MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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20.11.17

HERBED OVEN PORK STEW

I always wanted an indoor herb garden, but all Jim grows inside are flowering plants. He rotates the plants between a downstairs room and our upstairs living room and we always, ALWAYS have a flowering plant on the side table next to his chair. Once the flowers are done he takes the plant downstairs and brings a different flowering plant up. How he does this I don’t know, but since I am a certified plant killer, it is better for me not to know. Fresh herbs would have been nice for the stew but flowers are nice too.

I got a large flat of loin chops that have a T-shaped bone with loin on one side and tenderloin on the other. These can be challenging to cook since both loin and tenderloin are present. They should be quickly sear-roasted and grilled or broiled or brined to keep the meat moist. What would be simpler than to make a gulyás, but I opted for an oven stew, seasoned with freshly dried herbs from our garden. If you think a few sprinkles of herbs will do the trick, ahem no. I grabbed handfuls of dried herbs and crushed them by hand. Fresh herbs would have been even better, but at the end of November in Canada this is the best anyone can do.


Herbed Oven Pork Stew

4 pork steaks or bone in loin chops
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, chopped finely
salt to taste
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 red peppers
2 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 handful of each herb:
parsley, tarragon, basil and marjoram, fresh or crushed if dry
water

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Wash the meat and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Cut into the layer of fat around the chops, so they won’t curl up during roasting.
  • Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot on the stove and slide in the chops.
  • Sear both sides of the meat.
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the onions.
  • Sprinkle salt around the pot to taste.
  • Sauté the onions for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
  • Finally add water to just cover the meat.*
  • Cover the pot and place in the oven.
  • Bake until the meat is tender. This could take anywhere from one hour up to two and a half.      
* The amount of water will depend on the thickness of the chops and the size of your pot. I like a lot of juice, but if you want a thicker sauce, add less water. If you end up with too much broth, transfer it to a small pot and reduce it, but don’t use a thickener. I liked mine as it came out of the oven. This is a very satisfying stew with mashed potatoes.


18.11.17

DULCE DE LECHE SHORTBREAD BARS

I don’t know what possessed me, I picked up two cans of Dulce de Leche Caramels at the store, knowing full well homemade would be better. I used a discontinued Eagle Brand recipe but the bars turned out surprisingly well. Chill thoroughly. The shortbread base was nothing short of amazing; I made a mental note to use it again. It didn’t have the toughness of chilled shortbread and yet it was still… well… shortbread. Sadly, I forgot to dust the top with icing sugar, but that's just for looks. 
  

Dulce De Leche Shortbread Bars

Base:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cake and pastry Flour
6 Tbsp icing sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 

Filling:
2 eggs
1 can [300 ml] Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche Caramel
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Fully line a small square baking pan with parchment paper, overlapping the sides for easy removal. 
  • Sift together the base ingredients, except the butter, in a medium bowl.
  • In a separate bowl beat the butter until creamy.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  • Gather into a ball.
  • Press firmly and evenly into bottom of pan.
  • Poke the dough with a fork. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Meanwhile combine the filling ingredients in a stand mixer.
  • Remove pan from the oven and pour the filling over the hot shortbread base.
  • Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the middle is set.
  • Remove from the oven, cool completely on wire rack.
  • Chill overnight. 
  • Next day cut into squares. 
  • Dust the top with icing sugar. It's optional now. :-)


16.11.17

HUNGARIAN TARTAR SAUCE - TARTÁRMÁRTÁS

In general, tartar sauce serves as a piquant contrast to otherwise bland food. In Hungarian cuisine Tartar Sauce provides a base for salads, serves as filler, or as a dipping sauce for a wide variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Always mayonnaise based, but distinctly different.

The standard home recipe is 1 part commercial mayonnaise and 1 part sour cream with salt, ground pepper, sugar and lemon juice for flavouring. The authentic version is substantially refined, starting with the combination of freshly made mayonnaise, medium dry white wine, salt, sugar and ground white pepper. The final product is both tart and sweet and has a wide range of possibilities for complex flavouring. You can add diced green or red onions, capers, etc. The amounts listed are merely estimates; the final product will depend on the ingredients, and on personal preferences.

