Sorrel and nettle stew (Sóska és csalán fözelék)

Every year, I look forward to spring just so I can make this dish. The main ingredients are sorrel and nettle. The sorrel gives a really nice, pleasant lemony flavor and the nettles add the substance, texture and protein to the dish. It is a simple recipe to make, the hardest part is really to find the sorrel and the nettles. Our ancestors regularly ate them in the spring but today unfortunatelly they are seldom available in stores. My recipe is based on the Hungarian sorrel stew recipe (sóska fözelék) with the addition of the nettles. Years ago, I could not find any recipes that had nettles so I decided to experiment. In my opinion, the results are fantastic.

Before I post the recipe, I would like to talk about nettles and sorrel. Nettle is like the super food of the US and Europe. When I think of Nettles, two things come to my mind: nutritive tonic and the kidneys. It is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and makes a nutritious food for sure. Just to demonstrate its high protein content, Nettles have 40-45 grams of protein compared to beef that has 20 grams. It is rich in iron, silica and potassium. It also supplies vital energy to the kidneys that can be helpful for everybody but especially during pregnancy, menopausal years and old age. In general, it is safe to include in the diet and should be consumed during the spring months. Just make sure you get the leaves before the plants start flowering.

With its sharp, tangy taste, sorrel adds zest to dishes. However, it is not just added for its flavor but it is also a nutritious goodness. Sorrel is a green leafy vegetable with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamin C and a fair amount of fiber. Polyphenolic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanins are the beneficial organic compounds in sorrel. No wonder our ancestors frequently included it in their diet. It aids digestion, improves energy and circulation, boosts immunity, heart and vascular health, improves kidney health, builds strong bones, improves eye sight, and one’s overall functional health.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of washed sorrel or you can use spinach too but the dish will taste differently.
  • 1/4-1/2 lb of washed nettles (the nettles should be fresh and stingy but they will not hurt your mouth after you cook them).
  • vegetable oil (I like sunflower)
  • 2 strips of longer bacon (optional)
  • 1 onion finally chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika (powder)
  • about 1/2 cup of water, vegetable or meat stock (preferably home-made)
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  • Saute the onions in some oil until translucent and can smell the wonderful aroma of the onion.
  • If desired add bacon and fry until crisp.
  • Keeping the oil warm add the paprika and the garlic, mix for 30 seconds and add cold water or stock.
  • Add sorrel and nettles.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
  • When done, take off heat and let the dish cool off.
  • Chop the vegetables in a food processor. Here you are trying to create a sauce with a little texture.
  • Add salt and sour cream, black pepper.
  • Serve on mashed potatoes along with fried eggs or hard boiled eggs.

enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Sources

Spinach quiche

This is a lovely dish that can be made for any occasion. I like to take it to parties because it is tasty and transports easily.  It is great for the spring and Easter of course but can be served any time. 

So let’s see what it is. Quiche is a custard like mixture of cream, eggs, cheese along with vegetables and meat in a shell of savory pastry dough.  I could not find where it originated from – France? Germany? or England? and folks, no fighting over this :), however, people today most likely consider it French.  I can easily see people in villages coming up with this dish. Just throw a little bit of eggs and some cream into a pie shell along some vegetables and meat and there is a fabulous dish that makes a meal. Originally, it didn’t have cheese, so perhaps – it is my hypothesis- a French contribution was the addition of the cheese.  Speaking of cheese, make sure you get the best quality cheese you can find or afford. Your dish will surely benefit from it. I use French or Midwestern cheeses from Farmer John’s farm in Dodgeville, WI.

This is not just any old quiche recipe. After experimenting with numerous pie recipes, I believe I finally found the right one. Honestly there are many boring ones out there … it is just a pleasure to have embarked on this one. As I share all my favorite, time honored recipes on my blog, you can`t go wrong with this one, it is a tasty one. The pie shell is from Martha Stewart. It is her pie shell recipe that she uses for her fall pies but it works great here as well. The result is a mouth watering dish.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGH

  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter
  • 7 Tbsp of icy water or more if needed

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 lb vegetables  I used spinach but you can use many others like asparagus, nettle, chard, broccoli etc. Just make sure you you cut it into small pieces otherwise it doesn’t look very appetizing
  • 4-8 oz mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 3 slices of bacon (omit if prepared for vegetarians)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 200 gram of feta cheese (crumpled into small pieces)
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ of cream
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp tarragon (crumpled between the fingers)
  • 3 whole eggs (lighly beaten)
  • 200 gram of another graded cheese like gruyere, parmesan

