Monday, May 9, 2016

Three recipes for the price of one

I have a problem.

Ok, I have many problems, but only one is pertinent to this blog. As our sages say, "I got 99 problems, but this blog ain't one of them."

My problem is recipes.

There are many recipes out there in this world, and I want to try ALL of them. I keep meaning to cook my way though my shelf of cookbooks, and I have yet to manage that. (I ALSO tend to get stuck in a rut and make the same types of recipes over and over again, and every now and again need a good kick in the brain to learn new things, but that's a different subject and not for today's blog entry.)

The main problem, though, is finding the recipes I already have...somewhere. Recipe card-cataloguing. Currently, my best recipe card-catalogue is in my brain, and that's a problem, because not only am I getting old, but my devices are getting old, and sometimes they die and they, very inconsiderately, do not share the recipe locations before they die. This is compounded by the fact that I have an excellent visual memory. So I have these recipes that I sorta kinda remember that I saw in an email, and then, I assume, I can always go back, find that email, and boom - found recipe. Right?

Not so much, unfortunately. I have thousands of emails, and the internet has not figured out a way to do 'search by mental image I have in my brain right now.' (Can somebody get on that, please?)

Recently, for example, I had two recipes I knew I loved, I knew I had bookmarked them - somewhere. Luckily, I was pretty sure that I had bookmarked them on my old ipad, and luckily, I still own that ipad and, luckily, it still works.

Had that not been the case, my precious Red Wine Chocolate Glaze recipe would have been gone forever, buried in the depths of the interwebs.

Similarly, last night I knew I had a red mullet recipe...somewhere. I remembered that all it was was fish, butter, and marjoram. I thought it was on BBC food. Turns out, what I thought I remembered was COMPLETELY wrong, but I did eventually find that recipe. I also learned that there are DOZENS of ways to cook red mullet, and it may be a shame that I keep coming back to the same one. But I like that one, and I found it eventually, and now I'm going to keep it, here, forever. And ever. And ever. BOOHAHAHA. Or at least until the eventual heat death of the universe.

So that brings us to today's post. Which is going to be two recipes I love, keep coming back to, and had better write down because otherwise one day they will disappear, I will look for them and not find them, and I will be sad. So this post is really for me. Think of it like your grandmother's box of handwritten recipes. 

Finally, I'm also going to write down the cake I made last night, because I took a recipe and changed it, and I will never be able to recreate it again if I don't, and that would be a shame, because it was delicious. So there you have it, three recipes for the price of one. Which, in case you hadn't noticed, is free.

Recipe the First - Red Mullet in Sage and Butter

For the original recipe, go to that link. Text below is original, my comments in parenthesis. 

  • 2 fillets of red mullet, about 175g each (or, a whole a package of red mullet)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 30g (some) butter
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • sage
  1. Take the red mullet fillets and lightly flour them (or forget this part, and then the fish will curl up a bit.)
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan on a medium to high heat and when the butter is hot but not brown add the fish and cook for 5-6 minutes (or less time if they are tiny, like mine were.)
  3. Turn the fish over, then with a spoon baste the fish and cook for a further 2 minutes, add the sage and cook for a further minute. (Or, add sage to butter and pour over when it's done cooking.)
  4. Finally squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon. (Or forget this part entirely. Still good.) 

 Recipe the Second - Red Wine Chocolate Glaze (apparently I'm into red recipes these days) 

I've never actually tried the cake recipe in that link. I have too many chocolate cake recipes as it is. That glaze, however, I've made over and over again. It's a hit. I've given you amounts for 1/2 the recipe, which I find is enough to glaze 1 big round cake.