Hungarian Tartar Sauce

1/3 cup very thick freshly made mayonnaise
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar

  • Combine the wine with the freshly made mayonnaise.
  • Gradually, bit by bit add some pepper, salt and sugar. At first add only a fraction of the suggested amount and taste it before you add more.
  • Dip the tip of a teaspoon into the sauce and taste. Adjust the seasoning. Rinse the teaspoon under hot running water*, dip and taste again. Continue until the flavour is just right.  
  • Make a note how much pepper, salt and sugar you used and make changes to the recipe accordingly.
  • Good tartar sauce could be pure luck, but often the result of repeated experimentation.
  • When not in use, keep the tartar sauce refrigerated. Shelf life, so to speak, is 4 days only.   

* Serious chefs have a line of clean utensils waiting for tasting. Never use a utensil once it has been in your mouth. Always rinse between tastings. It is not only unpleasant to think you are eating the cook’s saliva; the presence of saliva shortens the shelf life of food. Since digestion begins in the mouth, the enzymes present in human saliva start breaking the food down as soon as it enters the mouth. So be good to the people you feed and never eat into the food you are making. For more information check out Kitchen Hygiene.


14.11.17

PEAR TARTLETS

For convenience you can always use frozen tart shells and canned pears. But when I made the Almond PearTart there were pastry scraps and poached pears left over... those were the makings of my kind of convenience ingredients. The pears were poached in water and for people who have to live on a strict sugar free diet; I thought pie pastry with pears poached in water would be quite wonderful. But for the rest of us, pears poached in sugar syrup would be even better. The tartlets were so inviting, my love ate them up before he even looked at the Almond Pear Tart...  

Pear Tartlets

leftover pie pastry or 12 frozen tart shells
6 ripe, but firm to the touch small to medium sized pears
2 cups water
1/8 cup sugar

  • Wash, peel, cut in half and core the pears.
  • Add the water to a large skillet.
  • Stir in the sugar and bring it to simmer.
  • Slide the pears into the simmering water. 
  • Blanch the pears for 5-10 minutes, or until almost tender when pierced with a fork. They will continue to soften as they cool.
  • If the pears are somewhat unripe, blanching could take longer. Do not use overripe pears that are already soft to the touch.
  • Scoop the poached pears out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a paper towel lined tray to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Make the pastry and roll out 12 large pastry circles to fit your muffin tins.
  • Press the pastry into the muffin tins.
  • Slice into the pear halves without cutting through.
  • Carefully place the pear halves inside the pastry.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is lightly browned.

13.11.17

MAPLE GLAZED HAM STEAK

This really is a delicious way to cook ham. Ham steaks have a tendency to dry out, but prepare it this way and you will always get a tender, juicy ham steak. Even though you cook the ham with pears and maple syrup, this will not be a sweet dish, certainly not if you use real maple syrup. The thicker the ham steak, the longer the cooking time will be. However, keep an eye on it, the ham will be ready much sooner than you think. And please… use real maple syrup! 


Maple Glazed Ham Steak

thick ham steak
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp good quality mustard
1/8 cup real maple syrup
2 fresh pears, peeled, cored and sliced

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Add olive oil to an ovenproof fry pan.
  • Place the ham steak in the fry pan.
  • Spread the ham steak with mustard.
  • Turn it over several times until the mustard covers both sides.
  • Place the fry pan on medium-high heat.
  • Cook the ham for 5 minutes, turning once to sear both sides.
  • Remove from heat and pile the sliced pears on the top.
  • Drizzle with the real maple syrup.  
  • Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes or as long as the ham is tender. Actual time depends on how thick the ham steak is.
  • Remove from the oven and tent it for 10 minutes.
  • Find the direction of the grain and then slice the ham across the grain rather than parallel with it. 
  • Serve with the pear slices and spoon some pan juice over it.

12.11.17

3 FLAVORFUL OVEN FRIES

Three, I made three differently flavoured oven fries. I cut the potatoes uniform, on the slender side, so they would crisp up without burning.  Use one seasoning or all for a great snack with sour cream, or ketchup. The recipe is logically organized and easy to follow. Don’t make more than you will need because you end up picking at them while they last. These are a long way from the humble boiled potatoes or oil laden deep fries. Guszti my Godfather never ate potatoes, but then he never tasted mine.     


