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MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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28.3.16

MEATBALLS WITH KIELBASA


After a string of recent kitchen goof ups, this one turned out to be nice enough to get a spot on the blog. I made these meatballs to use up ingredients not enough on their own and a new meatball recipe was born. I can do that because we are small eaters and most of the time it’s just the two of us. The challenge of these spur of the moment dishes is that they sometimes don’t work out. That is when my darling feels like the guinea pig he sometimes is. But there is always peanut butter. 




Meatballs With Kielbasa

1/2 cup of super lean ground pork
3 Tbsp light olive oil
2 Tbsp diced onions
4 inch segment of kielbasa sausage, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
sprinkling of marjoram
1/4 cup dry fine breadcrumbs
1 egg
sprinkling of salt
1 to 2 Tbsp spice of choice [I used Greek Red Pepper Spice] 

  • Place the ground pork in a mixing bowl.
  • Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet.
  • Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
  • Reserving the oil, add the soft onions to the ground pork.
  • Put the chopped kielbasa in the food processor and pulse it a few times until uniformly minced. Don’t mash it completely.
  • Add the minced kielbasa sausage to the bowl.
  • Add the garlic, marjoram, fine breadcrumbs and the egg.
  • Sprinkle with salt. Keep in mind the kielbasa is already salty.
  • With clean hands mash the ingredients until uniformly blended.
  • Shape the meat mixture into small balls.
  • Add the meatballs to the skillet, leaving a little space between meatballs for rolling.
  • To cook the meatballs perfectly round, hold onto the skillet handle and shift the skillet back and forth. The meatballs will roll around and evenly cook in a rather short time.
  • Place your choice of spice in a bowl and roll the hot meatballs into the spice.
  • Serve the meatballs immediately.
  • These meatballs are so flavourful no sauce is required.


CHICKEN GULYAS - CSIRKEGULYÁS


Chicken gulyás is less robust than traditional gulyás. Boneless, skinless breast meat of the chicken is preferred for gulyás, the boney parts tend to fall apart. Traditional gulyás from beef or pork is made into a stew first with water added later with the vegetables. But breast of chicken cooks far too quickly to develop sufficient flavour and the solution is the addition of homemade stock. Stock is best from the darker meat and the boney parts of the chicken. I don’t recommend stock made from roasted carcass or from bouillon cubes or commercial stock.  Make the stock a day ahead; simmer it slowly for several hours to transfer all the flavour to the stock. Pressure cooker makes a wonderful stock and is a huge time saver.

I add pinched noodles about the same time I add the vegetables. Pinched noodles are made from very stiff dough. These absorb very little liquid and don’t starch up the soup. Regular pasta is no substitute and I would just as soon omit putting anything into the gulyás if I had no pinched noodles available. There are several brands of pinched noodles in the deli section of large grocery stores and sometimes European delis carry them under the name of Bavarian Spaetzle Pasta or Hungarian Pinched Noodles. What you have to watch for is the cooking instruction; this type of pasta takes about 17-20 minutes of cooking. Or you can laboriously make them just like I do. 

Chicken Gulyas

2 skinless, boneless breast of chicken
1 onion, diced
3 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
1-1/2 + 1/2 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 cups of rich homemade chicken stock
1/2 yellow or red pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1/2 celery root, chopped
2 potatoes
1/4 cup pinched noodles
salt and pepper to taste
14% sour cream

• Cut the chicken into large chunks.
• Mince the garlic, crush the caraway seeds and set them aside.
• Finely chop the onions.
• In a medium dutch pot heat 3 Tbsp oil; add the onions and sauté until translucent.
• Add the meat and braise it turning the pieces until no longer pink.
• Chop the green pepper and tomatoes; add to the pot.
• Add 1-1/2 Tbsp of paprika, the caraway seeds and the garlic.
• Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Add the stock and bring it to a steady simmer.
• Peel and coarsely chop the carrots, parsnip, potatoes and the celery root and add to the pot.
• Add the pinched noodles and bring the soup back to a steady simmer
• When the carrots are tender, adjust the salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste.
• Stir in the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika.
• Serve with sour cream.  

SCORED POTATOES


I cooked these potatoes almost as an afterthought and they were ready in 40 minutes.

