Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Meat balls with tomato sauce

Nom, nom..
Here comes a kid's hit, at least in our family.
Yesterday we were preparing a 15 liter pot, yepp, that's about 16 quarts, of stuffed cabbage, and not gonna say how many pieces, but let's just approximate it was over 200.
This time it is made of a mix of beef (60%) and pork meat (40%), and I bought the usual Costco quantities, ending up with just a "tiny" extra that was ready to be used for something else, plus I have a hubby who demands home made food.. Tell me about some spoiled family.. *sigh*

Anyway, this was a relatively easy dish, and to tell the truth, it is one of our top favorites! Maybe because this was the only edible dish at the highs school and university cantines :D.
I'll not go into details how to make the meatballs, I guess everybody is familiar with them.. or maybe later..

meat balls, 5-6 /person
mashed potato, I usually count with two larger, or three smaller, potatoes for each person
tomato sauce: 1 can organic tomato sauce, dried lovage leaves, if you don't have use dried celery leaves or if you don't have that either use basil, water, salt, black pepper
Make a potato pure using creamy potatoes (Golden potatoes are still our favorite for that), salt to taste, butter and sour cream.

Tomato sauce

Empty the tomato sauce in a small pot. Fill the empty can 1/2 or 2/3 with water, depending how thick you like the sauce, and add it to the tomato sauce.
Add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and a tsp of the lovage leaves.
Boil together on very low heat for 3-5 minutes, leaving the lovage some time to flavor your sauce.
Back home we always added some flour to thicken the sauce as there was limited tomato sauce available, but nowadays I prefer to use more tomato pure and no flour at all for thicker sauce.

Serve.. It can be  served also with the microwaved potato side, minus the duck sauce (use some melted butter instead).
Bonn appetite!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Potato side dish

Some family members are not big fans of mashed potatoes, so I tried to be innovative during he holidays.
I wanted to have potato with the broiled duck, plus, I wanted to have some sort of mashed potato, and on top of all I wanted it ready really fast.
This is what the result of my brainstorming was..

golden potatoes
ha;d bunch of parsley, finely chopped
fat & juice saved from the broiled ducj 

I washed two golden potatoes / person, placed them in a plastic bag, and put them in the microwave at highest power for about 20 minutes. (I was expecting to have 11 people for dinner, so I placed 10 middle sized potatoes in a bag, twice, microwave boiled them for 10 minutes each bag separately, and at the end I placed both bags together for another 10).

When ready and I pealed them under running cold water (it was very easy this way), and cleaned them from the black spots (they are bittery and weird tasting).
I prepared a pot and pressed them through a potato press 2-3 at a time.
After having a layer of potatoes, roughly 6 potatoes evenly spread at the bottom, I sprinkled them VERy lightly with salt, a generous pinch of finely chopped parsley, and 3-4 tbsp of the fat & juice saved from the duck (the one I drained after the first hour of baking).
I repeated it three times and let it sit under the lid.

When serving, I lightly scooped roundish balls of potato with a tablespoon, like you'd scoop ice cream, into each plate.

Served immediately.
Bonn appetite!

Broiled duck

Now, who would've thought I like duck meet prepared by myself?
Well, I did not..
Luckily my friend buys and broils duck regularly, brought two over for Thanksgiving, and they were delicious! Even my non-poultry eating hubby liked the duck meat, and agreed to purchase more.
So I did..
With friends coming over for Xmas dinner, I headed for 99 Ranch and came home as a proud owner of two large ducks..
Don't let the size betray you! There is sooo much fat in these ducks that one will be barely enough for 4 people.
My first thought was to search for a recipe.. which I did, and it asked for spices that I knew I'd need, but I forgot to purchase, like the fresh rosemary.
Never mind, such a small hiccup won't stop me from adding some herbs to my duck in addition to the must have salt and black pepper.
Here is what I came up with..

1 duck (about 2.5 kg, 5 pounds), fresh or frozen (thawed)
1-2 apples
2 oranges
2-3 branches of fresh lemon basil
10-15 pieces of pink pepper
freshly grind black pepper
4-5 garlic cloves 

potatoes with parsley and duck juice
orange to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F, 175-180 Celsius.
Prepare the duck. The one I bought had its head, neck, feat and stuff on it, so I had to chop it apart. I removed the wings (for soup), feat, neck and head, and I cleaned it from the leftover feather cases. They are just disgusting to have them in your meal..

Next, I rinsed the duck well, inside and out. I mixed 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of black pepper, and generously sprinkled the insides of the duck. Next I threw the pink peppers, and 2 crushed garlic cloves, inside my duck.
I put one apple (next I'll definitely put two!!) and the lemon basil branches, and I placed the duck breast up in a tray that had 1 inch tall sides, while rubbed the skin of the duck well with some of the leftover salt and pepper mix.
Cut the oranges in half, and place 4 orange halves around the duck, and throw in the leftover garlic clover. Crush the garlic a bit, again, it will let the flavor better mix with the juice.
Covered with aluminum foil, and baked for 1 hour.
I removed the duck, poured the fat with some yammi brownish juice in a small bowl, turned the duck with breast down, and placed it back to bake for an additional hour under foil.
Do not discard the juice!!! We will use it to flavor the potatoes, and the fat is just nom, nom, nom with toast..

After an hour I removed the foil and broiled the duck just a bit, 5 minutes each side, and poured the fat again in a bowl.
You can discharge the orange halves, but do not discharge the apples from the inside!! They are some heavenly addition to your duck and potato garnish..
You will actually not believe how easy this dish is to prepare, and how many compliments you'll get as it taste like some gourmet restaurant dinner..
Serve with potatoes and a side salad of your choice.
Bonn appetite!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Easy grilled trout

Just one, before last, main dish "recipe" before the year ends..
Very easy, ready in about 40 minutes including preparation, budget friendly, too, still a festive enough dish, at least for us, for Xmas eve.

Let's start with the fact that is from Costco. :) They sell the most fresh trout I can find near and far, not to mention the cleanness, and as bonus a smell free fish section.
That's not the only reason while these are one of my favorite food on the party food list.. The main reason is the simpleness...
The fish is reasonable clean as is, but I recommend to open each one and rinse well as they sometimes have clogged blood stuck along their spine.
In addition, I like to lightly scrape the skin under running water to scale them, even though there isn't much to clean.
It will take 30 seconds each side, so totally worth it.
Wrap them in aluminum foil, fold back the top and bottom (the juice will be dripping) and place them on a pre-heated table grill (griddle).

I recommend 1 fish/person for a hungry bunch.
We serve it with Jasmin or Basmati rice and salad, and some drips of soy sauce on the rice..
If you are not superstitious to believe that eating fish is bad omen for the new year as it will swim away with your fortune, this is a very easy entertainer for the New Year Eve ahead.
Bonn appetite!

PS. I serve it with the wrap on, they keep warm until people are ready to eat. And in our family... well, you never know when that moment comes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Winter "pulla" dough

"Winter" came and both my breads and buns started to look like.. something not to be so proud about.