3 Flavorful Oven Fries

5 medium sized waxy new potatoes with unblemished skin
1 egg yolk 
1/8 cup cornstarch
3 cloves of garlic, mashed and diced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste at serving*
  
Sesame Seasoning
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 Tbsp corn meal

Parmesan Seasoning
1/4 cup shaved or 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil

Paprika Seasoning
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp caraway seed, crushed

* Salt just before serving. Pre-salting interferes with the flavours.

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Line a large cookie tray with parchment paper.
  • Wash and dry the potatoes.
  • Cut them lengthwise into thin, uniform wedges. 
  • If the potatoes are older or starchy, peel them first.
  • Transfer them to an ovenproof bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water and cover with a microwave dome.
  • Microwave for 10 minutes. In case the potatoes are pealed or starchy, cut the time in the microwave to 5 minutes. Aim for partially cooked potatoes that are still firm to the touch. 
  • Let them cool for 10 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile measure the seasoning ingredients into 3 separate bowls.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. 
  • Add the egg yolk and toss to coat.
  • Add the cornstarch and toss to coat.
  • Add the diced garlic and toss to coat.
  • Divide the potatoes into three groups.
  • Add the first seasoning to the first group of potatoes and toss to coat. Wash your hands and repeat with the second and so on.
  • Arrange the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle the top with the olive oil.
  • Place the tray in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
  • Arrange the potatoes on a platter and salt them to taste.
 Sesame Seasoning

 Parmesan Seasoning

Paprika Seasoning

11.11.17

CANDY BAR TASTY BITES

Back in the days when we used to have 125 kids ringing the bell on Halloween night my biggest problem was providing good quality bag of treats for every child. I buy a lot less now, but still end up with leftovers. Candy bars have no appeal for us beyond Halloween and then what do you do with them? Originally called blondies, these are more like crunchy, chewy tasty bites. The recipe makes a small amount so these go fast. Eat it up Jimre I have one more recipe to try. No, two.
 
Candy Bar Tasty Bites

1 cup flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, slightly melted
1 Tbsp real vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1/2 cups assorted candy bars, chopped into tiny squares

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line a square baking pan with parchment paper leaving overhangs.
  • Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • Beat the slightly melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla.
  • Add the egg and beat for a couple of minutes.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and stir to combine.
  • Fold in the chopped candy bars.
  • Spread, press the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned along the edges.
  • Cool the bar completely before cutting into small squares.

10.11.17

ALMOND PEAR TART

A bit of background first. I have been harboring a pear recipe [in Hungarian] among my files and the new pear tree’s first substantial crop seemed like a good time to try out everything to do with pears. Well not everything, because we can’t eat as fast as I can bake. I followed the recipe; reluctantly… because at closer examination it called for way too much butter… and sure enough the finished tart was swimming in it. I made a few changes and the second tart turned out better, except the pear flavour got lost under all the sweet. Meanwhile I discovered the same pear tart in English, and the common thread that ran through them was butter and more butter and sugar... lots of it. What do they say, third time lucky?

There is more though. The tart itself is a frangipani in Italian and a crème frangipane in French. And yes it’s buttery. I tend to believe the Italian origin, [French cuisine owes much of its splendor to the Italians] and this is basically an almond cream. Used as a filling in tarts, cakes and assorted pastries; consisting of creamed butter and sugar and eggs and very finely ground almonds. Sounds like the almond layer of British Bakewell tarts don’t it? Now we come full circle; Hungarian, Italian and British with a bit of French appropriation… The interesting thing is the recipes failed to mention just how FINE the “ground almonds” have to be. Well, fine, as fine as for marzipan. To simply put, “ground almonds” won’t do, what you need is ALMOND MEAL!

Then yesterday it dawned on me I am now in the possession of the the best almond pear tart recipe ever... in any language!






