Sunday, June 13, 2010

A summer Saturday

A complicated one, at that. After a trip to the bio market and some work in the garden, we produced pico de gallo, rosemary gin fizzes, a lemon-red currant tart, and sage ice cubes.

One thing at a time.

The pico de gallo is from Pioneer Woman Cooks -- roughly equal quantities of tomato, red onion and cilantro, together with a jalapeno and lime juice. Chop, mix, and down at the speed of lightning.

The rosemary gin fizzes (fizz is a fabulous word to say) come from Sassy Radish -- a December recipe, in fact, and they do look Christmassy -- but they are the perfect antidote to our 36 degree weather! Here is the original recipe, and here is my variation:

Ingredients (per fizz):
  • 2 tbsp rosemary sugar syrup (see here)
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • scant 1/4 cup Bombay Sapphire
  • cold fizzy water
  • small springs fresh rosemary and red currants
  • long swirls lemon zest
  • Combine all in a tall glass and enjoy!
On the patio, with our ('our'? I've become attached) forest in the background

A few weeks ago, I made a lemon raspberry tart from Sassy Radish. I fell in love. On Saturday, I bought an Awful Lot of red currants at the bio market. Approximately 10 were used in the fizzes, which left us with (give or take) 893. And so -- a lemon currant tart was pulled from the oven just as the England keeper let in what was, really, not a very good goal. The tart is stupendous and just about makes up for the draw. (The tart plus Slovenia's win earlier today make it for it entirely.) The substitution? Currants for raspberries, and an extra 1/8 cup sugar for good measure.

And, finally, our garden overrunneth with roses and sage. Preserving Summer's Bounty instructs me to freeze the sage in ice cube trays (with some water) to use over the winter in stocks and soups. Done!


So simple. So easy. So... accessible. If you don't live in Hungary. But we do. And yesterday, 652 days after moving here, we had a fabulous steak. An Irish steak. Imported at great cost. But what flavour! What wonder! What joy!

Steak. And courgette, bell pepper, red onion and baby spinach. But those are just for show.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Scones, version 1

Oatmeal-cinnamon-raisin. Joy of Cooking recipe. Verdict? 6.5/10

Jerusalem artichoke soup

Summer is here: by 7:30 AM, it was in the mid-20s -- and now, at noon, it has hit 32°. So why am I making hot Jerusalem artichoke soup? Well, because we bought an awful lot of Jerusalem artichokes at the organic market on Saturday -- and I didn't feel like roasting them in the oven. While unseasonal, the soup is scrumptious: nutty and creamy and earthy. I recommend making it in, oh, about four months.

  • 10 medium Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • scant 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, or 4 spring onions (white part), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, or 2 cloves new garlic, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • scant cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and add the onions and garlic. Cook until you can smell them.
  • Add the Jerusalem artichokes and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the Jerusalem artichokes are coated in butter. Then pour in the stock and milk, bring to a boil, and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly (five minutes) and purée in a blender or food processor.
  • Add the cream and freshly ground black pepper and reheat gently. When serving, sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of nutmeg.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Potato, leek and mangoldwurzel pizza

We went this weekend for the first time to Budapest's organic market, which was surprisingly bustling and full of young families. We bought lettuce (in two years here, this is the first lettuce we have bought which actually has taste), a humongous quantity of leeks, homemade sour cherry yogurt, Jerusalem artichokes, a pottery spoon rest (ours having suffered an unfortunate end) and very large green leaves. Upon arrival at home, we found out that they are mangoldwurzel -- essentially, fancy chard. Last night, they were turned into the final topping on terrific pizzas.

Ingredients (two pizzas):
  • homemade pizza crusts, partially baked
  • 3 medium potatoes, very thinly sliced (a mandolin is ideal)
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 3 mangoldwurzel leaves, torn into strips
  • olive oil
  • Brush olive oil onto the partially baked pizza crusts, and top with potatoes, leeks and mangoldwurzel leaves. Bake for 20 minutes at 450° (or higher, if your oven allows it).
  • Before serving, drizzle with olive oil.

