Sunday, November 5, 2017

Red wine braised D'Anjou pears

They also go by poached pears.
I was eyeing with this dessert for some time, but postponed making it for ..  well, actually no reason.
Yesterday we had some great friends visiting, and this pear seemed to be the one to be worth making it to our table..
My friend is the best cook I know and she goes to the moon and back when we visit, so it's always a bit of excitment  to cook for her.
I feel the challenge, cook something Hungarian, but also special, and with not so much cream and sour cream, which by itself is a challenge, as we put a dash of paprika and sour cream in EVERYTHING!
For this occasion my choice fell to goulash, as the main course, and I thought of making some ile flottante, but she makes a lot of cream englese, so I decided to go with the pears, which I never tried before.. But I'm so glad I did!
They were pretty well received by everybody, which was such a great feeling!
I trullyrecommend this dish for the "colder" autumn days due to its "cozy" flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla.
Enjoy warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
My family was asking for them the next day for breakfast, and lunch, and.. I even had to listen to my youngest's complains: "Now I know mon what we don't have for everyday meals: desserts!"
Spoiled bastards!!! :D Home cooked lunch and dinner almos every day is not enough..there still should be dessert..
Maybe they are right... we will see, but for now, here is the recipe for the peard

6-8 D'Anjoy pears depending on size
1 bottle of fruity wine, I used Smokin Loom's Cabernet Sauvignon
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks of 1 flat tsp minced cinnamon
1 vanilla bean cut in half leghtwise 
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 - 2 cups water (350-500 ml), eough to almost cover the pears

I chose to leave the pears as is. You can peel and core them. I would probably core them next time to let the flesh soak in some color, plus it also helps with the boiling time, eg shortens it, but they were good as is.
Place the pears to the bottom of a deeper pot, enough to hold the "standing" pears plus 2".
Pour the wine, water and sugar over the pears, throw in the spices and cover the pot with a lid.
On low heat simmer them for about 20 minutes if cored, and 30 if unpealed, whole.
Poke something sharp in them, and if it slices into the fruit's flesh with some, but not too much resistanve, they are done. If the inner parts of the pear still feel "crunchy", simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
Remove the pears and let them cool (preferably covered with foil).
Place the liquid back to the stove and conitnue to simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the wine-sugar-water mixture will be reduced to half.
Serve while still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Choose a mild ice cream, not too sweat, it goes better with the taste.
Bon appetite!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Chanterelle mushroom stew

One of my favorite mushrooms is the chantarelle mushroom. Oh my.. Part of the fun is of course picking them, and we did for so many years in Finland's beautiful forests about this time of the year, however now we have to live with what we get in a Costco down here in Southern California.

On top of its deliciousness it's also very easy to prepare, and requires very few ingredients, as most of the finnish recipes have mild flavoring.
Head to Costco this weekend and surprise the family with something different.

1 pound, (450-500g) chantarelle mushrooms
1 large onion
4 tbsp oil
2 garlic heads
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp flour (optional, I don't necessarily like the thick sauce, so I leave it most of the time out)
approximtely 1 cup (200 ml) half/half 
salt to taste
pinch of black pepper

Clean and cut the mushrooms in desired sizes. My advise is not to chop them too small. They look and taste better in larger, crunchier bits.
Chop the onion in small cubes, and saute in the 4 tbsp of oil until golden in color and transparent.
Add the mushroom, salt to taste, start with 1/2 tsp, and the pinch of salt, and let is saute for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile in a small skillet heat the butter, and add the garlic heads (cleaned and smashed, to release the taste). Fry until a bit golden and released the lovely garlic flavor, add the flour, let it fry just a bit, like 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Pour the half-half in the butter-garlic-flour mixture, and stirr until you get that creamy, smooth texture.
Transfer the half-half mix to the mushroom, taste, and adjust saltiness as desired and simmer at very low heat for an additional 2 minutes.
Cover, and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Serve with boiled potato wedges, or your preferred rice.
Bon appetite!
OBS. If yiu serve it with potato wedges boiled in their skin without salt, you'll need to add some extra salt in the mushroom stew.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Töltött paprika - stuffed peppers

One of the family favorites is the stuffed pepper, and given that the peppers are in season, it was served as lunch today in our house.
I can't find the "appropriate" peppers here, aka TV paprika (tölteni való, meaning to-fill-peppers), but it has never bothered me.
I figured that the bitter taste of the green peppers is heavenly in these stuffed peppers, and apart from their size, yeah, those are HUGE, nobody had any complaints.
When the kids were younger and pickier, I peeled the skin of the peppers after they were cooked and before I chopped them into a mush, but now they don't choke on the skin anymore :D..
There are aspects where life gets a bit easier with teenagers :D.

