Friday, September 23, 2016

Ham with apples & bacon in Dutch oven

Today is the all or nothing day on my blog :).
I am so dead tired from finishing the grill paving this morning, that I prefer to hit the keys only while enjoying the evening chill in San Diego.
I have a meat eater in the family, and I must share this recipe, because while my kids love my cooking, in general, the youngest confessed with a big sigh that our paving guy might be an even better cook than I am, but quickly continued: "when it comes to meats" :D.
Well, he is absolutely right, I am everything but a meat eater.. But this one, this one was sooo goood...

pork loin (it was that large loin from Costco, maybe 3-4 pounds)
about 6 slices of bacon
2 apples
spice mix (he used Vegeta from Podravka ), I'd advice 1/2 tsp of spice/ pound of meat, but you can use any pork meat spice mix you like. Like Magyaros fuszerkeverek
additional black pepper, 1/2 tsp (only if the mix doesn't have yet)
additional paprika, 1/2 tsp  (only if the spice mix doesn't have it yet)
1/2 cup beer

Serve baked potatoes and baked yams on the side. Wrap them in aluminum foil, and baked them in the last 60 minutes together with the ham.

The most difficult part of this exercise is poking holes in the meat, and trying to push through the slices of bacon. However, do not skip this move!, the loin by itself is very dry, and you'll be less than satisfied with your end result.
Place the meat in a dutch oven. Luckily I have an oval one, and could fit a 15 inch long meat in it. Pick your size by the Dutch oven size, and your family size, obviously. This portion will fill 5 people easily.
Place the ham in the oven, sprinkle the spice mix on the top, place the bacon slices on the meat, place the apple slices to the sides of the loin, and last but not least pour the beer (optional).

Cover with lid, and bake at 350F for at least 2 hours. The baking time will also depend on the meat size, I usually allow 1 hour / kg, eg. 30 minutes / pound, not counting the first 30 minutes, when I basically warm up both the meat and the oven. Take it out and spoon the juice on top of the meat every now and then, to make it shiny and crispy.
60 minutes before the end of your baking time, place the potatoes and yams on the oven shelf wrapped in aluminum foil, and bake them together with the ham.
Remove lid and let it broil for the last 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and serve immediately while hot.

I liked it sooooooooooooooo much, that it will be a regular meal on our table. It is easy, filling, and it satisfies a festive table setting, too. If you are not a big meat eater, prepare it at least for Xmas. You won't be disappointed!
Bonn appetite!

OBS: you can make your own spice mix by mixing salt, garlic powder, minced coriander seeds, minced caraway seeds, black pepper, paprika, marjoram, minced nutmeg, dried thyme, or a combination of these..

Cream cheese filled jalapenos with Serrano ham

Oh.. my...
These are some of my forever favorites I've eaten at a friends', and kept making it at home.
It has everything I love: heat, smoothness, and fat ;), plus they are very easy to make.
They are also rather economical for the fanciness, as jalapenos are usually below $1 a pound, cream cheese in not too expensive either around here, and it doesn't take that much ham to bake enough.

Serrano ham or thinly sliced bacon, but I'd add only half of the regular slice / jalapeno for crunchy results
cream cheese

One jalapeno will make two pieces, obviously, you'll need 1/2 slice of the sliced serrano ham for one piece, and about 1tsp of cream cheese. You do the math.. I'd estimate 1 pound of jalapeno (0.5 kg), one package of thinly sliced ham, and 1 cup of cream cheese is a hood start for a portion.

Preheat the oven to 400 F, 200C.
Start by washing the peppers, and continue by putting on some rubber gloves!! You'l thank me later when, after cooking, you can rub your eyes without crying them out.
Cut the jalapenos in half, remove the seeds and the veins, just as much as you want. Now it's the time to adjust the heat level to your audience. If you remove all of it, it will be no spicy at all, if you leave the veins they will give you some surprise as you take a bite :) (I got hiccups once :D), and if you are feeding some real chiliheads, leave some seeds in, too.. I warned you! Only for chiliheads!
Fill the half jalapeno with 1 tsp of cream cheese, and wrap it in half a slice of ham, or bacon. (On the left a plate of jalapenos with bacon..)
Place the filled jalapenos in a tray lined with parchment paper, sprinkle some olive oil if you use ham, but no need for it if you decided to use bacon.
Bake for ~15 minutes, until the ham had shrank and the jalapeno looks darker green, but definitely NOT mushy yet.
If you made them with bacon, you might need few extra minutes to have the bacon crunchy, and also change the oven from bake to broil for just 3-5 extra minutes.
Serve, preferably, while still warm.
Bonn appetite!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Magic cake

