MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
Click on the Cookbook for the Recipes

27.5.14

BROWNIE PUDDING


I keep getting rid of books and at the same time I keep getting new ones. I order them on line, go to the bookstore, and take books from friends… Books are a give and take thing for me. I don’t want a tablet or an e-reader; just keep that stuff away from me! I want to hold the book in my hands and smell its history. Yes I know it’s the smell of a certain type of bacteria. But I cannot help it, I am a romantic. So how could I possibly resist a public library sale, when older books are sold for a mere dollar? That’s where I bought Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics”. Even if I find one good recipe I thought… All right I found more than one, but if you know the book you will surely agree with me that the first choice was a no brainer. 

Good heaven’s Ina’s Brownie Pudding is unbelievably delicious! She suggests serving it with vanilla ice cream, but honestly, you won’t need anything with this other than a spoon. It is the second time I made it, the first time was shortly after my knee surgery and I wanted to make something yummy with minimal amount of work. I was at the “bring me this” and “put that there” stage. So taking photos was the last thing on my mind. But now that I can slowly walk on a flat surface without a cane, I thought I will make this chocoholic’s delight again. Try this once and it will become a regular occurrence. The recipe will feed 4-6 people generously. Not for dieters! 

Well that is how far I got several weeks ago. Which is good thing, because it made me realize I have no reason to be impatient with my recovery. I have come a long way even though I was shaken after climbing down to the first row on Saturday to video tape Olivia’s six dances at the last show her dance school puts on every year. It’s a spectacular production with over five hundred dancers in gorgeous costumes to three sold out audiences.


1 cup unsalted butter 
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp liqueur, optional



  • Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  • Lightly butter an 8 cup baking dish.
  • Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow.
  • Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set it aside.
    When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, the liquor if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture.
  • Mix only until combined.
  • With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
  • Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan.
  • Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour.
  • Please don’t be impatient and don’t increase the temperatures.
  • The brownie pudding will be ready when a cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean.
  • The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding. Allow to cool a bit and serve.



21.5.14

BROCCOLI STALK SALAD


Unless you peel and cook the stalk of the broccoli with the florets, you always have broccoli stems left. You can put it into a soup or make a stalk salad. They sell something similar in the supermarket, I bought it once, but I found it rudely hot and I never bought it again. I thought who buys this awful stuff? 

Speaking of human taste buds... they are vastly different; both in type and in numbers. What you or I may find pleasant could send someone else into a tailspin of revulsion. Those of us with a lot of taste buds are referred to as tasters but there are people who are virtual non tasters. In comparison non tasters have a small fraction of taste buds and their preference for spicy food makes a lot of sense.

Cuisines evolved from native food sources. Climate, evolution and genetics also impact the type of foods we like. As we age we all start loosing our taste buds. Smoking will greatly curtail both sense of taste and smell. It is a misnomer that children should be introduced to certain types of foods early. If you can feed broccoli to a toddler, it has nothing to do with you being a better parent. Your kid just has fewer taste buds than the child who wants nothing but carbohydrates. It is not about setting a good example or making good food choices either. Some children would rather starve than eat vegetables. Healthy foods such as broccoli could be revolting for a child who has overactive taste buds. As you begin to loose some of your taste buds foods you used to hate as a child can become enjoyable. But the reason is entirely biological.

   

Human culture rests on experience and for the most part isn't science based. We tend to navigate the world with myth based knowledge, not much differently than our parents did before us. Some of the most enduring are the myths centered on health, food, body weight and exercise. Add to that the chase after profit and the manipulations of the various industries and you have a mixed bag of misinformation and bad science to sort through. The one thing you cannot do is argue with belief or with fashion. Those seem to rule much of what we do, how we do it and why we do it in the first place. We look back to our forefathers blood letting and smearing grease on burns and shudder. But a few generations hence people will think we were stark raving mad too. As my love often says: “What do you expect? We just got off the tree” 


3 broccoli stalks 
1 carrot 
2 cups cold water 
2 Tbsp sugar 
3 Tbsp vinegar 
1 Tbsp 
extra virgin olive oil

The bottom half of the broccoli stalk is not woody. Don't chop it off. Only a tiny section is woody. Start with peeling the stalk and you will be amazed at how little you have to cut off the bottom once the woody layers are removed. Underneath there is a tender center, don't throw half of it away. 

