Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pork ribs

I know, I know.. there were enough ribs today... But I had these ready, too, so I just couldn't resist taking a pic of it and posting you another tempting goodie for Easter Monday dinner, out in the sunny, fresh garden air. Especially in Finland at this time of the year :D. I'm soo mean.. but these will warm up your soul in the cold wintery days as well...
We had this for today afternoon, with the minor exception that it was a 4kg (8.5 pounds) serving :), so don't expect the recipe below to look like the pic above when it comes to quantities.

Ingredients (4 small portions to be served with a side dish, about 2 ribs - 2 bones + meat - per serving, it is about 2 restaurant rib portions)
1 kg, 2 pounds pork ribs
1/4 bottle beer
salt to taste (maybe 1/2 flat tsp per kg)
black pepper to taste (I'm very generous with black pepper in general :), so be brave when adding it)
1-2 humpy tsp minced, salted red paprika (they sell them at least in the Eastern European shops here), Édes Anna if you are in Hungary, but people usually make their own as well. You can also use Ajvar, and if you like spicy food, use the spicy version
Suggestions: instead of minced paprika you can prepare the ribs with BBQ sauce. In that case add only salt, black pepper and the beer, prepare & fry them in the oven according to the guidelines below, and for the last 15 minutes add some wiggles of BBQ sauce on top of the ribs.

Place the ribs in an oven-proof pan and broil each side for 5 min.
Put them back in the pan with the meaty side down, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, spread the red paprika paste on the ribs, (or Ajvar), pour the beer on top of everything and put it back to the preheated oven.
Cover with a foil and bake at 30 min at 200 C, 400 F.
Lower the heat to 150 C and fry them for so many hours as many kg the ribs.
Optionally!!! at 1/3rd of the time turn the ribs up side down, and at 2/3rd of the time turn them back to their original position. I usually take the effort to make this meticulous work because I wanna be sure that all tiny bits of the meat had the chance to fry in the sauce.
When ready remove the foil, turn them again with the meaty side up and broil them for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with mashed or oven potatoes, with some Dijon mustard on the side..

Easter lamb ribs

Today's lunch will be ribs. Pork ribs and lamb ribs.. Yummii..
Luckily the preparation is very short, only frying will take time.
I don't make big fuss about it, place everything in the pan and let the oven do the work, and the end result was pretty good last time. Of course I always assume that it was a LAMB and not some old tup. If you don't like the lamb taste, the meat should be marinated before, which is not part of this recipe..

Ingredients (4 portions, preparation time 2-2.5 hour, active 15 min)
750g - 1 kg (1.5 - 2 lbs) lamb ribs
5-6 carrots (I had an open package of baby carrots, so I used them up)
2 small rosemary branches
4-5 garlic cloves
salt to taste (~1 flat tsp), but it is really up to your preferences
black pepper, according to your taste
1/2 - 2/3 bottle of beer
1 tsp mustard powder, or 1-1.5 tbsp mustard

potato pure
oven potatoes
own sauce (see below)

Place the ribs with the meaty side down in a ovenproof pan. Broil at high temperature both sides until gets some nice color.
Place the carrot, garlic, rosemary around the ribs, sprinkle with salt, pepper and mustard powder.
Pour the beer on top, cover with foil.
Change the oven from broiling to baking, heat it to 200 C, 400 F, and let the ribs fry for 30-45 min.
Lower the temperature to 150 C, and fry them for additional time. I usually keep them at least as many hours as many kg the meat is, so in this case (2lb) for at least an additional hour (probably 1.5, 'cause we like it "well done").
At about 1/3 of the time I cut them into individual pieces, and at 2/3 I turned them to the other side. I just wanted make sure that all parts fried a bit in the sauce and are soft.
I decided not to broil them this time as they won't be consumed right away and I didn't want the meat to dry too much. If we did eat them served immediately, I would have definitely broiled them a bit to have a nice golden brown crunchy top.