Almond Pear Tart

3 fresh ripe but not soft pears

Pastry
1-1/2 + 1/8 cups flour
sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup butter, soft [not melted!]
rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 egg, whisked by fork

Frangipani:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 pkg. real vanilla sugar
sprinkle of salt
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups almond meal [extremely finely ground almonds]


  • Make the pastry first.
  • Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk.
  • By hand rub soft butter into the flour.
  • Mix in the grated lemon rinds.
  • Add the whisked egg and kneed into the flour mixture.
  • The warmth of your hands will help bring the dough together.
  • Flatten into a disk, wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
  • Wash, peel, cut in half and core the pears.
  • Submerge pears in simmering water. 
  • If the pears are somewhat unripe, blanching could take up to 20 minutes. Do not use overripe pears that are already soft to the touch.
  • Blanch the pears for 5-10 minutes, or until almost tender when pierced with a fork. They will continue to soften as they cool.
  • Transfer pears to paper to a paper towel lined tray to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Next bring the chilled pastry out and place on a parchment lined work surface.
  • Press down on it to flatten.
  • Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and roll out a large circle to fit your pie plate.
  • Place a larger bowl on the top and cut around the bowl.
  • Set aside the pastry scraps these can be re rolled for tarts.
  • Carefully warp the pastry around the roller and transfer to the pie plate.
  • Gently press the pastry into the pie plate and poke all over with fork.
  • Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes while you make the frangipani.
  • Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt for 4 minutes.
  • Gradually beat in the eggs.
  • Beat for 2 more minutes longer.
  • Add the almond meal and beat to combine.
  • Take out the chilled pie plate with the pastry and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Keep the oven on and remove the prebaked pie crust.
  • Let the pastry cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile slice into the pear halves horizontally, but do not cut through.
  • Fill the pastry with the frangipani.
  • Gently arrange the pear halves over the frangipani layer. The pears will sink down somewhat.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake until the frangipani is lightly browned. The time required depends on the size and the depth of your pie plate.
  • Remove the tart from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • Slice the tart when completely cooled.


5.11.17

ZSUZSA’S CHOCOLATE WALNUT CAKE

Oh look what I found! Not as spectacular as it was back in 1972, but judging by the write up even THIS has to be several years old.

“So my darling’s birthday was coming and with four days of insane business prior, which included a music recital, another dinner, a school in-service day and an out of town trip the day before... and I was at a loss what cake to bake for him. I have a file folder of yummy choices, but what I didn’t have was time. Then I remembered the cake I used to throw together from scratch. The first time I made it was in my mother’s kitchen in 1972 with two babies in tow from Canada. Mamika had no cookbook, only handwritten notations and I certainly didn’t pack one from Canada and in those days you didn’t just run to the computer to print out a recipe. My dad watched me put the cake together and was amazed how I knew what to put into the bowl. If memory serves me right it was one of the few compliments my father ever gave me. The next time was when two of my paintings went on a tour in a juried show through Western Canada and of course nothing since and then he passed away last year with all his personality erased... he didn’t even know who he was by the end.” 


Zsuzsa’s Chocolate Walnut Cake 

Cake
8 egg whites
8 egg yolks
8 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp cake flour, sifted
3 Tbsp very finely ground walnuts
2 Tbsp fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted

Cocoa Buttercream
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Secure the corners of the parchment with a dab of butter or oil.
  • Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks and sugar for 4 minutes.
  • Reduce speed and gradually start adding the flour and the bread crumbs to the yolk mix.
  • Add the sifted cocoa, increase the speed and beat to combine.
  • Gradually fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a wooden spoon.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking tray.
  • Gently spread out the batter evenly.
  • Bake the cakes at 350F until the middle of the cake when touched springs back.
  • Remove from the oven.
  • Place the baking tray on a wire rack to cool.
  • While the cake cools, prepare the cocoa buttercream.
  • Beat the butter with an electric beater for 3 minutes.
  • Reduce speed and add the sifted icing sugar.
  • Beat with an electric beater for 5 minutes.
  • Add the whipping cream and beat for 2 more minutes.
  • Reduce speed and add the sifted cocoa.
  • Beat until well combined.
  • Let cakes cool completely before icing the cake.
  • Gently pull off the parchment paper and along the long side divide the cake into 3 strips.
  • Place the first layer on your board, and spread with 1/3 of the cocoa buttercream.
  • Top with the second layer and spread with buttercream.
  • Place the last layer on top and spread the top with the remaining buttercream.
  • Transfer the cake to a long serving tray and chill for half hour before slicing.


