Plum gnocchi (szilvás gomboc)

Plum gnocchis or plum dumplings bring back some very sweet childhood memories … delicious plums wrapped in soft, pillowy dough with a hint of bread crumbs spiced with a little sugary cinnamon. In Hungary, it is often served as a second dish after a heavier soup but can be a dessert as well. Late summer is the time when plums are ready so I’m so excited to have them again.

Plum dumplings can be found in many countries of central/southern part of Europe: in Italy (Gnocchi de susine), Hungary (szilvás gombóc), Croatia (Knedle sa sljivama), Austria (Zwetschkenknödel), Romania (Galuste cu prune), Slovenia (Slivovi cmoki), etc. Supposedly, it originated in the region of Trieste, Italy that has a colorful history being part of different counties. Gnocchi (pronounced nyow kee) is an Italian word that means knuckle or knots. Gnocchi is a mixture of flour and water and possibly many other ingredients including potatoes as well. So what nationality is Plum gnocchi? Today, people in any of those above mentioned countries would argue that it is theirs but please read on … If you know European history and how countries have changed, this recipe might reflect the ever changing times. Also, remember potatoes came from the new World …

It doesn’t matter who invented it, indeed it is a fabulous dish with its main ingredient the plum. Plums are slightly cooling with a sweet and sour flavor, so it will need the pungent cinnamon! Try to get the Italian or the Hungarian purple plums but other sweet, great tasting plums will work too. In addition to its vitamin and mineral content, plums are also a great source of fiber. So take a bite of this intriguing history …

Enjoy Palotás music while you’re eating this dish…

RECIPE

Makes about 9 balls plus the little gnocchi pieces

Ingredients

  • about 1 lb russet potatoes (4-5 potatoes)
  • 3/4 -1 cup flour or more depending on the dough
  • 1 Tbsp semolina flour (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 salt
  • 5-10 sweet plums – depending on the size of your plums
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp clove, 1/8 nutmeg, 1/8 tsp mace (I used 1 tsp Penzey’s apple pie seasoning- cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves)
  • Do add a little nutmeg … if you only add 1 thing to the cinnamon, nutmeg makes such a big difference. I would say 1/8 tsp but try get a feel for it. I don’t know how Bill, the owner at penzeys.com mix his apple pie seasoning but I can assure you he is right. These spices do wonders with the sour fruits.

coating

  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts (finally chopped)
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used Penzey’s apple pie seasoning)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
dough
9 squares
add the plum and the cinnamon sugar

The little Gnocchi pieces (nudli)

Directions

Place the potatoes with the skin on in a large pot. I like to put them onto a metal steamer with ‘feet’ so the vitamins and minerals don’t boil into the water and so they don’t soak up too much water. If the potatoes are too wet, they will need more flour and will be harder. (Please see picture above). Add cold water to the pot with a little salt and bring it to a boil, cook them with lid on for about 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Peel them while they are still hot but you can handle.

Puree the potatoes while they are still warm, I was able to do it as soon as the peels were taken off. I used a potato ricer. I put the potatoes through the larger holes of the ricer, then the smaller ones. It is worth investing in a potato ricer if you want a nice and soft dough. I also read that smaller holes on a cheese grader could work- if you don’t have a ricer.

Let the dough cool completely. Mix in the flour, salt, egg, 1 Tbsp of butter, potatoes and start kneading the dough to make a ball. Do not over do it. Make sure your potatoes are at room temperature. If they are warm they will take up too much flour. You can use the fridge for 5 minutes.

Let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the plums. Wash them, cut them in half and take out the pits.

Melt the butter on low heat and add the crumbs stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the crumbs soak up the butter and become golden brown. Use lower heat so the butter doesn’t burn. Add the cinnamon, sugar and chopped walnuts. Mix. This will be used to coat the balls.

Also, mix the 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt for the stuffing.

Fill a 5 qt pot with about 3 qt water. Bring to a boil with a little a little salt.

You can even do the dishes while you are waiting for the dough, the one hour will go by really fast.

After 1 hour, place the dough on a flat, floured surface and start stretching it to 1 cm thickness until it is a squarish shape. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Cut out 9 squares. Don’t worry about getting the shape perfect because we will use the left overs for the mini gnocchis, in Hungarian nudlis.

Assemble the dumplings. Place one of the dough squares into your palm. Put a plum piece along with the cinnamon sugar in the dough. Fold corner by corner gently tucking the stuffing inside and then roll it to make a ball. Do this with each square. Coat them in flour.

You can take half of the left over dough and start rolling long strips with them. Cut short little pieces off, coat in flour. Do this with the other half as well. You will cook them with the balls. If you don’t want to make these, use this left over dough to make more balls. You can most likely get 2 or maybe 3 more balls.

When the water starts boiling, you can drop the dumplings in the water one by one with a slotted spoon. Also, add the little gnocchi strips in this water. Try to gently stir them to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the dumplings come to the surface, cook them for about another 5 minutes and remove them with a slotted spoon.

Put the dumplings into the coating mixture that you prepared earlier and roll them around until they are well coated.

Oh and you might want to double up the recipe or triple …

Serve warm with a little vanilla sugar or honey.

enjoy! Jó étvágyat!

Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

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

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:

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