You can also cut the ribs into pieces only at the end of the baking time and place the pan back for 5 min, broiling each side of the ribs. Broiled individually will be more crunchy, but you can also broil it in one piece, and cut it only when you place them on the plates, and the meat will be softer..

If the sauce got evaporated, add a bit of water at the end and put it back to the oven until the water boils, or just mix the carrots with some boiled water to make the sauce.

Remove the ribs from the sauce, throw the rosemary away. Place the rest of the zest with the carrots and garlic in a food processor and make a fine, cream like sauce. Adjust saltiness if needed, and you can also add an additional tsp of mustard, pinch of black pepper, etc.

Enjoy with potato pure accompanied by its own sauce and/or lingonberry :), or any of your favorite "sweet" sour salads, like plum preserve or beet root for example.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Keksz szalámi - biscuit salami

Biscuit salami is a cheap, and easy to make sweet.
I liked it very much when I was a kid, but we didn't have too many options, so I thought that was the only reason, as it is not some gourmet dessert one would brag about... Well, most of the best things aren't ;).
However, when I made it for the kids, I was very surprised to learn that they LOVE it.
They were asking for it for a while, so I decided to make some for Easter.
Given that I wasted two cakes so far in the past two days, *sigh*, it was easy decision to jump into something that can not be wasted.

Kids like the simple version. I like the one with cranberries. I hope hubby will like the one with the coconuts..
Today I divided the dough and made one simple, one coconut, one apricots (no cranberries :( in the "baking" drawer), and one butterscotch version. I wanted one with white chocolate chips, but I didn't manage to locate it in my well organized khhhmmm storage, and the butterscotch chips looked like a good alternative.

500 g (1.1 pounds, 2.5 packages) biscuits (Maria biscuits)
250 g butter (2 1/3 sticks), if you wanna make it lighter add less butter, maybe 200 g butter only
200 g sugar
200 ml milk
50 g dark cocoa powder (well, here one cocoa is worse than the other, so I decided to add 75 g of Hershey's cocoa which I found in the store, and which is not the worst, but yeah, pretty bad..). From Fazer's gorgeous cocoa powder, or any dutch cocoa, or even Szerencsi kakaó is enough if you add 50 g.
1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional add on-s
coconut shred, 2-3 tbsp
coarsely crushed nuts, one type or mixed nuts
any dry fruits, the sour ones are best like cranberry, apricots
chocolate chips

Crush the biscuits, they do not need to be finely crushed. It looks even better if you take one small portion and crush it just barely, and mix them to the rest, a bit more finely crushed, biscuits.
Next, you have two choices.
1) Put the milk with sugar in a small bowl and warm it up until reaches boiling point, and boil them just a little, ~ 1-2 min. Add the butter and mix until melted.
Add the vanilla extract and pour the mixture over the biscuits. Mix well, and let it cool down just a little.

2) Add the sugar in a small pot, caramelize the sugar, don't burn it!!, add the butter, mix until melted, and finally add the milk. Boil them together until the caramelized sugar is nicely blended in the milk-butter mixture.
Add the vanilla extract and pour over the biscuits. Wait until cools down a little.

Now, whichever you chose, you are almost ready. I always caramelize the sugar, but I agree, it is much easier if not caramelized.
At this point you can mix in all the other ingredients: cocoa powder (mix until smooth), biscuits and add on-s you decided to have, carefully not to overdo and make a too dry butter which won't stick together.
You can divide the batter and have different things mixed in the two parts.

