MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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25.9.17

REAL CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAMS

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! 

I baked two batches of cupcakes and wanted real chocolate buttercreams to conclude them; one white and one dark chocolate. Both buttercreams were ample enough to cover one dozen large cupcakes without surplus. This is both convenient and economical, because let’s be honest, how often do we use up the small container of leftover icing tucked away in the freezer?

Use only the finest Belgian Chocolates... I love Callebaut! It comes in one and a half inch thick bars. In western Canada, Baker’s Chocolate is widely available and so is Lindt Chocolate. Generally look for over 70% chocolate content. Avoid house brands and most chocolate chips. Although there are pure chocolate chips in speciality stores, the brand names grocery stores promote are anything but “pure”.



WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM


1 cup soft butter
3 cups sifted icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/2 cup good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

1 cup soft butter
3 cups sifted icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream

  • The preparation for white and dark chocolate buttercreams is the same.
  • Place the butter, icing sugar and the vanilla in a standing beater and beat for 5 minutes until frothy.
  • Meanwhile chop the chocolate finely and place in a small bowl and slightly melt it in the microwave for 30+ seconds.
  • Stir down the remaining chunks until smooth.
  • Add the whipping cream and stir smooth.
  • The cold cream will cool down the chocolate so you can scoop it into the butter mixture right of way.
  • Beat to combine.
  • Make sure the cupcakes are at room temperature before piping.
  • Each buttercream is the exact amount to cover 12 large cupcakes.

24.9.17

YEAST CREPES - KELT PALACSINTA

I recall my grandmother mentioning once that leavened crepes go further if one was short of money, which was a slight exaggeration come to think of it, because Hungarian recipes are notoriously egg rich. She never made it, not for a family of rigid eaters, nothing new or different was tolerated by my brothers. I think of yeast crepes as crepe - pancake hybrids, though they are more refined and not as doughy as one egg pancakes. I wouldn’t roll them up or stuff them with  a filling, that would be too cumbersome and all along I would wish they were thinner... These would be great with a savory accompaniment, such as a ratatouille, mushrooms, melted cheese or sausages. But I knew how Jim would like it best, with something sweet and fruity on the side.

Yeast Crepes

6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups lukewarm milk
1 tsp instant dry yeast
sprinkling of salt
2 cups flour
oil

  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set it aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick.
  • Add the yeast and the salt to the yolk mixture.
  • Add the flour and the milk alternatively.
  • To avoid lumps start with a little bit of flour and milk first and stir it into the yolk mixture.
  • Gradually increase the amounts alternating the flour and the milk, until all two cups are added. Finally fold in the stiff egg whites.
  • Set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes. It won’t rise much, only the consistency changes.
  • Heat a stick free larger skillet and add 1 tsp of oil.
  • With a large ladle scoop up from the batter and ladle it onto the hot skillet.
  • Tip the skillet so the batter spreads out evenly.
  • Flip the crepe after holes appear on the top.
  • When the underside gets a nice colour, slide it on the plate and gently fold it over.
  • Serve the crepe with the desired topping or accompaniment.




23.9.17

2 CHOCOLATE TOPPED MUESLI BARS


What holds these two very delicious loosely bound muesli bars together is a nice layer of good quality melted chocolate. These bars are less of a sustenance and more of a treat. If the ever decreasing quality of commercial muesli bars is proof of anything, it is that nothing can substitute quality ingredients.


1. Chocolate Topped Nutella Muesli Bars

Bar:
2 cups good quality muesli
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/8 cup butter
4 Tbsp Nutella
1/4 cup real maple syrup
sprinkle of salt

Topping:
1/2 cup pure, good quality dark chocolate, shaved
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

  • Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the muesli and the toasted almonds in a large bowl.
  • In a smaller bowl melt the butter in the microwave.
  • Add the Nutella, maple syrup and the salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the Nutella mixture to the big bowl and stir to combine.
  • Transfer to the prepared pan and press into an even, compact layer.
  • Melt the chocolate and the butter and add the heavy cream.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Spread the chocolate topping over the muesli bar and chill thoroughly before slicing.
  • Keep the bars between strips of parchment paper for 1 week in the fridge, or up to 2 months in the freezer.