1 large baking potato
drizzle of olive oil
salt and Greek Red Pepper Seasoning

  • Using a sharp knife cut each potato in half, lengthwise.
  • With the flesh facing up cut into each half, but not all the way through.
  • Place the potato halves with the flesh facing upward into a baking dish.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Greek Red Pepper Seasoning.
  • Place in the microwave at full power for 5 minutes.  
  • Transfer to a preheated 350F oven and bake until tender.


HAM LOAF


The ham for this ham loaf did not come from leftover ham. I took apart a large ham and repurposed it. Reheating leftover ham is OK, but cooking it twice would render it tasteless and unappetizing. 

I put part of the ham through the food processor and minced it for future ham patties and a ham loaf. If you are not using the ground ham right of way, label the package and include the suggested cooking instruction. This is important. With partially smoked ham, you run the risk of a parasite infection and fully smoked ham burns rather quickly. The ham I had required 10 to 15 minutes per pound at 325F until thoroughly heated. Your ham loaf may require a different temperature and length of cooking. When it comes to cooking hams, what is true for the whole is true for its parts.



Ham Loaf

300 g fresh ham, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1-1/2 cups fine soft breadcrumbs
1 egg
few sprigs of fresh or frozen parsley, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to the suggested temperature. Cook’s ham requires 325F.
  • Sauté the onions on olive oil until very soft. Do not brown.
  • To assemble the ham loaf, place the ground ham in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the soft onions and the remaining ingredients.
  • Do NOT add salt.
  • With your hands, mash together everything.
  • Form into a loaf and place it in a small greased baking dish.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake following the suggested cooking instructions.
  • Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Ham loaf is also nice chilled.

 

COOKED MAYONNAISE


My first batch was strangely reminiscent of a certain salad dressing. But I was never a fan. I prefer real mayonnaise. Leilah developed an allergy to commercial mayonnaise recently. We were not sure what it was in the mayo that made her react. Already concerned, I thought homemade mayo contains raw egg yolks, besides it doesn’t last long so I looked for an alternative. I tried out several cooked mayonnaise recipes with varying success. This holds the most promise so far, now if we could just get passed the sweetness. The mustard and vinegar content was bang on, but I will play around with the sugar, I think the sugar content is the one that needs a bit of fine-tuning. I don’t think you need more than 2 Tbsp of sugar for one batch and perhaps not even that. Instead of adding butter at the end, I replaced some of the milk with heavy cream. Already, this would be a good substitution in a mayo-based salad. Recipe was adapted from Food.com. Yields 2-1/2 cups of salad dressing.

Cooked Mayonnaise

2 large eggs
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp dry mustard
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup hot water

  • In a microwavable bowl, whisk the two eggs.
  • Whisk in the flour and the dry mustard.
  • Add the milk, sugar and the salt.
  • In a separate bowl, combine vinegar and hot tap water.
  • While whisking the egg mixture, add the vinegar mixture.
  • Place the bowl in the microwave uncovered and cook at full power for 4-1/2 minutes.
  • Give the dressing a whisk and put it back in the microwave for another 4-1/2 minutes longer.
  • Remove the bowl and place plastic wrap right on top of the dressing while it cools.
  • Transfer to a large jar with a well fitting cap and store in the fridge.

23.3.16

COCONUT LOAF



We like cookies, cakes and loaves with coconut. Never having tasted coconut off a tree, our devotion to coconut flavour is exemplary. The challenge baking with coconut is either crumbliness, from desiccated coconut or elusiveness of coconut flavour. It will be full of coconut flavour on the first day and by the next, you wonder where the coconut went. I have been experimenting with coconut loaves and finally I came up with a coconut loaf recipe that has a nice crumb, nut heavy on the butter and has lasting coconut flavour. This one is worth repeating.


Coconut Loaf

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp coconut extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup flaked coconut

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Butter or spray the corners of the loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Fully line a 4x8-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving overhangs for easy grasping.
  • Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating with each addition.
  • Add the coconut extract.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add to the butter mixture alternately with coconut milk, mixing only to incorporate. Do not beat.
  • Gently fold in the coconut.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Place the loaf pan on a wire rack to cool.
  • When lukewarm grasp the parchment overhang and remove loaf from pan.
  • Peel off the parchment a let the loaf cool completely before slicing.


