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MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
Click on the Cookbook for the Recipes

31.8.15

ICED ORANGE COOKIES


I had shortening [leftover from making Empire Cookies] and orange juice [I bought it for the grandchildren’s visit]. We don’t drink juice and I try not to use shortening. But I would not have been comfortable throwing away food so I looked specifically for a recipe that used orange juice and shortening. I found this on Taste of Home. I packed the cookies in cookie tins between layers of parchment paper and put them in the freezer. Jim would take out two, and his sweet tooth was happy for the day. I believe they are all gone now. So are the dear grandchildren. What a wonderful time we had!  



Iced Orange Cookies

Cookies:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Icing:
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Beat in orange juice and peel.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
  • Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart on prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Let the cookies solidify before removing them to wire racks to cool.
  • In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients until smooth.
  • Spread icing over cooled cookies. 
 


30.8.15

BANANA CHIFFON CAKE


Banana cake’s texture is best when it is light or has a nice crumb and as far as I am concerned, the moist [soggy], heavy [oily] banana cake is a culinary failure. I made this light textured banana cake with my youngest granddaughter in mind. The other two banana cake recipes I have are both amazing, [check them out in my cookbook under "cake"] but for one reason or another, I knew that this version will appeal to Olivia even more. Intended for a tube pan, but because I baked them in thin layers, as you can see they sagged a bit, the round cake pans still worked. This two layer cake is light as a feather. Chocolate and banana flavours pair exceptionally well and of course as rich as the chocolate ganache is, it is still lighter than any buttercream or cream cheese icing.

I made a long list of elaborate cakes in the past, but lately I approach cake making with a sort of restraint, keeping in mind how the parts work together, paring down each part to its elements so not one ingredient or amount is superfluous or used purely for aesthetics. Not being a showcase cake, no globs of icing or bits of cake will be left behind.  

Banana Chiffon Cake 

Cake:
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup banana puree
1/2 cup sugar 
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar 

Ganache:
6oz bittersweet pure chocolate
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup whipping cream

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Fully line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  • Whisk cake flour, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale and creamy.
  • Add corn oil and banana puree and combine.
  • Add flour mixture to egg yolk batter and mix just to combine.
  • Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy and frothy.
  • Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Gradually fold the beaten whites into the egg yolks batter.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. 
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the cake tester comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from baking pans when completely cooled.
  • To make ganache, chop the chocolate and partially melt it in the microwave.
  • Stir the chocolate until fully melts.
  • Stir in the oil and add the whipping cream.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Peel off the parchment paper and spread the bottom cake with 1/3 of the ganache.
  • Place the second cake on the top and spread the side and the top with ganache.
  • Place in the fridge to set the ganache and then slice to serve.
 

29.8.15

BAKED PARMESAN POTATOES


We were serious potato eaters, but my uncle by marriage would pass the potato bowl saying it hurt his legs. He also said I will whistle if I eat carrots. When you are four years old whistling is a coveted skill. I never learned to whistle, but I am sure my uncle would taste these potatoes. I never cooked for him, after I left Hungary I only saw him a few times. My godfather was a great guy, always full of fun, always had time for me.



The happy guy on the right is Keresztapa

Russets would have given a different flavour and texture, but I prefer the reds for other reasons, they won’t turn to mush and the skins are nice all year around and potato skins are so good for you because they contain potassium. The red onions are milder; they keep their shape, and don’t disintegrate like white onions. To get the lacy parmesan bits, the cheese has to be shredded or sliced into bits, not grated. The one photo I made of it is of poor quality and I intend to replace it one of these days when the weather turns and a homey plate of roasted potatoes can be enjoyed  by the fire again. Food has its purpose beyond sustenance.  

Baked Parmesan Potatoes

6 red potatoes with the skin, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, basil, sage and rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
Chef’s Salt to taste
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

  • Preheat the oven 375F.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place potatoes in a large bowl.
  • Add the chopped pepper and the sliced onions and toss.
  • Lightly sprinkle with all or some of the suggested herbs.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with Chef’s Salt to taste.
  • Add the shredded cheese and toss.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are, fork tender and golden. 