One visit to Ming's house, one pleasant evening spent in the company of nice people, one new dessert favorite, one new recipe on the blog.
Not a bad deal, right?
The last addition to our favorite list was the "magic cake".
It was a mom' morning in, with delicious Korean pancakes and one magnificent magic cake.
The leftovers came home with me, khhmmm, and I resisted not to eat it all before I gave it to the kids, and had to listen to the fight over the size of the slice they get, and who gets the last slice.
Sure enough, I had to promise that they'll get a whole cake when they get home from school.
I actually remembered seeing this cake, and I have a Le Cordon Bleu book called "Vanukkaat" aka Puddings, which has a "Lemon Surprise" pudding that sounded heavenly, but was lazy to give it a try. Next!!

But before I run too far from the present, here is the recipe that is baking just now in the over.
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
125 gr (1 stick and 1 large tbsp) butter, melted
115 g (3/4 cup) all purpose flour, sifted
500 ml (2 cups) milk, lukewarm
lemon zest of 1 lemon, optional! I just wanted to add some flavor
powdered sugar and some berries of your choice for serving

Preheat the oven to 160 C, or 320 F.
Separate eggs, and beat the egg yolk with the sugar until creamy white.
Add the vanilla essence, melted butter, and let it sit until the egg white get beaten.
Beat the egg whites until peaks form, but don't overbeat until the foam kinda "crumbles" apart when stirred
Add the milk to the egg yolks, mixing in lightly, until well combined.
Sift in the flour, and mix until a smooth, crepes like batter forms.
Now it's time to fold in the egg whites.
First, fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the batter, and continue adding the remaining whites. Try to not overmix, to leave the egg whites fluffy.

Pour the mixture into a 20x20 cm (8x8 "), or 25 cm (10") round cake form.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is a nice light caramel color.
I had to place an aluminum foil sheet on top at about 20 minutes because it was browning too fast, but the bottom was still liquid. I could see because the form didn't close tight enough, and it was dripping a bit.
At 35 minutes was looking really promising, couldn't wait to get it out, cool it, and, well, eat it :D.
I baked it for overall 50 minutes, and cooled for way too long for my liking :).

The batter was successful if it separates into 3 layers: the bottom has the flour, the middle one is a baked cream anglaise color and texture, and the top has the fluffy, light egg whites.
The layers seem to show pretty nicely, as well as the arrival of the boys from school. They just can't keep their hands off the cake and let it cool!!
But you, now you must exercise some self-control and let is cool, preferably overnight. :)
Serve with powdered sugar on top, and optionally add some fruits for tartiness.
Bon appetite!

Cheese & ham bread roll

A guaranteed party goer, especially if you can plan it so that it is fresh out of the oven.. Well "out of the oven" still means 20-30 minutes cooling time as we are talking about a bread.
It was our Sunday dinner, still warm, accompanied with a glass of milk.
For the first 5 minutes all I heard was "ohm, nom, nom" :D, my boys eating with a clear sound of satisfaction.
And I have to agree with them!
As a mom all I see is that they will get their daily dose of healthy - hearty fiber from the bread and wheat bran, proteins from the ham, and some calcium from the cheese, and trully love the taste, too!
It was love at first sight, it will definitely be a frequent guest on our table in the future..

The recipe comes from a Finnish Pirkka magazine,  more precisely from 2011. If you ask yourself why I still have Finnish magazines hiding under my TV entertainment center in 2016 in San Diego, you probably get a clue how attached I am to all media, printed.
It was time tho to get some cleanup, so I pulled out some pages with favorite recipes, and I recycled the rest, but I had to digitalize the recipe not to get lost forever. Win-win, and a good dinner!
Not to mention school lunch the next day for the leftovers.