They were goodish until they were warm, but as they cooled down they became hard and dry for my liking.
It needed to become more moist, more soft.. just more..
As a result, I decided to add a little bit more of everything: more butter, more egg yolk for richness, and a bit more milk to make a softer dough. Below you can see the recipe, and bake some for the cold winter nights, something to cuddle up with under your blanket with a mug of glögi.
Cozy blankets, hot drinks and soft buns, with some candles burning on the table.. Hmmm...

500 ml milk (2 cups), more towards 550 ml, lukewarm
3 tsp dry yeast
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
200 ml sugar (a bit less than 1/2 cups)
170 g butter (1 1/5 stick), melted
1 tsp or rather 1 tbsp minced cardamom seed
1 tsp salt
~950 g () all purpose (bread) flour
1 tsp vanilla sugar or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 orange's or lemon's zest (optional), depends what goes better with your filling

Proof the yeast in the lukewarm milk directly in your mixing bowl. Sprinkle it to the top of the milk, some sugar, mix lightly and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Add the sugar, egg+egg yolk, salt, vanilla, cardamom and orange zest. Start adding the flower gradually, mixing continuously.
Add about 80-90% of the flour, and let it mix in a smooth dough. Add the melted butter, gradually, mixing in small quantities of the leftover flour until all is well combined in a smooth dough.
It might still be sticking to the sided of the bowl, and it should be a very soft and moist dough.
Scrape the dough off the sided of the bowl, "wrap" it into a smooth ball, and place it back into a plastic bowl.
Cover with kitchen foil and a dry kitchen towel to keep both the moisture and warmth inside the bowl.
Let it sit for 1 - 1.5 hours, depending on the temperature of the house.
Divide the dough into three equal portions, form small balls, place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and cover with kitchen foil, and kitchen towel, and let it sit for additional 20 minutes or so. It should grow significantly again.
From here you'll continue to make your korvapuusti (cinnamon buns) or voisilmapulla, wreaths, or whatever bun you wish.
Bon appetite!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Amaranth bread

Ooo, a new variety of bread is baking in the oven, and it feels soo good to eat these moist, home made breads again.
I've been lazy to bake them for a good while, than my OCD (Obsessive Chicken Disorder) soul mate neighbor became my regular customer for fresh bread twice a week.
I am forever thankful for her, because now I have to set laziness aside and prepare the bread twice a week!

I've been baking batches for about 4 weeks, alternating the white and whole wheat, but it started to feel... well, boring.
So I looked around in the pantry as I stocked up with some gorgeous Bob's Red Mill organic flours, like the amaranth.
It has a bittery/nutty flavor, and based on the smell and consistency I decided to go with 12% amaranth in the flour mix. It turned out to be a perfect percentage..

400 g white unbleached bread flour
50 g amaranth flour
350 ml water
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp yeast

The process is the same as for the basic no-knead bread.
Mix the flours with the salt and yeast.
Pour in the water (cold or lukewarm, doesn't matter), mix until the flour is just enough combined in a ball. Don't overmix!
Cover with a thick kitchen towel/ kitchen foil and let is sit for 14-20 hours, depending on the temperature in the house.
Scrap the dough off the bowl, and damp it on a lightly floured surface. Cover again and let it sit for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven with the pot with a lid inside, for at least 20 minutes.
Carefully lift the bread and drop it in the pot. Don't turn it upside down, or mess with it in any way!
Cover with a lid and bake for 25-30 minutes covered with the lid.
Remove lid, and bake for additional 10-15 minutes, depends how well baked you like it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Muscovado sugar biscuits

Well, viva la Fika! :) I can't highlight enough how glad I am about finding Fredricks Fika!
This is the second recipe I try, but for sure not the last one!

It has a very simple taste, if the taste of molasses can be called "simple", and somehow goes very well with the spicy tea and the coming Xmas season!
The pros? It is ready in 5 minutes (plus fridge and baking time).
The cons? You need some experience to work with the batter.

100 g (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 dl muscovado sugar (I used Costco's brown sugar, as I always buy it in quantities for more affordable price)
2 tbsp molasses
2 1⁄2 dl (a cup) all purpose flour
1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, or baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C, 350F.
Beat the butter, sugar and syrup until it combines in a smooth mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda , vanilla powder and salt. 

Turn it gradually into the butter-sugar mix, and mix until smooth. It won't be hard enough to work with it with your hand, you'll have to use your spoon. 
Let it sit for about 2 hours in the fridge if you have time, it will harden a bit and will be easier to work with.
Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out into a 4-5 mm (about quarter inch, which is 6 mm) thick, palm wide stripes
The dough is VERY soft, so you'll have to use two sheets of parchment paper to roll it, one beneath and one on top.
Transfer the stripes onto trays lined with parchment paper.

Bake on middle shelf of oven 12-15 minutes. They will not grow very high, will stay more flat and crunchy.. I like them more light, 12 minutes would be enough.. Of course I still baked them longer a bit :).

After you remove the cookie from the oven, cut them in parallelogram shaped stripes immediately. 
If you wait for even 3-5 minutes they will harden and become crunchy and you'll not be able to cut them anymore without braking them into crumbles.
Let them cool on the baking sheet.
They have a very pleasant, crunchy biscuit texture, and as no spices are added, the taste of the molasses come through giving that unique flavor.
Very simple flavoring, very easy and fast to make biscuit, for sure a new family favorite for the holiday!

Chai latte

Family gone, heat is on as Santa Ana entertains us as usually in October, and I enjoy the silence of the yard and the view of my .. chicken..
I've been waiting for a while to try this spicy Chai Latte recipe from an old Avotakka with a cinnamon bun and I feel there could not be better occasion than today, sipping some warm tea under the shade of my pine trees, enjoying the last days of summer of 2015.
I think there is nothing that describes better the feeling: "rauhan hetki": a moment of peace..

Whatever your occasion will be, I hope you'll enjoy it!

5 dl (2 cups) water
8 pc of cloves, whole
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp minced ginger (you can add a fresh piece of root as well)
1 ts kardamom seeds
2 tbsp Early Grey tea
2 dl milk

Boil the water with the seeds in a pot, and let them brew slowly for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the tea and let it sit for additional 10 minutes. (If you don't like the bitter taste of the black tea, after boiling let the spices sit for 5 minutes, and add the tea only for the last 3-5 minutes).
Strain the water and add it to a teapot.
Heat up the milk, and mix it to the tea.

Add sugar according to your taste.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Swedish cardamom rolls - Kardemummabullar

Well, cardamom won a special place in my hart with its weird spicy taste that gives a kick to all my buns lately.
I even updated my Hungarian bun recipes, even though, yunno, we have the best food in the world :D. A little upgrade here and there won't hurt, tho'.

I stumbled upon these pictures on Pinterest,  and at first I only saw a new way of folding my buns, but at a second glance I saw a chance to try a new recipe.
Replacing the cinnamon with cardamom in the filling?? SURE!
That's gonna be an expensive upgrade given the price of the cardamom compared to that of the cinnamon (something like $50 a pound.. *sigh*)... but hey, we live once! Right?

After having my first bite at midnight just as they were straight out of the oven I was ... oooooo... what was I baking during the past 3 years? These were the MOST delicious pulla-s I've eaten so far, and accompanied with a chai latte was the perfect Fika in the morning.. or at least some sort of Fika..
I was so sorry I didn't bake the whole batch with cardamom only, but I was worried how it would taste..