28.8.15

BAKED PORK CHOPS


I cannot quite understand the thick pork chops. We used to stuff them but there is a problem with that. Today’s pork flesh is fat free and cooks up dry and tough. You can’t do it up rare or medium unless you are prepared to ingest some intestinal parasite. Fatty acids make for softer meat and if you recently had thick pork chops, you will agree the chops were tough and dry. Smothered in barbecue sauce they will still be dry. No matter what you add to it, the chops will not reabsorb the moisture they lost, no matter what you do. The solution is to lock the moisture in.

The first thing is seasoning. Seasoning locks the moisture inside the pork chop, which helps make it soft and tender. I rub Chef’s Salt right into it, [salt and pepper will do too] and let it stand for a couple of hours on the counter. The next thing is searing the pork chops. Sear each side in a non-stick skillet for 3 minutes or until brown. After that transfer the chops to an ovenproof dish and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes. In the end, it will be worth it.

Baked Pork Cops

2 thick cut pork chops
Chef’s Salt or salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • Wash the pork chops.
  • Dry with paper towels.
  • Season both sides  and place on a plate.
  • Let the chops stand on the counter for two hours.
  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • Meanwhile heat a non-stick skillet and add the olive oil.
  • Place the pork chops in the skillet and sear for 3 minutes on both sides or until slightly brown.
  • Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake pork chops in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile lightly fry some mushrooms or onions in the non-stick skillet. I reheated some steamed wax beans instead.
  • Remove chops from the oven and transfer to the skillet. Shake the chops together with the choice of vegetables and serve.

27.8.15

PATE BRISEE TARTS


Pate brisee is the French version of pie pastry. I had to make two tarts because not everybody likes jam and walnuts. You know who you are! Two, because it is an easy solution when I don’t want to spend the day worshiping the Cake Goddess. I used the food processor. But the job could have been just as easy on the cutting board using a scraper. Keep in mind not to touch the dough because your hands warm it up and the tart could bake up heavy. I was rather busy and failed to take a photo of the sliced tarts, but it is not hard to imagine. I have to admit I lean towards the apricot jam with the walnuts. Good apricot jam with walnuts is a perfect combination. It is not “jam sweet”. It is just right. 

 In the Goldilocks Zone


Pate Brisee Tarts:

2-1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 Tbsp ice water

  • Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the food processor.
  • Add cubed chilled butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • With the machine running, add the ice water 1 Tbsp at a time until dough forms. Dough should not be crumbly. Do not over process.
  • Divide the dough into two equal discs and wrap in plastic.
  • Chill for 1 hour before using.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cut parchment paper to fit two baking pans.
  • Roll one of the chilled dough disks on the parchment paper and transfer to the baking pan.
  • Poke the bottom with fork.
  • Spread with a thin layer of apricot jam and sprinkle the top with crushed walnuts.
  • Spread the second tart with Nutella and top it with shredded coconuts or with mini marshmallows.
  • Bake tarts for 20 minutes or until the edge begins to brown.
  • Let is cool down a bit.
  • May be cut and served warm.



26.8.15

BLUEBERRY ALMOND CAKE


If you always leave a glob of icing on your plate, you will appreciate the harmony of the various textures and flavours of this perfectly well balanced cake. The sweetness and the amount of the icing are just right.  Composed with blueberries in mind, if you are thinking of substituting the blueberries with some other type of berries, especially with raspberries, you will have to sugar and drain the fruit first. The crumb of this cake is perfect buttermilk does wonders for cakes. This may look like a complicated cake but really, it isn’t. This is a one-bowl cake with whipped cream and basic icing.

Cake:
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
225 ml [not quite 1 cup] 3.25% buttermilk
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
3-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft

Fruit Layer:
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries

Almond Icing:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups icing sugar