3.11.17

EGGPLANT PASTA


Only two days ago we were wading through the yellow leaves in perfectly normal Halloween weather, and then BAM! Winter arrived with vengeance. With fifteen degrees colder than seasonal, we got snow and ice! Considering all things, cooking up our last two eggplants with tomatoes from the garden is not so unusual. As sad as the turn of the weather, the venture into today’s intuitive food preparation turned out well.

I made two dishes with one stroke. Today we had the pasta. Tomorrow’s story is an Eggplant Salad.

Eggplant Pasta 

2 cups sliced eggplants
2 cups of chopped red and yellow peppers
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of sliced, coarsely chopped red onions
3 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic
thickly sliced good quality bacon, chopped into 1 inch squares
2/3 cup grated havarti
1/2 cup whipping cream
pasta cooked al dente

  • Prepare the vegetables for cooking.
  • On a parchment lined baking tray arrange the egg plants and the peppers in a single layer.
  • Generously sprinkle with olive oil.
  • Place the baking tray in the oven and turn on the broil setting.
  • Broil until the eggplants lightly softened.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer the eggplant mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat up a non stick skillet on medium heat.
  • Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, the onions, tomatoes and the diced garlic to the skillet.
  • Sauté until the tomatoes are starting to let their juice.
  • Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the eggplants.
  • Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  • On medium heat, lightly fry the chopped bacon until just soft and very lightly browned. Good quality bacon will barely render any fat.
  • Transfer the vegetable mixture to the skillet with the bacon and stir lightly to combine.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese over the vegetables and add the whipping cream.
  • Heat trough and serve immediately with pasta.
  • Yields 4 servings.





29.10.17

PLAIN WALDORF SALAD

No mayo or sour cream. The whole idea was to make a waldorf Jim will enjoy. It was a very good salad… fresh. We had it with franks and artisan bread. Then I noticed the celery was all lined up around his plate. Apparently he doesn’t like raw celery... only cooked. I didn’t know. Even after 50 years you can learn something new. 

Plain Waldorf Salad

2 cups sliced apples
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts


  • Add all the ingredients to a serving bowl.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Serves 4.

28.10.17

HAZELNUT CAKE SLICE

For a hazelnut cake slice without hazelnuts, this tasted amazingly hazelnut-ish. I didn’t have hazelnuts and substituted with toasted almonds, but the nutella cream somehow pulled it together. I wish we tried harder growing hazelnuts in the backyard. We ran out of time, besides it would be one more thing to leave behind. Ah the D word… downsizing. The enormous walnut tree, the various fruit trees and the fresh enjoyment they provided over the years. Leilah was only two years old when we moved to Kamloops. Back then Brocklehurst was an orchard, there were two a corn farms for walking distance… The orchards and the farms are all gone. It's still a nice street... but our backyard is the mini oasis next to the over-sized homes with small patches of green. Never mind that, next door they put in a hideous rock lawn. Across the street there are more cars than people. Nobody grows food anymore.  

Hazelnut Cake Slice

Cake
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
6 Tbsp flour
1tsp baking powder
1/8 cup very finely ground hazelnuts

Cream
3/4 cup soft unsweetened butter
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup nutella
1/8 cup whipping cream

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Fully line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks, sugar and the oil until very thick.
  • Add the finely ground hazelnuts and stir to combine.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the flour and the baking powder.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture and beat just to combine.
  • Gently fold in the egg whites.
  • Transfer the cake batter to the prepared baking pan and place in the preheated oven.
  • Bake until cake tester inserted the middle comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool down completely.
  • Meanwhile combine butter and icing sugar and beat for 4-6 minutes until very fluffy.
  • Add the nutella and the whipping cream and beat for a couple of minute.
  • Spread the cream on top of the cake and pull a cake comb across.
  • Cut into squares. 


27.10.17

LACI STEAK - LACIPECSENYE


Authentic lacipecsenye, [translation laci steak] is a slab of pork steak fried in home rendered lard. Not always from the best of cuts either. Served on a thick slice of bread, it was the 15th century equivalent of fast food. Every open air market in Hungary had a vendor selling freshly fried pork steaks. According to the folklore Dobzse Ulászló Hungary’s then Polish king was so impoverished that his household lived on food prepared by street vendors. That's when the people began to call the eateries laci kitchens and the food laci steak. [Laci is nickname for László.]