2. White Chocolate Topped Peanut Butter Muesli Bars

Bar:
2 cups good quality muesli
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/8 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup
sprinkle of salt

Topping:
1/2 cup good quality white chocolate, shaved
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

  • Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the muesli and the toasted almonds in a large bowl.
  • In a smaller bowl melt the butter in the microwave.
  • Add the peanut butter, maple syrup and the salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the peanut butter mixture to the big bowl and stir to combine.
  • Transfer to the prepared pan and press into an even, compact layer.
  • Melt the white chocolate and add the butter and the heavy cream.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Spread the white chocolate topping over the muesli bar and chill thoroughly before slicing.
  • Keep the bars between strips of parchment paper for 1 week in the fridge, or up to 2 months in the freezer.



21.9.17

SKILLET PORK CHOPS

It’s already suppertime and all you have are these thick pork chops? Never fear, it’s easy. Cook it like I cook my steak and you won’t believe how tender, tasty,  juicy and great quickly cooked pork chops can be. You won’t ever have to eat tough, dry pork chops again.

 And speaking of great... How great is this?
 My grandson's rock band To the Wolves at the “Whisky a Go Go” on the Sunset strip in LA
Check them out here and here

tender, juicy and great!
Skillet Pork Chops

2 thick boneless pork cops
salt to taste
garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter

  • Pound the chops on both sides with a meat tenderizer.
  • Rub salt and garlic powder onto both sides.
  • On medium high, heat up the oil in a non stick skillet.
  • Add the butter.
  • When the butter melts, add the chops.
  • Sear on side and then turn over with a pair of kitchen thongs and sear on the other side. Do not stab the chops with a fork.
  • After both sides are seared, cover the skillet with a well fitting lid and turn the heat down to low medium. Cook for 5 minutes. Do not lift the lid.
  • After 5 minutes, turn the chops over with the kitchen thongs and replace the lid. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from heat and set it aside, covered for 10 minutes. The fibres will relax during rest.
  • Pour the rusty pan juice over the meat and serve.
  • Be prepared to be amazed at the tenderness and the flavour of the chops you just made.



CARAMEL MUESLI BARS


I made several no bake muesli bars from a box of cereal. The main difference between muesli and granola is that muesli is made from uncooked mixture of grains. Granola is baked or roasted. But first things first, I picked out the raisins. The two ladies I made them for loathe raisins. It also had some tiny cornflakes in it but I thought those would only add crunch interest to the bars. All right I will develop a nice muesli mixture on my own... eventually. But for now Kellogg’s will do. I began every recipe with 2 cups of the raisin free muesli. I only added chopped, toasted almonds, but the possibilities could be endless using other nuts, seeds and dried fruits. The next step was what to put into the mixture that would bind it together without the stuff they don’t fancy, such as mashed up dates or honey. The muesli may have had some of those already, but I won’t tell. Personally I didn’t want the bars to become overly sweet. This was my first muesli bar and it turned out absolutely delicious! More to come. It was a big box of muesli.

Caramel Muesli Bars

2 cups good quality muesli
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/8 cup butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup
10 caramels
2 sprinkles of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

  • Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the muesli and the toasted almonds in a large bowl.
  • Place the butter, maple syrup, 10 caramels, and the salt in a double boiler until the caramels melt. Stir in the heavy cream.
  • Pour the melted caramel mixture over the muesli mixture and stir to coat.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press into an even, compact layer. If it’s too hot for your hands, place a square of parchment paper on top, it will be easier to press it in place.
  • Keep an eye on it, this will firm up quite rapidly and you may want to cut it into bars before the bar fully hardens.
  • Layer the bars between parchment paper. Keeps for 1 week in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer.

 

20.9.17

FREEZER JAMS


After making several batches of peach freezer jams, I thought it might be useful to write down a few pointers while fresh in my mind. It is not always easy to remember how it went a year earlier. Olivia is our official raspberry freezer jam maker and bless her 14 years old heart, she doesn’t even like raspberries. I think she just likes the colour.

Other General Good Ideas about Freezer Jams

The fruit is not really cooked in a freezer jam so it retains its fresh flavour and color. You kind of get used to that. For baking nothing compares to cooked apricot jam, but on my toast I want freezer jam. The one drawback is if you don’t have a lot of freezer space, you may not want to reserve it for a year’s supply of jam.  