  • 4 oz. = 115 grams = 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (substitute oil or coconut oil for parve)
  • pinch kosher salt (or fancy orange salt to make it fancy)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine such as Pinot Noir (or....whatever crappy wine you have in the house that hasn't been finished yet.)
  1. Heat chocolate, butter, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar. 
  2. Meanwhile, bring wine just to a boil in a small saucepan. (Important to do this step second and not cheat like I did, as, if you do it first, the wine will boil and evaporate away by the time you catch up.)
  3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in wine; let cool until slightly thickened and a rubber spatula leaves a trail in mixture when stirring, 8–10 minutes. (May take longer. Can add a bit more powdered sugar if it doesn't set.)
  4. Set cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. (Hahaha! Yeah, whatever.) Pour glaze over cake and spread it across the top and over the edges with an offset spatula. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze is set, 2–3 hours. (Or in fridge so flies or cats don't try to eat it.)

Recipe the third - White cake with Summer Fruit 

This is a supremely good cake for when you don't have much other than the basics at home, and you want a cake that can be made quickly and satisfy your 10 pm cake craving. It comes from the very cool Tassajara Bread Book, which I was gifted this summer, and discovered that my minor claim to fame is that my uncle did the calligraphy for it. It is thanks to his wife I now own a copy, and I will be forever grateful. 
Note - this recipe calls for mace, so I am compelled to write a word about mace. I love mace; it is possibly the most esoteric ingredient I have in my kitchen. It's a spice, goes well with lamb and red wine, and also, apparently, white cakes. It is a very distinct flavor and smell. If you don't have it you can probably substitute nutmeg, as they are closely related (I think the mace is the leaves, the nutmeg is the middle, or something like that), or even cinnamon, but I highly recommend you get your hands on some mace. Just...not for self-defense. That's a different mace. 
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1/2 cup oil (recipe calls for shortening. You can probably use butter, too.)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup sifted white flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (or potato starch or cornflour. I'm not entirely sure there's a difference.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder (which is 1/2 tbs, but I was afraid the text might confuse if I write it out that way.)
  • 1/2 cup milk (would probably work with soy milk) 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
  • 2 tbs honey or sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream - I used kefir, and it was amazing. Yogurt would probably work, too. 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • assorted seasonal fruit 

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9" baking pan, or just use a baking sheet. (I made half this recipe and it fit well in one of those long bread tins.)
  2. Blend mace, vanilla, and oil in a mixer. Cream in the sugar (blend until it turns white-ish. May not work so well if you used oil, but cake will come out nonetheless.)  
  3. In a second bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. 
  4. In a third bowl ("This uses three bowls?!??" says long-suffering spouse) beat eggs and milk together. 
  5. Add dry ingredients and milk/egg mixture to bowl, alternating. Mix. 
  6. Add batter to pan. Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes, or until center is dry. (It took 30 minutes for the smaller tin.) 
  1. Mix honey, sour cream/kefir/yogurt and vanilla. Add fruit. It went very well with apricot, nectarine, and banana, which is all I had on hand. Probably would be divine with strawberry. Or cherry. Or peach. Or plum. K, how I'm making myself hungry. 
  2. Top on cake slices when plating.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What do you do with leftover bread, earlie in the morning?

A few days ago a friend posted a picture of his dinner on Facebook. "Hey facebook, look at this lovely strata we're eating," was the gist of it.

Whoa. What's a strata?

I have, let us say, been around the bush a few times in the kitchen. I know oddly named things. I've heard of a croquembouche. I've heard of thousand-year-old eggs. I've even heard of Surströmming. But I had never heard of a strata. This gave me pause. I was shocked. Amazed. No, not really. But I was intrigued. So I googled it, and you will never believe what I discovered!

Kidding. That click-baiting talk is really starting to get to me.

Anyway, I discovered that apparently I don't go to brunch enough. A strata is... a savoury bread pudding. (I had even MADE a savoury bread pudding once, I just didn't call it that.) It's like a bread pudding meets a quiche. Classic brunch food, and I presume it's not just CALLED savoury bread pudding so that Americans will tolerate it. (Americans would be all, "bread??? In pudding??? EWWWW.")