PREPARATION

  • Chill water in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • I’m using Martha Stewarts lovely pie shell recipe. Psst it also works for your Thanksgiving pies. Add the salt to the flour and mix it with the butter quickly in a food processor or use 2 knives.
  • Add the water and mix quickly until there is a nice ball.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  • Take it out of the fridge. Using a rolling pin quickly roll it out into a circular shape so it fits the dish you use to bake the dough in.  Set it into the dish. You can press down into the dish so it fits snuggly. 
  • Put it into the fridge for another 1hour.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  
  • Sauté the spinach. You can add a little water. Chop it.
  • Sauté the mushrooms in a separate dish.   
  • Fry up the bacon so it is nice and crispy without burning it. 
  • Mix all these ingredients in a bowl and add the crumbled feta, whisked eggs. the milk and cream, black pepper, nutmeg, tarragon and mix.
  • Put the mixture in the pastry shell. 
  • Grade some cheese on the top.
  • Ready to be put into the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until done. When the blade of a knife comes out clean, it is ready.
  • Let cool. Serve warm.

enjoy!

Hot and sour burdock soup

When I go to Asian restaurants, I always wish I could make their foods. Well, here is one that can be easily made!

Spring is here! In the Midwest, one of the first edible foods in nature is Burdock root. A great way to include burdock in your diet is to make a soup with the roots. Asian cooks rave about their burdock soups that they make in the spring. I’m presenting a burdock root soup here that is inspired by Rosalee de la Foret’s blog. Well, here is one dish that can be easily made! There is really nothing exotic about this soup, all the ingredients can be found here in the US.

The website to the original recipe: https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/hot-and-sour-soup-recipe/

As we transition from the winter into spring, it is important to pay attention to our digestion. Heavy foods in the winter might be clogging our livers that can lead to some dreaded health problems in the spring like fevers and tiredness. We tend to eat heavier foods during the winter months but now as our livers are waking up, our body is ready to embark on something lighter and easier to digest. The spring season is the time to attend to the liver and the gallbladder. Our body tends to cleanse itself naturally as we eat less. In addition, it is nice to add some bitter plants that aid the liver to accomplish this process. Our ancestors ate a lot of bitters in the spring. One of these spring bitters is burdock.

Burdock is a lovely plant. It has a distinct flavor. It is earthy, slightly sweet, and bitter. The bitter flavor is lacking in our diet today and is what our liver needs at this time. It cools and clears the stagnation that was caused by the heavier winter foods. Oh and one more … it is also aphrodisiac! So yes! … you can make it for your date dinner, too!

This soup works great in the spring. The burdock’s earthy, heavier flavor pairs nicely with the carrot’s sweet and light flavor. In addition to bitter flavor, the liver also needs the sour flavor that it gets from this sour dish as well. This soup is a big favorite in our family, yes even the kids like it. Perhaps it is because of its interesting, well balanced flavors. In fact, it has all five flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and pungent!

Ingredients

  • 1 qt (or more to well cover the vegetables) of home-made stock (vegetable or pork, beef, chicken, fish). For the meat stock recipe, please refer to my Stuffed Cabbage recipe.
  • 1 cup of shredded burdock root (peeled and shredded through the largest holes of your grader) – if you don’t have it in your backyard, it is available at farmers’ markets, co-ops or also from Harmony Valley in Veroqua, WI.
  • 2 cup of shredded carrot (peeled and shredded)
  • 2 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp of minced ginger
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms (like morelle, shitake)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 Tbsp of water
  • 4 Tbsp of rice or white vinegar
  • 2 lightly beaten egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • scallions
  • soy sauce
  • hard boiled eggs
  • hot red pepper or sriracha sauce (optional)

Recipe

  1. Bring stock to a boil.
  2. Add carrots, Burdock roots, mushrooms, the crushed garlic and ginger. After it boils, turn it down to low medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar and the cornstarch mixture. Keep stirring it becomes thick for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir egg yolk in gently. Add salt and hot red pepper (optional).
  5. Serve in a deep bowl. Garnish with scallions and add soy sauce to taste.
  6. You can add hard boiled eggs too. Bring some water in a pot to a boil and add the eggs at room temperature. Boil them for 7 and a half minutes. Take them out and put them into cold water. Peel and serv. If the eggs are cold, straight out of the fridge then the cooking time is 8 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sources:

Kitchari recipe

Kitchari! A nourishing vegetarian dish to make in the winter or the summer … whenever you are looking for something easy to digest.