Constellation cookies

This is the third Sassy Radish recipe I have made in as many days -- the cookies look absolutely perfect, professional, identical to what would come out of a top-notch bakery. Gently rolled in granulated sugar and cooked until just cracking on top, it's hard to believe they came from my little kitchen. They are also full -- full! -- of rich tastes, which can only be described in terms usually reserved for single malts. They remind me of Christmas, though, which jars with the 30° weather which has finally arrived in Budapest. Provided I can secure more molasses here, I will be making them by the dozens in December. For the recipe, see this site.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nordic shrimp salad

This recipe originally came, if I remember correctly, from the Globe and Mail several years ago. I have since altered it enough to be barely recognizable -- at least, I think I have: I've lost the original article. It's a simple but tasty cold salad which take advantage of string bean and dill season. Shrimp are one of my two favorite foods (the other being cherry tomatoes from my father's garden), and are one of the only types of seafood reliably available here in Budapest.

Nordic shrimp salad

Peas from the garden!

Ingredients (2 people):
  • 2 cups green or yellow beans, cooked and chilled
  • 1/2  red pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onion bulbs, minced
  • 6 artichoke hearts, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salad shrimp
  • Arrange the first four ingredients on plates. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil, and drizzle over plates. Place the shrimp on top and garnish with dill.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lemon raspberry tart

Today, I was supposed to write a conclusion for a lingering paper. I have now (nearly) completed the conclusion -- but I also completed something much more interesting: a lemon raspberry tart from Sassy Radish. Life is, as they say, rough. It's now out of the oven and cooling on the counter. It was, I should add, an absolute joy to make the pie crust with a food processor: unlike fingers, it doesn't melt the butter. Now to let it cool entirely before diving in...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Go-to bread

This is my standard go-to bread recipe: it's simple, forgiving, and flavorful. Yesterday, I tried using our stand-up bowl mixer to do the kneading for the first time (technically, it belongs to the Government of Canada, not to us -- details). It worked remarkably well (at least after I discovered that the mixer has a tendency to walk across the counter -- it came within millimeters of toppling onto the kitchen floor), but I did need to add a bit of flour and do a couple minutes of kneading myself to be happy with the dough.

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 6-7 cups bread flour (any combination of good flours will do; just ensure that you have enough gluten content)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, sunflower oil, or melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon honey)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup wheat germ (optional)
  • chopped herbs, etc. (optional)
  • In a large bowl, combine half a cup of the water with the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let proof.
  • Add 3 cups flour, the rest of the water, the rest of the sugar/honey, the oil/butter, and salt, and mix until mostly combined. At this point, add any optional ingredients.
  • Gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead until ready (about 10 minutes). Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (approximately an hour).
  • Butter two loaf pans. Punch the dough down, divide in half, and form two loaves. Let rise in the pans until doubled in volume again (another hour).
  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Slash the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the bread to sit in the oven for an extra five minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Belica winery pasta

Last week, we enjoyed a luxurious 5-course, 2 1/2 hour lunch at the Belica winery in Goriska Brda (Slovenia). It started with a basket of fresh cherries and a Belica Sivi Pinot, and ended with pears poached in red wine (for me; the table was also laden with two tiramisus and a white chocolate strawberry mousse) and homemade grappa. Of the menu dishes, the beef carpaccio and the pasta -- with fresh spinach fettuccine, asparagus tips, and home-cured prsut -- were standouts. Last night, we managed a respectable version of the pasta at home. Since we were having it with cold asparagus soup, we left the tips out (even when it's in season, there is such thing as too much asparagus at a single meal). The result was fantastically flavorsome and surprisingly filling.

Belica winery pasta

  • spinach fettuccine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (over winter, new, or wild)
  • 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
  • butter
  • thinly sliced prsut, chopped into pieces
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • Cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the leek, prsut, and half the Parmesan and simmer until pasta is done. Serve with more Parmesan.