Aba Novák Vilmos, Szolnoki Lacikonyha 

In later years, the lacikonyha and its mainstay, the lacipecsenye went through a bit of transformation. When I was a kid there were storefronts at the markets around Budapest, but in the country there still existed the open air version at fairs and on market days. The lacikonyha of today sells more than just fried meat and sausage. There are restaurants called Lacikonyha serving bistro type foods.


Laci Steak

boneless pork steaks
home rendered lard for frying
several cloves of garlic
salt and ground pepper

  • Pound out the meat with a tenderizer. Cut into them so they won’t curl up during frying.
  • Rub crushed garlic into the meat.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Wrap and chill overnight.
  • Heat up the lard and fry the meat.
  • Serve with a slice of artisan bread or between a sandwich bun.


26.10.17

PEAR STRAWBERRY PIE

If you like a tarter pie, pear pie on its own would be a mildly boring proposition. What you want is an extra layer of flavour, but nothing overpowering. I think spices would obliterate the pear flavour as would tart fruits such as raspberries or cranberries. However a cup of sliced strawberries or blueberries I thought would do nicely. I had a small bag of frozen strawberries, but in retrospect fresh strawberries would have been better. For eating pears should be lightly soft. For pies, the firm, less ripe fruits are best. Avoid overripe pears.

I made 25 apple pies within a week and when I got to the pears… I made only two... well so far. Oh I don’t know, maybe on the weekend after I haunt down some fresh strawberries I could make a few more pear pies. If I do I will change the photo. If not… I’ll leave it for next year. Is it going to be a next year? You never know. I feel my pioneer woman’s days are winding down, I don’t know how long my love intends to carry on with this farmering thing in the back yard… he will be 79 this December. We turned the half century mark in May, it didn’t come together for a recipe, but I keep telling myself one of these I will get my act together and recreate our wedding feast with a candle light dinner. Ours wasn’t a country wedding, but the menu left nothing out with the main course what it was, rows of Erdélyi Fatányéros. There I made the commitment, now I just have to follow through, eh?    

Pie pastry for double crust
3 cups sliced pears
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Fruit Fresh
5 Tbsp flour
1/8 cup butter

• Prepare the crust.
• Roll out the bottom crust 1/8" thick
• Lay crust in the bottom of the pie pan.
• Press crust gently into pan, leave excess hang over edge.
• Wash peel and thinly slice the pears, wash, hull and slice the strawberries.
• In a large bowl place the fruits, Fruit Fresh and sugar and toss to combine.
• Add the flour and toss to combine.
• Fill the pie pan with the fruit mixture and dot with bits of butter.
• Roll out the top layer and place over the filling.
• To seal the edge pinch and crimp all around.
• Cut several steam slits into the top.
• Bake for 50-60 minutes at 425F until pastry is golden and filling bubbles through vents.
• Let stand for 30 minutes to allow juices to settle before slicing. 



25.10.17

CHOCOLATY GRANOLA BARS

 
These chocolaty granola bars are much better than store bought and you will agree they are worth the effort. Add your favourite dried fruit, but don’t omit or substitute the chocolates. Most honey sold in the stores is not real honey, only honey-flavoured corn syrup. I have a honey man who delivers twice a year. And boy… what a difference! Did you know that bees make different flavoured honey depending on the pollen they go to? Serious beekeepers travel with their hives to take advantage of flowering trees…There is nothing better than acacia honey! The expectation is no dried fruit or honey shall ever touch her lips. Well I put in no fruit, but there it is… the honey. Except you can’t taste it from the chocolate. Our honey hater didn’t. The aim was not to make the bars overly sweet, hence the intense dark Lindt bar with the 85% cacao. This should make her eat her “parritch”!

Are you an Outlander fan? Have you read all of Diana Gabaldon’s books? Or are you waiting for the films to come out? The series is only on the third book. You will be waiting awhile for the rest. Apparently Gabaldon is writing her last book. It will be titled “Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone” I can hardly wait… and then it will be over. Do you miss the worlds you go to when you finish a book? I do… Better go and bake.  