Now that the holidays are over, our bodies want to have a little break from all the rich, heavy foods. However, spring isn’t here yet so we can’t eat all the lovely liver cleansing vegetables. In fact, spring is nowhere in site, just the past week it was -50F here in the Midwest. Even if the prediction of the groundhog is correct, spring won’t start until April here. Many people start dieting, removing nourishing foods from their diet but most fail because it is just too early.  So what can we do?  

I like to turn to the ancient Ayurveda cooking, in other words Indian cuisine! Most people associate Indian foods with something exotic. Yes, some of their dishes can be foreign to us, but their nourishing dish, the Kitchari can be made any time, anywhere and surely by anybody.  Really, Indians make it on a regular basis, serve it during holidays with the rich foods to help digestion and even give it to sick people to recover from an illness. It is an inexpensive dish that millions eat on a daily basis. I asked my Ayurveda teacher if we could eat it during the cold season. She said yes even when it is -50F – just add the warming spices like ginger, cumin, and hot pepper. You can serve local vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale, potatoes, cauliflower, onions etc. Of course, it would go nicely with some Indian rice and roti. 

This is a very healthy dish. Usually, Ayurveda practitioners advice their clients to eat kitchari if they have any acute or chronic issues. It just does amazing things… The three spices turmeric, cumin, coriander are used along with the moong beans. The kitchari diet should last for 1 week when one is only allowed to eat kitchari, rice, grains and vegetables. Of course all the fried foods, fried vegetables, paneer have to be left out. Moong beans are used but if you can get the yellow split moong beans, they are even better as they are easier to digest.

Recipe

Kitchari ingredients

  • 2 tsp of ghee (I use home-made)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 cup of split moong dal (yellow) – soak for at least 4 hours
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • about 4 cups of water or chicken stock
  • 1 inch of fresh minced ginger root
  • black pepper
  • cilantro to taste
  • yoghurt
  • lemon

Preparation

Indian rice ingredients

  • 1 cups of white Basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water or meat stock
  • 2 tsp ghee (homemade the best)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • little piece of cinnamon
  • pinch of  saffron (8-10 strings)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • raisins
  • ¼ tsp little turmeric

Preperation

  • Clean and soak mung beans overnight but at least for 2 hours. Pour off water and use fresh cold water to cook the beans for 1-1.5 hour.
  • Making the gravy. Saute the onions on medium high heat.
  • When you smell the nice aroma add the ginger, cumin seeds stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander), stir. Add garlic, stir.
  • Add cold stock, stir.
  • Add 1 chopped tomato and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes saucy.
  • Add chopped carrots. Indians add the rice here.
  • Bring to a boil, turn down and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked moong beans and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Prepare the rice.
  • Serve with rice, cilantro and lemon.

Indians cook the dish with the rice. I personally like to serve the rice on the side and prepare separate.

Enjoy!

Traditional Hungarian stuffed cabbage (töltött káposzta)

I don’t think it is an accident that stuffed cabbage is a Christmas dish.  You can surely serve it any time but it is the perfect dish for the holidays.

I smile every time I remember how my three year old daughter reacted when she saw stuffed cabbage on the Christmas table and screamed ‘YUCKY’.  However, after she tried it she realized how delicious it was. Ever since then she makes sure that it is on the Christmas menu every year.

Stuffed cabbage is a popular winter dish in Hungary even though our ancestors didn’t make it. It is a dish that was inspired by the Turks and we started making it only after the Turkish invasion, in the 1600’s. They called it szárma from the Turkish word sarmak.  However, many of us today can’t imagine Christmas without it. My mom made it every year. 

I don’t think it is an accident that stuffed cabbage is a Christmas dish.  You can surely serve it any time of the year but it is the perfect dish for the holidays.  In the old days, families butchered their pigs and the meat was ready to be used by around this time.  Also, there weren’t too many vegetables available except for a few like cabbage and onions. Not to mention that the dish can be kept in the cold for a couple of days. In fact, it tastes the best after a few days. This was an important consideration because Christmas went on for days back in the old times and according to traditional customs, women were not allowed to work during the celebrations.

