Pesto

Pesto is a unique and delicious sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy, around the 16th century. It is nice to serve on pasta on a hot summer day. We just spent some time in the Mediterranean region where it was very hot. We joined the locals and did not eat our main meal until 8 pm. Pesto was great to eat during the day just to satisfy our quick hunger. I really like how the fragrant basil can transform this meal with all its other ingredients olive oil, cheese, garlic, and pine nuts into a something so unique.

Originally, pesto was made in mortars and according to Genoese cooks pesto can only be made in mortars. In fact its name or its verb version ‘pestare’ means to pound and grind. Today, we have food processors that would be a fine replacement, just keep in mind that pesto is meant to be pounded and not so much chopped so in other words don’t over process it in the food processor and mix the cheese in at the end by hand.

Receipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of tightly packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup of fresh, cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped up pine nuts (walnuts are fine too)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • salt
  • 1 cup of freshly graded parmi-giano-reggiano cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of graded romano cheese (optional)
  • 1 pound of pasta (spaghetti or any pasta with a large surface area)

Directions

  • Take the leaves off of the stems and wash them well in cold water. Clip off the flowering tips and any brownish leaves if there are any. Put them in a colander and let the water drain off. By the time you have everything else ready the basil should be ready too.
  • Start boiling water for the pasta. Continue according to the package. Save a little cooking water for the pesto.
  • Measure out all the ingredients.
  • Chop up the garlic with the blade of a sharp knife.
  • I do not have a mortar but I have a small food processor. The following directions are for a food processor. Put the basil in the food processor and process until fully chopped. (You are chopping at this stage). Add olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic, salt and chop quickly, gently just until they are nicely blended.
  • Transfer this mixture into a clean bowl. You will continue mixing in the cheese with a spoon by hand. (Please see explanation above).
  • When adding the pesto to the pasta, add 2-4 Tbsp of the reserved pasta water.
  • Serve at room temperature with vegetables.

enjoy!

Sources

Marcella Hazan: Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking

Native American black bean burger

Summer is here and burgers are great for grilling! The combination of black beans, wild rice and quinoa make a tasty American burger. Each one is native to the Americas and has a rich history. Usually I am not a big fan of food substitutes but I think this is very tasty. It seems like this burger even tricks my feisty, meat lover corgi too. Seriously, he just sits and stares at me, hoping to get a little.

I would like to add this recipe to my collection. The moist burgers are highly nutritious and easy to take on trips. Oh and those mushrooms are mouthwatering … Just remember, the beans and the quinoa need to be soaked ahead before you cook them. 

There is always a pot of beans soaking in traditional Latin American homes, a pot waiting to be cooked for the next meal. As soon as a meal is finished, the preparation for the next one starts. And they eat beans for almost every meal.

Why should the beans be soaked? Wouldn’t cooking them for a longer time be enough? Beans and quinoa are nutritious but also have particles that actually can cause problems if not removed.  These anti-nutrient particles such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors can be only removed by soaking. In addition to cost, this is also a good reason to make your own beans :). Remember to pour off the soaking liquid and add fresh cold water for cooking.

Black Bean Burger Recipe

  • Makes 8-10 burgers
  • The inspiration for this recipe came from Heid E. Erdrich’s Original Local cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried black beans (heirloom is the best if you can get it) or 1 can (14oz), rinsed and drained well.
  • ¾ cup of wild rice (preferably the hand harvested )
  • ¼ cup of quinoa (or replace with 1/4 cup of wild rice) 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp of oil (olive, sunflower)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp of dried hot pepper (optional)
  • oil for cooking the patties (sunflower, grape seed)

  • To garnish  (all ingredients are optional)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced and sautéed or raw
  • 5-8 heads of crimini or white button mushrooms thinly sliced and sautéed or see recipe foe mushroom gravy below
  • 1 head of portobello mushrooms grilled or cooked
  • lettuce, arugula
  • mustard
  • ketchup
  • buns
  • cheese
  • tomato slices
  • mayonnaise
  • pickles
  • sheeps’ milk cheese

Directions

  • Soak beans and quinoa (separate) overnight or at least for 8 hours. 
  • After 8 hours, rinse water off of the beans. Place them in a bigger pot, cover well with water, bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Cook for 2 hour covered on low heat or you can use a pressure cooker.
  • Rinse quinoa, sauté on medium heat in a little oil for a few minutes and add 1/2 cup of water. Again bring it to a boil, turn down and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.
  • Cook wild rice in 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down and cook with cover half way covering the pot. Do not cover the pot completely.
  • In a large bowl, mash the 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans leaving it a bit chunky. This is a quick and easy process, I would not use a machine to do this step.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa, cooked 3/4 cup of wild rice and the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly. 
  • Make 4 patties.
  • Heat a pan with some oil over medium heat.
  • Place patties in the pan and cook them 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Use a wide spatula for turning and taking the patties out. 
  • Take the 2 outer layers of the onion off and slice it thinly. Sauté the onions for about 10-15 minutes over high medium heat until brown. 
  • Slice the mushrooms thinly. Add them to the onions and continue sautéing for another 10 minutes or until mushrooms are soft or make Mushrooms sauce – see below.
  • Serve patties warm and garnish with condiments, vegetables of your choice.  

Mushroom Sage Gravy Recipe (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp dried sage or 2 fresh leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of dried rosemary crushed or 1 fresh spring
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cup of stock
  • 1/4 cup of creme

Directions

  • In a saucepan, warm oil over medium heat, add rosemary for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and mushrooms are well browned. Stir frequently. Add thyme, sage and let cook for one minute. Add stock, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes and reduce heat to low.
  • Transfer half of gravy to a blender and puree until completely smooth. Add pureed mushrooms back into mushroom mixture and stir. See if you like the consistency. If not thick enough, puree a little more of the mixture.
  • Serve on the burger if you like.

enjoy!

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!

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