Pectin is necessary for making freezer jam. Most fresh fruits contain natural pectin, but not enough for jam consistency. Liquid and powdered pectin both work well, what to use is a question of preference and availability. Canning supplies are often depleted during fruit season. Before you use it, make sure the pectin hasn’t expired.

Crush or dice the fruit by hand, it is easiest to crush ripe fruit at room temperature. Don’t use a food processor or a blander; you will have foamy fruit on your hands. That’s not good for jam.

For the recipe follow the Freezer Jam Directions. They vary from brand to brand. Jam making is an exact process so measure carefully or you will have failures. It isn’t surprising that major Pectin companies keep 24 hour jam hotlines.

If using glass or plastic jars, leave 1/2 inch space at the top for expansion in the freezer. After filling the jars with the jam, cover and let them stand at room temperature for 24 hours before placing the jams in the freezer.

The shelf life of freezer jams are 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer.

19.9.17

CAKE BROWNIES

Someone once compared fudge brownies to New York cheesecake. You are dying to have it, you have a slice and you are done. But cake brownies... they are in a different class altogether. Especially with ganache on top. The brownie recipe was adapted from Taste of Home.

Cake Brownies

2/3 cup butter, cubed
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 batch of chocolate ganache

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet.
  • Add the cocoa and the oil and stir smooth.
  • Cook over low heat stirring continuously until well combined.
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sugar.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  • Stir in the vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and the salt.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture. Stir to combine.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Prepare the ganache and spread over the top.
  • Let the ganache set a bit before cutting into squares.


18.9.17

OVERNIGHT BUNS

These take the guesswork out of rising dough. I can’t stress enough how effortless these buns are. If you need  success with bread dough, this surely is the one to try. Like many bakers, I went through the no kneed phase and found no-kneed-breads and buns wanting. I came to the conclusion that when it comes to texture and longevity, nothing will replace  thorough kneading aka the elastic dough. I don’t think much of unrefined rustic breads and while I still have them among my recipes, I can’t remember the last time I made one. The no-kneed-bread will go down in the history of culinary arts as a fad just like meringue mushroom caps decorated cakes, jellied salads, frosted ribbon loaves and the horror of horrors, the coq au vin [slimy chicken]. If you are any way yeast dough challenged, try this, I can’t think of a way to ruin these buns sort of a power outage.


Overnight Buns

3-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast
3 Tbsp dry milk powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, soft
1 cup water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1+1 Tbsp butter, melted for brushing

  • Combine ingredients and make a very soft, pliable dough. If you are kneading by hand, here is a shortcut: throw the dough down on the counter 100 times, this really helps to develop the gluten.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise for one to two hours or until almost doubled.
  • Line a larger baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Punch down and divide dough into 15 equal pieces and round each into a ball.
  • Brush the tops with 1 Tbsp of melted butter.
  • Cover completely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate overnight.
  • Take the rolls out, uncover and let them sit on the counter for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 22-24 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Brush with the remaining melted butter if desired.
  • Remove to wire racks to cool.



17.9.17

ZUCCHINI PRALINE CAKE

This was a cake high on sugar and Jim LOVED it. Which would have been fine except I also put in two cups of walnuts and that just tipped over the scale for me. Next time it’s either the praline icing or the walnuts, but the two together kept me up for most of the night and only after swallowing a heaping tablespoon of baking soda and two cups of water was I able to sleep for a few hours. I was thinking there will be no write up this time and only when Jim carted away the cake to the freezer for himself I thought... well maybe I should add it to my recipes. I still intend to make a couple of loaves without the praline and the walnuts, because as far as the batter is concerned it tasted delicious and the crumb was superb. Passionate Plate’s mama really knew what she was talking about.