When the batter is a bit cold and more solid, use some clear plastic wrap, cut a 40 cm piece, and place about 1/2 of the mixture along the longer side in the shape of a roll.
Roll it up, nicely, pinch the two ends of the wrap, and holding the ends of the wrap continue rolling until you get a nice,  tight roll.
Refrigerate overnight.
Cut in thin, 0.5 cm (1/5-1/4 in) slices.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baked avocado topped fresh/toasted bread

Fresh bread always brings out the bright side of people, and there it was, waiting for me on the table.
I had a very nice experience last time with the fresh avocado/balsamic vinegar combination, so I thought let's try something new, with avocado, pepper and salt. We live in California, or what? :)
I found a recipe on the California Avocado and decided to give it a try..
It is a baked avocado, with an egg & bacon in the middle, scooped on a slice of fresh bread. I intended to make it for breakfast, but I think I can settle with it instead of lunch too :).
Baked (warm??) avocado would have been weird at first look hadn't I eaten grilled avocado in Helsinki.. Hmmm.. Really good memories.
For a vegetarian meal leave the bacon out and add some semi-hard cheese crumbles on top (Halloumi cheese would be perfect I imagine).

Ingredients (makes 1 or 2 servings, depending on you appetite)
1 large avocado
2 small eggs
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
~4 slices of bread

Preheat the oven to 215 C (425 F). 

Cut the avocado in two, remove the seed,  and scoop (if wanted) some more avocado out to make the hole bigger. Place the avocado in a small, oven proof container to help keep it straight.
Use a plate to crack the egg(s), and with a spoon carefully scoop the egg in the avocado half. Repeat with the other egg and the other avocado half.
You can crack the egg directly in the avocado, I just found it easier to make sure it won't spill all over. Plus, the egg was bigger than the hole, so I had to leave some egg white out.
Sprinkle some salt & pepper on top, and finally add the crumbled bacon.

Bake them for 15 minutes (I even broiled it for 5 minutes, but it might not be needed). You can adjust the baking time depending on how you like your eggs, more or less cooked. This will be a semi-hard egg, with the egg white cooked, and the egg yolk partially cooked, still runny in parts.
Serve immediately on top of a fresh bread slice, or on top of a toast, depending what you have at hand. Salt to taste and sprinkle some more fresh ground pepper if desired.
Bon appetite!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easter wreath - Húsvéti kalácskoszorú

Easter is knocking on the door and I confess, I'm in very festive mood. Not only had summer arrived to SD, which definitely brings even more energy with the lengthy sunny hours, my knee is in the track of recovery and makes me fly of happiness, but with my agoraphobia I rather stick to baking. :)
Well, at least this challah wreath gets posted in time to be tried and, if liked, baked for Easter, not like my Runebergin torttu which got baked in time, but the post arrived a bit late..
I made two versions of the challah, one with walnuts and one with poppy seeds. I'm a poppy seed person, so I would definitely go for that :) for Easter, but the walnut version wasn't bad either. It reminded me of kürtőskalács. Ajajjj... I would definitely prefer the kürtőskalács baked over fire... but let's not be unfair, and let this challah enjoy the spotlight this time.

500 g bread flour (1.1 pounds)
50 g sugar (100 ml, a bit less than 1/5 cup)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
1 tbsp dry yeast or 40 g fresh yeast (1 cube)
150 g butter (1 1/3 stick)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla bean
1 grated lemon peel (or orange)
0.5 dl milk to brush the crust at the end, optional, it makes the crust softer, and the crumb a bit heavier, but you can choose to use a little, or not at all, of course, it is optional
pearl sugar/brown sugar (optional) to sprinkle on top

50 g butter, melted
200 g minced walnuts
100 g sugar
100 g poppy seeds, minced (you can try 200 poppy seeds as well, to me it looked too black to add the same amount of poppy seeds than walnuts, but I bet there are people who like it with looots of poppy seeds :) )
70 g sugar, 80 g if you are have a sweet tooth :)

1 small egg

In the lukewarm milk let the yeast trot for 5-10 minutes, with a large pinch of sugar.
In a larger bowl mix the flour with the sugar, salt and vanilla beans.
Melt the butter (add the vanilla essence if you are not using vanilla beans).
Pour the melted butter in the flour, mix well, add milk and work it very well together in a smooth, airy dough.
Or, pour everything in the blender and let it work for you for ~5 minutes.
Cover the dough with a cloth and let it stay for ~45 minutes until rises to double size. If needed leave it for an hour (even more). It is probably the most critical part to have the dough risen properly.