  • Wash the blueberries and drain them.
  • Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  • Lightly spray the bottom and sides of two 9-inch, spring form cake pans. 
  • Line the bottoms and sides of the pan with parchment paper. The paper will stick to the sprayed pan.
  • Place the 3 eggs and 2 yolks in a medium sized bowl. 
  • Add the almond and vanilla extract and 1/8 cup of buttermilk. 
  • Whisk well and set aside.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend. 
  • Add the remaining buttermilk and the butter to the dry ingredients.
  • Blend on low speed. 
  • Increase to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light fluffy.
  • Add the egg mixture in three parts, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. 
  • Do not over mix. 
  • Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. 
  • Bake the cake layers for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Place the cake pans on wire racks.
  • Let the cakes cool down completely. 
  • Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and fold in 2 Tbsp of sugar.
  • Unhook the spring mechanism and remove the rings from the cakes.  
  • Grasp the bottom parchment on one cake, pull off and carefully slide it on a platter. [do not invert]
  • Spread the top of the cake with the whipped cream.
  • Arrange 1-1/2 cups of the blueberries on top of the whipped cream layer.
  • With the flat side up place the second cake on top.
  • Press down very lightly.
  • Do not spread the whipped cream on the sides or the icing will not stick to the cake.
  • Chill for an hour.
  • Meanwhile whip the butter and the almond extract.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar.
  • Continue whipping for 4 more minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge and spread a thin crumb coating all over. 
  • Chill again for 15 minutes.
  • Remove cake from the fridge and spread the remaining icing on it. 
  • Place the remaining blueberries on the top, slightly pushing them into the icing.
  • Chill the assembled cake for half an hour.
  • Slice and serve. 



25.8.15

TOMATO PORK STEAK


A cooking trend can start up with a popular cookbook, a chef or with a recipe in a magazine. You have it repeatedly for a while, at home and at friends’ houses, and then all of a sudden it just disappears and something else takes its place. I knew wraps were the new sandwich when McDonalds started selling them eight years ago. Are wraps any better?  Are they less calories? That’s not it. But you can put less stuff inside the wrap and from a business point of view this has certain advantages. Food is much like fashion. What is popular today will disqualify tomorrow.  I have known dozens off foods that were the kale of their time. But two things I shall not miss. One was the slimy Coq au vin [rooster/cock with wine] and the other is the jiggly jellied salad made with Jello. Shudder shudder. I hear olive oil may be on the way out.

Tomato Steak was indeed a popular dish in the seventies and we had it often. It was a sound recipe and I still make it occasionally. Back then, we used an entire round steak, assembled it in a cast iron skillet and baked it in the oven. Opting for smaller servings of meat, I made this from thin slices of schnitzel cut pork sirloin on the stovetop. It tastes every bit as good as a round steak but the night will be better. My Love and I, we are getting on in years.

Tomato Pork Steak

6 slices of schnitzel cut pork sirloin
1/8 cup of flour
2+1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion
4 garlic cloves
1-1/2 cups of diced tomatoes
1 cup or more water
2 carrots, matchstick sliced
Chef’s Salt to taste


  • Wash, dry and pound the meat thin.
  • Roll into flour and set it aside.
  • Slice the onions and dice the garlic.
  • Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a non-stick skillet.
  • On medium heat, quickly cook the meat on both sides until no pink shows.
  • Transfer meat to a plate.
  • Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet and sprinkle with Chef’s Salt.
  • Slow cook the onions and garlic until very soft.
  • Return the meat to the skillet.
  • Add the tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer.
  • Slowly simmer until the meat is tender.
  • Add water as needed.
  • Add the carrots and slow simmer until the carrots are crunchy tender.
  • Let the sauce reduce, adjust the salt and serve.

24.8.15

BROWN SUGAR MAPLE COOKIES


Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen. I appreciate a good cookie with my afternoon tea, especially if it is not chocolate based or decorated. I rolled the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface and cut the cookies out with a 2-1/2 inch cookie cutter.  The texture of course was different but the flavour remained the same. A further variation was my choice of toppings; toasted almonds and white chocolate chips. But white chocolate chips apparently do not count. I cut it down to half a recipe; yes it is possible to divide an egg. I am not exactly sure what purpose bread flour serves in a cookie recipe, but since I had bread flour, I used it.

When she arrived, the darling child said the house smelled like freshly baked cookies. She took one look at the cookies, poured herself a glass of milk and promptly melted a handful of pure chocolate chips in the microwave. She dipped two cookies into the chocolate and ate them. I shouldn’t have tried.

Who is old enough to remember this one?

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

1 cup bread flour
1 cup white flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp maple extract

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the egg, vanilla and maple extracts and beat until well combined.
  • Add the flour mixture until just incorporated.
  • Roll the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Heat the oven to 350F.  
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough and cut with a 2-1/2 inch cookie cutter and transfer to the prepared pan.
  • Press almonds and white chocolate chips into the cookies.
  • Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cookies solidify for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

23.8.15

PEAR TART

Pear Tart

Jim started to bring up small pears from the immature tree in our backyard and I longingly recall the time when Stewart, the young man who grew up next door brought over two lovely boxes of beautiful pears and I made these simple pear tarts. I cannot believe a year had to pass before I write about it. I did a variety of things with Stewart’s pears, but this was the only pear item I made notes and took pictures of.

