be on the opinion that people should eat their annual slice of pumpkin pie and be done with it until next Thanksgiving or whatever they happen to be celebrating. Then I tried Chef John’s recipe. It went like wildfire.
2 cups of pumpkin puree
3 egg yolks
1 large egg
1 [300 ml] can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
whipped cream for serving
• Preheat oven to 425 F.
• Whisk together pumpkin puree, egg yolks, and egg in a large bowl until smooth.
• Add sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg.
• Whisk until thoroughly combined.
• Fit pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges.
• Pour filling into the pie shell and lightly tap on the work surface to release any air bubbles.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
• Reduce heat to 350 F and bake until just set in the middle, 30 to 40 minutes.
• A paring knife inserted into the filling, 1 inch from the crust, should come out clean.
• Allow to cool completely before serving.
Watch Chef John’s video
I was instantly attracted to Elisabeth’s toasted tomato sandwiches and even though I lacked some of the ingredients – it has been so long I treated myself to cheese, that I made them anyway. Starting with some inert tomatoes left from summer – the magnificence of fresh fruit off the wine is now a memory – and I didn’t have fresh rosemary or provolone cheese. So I added dry rosemary to fresh parsley and used mozzarella. Now here I am waiting for my sandwich; it will be ready when the first whiff of deliciousness reaches the office.
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt ground black pepper to taste
4 large thick slices sourdough bread
4 slices of white cheese
1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• Place the minced garlic and chopped rosemary in a small bowl.
• Add the olive oil, salt and the black pepper.
• Mix to combine.
• Spread the mixture on 4 slices of bread.
• Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
• Put a wire rack inside the pan and place the 4 bread slices on the top. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
• Remove baking sheet from the oven.
• Sprinkle the parmesan on the bread slices and top with the white cheese. [I did the reverse, which made assembly a little awkward.
• Bake until the cheese gets a nice golden hue. It was wonderful!
This is a fast version of the Hungarian favourite, the flavours are the same, but these are ready in record time.
The original Stuffed Pepper
Deconstructing this dish is smart when Hungarian peppers are unavailable and all you have are large green bells. Stuffing them would result in enormous servings and would require way too much sauce. Besides limp green peppers are not that appealing and would inevitably be pushed aside on the plate. To save more time, I omitted the half cooked rice in the meatballs and replaced them with 3 Tbsp of fine breadcrumbs. There was no need to make a roux for the tomato sauce either, because the pureed green peppers sufficiently thicken the sauce, making this a lighter dish than usual. I took it a step further, and instead of serving the potatoes on the side, I put them right into the sauce before serving. [I did not cook the potatoes in the sauce.] What made it extra fast; I used a bag of tomatoes and a half a bag of chopped peppers from my freezer. But the write up was adjusted for readily available ingredients.
4 large green peppers
250 g fresh, extra lean ground pork
1 small onion, diced
2 + 2 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp fine breadcrumbs
salt and ground pepper to taste
8 medium sized tomatoes or 1 large can of whole tomatoes
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
4 medium sized cooked potatoes pealed and chopped
sugar to taste
• Core and chop the peppers, discarding seeds and stems.
• Chop the tomatoes. • In a large pot sauté the onions in 2 Tbsp oil until soft.
• Add the peppers and the tomatoes to the pot.
• Begin to cook on medium heat, stirring often.
• Meanwhile place the ground pork in a large bowl.
• Add the soft onions, the garlic, the fine breadcrumbs and the egg.
• Sprinkle salt and ground pepper on the top.
• Combine the meat mixture thoroughly.
• Form into small meatballs.
• Remove the pot from the stove and one by one place the meatballs on top of the vegetables.
• Return pot to heat and add enough water to cover the meatballs.
• Bring to the simmer, reduce heat a little and cover the pot.
• Cook until the meatballs are no longer pink inside.
• Meanwhile cook 4 medium sized potatoes in a separate pot. Drain the potatoes and set them aside for use later.
• Remove the pepper pot from heat and with a slotted spoon gently remove all the meatballs onto a tray.
• Puree what remains in the pot and gently put back the meatballs.
• Add the parsley sprigs and bring pot back to slow simmer.
• Simmer until the meatballs are tender.
• Taste and adjust the salt and add some sugar to taste. The sauce should have a mildly sweet taste, it should not be sour; at the same time this isn’t a sweet dish. So add the sugar with restraint and keep tasting until best flavour is achieved.
• Add the reserved cooked potatoes and cover the pot.
• Remove pot from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
• You may remove the parsley sprigs before serving, I kind of like them on my plate.
- It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. This is to my old on-line friends and visitors: policing the comment section for spam and answering questions has become a chore. Good wishes to you all, happy cooking and keep on feeding your people with good food.
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