But here's the great thing about this recipe, and the reason I found it blog-worthy. IT USES UP BREAD LEFTOVERS.

Isn't that great? Especially, need I remind you, when we are about 3 weeks away from Pesach.

When I decided to try this recipe, I promptly opened my freezer, and you will NEVER BELIEVE what I found! (No, you totally will. I really need to stop doing that. It's surprisingly catchy, even if I mean it ironically.)

I found about 8 tons of leftover bread.
I believe I will call you lunch. Hello lunch.

There were two bags of leftover sourdough, which gets eaten quite often around here - but also keeps replenishing itself, because sourdough is like tribbles.

One bag of leftover cornbread, because there was only one night this year that was legitimately cold enough for chili, and who wants to eat cornbread after the chili was gone?

One or two pitas left over from a restaurant meal, because they would have just thrown them out, and the Holocaust.

One bread to rule them all, and in the darkness of my freezer, bind them.

Clearly it was time to bake.

I'm going to say one other thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it takes about two seconds to prepare, which is awesome) and then we're going to get to the fun, recipe-filled part.) Remember Smokey the Bear? Only you can prevent forest fires? So, same thing with this recipe. Only you can determine what goes in it. That's how leftover recipes work. Ignore any recipe site that tells you otherwise, and if there's one sentence that I've ever typed that you should listen to, that would be it.

I literally used up oodles of leftovers that would otherwise have been thrown out with this recipe. The first recipe I saw called for tomatoes and olives. The second, onion and spinach. Guess what? I used leek, mizuna salad mix, and leftover salsa rosa. You use what you have in your fridge. Only you.

Remember that.

Leftovers Strata

picture for illustrative purposes
  • leftover bread - enough to fill the pan you intend to use 
  • oil/butter - a tablespoon or so, enough to fry things in
  • onion or leek if you have it - I used about 1/2 a leftover onion, and 1 dying leek
  • green things - spinach. chard. mizuna. Or not if you don't have it. 
  • bit of salt/pepper to taste - I used about 1/2 tsp salt and no pepper. That's my taste. Maybe yours is different.
  • nutmeg - about 1/4 tsp, if you like 
  • leftover salsa rosa - or tomatoes. Or tomato sauce. Or maybe olives. I bet salmon would taste delicious. Or anchovies. Yum.
  • about a 1.5 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • leftover cheese
  • a tiny bit of shallot jam, which is absolutely delicious and you need to make it and promptly eat it with everything 

  1. Take the leftover bread, and fill one of those round pans with it. Like the 9 inch ones. If it overflows, don't use as much bread. Try to determine which bread you are unlikely to ever eat, and use that. Measure it out, cut or tear it into big chunks, and put it into a bowl until you're ready to use it. 
  2. Butter that pan. 
  3. Take frying pan. Fry up the things that need frying - onion/leek/etc. For about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add other things that need frying. Only until slightly wilted. Then put aside. 
  4. Take another bowl. Pour in milk, crack eggs into it. Beat slightly. Mix in a tiny bit shallot jam, because OMG shallot jam.
  5. Grate cheese. (or should I say...great cheese. BA dum.)
  6. Now, build the strata. Put bread in first. Then fried things. Then the salsa rosa or whatever you're using. Then top with the milk/egg mixture - careful not to overfill the pan. If it threatens to overfill, don't use the whole thing. I know, I know, Holocaust. Find another use for it. 
  7. Top with cheese.
  8. Now, this is the weird counter-intuitive part - cover it, leave in it the fridge, and walk away. That's right, walk away. Leave it overnight. 
  9. THE NEXT DAY, probably for brunch, preheat oven to 350; take strata out of fridge while the oven heats. Take off the plastic wrap - you don't want to eat that. Then bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, until it's lovely and puffed and browned and smells amazing. 
  10. Eat. Try to share. 