500 ml milk (2 cups)
1 1/5 tbsp (or 3 tsp) dry yeast, use 50 g fresh yeast if you can get some
300 dl graham flour ( I used King Arthur;s whole wheat flour)
2 dl Bob's Red Mill wheat bran
about 600 ml bread flour (King Arthur's all purpose will do it)
1/2 dl (about 1/4 cup) sunflower oil
1 tsp salt
about 1 SMALL tsp sugar, or agave syrup (the original recipe asks for 2 tsp, but I never add sugar to my bread, I'd rather leave it ferment for longer)

1 dl dijon mustard (a bit shy of 1/2 cup)
about 250 soft cheese ( I used Gouda, but next I'll use Havarti, or Pepper Jack) 0.6 pound or 10 oz (Kermajuusto in the original recipe)
about 250 ham, my preference is to use off the bone ham, thinly sliced (Saunapalvi in the original recipe)

1 egg, beaten
sunflower seeds, or seeds of your choice, or none

Warning, right from the start, so you don't wish me somewhere far, this is a time-consuming meal to prepare. Not too much hands-on time, but it take AGES to let the dough rise, especially that I don't add too much sugar.
If you are still with me, let's get starter..
Warm the 0.5 liter milk for about 1 minutes in the microwave, at highest.
Spread the yeast to the top, sprinkle with the sugar, mix it in lightly, and let it proof for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile mix the dry ingredients, and using the dough hook mix for 10 minutes untill well combined.
Let is sit for about 1.5 to even 3 hours, especially if you used very little sugar like I did. The time will depend on your room temperature, place, and of course your taste. Longer fermentation will give an extra sourdough like kick, but do not overferment it. With lots of sugar 60 minutes might be enough.
In any case, I let it grow to about 3-4 times the original size at a nice and sunny place.

Divide the dough into two equal parts, and let them sit for an additional 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, eat up the
On a floured surface roll it our to the size of a silicon baking mat,  spread half of the mustard, lay the slices of chees, equally spred, but leaving about 3-4 cm (1 - 1 1/5") of empty dough at the bottom.
Roll it up from the "top", as tight as it feels comfortable without tearing the dough.
Let is sit again for about 10 minutes. Beat the egg, and give the rolls a nice, light eggwash.
Sprinkle the seend on top, and bake at the lower shelf of the oven for 25 minutes.

Let it cool for 30 minutes on a rack.
Enjoy while still slightly warm!
Bon appetite!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Crunchy ice cream lace cups

It's that time of the year!!! Well, to be honest in our house it is ALWAYS that time of the year as we eat ice cream by the pound :), but this time, the heat was much worse for much longer than I'd like during summer.
I was wondering if I can make something to make our ice cream feasts a bit more special..
Homemade ice cream is definitely on my list next, and to have the home made theme kicked off I'd decided to start with something easier: the cones.

50 g butter
3/4 dl sugar
1 dl coarsely ground almond flour 
2 tbsp half-half
2 tbsp all purpose flour

cups, glasses, cereal mugs turned upside down

Preheat the oven to 175C, 350 F and line two baking sheets with paper, as well as some cups turned upside down.

In a pot mix butter, sugar, half-half and almond flour, and bring to boil. Remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring continuously.
Scoop 2 tsp of batter/cup, and flatten them slightly. I had two trays, large ones, and made 6 lace cups, 3 in each. They tend to extend a LOT, so leave enough space in between.
Bake for about 6 minutes, until golden brown (5 might be enough if you have a strong oven).
Remove them from the oven, and carefully pull the parchment paper with the cups to a flat, cold surface. Let them cool slightly, but not too much or they'll not bend anymore.
Move the hot lace circles on top of the prepared cups/mugs, and let them cool.
When cold and hardened use them to serve your ice cream of choice.
They are cold lace cups for a reason, they'll let the ice cream drip through. Place them on plates or something you'd serve the ice cream in..
Bon appetite!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Easter eggs

While you are making this yammiiii mushroom terrine appetizer for a meatless Friday before Easter, there is nothing better to do than blow your eggs and use the shells for the most natural eye candy that will cheer up your soul.
The old Hungarian tradition calls for colored eggs and flowers to be given away on Easter Monday to gentleman who come to will pour a bucket of water on you, because that's what will make you grow and flourish in the next year.
Nowadays, they spray their horrible patchouli all over your hair and clothes..
How stupid is that? :D
You cook, dress, clean, and make all those nice Easter eggs, and what you get in exchange?? Washing your hair like 4-5 times during the day, to avoid fainting from the smell of the lovely perfume mixes..

