Drenched in Green with Poached Egg

Warm Salad of Greens No.1

Middle of the week, when power slowly runs down, I need something light to back up energy and strength, so I gathered some of my favorite veggies in this beautiful mixed salad of greens. You’ll have the crunchy, fresh broccoli paired with creamy avocado on a background of plopping peas and hydrating cucumber, spiced up with a fresh herbs and chili marinade, under the balmy assurance of a waxy poached egg.

Ingredients: 1 small broccoli (app. 300 g), 1 avocado (if possible organic), 200 g peas (fresh or frozen), 1 small cucumber, 1 fresh egg per person, olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh chili pepper, balsamic vinegar, apple vinegar, additional fresh herbs of your choice.

It will make a perfect hot-summer lunch for two persons, or a hearty lunch for a hungry one.

Steaming the veggies

Blanche or – much better – steam the broccoli and the peas. No steamer? But you have a fine-mesh, stainless-steel strainer that will easily fit over one of your pots? Pour 2 to 5 cm height of water in this pot, cover with a lid, and bring the water to boil. Place the veggies in the strainer over the boiling pot and cover the strainer with the lid. Reduce some of the heat, so that a steady medium steam would blanket the veggies in the strainer. Take care that the water in the pot will not run out. Still you shouldn’t lift the lid all too often, because each time the cooking process will be interrupted.

Also important: take your time and steam one sort after another, not altogether. You should also slice the thicker part of the broccoli stems (10 – 15 minutes) and steam it longer than the florets (7-8 minutes).

Marinade & Chili

In the meantime, make a salad sauce out of 3-4 TBS of olive oil, 1 TS of balsam- and 3 TS of the apple vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and add as much very finely chopped chili pepper and fresh herbs you wish.

If you’re not quite familiar with using fresh chilies, best start with a Hungarian wax pepper, and don’t use more than 1 or 2 cm for a safe beginning.

Poach the Egg

Poach your egg. This might be a pretty challenging task. Each famous cook has his 100% success method, but I personally go with Jamie Oliver’s swirl method, because it easily works and all you need is a pot with hot water and a pinch of salt. Of course, if you lack the time and cooking space, you might prefer to simply boil your egg the straightforward way.

Bringing all together

Even if you were busy with the marinade and the egg, you shouldn’t forget to regularly check on the broccoli and the peas and take them off the heat/steam at the right time. Otherwise, you’ll have a mash-y, non-edible green-brown mass of veggies instead.

Mix the well strained room-tempered broccoli and peas with the marinade.

Peel the avocado and cut in thin slices or tiny cubes, then add to the mix, as well as the finely sliced cucumber.

Taste and season more if needed. Place your poached egg on top. Enjoy with or without a chunk of freshly baked bread.

Sauerkraut Rolls

Last of winter

I’ve stumbled a lot lately over sauerkraut-rolls recipes, joined by excited comments on the right name, or composition. Is it sarma, sarmale, kaldolmen, sarmasi or just rolls? I think all names are right, as is each mixture that each ambitious cook will choose to fill his sauerkraut-rolls, no matter if he follows the strict recipe of his family, or if he creates his own.Continue reading “Sauerkraut Rolls”

Tipsy Raisins & Nuts Chocolate Power Bars

Ingredients: 200 g of raisins, 100- 150 ml of sweet red wine, 200-300 g dark chocolate glaze, 200 g almonds, 200 g hazelnuts, 3 TBS condensed milk, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder (or instant coffee powder, or malt coffee powder), 1 rectangular form of 18 x 27 cm

Keep in mind that these are ca. quantities, and you may gather your own mix of dried fruits and nuts, or use a milk chocolate glaze if this is what you like better.

So, it’s still winter, and cold, and it lures me into eating unhealthily, and too much. Bad combination. Still, I need more energy to keep warm, a sunny mood, and a fresh mind. I’d need something small, and compact and concentrated, exploding of taste and fragrance.Continue reading “Tipsy Raisins & Nuts Chocolate Power Bars”

Incentive for Monday Deniers

Express Tartelettes with a light, creamy cheese fill, and a berry middle

We all need a treat from time to time, a little extravagance, to boost us up. Manufacture this on Sunday – it doesn’t matter when, you will need one to two hours including cleaning up, but as a sideline, while doing something else or nothing at all. Enjoy it on Monday morning, with the first cup of coffee, and softly played Chet Baker as a background.