Chocolaty Granola Bars

1/2 cup pure dark chocolate, chopped
100g dark Lindt bar with the 85% cacao, diced
1/2 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped  
cooking spray
2-1/2 cups small rolled oats
1/4 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Chop the dark chocolate and set aside.
  • Chop the Lindt bar and set aside. Do not mix the two chocolates.
  • If the almonds are not roasted, they may be swirled about in a non-stick fry pan for a few minutes. Make sure not to burn them. Set aside.
  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Spray the parchment with cooking spray or lightly baste it with oil.
  • Scatter the oats on top and toast in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.
  • Take the tray out and turn the oats over and put them back for 8 more minutes.
  • Meanwhile line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Transfer the oats and the almonds to a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan.
  • Place on medium heat and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the mixture to the bowl with the oatmeal and stir with your hands to combine.
  • Immediately add the chopped dark chocolate and stir it into the mixture. The chocolate will melt and coat the mixture.
  • Finally stir in the chopped Lindt bar.
  • Transfer the mixture to the lined baking pan and press it evenly into the pan.
  • Chill for an hour or two before slicing.
  • Lift the bar out with the parchment and place it on a cutting board and slice into bars.


24.10.17

ROASTED BABY LEEKS

If you frequent farmer markets, you probably have seen them, maybe even mistaken them for green onions. The difference is you cannot eat baby leeks uncooked. They can be sautéed, grilled or roasted, but if you want tender eating, blanch them first. There is a fine line between caramelized leeks and burned ones, so err on the side of caution rather than burning them into a limp unappetizing mess. I must say I have not been impressed with the treatment celebrity chefs give to leeks, baby or otherwise. Burning leeks is like burning eggs, a culinary sacrilege. It comes from impatient show off style cooking... like bulls in the china shop. I roasted my leeks with Roma tomatoes. First of all Roma tomatoes are small and less likely to flood the baking dish with tomato juice. Plus the short time in the oven ensures they won’t brake apart, making this into a vibrant side dish.



Roasted Baby Leeks

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
baby leeks
Roma tomatoes, cut in half [optional]
salt to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, diced

  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Wash the leeks and the tomatoes.
  • Trim the leaks on both ends and peel back the top layer.
  • Drop into fully boiling water for 2 minutes.
  • Cut the Romas in half.
  • Sprinkle a baking dish generously with olive oil
  • Arrange the leeks and the tomatoes in the dish.
  • Add the garlic and sprinkle with salt and more olive oil.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.



23.10.17

MILK PIE - TEJPITE

Ah the beauty of simplicity. A wide spectrum of cakes and pastries come under the Hungarian word ‘pite’. What is a pite? Generally it can be an unadorned slice from pastry to cake and everything in between. Intended to be a square, I baked it in a round cake pan instead. Does that make it a pie or a cake? Not really. Serve it with icing sugar or with a dollop of good homemade jam. How about tea?



Milk Pie

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup whole milk
1-1/4 cups whipping cream
dash of salt
2 cups flour
 


  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Fully line a round cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Beat the eggs, sugar and the salt until the mixture stabilizes and doesn’t froth more. 
  • Scrape a split vanilla bean into the mixture and beat to combine.
  • Continue beating, gradually adding the flour alternatively with the milk and the whipping cream. It will be quite runny.
  • Transfer to the prepared cake pan and place in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the top bounces back when lightly touched.
  • Serve sprinkled with icing sugar.


22.10.17

ROASTED VEGETABLE CHICKEN BREAST

Roasting a skinless, boneless breast of chicken with a colourful array of vegetables is a fast and easy way to bring wholesome food to the table. While the oven heats up, chop the vegetables. Place everything on a parchment lined baking tray and forget about it for an hour. Let it crisp a bit and take it out and serve. The best part is you can use the vegetables you have on hand. Keep in mind, denser vegetables should be cut smaller, to ensure everything cooks at the same rate. It is that simple. 