Three seconds later...
P.S. If you want actual amounts and measurements and stuff, which, as you may have noticed, I don't really do - go here. I may be truly envious of her blog and success, but if you want measurements, go there, and trust Deb. If you want foul language and irreverence, stay here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Never go against a Sicilian, and don't try this at home

Yesterday was not a good day in the kitchen.

It started off well. I made this ginormous sourdough bread, which some of you may have seen, and took pictures and bragged on facebook. Then the cat licked it. Then I spritzed it with water and put it back in the oven (to burn off the cat-lick) and then I burned it.

This is the 'before' picture.
Then I put a last piece of challah in the oven to make toast before it went stale, and I burned that, too.

Then, finally, I made one of the classic blunders. I decided to trust some random British blogger.

No offense to my British friends and readers, but that was a bad idea.

Have you guys seen this meme going around? The one where celebrities list all the things they eat in a day, and that is why they are super-thin, or super-rich, or just have super-powers? (I should really do that meme, it sounds like fun.) So, I saw this random blog linked somewhere, and she or he started off their post about how stupid and time-consuming and ridiculous all those super-foods that celebrities eat are (like such as the quails eggs that have been harvested under a full moon by a virgin), and how unattainable they are by normal people. I thought, great! This blogger is my peeps!

Then they went on to list all the super-foods *they* eat every day...just no virgins had been harmed.

Yay. Not. 

But one recipe caught my eye - a beetroot-(aka beet)-chickpea dip. In other words, hummus. And that's how they got me. In my mind - beets - yum! Chickpea dip - yum! A little bit of cumin - yum! Three seconds to put it together - sounds great! Let's try it.

No fingers were harmed in the making of this recipe.
The recipe basically read: "take a tin of chickpeas and a tin of beetroot and blend with a bit of cumin. Done."

And here, dear readers, is where I should have chashadti.

I disregarded the fact that beets and chickpeas don't come in tins in my home, for pete's sake, and that it's the easiest and cheapest thing in the world to put beets and chickpeas in a pot and boil them.

I forgot that boiling things to death is the classic British way.

And, most damningly, I forgot that I live in the Mediterranean, where beet salad is gorgeously flavored with vinegar or, in my home, in classic Russian manner - fried and refried into patties with sour cream. I forgot that hummus is made with fresh garlic and fresh lemon juice and oodles of herbs and spices, and that we are on the spice route, after all.

And I forgot that Brits AIN'T GOT NOTHING ON THE MEDITERRANEAN, FOOD-WISE (which is probably why they colonized it), and I shouldn't trust this recipe with a ten-food pole.

Hey look it's red hummus.
My bad.

I boiled, and blended, and wouldn't you know it, it tasted bland and kinda blech. It had that initial sweetness of the beets...followed by a dryness of chickpeas. Not good.

So I applied the Mediterranean way to it, and added more cumin. And more salt. Some chili. Some vinegar. Some sumac. Finally some coriander seeds, roasted in olive oil and a kinda failed attempt to blend them in a spice blender.

They were still bleh.

Now I have them in the oven. I have added matza meal, and am pretending they are felafel balls - just a little more red than usual. We shall see.

Never go up against a Sicilian if death is on the line, and don't trust random British bloggers unless they are Jamie Oliver. Or putting clotted cream in something.

Hmm, I wonder if I should add clotted cream...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Soup Glorious Soup Take II - Thenthuk Soup

I ain't gonna lie, boys and girls. I am not making this soup 'authentically.' If you were to make Thenthuk soup authentically, it would require a 'pulled dough' (which I think is what Thenthuk actually means.) That's a fancy blogger thing to do, and it's not something that most of you are about to do, and then you would skip this soup, and that would be a shame, because this is a good soup. So unless you are one of my super-foodie friends reading this, then, yes, fine, go ahead and make pulled dough. For the rest of you, keep reading.

Spouse (as we were making the soup): what's pulled dough?  
Me: it's like, dough. That you pull. Like this (pretends to stretch a dough in the air.) And then you drop it into the soup. But that's too much work, and I'm hungry .