I'll be honest, I didn't check the dough recipe in the original post, just because I love mine. If you want to try the original please pay a visit to the website and try it out.
I used the filling, and the topping recipe though, as for the though again, you decide.

1/2 portion pulla dough


60 g brown sugar (2 heap-full or 3 kinda humpy tsp sugar)
60 gr butter, room temperature, but firm still (1/2 stick)
1 1/2 tsp cardamom

Brushing the top for extra shine (the original recipe doesn't ask for it, but that's how I like it :))
1 egg (not necessary, just skip this step to save some time)

50 ml water
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (the best would be whole seeds, but here is difficult to find so I used minced)

Prepare the dough. Let it rise for 1 hour. As I never make the half portion but rather the full, next I divide the dough into two parts and let it sit for an additional 20-30 minutes. So, maybe you can just refold your half dough portion and leave it rise back again.

Line two larger trays with parchment paper.
Beat 1 egg with a fork, not to make it foamy but to make it smooth for brushing the buns.

Preparing the filling
Mix the butter, sugar and cardamom seeds with a spoon into a small bowl until well combined.

Next with a rolling pin roll it out thin, roughly about 50x30 cm (the recipe calls for 13” x 21”).

Next, we will fold the dough in three, just as we do with the puff pastry.
Divide the dough VISUALLY in three parts, and you can even make small marks to help you fold.
Spread the filling on the dough evenly.

Fold in the left third over the middle third, and the next the right part over the middle.
With a rolling pin flatten the dough further out, until the width reaches about 30 cm, and the length about 40.

Cut about 2 cm thick stripes, and next make a sort of knod... well, until I put a video out (when I actually master the technique) please visit the original website for reference.

Place the buns in the trays, about 10/tray.
Leave plenty of space between them, imho they grow so much nicer.
Brush the top with the lightly beaten egg and leave them until the egg dries, just a bit, about 5 minutes.

Bake them on the middle/upper rack at 400 F (200 C) for 10-12 minutes, depends what colour you prefer. We like them baked longer, hence the color is not so nice, but well, we just like it that way. :)

Preparing the glaze
While the buns are baking heat the water for the glaze, add the brown sugar and let it boil for half a minute, minute, and remove from the heat.
Mix the granulated sugar with the cardamom seeds.

As soon as you get the buns out of the oven, brush them well with the glaze using a brush. Sprinkle a pinch of the granulated sugar/cardamom mix on top.

Bonn appetite!
They are brilliant paired with tea or coffee.. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Spaghetti squash - beef patties

The picture is not the best, and I didn't check the quality before khhmmm I ate all of the leftovers from yesterday, so no chance to quickly snap another one, but the patties were delicious!
They were born from the necessity to bring some food over to our neighbor's chili party, and due to many reasons I'm not a Mexican food fun, and haven't tried to make any special chili.

I still wanted to fit somehow in the theme.
Mexican = squash and beans :D, right?
The creative process was kicked out, and thinking that the chili will have enough beans, I opted one of my favorite ingredients: squash!

Not any squash though, I picked the spaghetti squash.. It is a variety that is not known in the Hungarian kitchen, so this was the perfect occasion to give it a try.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as aperitif)
1 medium spaghetti squash, boiled or microwaved
0.5 pound ground beef meet
2 large eggs
2 flat tbsp flour
large pinch of Mexican smoked medium or spicy paprika powder
1 tsp salt (small)
large pinch of black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh chopped dill
3 cloves of garlic, smashed or chopped into very-very small pieces

I chose to microwave my squash.
I like it a bit crunchy, so I cut the squash in two, placed the two halves upside down on a larger plate and microwaved for 10 minutes.
Scooped the inside, squeezed the extra juice, and in a small/medium bowl I mixed the squash with the spices, and I added the two eggs.
You can also chop the squash stripes into smaller bits (especially if you have picky eaters who will complain about the squash stripes.
I let them long as is.
Combined all ingredients well.
Let it sit for just few minutes.
Meanwhile added few tbsp of sunflower oil in a frying pan and heated it up.
Scooped small, walnut sized portions into the pan and flattened them with the back of the spoon.
Fried each side on higher medium heat until golden brown, maybe 1-2 minutes / side. (The nice ones were taken to our neighbor's party, these were the ones that were tiny bit browner than ideal, but it's also the light that makes them look browner than they should be).
By the time the egg is fried, the meat reaches the consistency of a medium done steak, juicy and soft.

Serve immediately on it's own as small bites (does not SHOUT for bread), or if you are not a diet person eat them with fresh whole wheat, home made bread (white is great, too) or with a rice side dish of your choice.
Well, the beef patties were
Bonn appetite!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Orange - coconut cake

Smelly problem arose in the house. I picked the oranges from one of our trees to let the new harvest enjoy the nutrients, but I had too many.
One full bag, and not so many enthusiasts to eat it. Luckily I stumbled upon this recipe on one of the Finnish blogs I check every now and then, and it looked like it should become a family favorite as hubby likes coconut and everybody likes a savory orange kick.

1 cup, (2 ½ dl) pastry or all purpose flour (NOT bread flower)
1 cup (2 ½ dl) grits
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil (any oil that is tasteless, and light)
1 cup orange juice
10 gr, 2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
orange zest, from 2 oranges
1 tsp vanilla extract
coconut for decoration

Juice for moisturizing 
1 cup apple juice 
1 tbsp lemon juice 
130 gr sugar (1/2 cup). I tried. If you ask me CUT the sugar at least in half, and I might not add any sugar if it is served without the unsweetened whipped cream. If you plan to serve it with the whipped cream, try with the full amount of sugar. You decide. There will be a second try, trust me :).

unsweetened whipped cream (optional), decorated with few mint or basil leaves

Line the bread pans with baking sheets. In my case the old fashioned brean pan worked better than the silicon, the cake came out higher and less burned on the surface.

Preheat the oven to 350 F, 180 C.
Mix eggs with the sugar, and add the oil, orange zest, orange juice, until well combined. Add the tsp of vanilla, and pinch of salt (optional, but whenever I add vanilla to a batter, especially with grits, salt comes automatically).
Mix in the dry ingredients lightly, aiming for an even batter. No need to overmix.
Place the batter in two bread forms,  and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. I turned the heat a bit higher at the beginning, hence the little bit burned top, and in my oven 40 minutes would have been enough, so keep an eye on it.

While the cake is baking, bring the orange juice with the sugar to boiling point, and boil it for couple of minutes until sugar is properly dissolved. Let it cool slightly.

When the cake is ready pour the juice on top of the cake as it comes out of the oven.
Let it cool slightly, then cool for at least 2 hour in the fridge before serving.

Enjoy by itself or with whipped cream if desired.
Bonn appetite!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Black sandwich / burger buns

This time just the buns... So I can think ahead if for some burgers for Labor day and have something special.
It is my very first trial, so you can expect to see variations of these, but they look sooooo funny, it will surely be on my "school lunch made fun" list or even some Halloween Party Monster Bun Party :D.

I prepared my usual no knead bread dough, (45o gr flour, 350 ml water, 1 tsp salt and 1 pinch yeast) and let it sit for a day. I thought this would add a bit of sourdough kick to the buns, and sure it did!!