Pears in pastry require a delicate hand. Instead of the more robust pie pastry, pears beg for the lighter puff pastry and for minimal intervention. There is nothing simple about that. The pears should be firm and slightly under ripe for making tarts. They hold loads of sweetness, but it will be best if overall impression remains fresh and delicate.

I used an entire package of puff pastry and the only difference was in the shaping. The tart and the tartlets tasted much the same. I used up an entire package of commercial puff pastry, but I could just as easily have made it with Hungarian Flaky Pastry.  Well maybe not, but certainly it would have worked the same.  Half of the package makes one large tart or about 7 tartlets.

1/2 pkg [one sheet or 1 block] commercial puff pastry defrosted
3 unpeeled pears, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp melted butter
Glaze:
2 Tbsp melted sweet butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp FruitFresh
icing sugar for dusting

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cut a sheet of parchment to fit your baking pan or cookie sheet.
  • Lightly flour a clean surface and place half of the puff pastry on the top.
  • If the puff pastry is in a block, divide in two parts and roll one-half into a long rectangle to 4-5 mm thickness. Make sure the short width of the rectangle will accommodate the pear slices and still leave an inch of dough all around.
  • When you roll the dough, avoid stretching the pastry by hand or by rolling it in the same direction, because this will cause the pastry to shrink out of shape. So frequently turn the pastry as you roll it.
  • If the puff pastry is already in a sheet, cut it in half and the same way roll the half into a 4-5 mm thick long rectangle.
  • Lift the pastry and gently transfer it to the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Turn over the edges to form ridge on the perimeter.
  • Brush the puff pastry with 1 Tbsp of melted butter.
  • Make the glaze and set aside.  
  • Then core, and thinly slice 3 unpeeled pears.
  • Layer the pear slices on top of the puff pastry.
  • With a pastry brush, generously brush top of the puff pastry with the glaze mixture.
  • Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Slice and dust it with icing sugar.
For making tartlets treat the puff pastry the same way. Arrange the pear slices differently, otherwise brush the tartlets with the same glaze and bake the same way as the large tart. 

Pear Tartlets

22.8.15

LINZER SANDWICH COOKIES - LINZER SZENDVICS KEKSZ


Linzer is Hungary’s quintessential Christmas cookie.  It is a great and versatile little cookie and not nearly as complicated to make as it looks. Linzer can be divided or multiplied as needed, because linzer is based on weight rather than volume. The formula is one part sugar, two parts butter and 3 parts flour, but these proportions are in weight and not in volume. Real vanilla sugar and freshly grated lemon rind gives the linzer its heavenly aroma. As long as you measure accurately, you cannot go wrong with linzer. I use U.S. cup measurements, 1 US cup equals [in volume] to 236.59 ml. I use the half a cup scoop and sweep method. The actual measuring cup is for liquids and is not suitable for measuring dry ingredients. The following video explains the right method really well.


Some people sprinkle the top cookies with icing sugar, these are very pretty, but I rather like them without it. Even for the sweet palate, it will be best with tangy fruit spreads. With strawberry, apricot jam or Nutella filling these cookies would be too sweet dusted with icing sugar.  

Linzer Sandwich Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 pkg real vanilla sugar [do not use vanilla extract]
finely grated rind of half a lemon
2 egg yolks

spreadable jams or Nutella
icing sugar [optional]

  • Rub the butter and flour together.
  • Add the sugar, vanilla sugar and lemon rind and toss.
  • Add the egg yolks and quickly combine.
  • Divide the dough in two parts and chill for an hour.
  • Before shaping, preheat the oven to 375F.
  • The dough will still be sticky.
  • With a little flour, roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls.
  • Place one ball on the floured parchment paper and sprinkle a little flour on top.
  • Rub the roller with flour and roll out the cookie.
  • Cut the round with a 2-1/2 inch round cutter.
  • Immediately lift the round with a chef’s knife or metal pie server and slide it onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Space the cookies fairly close, but not touching. They will puff up from the egg yolk, but will not grow significantly.
  • Cut out the middle of every second cookie.
  • Reroll the scraps into balls and repeat.
  • Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Be careful, linzer burns easily.
  • Let the cookies solidify before gently transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  • Store the unfinished linzers in a cookie tin and assemble only what you need at the time. 
  • To assemble the linzers, spread the fully cooled bottom cookies with fruit spread or Nutella and place the cookies with the holes on the top.
  • For a sugared top, sprinkle the tops with icing sugar before assembly.
  