• Peel, trim and wash the broccoli and the carrot. 
• Cut them into matchstick sized pieces and set them aside. 
• In a medium sized bowl dissolve the sugar in water and add the vinegar. 
• Add the prepared vegetables. 
• Season it with salt and pepper and toss. 
• Let the vegetables soak in the vinegar mixture for one hour. 
• Drain and discard the brine. 
• Just before serving drizzle the salad with olive oil and toss.

20.5.14

YELLOW SPLIT PEAS SOUP


I tend to extol the wonders of Hungarian cuisine, but yellow peas stew was not among the things I liked. Once in a while we were subjected to Nagymama’s yellow peas stew; the peas were in whole and always on the tough side. The flavour was bland and unimaginative. It was served with a chunk of bread for dinner. It bespoke of having no money for anything better. Consequently I never cooked yellow peas stew and hopefully never have to. On the other hand a split peas soup made with good homemade chicken stock and garnished with bacon bits is completely different.

Nagymama [my father's mother] in her domain
The fregoli overhead

Split peas are dried peas that have been mechanically split along a natural seam, so that they cook faster. You can buy either green or yellow split peas. Either color can be used to make split pea soup. I prefer yellow peas; they taste milder than the green, but both have a grainy texture and do not hold their shape. Split peas are great for soups; puree for a creamier texture. Split peas do not require soaking, but they do require rinsing. Split peas take 30 to 45 minutes to cook and in the pressure cooker only 10 minutes. 

Split pea soup is nice if cooked with a hambone, but often times you have to make a lot of it if using a hambone and the mild flavour of the split peas is generally overpowered by the ham. You have to wait with the salt until the very end, because the hambone will add considerable salt to the soup. 

Going through the cupboard I found a small pack of yellow split peas just enough to make soup for Jim. Give me fifteen I said and quickly defrosted a container of homemade chicken stock and took out my pressure cooker. Everything went into the pot except the bacon and indeed fifteen minutes later steaming hot split pea soup was on the table. The weekend was cold and rainy. The sun is out now, maybe we can get back to seasonal temperatures for the week… until next weekend anyway. 

2 cups split yellow peas 
1 onion, chopped 
1 garlic clove, diced 
1 bay leaf 
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 
salt and black pepper to taste 
6 slices of bacon, chopped 

• Rinse the split peas really well. 
• If you use a pressure cooker put everything into the pot [except the bacon] and process for 10 minutes. 
• If you are using a soup pot sauté the onions in 1 Tbsp of oil until transparent. 
• Add the bay leaf, chicken stock and the seasoning and slowly simmer for 40 minutes or until the split peas are tender. You may have to top it up with water or more stock. 
• While the soup cooks slow fry the chopped bacon and then set it aside. 
• Remove the bay leaf and blitz the soup with a handheld stick blender until smooth. 
• Taste it and add more seasoning if required. 
• Put the lid on and keep warm for a few minutes. 
• Serve the soup topped with bacon.

19.5.14

ROAST SPICED POTATO AND PARSNIP


I saw a recipe on With a Glass. I knew I wasn't going to make it; my better half is not a fan of yoghurt, but the concept of  basing cooking on three main ingredients and perhaps substituting the rest really appealed to me.


I ordered the book as an inter-library loan from the local library. I am trying to keep my possessions in check and I will only buy a book if it serves me with several purposes. Hugh has too many fishy recipes, so I won’t buy it, but I have been making diligent recordings and notes of the recipes I did like. In fact I found Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cooking echoing my recent move toward using what you have approach familiar and exciting. I had an old knee injury fixed and I have been relying on my darling’s shopping for close to two months now. At first I sent him with detailed instructions, but he would spend hours shopping. He never complained, but I took pity on him so now I avoid complicated items and just focus on the basics. I make sure we have what we use daily and between the freezers and the pantry I always think of something. I have to comment on the visual effect Hugh’s cooking had on me too, it’s reminded me of my own paintings, the controlled hard edged melting into an impressionistic riot of color and form. So there is a lot of things I like about Hugh’s approach to cooking, it’s honest, visceral and real. 

