Hungarian sugar snap pea soup (zöldborsó leves)

We just celebrated the Summer Solstice and suitably sugar peas are ready!  When I can make pea soup, I know summer is here. So why is pea soup so special? We can buy frozen peas all year long. Yes, it is true but we cannot make Hungarian pea soup with frozen peas alone, we need the fresh shells as well. This nourishing soup is mildly sweet and refreshing.

This soup brings back some very nice memories. My mother and my paternal grandmother also made it. We had it regularly in the summer. Unfortunately, these vegetables are becoming harder and harder to find. You will not be able to find them at supermarkets easily. However, they should be readily available at farmers’ markets and health food stores. Or just simply grow them in your garden. Again, the tastier your vegis, the better your soup will be!

RECIPE

Ingredients for the soup

  • 2 lbs of sugar snap peas with the shells
  • about 3 Tbsp of oil (I like sunflower)
  • 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 6 stalks of fresh carrots
  • 1-2 kohlrabies
  • 1 tsp of salt or to taste
  • parsley
  • red hot pepper to taste (optional)
soup stock
dumplings

Ingredients for the dumplings (csipetke)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of flour, possibly more
  • 1 tsp of oil

Directions

  • Start shelling the peas. Put the shells and the peas in separate bowls.
  • Wash the shells and put them into a larger pot. Add 3 stalks of carrots and 1 kohlrabi and enough water to cover all vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook on medium high heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings (csipetke). This can be a little tricky. Lightly whisk the egg, add the salt and the oil. Start slowly adding the flour, enough so it forms a ball. You don’t want it to fall apart in the soup but you also don’t want it to be hard as rock. Try to find something in-between. The amount of flour really depends on how much the egg takes up. Once you found the right consistency, keep kneading it for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise for at least 15 minutes.
  • Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready for the soup.
  • You can start the soup by now. Heat up the oil in a medium sized pot with a heavier bottom. When ready, put in the peas and stir. You sauté the peas for 5-10 minutes in the oil (the younger ones for less, the older ones longer). Make sure there is enough oil for the flour. Add the flour and stir. This thickens the soup. Then in 1 minute you can add the paprika and stir. This activates the paprika. In 20-30seconds add the cold water and stir making sure there are no lumps in the soup.
  • Add the pea shell stock. Make sure the solids are strained from the liquid.
  • Clean and scrape the outside of the carrots. Cut them up into bite sizes.
  • Peel the kohlrabi and cut it into small, bite sizes.
  • Put the carrots and the kohlrabi in the soup.
  • Bring to a boil and cook on medium low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
  • While the soup is cooking, we will make the dumplings.
  • Bring 1 quart of water to a boil for the dumplings.
  • Meanwhile, cut the dough into 6 long pieces and roll each to finger thickness. Each will make about a 6 inch long dough. With your thumb and index finger you can pinch a little piece off the dough or you can use a knife for this too. ‘Csipet’ means ‘pinch of’ in Hungarian hence where the name csipetke for this dumpling came from. When the water starts boiling, you can start putting these small pieces of dumpling in the boiling water. They should be ready in a few minutes when they come up to the surface of the water. Sample one to make sure they are ready. Strain off water and serve in the soup. If the dumplings are too hard, no worries! You can put them in the soup for a short time and they will get softer as they soak up a little liquid.
  • When soup is ready, add the salt, and hot pepper.
  • Serve hot with parsley.

enjoy!

Sources

George Lang: George Lang’s Cuisine of Hungary

Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods

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

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!