CAKE:
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon

PRALINE ICING:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp maple extract
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup nuts [optional]

  • Grate the zucchini in a food processor fine and set it aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Fully line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  • Place a large fine sieve over a catch bowl. A catch bowl is just a bowl your sieve fits over perfectly.
  • Squeeze the life out of the zucchini, which means squeeze, push, press against the sieve to rid the zucchini all of its moisture.
  • Place zucchini, eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the cinnamon in the beater bowl. Beat well to combine.
  • Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pans. For a four layer cake divide the batter evenly, for a three layer cake, scoop a little more batter into one of the cake pans.
  • Bake until the cake is set in the middle about 30+ minutes. Even though one cake was higher they were ready about the same time.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool.
  • While the cakes cool, make the praline.
  • In a heavy fry pan, combine brown sugar and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.
  • Pour in the whipping cream and continue to stir and bring it to a boil, but just.
  • As soon as the praline comes to the boil, remove from heat and stir in the maple extract. Set it aside until it cools down slightly.
  • Rinse the fine sieve and the catch bowl [used to squeeze out the zucchinis] and pour the praline through the sieve to catch any sugar clumps it may have. 
  • Cut the cake[s] horizontally. For a neater cake, trim off the rounded tops before assembly.
  • Place one cake layer on a cake plate and pour some of the still warm icing on the top. Spread the icing out to the edge and set the next cake on top. Repeat. Set the third cake on.
  • Pour the remaining praline on the top first and the second time pour on the remaining praline and let it drip down the sides of the cake. Don’t touch the top, but the praline that will pool at the bottom can be swept up a little while later when the praline begins to solidify. Dip the spatula into hot water and smooth it out.
  • Chill the cake before slicing, but best eaten when the cake is at room temperature.  


16.9.17

DULCE DE LECHE OATMEAL BARS

My kitchen filled with the sweet smell of caramel, but at first I found the bar was overly sweet for my taste. I already gave away most of it when I thought maybe... maybe I should take a photo of the few that was left. I am glad I did, because by evening it turned into a different bar cookie, the texture settled and the flavours mellowed somehow. It was much less sweet too. Still I increased the salt from a pinch to 1/2 tsp. This was a bit more involved bar than your average "Magic Cookie Bar", though opening a can of dulce de leche was a far cry from making it from scratch. From Roxana’s Home Baking. Go ahead and eat your oatmeal.

Dulce De Leche Oatmeal Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter, diced
1 can 300ml Eagle Brand dulce de leche

  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • Fully line an 13X9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set it aside.
  • In a food processor add all the ingredients except the dulce de leche.
  • Pulse it a few times until it comes together in a ball.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the cookie dough. Press it together, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer.
  • press the remaining dough onto the prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour the dulce de leche in a saucepan, and heat it and heat it to pouring consistency.
  • Take the pan out of the oven and pour the dulce de leche on the top.
  • Grate the frozen reserved dough over the dulce de leche layer and bake it for 25 more minutes or until golden brown. The sides are a good indicator the bar is ready, don’t let it harden to a candy.
  • Place the pan on a rack and let the bar cool down completely.
  • If the bar is stuck to pan, press down a pastry cutter along the sides to dislodge. 
  • You may cut the bar into squares or rectangles, but is you wait a few hours, the flavour and the texture will improve considerably.


15.9.17

PARMESAN CRUSTED VEGETABLES

This time I used broccoli and zucchini from the garden, but there are a large variety of vegetables that can be prepared this way to create a colourful dish. You may deep fry the vegetables, but a half inch layer of vegetable or light olive oil [not extra virgin] is perfectly sufficient to fry up a large batch. This is a versatile dish,serve it as a side or a snack with dipping sauce or in place of meat in a vegetarian meal. This is a good way to start kids on vegetables, who otherwise would turn up their noses on everything green. Over the years the baby of the family was gradually seduced to eat meat this way. Without deep frying we would have been stuck on hot dogs. But she eats chicken, pork, halibut, and grouse now and not strictly fried. Currently we are working our way through the vegetables...


Parmesan Crusted Vegetables

For carrots, sweet potato, parsnip, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, large mushrooms, eggplant...

