Wednesday, January 30, 2013

White country-style bread

Nothing new about this recipe, but I thought instead of making people read through my endless blabla about the bread experiment, I will dedicate this post to the white bread. Deserves it.
There is one better thing than the smell of fresh bread coming straight from the oven: fresh bread topped with avocado, salt, pepper and lemon or balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients (preparation time ~24 hours, active time ~10 min)
450 g flour bread (1 pound), best results achieved with Costco bread flour (bleached unfortunately), Gold Medal, King Arthur, Red Mill (if you are in US)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
350 ml water (1.5 cups)

This time it was served with fresh avocado, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar

In a bowl mix the flour, salt, and yeast, and add the flour mixing with a spoon until the flour clings together and detaches from the walls of the bowl. Do not mix further, it will stick back to then bowl and'll be very sticky.
Cover with a cloth and let is stay overnight, at least 12 hours, but preferably 16-24 hours.
Dump on the floured table, fold like you would fold an envelope until it forms a small ball.
Let is rise for 2 hours on the table, under a cloth.
Preheat the oven to 225 C (435 F) and bake in a pot with lid for 30 min. After 30 min remove the lid and bake for additional 20 min.
Wrap in kitchen towels for 1 additional hour to cool a bit.

Scoop some fresh avocado on top of the bread, sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper, and sprinkle with lemon. I had no fresh lemon at home, so I decided to spray balsamic vinegar on top. An absolutely hassle free lunch today :).

Do not cut the bread until still hot or the crumb will become gooey.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pullataikina - Finnish bun dough

This is the basis for many types of Finnish pulla's, including the very simple one with no filling.
I think it deserves its own post :), not to mention how much easier it will be to just link it next time when I make some Dallaspulla..

Ingredients (makes ~16 buns)
500 ml milk (2 cups)
2 tsp (2 bags) dry yeast
1 egg
200 ml sugar (a bit less than 2 cups)
150 g butter (a bit less then 1 1/2 stick)
1 tbsp minced cardamom seed
1 tsp salt
~900-1000 g (~2-2.2 lb) all purpose (bread) flour,  1300-1500 ml (5-6 cups) depending on the type of flour used (it tends to be more towards the 1 kg with most bread flours)
1 tsp vanilla sugar or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)

1 egg
1-2 tbsp water

Warm up 1 dl milk to ~hand warm, let the yeast to trot for couple of minutes.
Add to the rest of the milk, whisk in sugar, egg, salt and cardamom.
Stir in slowly the flour until you get a dough that starts not to stick anymore neither to the walls of the bowl nor your hands.
Melt the butter, knead it in the dough, and continue kneading until you get a smooth dough.
As usual, you should "work" some air in the dough, to be light.
Let it rise for 30-45 minutes, to about double size.

Depends what you'll do the rest might differ from here onwards at every recipe.

Korvapuusti - earslap - cinnamon buns

Yesterday  I made "korvapuusti" for the ladies' night, a friend's special request :).
Mot a mot translation of korvapuusti is earslap, however it is much more pleasant :D.
We had so much fun with the name, looking for the similarities between the Hungarian and the Finnish language.
A friend (trying to repeat the name to remember) called them kurvapusti :D, (kurva=bitch in Hungarian), so we couldn't stop playn' with the languages and further "translate" puusti to puszi (=kiss in Hungarian), and giggled like crazy thinking how she will go home in the middle of the night and tell hubby she brought him some kurvapuszi (bitch's kiss) in her pocket.
Soo, as you see our languages are really related, we could right away find some meaningful interpretation of korvapuusti in Hungarian.

Now back to the recipe, korvapuusti is not difficult to prepare, however as all yeast based goodies takes some time to rise.

Ingredients (makes ~16 BIG buns, roll it thinner and make a smaller roll with smaller buns and you'll get the double amount)
500 ml milk (2 cups)
2 tsp (2 bags) dry yeast
1 egg
200 ml sugar (a bit less than 2 cups)
150 g butter (a bit less then 1 1/2 stick)
1 tbsp minced cardamom seed
1 tsp salt
~900-1000 g (~2.2 lb) all purpose (bread) flour, 1300-1500 ml (5-6 cups)
1 tsp vanilla sugar or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)

50 g sugar (3 large tbsp, 4 smaller tbsp)
50 g butter (1/2 stick)
2 large tbsp cinnamon (for kids maybe more sugar and less cinnamon, as with too much cinnamon can become spicy).
if you made small buns and ran out of butter you'll have to use a bit more butter & sugar-cinnamon mix

1 egg
1-2 tbsp water
pearl sugar (can be replaced with nubbly brown sugar)

Warm up 1 dl milk to ~hand warm, let the yeast to trot for couple of minutes.
Add to the rest of the milk, whisk in sugar, egg, salt and cardamom.
Stir in slowly the flour until you get a dough that starts not to stick anymore neither to the walls of the bowl nor your hands.
Melt the butter, knead it in the dough, and continue kneading until you get a smooth dough. Add more flour if needed until the dough does not stick to your fingers.
As usual, you should "work" some air in the dough, to be light.
Let it rise for 45-60 minutes, to about double size (if your room is cold, let it rise as long as it needs, it really makes a difference).
Divide the dough into 2-3 portions, easier to work with. Knead each part again to "get rid of" the air bubbles from the dough. Let is rise again for about 15 minutes.
On a silicon mat roll out the dough in a rectangle, about 0.5 cm thick (thinner for smaller rolls).
Melt the butter, spread on the dough just enough to have it covered well, sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mix on top until the butter doesn't soak any more in.
Roll it up in a roll, and let it stay for 15 more minutes.