PARMESAN ENCRUSTED BREADED PORK TENDERLOINS


As the name says, tenderloin is a tender cut of pork, though it can be a little on the dry side. Fat gives flavour and moisture to everything and that is why tenderloin tends to be served with some type of sauce. Slow frying adds both flavour and moisture to drier cuts of meat and the parmesan cheese gives yet another layer of flavour. Use real flaked parmesan cheese; the “parmesan” granules sold from the dairy case are not suitable.




Parmesan Encrusted Breaded Pork Tenderloins

250 g pork tenderloin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup large flaked parmesan cheese
2/3 cup flour
grape seed oil for frying

  • Slice a small section of pork tenderloin.
  • Tenderize the slices with a meat mallet.
  • Next, season the slices with salt.
  • Set out a bowl of lightly beaten eggs, a bowl of large flaked parmesan cheese and a bowl of flour.
  • Dip the tenderloins into the eggs first coating both sides.
  • Next, dip them into the parmesan coating both sides.
  • Finally dip them into the flour coating both sides.
  • Add 1/2 inch of grape seed oil to a large non-stick skillet.
  • On medium heat, slow-fry the tenderloins until evenly browned on both sides.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

22.3.16

HUNGARIAN ALL PURPOSE CRACKERS - HÁZTARTÁSIKEKSZ

 The Perfect Graham Cracker Substitute

Graham crackers have been on a steady decline in quality. Corporate greed finally destroyed an iconic product. The last box was so nasty we couldn’t finish it. It is problematic to get graham flour, I tried on-line recipes with all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and with various combinations of the two, but we didn’t like them. Too much honey, not enough honey, too soft, too hard, overly “healthy tasting” blah, etc... I reached the conclusion that replicating old time graham crackers was not that important. I have been grinding up a variety of stale homemade cookies to substitute graham crumbs anyway, all I needed was a type of cracker for my Almond Roca. Yes, we have been Almond Roca deprived for two years in a row.  Finally I gave a try to Hungarian All-Purpose Crackers and it turned out to be the perfect substitute for graham crackers. Butter gives these crackers a fine flavor. They are a tasty treat on their own, at the same time they are bland enough for multiple applications. The first bite took me back to times past except these were much, much better! 



Hungarian All Purpose Crackers

1-1/2 cups of flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 sprinkling of salt
1/2 cup butter, soft
1 egg

  • Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the soft butter and rub in to the dry ingredients.
  • In a small bowl whisk an egg with fork and add to the flour mixture.
  • Using your hands fully incorporate the egg. The dough will be a bit on the stiff side.
  • Press it into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  • Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your cookie sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on the parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough out to the size of the parchment paper.
  • Lift the parchment with the dough and transfer to the cookie sheet.
  • Cot into squares and poke each square with a fork
  • Place in preheated oven and bake for 16 minutes or until the sides begin to brown a little.

21.3.16

CHERRY PASTRY BARS - CSERESZNYÉS PITE


One of my fondest food memories were a mixed tray of goodies from the Hauer Cukrászda. Ignoring the lúdláb and the dobos, I honed in on the cherry pite. If I remember it correctly, I ate three, but I may have eaten four and after that I just laid down to digest it nurturing my awakening taste buds. It was nothing short of ecstasy. The year was 1972 and after five years of sunshine and food deprivation in Northern B.C. I was ready to eat. I can’t promise you the same effect but this pastry is worthy of more than one slice. 

Cherry Pastry Bars

1 batch of Linzer Pastry – click on link
1 batch of Cooked Cherry Filling – click on link.
2 Tbsp ground walnuts
1 lightly beaten egg for glazing

  • Following the directions make the Linzer Pastry first.
  • Press it into a rectangle, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for half hour or longer.
  • While the pastry chills, make a batch of Cooked Cherry Filling.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Next line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Place the chilled pastry on a large cutting board.
  • Divide the pastry in two and following directions roll out the first pastry to fit the prepared baking pan.
  • Sprinkle the top with the ground walnuts.
  • Without disturbing the ground walnuts, spread the Cooked Cherry Filling on top and set it aside.
  • Following directions roll out the second pastry. Make the second pastry a little larger because the baking pan is somewhat larger on the top.
  • Lay the pastry over the cherry filling and lightly press down.
  • Brush the top pastry with lightly beaten egg and poke holes in it with a fork.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top has a light golden brown color.
  • Let it cool for 20 minutes. Pastry is ready to cut while lukewarm.  