Roll out the dough to about 40x30cm, spread the melted butter on the dough and sprinkle the sugar/walnut-poppy seed filling on it, and roll it up.
Cut ~2 cm thick slices towards the middle, but not completely 'till the middle, and lightly turn them on their side.

Use 1 egg to brush the challah well all over, sides, and turned pieces.
Let it sit for 10-15 min.

Preheat the oven to 225 C, 435 F. Bake at 225 C (435 F) for 25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven. You can either cover it with a cloth for couple of minutes until cools down, or if you want a softer crust use 0.5 dl milk and brush it all over. It won't take the shine away, and it will be absorbed right away.


Sunday, March 10, 2013


Two days after the operation and I was already "starving" for some tidbits. Not sweet, as you might have guessed I'm not the biggest fun of sweet stuff, except the ones with yeast and just a little sugar :).
So, for 8th March I asked hubby to make lángos instead of buying me flowers. Recipe coming soon, promise. We had them with sour cream with LOT of garlic.. Yummm...
Today however, four days after the operation, I just couldn't hold myself back from some cooking/baking.
We had székely káposzta for dinner (another versatile Transylvanian goodie worth cooking, I'll try to write down a recipe for it soon), but after dinner I still wanted something fried, something like lángos, but different. "Sweet".
I decided to go for some m'semen with honey.
I'm not a frequent cooker of Arabic meals, but the m'semen stole my hart long, long time ago.
In Finland I made it differently, without yeast, mainly because I didn't find the right semolina flour, but also because that's the traditional one. However I have to say the ones with yeast are much, much lighter, and better.

Well, here not finding something is luckily not an issue, with so many nations living together you'll find basically everything, and I had my semolina waiting in the storage for a while..
And here it goes, the lovely layered m'semen with honey, and it's my absolute favorite accompanied by strong mint tea with honey (not so sweet as they serve it in the Arabic kitchen) and pine seeds. Watch the video for easier instructions and good music.

Ingredients (makes 10 m'semen)
2 cups flour (bread flour)
2 cups semolina flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
~ 2 cups lukewarm water, you'll need a bit less than the full 2 cups, add it slowly

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup oil

In a larger bowl mix the dry ingredients, and start adding the water until the dough clings together but it still feels sticky. Should be a soft, light dough.
Knead it for 5-10 minutes, knead it well together in a smooth dough. You'll feel how it softens under your fingers while the flour absorbs the water.
Let ir rise for 30 minutes, it will grow to ~double size.

Melt 1/3 cup butter, add 1/3 cup oil.
Roll a bit the dough and pull 10, about same size, balls apart. Flatten and fold to make the layers.
Use the melted butter-oil mix to oil the table, and, with oily hands, start flattening the balls until they are so thin that they start to ravel.

Then fold them from the sides towards the middle in three (or four), to make a streak. Fold both ends towards the middle, and then fold the half streak in two (basically fold in 3 again, starting from the two ends). Flatten it a bit and you'll get nice squares. Between each folding oil your hands or even the dough. It is advisable to have oily layers (don't add to much though or you'll find it difficult to fold) as they will separate nicely the dough layers and they will look gorgeous.

With oily hands start flattening the squares until you get squares of a size of a small plate.

Heat a pan, sprinkle with the butter/oil mix leftover and start frying the m'semen like you fry palacsinta (crepes). The pan should be hot enough to make the m'semen grow nicely, however not too hot to burn too fast. I adjusted my heater to somewhere between half and 2/3rd capacity.

They need very short frying, maybe about 1 min/side, or less.