This is DH. DH has soup when it's cold out. DH is smart. DH is not an annoying internet meme.

This is a great soup to make if you have barely anything in the house other than a tired tomato and some tired greens. When it's cold and wet out (like today. And tomorrow. And the next day.) and you can't be bothered to go shopping for actual food, and you only have bits and bobs around the house - this is the soup you make. 

Thenthuk soup is what happens when chicken soup and minestrone soup meet and have an illegitimate love child in Tibet. I make it with chicken broth and noodles, but it can easily be lent to vegetarian and gluten free. And I play with it and make it ever so slightly different every time, and I encourage you to do the same.

Now. In order to make this soup we need to start talking about the kitchen as a whole. My kitchen, and probably your kitchen too, does not exist in a vacuum. What I mean is, there be this thing called leftovers. And no cookbook that I have ever found seems to take that into account (with the possible exception of Tamar Adler's Everlasting Meal, but that's more cookprose than cookbook.) Which is a shame. Great things happen from leftovers - tiramisu, bread pudding, fried rice, sourdough - and that's just off the top of my head. 

So the beginning of this soup happens when you have leftover chicken/duck/goose/beef bones around the house.

Once upon a time, people appreciated bones and realized you could make great things, like soup broth, from them. I think it's because nobody used to have any money. Nowadays. . . people buy broth. Feh, I say, feh. Stop that. It's expensive and they put additives in to make it taste good.

Here's what to do instead. Next time you roast a chicken, or a goose, or a duck - save the bones. Either put them in the freezer and save them for a rainy day in which you are ready to make soup; or seize the day, make stock immediately, freeze it, and defrost on a day like today.

Take the bones. Stick them in a pot with onion skins, garlic, carrot tops, celery tops, bay leafs, maybe a pepper clove, salt, and water. If you don't have all those ingredients, don't worry about it. Be creative. Use what you do have. I've made pretty good stock from just a tiny bit of onion, bones, salt and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook, for at least half an hour. Taste. Then either proceed to soup immediately or freeze that and wait for that day you need soup broth.

The other things that you will need for this soup are probably lying around in your pantry. Change around as needed. I will tell you how I did it, and you can do with it what you will.

Things you sort of need:
  • onion
  • tired tomato or two
  • hard vegetables - like radish, or kohlrabi, or daikon. Carrots would probably will work, as would beansprouts or celery. 
  • green vegetables - spinach/bok choy/cabbage/kale/etc. Or not if you don't have it.
  • soy sauce
  • broth
  • noodles

  1. If you have broth, defrost it now. If you only have the bare bones, start your broth now, and don't worry, it will be ready in time for there to be soup.
  2. Start water boiling for tomatoes. You're going to want to peel the tomatoes, and the easiest way to do that is to "score" them - cut a very thin cross in the skin, just barely breaking the skin. Then plonk it into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, until the skin starts peeling back, like a bad sunburn. Remove with slotted spoon and let cool. Remove the water from the pot, and either throw it away or be thrifty and reuse it. Maybe even in this soup.
  3. Meanwhile, take some oil or even shmaltz if you're lucky. Heat it in the very same pot you just used for the tomatoes (Make sure to dry the pot first or it will sizzle and spit and burn you. Not that I speak from experience or anything.) Cut and fry up the onion. Add the hard vegetables - this time I used a single kohlrabi. Let it cook and sizzle for a bit - maybe 5 minutes. 
  4. Keep an eye on that broth. Taste. Add salt if needed. Don't if it doesn't.
  5. Chop up and add the tomato to your onion-vegetable pot. Cook a few minutes more. Add your broth if it's ready, and a bit of soy sauce. A drizzle or two will do. Cook until it has become soup. This should only take a few more minutes, but it's forgiving.
  6. About 5 minutes before you are ready to eat, add the noodles and cook them according to noodle directions. Then, finally, a minute before eating, add the green stuff (I used strange green things that I got in our CSA) and let cook only a little, until slightly wilted, not sad.
Your result will taste like an Asian minestrone. Please let me know if you pull those noodles - I never have and I am intrigued, but also lazy. Oh, and if you like, some recipes say you can add chopped meat. But don't take my word for it - ask google. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Scrapping your apples. Actually, not scrapping your apples. Making use of apple scraps

Does anyone else get the sense that the whole foodie/food blogging culture is just another way for people to be pretentious?