21.8.15

USING LEFTOVERS AND SUBSTITUTIONS


Using Leftovers And Substitutions

- is the holy grail of thrift and creativity,
- often a time saver, since part of the meal is already made
- can be the start of new and delicious homey meals,
- may not always be good for the waistline so eat less. :-)

There are things I always make too much of, for instance I don’t think we ever finished a cheese sauce I make for cauliflower.  We had company and I overestimated the cheese sauce again and I ended up with half a jug of it in the fridge. It did not come together to serve it again. It was time to bake bread anyway and I thought why not make a cheesy bread? That is how it started. I replaced part of the liquid with the leftover cheese sauce in the recipe. To be precise I used 1-1/4 cups of cheese sauce in place of 1-1/8 cups of water. The result was a little flatter but delicately soft bread with a slight cheese flavour. The actual bread recipe is coming later.

here is the Cheesy Bread:
 
I don’t think it makes much sense to make cheese sauce for making bread, there are other ways to make cheese bread, but it is a good example how one can use up leftovers. Of course, there are failures too.  Not long ago I made spaghetti with meatballs and I threw in some chopped up leftover meatloaf. We ate the meatballs and pushed the meatloaf bits aside. I will not do that again.

A while back I made too much meat sauce, I know what you are thinking, for a Hungarian I make a lot of Italian dishes. Anyway, I wanted to make a lasagna with the leftover meat sauce, but I had no ricotta cheese or spinach. However, I had cream cheese and broccoli plus a half a tub of artichoke dip that also needed to be used.  

here is the amazing Artichoke Broccoli Lasagna I made from leftovers and substitutions:


My lasagna recipe is here

and here is what I replaced the ricotta-spinach layer with:

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
1/3 cup artichoke dip from the deli

  • Beat the cream with the sour cream to soften it. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend. 

I confess I also made fresh lasagna pasta and this turned out to be a dangerously good lasagna. On the other hand if you are ever short of ricotta... you know what to do. I must not forget, I dedicate this post to Maria for all the wonderful innovations she does with food and to Eva for the bread. But more about Eva's bread later.

20.8.15

MUSHROOM LECSÓ SPREAD


I was never into tuna or anchovies, but I was always attracted to the look of antipasto spreads on thin slices of toasted bread. No, not bruschetta; that would be something else. Then yesterday I cooked up a pot of mushroom lecsó. This morning I took out the leftovers and spooned some cold lecsó on small pieces of toast and that is when it occurred to me that I always had the recipe for an antipasto spread in cold lecsó. A pot of lecsó like this with a loaf of toasted bread or a box of crackers could feed a large party with several platters of vegetarian hors d'oeuvres. 

The makings of mushroom lecsó is the same as ordinary lecsó, the only difference is you add some chopped mushrooms to the pot halfway through the cooking process. The recipe for lecsó is here and the photos tell the rest of the story.

 sauté 2 large onions and a handful of white rice on oil
[onions add bulk, sweetness and rice thickens the lecsó]

 prep the rest of the ingredients

squash  tomatoes, start slow simmer, add 1/2 tsp paprika

cover and sauté until peppers are soft

lecsó dinner  

last night's cold lecsó on little toasts

19.8.15

DILLED GOURD STEW - KAPROS TÖKFŐZELÉK


I looked for tök for a long time. The funny thing is I never liked tök as a kid, but for the last several summers, I searched for it and dreamed of cooking up a pot of Hungarian tökfőzelék. I even tried making it from spaghetti squash, but it wasn’t the same. Then at the beginning of summer, I found a segment of what looked like part of a very large gourd. There was no sign to indicate what it could be and I thought I had nothing to loose, I took it home and cooked it up as if it was tök

Tök segment on a dinner plate. It had to have been a huge gourd.