The next day, I added the following ingredients to the mixture.

200 ml lukewarm water (5/6 cup)
2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp/tbsp sugar
450 g bread flour (roughly 1 pound)
1 tsp salt
1 1/5 tsp cattlefish ink (squid ink)
100 ml vegetable oil, and business as usual, it was sunflower oil

Proof the yeast in the milk with the sugar sprinkled and lightly mixed in. It takes only 5 minutes.
Mix it together, and add it to the bread dough from the previous day.
Add about 2/3 of the flour and salt, and knead it into a smooth dough.
Gradually pour in the oil, adding the flour spoon by spoon to make it mix well.
Let it rise to at least double, it will take about 1 hour in nice warm house.
Divide the dough in two and let is sit for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile line a tray with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 10-11 pieces, each, form nice round rolls, and let them sit under a table cloth for additional 10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat up the oven to 400F, 200C.
Place the buns on the upper middle shelf and bake for 12-15 minutes. As they are dark like hell :D is going to be more difficult to see if they are baked, but slightly light brown spots will appear on the top.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with little water, cover with a tablecloth and let the cool down.

My son stole one right away, spread some butter in it and ate it with some ham.. His opinion: "These are very good!" I think I have the buns for tomorrow's morning and lunch.. Yahh!

Obs: Next I'll add little less cattlefish ink as it seemed MORE than black enough for me, and the ink is unbelievable expensive.
I'll also try to add egg in the dough and/or replace the oil with butter. I would like to make them a bit more fluffy, though the spongeous bread consistency wasn't bad at all!
It would also add to the fanciness if I sprinkled some seeds, like sesame seeds :), to the top.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Húsgombóc leves - meatball soup

Yeah, that's another favorite after the Hungarian gulyas and stuffed cabbage, and it is actually a kinda combination of the two :).
Lots of veggies enriched with meat&rice balls.. 
The apropo of this dish was the organic mince beef I purchased from Costco for the stuffed cabbage. 
Business as usual, it is sold in big quantities, and while I was pulling apart the remaining two packages I teared open one of them. Well, I suppose it would've stored just as well teared, too, but I though I will use it asap instead, I need to cook a lot anyway.
So, off to purchase some carrots, parley root (I usually end up settling with some parsnip instead) and celery roots (another rare find in local shops).

Ingredients (for a 6 quart pot, and it will be VERY thick, or an 8 quart pot nice soup)
1 pound, 500 g minced meat (again, I prefer the 50-50 pork-beef, but I usually get the Costco organic minced beef). For a lighter soup reduce the meat amount
0.5 pound (250g) rice
1 egg
salt, black pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
1 pinch caraway seeds 
8 large carrots
2 large parsnips or better parsley roots
1 medium sized celery root
1 tbs minced red pepper (can be left out if you don't have)
1 large tomato
1/2 green pepper
1 small bunch Italian parsley

sour cream, Knudsen preferably (this time no Costco product hehe.. Daisy's sour cream is pretty nowhere compared to Knudsen's)
some fresh lemon juice, optional, but I think it makes it so much better! Especially if it comes from your ow tree!

Chop the carrots, parsley (parsnip), celery root into small stripes. Not sure why in this soup the shape is not the usual small cubed or slices, but it's not. So I cut the way I've always had it back home.
The parsnip/parsley should be cut in thinner stripes as the taste is stronger, and you don't wanna scare the kids away with it, plus it tends to be harder.

Chop the onions into small cubes and saute until golden brown. Remove from heat, add the paprika powder, pour in some 1/3 cup water, place it back to the heat and let it simmer until the water is reduced. Base on the end result I could've used a bit more paprika, or a more red one.. Next time ;).
Add the chopped veggies and saute them for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water until the pot is half full and bring to boil. Reduce heat to half. Add the tomato cut in 4, and the pepper pieces. As I mentioned I try not to spoil a whole pepper, I used the pepper stub and whatever meat is left around. It is just for the taste.
Meanwhile mix the meat with the rinsed rice, add 1 tsp salt, large pinch of black pepper, minced red pepper, and at the end add the egg. The egg is MANDATORY to hold the meatballs together.
Mix until combined well with the egg.

Scoop small walnut size pieces of meat form, slightly roll them in you palm into perfect :) balls and drop them in the soup. Add the whole amount of meat and pour in more water until the ingredients are all well covered by water.
Sooo, I was told the walnut size balls are too big. :) Next, shape just half walnut size balls, and they'll grow anyway :). Reduce the cooking time too, though, I guess for smaller balls 30 minutes should be enough. Remove one ball and taste to make sure..

Add the parsley (half of it chopped if you like), leaving some leaves for serving. Add another tspof salt, pinch of black pepper and the pinch of caraway seeds.
Bring to boil and at medium/low heat (barely bubbling) let it boil for 45-60 minutes. Taste, and if the meatballs are cooked remove from heat.
Serve with fresh white or whole wheat bread, lemon slices and sour cream (not mandatory).
It would go very well with some extra spiciness, so if you have Erős Pista don't hesitate to use it! :)
Bon appetite!

1) Caraway seeds: don't worry if you don't have, just leave them out, but don't use the Cumin instead even if in Hungarian the caraway is called kömény, the taste of the two is VERY different.
2) For the half pepper I usually use the leftover ends from breakfast, and prefer the ones that have strong taste not the watery bell pepper). This time I used Poblano peppers, and even though it should be chili, if you leave the stem and seeds out it is not. We have it on sandwich when in season. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Töltött káposzta - Hungarian cabbage rolls

This is a GEM. IMHO the best Hungarian food after the meat soup.
If you can bare the smell of cooking sour cabbage (cabbage in general) in your house, at the end you'll have a gorgeous meal.

It is the kids' and hubby's favorite, so the quantities below are according to their appetite, if you wanna save some time cut the portions in half.

Ingredients (it yields about 80 pieces)
1 portion of the three Costco organic ground beef, approx. 1.2 pounds, or 50-50 pork-beef
round small grain rice, same amount as the meat, eg. for 1 pound meet 1 pound rice
salt, black pepper
1 large onion (medium US size is enough, large here is about the size of my head :D)
2-3 tbsp oil (if you use only beef, you need a bit more oil because the meat is dry)
2 generous pinch of savory (summer savory) / pound of meat, csomord or borsikafu in Hungarian.
4 branches of dill / pound of meat
powder paprika
1 tbsp minced red pepper
(whole, linked my favorite I found here in North Park Produce)
1 tbsp minced red pepper, store bought or prepare your own. If you use store bought don't forget that it is salted!

1 bottle of sour cabbage leaves / 0.5 pound of meat, so I needed 2 bottles 
You will need a 4-5 quart pot for the HALF portion, for the full portion I'd recommend a 7-8 quart pot.

Optionally you can add smoked and air dried pork ribs at the bottom of the pot.