Now cut it in trapezoids, turn the pieces with the thinner side up, press the middle down with your finger, and let it stay for another 15 minutes.
Brush them with the water-egg mix, sprinkle pearl sugar on top, and place them in trays covered with parchment paper.
In a preheated oven, at 225 C (435 F), bake them for 15-17 minutes until light golden-brown.
Serve fresh, slightly warm are best.
They are a perfect snack for cold winter days, we took them with us to the ski slopes with a thermos of hot chocolate, and in the forest for our hikes..

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Karjalanpiirakka - Karelian pies

Piirakka is one of the things we kinda got accustomed to in Finland and now we are missing them. They are not the top of gourmet, but a very good and filling snack instead of bread for a change. They suit very well a cocktail party with some add on and fresh salad. 
With a light crumbled egg on top is a perfect breakfast (traditionally hard boiled eggs mashed with butter, salt and pepper), and I will definitely make some variations tomorrow, but for now here are only the piirakka's..
Bad side: too much time to prepare, good side: freeze half of the portion and warm them up in the oven any time with butter (and ham and cheese) on top. Works perfectly fine.

Ingredients (makes ~20-25 half palm sized piirakka) time to make ~2 hours
380 ml rye flour
120 ml all purpose flour
200 ml water
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt

250-300 g (2-2.5 sticks) of butter for baking
extra milk for brushing

Rice porridge filling
0.4 l sushi or short grain rice(it should stick together not like the Basmati rice for example)
0.5 litre (2 cups) milk
1 litre (4 cups) water
1/5 tsp salt (adjust if needed, should be a salty rather than neutral taste)

scrambled eggs
ham, ham & heese
"munavoi" - alias hard boiled eggs coarsely mashed with butter, salt and pepper to taste 

Cook the rice in the water for ~10 min, then add the milk, season with salt and cook under lid over very low heat for additional ~25-35 min, until the rice is soft enough but not over boiled. It should be soft, easy to spread.
Let it cool under the lid, meanwhile prepare the dough.
In a bowl mix the rye flour with the salt, white flour, and water. It should be a rather soft though, barely dry enough to separate from the walls of the bowl.
Knead them together, roll it in a ~5 cm (2 in) rod, and cut ~1cm slices from the rod.
Roll the slices into small balls.
Half of the dough is enough to cut and roll at a time, or it will dry, and leave the dough you are not working with under a cloth all the time.
Now roll the small balls into circle-oval shapes (~10-12cm), quite thin, using a lot of flour on to and under not to stick to the table.
Place an oval shaped, flat scoop of rice in the middle (~7mm thick), leaving about 2 cm of though around the rice.
On the sides fold the dough on top of the rice,  and start lifting with your finger the rest of the dough and kinda folding it on top of the rice towards the top. Turn and repeat with the other side until it looks like the ones on the picture.
Place the piirakka-s in the tray. Melt some butter and spread on the piirakka, sides as well.
Bake them at 300 C, (550 F), for ~10 min on the top most rack, (or second top most), until bits on the top get a little golden-brown shade.
Meanwhile melt some more butter and mix with milk, approximately 2/3rd butter - 1/3 milk.
Remove the piirakka from the oven and spread the butter-milk mixture ALL OVER the piirakka, bottom, sides, top.
Place them under a cloth and let the piirakka soften.

Serve with chopped hard boiled eggs mixed with butter, scrambled eggs and many more...
We also placed a slice of ham & cheese on top, and let it in the oven for couple of minutes for the cheese to melt..

Cut the dough slices depending how big pirrakka you want. I cut about 22-25 g / piece dough and got half of a palm sized piirakka. Not the cutest cocktail piirakka :D, but at least no need to eat too many, 2-3 will have your tummy full.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Non plus ultra - tea linzer

Don't ask me where the name comes from, I just decided to rehabilitate Grandma's recipes and this is how she called them. I remembered that they melt in mouth and are just a bite each.. :)
It has again a linzer like pastry, with meringue on top, and I decided to adjust the sugar portion in the dough to make it less sweet, as originally had 150 g sugar. Huhh.. That would have been a real torture for me..
Even with the adjusted recipe is still VERY sweet however, so you want to have a sour jam inside to balance the flavor. Mine were very sweet, both the apricot and raspberry, but I was lucky to find the blackcurrant marmalade and they became edible sweet :). The kids preferred the ones with raspberry, so it is really up to your own preferences.
I also think with smaller scoops of meringue the sweetness was more tolerable (just a personal taste) than with large scoops, and when you ate them they really fit in your mouth in just one bite.
Large scoops looked better though :), if you like sweet cookies just go ahead and place a nice meringue scoop that covers the cookie, but be prepared that if you don't finish them in one bite when you eat the meringue will fall apart and make a mess :D.
Makes at least ~70 cookies (some halves were eaten unglued and uncounted..)

300 g pastry flour (10.5 ounce), all-purpose flour is good, but NOT bread flour
200 g butter (7 ounces, 1 3/4 stick) (Grandma had 300 lard in her recipe, but I replaced the lard with butter and also reduced the amount, you can try with 300g if you wanna experiment or find the cookies too chewy)
2 egg yolks
100 g sugar (3.5 ounce)
1 bag vanilla sugar or 1 tsp homemade vanilla sugar

2 egg whites, use eggs left at room temperature for ~ a day
130 g sugar
1/2 tsp vinegar (optional)

a sour jam/marmalade like apricot jam, (raspberry marmalade, blackcurrant marmalade)

Mix all the ingredients, roll it out very thin (~3mm) and cut roughly 3 cm (1.2  inch) circles. The dough can be quite sticky, add some flour if needed, and use flour beneath and on top when rolling them out (or a baking sheet).
Make the meringue from the egg whites with the sugar. If you want a successful egg white, start whipping the eggs and only when starts to thicken add slowly the sugar. Whip it well, until you remove the spoon and the peaks can stand up. Place small tops on each piece of cookie, easier if you use a piping (pastry) bag.
Bake them at 175 C (350 F) for 20 min. I suppose 180 works fine as well, take them out couple of minutes earlier.