And there I go and changed Hugh’s spice mix. He did call it a spice mix, but you know I didn’t have the driving force to roast spices yesterday. I spent several days working on a Lady Gaga type dance costume that was 4 sizes too large for Olivia [don’t ask] and I just wanted the day to end. So I went to the upstairs freezer and took out the well packed home roasted garam masala, threw in some turmeric and called it a day. Jim made me a cup of honey tea, brought up some new lettuce from the garden and being the sweetheart that he is leaf by leaf washed it for me. It has been a rainy Victoria Day weekend here.


I include Hugh’s spice mix at the end. Mind you I would never use the entire amount for the suggested 500 g of potatoes. I often find recipes overusing spices, killing the mystery of different flavours, both in Asian, Middle Eastern and in Indian cooking. When in fact a hint would do the same, but manifold the better. If you still wanted heat add some chilli, but don’t kill the food flavours with the overuse of spices. 

3 cups peeled and chopped potatoes 
2-4 peeled and chopped parsnips 
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
2 large sprinkles of garam masala [click for recipe or use ready made] 
2 light sprinkles of turmeric 
salt 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 

• Preheat the oven to 400F. 
• Line an old rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. 
• Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks and place it in a large pot of boiling water. 
• Cook the potatoes for 3-4 minutes. Hugh suggests only 1 minute, its not enough. 
• Meanwhile peel and chop the parsnips. 
• Immediately take potatoes off the heat and drain well. 
• Place drained potatoes and the parsnips on the prepared pan. 
• Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the garam masala, turmenic and salt. 
• Toss the potatoes and the parsnips to get a coating of spice. 
• Roast for about 40 minutes until golden and crisp, stirring halfway through. 
• Stir in the chopped garlic and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. 
• Serve straight away. 

For Hugh’s Spice Mix 

1 Tbsp coriander seeds 
6 black peppercorns 
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes 
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds 
1 tsp ground turmeric 

Add the coriander seeds and peppercorns to a dry frying pan and toast over a gentle heat for a minute or so until fragrant. Tip into a mortar and leave to cool. Add the chilli flakes, and crush the mixture with the pestle to a coarse powder. Combine with the fenugreek, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

17.5.14

BACON PEPPER STEW – SZALONNÁS LECSÓ

It was time to start using up some of those frozen goodies before this year’s bounty appears on the table. You do know that the easiest thing is to freeze tomatoes and peppers. There is no need to blanch or mess with ice water. Wash, chop, dry and pack into freezer bags. Even without a kitchen garden, buying locally grown tomatoes and bell peppers and freezing them is a good investment.

Pepper Plants waiting to be planted on the Victoria Day long weekend

Lecsó is basically a vegetable stew. There are many versions of good lecsó, my favourite lecsó is made with rice. The slightly sweet taste comes from the lard and lots of onions. Onions give a sweet taste and thicken the lecsó. If the lecsó is runny or acidic, it may be that the tomatoes were not fully ripe when picked or the recipe skimped on the onions. I have seen a lot of lecsó recipes with only one onion; I think it goes back to a very badly written, but quite popular on line Hungarian cookbook that claims to be authentic. At one time it was the only source of Hungarian recipes in English. 

There are regional differences of course. Not one of my relatives in Hungary cooked lecsó the same way, but each variation of lecsó I tasted was slightly sweet and no sugar was added. I can think of only two tomato-based Hungarian dishes sweetened with sugar, stuffed peppers and the tomato soup. 

If you put fully frozen or fully thawed out frozen tomatoes or peppers in a pot, the benefit is transferring the flavour, but apart from the flavour, the tomato will just cook apart and the pepper will become limp and soggy. That is pretty much the case for all frozen vegetables, unless we are cooking corn or peas. Therefore a dish based virtually on frozen tomatoes and peppers, such as this lecsó, requires special treatment. Both frozen tomatoes and peppers should be slightly thawed [more like partially still frozen] when put in the pot.