The Pastry

For the pastry, mix the flour, the butter, the water with a pinch of salt. Knead until smooth, let it rest, cool and covered, for 30 minutes. Spread evenly onto six tartelettes forms, pinch the bottoms with a fork, cover with metal foil, then add something as a weight: rice, or dry beans. Bake for approx. 15 minutes in the preheated oven (180 °C) for 15 minutes – or until the pastry doesn’t feel “raw” anymore on the edges. Take it out and remove the rice and the foil.

(If you lack time, use a ready-made pastry for quiche and tarts. Yes, you are allowed.)

The Filling

With a ladle, pour the filling into the forms. It shouldn’t reach farther than 3 mm under the upper edge of the pastry. Bake for another 30 minutes. The fill should have risen and curdled from the edges to the center. It shouldn’t be jittery anymore.

The Topping

In the meantime, batter the egg whites foamy and stiff, add the sugar, and the frozen berry mix. They should still be frozen, but they shouldn’t cling to each other. Carefully, add two heaped tbs of this mixture in the middle of each tartelettes – it should cover approx. one-third of the surface.

Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Closing Up

If a couple of small tartelettes is too much fiddle work, use a bigger form, a 24 cm – or 26 cm (it will get very flat) will do.

If there is any pastry left, cover it with plastic wrap first, then with aluminum wrap and refrigerate. Use it soon: for sweet cookies, salty stripes, another smaller tart, or similar.

If there are any fill and berry mix left, mix together, pour it in a heat-resistant, well-buttered form, and bake for 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

For the pastry: 250 g butter, 250 g flour, 125 ml water, salt.

For the filling: 300 g curd cheese or ricotta, 200 ml liquid cream, 135 g sugar, vanilla sugar, a bit of lemon zest (organic, or at least natural), 2 egg yolks

For the topping: 2 egg whites, 250 g frozen berry mix, 3 tbs sugar

Squash Soup

Warm light on your plate

Ingredients for app. 3 l of soup: 1 onion, 1 parsley root, 4 medium sized carrots, 4-5 medium sized potatoes, half of a green pepper, half of a medium-sized butternut squash or a small one, 3 cloves of garlic, fresh peppermint leaves, 2-3 cm of ginger, salt, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, curry, Curcuma, 2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar, peanut oil, olive oil,  800 -1000 ml water

Hungry?

I love soup. Mostly in the early evening, when I come home and I’m hungry and I don’t feel like cooking at all, and a packet soup just won’t do. So, on Saturdays, I usually cook a pot to last the week. It’s convenient and tasty, and I know what’s inside.

Squash soup is the autumn’s first wink to say “I’m here”, and its color distilled late summer light.

Squash Soup Shopping List

So let’s proceed

Chop the onion, the carrots and the parsley root small, then fry it golden in a high-temperature oil, such as corn or rape oil. Take care: golden, not brown!

In the meantime, chop the rest of the vegetables, and when everything is done, add it to the onion mix, all at once. Take the pot off the heat, if you need more time. Braise everything briefly, stir so that it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add hot water, stir, and let it simmer for one hour. Blend it very fine until the soup gets a velvety, even consistency.

Tunning, finally

Season with salt, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, 2-3 drops of peanut oil, a fruity curry powder, Curcuma, and 2 tbs Balsamic vinegar. Take care with the peanut oil and the Curcuma, the peanut oil tastes extremely peanut-y and takes over everything else, as well as Curcuma might turn the soup bitter. Taste, and if it tastes too bland, play with more curry, salt, and Balsamic vinegar. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste again, stop boiling and wait for another five minutes. If you’re happy with the outcome, add 1 tbs of olive oil and if you like, finely chopped fresh peppermint leaves.

Ready. Enjoy!

Tomatoes & Olives Bread

Summer Delights

Ingredients: 600 – 650 g wheat flour, 1 pkg. sourdough extract (15 g), 1 pkg. dry yeast (9 g), 2-3 tbs tomato paste, 350 ml water, 2-3 tbs oil, dry tomatoes in oil (100 g drained weight), black olives (150 g drained weight, with stones), 1 tsp salt

Thoughts

Middle of July, when the summer reaches its peak, and our sprightliness reduces to slow motion, thoughts wander to procrastinating under an umbrella in the sun, somewhere on the shore of some infinite, serene blue water. Food must come in tiny, concentrated bits of light, aromatic, and colorful nutrition charges. I came up with this bread, which is a meal in itself, and you might need nothing else, or very little to add to it, to feel happy and fed.