Glue two of them together with apricot jam, let the jam soften the cookies overnight in a cold place (not the fridge though). Until the cookie softens and they get glued together the two cookies might slide, so watch how you place them on the plate.

Looking at my recipes I think if someone would describe the Hungarian cake-cookie delis it would definitely have one of the following: plum marmalade, apricot jam, sour cherry, walnuts or chestnuts :). Exception is maybe the madártej.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ile flottante - madártej

It is the kids favorite. It was mine too when I was a kid... but I never got the chance to make it with anybody, so I just had to start doing it on my own, without any proper guidelines.
I always thought it must be difficult to make as people were sayin' you should be very cautious about not to over boil the egg yolk, or it will taste like an omelet floating in milk. Yak.. And surely I DID manage to over boil it once, and it did taste like an omelet, but that wasn't the problem, the problem was I always made ~7 litres at once, so there you go, hush, 5 litres of milk, 0.5 kg sugar and 50 eggs going down the toilet. :(
However I learned how not to over boil it ever, anymore.
It became the easiest dessert one can make, the only difficulty we still have is waiting for the cream to cool down. Just takes waaaaay to long (unless one is risking ruining the freezer and puts the cream in it). I call it cream, but it is liquid, like a maple syrup, or something, if you wanna compare the texture in your imagination..
Madártej is "bird milk", suggesting that you have the little white birds sitting in a cup of yellow milk :). In french is "floating island", where the egg white is the island. You call it as you wish..

Ingredients (makes 4-6 portions), preparation time 20 min (+cooling time)
1 litres (4 cups) whole milk
10 eggs yolks (keep the eggs at room temperature for at least 0.5 day)
100-150 g sugar (3.5 - 5.2 ounce), icing if you have, but castor is good too, (I like it less sweet)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp rum aroma (optional) 

For the birds (islands)
~3-4 egg whites
0.5 litre (2 cups) milk

Separate the egg yolks, and save the egg whites...
Whisk the egg yolks well together with the sugar, except ~1 flat tbsp sugar. We will use that to make a harder egg white. Use a bit larger bowl than needed, you'll see why later..
Cut the vanilla bean in two, scratch out the tiny seeds, keep the husk.
Bring the milk in a pot to boil with the vanilla seeds, and the husk. When boiling remove it from the heat (remove the vanilla husks), lower the heat, start pouring slowly! the hot milk into the egg yolk-sugar mix, stirring continuously. When nice and smooth pour the cream back in the pot, put it back to the low heat and let it thicken for ~5 min, stirring continuously. DO NOT BOIL IT anymore.
Yeah, I know, takes a bit of stirring, but not to worry about, is all done in 10 minutes :). DO NOT keep it on the fire until you find it thick enough, it will further thicken while it cools down.
After 5 min remove from heat, add the rum aroma if you chose to add (I don't add 'cause my kids don't like it), and let it cool down, stirring occasionally not to have the skin formed on top.
Meanwhile beat the egg whites with the 1 tbsp sugar (beat them until they look almost good without the sugar first, it will be better, should be a hard whipped egg white), bring the milk to boil, start scooping nice oval shaped egg whites into the boiling milk. As soon as you drop them in the milk let them "cook" for 5 seconds, turn them to the other side, boil for additional 5 sec, remove to a plate with a spoon (with holes, preferably), carefully not to take milk with the "birds" or they will moisten in the plate.
Let them dry on the plate until the cream ("bird milk", the "ocean") is cold enough for serving.
Serve the cold cream (the "bird milk") with one "bird"  floating on top. Enjoy.
Usually one "bird" is not enough to finish the cream, so keep some more on the table..

The French serve the "ocean" with the island floating on top, and pour strains of caramel syrup and roasted almond slices. I ate Ile flottante a la French in Paris, but I didn't like the caramel on top, 'guess one just sticks to what Grandma used to make :).
I have some other optional flavor add-ons instead that I prefer, come and taste my variations in my own kitchen :) or even better, experiment with your own.

1. Do not try to boil the whole bunch of egg whites, after scooping several nice birds you'll have some left on the sides of the bowl that can't be so nicely scooped. You choose whether you have some scrambled birds (nothing wrong with the taste), or just stick to the nice ones and wash the leftover egg white away. 
2. You can strain the milk used to boil the birds and use it for a hot chocolate, or if you choose so you can make the birds first, strain the milk and use it for the cream.
I actually never do. I make at once few "birds" only, store the milk (egg whites, and the leftover cream) in the fridge and just reuse it next day to make more birds, as the birds can not be stored for long. They either get hard or collapse, depends how much you cooked them..

PS. Sorry for the poor pic, I just couldn't make any better, the camera was always out of focus Maybe next time..

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Csöröge - kinda donut

OK, the ball is very high for my patience to fry proper fánk, so I usually cheat. Just a tiny bit ;).
I make csöröge. It's a relaxed way to enjoy the "szalagos fánk" without the stress of having proper ribbon.
The dough is exactly the same, what differs is the shape in which is cut, folded and fried. As a result the dough gets in contact on a larger surface with the hot oil, which guarantees, that unless you screwed up the leavening, the result will be great. And I don't have to worry about putting the lid, removing the lid... Phew..