2 cups partially frozen tomatoes, chopped
2-1/2 cups partially frozen yellow or red peppers, chopped
1 cup diced good quality meaty bacon
 3 cups diced onions
3 smashed garlic cloves
salt to taste
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
 parsley [I used frozen parsley]
 ground pepper

• Plunge the frozen tomatoes into a bowl of warm water, and quickly rub off the skins. Don’t leave them sit in hot water, transfer them quickly to a large sieve and let them drip for a couple of minutes. Transfer them to a plate and set them aside. Within 5-10 minutes they can be cut in half and then chopped. Add the tomatoes in a partially frozen state to the pot.

• Frozen peppers require a similar treatment. Plunge the frozen peppers into a large bowl of cold [not warm] water, promptly remove them to a large sieve and separate all the pieces. Wait 5-10 minutes and chop them with a chef’s knife to the desired sizes. They will be still partially frozen, but sliceable. Add the partially frozen peppers to the pot as needed.

• Meanwhile chop the bacon and in a non stick skillet on medium heat lightly brown it.
• While the bacon cooks, chop the onions and smash the garlic cloves.
• Scoop out the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it aside.
• Add the onions and garlic to the bacon fat and sprinkle with salt.
• Slow cook onions until very soft. Do NOT burn it.
• Transfer the tomatoes, peppers, bacon and onions to a dutch pot.
• Add the paprika, basil and parsley and stir.



• On medium heat bring to a low simmer. 
• Slow cook for 12-15 minutes until the peppers are tender. 
• Adjust the salt and sprinkle with ground pepper. 
• Cover the pot and let it rest for 10 minutes. 
• I served the lecsó with buttered pasta, so I sprinkled it with grated parmesan cheese.



16.5.14

CARAMELIZED BLUEBERRY SAUCE


Made from frozen blueberries this makes a simple, delicious topping on a slice of cheesecake or served warm over a stack of pancakes. I made French toast for the man, hence the blueberry sauce. I prefer fresh berries… well fresh. This summer we really should pick them in the morning, I have this mental image of bending over a blueberry bush in the hottest part of the day. Spring is in full swing now and the mind turns to heat and garden. If it’s going to be as hot today again, we should turn on the air conditioning. Olivia accused Jim of secretly heating the house it was so warm in here yesterday. I love the heat.


I love the garden too. All that green full with promise and patches of color and sweet fragrance drifting in the air.


That familiar SHUT THE DOOR! Because we don’t like bugs coming in! I am married to the best fly hunter. When Olivia was little and a fly got into their house she would call us on the phone to get Jim over to catch a fly. Last fall Olivia and I were coming home from the dance studio when a bumblebee got inside the car. There was big drama so I drove into the first parking lot to let that poor freaked out bumblebee free. Then Simone, her dad pulled up laughing, “Going gambling?” This was funny because we were in the casino parking lot and I don’t even buy lottery tickets. 

1 cup frozen blueberries 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/8 cup pure maple syrup 

• Place ingredients in a small saucepan. 
• Stir to combine. 
• On medium heat bring to slow simmer. 
• Simmer mixture, stirring often, for 4 minutes. 
• Serve hot with pancakes or cool it down for cheesecake.

14.5.14

SPRITZ COOKIES


I always wanted to make spritz cookies for Christmas. I had cookie press on my wish list for years. Some years I forgot about it. About two years ago finally I bought one, I spent a lot of money on it, but it turned out to be the most useless gadget ever invented by man. Long I waited for it… but disposal was swift. Then I tried making spritz cookies with a pastry bag, but I thought my hand will fall off.

 

Today I found this recipe on Food.com; and I thought I will give spritz cookies one more try. The search is over; I found the ideal spritz cookie recipe for using a pastry bag. Even I can handle it [my hands were never strong and they are worse now]. Making the spritzes was easy-peasy as a squeeze. With 224 day before Christmas, I am starting early. 