[oh no she di'in't]

[oh yes she di'id]

Here's the thing. I may have mentioned before that I've been trying, quite purposely, to get into food fermentation. It's allegedly good for you, and cures everything from bad digestion to death. So I've been slowly starting off making saurkraut and sourdough and whatnot, and recently I joined a fermentation group on Facebook. It comes up quite frequently in my feed, and usually is interesting and features pictures of things you really wouldn't want to eat.

So most recently, this innocent guy or gal comes along, and asked a question about whether it's ok to weight his food down with something on top of bamboo sticks. (You're supposed to submerge food under water to prevent mould and encourage the right kind of bacterial growth.) IMMEDIATELY a bunch of snobby foodies jump down this poster's throat with a chorus of 'nooooo how cooould you use bamboo you MUST buy snootie Foodie Fermentation Weights that are specially made from a tree that only grows in the depths of the Amazon!' and 'you're going to promote mould and DIE!'

All this because the poor person wanted to use sticks to get his or her food submerged under water.

Fortunately the voice of reason came along and others pointed out that yes, you could use bamboo, they've been doing it for years and haven't died yet. But it just kind of drove a point home for me, that as much as I'd like to believe that food fermentation is a way of preserving food, and maybe spending less money and being more thrifty and just, in general, doing things that are maybe good for the planet, maybe good for you, but what's for sure, isn't harming anyone - even that can be turned into a white privilege, snooty, blogger-speak, clickbaity, everything that is wrong with the world kind of thing.

Less snootiness, more not doing harm to others, nkay?

On this note, I will give you a recipe for vinegar. Yes, actual vinegar. That you can make from fruit scraps. That I'm not entirely sure how to do it yet, but I'm working on it, it's not perfect, I'm not perfect, but at least we do no harm.

Apple Scrap Vinegar

(comes from this website, which is way prettier and looks like they know what they're doing way better than me. Really you should go there. Go here if you want the short-hand version, and enjoy the way I write things. Go there if you actually want to see pictures and make sure you're doing it right.)

Materials needed
  • apples (or other fruit? Apparently?)
  • sugar
  • water
  • jar
  • cheesecloth or other cloth
  • rubber bands 
  1. Use apples in some other application. (Apple pie, apple sauce, etc.)
  2. Keep the cores and the peels
  3. Stick cores and peels into jar. 
  4. Cover with sugar-water at a ratio of 1 tbs sugar:2 liters water 
  5. Cover jars with cheesecloth and rubber bands so that fruit flies don't get in and lay eggs. That would be gross. 
  6. Stir several times a day until it starts bubbling, then once a day for 1-3 weeks. I like using chopsticks for this. It fits well and it doesn't make a mess.
  7. Strain out the fruit, put the liquid back into the jar. Bottle when there is no more fizzing. Keeps for up to a year. 
  8. Enjoy. You just beat the system. Congratulations, you now have less white privilege. Or maybe more. GAA!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hungarian Stuffed Chicken

In my previous post, you may have noticed, was a sneaky sentence about how matching the sides to the main is important in Hungarian cuisine. And then my sister pointed out, justifiably, where is the recipe for the stuffed chicken that this goes with?

Quite right. My bad.

I luuurve this recipe, but, yes, I realize for some people it can be a hurdle to make a whole chicken if you're not used to it. I didn't realize there were people who were squeamish about this sort of thing at all until I was 20-something years old, when I dated met some of them. I, apparently, grew up in the European tradition of eating animals that, yes, you could tell that they were once animals.

