Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another super summer salad

This one takes lettuce, baby shrimp, grapefruit, and an avocado -- use the leftover grapefruit juice with little bit of olive oil for addressing. Oh, and a cheese course to boot. Ta-daa!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fancy pizzas

Well, they feel fancy to me. What a difference it makes to properly pair ingredients! The pizza dough is homemade (albeit in the bread machine -- but, for posterity, it does not belong to us), with generous scoops of dried herbs. The result? Delicious dinner, leftovers for lunch, and the fridge is free of lots of odds and ends.

Pizza 1: homemade caramelized onion jam, sweet yellow paprika*, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, leftover barbecued chicken

Pizza 2: pesto, cherry tomatoes, black olives, goat cheese

* Next time, I will grill the paprika first

Breakfast (?) bread

I am thoroughly sick and tired of cereal for breakfast. Especially the cereals available here in Budapest.* And I don't much like toast. In my search for new breakfast ideas, I found this dried fruit and nut soda bread on one of my current-favorite blogs. We made it last night, and tried it with our smoothies at breakfast this morning -- terrific. Delicious, and filling too.**


I replaced the dried pears with dried cherries (this is Hungary, after all) and one cup of the walnuts with whole almonds.

* So why don't I make my own cereal? I used to, in Canada. But here I cannot get the ingredients I want (namely, a variety of grains -- oats, spelt, barley, etc.) at reasonable prices.

** But isn't it too sweet for breakfast? Granted, the entire loaf contains 3/4 cup brown sugar. But it doesn't taste sweet. And, per slice, this works out too much less sugar than a serving of your typical store-bought cereal.

Super summer salad

First, the photo is fuzzy because somebody didn't take the camera out of landscape mode. The salad itself -- Richard's idea -- was dead simple and delicious. Oh, and very colorful.

Ingredients (2 people):
  • lettuce (we used lamb's ear)
  • blue cheese, crumbled (quantity to taste)
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • small quantity dressing (olive oil and lemon juice)
  • Toss the lettuce with the dressing. Place on plates and top with remaining ingredients.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smoked salmon and avocado lasagna

I've been wanting to try this for years: smoked salmon and avocado, sandwiched between lasagna noodles -- what could be better? The result is amazing, but lifting the finished lasagna off the cutting board onto the plates was a trick.

Ingredients (2 people):
  • 3 lasagna noodles
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • mixed salad
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp good mustard or 1/8 tsp cracked mustard seeds
  • Cook the lasagna, then rinse under cold water and let cool.
  • Assemble the lasagna in the following order, on a wooden cutting board or rimless plate (to better be able to lift it at the end): lasagna noodle, smoked salmon, lasagna noodle, avocado, lasagna noodle. Cut the lasagna in half and carefully lift onto plates, together with the salad.
  • Mix the oil, citrus juice and mustard to make a dressing. Pour half over the salads and half over the lasagnas.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grapefruit shrimp salad

We were served this fabulous summer salad at Christmas in Canada a few years ago -- and have since become pros at making it. It is summery and citrusy and brilliantly colorful on the plate. It takes some time to segment the grapefruit and peel the shrimp, but the result is definitely worth it.

Ingredients (2 people):

For the shrimp:
  • 16-20 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • scant 1/4 cup unsalted cashews or blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
For the salad:
  • mixed salad greens
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented (reserve the juice)
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 yellow or red bell pepper, julienned
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • reserved grapefruit juice
  • zest from 1/2 a lemon or lime
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

For the shrimp:
  • Heat the olive oil and garlic in a pot, add the nuts and stir until they begin to turn golden. Add the shrimp and hot pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes, until shrimp are done. Remove from heat and squeeze lime juice over shrimp. Alternatively, marinate the shrimp in olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and hot pepper flakes for 15-20 minutes and cook on the grill. In this case, just add the nuts to the salad as they are.
For the salad:
  • Combine all dressing ingredients and shake well or mix in a mini blender.
  • Place all salad ingredients on plates, and toss with dressing. Place shrimp and nuts on top, and serve.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stuffed mushrooms

There's nothing like a simple Friday night dinner. Fish en papillote with lemon, dry-broiled aubergine, salad, and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms. We'd never done stuffed mushrooms before, but they were dead simple (says she who didn't do the chopping) and scrumptious.