The csöröge should be made without yeast, and therefore the name csöröge = csörög(e), (rattling "donut"), but my hubby doesn't like any rattling "rattling donut", so I don't make it. OK, only very rarely, 'cause my daughter likes the rattling csöröge. I probably should fry "rózsafánk" for her, but that's a different story. Now the csöröge.
First make the dough based on the recipe from donut dough.
Roll out the dough ~0.5 cm thick in a round shape. Start cutting the dough in diagonal at about 3 finger distances. Then do the same thing in the other direction, until you get rhombus shaped cuts.
Make a small, 3cm (~1 in), cut in the middle of every rhombus, bring one corner of the rhombus through the cut, a bit "shake it" to get the right shape.
Let them stay for 10-15 minutes under a table cloth.
Fry in hot oil on both sides and remove them on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Serve with icing sugar and/or jam.

1.5 litres oil for frying (the csöröge should not reach the bottom).
Frying pan

Serving (all optional)
~100 g icing sugar
raspberry jam
apricot jam
whatever is you favorite jam :
Last I had them with blackcurrant jam, and hmmmmmm.... Yammi.

Donut dough

As this dough is used in more than one type of donut type, I thought I'd rather put it up separately in a post and link it whenever needed.

500 g all purpose flour (bread, high gluten flour)
pinch of salt
~300 ml whole milk (depends on the flour, needs some experience to adjust the right amount)
40 g fresh yeast, or 1.5 tsp dry yeast (I had 4 tsp, but that's for the double amount, sorry)
50 g icing sugar
60 g butter, melted
3 egg yolks

1 - 1.5 tbsp rum aroma
1 grated lemon peel (finely grated)

1.5 litres oil for frying
Frying pan with a lid

Serving (all optional)
~100 g icing sugar
raspberry jam
apricot jam
whatever is you favorite jam :)

First in a small, but broader, bowl put about 100 ml hand warm milk and crumble the yeast to trot, with about half of the sugar. It takes only couple of minutes, the surface should be covered with lovely bubbles. If it's not, just throw the whole thing away and start again, your yeast must be "dead".
In the remaining milk add the sugar, the egg yolks, rum and lemon peel, mix it to help the sugar disolve.
Add the liquid mix to the flour, work it well together in a very soft dough and adjust the amount of milk and flour if needed, until you get a dough that clings together and detaches from the walls of the bowl. Last mix in the butter.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and let is rise for 30-60 min, depends on the temperature in the house, the dough should grow to at least 2-2.5 times bigger than the original size.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gulyás - goulash

The gulyás, goulash, doesn't need much translation.. It is so well known Hungarian dish that it found its way, with own word, even in English. Just as the paprika did :).

Typically is made of beef meat, that's where the name comes from. Gulya means cattle, and gulyás is both the herdsman and the dish made by the herdsmen in a cauldron above open fire on the meadow.
IMHO it is best made in a cauldron.. But one doesn't always have the luxury to wait for it to happen, so people make it in a pot..
There are several recipes for the goulash, too, most of them are with lot of meat, we prefer it with 1/3 meat, 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 potatoes, and some noodles. You can cut the veggie and potato portion into half (a bit less salt maybe as well) if you want it more meaty.

~500 g (~1.1 pound) beef meat, suitable for stews
1 piece of beef tail, optional
noodles (galuska or csipetke), I will use galuska not csipetke
3 carrots (300 g)
1 larger parsley root, ~100 g, more is good too
1/2 celery root, ~100 gr, more is good too
~500 g (~1.1 pound) potatoes (rusetti)
caraway seeds (Carum carvi), needed it be, can be replaced with cumin, though they differ in taste
1 large onion (~ 100g)
1 medium tomato
1 fresh paprika, or 1 tsp minced paprika 
powder paprika, black pepper, salt,
Italian parsley
5 tbsp oil (sunflower oil)

Chop finely the onions and saute them in the oil until glassy/transparent. Remove from fire, add 1 tsp powder paprika, add a bit of water and put it back to the fire, until it is reduced back to the onion/oil.
You can actually at this point add a chopped small potato, a small parsley root, carrot, etc.. it will give a thicker texture to the gulyás as it will overcook and become pasty.
Add the meat cut into 1.5 cm (~0.5 in) cubes and put it in the hot oil, stir couple of times until all the sides of the meat whitens.
Add salt and pepper, ~0.5 tsp pepper, ~1 tsp salt, 0.5 tsp caraway seeds, and stew the meat at very low heat for about 1.5 - 2 hours, depends what type of meat you used, add water if needed so that the meat is covered in juice.
(In a hurry? Start preparing the meat ~6-7 hours before you need it, and after you tossed it for 5 minutes in the onion-oil transfer it into a slow cooker and let it cook overnight, or at least for 6 hours.)
Add the vegetables (carrot, parsley, celery root) cut either in cubes or ~3mm slices. Add the fresh paprika or the 1 tsp minced paprika. Adjust the saltiness of the stew with additional salt (~1 flat tsp, beware if you use minced paprika it is usually salted), more black pepper if you want, and add more water until the meat and veggies are all evenly covered with water.
Stew for 15 minutes and add the tomatoes peeled and cut into ~1cm cubes, potatoes cut into 1.5 cm cubes and the washed Italian parsley.
Stew for additional 30 min.
Last add the noodles.

1 egg
2 tbsp flour
Beat the egg lightly, add ~2 tbsp flour, you should get a tooth paste like texture except a bit more sticky.
Boil 1 l (4 cups) water with a pinch of salt and scoop the paste into the boiling water, ~ peanut sized, they will sink to the bottom, and boil just until they emerge to the surface and the color changes from yellow to whitish, remove them with a strainer spoon and put them into the soup. Optionally you can scoop them directly into the gulyás, then no need for a strainer, just be careful not to over-boil them anymore with the gulyás.