Here comes the first, not so funny part. Remove all the leaves from the bottles, carefully flatten them out in your palm and remove the thick vein from the middle. Tear the leaves in two or four, depending in their size, by pulling them from the top

Chop the onions in small pieces, saute them in the oil. When light brown remove from the heat, and mix in 1 tsp red paprika powder.
Rinse the rice until the water is clear, drain completely. Add the meat, sauteed onion, salt, black pepper, minced red pepper, sprinkle a small pinch of savory. Mix until the ingredients are homogeneously mixed.
Fill small, about walnut size pieces of filling into each cabbage leave pre-shaped into cone, close the thicker end with the overhanging leave piece.
While filling the leaves, throw the ripped ones to the bottom of the pot, to cover the whole area. Add the smoked ribs for extra flavor and calories :).
Place the cabbage rolls tight in circle in the pot and cover the top with some leftover leaves..
Place the dill branches on top of the rolls. 
Place a smaller lid to keep the cabbages sank all the time under water. That's how I learned from my grandma, and that's how I'll do it for ever :).

Fill with water until the lit is covered with water, throw some extra savory and pinch of salt or any of the spices added to the filling.
Cook at low heat, with the water barely bubbling, for about 2 hours.
Serve with sour cream and fresh bread.. Preferably home made! Yuheee!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tomato-basil salmon

The not so good side of the Costco fish is the LAAAAARGE amount, but only when you can't eat it at once.
Which was the case of the creamy salmon prepped Finnish style..
It is a food that you can eat once, maybe have some of the leftovers next if you have a lazy wife like myself to cook something new again, but honestly, no matter how good it tastes it's kinda enough once, and half a package of the Costco salmon is more than enough.
Soo, I had another 1.5 pound of salmon piece left in my fridge, and was looking for some new way to prep it. A way that was VERY different in taste to avoid complaints..
My little gray cells were heavily working and suddenly I remembered eating tomato/basil topped salmon at a friend's house..

Ingredients (serving 4)
1.5 pounds salmon
2-4 garlic cloves
3-5 tbsp oil
salt, black pepper
10-15 basil leaves, chopped (hae some extra to garnish)
1 package of Italian penne, from Costco, obviously (I swear they don't pay me :D)
1 can of organic tomato paste or crushed tomatoes (from Costco, yeeah :) ). Better if you prepare the tomato sauce from scratch, but... honestly... for a school lunch do I want to prepare the tomato sauce myself????

Start boiling the pasta according to the directions from the package.
Meanwhile hop the garlic very finely.
In a deeper frying pen add the oil and fry the garlic, until light golden brown. Add the salmon and fry each side for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish, sprinkling some salt on each side . When it whitened on the outside, you can brake it into smaller pieces to speed up the frying. Don't over-fry, it will be too dry.
Now get that pasta off the stove and drain it! :) By now it is probably ready.

Sprinkle some pepper on the salmon, add the tomato sauce and boil it together for 3 minutes. Add the basil leaves, chopped into smaller pieces (the kids won't try to fish them out).

When the pasta is ready discard the water, and pour the salmon-tomato sauce on top, mixing lightly.
Serve while hot, garnish with extra basil leaves if preferred.
The good part is that due to the sourness of the tomato paste, this dish can be served cold as well..

I wasn't sure if the salmon or the view was better at my friend's place, nor how the salmon would taste without the view from my friend's place :), plus, she baked the salmon and topped it with the tomato-basil sauce, everything being made from scratch, but well, you cook with what you've got.. One thing for sure, I haven't got that view..
Yeah, you bet that picture is NOT of my salmon/tomato penne, it is the view I was staring at while eating..
My current view is more like piles of dirt and more piles of dirt, and some more piles of dirt.. *Sigh*
Luckily there are some chicken coops and poops to brake the monotony :D.

Nah, anyway, I hope I kept you entertained while your partner prepared this easy dish..
Bonn appetite!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kirjolohipasta - Salmon pasta

Om nom nom.. would one of my Finnish friends say :), but she is not here..
The boys however were, including my husband, and for some reason I am considered the sole provider of cooked food in the house in 90% of the cases..
Tell me about teaching own and future husbands how a modern household functions.. the right way.. *Sigh*...

I had some salmon in the fridge for sushi, but last thing I felt like doing was sushi, especially that the boys like the nigiri sushi, hubby wants the sushi rolls (California roll being one of the favorites), one and I'm not very effective in making any of them, so just didn't feel like making any.

Sooo... What else to make?
The fact that I bought two 3 pound (1.35 kg khhmm) sour creams kinda pushed me to cook a version of the salmon cream pasta I ate loooong time ago while visiting Muumimaailma, or Moomin world. Nice times :). 2004, just turned 30, broken knee, visiting parents, Finnish summer in Naantaali with the bright see and islands. Yayy..

Ingredients (besides the Finnish summer)
penne pasta for 4
1.5 pound fresh salmon (from Costco, again), grilled
0.5 pound ~250 gr cream
80 ml milk, 1/3 cup
1 tsp mustard
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
1-2 tbsp oil 

It has surely nothing to do with the original version as it was 11 years ago and I was lazy to look for a recipe, nor was it so thrilling as the one in Naantaali. But.. California is not a bad place to be as a compensation :), and the taste wasn't any worse than the original.
When I think if salmon three spices pop in my mind: black pepper, mustard and dill.
Not sure why I didn't want to try dill, but I immediately reached for the stone ground mustard that replaced the Dijon mustard's place in my heart. And fridge, for that matter :).

The best pasta to go with would be Costco's penne, however, this time I had a special one in my pantry: German tagliatelle egg pasta. what was so special? There wasn't anything else :D.

I used a table grill, sprinkled the salmon with little salt, wrapped it in foil, and grilled until cooked. The time will depend on how thick your fish is, but mine took about 15 minutes, turning half way.

So I went ahead and cooked 3/4 of the tagliatelle pasta bag (probably the whole bag if your family has a better appetite for pasta), al dente. I always add a tsp of oil when ready, to prevent them from sticking together.

Meanwhile mixed the sour cream with a pinch of salt, the tsp of mustard and lightened it up with the milk.

When the salmon was grilled, I sprinkled it lightly with the pinch pf coarsely ground black pepper.
Serve while the pasta is hot, and let the kids experiment with the proportions of pasta, salmon and dressing.
My older son LOVED the dressing, the youngest skipped the salmon altogether because he claimed he found some fishbone in it :(.
Pity, but he ate his pasta with spoonfuls of sour cream :), so he worked his way around.

Bone appetite!
Apologies for the boring pics but today I was kinda uninspired and tired in mids of planting my new veggie garden. Much more excited tho about my plants! Yay!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wild mushroom terrine

Where should I start? I stumbled upon another favorite!!
Maybe I shell start with the fact that Costco sells very nice and fresh mushrooms.. :D
I can't wait for the Chanterelle mushroom season and the big trays sold by Costco, but meanwhile I had to settle with something easier to find.
Hubby got home a tray of Portobello mushrooms and they had to be used.
I usually make either mushroom paprikas (stew Hungarian style) or just saute them filled with feta, but I felt I want something different.

A friend bought me a cookbook for last Xmas and I remembered that it had some pretty easy and as such tempting looking French recipes. So, I opened The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachle Khoo and found in no time the recipe above.
It is baking in the oven, so very curious what the end result will be..