As it turned out it was. On the first day of the tök we ate it with fasírt. Jim said “Hmm. I remember this. We ate this all the time” After 48 years, I know exactly what he means, “Don’t ever make it again!” Then for the next two days I made something else for him and I had a bowl of tökfőzelék. Yum.

 tök

Tök is part of the gourd family, but no, it is not a zucchini. Tök has tough flesh while the flesh of the zucchini, especially in such large size would be very, very soft. I remember it as an elongated melon looking thing with thick yellow outer skin [mine was dark green] and like a pumpkin; on the inside is a mess of fibrous, slimy pulp with seeds. We used to slice the tök on a large wooden mandolin, but in later years, we would by it at the green grocer already sliced with a bunch of dill in the bag.  The one thing I recalled is that tökfőzelék had a heavy dill flavour. Oh yes I must not forget, you need fresh dill with lots of full fat sour cream for your tök. Haha. If you know what I just said... well... haha.

  
Dilled Gourd Stew - Kapros Tökfőzelék

500g fresh gourd, 4-5 cups sliced
1 small onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1/8 cup sugar
1 pkg fresh dill weed
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sour cream
wine vinegar to taste

  • If you have a whole gouard it will be easier to handle it if you chop it crosswise into segments. Next cut segments in the opposite direction. I already had a segment so I just chopped it into smaller pieces. Scoop out the pulp and seeds and discard.
  • Peel off all outer skin and rinse.
  • If you have a mandolin or a french fry chopper slice or chop the gourd. Otherwise, chop it up like I did, using a chef’s knife.
For some reason my cookbook advised me to salt it and let it sit for a while to draw the moisture out. I was in a hurry and didn’t do that. As it turned out it would have been a superfluous exercise.


  • Next, finely dice the onion.
  • Place the oil in a larger pot and add the onion.
  • Sprinkle with salt and sauté the onion on medium low heat until very soft.
  • Meanwhile chop the dill and set it aside.
  • Stir in the sugar and 1 tsp of wine vinegar.
  • Add the sliced gourd and the milk to the pot and sauté for a 3-4 minutes. 
  • Reduce heat and place the lid on the pot and slowly simmer for 5 minutes or until the gourd is tender. Check the pot often; give it a stir so it won’t burn. If the gourd needs more milk just add more. You are cooking a stew it should not get dry.  
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the flour with the sour cream.
  • Using a fine sieve force the sour cream mixture into the pot and stir.
  • Taste and adjust the salt.
  • Add the chopped dill and stir.
  • Finally, season the gourd with a little wine vinegar. Start with a teaspoon, taste and if you deem necessary add a bit more. But do it very gradually.
  • Serve tökfőzelék with a large dollop of sour cream.






17.8.15

NUTELLA SHORTBREAD BARS


Because you can’t always be good.  We have a love and hate relationship in this family with Nutella. Granted it is not the healthiest but it is always delicious. Hence, the infamous bar cookies. I would rather not have Nutella around and if the recipe uses up half a cup of Nutella that’s a good thing isn’t it? Besides when have I shied away from sugar. Adapted and made a bit less sweet, now perfect, this amazing bar cookie comes from Lorie’s Mississippi Kitchen.

Drop and roll. The walnuts started dropping on our roof. Summer is not yet over but fall is now a possibility. I thought this little bar cookie from last winter might be a good recipe to have. I pulled my robe closer on this chilly morning. Milky coffee is ah so soothing. I am taking a break from the photos, the films, and the letters that have occupied my life for the past year. The movies I found telling, completely new stories emerged from the past, some of it fun and some of it sad. Isn’t everybody’s life such?

Time to take out Charlie and Chloe to the backyard. They decided to sleep in this morning. The two stinkies will be leaving us today when Olivia and her parents get back from Vancouver

Down By the Bay

 Charlie is my favorite. He is the fuzzy one. 

NUTELLA SHORTBREAD BARS

Crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt

Filling:
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup flour

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line a square baking pan with parchment paper with overhang.
  • In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients.
  • Press the mixture with damp hands into the prepared baking pan.
  • Poke with a fork and place in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile beat the filling ingredients until smooth.
  • Remove baking pan from the oven and pour the filling on top of the crust. Return to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until middle is just set.
  • Place the pan on wire rack and let it cool completely.
  • For neat squares place in the fridge for an hour.
  • Place the chilled pan on the counter.
  • If you did not line the pan with parchment paper, cut around the edge and slice the bar inside the pan.
In a rare moment Charlie allowes Chloe to touch him

me

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