1 large egg yolk 
1 Tbsp heavy cream 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
2 cups flour 

• Preheat oven to 375F. 
• In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and salt at medium high speed until light, fluffy and pale in color. 
• Reduce speed and add the egg yolk cream and vanilla. 
• Beat until thoroughly combined. 
• Gradually add flour and mix until just combined. Do not over mix or the cookies will be tough. 
• Fill a large pastry bag with half of the dough and twist the top to close. 
• Pipe cookies on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. 
• Decorate with sprinkles if desired. 
• Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. 
• Cool on baking racks and store in an airtight container



12.5.14

DUCK GIBLET SOUP - KACSA APRÓLÉK LEVES


I forgot how good duck soup tastes. Not brown, not colorless, not cloudy, clear, rich, yellow soup. That is the Hungarian version. I regret not saving the wings, in fact next time I roast a duck I will cut out the entire back section for soup. The neck and the bits I cut off here and there made a lovely little soup, little is the operating word. I didn't fill my pressure cooker beyond the half way mark. I already cooked the carcass and froze it for other purposes. I disagree with using the carcass for soup, unless its bean or tomato based, because it does not give sufficient flavour and besides it’s cloudy. If it’s not perfectly clear and bright yellow it just isn't duck soup.

Two down and one more to go.
Our granddaughter, Kristen went to China.
There she ate three bowls of duck soup in 2005.

Grandson Joshua ate the duck eye. 

Cooking duck soup in the pressure cooker is a dream. Not that you cannot slow simmer it, but that takes time, patience and skimming of foam. If you make soup often, a pressure cooker is essential. If I had to choose between my pressure cooker and microwave, I would pick the pressure cooker without hesitation. 

I cooked the giblets, [minus the liver] with onion, garlic, bay leaf and a few cardamoms in the pressure cooker. I poured the stock through a fine sieve into a clean dutch pot and cooked the liver dumplings in it next. I poured the stock through the fine sieve again and finally cooked the vegetables in the stock. I put the neck section and the liver dumplings back into the pot and the duck soup was ready. 

Duck Stock: 

duck neck, wings, giblets [excluding liver] and backs pieces [optional] 
1/2 onion 
2 cloves of garlic 
1 bay leaf 
6-8 black peppers 
3-4 cardamoms 
 water 
salt to taste 

Soup: 
6 cups of Duck Stock 
2 carrots, sliced 
1 parsnip, sliced 
1 wedge of celeriac 
1/2 kohlrabi, chopped [I use a handful of haricot vert] 

• Wash the meat. 
• Place stock ingredients in the pressure cooker. 
• Add water just under the water line. 
• Add salt to taste. 
• Process the stock for half an hour. Always follow safety procedures when using the pressure cooker.* 
• Meanwhile wash, peel and slice the vegetables and set them aside. 
• Prepare the liver soup dumplings for cooking and set them aside. 
• Pour the finished stock through a fine sieve and into a dutch pot. Clean up the meat and set it aside, discarding everything else. 
• Bring the stock to a slow simmer and add the liver soup dumplings and slow simmer until dumplings float to the top. 
• Pour the stock through a fine sieve again and set aside the cooked liver soup dumplings. 
• Put the stock back into the dutch pot and add the prepared vegetables. 
• Slow simmer until the vegetables are tender. 
• Put back the cleaned up meat and the liver soup dumplings. 
• Adjust the salt and serve. 

*Cooking the stock in a stockpot will take about six hours. Place the stock ingredients into the pot and add water that covers the ingredients by about 4 inches of water. Never let it boil hard, slow simmer the stock and skim off the scum that forms on the top. At the end put it through a fine sieve and only save the meaty parts and the stock. Discard everything else.

LIVER SOUP DUMPLINGS


Only use poultry liver, the most common of course is chicken liver, sometimes turkey liver or as in this case duck liver can be used. Goose liver is in a class all by itself; it is a Hungarian delicacy, very expensive and requires special preparation. So forget goose liver. The liver soup dumplings I grew up on were a sometime Sunday special and always came in from of a chicken. Contrary to recipes I have seen on line, we never thickened with flour or used pork, calf or beef liver for liver soup dumplings. They were always rolled into tiny balls and we didn’t scoop them out with a spoon. This would ensure the liver dumplings did not fall apart or otherwise cloud up the golden clear soup they were cooked in. 