COOKED CHERRY FILLING


The uses of cooked fruit fillings for pies, tarts, fruit bars and various pastries are endless. Traditional Hungarian fruit fillings were made from fresh fruit with the juices squeezed out. Most Hungarian food bloggers add cooked pudding for thickener these days. Not wanting to do either with my lovely frozen cherries, I began to experiment with cooked cherry filling.


The recipe will work with fresh or frozen pitted cherries. Fresh cherries let a considerable amount of juice when pitted. Hold onto the juice. Frozen pitted cherries, with some of their juices gone, require some additional liquid to cook. Avoid defrosting the cherries before cooking. 

Cooked Cherry Filling

4 cups of fresh pitted red cherries including their juices
or 4 cups of frozen pitted red cherries + 1/4 cup of pure apple juice or water
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2+1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp butter

  • Place the frozen cherries with their liquid and lemon juice in a medium sized pot.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar and give it a gentle stir.
  • Let the cherries stand for 10 minutes.  
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch.
  • Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir to combine.
  • Slowly bring it to boil.
  • Simmer fresh cherries for 5-10 minutes stirring often. If using frozen cherries, simmer only until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove pot from heat and immediately stir in the butter.



20.3.16

HAM CRACKLING BISCUITS – SONKA TEPERTŐ POGÁCSA


AKA Don’t waste the ham!

This brings to my mind my dad’s watermelon story. He grew up in the rural section of Szeged and one day Apám and his friends felt like having some watermelon. The Szeged watermelons are famously good, every time they arrived in Budapest long lines formed at the piac [market]. So Apám and his friends sneaked into this farmer’s yard and each took a large watermelon. Well the farmer got them on the way out and said I feed people, but I don’t support thieves. He made them sit down took out his pocketknife and cut up each boy’s watermelon. You can imagine a bunch of ten year olds having to eat a whole watermelon on the spot. By the time they finished some were green and some were crying. Apám said he never again took what was not his.

Back to the ham, if you got it killed, eat it! With Easter only one week away, the hams are going on sale. It seemed like a good time to show how to use up every part of the ham. If the ham is too large, take it apart, don’t buy small ham products and pay ten times what you would normally spend on a large ham. I bought a fair sized cottage roll before Christmas. It was too much ham for the two of us. I could have roasted it but frozen leftovers are never as good as freshly cooked.  I cut it up, put it in labelled freezer bags and froze the whole lot of it. We are still working on it.

 this was the cottage roll 

Then two days ago, Jim came home with a good-sized Cook’s ham. Haha, I don’t think I will be buying ham until Thanksgiving. We will have roasted and cooked ham, ham steaks, ham hamburgers, ham-loaves, and today we are having ham pogácsa from the fatty bits. And all these for the price of $24.00.  Keep in mind when cooking with ham it is salty. Never salt the ham-loaf or the ham-burger. Go easy on the salt in every ham dish.    

The science of food is always industry driven. We cannot live without fat, the human body requires it one way or another. The choice is between chemically processed plant oil and animal fat. Our diets vary greatly and often times are belief rather than science based. Even though fat supplies essential fatty acids and our body needs it for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, we discard animal fat and pour the stock down the drain. It is one thing to advocate for the ethical treatment of animals and to avoid meat altogether. But if the diet already contains animal protein why do we waste it?

I made this pogácsa from the rendered ham-fat [lard] and its by product: ground ham-fat crackling. Conversely, there is no such thing as a ham crackling only ham flavored shoe leather. But put the ham-fat through the food processor before rendering and you will get ham flavored morsels for yeast biscuits. There it is, the entire ham is utilized be it a humble cottage roll or a nice big Cooks ham.  

this is the rendered ham-fat and ground ham-fat crackling I used in the following recipe



Ham Crackling Biscuits
Pastry:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup rendered ham-fat
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of milk
1 egg yolk

1/2 cup ground-ham crackling
1 lightly beaten egg for glazing

  • Make the ham crackling first. Forget everything you know about pork crackling.
  • Chop the fat trimmings of ham and place it the food processor.
  • Push down the on button and process until the entire batch is uniformly minced.
  • Place a non-stick skillet on medium heat and add the minced ham fat.
  • Fry the ham fat until the fat melts out and the bits get a nice brown colour.
  • Drain the fat into a bowl and set aside the crackling.
  • This is important! Let the fat cool down to room temperature before assembling the pastry, because the heat would kill the yeast.