4 cups of vegetable wedges of your choice
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
oil for frying
salt

  • If you have a large batch, preheat the oven to 160F. This is where you will transfer the freshly fried vegetables to keep warm. Omit this step for a small batch.
  • Wash, drain and dry the vegetables with paper towels.
  • Cut them into bite size lengths. The softer vegetables like the zucchini should be cut into thicker wedges, the carrots sliced thinner. The mushrooms depending on size may be left whole or cut into halves. The eggplant should be sliced.
  • Place the flour the eggs and the parmesan cheese in separate bowls.
  • Dip the vegetables into the flour, the egg next, then roll into the shaved parmesan and then back for a slight dip into the flour again. Be casual about it, you don’t want to uniformly coat the vegetables.
  • For a small amount of vegetables, I put a scoop of flour into a small baking dish, roll the vegetables into the flour, whisk up an egg and pour it on top, dump a handful of parmesan on the whole thing and just roll the vegetables around, haphazardly coating them.
  • Add half an inch of oil, or less to a heavy fry pan and heat it up on medium high heat.
  • Piece by piece lower the first batch of vegetables into the hot oil, making sure there is room left to turn them during frying. Use a pair of kitchen thongs to turn, or flip them with a fork, but don’t pierce them.  
  • Fry for 1-2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and golden.
  • Transfer to baking tray lined with paper towel.
  • Place in the preheated oven to keep warm.
  • When all the vegetables are fried, transfer them to a serving plate and sprinkle with salt.
  • Serve immediately.


14.9.17

CIABATTA BUNS

Adapted from Chef De Home, these are fabulous ciabatta buns, better than from the bakery. The original recipe makes only eight buns, and I was really sorry I didn’t double the recipe. Should you double the recipe, don’t double the salt, always multiply the salt by 1.5.



Ciabatta Buns

Dough Starter
1-1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1 cup water

Dough
4 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2-1/4 cup flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast

  • Mix starter and let it ferment for 4 hours or until dough starter doubles in size.
  • Stir the risen starter, stir it and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle 2 tsp yeast over the rested starter.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt and oil.
  • Add 2 cups of flour and mix well.
  • Kneed, adding from the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 Tbsp at a time until the dough comes together.
  • Kneed for 5 more minutes. 
  • Transfer to a large oiled bowl, turn over and cover.
  • Let the dough rise until it triples in size.
  • Punch down risen dough on well floured surface.
  • Roll into a rectangle and divide into 8 parts with a dough scraper.
  • Fold up each rectangle against itself, tucking the corners inside.
  • Transfer the buns to the prepared baking pan 3-4 inches apart.
  • Cover and let buns rise again until doubled.
  • Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until tops are brown and bottoms are hollow when tapped.


13.9.17

PERFECT FRIED CHICKEN



The way fried chicken should always taste!

I have been experimenting with fried chicken for a long time. ‘Cause there are endless ways to ruin fried chicken. From all the expert advice I found in cookbooks and on the web about soaking, parboiling, sticking it in the micro or into the oven, cook it covered or in a clunky deep fryer and still always, always I ended up with bleeding chicken.  

Forget all the advice and just once try it this way. I guarantee, you will never look for a fried chicken recipe again.

Use only small, free range chickens. Don’t fall for the “secret herbs and spices” claim, they are terrible. Every one of them. Make sure everything is at room temperature, including the chicken. Fry only room temperature chicken. Cold chicken fries unevenly. Brine in real buttermilk, not in a mixture of substitutions.  Shake the excess off before dropping in the coating. The ingredients are exactly as on cookerish.com, so the flavouring is the same, but the preparation is different.

tender, juicy and so delicious


Perfect Fried Chicken

10 to 12 free range chicken pieces, at room temperature
1 litre of vegetable oil for frying

Brine
500 ml buttermilk, room temperature
4 Tbsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp mustard paste

Coating
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp corn flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder

  • The chicken and the buttermilk must be at room temperature. If you deep fry chilled chicken meat, it will cook unevenly. The outside will be burned and the inside will be still tough. NEVER deep fry chilled chicken.
  • The recipe is for a dozen pieces of chicken. If you only fry a few pieces, reduce the brine and the coating ingredients as well as the oil and use a heavy skillet instead of a Dutch pot.
  • Trim and wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a bowl combine the brine ingredients.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the brine, cover and let them soak for two hours. Do NOT refrigerate. You may brine the chicken overnight in the fridge, but when you take it out let everything come to room temperature. This will take longer than two hours. 
  • Next prepare the coating.
  • Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Using a pair of kitchen thongs transfer one piece of chicken at a time to the bowl with the coating.  Tilt the bowl and roll it around until the chicken is completely coated.  
  • Transfer to a wax paper lined baking tray and repeat procedure with the remaining chicken.
  • Heat up the oil in a large Dutch pot on the medium setting. This takes a bit of time, but you don’t want the oil on too high, you want a steady frying temperature between low medium, medium or high medium.
  • Using a pair of kitchen thongs lower a piece of chicken into the hot oil. Don’t just drop it in the hot oil because it will splatter up and hit you on the face. Let the piece fry for a couple of minutes and gently flip it over with a fork. Do not pierce the meat. Refrain from using the thongs for turning, the coating is fragile at this stage and comes off easily.
  • One by one add another piece of chicken to the pot and fry it just as the one before. Don’t fry more than five pieces of chicken. Too many pieces will build up steam, besides the coating will come off if the pot is overcrowded.
  • Fry for ~20 minutes or until every piece of chicken is golden brown and crispy. Remove the finished chicken with the kitchen thongs, they are less fragile than during frying.
  • Transfer the chicken to a wire rack. Do not put the hot chicken on paper towels or the undersides will get soggy. If you have a large batch to fry, place the wire rack with a catch tray in the preheated 200F [not Celsius!] oven until all the pieces are done.
  • When the last piece of chicken is fried, set them out on the counter with the wire rack for a 10 minute rest. This will conclude the process allowing the fibers to relax.





12.9.17

BANANA ZUCCHINI LOAVES

The zucchinis are plenty, it is time to experiment. Neither the sugar, nor the fat content is extravagant, considering the recipe makes not one, but two good sized loaves. I doubt I will ever bake a zucchini loaf without walnuts again, The walnut loaf tasted amazing even though I wasn’t happy with the crumb of yesterday’s loaves. Not enough eggs will do that. A zucchini loaf in my mind should be somewhere between a bread and a cake. Better than a zucchini bread but not quite a zucchini cake. A cake is out to have at least 4 eggs for every 1-1/2 cups of flour, if less it is not a cake. Who said that every day is a good day? I don’t buy it, because today was better. Better day, better recipe and better zucchini loaves. This recipe is a keeper.  





Banana Zucchini Loaves

1 cup ripe banana, smashed
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups grated zucchini, drained
1 cup walnuts, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Grate the zucchini. Using a food processor to grate is not only faster and less work, but you avoid the long strands and get smaller, uniformly grated zucchinis. Use the pulse function to grate, you do not want a puree. Set the grated zucchini aside.
  • Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. 
  • Add the bananas, eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. I add the leavening agents to the beaten batter, it will be better distributed throughout the loaves.
  • Beat for 4 minutes. It will not be a thick batter. Set it aside.
  • Next measure the flour into a very large mixing bowl.
  • Between your hands squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini.
  • Add the drained zucchini and the chopped walnuts to the flour, and mix in well.
  • Finally pour the batter on top of the flour mixture and with a wooden spoon stir to combine. Don’t beat it, but combine the wet and the dry ingredients really well.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans and place them in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cover the tops with aluminum foil halfway through.
  • Let the loaves cool down in the pans. Lovely.

amazing crumb

11.9.17

SAUTÉED BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

When the recipe calls for precooked chicken, sautéing has several advantages. I tasted bagged precooked chicken before, let’s just say home cooked meat tastes better. The convenience factor is not huge either when you consider that half a dozen boneless skinless chicken pieces can be ready in 14 to 18 minutes. Why buy tasteless precooked chicken when you can sauté the meat in the fry pan in such a short time? The challenge with all precooked meat is keeping it tender and juicy. Oven roasting is definitely more time consuming, not to mention how easy it is to dry out the meat. Remember, that precooked meat should be fully cooked and juicy. Keep the flavouring simple. If you have the time for pre-salting, keep the salted meat wrapped in the fridge overnight or place it on the counter for a couple of hours before cooking. Suffice to say, the meat must be either fresh or fully thawed. But that holds true for any type of meat preparation.

Sautéed Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, in similar size
salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, crushed

  • Wash the chicken thighs and dry them with paper towel. Leave the thighs in whole, you will have better control cutting up the cooked meat.
  • Salt the meat to taste on both sides.
  • Preheat the oil and the butter in a large non stick fry pan over medium heat. Use enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the crushed garlic to the pan.  
  • Place the chicken in the pan.
  • Sear the meat on both sides, but do not burn.
  • Scoop out the garlic and discard.
  • Adjust the heat so meat does not brown. Continue to sauté. Don't pierce the meat with a fork, use kitchen thongs to turn the meat. Don’t cover the pan, if you do, the cooking will accelerate but the meat will release its juices and you do not want that. From the time I placed the thighs in the pan to the end, I counted 17 minutes . Depending on the stove’s temperature setting and the size of the thighs, the cooking time can vary.
  • Check the chicken for doneness. There should be no pink and the juice should run clear.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan with a pair of tongs to cool.
  • Let the thighs cool to room temperature before cutting.