1 pound, 0.5 kg preferably mixed, wild mushroom
4 eggs
1 cream fresh (sour cream) 200 g, 1 cup
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots finely chopped   
1/2 tsp or less salt
1 pinch nutmeg ( I used smoked paprika powder as I didn't have nutmeg)
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
5-6 tbsp butter or oil for frying

Prepare two small 8 ounce (05. liter)  loaf pans lined with parchment paper.
Slice the mushroom if needed to have equal sized pieces. I cut the Portobello mushrooms in 4.
Heat a pan with the butter, add the finely chopped garlic cloves and shallots, and when the shallots start to brown, add and saute the mushrooms. I had to saute them in two batches.
Fry each side for about 5 minutes, all together ~10 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan, place them on a plate covered whit kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil.

Beat the eggs, add the sour cream (cream fresh), pinch salt, nutmeg, and the chopped parsley.

Place the mushrooms in the pans and pour the egg-sour cream mixture in equal quantities to cover the mushrooms..
Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and let it cool down slightly. Best serves till warm, about at room temperature.

You can remove the loafs from the pan or slice them in the pan.
Bonn appetite!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Burn treatment

NOTE!! Only light and small burnt surfaces should be treated with home remedies!!! If you have a larger area than 1-2 square inch, or a burn worse than 1st or 2nd grade, immediately see a doctor!!!

When I took the bacon out of the oven, slid it nicely to a plate, and then picked the pan to place it in the kitchen sink, I felt like screaming.
Not because of the pain, though I would've had every reason, but because I felt soo dumb.. I mean, how can you pick up a pan by the handle with BARE hands if it was just removed from a 450 F (250C) oven??

Right? Arrrgggg...
Now add to that the sad fact that there was no burn treating ointment at home except the spray, and I didn't have either the money, nor the willingness to go and get some gel from the pharmacy without knowing what the gel really has..

So, I did what every sensible person would do: cursed one loud and tawdry (trust me, the Hungarian language has some of the most sophisticated curse words :D ), dropped the pan to the wood floor (ouch, now we are both scarred) and rushed for a kitchen towel to get the pan safely in the sink.

Now when all the first seconds were over, it was time to think what to do with the burn. It was my second one for the day, but the other was small, on top of my hand, and I haven't considered it a threat to my everyday tasks, even though that was a 2nd grade burn, too.

Now this one, in my palm, about a 2 square inches, 2nd grade burn, was a threat.
I felt my skin shrinking and in pain, and imagined the blisters that would follow. Yuk!

I had a plan in my mind:
1) Stop the cells from burning by locally cooling them down.
2) Stop/prevent the forming of blisters, because that's gonna look ugly! to say the least.
3) Hydrate an nourish the skin locally to accelerate recovery.

And these were the result of my plans. On the right is my palm in the evening after being treated, with couple of burn zones and prevented blisters.

Untreated burn that I managed to collect earlier with an ugly blister ..
My friend insisted to get the burn spray, but having a degree in nursing tells you that the only thing you get by using it will be making the pain go away, as the spray contains lidocaine, which is an anesthetic. Now, I'm not the statue of bravery, but anesthetic is the last thing I needed. I wanted to cool my "boiling" cells down.

1) I ran over to the sink and let the water pour in my palm. Thanks to living in Poway, and having the pipes in out attic, the water was hot/warm, and didn't ease the burn.
So I ran to the fridge, and filled my palm with ice cubes and squeezed them. Though they say you shouldn't use too cold things, eg. ice, on the burnt surface, I had no choice as the water from the tap would've been too hot for the next couple of minutes..
The ice actually eased both the burning and pain simultaneously. Bingo!!
If you have proper COLD water running from your tap or fridge keep the burnt surface under running cold water.

2) One problem with cooling the burn with ice/water is, that it actually helps forming the blisters, so second step was to get some salt on it.
Yep, you heard right. Salt. It has both a antiseptic and dehydrating effect.. So I poured some salt on a kitchen paper and pressed down my palm..
Well, it was OK, but the burning feeling came back, I wanted both the salt and the coldness.
I picked a soft ice pack from the freezer, place the kitchen paper with the salt on top and pressed my palm against it..
Huhhh... That felt sooo good.... I kept it there for maybe 5 minutes...

3) Nourishing.. Pour some honey on the burnt surface, spread it evenly.
It will feel really good, I felt how the shrinking in the skin eases and feels much more comfortable.
But it wasn't cold, or moist enough. So I picked my natural yogurt from the fridge, spoon out a teaspoonful of yogurt and mixing it with the honey, lightly spread it in my palm.
When it warmed up too much, I wiped it off and spread another layer of honey-yogurt mix.

I probably repeated it 4 times at 30 minute intervals..
By the evening the skin looked a nice light pink, and almost no sign of burning.
Next days I was busy and had no time to further treat my burns, but this is how they looked in 5 days.

On the right the blister. Business as usual: burst, scar formed and I'm going to have a nice mark for the next year or two.

And on the left this is my palm, with barely visible burn Signs. The blisters never formed, and expept some dry feeling, it wasn't painful or anything after that

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grilled trout

My Costco mania is getting a tiny bit out of hands, but what can one trout fan do if they sell the best trout on the market?
Coming from inland with small, cold rivers trout is one of the fish you get used to, and it has many benefits.
Number one, which is hard to look over with a family of five on a low budget: price.
Second: the mild taste, so even the pickier eaters are gonna make peace with it.
Third: I don't think one can really go wrong with it.
Fourth: no cleaning involved! Yeeee!!!
Fifth: lazy people without a grill, or without wanting to heat up a grill can easily make it in 20 minutes.

1 trout / person

rice or boiled potatoes

Wash the trout, rinse both inside and out, and cut the head off. If preferred cut the tail as well, I sometimes do as it fits better on my grill.
Sprinkle a little salt (I prefer the Himalayan pink salt from Sprouts) , maybe pepper (or pink pepper) in the inside of the trout.
Sprinkle additional salt on the outside skin as well. Do not add too much tough!
Wrap it in aluminum foil and throw it on the pre-heated table grill, and fry it at the highest temperature. Turn, and fry for additional 10 minutes.
Meanwhile boil some Basmati or Jasmin rice, they'll be ready in just about the same time.
While the rice is boiling and fish frying, you can also prepare a quick salad.
Serve with lemon slices, and optionally with some soy sauce.

I I were thinking ahead, as I wasn't, I'd have made my favorite salad to accompany this fish: "ecetes uborka", aka fresh cucumber in vinegar. Recipe next time.. :), now I settled for some fresh sliced cucumber and radish.

Bacon bomb

Uhh... I found a video of a guy making this beautiful bacon flower pan and I just couldn't resist.
Unfortunately bacon is one of the reasons I'm not a vegetarian yet, so this was a big temptation.

I made some mistake in the process, and learned what would make it better. In general it was an OK comfort meal, ut believe me, it was so HEAVY, and filling, that it won't be on our table often unless we get some teenagers over :).
Obviously I made it with Costco's golden potatoes, as they are so great for most potato meals with their rich yellow color and flavor.
I also used cheddar cheese, the shredded mild cheddar, but I think a sticky and less fatty mozzarella would be a better match. Next time...