To begin with

Mix with a whisker the dry yeast, the sourdough extract, and 100g flour with 350 ml of lukewarm water in a bowl that should be at least double as big as the mixture together. Cover with foil, pinch two or three tiny holes in it and let it rest six to eight hours.

How to make

Add 450 g flour, the concentrated tomato paste, and knead a nice, smooth dough. Add the olives – without stones, as well as the dry tomatoes, all of them shredded in tiny, irregular bits. Of course, you can use as many olives and tomatoes as you like, this is your choice.

Add two or three tablespoons of olive oil – I am using the pickle oil from the tomatoes glass, because it has a lot of herbs in it, and it would be a pity not to use all that tomato aroma that it was infused with.

The dough will be now a bit oily and moisty. Powder another 50 g of the flour over it, knead carefully again. If your fingers will be still covered in a thick layer of dough, it means it is still too moist, and you’ll have to add the other 50 g of flour too. Knead again, cover, then let it rest for ten to twelve hours. If you’ve done everything right, the dough will rise quite quickly in the first two hours and will threaten to spill over the edge of the bowl. At this moment, refrigerate it.

Baking

Take it out from the fridge two hours before baking. When one hour has passed, knead again, and form a nice, round ball. Place it on the baking tray, and let it rest for another hour. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put a tray or a pot with water in the lower part of your oven. Bake the bread at 175°- 180°C for 50 minutes, then remove the pot with water. Leave the door of the oven open: just a 2-3 cm gap. Bake for the last 5-10 minutes at 200° – 220°C. It depends on your oven, so don’t go away, keep observing what is going on, or the crust might get burned.

When it is ready, place on a grill to cool down. If you want a perfect crispness, listen to Raymond Blanc and wait another hour before you cut the first slice.

Enjoy!

Red Sprinkled Butter

Roasted-Bell-Pepper Story No.1

Ingredients: 75g butter, 2 big roasted peppers, 1 – 2 tbs grated red beet & horseradish salad, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, lemon juice

The Idea

Bell peppers have a boisterous, brawny kind of shape. Situated somewhere between sweet and smoky-spicy, the complex taste of roasted peppers is the perfect element to jazz up an old recipe, or to start something new altogether. They don’t need much enhancement, they are great just like this, fresh off the grill.

My original red butter recipe included grated red beets, and this is what I meant to mix first, but it wouldn’t be me if I followed the book. So, roasted bell peppers came across my mind and finally played the leading role in this story, and red beets are second, but they are still on the screen.

How to proceed

Of course, you can grill the red peppers yourself, bake the red beets, then peel the charred veggies, and grate the beets. Especially the horseradish will sure set your nose free if you wish to prove yourself. But as I’m lacking time, as I suppose you also do, I’m using ready-roasted peppers from a glass, as well as a ready mixed grated salad of red beet and horseradish. I love the marinade that the red peppers are in, and I seldom throw it away. It’s great for a potato salad, or to spice up a tomato sauce, a soup, or my own marinade for a salad of greens.

How to make

So, finally, let’s prepare this super-tasty spread: batter the butter foamy, add the grilled peppers, the grated salad of beets and horseradish. Use a hand chopper (like the Mini from Tefal), or an electrical one to mix as fine as possible. You can also try to mash the veggies first and add them to the butter afterward, but don’t expect to achieve a perfectly homogenized paste. (If you did, please let me know how.) It will rather look like a dark-orange butter with red sprinkles. Season with salt, cayenne pepper, and sweet paprika. Balance it with a bit of lemon juice. Mix everything again with a whisk. You can use the paste right away, but it is best to leave it to rest for one (don’t refrigerate) to three hours (refrigerate), then mix it vigorously once again, taste and season it ready. Take care with the salt.

Don’t use smoked paprika, because it will overpower the typical, fresh, sweet-and-sour taste of the roasted peppers. You may sprinkle a bit of it on your canapés, or sandwiches, to achieve an interesting contrast, if you wish.

Bread and extras

It will go best with a French bread, or with an olive or roasted-onion bread, and of course, with my zucchini bread. Or you can use it to turn baked potatoes a funny color if you add one tablespoon of this spread when they’re almost ready.