Serve with fresh bread.
Optionally you can serve it with prickles and/or freshly cut parsley sprinkled on top.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tähtitorttu - puff pastry star-cake

Finnish Xmas cookie. A bit late with making them, but better later then never.
If I were if Finland I would just buy the dough and the tähtitorttu would have been made in time for Xmas.. *Sigh*.. Good old easy days.
This time I had to make my own dough, and you can find my gawky trial here.
As you can see the puff pastry recipe is good enough, thanks chef Michel, to have the "thousand layers" already at the first time.. It was nicely cracking as I bit on it, and melted in mouth..
Was gone as soon as the kids tasted it.. The youngest came back for the next round running and shouting "ínycsinklandó finomság' :D. These are what I call the magic tastes of childhood one'll always hanker after..

Ingredients (for ~8)
500 g puff pastry dough
plum marmalade
icing sugar

I took a bit less then half of the dough, about 500 g (a bit more the 1 pound), I just managed to cut that much... That's where the amount come from :).

Roll the dough out to about 0.5 cm, cut it into 7-8 cm squares.
Make cuts from the corners in the diagonal towards the centre (without cutting completely through), scoop 1/2 tsp of marmalade in the middle and fold in every second corner, pinching them together a bit not to open too much.
Bake them at 200 C (400 F) for 20-23 minutes. Check how yours are looking..
Sprinkle icing sugar on top, and serve with red glögi..
I'm just gonna eat them with my Hungarian spicy red wine ;).
Bon appétite!

Puff pastry dough

The credit for this goes to Michel Richard, his recipe and method. And his great French accent, which is a must to accompany the recipe :). If you are lucky the video is still up here.
And helps. I will try to make one or at least couple of pictures later, I believe I will have to exercise this technique before mastering it..

450 g (1 pound) pastry flour (1 part plain bleach cake flour + 3 all purpose flour)
300 ml (1 1/4) cup water
1.5 tsp salt
450 g (1 pound) unsalted butte

Yields 1200 g (1.2 kg) puff pastry dough. 

Mix the flour with the salt and water. Knead a soft dough, make few cuts to "brake" the elasticity of the pastry and put it in the freezer to rest. I don't have food processor, so I actually made cross cuts in the dough, kneaded, turned 90 degrees, kneaded, cut, turned, kneaded, ... until I felt it is a soft, smooth dough.
Take the butter from the fridge, brake it a bit, make it more flat.
I won't mention it every time in the next lines, but whenever you put the dough in the fridge wrap it into transparent foil.
Roll the dough in a square (more thick in the middle as said by chef Michel) turn it with one corner towards you, place the butter in the middle, fold the dough on top, roll it in a rectangle, fold in three (the two "wings" from the side in the middle), roll, turn 90o, fold, and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Then roll it out, fold, turn, roll, fold and place it back for another 30 minutes.
After 30 min roll it out, fold it, turn, roll it out and fold. Put it back to the fridge for another 30 min.
Second time looked so much smoother, was nice to see it getting there.. and I actually rolled and folded it 3 times instead of twice, even if not recommended in the video, I just felt I want to.. Not gonna replace the last folding, it's just an extra.
And last , take it our for the third time, roll it out, fold it, turn 90o, roll it out, fold, and put it back to the fridge. You can use it after 30 min, or you can refrigerate for later use.
When you take it into use, roll it out, fold, turn, roll out and fold two times more, and then use you dough as whish.
NEVER knead it, just let the layers stay as they were rolled during the process.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Zakuszka - Aivar, but not quite

This is the "sacred" vegetable spread that, again, sneaked into the Transylvanian Hungarian kitchen from the Romanian kitchen, but originates somewhere in the Balkan, former Yugoslavia. Please don't make me break down from which country in the modern Europe's map, I have absolutely no clue will it be Serbia, or Croatia, or whatever.. If they know it at all :). Anyway, the Romanians in the south happily incorporated it into their kitchen with roasted egg plant. I've seen it confused with the egg plant spread, but if you see in the recipe mayonnaise, you can be sure it is not the zakuszka.

From there was just one door away to get incorporated into the Transylvanian Hungarian kitchen, you can bet with slight modifications, or not so slight, as it is made in three variations:  the original eggplant, with cooked beans, and with mushrooms.
Not a surprise, first of all the Hungarian kitchen has lots of bean based meals, and the Transylvanian forests are full of mushrooms...Plus, Egg plants is not something that grows originally in Transylvania.
Some make mixed versions adding both egg plant and beans.

I learned that the name zakuszka in Slavic doesn't mean any specific meal, it is rather translated as "little cold bite", a buffet meal, an entree, a starter.. Well, it is true, it is a cold bread-spread bite :), served as a snack, breakfast, or starter.
There is NO such as BEST zakuszka recipe, everybody tries a new recipe when sounds promising, and has their preference when it comes to beans, egg plants or mushrooms. Some add even a 1 kg of cooked, pureed carrots (not us..). I like all the variations... OK, if I have to confess my favorite is the one with beans, but just gimme any :D.
One secret is to have everything minced (except the beans and mushrooms) fine or nubbly (again a personal choice) and cooked on low fire for very long time until the flavors mature nicely together.
The one below is the recipe from which I like the most the zakuszka (made by my mother in low). Don't ask from where it comes from, it is one of the many circulated among the women in our village :).