  • To make the pastry, place the flour in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the ham-fat, yeast, sugar and the salt.
  • Combine ingredients to form dough.
  • Transfer to a cutting board and knead the dough for a couple of minutes.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
  •  Let the dough rise until doubled.
  • Roll the dough out into a thin rectangle.
  • Scatter the ham crackling on half of the dough.
  • Fold over and repeat rolling and scattering until the crackling is all gone.
  • Let the dough rest on the cutting board for 20 minutes.
  • Roll it out and fold it again.
  • Let it rest again for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400F and line the bottom of a 9X5 inch baking-pan with parchment paper.
  • Roll out the pastry to 1 inch height and score the top.
  • With a smaller biscuit cutter cut 20 rounds.
  • Place the rounds in the prepared baking pan, not touching but close together. When yeast biscuits lean, it is because too much space is left between them.
  • Spread the tops with a lightly beaten egg.
  • Place the pan in the preheated oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375F.
  • Bake the biscuits for 25 minutes or until lightly browned on the top.

17.3.16

HOMEMADE SPINACH PASTA WITH WALNUTS


I know it's Saint Patrick's Day but the green is entirely coincidence. I don't drink, I don't pray to saints and I never rebel rouse without a cause. One day I was video surfing for a stand up comedy special and I got a list of string theory and cooking videos along with Ricky Gervais, since nothing is private these days. You may delete the history, but the Computer Deity knows all about you. That is how I came upon this spinach pasta video. 


I bought a package of spinach pasta once. It must have been during one of my health attacks. They seem to come and go, because we both enjoy good eating. As I recall the store-bought spinach pasta gave us a bad food experience. “Never ever OK?” said the Jim.

Responding to divine inspiration, I decided it was time I gave spinach pasta another chance. Although spring is in full swing in British Columbia, nothing edible is growing in the garden.

I took out a package of spinach I froze from last year’s crop. I freeze my spinach squeezed flat, it takes no time at all before I can chop it up. I chopped it very fine, minced it actually, and instead of a homogeneously green pasta, mine ended up cheerfully speckled. I made it again and for sure I make the speckled kind. Jim and I found it tasty and satisfying. With toasted walnuts, this spinach pasta makes a great meatless meal.

Homemade Spinach Pasta With Walnuts

Pasta:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cooked or frozen minced spinach,
1/3 cup flour for kneading, rolling and cutting

Walnut Topping:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

  • Place the first three ingredients in the beater bowl and using the paddle attachment combine.  
  • Gradually add 1-1/2 cups flour. 
  • Add the minced spinach.   
  • Change to dough hook and beat until dough is smooth. 
  • Alternatively, you can do this mixing in a large bowl by hand.
  • Place 1/3 cup of flour on a large cutting board. 
  • Knead as much flour into the spinach dough as you can.
  • The remaining flour will be used up for rolling the pasta. If you are rolling by hand, you will need additional flour.
  • Divide the dough in 4 pieces.
  • Take a piece of dough and flatten it.
  • Dust both sides with the flour.
  • Set the pasta roller to the widest setting.
  • Feed the flour dusted dough through the roller.
  • Repeat, dusting with flour and rolling.
  • When all the pieces are rolled out, set the roller to a lower setting.
  • Dust with flour again and continue rolling on a lower setting to the lowest setting.  
  • When all the pasta sheets are rolled through the lowest setting, dust with flour again and one by one feed them through the fettuccine cutter.
  • Dust with flour again and loosely move your hands through the fettuccine and spread it out on the cutting board.
  • Alternatively, you can roll and cut the pasta by hand.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to full rolling-boil and add the spinach pasta.
  • Stir gently with fork so the fettuccine won’t clump together.
  • Cook until the water comes to full rolling-boil again. 
  • Drain, rinse and drain the spinach pasta.
  • Meanwhile heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add the chopped walnuts.
  • Stir until the walnuts emit a toasted aroma, but do not brown.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta in a warmed serving bowl and stir in the olive oil toasted walnut pieces.
  • Adjust the salt and serve it hot.
  • Serves 2 to 4.



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