2 pounds (1 kg) bacon
3 pounds gold potatoes
1 pound cheese -
salt, pepper to taste 

Peel and slice 3 pounds of golden potatoes. What I learned from making this dish is, that the potatoes should be sliced as thinly as possible or they'll never cook.In a pan arrange the bacon in a circle, preparing it like a crust :).

Do not start all slices from the middle, offset them with 0.5, even 1 inch, and start every 4th from the middle only or you'll end with a big bump in the middle..

Next arrange the potato sliced circular, with the larges slices on the outside and smaller ones in the middle.Not that it would really matter from the taste's point of view, it is just easier to arrange them.

You can sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the potatoes before adding the next layer of... cheeese!

Grate the cheese and sprinkle a thin even layer on top of the potatoes. I guess I little overdone this layer, it was pretty thick even after it melted :).
Next time thinner layer of cheese and probably one of mozzarella instead of cheddar.
Looks great though, like a sunflower :).

Repeat the layering twice or three times more, and finish with the cheese.
As you go towards the top, make the circles smaller, so it forms a kinda peak at the end.

Now comes the fun part, fold back all the bacon to nicely cover the potato/cheese mountain, and place it on a tray and the preheated in the oven for about 2.5 - 3 hours (yeah, right?).
The temperature can be anything between 400-430 F, 200-225C.
Takes time until it bakes together, so plan ahead if you wish to have this for dinner. Good part though, ones is in the oven there is nothing you should do. Except maybe pour the melted bacon fat out from the pan after about 2 hours, so that the bottom doesn't sit in it.
I ended up turning it at the end to broil the bacon on the bottom as well, 'cause bacon is heavenly if crisp only.

Optionally you can serve it with cold yogurt..
Bonn appetite!

Place a plate on top of the potato "cake", pour the fat by tilting it slightly, and with a decided move flip the cake onto the plate, than slid it slowly back in the pot.
Grab the handle with a SILICON glove!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Potato wedges

With young guests coming and going I am always looking for a crowd pleaser, but I try to avoid overdoing the preps.
With kids I had the most trouble, obviously, as many of them are unfortunately picky, and even if they eat home made food or veggies, they like the taste of home..

I have another reason to publish these very simple recipes. My only daughter won't enjoy my prepared meal, so I'll post some she can reproduce on her own :). Maybe I won't miss her so much by doing so :).

These potato wedges are soo simple, that in 50 minutes they were baked, eaten, and this blogpost was born :) (well, almost :)),  obviously not so artistic pictures, but you can't feed pre and teenagers with pics :D.

Gold potatoes or baking potatoes, about 2 large, or 3 smaller / person
oil for brushing
pink pepper (if you don't have at home I recommend buying some!, but you can use rosemary as well if you prefer or you can;t get pink pepper)

Greek or Strauss' European yogurt
sour cream, about 1/3 of the amount of the yogurt
1 larger green onion chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp mustard
salt, pepper
1 small cucumber, optional
shredded hard cheese, optional

Preheat the oven for 425-450 F, 225-250 C.
When it comes to potatoes, for this purpose I prefer Costco's Premium Gold Potatoes, those that are beautifully yellow when peeled. Unfortunately they don't sell consistent quality, but this batch I bought last was among the best ones!
Peal the potatoes, and depending on their size, and your preference, cut them into 4-6-8 slices. They don't have to be perfectly same. The smaller the crunchier, and a bit dryer, too.
Place them in a tray covered with parchment paper, brush them with oil, sprinkle salt to taste, and grind some pink peppers as well.

Bake on the higher rack in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, depends on the type of tomatoes you use and your oven.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Šaltibarščiai - aka "cold soup" - from beetroot


As the name might suggest to my fellow Hungarians, this is everything but Hungarian dish :), however, it is summer, and hot, and the last thing I felt like eating was a warm soup.

Not to mention how I miss our travels through Europe, which feel so far away as it is hard not to get homesick.

One of my favorite soups was the cold beetroot soup. OK, all cold or hot beetroot soups were one of my favorites, and I even posted already one here, but it was time for the next one.

This is I think my absolute favorite Baltic beetroot soup, and we are still in season for making it.
The difference between the one posted earlier and this? For this you'll need the WHOLE vegetable, including the leaves and the stem.
It also requires one healthy godness: buttermilk.

If you are not yet convinced you should prepare it, let me tell you that is ready in 20-30 minutes, depending what tools you have at hand and how effective you are, of course :). For me it takes 30 minutes, 'cause I'll be searching for various cooking tools for at least 10 minutes.. *sigh*

Ingredients (serves 6)
1 bunch of young beetroot, with leaves
1 medium/small cucumber
1 bunch of chives
1 small bunch of dill
1 liter (quart) buttermilk
salt, pepper
radishes - optional

hot boiled potatoes, 1-1.5 / person
boiled eggs
dill, chives 

In a small pot put couple of potatoes to boil in their skin.

Cut and clean the beetroot heads, cut the in 4 and put them to boil for about 5 minutes in ~ 1 liter of water.
Meanwhile cut the stem, and the leaves in small pieces and stripes.
Remove the beetroot from the water with a skimmer. DO NOT discard the hot water!
Add the chopped stem to the water and boil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile in a food processor crush the beetroot heads.
When the stems were boiling for 5 minutes, add the beetroot leaves and boil for additional 5 minutes.
At the end add the crushed beetroot and boil the together for additional 2 minutes.
Chop the chives in very small pieces, ad well as the dill.
Peel and grate the cucumber.

Drain the boiled beetroot, but again, DO NOT discard the water!
Place 1/2 - 1 egg / person to boil. I like it with the yolk still orange and soft, so I add them to bioling water and boil them only for 4 minutes.

Place the beetroot in a glass serving bowl (any bowl), let it cool slightly. Add the buttermilk, salt (I added about 1/2 tsp), pinch of black pepper, mix, and slowly add the wonderfully dark red water in which the beetroot boiled.
Last, mix in the chopped chives, dill (save some of both for serving!), and the grated cucumber.
If you chose to add radish, do not forget to either chop or grate those too and mix it in the soup.
Drain the potatoes, skin and cut in half or four.

Serve with hot boiled potatoes on the side, with some extra Greek yogurt if preferred more sour, the boiled eggs and some chives and dill for garnish!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rázott, alias "shaken" or nyers lecsó

Ok.. This is cheating, 'cause it isn't really baked or cooked. But it's season, and summer, and I just love it.
Just couple of years ago, khhhmmm..  I reached teenage age and appearance started to matter. And me, the picky kid who ate only the meat sauce with bread, rarely the meat itself, and tho' loved veggies I wasn't choosing it over some comfort food, moved from the block of flats to my grandparent's village with a HUGE garden full of seasonal veggies.
Every evening I went to water the tomatoes, peppers and at the same time pick a handful for dinner.
My favorite was the beef tomato, so I picked a large one, with a medium sized pepper, a yellow, sweetish pepper, and a green onion with a large head.
Night, after night, after night...
I guess, besides the veggies, I loved the ritual as well: first doing my duties, that picking the tasty, fresh reward right away.
Those summers changed my life forever.. Having experienced this, I'm so happy that in addition to our little home garden, the schools around, including our elementary school, started to "grow" some green thumbs as well :).