Silly Americans and their silly squeamishness.

On the other hand, the first time I made this, I was quite grossed out by the thought of actually touching a dead animal. Still sort of am. So when I made this recipe for the first time, it was after years of having been a vegetarian, and, instead of being easy on myself and making something that I wouldn't need to touch, like goulash, I jumped right in to whole chicken (see above for why I thought this was normal.) Also for some odd reason, I had friends over when I was cooking. (I think they were 'helping' me.) And one of those friends thought it would be HILARIOUS to open and close the chicken's legs while shouting out 'chicken butt!'

I ran out of the kitchen. I don't know how that chicken got stuffed. But somehow I managed to get it into the oven, and cooked it, and everyone ate it and had a great time. Point is, don't make friends with your food.

Hungarian Stuffed Chicken - Töltött csirke

Yes, it tends to burn the pan a little. Aluminum helps.
  • 3-4 slices old, dry, disgusting, freezer bread
  • 3/4 to 1 1/4 cup or 200-300 ml soy milk (or regular milk if you don't keep kosher) 
  • a bit of oil or schmaltz
  • 1/2 a small onion, chopped small
  • bunch of parsley, chopped up
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 whole chicken, WITH skin
  • bit of salt, pepper to taste
  1. Make sure to assemble the ingredients before you do anything else. Chop the onion. Chop the parsley. Get out the eggs. You're less likely to forget them that way, like I just did. 
  2. Soak the bread in soy milk while you prep the rest of the recipe. Preheat that oven too while you're at it - 200-220C is good, according to my oven manual. 
  3. Heat the oil or schmaltz (give yourself a high-five if you're using schmaltz) and fry the onion slightly, until it gets a little yellow.  My recipe says to add liver if you're using it, but I never have, so I can't comment. 
  4. Remove onion from heat and add it to the bread. Mix. Add parsley, egg, a bit of salt, pepper if you want (I generally don't) and mash it all up with a fork or your fingers. Don't be concerned if the bread falls apart - you want it to. This is your stuffing.
    Lotsa parsley
  5. Put the chicken on the tray you're going to be baking it in. From the cookbook, "Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin around the neck opening, without damaging the skin." Basically pry the skin away from the chicken. Not all the skin. Mostly the skin around the boobs and/or the back, I find, is the easiest. Yeah, kinda gross. I use gloves. 
  6. Take the stuffing and stuff into chicken (still got those gloves on). Under the skin if you can (not that much fits there) and shove the stuffing into the absolute biggest kitchen euphemism I know of - the "cavity." Yeah. That's right. Into the cavity. 
  7. Gloves.
  8. Chicken butt.
  9. The recipe adds two more steps here that I never ever do, but you can if you want to. One, is use needle and thread to sew chicken closed. Yeah right. Two, is probably a good idea, but I also just have a hard time following instructions, is to then top the chicken with melted butter (or oil. Or schmaltz.) Yeah, that does sound good. Maybe that's a good idea to do. I never have, but maybe I'll start.
  10. Stick in oven. I find this chicken takes a good 2 hours to cook, but that depends on the size of the bird. Officially cook until it reaches 180 (that's fahrenheit) on a cooking thermometer, or, you could do what my roommate used to do, and cook until juices run clear when it gets poked. But you probably know how to cook a chicken by this stage in your life, and if you don't, call me. I'll come over with my kitchen thermometer.
Oh, sides - "Serve with potatoes or rice, braised vegetables, and salad. Töltött csirke (don't ask me how to pronounce that, I don't know) is also good served cold."

- You can tell this recipe is my peeps, right? A "bunch" of parsley. How much? Some. A bunch. If you want it less parsley-y, you use less. More, then you use more. A bunch. 