This year I do not expect anybody to honor the tradition, Monday is not even a holiday here, what a  pity, but we will definitely decorate the house and feel festive at least the day before, on Easter Sunday.

Some of the decorations will be these eggs, provided by our beautiful hens as they are: naturally colored in green, olive, chocolate brown, cream, white and pink.

There is nothing easier than making these "colored" eggs: blow out the eggs and just crack some open, rinse and microwave the shells to sanitize them, and match the colors.
I found the lighter olive to work best with the dark chocolate egg, and the dark olive to have the best contrast with the blue Ameraucana egg.
I chose not to make any particular pattern, but feel free to get creative and glue hearts, and what pleases you on the eggs.
I used Elmer's glue all glue, and it worked perfect.
In addition, I also plan to rinse the egg's inside, and outside with a mix of 50% water - 50% Mod Podge, to make them more resistant to breakage.
They can be hanged on branches for a beautiful table centerpiece, or just placed in a neutral colored bowl or weaved basket. I'd go for a light weaved basket to emphasize the eggs natural beauty.
Happy Easter!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Kocsonya - aspic

Not even sure if this food is still eaten nowadays that often, but it was typical winter food back in my childhood. It was something made by grandparents, I don't remember even my parents ever making it when I was a kid, but they are doing it now :).
The reason why it is only prepared during the coldest months of the winter is the cold that makes it jelly without a fridge, and because it was the season when the pigs reached their full size and were butchered to provide the families with meat just in time before the holidays.
I wanted to make it as a surprise appetizer for New Year's Eve, but not just some appetizer... a real, traditional, Hungarian appetizer. And.. I spiced up the presentation a bit by serving it in transparent plastic cups, adding small stripes of carrot, parsnip and parsley leaves.

And here it comes.. 
I bought beef shanks instead of the traditionally used pork feet, and the reason was kinda pathetic: I visited a mainly Arabic store instead of an Asian..
It actually turned out to be a really good choice, the smell was significantly better while cooking, imho, and the end result did not suffer a bit, in contrary.
You might find all sorts of recipes using gelatin.. While I believe that is perfectly acceptable way to spice up one's appetizer offering, don't be fooled: it has nothing to do with the traditional aspic, which definitely didn't have any other gelatin than the one from the boiled bones.

Ingredients (2.5 - 3 quarts including the bones)
3 pounds, 1.5 kg beef shanks
1 whole garlic head
whole black pepper
optional: small pinch of caraway seeds
3 carrots
1 small celery root
1 parsnip
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
4-5 pink peppers

soup plates
powder paprika

Prepare a 6 quart pot, to make sure it comfortable fits your bones and veggies.
Add the bones, add enough water to fully cover the bones and bit extra, and turn on the heat at higher power at the beginning, but as it bubbles reduce it to low-medium, it was the power 4 out of 9 on my induction cook.
Add a humpy tsp of salt, add about 25 pieces of whole black pepper, and add the cleaned garlic cloves.

Let it boil for about 15-20 minutes, and remove any foam that forms on top. Repeat as many time needed, and make sure you remove the foam carefully enough not to mix it back in the juice.

The patience game starts, and you'll have the juice boil for 5-6 hours. 
Even at its very low boiling point the aspic needs to be checked regularly, any foam removed, and evaporated water refilled. I always add boiling water not cold, just 'cause I was told it make a meat soup clearer :).
Mine boiled for about 7 before I added the veggies, and boiled it again for 30-35 minutes until the veggies cooked. 
Remove the veggies as soon as they are soft, but still crunchy. For a traditional aspic leave the veggies out from your serving, but if you like them just put them in the plates.
I discarded all the bones and almost all the cartilage except small bites. Doggie was rather happy about my decision :).
Normally you'd place the skin and whatever falls off from the bones in plates and poor the juice over.
If you wanted a "high en" aspic, you'd also add some beef tail with its soft meat, and place the meat in the plates.
Pour the juice over the meat, let it cool overnight at room, or some colder temperature. 
By the time is cooled to room temperature it should have already a softish, but jelly consistency.
When fully cooled place them in the fridge, and let it for about 4 hours.
Serve with fresh toast, lemon and powder paprika.
Bonn appetite!