2 kg (4.4 pounds) paprika, kapia (capia?) paprika, (you can use pimento peppers or red bell peppers) - believe me or not, this is such a varied meal that you can add 3 kg (6.6 pounds) paprika as well if wanted (I have heard even of 5 kg but I wouldn't try, that's more like the aivar, and is not really appealing)
1 kg (2.2 pounds) onions
1 kg (2.2 pounds) tomato, or 0.5 litre (2 cups) fresh tomato juice (some like it more sour, if you too, add up to 1 liter tomato juice)

To give the taste:
1 kg (2.2 pounds) of smaller white or pinto beans, or 1-2 kg (2.2 - 4.4 pounds) egg plant (up to you, really) or 1 kg (2.2 pounds) mushroom
salt, ~2tsp (add gradually and adjust the taste, depends what salt you use..)
pepper, as much as you like, add at least 1 flat tsp
bay leaves, ~5-7 pcs
1 liter (4 cups) sunflower oil (I suppose you can use olive oil as well, I just don't like the taste of olive oil in Hungarian meals 'cause that's not what I got used to)
1-2 chili paprika, optional

fresh bread

Needs some preparations for all your ingredients, and about 3-4 hours of your time.. *Sigh*..
Now let's take the ingredients one by one..
Tomatoes: drop the tomatoes in hot water for couple of minutes and peal them. Cut into cubes and start sauteing until the texture of the tomato is more like a pure. My Grandma didn't like the seeds, so she ran the tomato pure through a tool dedicated for the purpose, but you can use a sieve. Or just sticking to ready tomato sauce is also a good idea :).
Beans: boil the beans, if you chose to add beans. Some like the beans pureed (for me it is too pasty..), others whole. You choose :). The best are the "firstling" (??) beans, we called them "zsengés paszuly".
Mushrooms: you need to saute the mushrooms in some oil, if you chose to add mushrooms for 2-3 min.
Peppers & egg plants: At the same time start to roast the peppers and the egg plants (if you chose to add egg plants) on a grill, until you can peal them easily. The egg plants especially should be quite black, and might look like burned, but not to worry. You need to kinda burn off the skin :D. When ready peel the skin off (help yourself by dipping the egg plants or just your fingers in cold water). Chop the egg plants finely, or use a mixer to get a creamy texture.
If you want to free yourself from extra work can leave the paprika un-grilled, the smoky flavor is however a nice extra to the zakuszka. 
Peal them, and mince the paprika.
Mince the onions, and start simmering them in half of the (hot) oil until glassy, add the minced grilled (or un-grilled) paprika. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
If the paprika was un-grilled let it simmer just as you did with the onions for a while. 
Let it slowly cook together for ~about 30-45 minutes at low heat. It shouldn't boil to much, but rather barely show some tiny bubbles on top. If you had grilled pepper 30 min might be enough, if you added them raw let them cook longer.
Stir occasionally.
Add the tomato pure, and boil for about 1 hour at very low heat. When you taste it and the flavors have kinda nicely blended, you can add the left half of the oil, the egg plant cream, - or beans, - or mushrooms and let them cook together for additional 30 - 45 minutes. The mixture should be shiny rather then juicy..
If you add beans or mushrooms, be careful not to overcook them anymore.
The result will be an awfully big portion, but don't panic. The big portion is needed for the great taste, and you have two options:
- it can be divided it into smaller portions and store in the freezer. Before serving remove from the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge. Enjoy.
- place the ready zakuszka in jars, put them in a basket closely together wrapped around with hot towels and pillows and let them cool down in the warm bed. They should have a layer of oil on top, carefully not to mix it store them in the chamber.

Bean soup - 20 minute meals

I like to eat home made and tasty food, but sometimes time is an issue. I suppose it's not just me...
I noticed in Finland that people tend to buy ready made food on a regular bases on the way home (I get creeps just thinking of those tasteless "laatikko"s.. grrr...) (and here they go to fast food or cheap restaurants) because they think of the cooking as some kind of tiring gourmet exercise, while an everyday cooked meal is not, or at least shouldn't be.
We have invented couple of 20 minutes meals (or just brought them from home) that are tasty, healthy and are ready in ~20 minutes, about the same time it takes to dress up a family and drive to the nearby fast food. The ingredients are all non-perishable, canned, with minimal effort is easy to guarantee that you have some hiding in your storage.
If you can afford spending 20 minutes in the kitchen after you arrive home (and the kids won't roll on the floor in a terrible temper tantrum caused by hunger), this is a meal one can consider.
They have now organic canned beans on discount at Sprouts, so it looked like a perfect opportunity to empty and refill our provision, besides, yesterday only the dog and the youngest wanted to eat baby ribs, everybody else was fed up of meat.
A big plus eating these easy, home made meals is that your kid won't get used to the mass taste of fast food and will be a more balanced eater.
Sorry for the big portion, I never made it smaller, even with this quantity is a battle who gets to eat a second round. I took a pic with less zest to show the "content", you will however have a much more juice soup, just like most of the Hungarian soups are..

Ingredients (makes 4 litres)
3 tbsp oil
3 flat tbsp flour
1 small yellow onion
200 g frozen green beans, preferably cut into ~ 1 in pieces (if you don't have any in the freezer don't panic, is gonna be good enough without)
1 can organic pinto beans
1 can organic kidney beans
1 can organic white beans
1 can black beans

spices: salt, black pepper, paprika powder, vinegar
optional (but good): 1 small tomato cut into 4, 1 tsp minced red paprika pure or 1/2 small  fresh paprika (any type)
2-3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley (chopped if you like, leave it un-chopped if you don't like the parsley floating in your soup)
PS. Feel free to replace any of the beans with another one, I just like a colorful plate and tend to put more types of beans because of the look rather than the taste.

sour cream
fresh bread (optional, if you wanna skip bread)
spring onion, or thinly cut and salted onion slices, or paprika slices (optional)