Ingredients (2 people):
  • 8-10 largish brown mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed from caps
  • scant 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • smidgen olive oil
  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Chop the mushroom stems finely, and mix with crumbled blue cheese and olive oil.
  • Stuff mushroom caps with blue cheese mixture. Place in a Corningware or other baking dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until steaming hot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inukshuk sugar cookies

Simple. Sweet. Satisfying. These plain sugar cookies hold the inukshuk shape while baking, but aren't brittle. The recipe couldn't be easier.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • Blend butter and sugar on high until fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla.
  • Gradually add flour and salt, blending on low.
  • Form small balls with your hands, and flatten with the base of a glass before imprinting. The glass and the mold should be floured to avoid sticking to the dough.
  • Bake for ~8 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit, or until edges just begin to turn golden.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cinghiale in Dolce Forte

All right, it doesn't look terribly appetizing. But it is absolutely delicious -- a brilliant winter meal (hey, it's only March). The wild boar is melt-in-your-mouth tender; the bittersweet chocolate adds a perfect tang; and the prunes are perfect. Good thing, because there's lots of it.

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • patience
  • 1 heaping tbsp flour
  • 3 ounces pitted prunes, cut in half*
  • 60 g bittersweet chocolate*
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • grated peel from two large oranges
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
*Apologies; we have both metric and imperial weights, and no respect for consistency.

  • Preheat oven to 275 Fahrenheit/Mark 1.
  • Remove marinating wild boar from the fridge (see previous post) and separate into three bowls: meat, vegetables and marinade. Patience required. Discard the thyme.
  • Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot (Le Creuset to the rescue, again) and brown the meat in small batches.
  • Add the onion to the pot and cook until golden. Add the vegetables (from the marinade) and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Return the meat to the pot and stir in the flour. Slowly add the marinade while stirring. Add water if necessary to mostly cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then cover and place in oven and cook for two hours. Halfway through, check to make sure there is still enough liquid in the pot.
  • Add prunes, chocolate, raisins, peel and pine nuts and cook for 15 more minutes.
  • Serve over pasta, polenta, or another grain.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creme caramelle

There is, truly, nothing in the world more heavenly.

Ingredients (8 individual creme caramelles):
  • 3/4 cup sugar + 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
  • Place 3/4 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan (Le Creuset works well) and drizzle the water over the sugar. Place over medium heat and swirl the pan until you get a clear syrup (do not stir). Make sure the syrup clarifies (or mostly clarifies) before it comes to a boil. Once clear, increase heat to high and bring syrup to a rolling boil. Then cover the pan and boil for two minutes. Uncover pan and continue to cook over high heat until syrup begins to darken. Swirl once or twice. Cook syrup until it turns a deep amber.
  • Pour the caramel into 8 ramekins, trying to get it to coat the bottoms. Tilting the ramekins can help. This needs to be done quickly, before the caramel cools. An extra pair of hands makes it much easier.
  • Whisk together the eggs, the rest of the sugar and the salt.
  • Heat the milk until just steaming, and then slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla and whisk briefly. Pour custard into ramekins.
  • Bake in a bain-marie for ~50 minutes, until set in center (check after 40 minutes). The creme caramelles need to be refrigerated for four hours before being unmolded, and can be kept in the fridge for a week.
  • To unmold, dip the ramekins briefly in hot water and slide a flexible knife around the edges. Invert onto serving plates.
The rest of the weekend? In the garden. Forty rosebushes are waiting to be pruned.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wild boar and more

Long weekend! (1848 Revolution)

Project 1: Marinading wild boar

Our wild boar from the Jankovich Birtok estate in southwestern Hungary has now begun its 48 hours of marinading. By the end of the (long) weekend, it should be Cinghiale in Dolce Forte.