- Pro-tip - for the first time you make this recipe, yeah, go ahead and use oil. However, in FUTURE times, save the chicken fat drippings* and put it in the freezer, and use that in place of oil. It's much better and it's good sustainable living. Plus it's fancy - like how the French pair the wine with the cheese from the same region. Pair chicken dishes with chicken fat. 
*Do this with a spoon or turkey baster in the first hour of cooking, otherwise it cooks away. 

- Really one of the reasons I love this recipe so much is that it fits perfectly with my food philosophy. Whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to eat chicken (I think because people are afraid of it), eggs and parsley are cheap, and this recipe is the perfect way to use up all that disgusting old bits and bobs of bread in your freezer, and elevates it to something simply divine. There you go, that's me going all food-blogger speak. 

Confucius say, take off rings when shoving hands into chicken cavity.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hungarian Cucumber Salad, no thanks to Apple

This blogpost is dedicated to Apple. The jerks.

Once upon a time, I actually spent money on an app. Yes, I know. It was like $2.99, too. Almost broke the bank. But it was this wonderful little Hungarian cookbook, and it was written by an Israeli guy with Hungarian roots, and he had recorded his grandmother's precious recipes to be kept for posterity. How could I not buy it? Also it was really cutely designed and there were pictures and videos and whatnot. Adorable. I used it and I loved it, but mostly only used this one recipe - for cucumber salad. The other recipes I meant to try, one day, but never quite got around to it.

Really one of the things I loved about this app was that the recipes weren't fruffy. Take noodles and cabbage, for example. One of my absolute favorite Hungarian dishes. It goes like this - cook noodles. Fry cabbage. Put together. Done. But if you look on the internet, they get all complicated and tell you to add sugar, or dill, or balsamic vinegar....NO. Noodles. Cabbage. Stop getting all fancy, internet. This is how you do good food, and that app GOT that.

Then one day, a few months ago, I went to get my precious precious Hungarian Cucumber Salad recipe from the app, and I discover, to my abject horror - gone. As if it had never existed.

I contacted the developer on facebook. He had no idea why it was gone. He said his was gone too. I contacted Apple. They said the developer must have taken it down, and tough titties for me. Here, have three Apple credits. I told them they could basically take their credits and shove it, I want my recipes back. Shockingly, they did not respond.
Thank you, D. You get a shout-out.

Fast-forward a few months, the weather has gotten cold again, it's time to make Hungarian stuffed chicken, and, obviously, cucumber salad. (Because apparently having the sides matching the dish are very important in Hungarian cuisine.) That meant I NEEDED my cucumber salad recipe.

Bastard Apple jerkfaces.

Thank heavens and all one holds holy, at some point in the even further distant future, my sister had asked for this recipe, and, instead of just telling her to download the wonderful app (which I think I did, too) I sent her the recipe. And she kept it. And...wrote it down. Which it seems, in this age of digital wonder, is the only way to actually keep one's information and recipes. Oh, and it doesn't help to google it, because there are millions of recipes, and every single one is oh-so-slightly different, and no two Hungarian grandmothers made it the same way. Mine probably made it yet a different way, for that matter.

So, here you have it, the only precious remainder of my app of forgotten Hungarian recipes.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad - Uborkasalata

  • 5 small cucumbers
  • 1 small onion, sliced finely
  • 1.5 tbs salt

  • 1/8 cup vinegar
  • 1.5 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup water 
  1. Slice the cucumbers finely. Sprinkle salt on them and let them sit for 30 min. Squeeze water out and add sliced onion. (I find that I sometimes need to rinse them as well, to get the salty taste out. 
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, water in a small bowl or cup. This is your dressing. After the cucumbers are ready, mix the dressing on the cucumbers and give it a mix. Serve immediately or let marinate in the fridge until ready to serve. 
  3.  Alternatively, sometimes I have no time to let cucumbers sit for half an hour, and then I use less than the full amount of salt and mix with dressing. Mix and serve.