In a pot put the oil to the heat, when the oil is hot add the flour, stirring continuously "fry" the flour just for 1 minute or two until gets golden, remove from the heat, add the tbsp paprika powder, stir it in the oily flour base (we call it rántás), and pour in water, about 2.5 litres. Put it back to the stove, and the onion and the green beans, the fresh or minced paprika, the tomato and cook it for ~15 minutes. The frozen green beans should be cooked during that time. You can remove the cooked tomato and paprika if the family doesn't like them.
Meanwhile empty the bean cans in a strainer and wash them thoroughly, I never liked the sauce of the cans as it is so thick, and I have no clue what they used to thicken it.
Add the beans to the pot, season with salt until you like the taste, black pepper (~1/4 - 1/2 tsp) and add 2 tbsp of parsley, bring to boil, now add ~1 l milk (1/4 gallon), and boil for an additional 5 minutes at lower heat. Be careful not to have your milk running all over you stove, you might want to stir occasionally.
Let it cool down for a while, then add some vinegar. How much? it depends on you. From 0.3 dl to 0.5 dl to none or more, it is all a personal taste. It is wiser not to add too much if you haven't tried yet, you can add more when served individually (but watch the quantity, being so small is becoming tricky).
Serve as is, with a tbsp of sour cream/plate, sprinkled with more fresh parsley, with spring onions, onion slices, or paprika slices. In my opinion the sour cream is a must :D, and the onion is also on the edge to deserve the "must" category.
I think it took me longer to write this blog then to make today's lunch.. :)
Bon apetite.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Whole grain bread

If you liked the home made white bread, this is gonna be a success, too. In our case is actually on the first place because it has a richer taste. Besides, it's healthier, but that comes only as a bonus after the taste.
It is going to be a more flat bread, don't expect to rise as nicely high as the white one, because the whole wheat doesn't have as much gluten as the white flour, and it won't be able to "work", ferment, so nicely.

500 ml (3 cups) white bread flour
250 ml (1 cup) whole wheat flour
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) water (warm during winter)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry yeast 

If you made the white bread already this will be almost no difference to bake, except that you use whole wheat flour.
Mix the dry ingredients, add the water, and under a kitchen towel leave it overnight to rise, at least 12 hours, or more, depends on the temperature in the house. This particular one stayed I guess ~18 hours, as it is winter, even in SD..
If after adding the water the dough feels very wet, feel free to sprinkle a pinch or two of white flour, but overall, this dough is going to be more wet than the white bread dough, and do not add to much flour or the bread crumb will be very dry and heavy.
Dump the dough on floured table, fold it like an envelope couple of times until it gets a firm and nice round shape (no need to kneed, just softly fold).
Let it rise for another 2 hours. Meanwhile preheat the oven (and the pot) to 435 F (225 C).
Place the dough in the preheated pot, put the lid on, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, bake for additional 20 minutes.
Wrap the bread in two kitchen towels, let it stay for at least 1 hour to cool. If you cut it earlier, as we unfortunately often do, the crumb won't have time to nicely dry and cool, and it's going to stick to your knife, and the brad will flatten completely.. :(

!!!!  During summer is irrelevant what kind of water you use. However during winter is difficult to make the dough rise. I just made this trick last night and it worked perfectly: added warm water, more warm than I would add to a yeast, but not hot for my hands. After mixing the dry ingredients with the water I placed the bowl in the oven (NOT heated oven) and closed the door. The dough had more stable temperature and humidity then it does on the counter otherwise. The bread was better than ever in the past two cold months!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Puliszka - polenta - 20 min meals

Puliszka is not a Hungarian, it is a Transylvanian Hungarian dish :).
It sneaked into the Transylvanian kitchen from the Romanian kitchen, with adjustments of course.
The Romanian "mămăligă", or puliszka, or polenta, was (is) made of fine corn grits, almost flour, cooked for very long time, dumped onto the table, cut into slices with a thread, and consumed with smoked bacon or sheep cheese (the shepherds were mainly Romanian, or some Székely = a Hungarian group of people living at Transylvania's borders mainly in the Carpathian mountains).

The Hungarian "puliszka" however is made of corn grits, cooked for much shorter time, and consumed as side dish with.... there are sooooooooooo many possibilities you can eat your "puliszka" with :)....
This is one of them... and something I love this puliszka for is the fact that can be served in 15 minutes. Ok, 20 if I count the time it takes to bring the water to boil and add the cheese.

Ingredients (4 modest portions)
3 cups water
1 cup corn grits
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp oil
!!!! I had the wrong water vs corn grits and I just noticed the mistake! So please add water MORE and less corn grits or it won't work..

feta cheese (sheep or cow), or blue cheese, or cottage cheese
sour cream (optional, but sooo good)
spring onion, chopped (optional)

Put the water to boil with the salt and oil. When boils add gradually the corn grits, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat.
You can choose to stir for about 12 minutes, or stir for couple of minutes (~5 min), and then let it cook under a lid for additional 10 min (reduce the heat even more..). Remove the lid, stir well again, and is ready.
When ready serve still hot with cheese, sour cream and sprinkle with freshly cut spring onion..
After adding the cheese you can let it stay a little for the cheese to melt on the puliszka, but add the sour cream (and onions) just before eating. The contrast of hot puliszka, warm cheese and the cold, fresh sour cream is just soo good :D.

Ps. If you don't know whether people like or not onion, just clean the onions and let people decide and have it bit by bite.. :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Omenahyvä - apple good :)

In general I'm skeptical about Finnish food that look like omenahyvä (not to mention mämmi). It is aesthetically not so appealing, to say the least..
But... Unlike mämmi (sorry mämmi :) ) this is just soo good and easy, and healthy, and has so many things I like, like almond, and oatmeal, and cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream.... that after I ate at a friend's house I baked it at home too, regardless of the look.
Given that the preparation takes about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes baking time, I would definitely say is worth the effort :).
It is an absolute beginner dessert, as soon as you trust your kid with a knife and handling the oven they can bake it on their own.