  • ~3 pounds wild boar, cubed
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a celeriac or 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice/cloves
  • Bring the marinade to a boil and let cool. Cover the meat and let it marinate for 48 hours.
  • More to come!

Project 2: Game stock
What to do with boar offcuts and a fridge full of veggies? Stock!

  • game offcuts
  • a variety of vegetables (onions, carrots, parsnips, celeriac/celery)*
  • a variety of herbs and spices (bay leaves, fresh thyme, cloves, lemon zest)**
  • Fill a large pot with cold water, add the game and bring to a boil. Skim fat from surface. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes (or until surface remains clear).
  • Add vegetables and herbs/spices and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more boiling water as needed to keep solids covered.
  • Strain through cheesecloth into a heatproof pot or bowl.** Place outside (if winter) or in a sink of ice water to cool. Transfer to small containers and refrigerate/freeze.
* As the photo shows, I am also using brussels sprouts. Normally I would think them too strong for stock, but given that the base is wild boar, I figure no vegetable stands a chance.

** If you do not have cheesecloth, strain through a colander or sieve. You will need to tie the herbs/spices into a bouquet garni to keep them from going straight through.

Project 3: Creme caramelle
... will have to wait until the kitchen no longer smells like game.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Asian squid salad

Having had several themes on squid salad in Bosnia recently, I decided to make it at home -- with Asian accents. The squid is from Ljubljana, and the Asian ingredients are collected from around specialty stores in Budapest. (You try finding lemongrass in Hungary. Go on -- just try.) The result is splendiferous.

Ingredients (2-4 people, depending on portion size):
  • 8 small or 4 large squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small fresh hot pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds for a less spicy dish)
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 tsp. soy sauce
  • lettuce
  • Mix together ginger, hot pepper, green onions, lemon grass, coriander, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
  • Heat the oils in a pan, add the squid and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add ginger mixture to the pan and stir until it is all well mixed and piping hot (~ 1 minute). Do not overcook the squid.
  • Serve over lettuce and drizzle with remainder of soy sauce.

Sweet picnic slices

What to make when you want something sweet, but light and simple to make? Sweet picnic slices! Ten minutes of prep, half an hour in the oven, and done. Plus, the idea of a picnic is welcome on what is otherwise a snowy and cold day.

  • 8 ounces cooking chocolate
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces sugar (caster sugar if possible)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces shredded coconut
  • 2 ounces sultanas
  • 2 ounces glace cherries or candied peel
  • Line a 9 x 13 cake tin or a Swiss roll tin with parchment paper, making sure that it comes up the sides so that you can lift the picnic slices out at the end.
  • Preheat oven to 300 Fahrenheit/mark two.
  • Melt chocolate and spread over bottom of tin. It will make a thin layer. Leave to set.
  • Meanwhile, beat butter and sugar until light. Add egg and beat briefly.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly over chocolate.
  • Bake for half an hour. Leave to cool (yes, they smell good. No, you can't have any yet.), then carefully lift the un-sliced picnic slices out of the tin. Cut into slices with a sharp knife, and store in the fridge.

Perfectly seared tuna

No trip to Ljubljana is complete without a visit to the riverside fishmarket. This time, we came home with a 2 inch thick slab of tuna and a bag full of squid. Richard loves tuna, in all ways and all forms. I only like it raw. The solution? Perfectly seared tuna.

  • one thick cut fresh tuna
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp. paprika
  • olive oil
  • Heat the oil in a pan (or, if barbecuing, preheat the grill)
  • Sear tuna for 30-60 seconds on each side, or until the surfaces begin to appear cooked. Do not overcook (do not allow the bulk of the fish to brown at all).
  • Slice thinly and serve at room temperature. Keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days.