Apricot Tart

The Ingredients

Use a square form of 34 cm x 24 cm

For the apricot tart: 600 g apricots, 200 g sugar, 140 g butter, 250 g Ricotta, 4 eggs, 2 pkg vanilla sugar (2 x 8 g), some drops of orange flower extract (optional), 1 tbs gin, 1 tsp baking powder, 250 g wheat flour

For the jelly-sauce: 300 – 500 g apricots, 125 g jelly sugar, 125 ml prosecco, 1 tbs gin, lemon juice from half a lemon

A bit of a story here

I’ve been testing different recipes of apricot tart all through the years, in the attempt to replicate the light, creamy consistency of a certain one, that I baked a lifetime ago, in a flash, and with fewer ingredients than the original receipt specified. I had forgotten to buy everything. Maybe the test in the morning, and me learning too long and sleeping too short the night before, had something to do with it. Anyway, the unexpected guest from the far away land was so delighted, that he couldn’t stop himself and devoured almost half of it.

I’ve never achieved to trace back what I’ve done that day. But I’ll keep trying.

What I’m into today

So, here is one of my experiments, it tastes better some hours after it’s done, so be patient, and let it rest for a while. Obviously, the ricotta needs time to develop the whole of its flavor all through the cake. Wondering how to spice up the prospected visual braveness of the tart for the perfect picture, the jelly sauce popped more or less up in my mind, as there were too many apricots left, and some jelly sugar in the cupboard as well. The gin is, of course, optional too; you don’t have to use it if you don’t like it or any alcohol altogether. Or you can replace it with something else, like rum, Calvados, or a smooth bourbon.

The roadmap

Preheat your oven to 175°C. Wash all apricots thoroughly, half them and remove the stone, then cut them in slices (appr. 8 slices each).

Prepare the sauce right away: give slices of apricots, the jelly sugar, the prosecco, and the lemon juice in a stainless-steel pot and cook it on medium to low heat for two to three hours. When ready, add the tablespoon of gin.

For the cake, whisk first the eggs with the sugar, the vanilla sugar, the baking powder, the orange flower extract, and the gin, until you have a nice, light foamy cream. Add the ricotta and the very soft butter, until well incorporated. Very carefully, add the flour and mix, until the tiniest lump is gone.

Pour the dough in the buttered tray, spread evenly, then strew the slices of apricots on it. Bake at 175 to 180°C for 50 minutes. It should be slightly browner than middle brown, but not dark.

What did I get?

On the whole, it is rather a late autumn, winter cake, with a dense, even if light, consistency. Nevertheless, the ricotta keeps it moist and in combination with the apricots, it grants an aromatic, warm, Sunday-kind of taste.

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients: 500 – 600 g wheat flour, 1 pkg dry yeast (9 g), 1 pkg dry sourdough extract ( 15 g), 300 ml water, 1 TS sugar or honey, salt, 400 g grated zucchini (approx. 2 medium zucchini)

Grate the zucchini. To use it in the dough they must be as dry as possible, so remove as much moisture as possible out of them by pressing it against the strainer. But gently, you don’t want to mash them. Or you can gather the mass of grated zucchini in a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel, and squeeze the liquid, again – gently, out. When you’re done, put the dried zucchinis back in a strainer, and over a bowl until you’ll need them.

Zucc2For the starter, mix the yeast, the sugar (or the honey), the sourdough extract, the water and 100 g flour. Leave for 15 to 30 minutes in a warm place. It should rise a bit and get bubbly. Add another 400 g flour and a generous pinch of salt and knead it until smooth, then mix with the grated zucchinis. The dough will feel pretty squishy, which is okay, but it shouldn’t be all too muddy. You can add some flour, but you shouldn’t use more than a total of max 600 g flour.

Bake at 175°C – 180 °C for one and half hour, or even two. When it’s ready, the crust should feel stone-hard, and it sounds hollow when you knock on it. This a bread with a very crisp crust, and an earthy, spicy taste. It needs time, good nerves and implies a sustained dialog with your oven. But the trick really lies in how much moisture you have squeezed out from the zucchinis. Ambitious testing and practicing help too.

Enjoy and lots of luck!

zucc6.jpg

Sardines Spread 1

Ingredients:  125 g cream cheese, 2 cans of sardines, 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, mustard, lemon juice, salt, black pepper

Remove the stones, then mash the olives with a knife. Boil the eggs, peel them and also mash them with a fork. Use a food-chopper to homogenize the mixture of olive and eggs. Add the paste to the cream cheese. Season with lemon juice, mustard, salt, and fresh ground pepper.

Use this spread either on bread, crackers or as a filling for deviled eggs. Add 50 – 75 g of sour cream and use it as a dip.