Enjoy while still warm/fresh with honey, maple syrup and mint tea.
Hubby, who has even less of a sweet tooth than I do, had them as is.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spinach - cream cheese soup

I bought for the tort Milanese one extra bunch of fresh spinach which was already cooked, waiting for ... something. Not to mention the big bunch of chives left unused. The amount was too small to make anything proper with spinach, but felt sorry for throwing it away. Faith (there are no coincidences :D) made me lift an old Koti&Keittiö from the shelf to relax before going to bed, and I found a soup..
Well, I found almost this soup, but I changed some spices to reflect the Hungarian taste or nobody would bother eating it in the family. In addition, the recipe was calling for feta cheese, but I had only cream cheese in the fridge.
Here is what I came up with, an almost Hungarian spinach soup, with less spinach and cream cheese.

Ingredients (makes 4-6 portions, ready in ~40 min)
300 g fresh spinach, about 1 large bunch
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp white flour
1 l milk
1 tsp salt
1 clove(s) garlic, very finely chopped, optional :)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
150 g cream cheese (I added ~6 tbsp cream cheese)
1/2 small bunch of chives (1 large tbsp chopped chives)
1 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley

If you ask me, this asks for a dash (or two) of white wine :). I like creamy soups with vinegar or lemon zest, but this soup somehow didn't ask for neither of them but rather a little bit of dry white wine. I added about 50 ml. You decide how you like it, this is absolutely optional.

fresh bread, croutons, toasted bread cubes

Rinse the spinach and in a small pot with boiling water boil them for about 5 min. Drain, chop it a bit finer.
In a larger (2 litres) pot melt the butter, saute the garlic (if any) for some seconds, add the flour and fry until gets a very light golden color. Basically make a so called rántás. Poor in the milk mixing continuously, and cook it until the top starts bubbling.
Add the spinach, chives, spices and cream cheese, and boil it together for additional 10 minutes.
I mixed the cream cheese in a bowl with some soup until became smooth before adding it to the soup, just to make sure I won't have bigger cheese balls left.
Adjust thickness with extra water if wished. Adjust saltiness with the 1 tsp salt, or as much you feel is needed.
Serve with some fresh bread, or toasted bread cubes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Half portion pulla dough

This is half of the original Finnish pulla dough.
The other was a bit too large portion for an afternoon treat and I adjusted the amounts to a bit smaller quantity.

Ingredients (makes ~16 buns)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
1 tsp (1 bag) dry yeast, humpy
1 egg
100 ml sugar (a bit less than 1/2 cups)
75 g butter (2/3 stick)
1 tsp minced cardamom seed
1/2 tsp salt
~500 g () all purpose (bread) flour,  750-800 ml (3+ cups) depending on the type of flour used
1 tsp vanilla sugar or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 orange or lemon zest (optional), depends what goes better with your filling, but if you don't have cardamom you should definitely add some, even 1 whole orange's or lemon's zest

1 egg
1-2 tbsp water

Warm up 1 dl milk to ~hand warm, sprinkle in the yeast, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of flour, and 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 45-60 minutes, to about double size. Might take even longer, depends on your room temperature.

Depends what you'll do the rest might differ from here onwards at every recipe. In general, after you divide the dough further to work with, it will need to be kneaded once more, and let an additional 15 minutes to rest, before making the final shapes and baking.

Tort Milanese

Tort Milanese.. Yummii. I saw it when I was watching the Michel Richard video for puff pastry, and I knew I have to make this.. If for nothing else than for the gorgeous colors of the layers. I eat with my eyes :).. However the truth is that I fell in love with it because of the grilled bell pepper. I just LOVE grilled pepper..
The family said the taste was good, but complained of me making too American food :D, as this, in their opinion, was a typical pie. You see, I'm doomed not being allowed to make anything but Hungarian dishes to please the whole family, or maybe Finnish for the kids.
I agree, is not very typical Hungarian to have all these flavors combined in a a pie, but it looks great for a cold/light warm starter, or one of the dishes if you entertain and don't want to serve warm meals or cook on the spot. It is very filling, can be the main dish of a buffet.