These dumplings came from a young duck I roasted recently, but the preparation is identical to soup dumplings made from chicken liver. You won’t need a lot of liver; one, at the most two chicken livers will provide plenty of dumplings for a pot of soup. The amounts of the various ingredients are a bit arbitrary; the size of the liver[s] and the egg will determine the exact amounts needed for the recipe. Use the photos as guideposts for the consistency of these very excellent soup dumplings. Even people, who do not normally consume liver, can enjoy them. 

1-2 chicken livers 
1 egg 
1-2 slices of light rye deli bread 
1/4 cup very finely diced onion 
2-3 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped 
salt and pepper to taste 
fine breadcrumbs as needed 

• Scrape the chicken livers with a chef’s knife and discard the sinews. 
• Dampen the light rye deli bread with some water and squeeze out the moisture. 
• Place the scraped chicken liver, damp rye bread, egg, onion parsley and seasoning in a bowl and mash it together with clean hands. 
• Add fine breadcrumbs as needed to get a nice homogeneous consistency that can be rolled into tiny balls. 
• Drop into slowly simmering soup and cook until the little balls float to the top.




8.5.14

STIR FRIED NAPA CABBAGE


Napa or nappa cabbage, also known as celery cabbage, is a type of cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China, and is widely used in East Asian cuisine. In much of the world, this is the vegetable referred to as "Chinese cabbage" 

The recipe was inspired by this picture. At first I wasn’t sure what the golden coloured bits were, but the description revealed it was garlic. The recipe… well I didn’t follow the recipe. All I wanted was a dish of napa cabbage and that is what I cooked up. 

Removing the leaves, they looked so clean, I thought to myself if I used the entire cabbage I may not have to wash this leaf by leaf, but then I found a bit of dirt between a couple of the leaves and that settled it for me. Drying it was a bit of a bother though, because moisture really clings to the leaves. In fact the first time I stir fried napa cabbage there was an inordinate amount of liquid left in the pan and the cabbage was as soggy as if it came from a Chinese takeout. The other mistake I made was frying up five cloves of garlic to put on top, forgetting that my hubby picked up the requested USA grown garlic which is far more potent than its Chinese counterpart. [By late spring there is no local garlic left] So the following day armed with experience I cooked up a new dish of napa cabbage. Using up two kitchen towels and completely drying the leaves worked well and my stir fried napa cabbage was a success. 

If I liked shrimp I admit it would have gone well with the cabbage, but shrimp and I are not friends. In full armor it looks like an insect and disrobed it's just a fat little worm. Potentially I could sprinkle bits of crispy bacon on top next time, now there is a thought! 

And speaking of worms our environmentalist friend was lamenting on invasive species [this time on the disappearing morning dove and that the earthworm is not native to North America] when he last came for my pie[s]. Well I checked it out and he was wrong about the earthworms on both accounts. North America was never wormless. Although Europeans brought in 13 species of earthworms, [probably with food] but the 19 North American earthworm species have not been taken over besides we have areas no other earthworm could survive. We live in the age of [mis]information. Always check out the source; does it sell something, does it represent some type of cause or special interest, is it factual and unbiased and in this case does it come from a respectable science site and not from some esoteric pseudoscience source. 

Changing the topic, now THIS is nice!

One of many cabbage women created by Chinese artist Yu Duoki 
 Will this make you want to eat your napa cabbage or do you find it a bit cannibalistic?



10 napa cabbage leaves 
1 Tbsp olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic, smashed 
salt and pepper to taste 

• Cut the leaves off the stems. 
• Wash the stems and the leaves under running water and let them drain. 
• Lay the stems and the leaves on kitchen towels and dab them with paper towels until completely dry. 
• Chop the stems and break the leaves into bite size peaces. 
• In a non stick skillet, on medium low heat, fry the smashed garlic in oil until golden. 
 • Scoop out the garlic and set it aside. 
• Add the chopped stems and sauté for two minutes. 
• Add the leaves and sauté until they are bright green. 
• Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. 
• Place in a small serving bowl and add the fried garlic. 
• Amount is perfect for two vegetable sides.