Roasted Vegetable Chicken Breast

1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 skinless chicken breast
1 smaller zucchini
1 large red pepper
1 dozen Italian baby tomatoes
1 stalk of celery
1 cup wax beans
2 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
Sprinkle of white wine
extra virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Meanwhile line a baking tray with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Dice the onions and the garlic.
  • Place the onions and the garlic on one end of the prepared baking tray with the breast of chicken on top.
  • Chop the vegetables arrange them in a single layer next to the chicken.
  • Drizzle with a bit of white wine, followed by olive oil.
  • Last sprinkle salt on top.
  • Wrap with aluminum foil and place in the oven for an hour.
  • After an hour remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes longer or until everything has a roasted rather than cooked look about it.
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper at the table.
  • Yields: 2 servings

21.10.17

SWEET & SOUR SAUSAGE

Several of my cookbooks contained a version of this recipe and time and again I would bypass all the mouth puckering contents, the pineapple, the vinegars and other fruity elements. Then yesterday I took a look at the double smoked Ukrainian sausage and thought I should just chop up some fruit and vegetables and stick them in the oven. 80 minutes later I took the pot out and we sat down to a pleasant meal. Moderation is the answer when you harbor distaste for soggy, overcooked, and over flavoured things. I do think that restraint warrants a note and depending on the ingredients I have on hand, with slight variations this shall be made again. The apples and the lemon juice added just the right amount of fruity tang, the leek retained its structural integrity that the onion would fail at, and since most of the vegetables were on the dense side, they pretty well softened at the same rate. I patted myself on the back and my partner in crime, after all he grew all the fresh ingredients, scooped up the leftovers and took them to the fridge.

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium sized starchy potatoes
2 carrots
1 smallish leek
small wedge of red cabbage
1 red pepper
2 apples
12 inch segment of Ukrainian or Polish sausage
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 heaping Tbsp liquid honey

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Place the oil in an ovenproof medium size pot.
  • Peel, core, chop and slice the vegetables and the apples.
  • Gather them into a large colander and wash thoroughly under running water.
  • Transfer them to the pot with the oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt to taste and toss to coat.
  • Slice the sausage and add to the pot.
  • Add the lemon juice and the honey and toss to coat.
  • Place pot in the preheated oven for 80 minutes or so.
  • Yields: 3 to 4 servings


20.10.17

VEGETABLE RAGU SOUP – ZÖLDSÉGES RAGULEVES

This one is the all vegetable version of Chicken Ragu Soup. The more types of vegetables you put in, the richer and tastier the ragu will be. Avoid vegetables like zucchini or leafy vegetables that turn to mush. You may put in a couple of segments of tomato at the end along with the parsley. Chop the vegetables uniformly. This will ensure even cooking and give a pleasant appearance to the dish. Begin with the denser vegetables and gradually add the softer ones. You can use a commercial vegetable stock, I find these have aftertaste so I use water. I am of similar opinion of bouillon cubes and flavour packets. Every one gives an artificial taste to the food and those of us who are not used to it will find it unpleasant. Add the vegetables sparingly; you really need less than you think you need. A bit of this and a bit of that will quickly become a lot. If you don’t wish to eat the same soup for four consecutive days, don't make more than you need. This is a bulky soup, I don't think it needs a dumpling. Don't freeze this, freeze only clear stock. Reheat as much as you can consume, that way the rest of the soup will stay close to what it was on the first day. By rule, reheat soup slowly; bring it to the boiling point, but never let it boil. Boiling destroys even the best of soups.


    


    


Vegetable Ragu Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt to taste
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 celery root, chopped
1 cup wax beans, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
2/3 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 cup broccoli florets
2 sprigs of celery leaves
1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 heaping Tbsp flour 
2 pinch Hungarian paprika
4 cups of COLD water
ground pepper to taste
2 sprigs of parsley, chopped

• Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
• Turn heat down to medium and add the chopped onions. and the garlic.
• Sprinkle with the salt and sauté until transparent.
• Start adding the chopped vegetables, lightly salting them as you add them to the pot.
• Gently stir after each addition.
• Sauté until the vegetables soften, but not mushy.
• The salt and the sweat from the vegetables should provide enough moisture, but if you are concerned about browning, turn down the heat and add a few tablespoons of water.
• Add the flour and the Hungarian paprika and stir.
• Add the cold water. Not hot, because you want the flavours in the soup.
• Bring it up to a very slow simmer.
• Maintain the slow simmer; do not let the soup come to a full boil. Do not cover pot.
• Cook until the vegetables are tender.
• Adjust the salt and add the ground pepper and the freshly chopped parsley and serve. 

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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. Happy cooking!

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