The recipe is not too difficult, though it is a bit time-consuming. Just remember you won’t have to cook for 3 days afterwards! There are many variations of this recipe but this is how I make it. Please feel free to experiment with it.

What you need

Meat stock:
  • 1 -2 lb of beef bones (ox tail and beef bone)
  • 2-3 Tbsp of black pepper corn. I like to add a lot of peppercorns because they give a really nice flavor to the dish. I used to add them to the pot with the stuffed cabbage.  This is a minor correction to the original recipe because people were complaining that they were biting on the peppercorns regularly when they were eating the cabbages. This way, people can enjoy the the nice flavor but they don’t have to bite on the pepper corns. Of course, you can grind fresh peppercorn on the dish when serving too.   
  • 4 bay leaves
  • carrots
  • turnips, rutabaga (optional)
  • garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • few cloves of garlic
  • 1 celery stalk or the root
For the cabbage rolls:
  • high quality oil (lard, sunflower seed oil)
  • 1 1/2 lbs of ground pork (can be half beef)
  • 1 larger onion
  • 1 heaping tsp Hungarian powdered paprika
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 lb of saurkraut, drained
  • 1 tsp of salt or more
  • 1/2 cup of canned tomatoes
  • 4 slices thin cut Pork chops (you can prepare separate or in the soup) (optional)
  • smoked meat like kielbasa, sausages (optional)
  • few strings of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1  cup of uncooked  rice
  • 1 cup of water to cook the rice in
  • 1-2 heads of large Savoy cabbage or green cabbage or sour cabbage leaves (about 18-20 leaves)
  • oil,
  • 4 garlic cloves,
  • ground black pepper
  • marjoram
  • 2 tsp of Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 2 eggs
  • hot pepper to taste
  • To serve: Sour cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot paprika or Erös Pista to taste
  • Salt to taste
Preparation

Meat stuffing

 

  • The day before you make the dish, prepare the meat stock. You just put all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, turn down and slowly cook for 8 hours. 
  • Fill a larger pot with cold water and start boiling it. This will be used to soften the leaves. Omit if you  have sour cabbage leaves. 
  • Cook the rice in the water. Just add enough water so it can cook but will not get soft. You are pre-cooking the rice here, it will continue cooking in the stuffing. 
  • While the rice is cooking, start preparing the base of the dish. Sauté some onion in some oil, add bacon if you desire and cook for 5-10 minute or until the onion looks nicely transulant and the bacon is crisp. Add paprika, stir and add a little cold liquid  (have it ready) and stir. Add 1 lb of the sour kraut and mix. I also like to add some meat, sausages to the dish. It is especially nice to add some smoked meat. 
  • Prepare the stuffing. Mix all ingredients  (the half cooked rice, sautéed onion, paprika, black pepper, garlic cloves,  salt, marjoram, eggs and the meat) together. 
  • Take the leaves off the cabbage gently one by one. Put the leaves in the boiling water (from step 2) for 1 minute or until they are soft.
  • Fill the cabbage leaves in the middle with about 1 heaping tablespoon of stuffing or more if leaf is bigger and fold them on all four sides so the stuffing is tucked inside the leaves nicely. Be careful you don’t fold them too tight because the mixture will expand a little. You can close the leaves with a toothpick if you want but it is really not necessary.  This may sound like a difficult task but really what you do here is you tuck the filling inside the leaves and fold each side onto the stuffing so it is nested inside the leaves. 
  • You can just lay the stuffed leaves on the bottom of the pot one by one next to each other pot, place the rest of the sour-kraut on top of the stuffed cabbage. 
  • Pour the meat  stock that you made the day before  into the pot. Bring the whole dish to a boil and turn down and cook on very low heat slowly for 1 ½  hours. 
  • Meanwhile you can prepare the pork chops. I like to serve some meat on the side so people who like a lot of meat or prefer not to have the stuffed cabbage can have some meat. Brown pork chops on both sides and a little white wine, bay leaves, and spices. Cook for 1 hour. 
  • When done, take cabbages out one by one and place them on a serving plate.  Then place the sour kraut mixture on the top and pour liquid over the dish. Serve the sour cream on top. Grind some fresh black pepper and add hot paprika to taste.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy!  Jó étvágyat!

Text, photos, recipe by twincitiesherbs.com