Ingredients (~8 portions)
4 large, sourish apples (like Jonagold), or 6 smaller ones, pealed, cut into ~1-1.5 cm cubes
1/2 lemon zest
75 - 100 g butter (~2/3 - 1 stick), depends how buttery you like it
2 dl rolled oats ( a bit less that a cup)
1 dl sugar (a bit less than 1/2 a cup), if you use brown sugar even better
1/2 dl almond, sliced
1-2 tsp cinnamon

vanilla ice cream or
whipped vanilla cream

You can consider adding 1/2 dl raisins.. 

Peal and cut the apples into cubes (~1 - 1.5 cm cubes) and sprinkle them with the lemon zest (helps them keep the nice color).
Spread the apple in a buttered tray (20x30 cm, but size is not critical) evenly. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon, add the almonds, evenly distributed on top of the apples (sprinkle again with cinnamon), add the oatmeal evenly spread (sprinkle with cinnamon :)), and last pour the melted butter mixed with the sugar on top of everything.. Do not mix them yet in the tray!!
Bake them in a preheated oven at 200 C (400 F) for 20-25 minutes. After 20-25 minutes with a spoon mix the ingredients lightly so that the apple from the bottom is mixed with the oatmeal and almond, and the oatmeal gets to soak in the apple's juice . Bake for additional 5-10 minutes (the baking time is all together 30 minutes). The earlier you mix them, the softer the oatmeal gets, decide or try whether you like it more crispy or more soft. I like it crispy, so I mix them only about 5 minutes before removing it from the oven.

Serve while still warm with vanilla ice cream, I just love the warm apple-cinnamon-oatmeal with the melting vanilla ice cream on top..

You can serve it with whipped vanilla cream as well if you don't have, or like, ice cream.
Have a nice sunshiny day!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Szalagos fánk - Hungarian donuts

From time to time is nice to enjoy things created by others, especially by hubby. The "szalagos fánk" is his specialty, I would never dare to compare my fánk to his creations..
He promised, and made, us fánk for new year. Though he claims these were not his best, perfect, "fánk" (because not all of them had the one finger-thick "szalag"), I would mention in a side note that he is too perfectionist :). They all had lovely holes and spongy texture inside.
First the naming story.. Fánk means donut (ok, kinda..), and "szalagos" means ribbon-ed, because of the white ribbon (stripe like thingy) that runs around the middle. If you don't have the ribbon the fánk might still taste great, but if you are unlucky it can easily fall into the "szalonnás" category :), which means lardy, and I guess the name "lardy donut" is already suggestive enough that it can't be good..The inside remains sticky, a raw-ish..
The "szalagos fánk" is a typical "farsang" - carnival dessert, (held in February by Hungarians all over inside and outside the borders of Hungary), but is a treat enjoyed all year round.
Has a huge blemish though: makes your trousers grow small verrry quickly if enjoyed too often.
Yeah, you know, all the good things in life are either unhealthy, or lewd, or make you fat.
Ok, enough of stories, to the business..

500 g all purpose flour (bread, high gluten flour)
pinch of salt
~300 ml whole milk (depends on the flour, needs some experience to adjust the right amount)
40 g fresh yeast, or 1.5 tsp dry yeast
50 g icing sugar
60 g butter, melted
3 egg yolks

1 - 1.5 tbsp rum aroma
1 grated lemon peel (finely grated)

1.5 liters oil for frying (the fánk should not reach the bottom)
Frying pan with a lid

Serving (all optional)
~100 g icing sugar
raspberry jam
apricot jam
whatever is you favorite jam :)

First in a small, but broader, bowl put about 100 ml hand warm milk and crumble the yeast to trot, with about half of the sugar. It takes only a couple of minutes, the surface should be covered with lovely bubbles. If it's not, just throw the whole thing away and start again, your yeast must be "dead".
Add the remaining milk add the sugar, the egg yolks, rum and lemon peel, mix it to help the sugar dissolve.
Add the flour to the liquid mix, work it well together in a very soft dough and adjust the amount of milk and flour if needed, until you get a dough that clings together and detaches from the walls of the bowl, but is still soft to touch. Last mix in the butter.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and let is rise for 30-60 min, depends on the temperature in the house, the dough should grow to at least 2-2.5 times bigger than the original size.
Dump the dough on a floured table, roll it out to about 0.5 cm, and cut them with a ~6 - 7 cm diameter cutter (or sharper glass).
Place them on a separate floured sheet and let them rise for another 15 minutes, covered with a cloth. They should again rise to about double size..

Meanwhile heat up the oil. It should be quite warm, but not too warm to burn the fánk too quickly 'cause it won't have time to grow the "ribbon". It is approximately on the half - to - two thirds scale of your burner, but this is something you will need to experiment with.. :(
When the oil is hot, and the raw fánk rested for 15 min, place them in the hot oil UPSIDE DOWN (the upper part of the fánk, which is more dry, goes in the hot oil) and put the lid on while you fry this side. Sometimes works better without the lid, but that's something you will have to see again for yourself..
Don't put more then 3-4 fánk at ones in the pan, it is more difficult to cope with the short frying time..
It takes only ~40 sec to fry one side.
When the side in the oil looks golden/light brown, remove the lid, turn the fánk in the oil, and fry the other side as well, this time without the lid. This is the time when, if everything went well, the fánk starts growing its ribbon.. It is such a rewarding sight. :)
Place the ready fánk on plates covered with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, and when they cooled a bit sprinkle them with icing sugar.
Serve while warm. Enjoy!

PS. If you had enough of frying and still have dough leftover, no panic, put it in the fridge, before cutting it into circles though. Next day just let it warm up a bit, roll it out, cut the fánk circles and let it rest for 15 minutes and fry.