Ingredients (serves 10-12)
1.5 pounds (600gr) ground beef, preferably organic
1.5 pound (600gr) rice (we like it with LOT of rice. You can reduce the rice to about 1/2 of the quantity of the meat if you favor more meaty meals)
12 medium green bell peppers
2 medium eggs
1 large, or two smaller onions
vegetable oil (3-4 tsp)
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp black pepper1 tsp dried basil or celery leaves
1-1.5 tsp salt (salt to taste) (optional: you can add a tsp of Vegeta (dried veggie, salt, spice mix) but if you choose to add this, make sure you reduce the salt, as this is very salty)

1 - 1.5 can tomato pure ( I like it sourer, so I usually add at least 1.5)
2-3 celery or fresh basil leaves

Rough (rántás):
to thicken the sauce of the bell peppers, you can make a rough. I don't as I tried to avoid unnecessary thickeners, but it can enrich the taste of the sauce.

sour cream (1 tsp for serving)
fresh bread if desired (as we prepare with lots of rice, only a few family members go for the bread)

Cut around the stem of the bell peppers, and remove the seeds completely. If you have time, do this few hours before and sprinkle some salt inside the peppers, shake to cover the sides with salt, and let them soften a bit. It helps to fit the peppers easier in the pot.
If you don't have time, just remove the seeds and go ahead to fill them.
Prepare a large pot that has wide enough circumference to fit all the paprika's in one layer, or high enough to fit two layers of them. I tend to use my 15-liter pot and have only one layer, but really doesn't make a difference.

Rince the rice well.
In a small pan heat the vegetable oil, and saute the onions, and when they are golden. Remove from the heat, and mix in the paprika powder.
In a larger bowl mix the meat, spices, rice and onions, and eggs until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Fill the peppers halfway ONLY!!, as the rice cooks, it will fill the peppers till the top.
Place them in the pot and add enough water to cover the peppers.
Cook on low/medium heat for 1 hour.
Add the tomato puree to the pot and refill with water to cover the peppers, plus about 1 inch, 2-3 cm.
Simmer for additional 30 minutes on low heat. At the end, add the rough, and simmer for 5 more minutes. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mango-lemon cheesake

Mangose, mangoes, mangoes.. And most of them are ripe and yammi, so what to do on a hot day between a visit to the Safari and dinner with friends better than.. well, baking is probably not the best idea, but thankfully with air conditioning everything is possible.
To make the sweetness more barelable I used lemons, mainly because they grow in my yard, but you can replace it with lime for a more characteristic taste.


8 graham crackers
75 g coconut oil (about 6 tbsp) or butter (3/4 stick)
1 tsp  sugar (optional)

Cream cheese - mango layer 
500 ml (2 cups) mango pure - obtained from 3 large mangoes
900 gr, 32 ounces of cream cheese (corrected! my mistake, I miscalculated the weight before..)
200 gr sugar (1 cup)
3 eggs + 2 yolks
1 tsp lemon zest (or lime zest), optional

Lemon layer
250 ml (1 cup) sour cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar

Prepare a 9"-10" round cake pen, by greasing lighlty the sides with butter.
Preheat the oven to 160 C, 325 F.
Crumble the crackers, mix with the butter butter and press tightly into the cake form. I used a ziploc to cramble the crackers, but a food processor might speed up your work.
Use the botton of your cup measure to press the crackers evenly in the bottom, and the sides of the form.
In a food processor puree the mango.
Blend the cream cheese with the sugar, add the mangoe pure and the lime yest.
Blend in the eggs one by one, starting with the yolks, incorporating each egg before adding the next.
Reserve some mango pure for decoration.
Pour over the cracker layer and bake at 160C (325F) for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Meanwhile mix the sour cream with the sugar and lemon juice, remove the cake from the oven and spread the sour cream mix over the cream cheese layer.
Add small teaspoons of mango pure in rows or randomly, as many as you please and find virtually appealing.
With the thicked end of a chopstik "cut" through the middle of the dots to create hearts :).
Bake for additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let it cool, and refrigerate uncovered overnight, or at least 4 hours.