10.9.17

SPICE TEA LOAF

He and I watch a lot of British TV and when trouble brews, be it a broken heart or someone's uncle dies a terrible death, the first line of action is always “I’ll go put the kettle on”. As the saying goes a cup of tea will cure all ills - stress, sleep, and more. A nice plain loaf would be nicer, but at best the main character's sidekick will come back with a dry biscuit. In real life, a simple understated slice of loaf with a sprinkle of powdered sugar goes well with a cuppa on most days...

Spice Tea Cake

1-1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream [14%]
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Fully line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cloves.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. set aside
  • In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract.  
  • One by one add the yolks and beat for 5 more minutes.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat to combine.
  • Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean and the sides shrink away from the pan.
  • Let the loaf cool on a wire rack before slicing.



9.9.17

PECTIN FREE JAM

Beautiful, pectin free soft jam with incredibly low sugar content for all types of fruit. I cooked up some tree ripe apricots again this year. Can’t live without apricot jam, so many Hungarian recipes depend on it. I now make as much as I can use within a year, jam does not last forever, not even with copious amounts of sugar and pectin. The shelf life of jam is maximum two years, after that it starts to loose its clarity and begins to brown. It will be still edible provided the lids were properly sealed, but by then the joy has gone out of them. Just to be safe and I don’t run out of apricot jam, I always freeze a few bags of peeled, notice PEELED, apricots, which I can cook up at a later day.

The thickening does not come from gelling the liquid, it comes from cooking down the excess water. This type of jam should be cooked in a wide, heavy pot in small batches. The wideness of the pot quickens evaporation the heaviness prevents scorching, and cooking it in small batches preserves the lightness. The longer you cook it the darker your jam will get.  One batch will fill four half pint jars,  [a half pint jar holds approximately 230 ml of liquid]

My grandma always cracked an apricot stone and added it to the jar before she poured in the jam. This gave her apricot jam a subtle almond flavour. Only apricot stones mind you, she insisted it was not good for you to put more in and never ever use stone from other fruits. 



Pectin Free Jam

2 pounds of prepared fruit
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1+ Tbsp fresh lemon  juice

  • Work in a single batch. Do not double amounts.
  • Peel, seed, and chop the fruit. Always, always peel peaches and apricots. The skin of apricots is a disagreeable thing in a jam. Very. Peel it exactly like you would a peach, drop it into boiling water for a minute, then plunge it into ice water and the skin will come off.
  • Add 3/4 cup of sugar.
  • Stir it up, cover and refrigerate it overnight.
  • Most of the sugar will dissolve and the fruit would have released a substantial amount of liquid by next day.
  • Prepare the jars, lids for canning.
  • Put a large canner with hot water to the boil.  
  • Transfer all the fruit, sugar and accumulated fruit juice to a large, wide, heavy Dutch pot.
  • Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Stay with it and stir it frequently, the fruit will scorch easily.
  • When the fruit has softened, add the lemon juice.
  • If the texture in the pan is too chunky or the pieces are too large, crush the fruit with a potato masher.
  • Taste the jam. Add more sugar or lemon juice if needed. Continue the slow simmer and the stirring.
  • When the jam is glossy and slightly thickened, transfer a dollop to a chilled plate.
  • Run your finger through it and if the finger mark remains visible or runs together slowly, the jam is ready.
  • Adjust the taste with sugar and lemon juice and give it a final stir.
  • Ladle the jam into the warm jars, wipe the rims, put on the lids and screw on the caps.
  • Carefully submerge the jars into the boiling water.
  • Note: In case the canning was interrupted, and when you come back, make sure both the jars and the water bath are the same temperature. In other words, don’t put cold jars into a hot water bath or hot jars into cold water, thermal shock could crack your jars.

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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. 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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