6.5.14

WASHING POULTRY


Dorothy was a public health nurse in Prince Rupert and she worked with Jim part time. Before Susie was born she had me over a few times; I think to introduce me to Canadian culture coming from the backwoods of Budapest. She started dinner and I watched her. She took a package from the fridge and removed the wrapping. She picked up a flank roast, bent down to open the oven door, took out a baking pan, and plunked the roast on it. Next she reached for the pepper shaker and sprinkled pepper all over the meat and that is when I interrupted. Aren't you washing that meat? - I asked. Why should I - she shrugged - It’s clean. She put the pan in the oven and turned it to 425F. Then she put the kettle on. That will be some dinner I thought, but that was my first clue into Canadian trust and unquestioning fate in things no one knows anything about. I thought how could she know that the meat was clean, the butcher touched it, she touched it and I didn't see her wash hands. Growing up in communist Hungary I learned that not everything authority tells you is true. We had to circumnavigate an intricate web of official lies and pretend in order to survive and not have the police bang on the front door at night. I learned early to look for reasons behind every rule I had to follow. I thought, that the meat Dorothy was cooking came from a place neither of us knew and it had to have gone through several pairs of hands, one of which did not wash. If I was going to eat from it I would want it to be washed. I knew even back then that there had to be germs on that meat. I went home enriched with the knowledge that Canadians follow authority and don’t think for themselves. Which brings me to a couple of authorities and boy do I have a bone to pick with them!

Health Canada [and similarly the] FDA states: 

“Never rinse poultry before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a safety hazard”

Good to know the chicken we eat is a “safety hazard”. 

There is a campaign under way not to wash meat. I know it isn't pretty how they grow animals and butcher them. But why not clean up the industry instead of imposing asinine regulations on the consumer? Why is our food a safety hazard and why should we accept it? 

Health Canada and the FDA react only to outbreaks with recalls instead of making sure our food was safe in the first place. Where do you think Salmonella, Listeria, E.coli or the Noro virus on meat come from? They come from animals living in their excrement, eating their own feces and each others’ and from filthy slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. Cleaning up the industry of course is out of the question and since the customer can’t be trusted, lest he should splash contaminants onto his salad, convince him not to wash the meat at all. It is better for him to cook the crap than wash it off.

What's wrong with this picture?
Can't you just move that cheese, paper towel and salad away from the sink?
How about wearing an apron?

Unbelievable as this “don't wash the meat” is, it is starting to resonate with the public. Savvy cooks ignore it, but most people will simply accept it without ever thinking it through and the mantra will be repeated over and over again and no thought will be given as to why they are not washing the meat anymore. Some people perhaps never bothered to wash the meat and now there is a good excuse for them not to. 

I say wash the meat and clean up. Sanitize every surface meat may have come in contact with and learn how cross contamination works. For now that is all that the consumer can do if he is unwilling to consume dead fecal matter with his meat.

Move everything out of reach from the sink and fill a bowl with cold water

Get ready to cut. 

Separate the thigh from the drumstick

Cut off skin and back pieces.

Slide up to four pieces of chicken into the cold water. 

Let the chicken parts sit in the water for a couple of minutes.
Next move a paper lined tray near the soaking chicken. 
Without dripping, transfer chicken pieces onto the tray.

Pour the used water down the drain and set up fresh water for the next batch.

With kitchen shears cut away the fatty and slimy bits and discard them.

Dab the chicken pieces with paper towel and set them to dry. 
Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

If not needed pack chicken pieces into a freezer bag and freeze. 
Otherwise they are ready for salting or for the brine.

Last to wash are the backs that were trimmed off. 
Dry them and pack them into a freezer bag and use them for stock.

I have given up on the notion that profiteering could ever be curbed to safeguard public health. But I fail to see the wisdom of dumbing down people instead of educating them. I simply cannot believe there have been no objections or counterarguments raised against not washing meat. Why are people so willing to follow the Piped Piper I do not know. As for me I intend to ignore Health Canada and the FDA and will continue to wash the meat I prepare for my family. My only vested interest is their health.