Bon appetit!

Upps.. Sorry. I couldn't find the bottom of my cake form in the mess and hurry, so I used a half size foil pan, I'm sure you can do better :D.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stíriai metélt or Styrian "noodles"

It's funny when you hear that a certain food is an "old" Hungarian dish but you've never heard of it.
Sure enough, when the recipe asks for 2 pounds (1 kg) of cottage cheese and another pound of sour cream, you kinda become dubious that it must be :D, and feel tempted to try it.
This is exactly what happened with the "stíriai metélt", and here is the outcome.
For my Hungarian speaking friends I'll just post the link for the original recipe on Coocpad, and for the English speaking the translation comes soon, well, after my master bath is ready, but I just had to post it for those who speak Hungarian to have a chance to try it, as it should happen ASAP!!!

The only way I can imagine this one to improve is to caramelize and saute the apricots in a bit of bourbon or plum palinka :D, but maybe next time.
Meanwhile enjoy! (at least the view!
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Squash pottage

Uhh, one of the strengths of the Hungarian kitchen are the various kinds of vegetable pottages, called főzelék, which can be compared to a VERY thick American style vegetable soup.
It is usually served as a side dish with some meat stew, ribs, schnitzel, but it makes a very tasty vegetarian or diet dish as well with small twists.

Today I made some spaghetti squash pottage, but it can be made from zucchini as well, is equally tasty and probably faster, I just didn't have any home. If you use zucchini cooking time might be shorter than for the spaghetti squash.

Ingredients (serves 3)
1 larger spaghetti squash or equal amount of zucchini
1 small onion
1 branch of fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh dill
black pepper
1 flat tsp Hungarian powder paprika
4 tsp all purpose flour
3-4 tbsp oil
vinegar to taste
125 ml (1-2 cup) half-half

Cut the spaghetti squash in two and microwave for 10 minutes with cut side down, or bake for 30 minutes if you prefer baking. Scoop out the content into a bowl.
If you use zucchini, grate the zucchinis.

In a medium pot heat the 4 tbsp of oil, and add the chopped onions, ans saute until lightly transparent.
Add the powder paprika, mix with the oil and immediately add a dash of water to prevent the bruning of the paprika powder as it becomes bitter.
Add the squash/zucchini and let saute for 1-2 minutes. Add watr until it covers the squash.
Add salt, pepper, thyme and dill, and under a lid simmer for 10 minutes, or until you like the crunchiness.
Mix the half-half with 3 tbsp of flour, and after the 10 minutes add it to the squash. Let it simmer for 5 more minutes. If you feel it too runny, sift in the additional tbsp of flour.
Remove from heat, let it cool slightly, and add 2-3 tbsp of vinegar, or more if you are a vinegar addict as we are.
Serve as a side dish, or just eat it as is.
Goes very well with smoked and barbecued or oven fried ribs or steak.
This time we served with the pork ribs we prepared earlier. The minor change on the rib prep was that I exchanged part of the aivar with minced chili peppers, known in Hungary as Erős Pista.
Bon appetit!

Rolled oats with a twist

The family loves the traditional Hungarian tejbegríz, alian grits boiled in milk, but I always tried to sneak in some more rough parts. I suppose I just like to chew a little more :D.
This proportion seemed to please everybody who enjoyed it for our 4th of July breakfast, so I thought worth making some notes for the future generation.

Ingredients (for 2-3 poeple)
1 liter (4 cups) milk
250 ml rolled oats
60 ml grits
pinch of salt
1 dash of vanilla 
2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp sugar / plate
1 sliced strawberry 

In a medion pot heat the milk until starts boiling, while also adding the sugar, salt and vanilla.
When boiling add the grits, boil for 2-3 minutes on low heat, than add the oats and boil for an additional 8 minutes.
Serve while hot, first sprinkleing the cinnamon, than the 1 tsp sugar. Decorate with sliced straberries.
Bon appetit!