Ingredients for 8 (I guess 10 is better guess for people with our appetite :) )
~500 - 600 g puff pastry
2 large red bell peppers, grilled, peeled (though the recipe says 1 pepper, IMHO you need at least two peppers to have a properly covered layer of paprika)
450 g spinach, saute (instructions below)
6 scrambled eggs (instructions below)
ham (~150 g - 200 g), I used smoked beef pastrami, but the smoked flavor is not needed if you are not a huge fun of it like me :). Use pork ham, turkey ham, or none at all for a veggie version.
Swiss cheese, ~150 g- 200g
1 egg for top spread / gloss
20-22 cm tort form (I have a 26 cm only and prepared regular amounts of spinach & egg, which resulted in not so thick layers, but it was OK.., if you use the smaller one you'll have nicer separated layers)

450 g (1 pound) fresh spinach
2-3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic
0.5 - 0.7 dl cream (5-7 tbsp)
some butter (1 tsp) for the spinach
spices: fresh ground black pepper, salt (1/2 tsp)

Saute the garlic in 2-3 tbsp olive oil, add the washed and squeezed spinach. Add a humpy tsp of butter,  and add couple of dashes of cream, 5-7 tbsp.

Scrambled eggs
6 eggs 
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
few leaves of tarragon
pinch nutmeg

Heat the oil, lightly mix in the eggs (it looks nice if you can see stripes of white and yellow instead of a homogenous light yellow), at very low heat mix in the chives, parsley, sprinkle with salt, (optionally black pepper), nutmeg. Remove from fire before it is hard, will have time to bake in the oven and is better if juicy.

Grilled paprika
If you have gas cooker grill the paprika, if not then put the oven to broil at high temperature, and turn to both sides after skin is black. Put the paprika in cold water, remove skid, and cut the paprika in 4 slices for easier handling.

Puff pastry
Roll out the 2/3 rd of the puff pasty dough in about 35 diameter. Grease a 22 cm tort form with butter. Roll out the though in about 35 cm diameter circle, arrange the dough nicely in the tort form, so that it overruns the side of the form with just ~2 cm not to fall back in the form. Roll out the remaining 1/3rd in a 25-26 cm circle, same size as your tort form + 05.-1 inch extra, and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate both.

Prepare spinach, scrambled eggs, grilled paprika and cool all. When they are ready and cold, start assembling the tort.
Preheat oven to 175 C, 350 F.
Mix the 1 extra egg with a bit of water, and put aside.
Remove form from fridge with the puff pastry and start layering the filling. Spread half of the scrambled eggs, followed by half of the spinach, ham, cheese, paprika, remaining spinach and remaining scrambled eggs. Cut the extra dough if needed (leave ~2 cm - 1 in), tuck in the extra dough on top of the filling, use the egg mixed with water to spread a little on the dough.
Cover the top with the puff pastry circle prepared for the top. Cut the edge of the bottom pastry, and kinda glue the top to the bottom dough by pressing gently down the sides.
When the dough stick firmly together make a cross shaped cut in the middle, to let the steam leave while baking.
Decorate the top with shallow cuts, without cutting through the pastry.
Put the tort in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes.
Remove and let it cool for 3-4 hours. If you cut it too early the layers will fall apart. Enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Red smoothie

Summer arrived to SD. Today we had 31C, and everybody was in a sleepy mood when coming from school.
Who wants to eat some heavy cooked lunch, especially before a 1.5 hour gym class?
We decided to have a light snack, with ancient grain crackers (Costco) topped with french pork pate with truffles (Sprouts), accompanied with a red smoothie.. Hmmm... Wasn't a bad choice at all.

Ingredients, makes ~0.5 litres, 0.1 quart
10-15 raspberries
1 large, 2 smaller strawberries
1/5 (half) banana
100 ml cranberry juice (not from concentrate)
4-5 tbsp organic vanilla yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup, optional
4-5 large ice cubes

In a food processor mix all the ingredients for 5-10 sec. Serve immediately. It is so filling, that if you choose to have it on its own as a snack you won't be starving, for sure.