5.5.14

CRISPY ROAST DUCK - SÜLT KACSA


The first time I could have roasted a duck was back in 1967. Every time I thought of roasting a duck I could see mine floating at the bottom of the ravine that we fell into with our brand new Volkswagen. But November 4th of that year was a good day for survival. We drove from Prince Rupert to Terrace, went to a restaurant where I was served a plate of liver swimming in blood, but even that did not deter us from having a good time. Before we drove home, we went to the Co-Op and spent 24 dollars on groceries. It was a lot of money back then; we bought all the staples and we even got a duck. Then half way to Rupert we hit black ice and went down a deep ravine. Lucky for us we slid to the right and not to the left. To our left roared the fast flowing Skeena River. Not many survive falling into the Skeena.


But we were lucky and we landed in the ravine knee deep in cold water. We scrambled out, climbed up the hill and two men picked us up and drove us home. I was in shock. It took me several months not to hyperventilate in a moving vehicle and ten more years before I got behind the wheel. The duck was left for the wildlife. My love and I are about to purchase a brand new car again [we had a few in 47 years] and I thought… it was time to get that duck thing out of the way. On Sunday I finally roasted my first duck.

I read up on roasting duck, too much fat, lots of smoke from the high temperatures, tough skin that doesn't really crisp up or goes soft by the next day. I thought really? Are there still force-fed ducks around? I don’t think so. And even my old Hungarian cookbooks presented roasting a duck as a simple task so who am I to believe? I went the Hungarian way of course.


The first thing was to thaw the duck. It would have taken days in the fridge, so I filled a large bowl with cold water and put the bird in it. It took 10 hours to thaw and in between the duck spent a night in the fridge, [not in water]. Finally it thawed out and I could remove the neck and the giblet bag from the cavity. I cut off the fatty flaps on both ends and scraped out the congealed blood and the other nasties from inside. I slid my duck into clean water to rinse off the bits that stuck to it. I must have used half a roll of paper towels, but I got it completely dry inside and out. Then I went all over the bird and plucked out the feather stubs and the leftover feathers. I dabbed the duck with paper towel one more time and then poked the breast skin with a fork.


I sprinkled it with salt and rubbed it with dried marjoram. Then I left the duck sitting for 3 hours on the counter.


I put a chopped onion, bell pepper, tomato and a couple of garlic cloves around it. I drizzled the top with olive oil and placed it in a preheated 325F oven. It slow roasted it for seven hours and—voilà! We had one delicious, crispy, succulent duck and 1 cup of clear duck fat. In conclusion,

HIGH TEMPERATURE ROASTING IS NOT FOR DUCKS!




CRISPY ROAST DUCK - SÜLT KACSA

1 young duck 
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp dry marjoram 
fresh parsley sprigs 
drizzle of olive oil 
1 onion, chopped 
1 bell pepper, chopped 
 1 tomato, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, smashed 

• Unless you have access to fresh, roasting a duck will be a two day operation. Fully thaw the duck in a large bowl of cold water. This could take 10 hours or even longer. At a certain point you will have to transfer the duck to a tray, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for the night. 
• When the duck is fully thawed out, remove the neck and the giblet bag from the cavity. 
• Cut off the fatty flaps on both ends and scrape out the cavity. 
• Submerge the duck in a clean bowl of cold water to rinse it. 
• Dry the duck with paper towels. 
• Remove the leftover feathers and feather stubs. 
• Poke the breast skin with a fork. The skin is rubbery so you won’t poke the flesh. 
• Rub the duck with salt inside and out. 
• Rub it all over with dried marjoram. 
• Place the duck in a heatproof dish. 
• Let the duck rest for 3 to 4 hours on the counter. 
• Preheat the oven to 325F. 
• Place fresh parsley inside the cavity. 
• Drizzle the duck with olive oil 
• Chop the onion, bell pepper, tomato and a couple of garlic cloves and place it around the duck. 
• Place the duck in the preheated oven, and slow roast it for 5-7 hours or until the meat thermometer reads 165F. 
• When the duck begins to brown; start basting it with its own juices. Baste often. 
• Remove from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil for 10 minutes. 
• Slice and serve.


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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!

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