I prepared this salad for middle one for dinner tonight and I thought I'll take the opportunity to snap a pic and share the story with you.
Our garden offers an amazing variety of tomatoes, thanks to the organic plants I purchased from Costco months ago.
In the picture you can see some of them: green zebra, sweet 100, super sweet 100, better bush and plum tomato. One is more delicious that the other, and they all taste DIFFERENT! What a feast!

Well, the story behind is longer than the ingredient list, plus I described it already, but here it is.

Ingredients for 1 person
1 large tomato
1 medium sized pepper
2 green onions (you can add half or quarter of a sweet onion as well)
1-2 tbsp oil, I like avocado oil for this purpose
pepper (optional) 

In a small bowl, a cereal size bowl, cut the peppers in small finger size, sprinkle with salt. Cut the tomatoes in your favorite shapes, add to the pepper, as well as the onions, cut into small slices.
Sprinkle the oil on top, add more salt if wanted, SHAKE them together, and enjoy!
I suggest serving it with a freshly baked baguette or a slice or two of home made bread.
Or just as is..
Don't forget to dip the bread in the sauce left to clean the bowl completely :D.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sticky chicken wings

This was just THE BEST chicken wings I have ever eaten in my life!
I ate home made by me and others, store bought, American BBQ and Asian style, I even made some Hungarian style, but none ever compared to this one.

There are two magazines I truly enjoyed reading, one was Food and Wine, and this recipe is my treasured finding. As I am baking it during the night and my phone is broken, I decided to borrow their image until I can snap a picture of my own.

I always make some changes to the recipes and this is not an exception, sometimes due to lack of ingredients, or just because me or the family doesn't like them. One for sure I won't add cilantro :), but I added the link to try the original version for yourself. I might try a version with ginger and fish sauce.
Next, I wonder if this can be made on an grill, outdoors, but it is to be seen only when I finally get a grill..

12 wing cut in half, end discarded, 
I actually used 20 pieces of organic chicken drumettes from two trays
2 tbsp of sunflower or grape seed (call me mad but I NEVER by canola oil)
1 tsp salt
black pepper
4 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup light yellow miso (shiro miso)
a large pinch of smoked chilly pepper powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 - 2 flat tbsp light brown sugar (3 for me is VERY sweet, edible, but less enjoyable..)
(I added a flat tsp of organic mustard, not because it is asked in te recipe, but because I don't like to throw away things, and my youngest had a tsp mustard left from his dinner on a plate :) )

Preheat the oven to 400F, 200C. Prepare a rack set over a baking sheet., you'll need a large one you can buy.
In a bowl toss the wings in the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange them on the rack.
Bake the wing for 40 minutes, turning them half way.
Meanwhile in a small pan mix 3 tbsp of water, heat it slowly, add the sugar and mix until dissolved. Mix in the other ingredients: miso, lemon juice, soy sauce, chilly pepper until makes a smooth, tooth-paste like glaze. (I also added the mustard when I took it off the heat).

After 40 minutes brush both sides of the wings and bake it for 10 more minutes. I actually chose to turn the wings after 10 minutes and bake them 10 more minutes, it gave the glaze a nice caramel color on both sides.

Serve with lime wedges and cilantro if you wish.
Bo appetite!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Tofu Kimchi medalions

Visits to our "local" Asian shops always end up with loads and loads of ingredients one doesn't really know what to do with, but this time I went there with a plan.
I am replacing some of our meaty meals with vegetarian meals, and will try to reduce our meat consumption, at least when it comes to the youngest and myself.
Now that's all thanks to our... backyard chicken. We just LOVE them :).

Tofu seemed to be a natural meat replacement for our breakfast, and I couldn't 'till morning to prepare these patties.

2 cups tofu
1 cup well fermented kimchi
3 green onions¼ cup flour (2 tbsp)
2 eggs
1-2 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt to taste
4-5 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
1 tsp hot red pepper if you prefer it more chilly, for us the kimchi was enough for start (Ming's artisan chilly sauce would probably be a perfect match, but be aware, it is shit hot :D)

Finely chop the kimchi and place it in a strainer to get rid of the excess liquid.
Shop the green onions in small pieces and chop or press them through a garlic press.

In a medium sized (2 l - 2 qart) bowl mix the eggs with the flower. Crumble the tofu in the egg-flower mix into small crumbs, add the chopped onions and garlic, and salt to taste.
Mix them well.

Heat a frying pan with 1-2 tbsp oil, and scoop tablespoon sized amounts of mixture in the pan. Press down gently to make flat, about 1 cm, 1/4", thick patties.

Fry on medium heat 2-3 minutes each side.
Slide them in a plate and let them cool until just lukewarm. They tend to fall apart easier when they are too hot, but their consistency becomes very easy to handle ones they are colder.
Mine are a bit nubbly as I added more kimchi than the recipe asks for.

It is an easy snack to take to the beach or pack for school lunch.
Bon apetite! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creamy squash - or - zucchini soup

I am rarely raging about something when it comes to food 'cause I've been spoiled with fresh, home made food.
Squash is however the best ever vegetable I can think of (zucchini will do as well), and the fresh zucchini season just started at our local food store.

We had this soup on a regular bases as soon as the squash was rape in our garden, and it is a pleasure to have on hot summer days as it can be consumed both cold or warm.
The way grandma made was lighter, but when my hubby found this recipe we all fell in love with it, and adopted it to fit our ways of cooking.

3 pounds of squash or zicchini
2-3 carrots
2-3 parsley roots (if you can't find any use parsnip, though not quite the same)
1 middle sized onion
vinegar to taste(start with 1-2 tbsp, we usually add at least 4-5 tbsp)
     powder paprika (optional!!)
2 small bunches of fresh dill
fresh savory or small pinch of crumbled dry savory (borsikafu avagy csombord)
1-3 tbsp olive (preferably non tasty one, I use sunflower oil)
2 dl sour cream
3 egg yolks

Before you start the next step, you have to decide how you like your soup. I you like it very smooth, and creamy, start grating your ingredients on the larger side of the grater. (you can use a food processor as well, but don't overdo it).
If you like your soup more chunky, cut the carrots and parsley root into thin slices, as well as the squash/zucchini.
Cut the dill as well into tiny pieces, leave some for garnish.
1. In a large pot (I'd choose a minimum 3 quart pot) heat the oil, and stir in the onion.
2. When they are getting "glassy" add the carrot and parsley slices. Saute together shortly, 1-2 minutes, than add 2 liters (2.2 quarts) of water.
3. Add the savory, salt and pepper (2 generous pinches) to taste, and  boil them together for 5 minutes.
4. Now add the squash/zucchini and the fresh dill cut into small pieces. Adjust saltiness, add and boil for additional 15 minutes.
5. Mix the egg yolks with the sour cream and the vinegar in a 1-2 quart bowl. Add one ladle of the hot soup, lightly stir, add one more ladle of hot soup, stir again, and now add the mixture back to the boiling soup. Wait for 1-2 minutes until you see the first VERY SMALL bubbles as a sign of boiling, and remove immediately from heat.
Do NOT boil it again, or the egg will make your soup look like a too liquid omelet...
It is delicious both warm and cold, and it is a veggie in season, so enjoy! 

Garnish with additional dill