Crustless apple, walnut and poppy seed cake (crustless flódni)

naturally gluten-free , dairy-free

Flódni is a unique traditional Jewish Hungarian dessert. The original recipe uses apples, poppy seed, walnuts, plum jam and all these ingredients are baked into a flour pastry. This recipe uses the three main ingredients: apples, poppy seeds and walnuts plus the plums but has no crust. It is a gluten free recipe, in fact it is a very clever gluten free twist to the original recipe as the carbohydrates come from the poppy seeds. Its sour, bitter and sweet flavors come together to give a distinct culinary experience.

Traditionally, it is made at the end of the year for Christmas and Hannukah but can be eaten any time during the year. It is filled with symbolic meanings for the end of the year. Each layer is rich and decadent and according to folk traditions can supposedly bring prosperity, health and protection for the entire family.

I was inspired by the recipe that came from a website – credited at the end. I have been making this delicious alternative at Christmas time for years. I made some changes to the original recipe. I moved some sugar from the nut filling into the poppyseed filling. I also added plums and some alcohol to the poppy seed filling as the original version calls for it and I believe they worked nicely here too. Oh and honestly adding a little ginger to the walnuts can do wonders.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 200g (about 1 cup) poppyseeds
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter (coconut oil for dairy free version)
  • 4 eggs divided
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of thick plum jam or plum pieces
  • handful of raisins
  • peel and juice of 1 orange or lemon or both
  • 2 Tbsp of rum (optional)
  • 1 kg (about 7 medium) tasty cooking apples
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ground ginger or 1.5 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 ground cloves
  • 150 grams of ground walnuts
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried cut and sifted ginger
  • salt

Preparation

Making the apples. Wash, peel and core the apples. Grade them through the large holes of a cheese grader. Add 2 Tbsp of rum, ginger, ground cinnamon and cloves, pinch of salt and 2 Tbsp of sugar/honey. Put the mixture in a medium sized pot and cook it on high medium heat until the liquid evaporates.

Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C).

Making the poppy seed layer. Grind poppy seeds. (Coffee grinder works well). Mix with the melted butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, egg yolks, plums, the raisins, rum, orange/lemon peel, pinch of salt and the juice of the orange or lemon. Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold it into the poppy seed mixture.

Spread the poppyseed mixture onto a lightly buttered baking pan (8×11.5×2″). Gently spread the apple mixture on top of the poppy seed mixture and place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

Walnut/egg white toping: Have the ground walnuts ready. By the end of the 40 minutes, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the walnuts and the 1/4 cup of sugar. Spread this mixture on top of the apples and put the dish back into the oven at 250F (120C) for another 30-40 minutes.

Let it cool and settle. Serve at room temperature.

enjoy!

Source

Text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Hungarian poppy seed roll (mákos beigli)

The floral, earth flavored poppy seed (Papaver somniferum) is a popular winter food. I can’t imagine winter especially Christmas without it. It is often used in sweet savory dishes, like the poppyseed roll, beigli. The poppy seeds pair nicely with the sour sweet oranges along with some raisins in this tasty sweet dish from Hungary. Particularly, poppy seeds symbolize health, fertility and prosperity that are important themes for the Christmas and winter solstice celebration.

When I got married there were two desserts that I could make. One for the summer and the other for the winter and ooops I forgot one for birthdays. Of course, beigli was for the winter. Not sure how this worked out but I’m guessing it is because there is no Christmas without beigli and my husband picked up the tradition very quickly as well. I have to let you know that it takes 4-5 hours to make this dessert, of course most of this time is needed for letting the dough rise.

There is a little history. Poppy seeds have always been an important staple in the Hungarian cuisine. Beigli has been around for a while but no one knows the exact story behind it. One possibility is that it had originated in the old Hungarian city of Pozsony, today known as Bratislava that is now in the Czech republic. Beigli started appearing on the Christmas tables only about 200 years ago. Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time so it makes sense that so many other Central European countries make it for Christmas as well. According to historical counts, it was Franz Jozeph, one of the Austrian emperor’s favorite foods next to the isler and the sacher.

You will need to get a lot of poppy seeds. The little bottles that they sell at the supermarkets will not be enough as this recipe requires 10 oz. I purchased mine at penzeys.com but you should be able to find it in many smaller grocery stores. When I got poppy seeds recently at Penzey’s, the clerk checking me out reminded me that poppy seeds needed to be stored in the the freezer if not used up. Poppy seeds go rancid easily because of their high fat content. I told her that this will not be a problem because we eat it fast. Her mouth just dropped open. I bought almost 1 lb. Just warning you, you will need to get a lot of poppy seed, I know people in the US are not used to using so much.

The seeds will need to be ground as well. I have a vitamix that grinds poppy seeds beautifully. If you don’t have one, no worries! You can also use an electric coffee grinder. Supermarkets do sell canned ground poppy seed mixed with the sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives etc but you will not get the same results with those.

  • Hungarians are always worrying about cracks in the crust. If you follow my recipe below, you should fine. However, the tastiest beiglis I have eaten were cracked, like the one on the picture. I chatted with my kids and let the dough rise too long … but everybody commented it was one of the best I have ever made. They wanted to know what I did differently lol … My mom will probably comment on the appearance of my beigli but oh well. So there are some rules on how not to get cracks. For the records here they go …
  • Crust can crack if
    • dough had risen in a place that was too warm
    • the dough was left to rise too long
    • too much filling or sugar was used
    • work area was too warm
    • dough was not pricked on the sides

Let’s look at why our ancestors valued poppy seed so greatly. This plant is native to Western Asia and has been around for thousands of years… perhaps Hungarians had brought it from Asia when they were travelling from their previous place that they used to occupy in Asia. It is considered a significant source of food from carbohydrates, is abundant in vitamin B complex and E, iron, calcium, phosphorus and is rich in fatty acids. It is considered soothing and calming, boosts the immune system, supports brain, bone and heart health and can be helpful in the treatment of certain cancers.

Ancient Chinese Medicine considers it to be sour, neutral in energy and is associated with the Lung, Large Intestine and Kidney meridians. It has a kidney shape and is believed that it is benefial fot the kidneys.

Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India believes it is beneficial for digestion and nourishes body fluids and the nervous system. Maybe a nice remedy to keep you calm during the holidays! Oh and it is also aphrodisiac!

RECIPE

Family recipe

Ingredients for the dough

  • 500 g (4 cups) of organic flour (I used Bob’s Red mill)
  • 25 dkg (18 Tbsp) butter
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-5 Tbsp sugar, regular granulated or powdered
  • 1/2 cup (1dl) of milk
  • 1/8 tsp or pinch of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Ingredients for the filling

  • 30 dkg (2 1/4 cups) ground poppy seed
  • 3 dl (1 1/8 cup) milk
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • peel of 1 orange or lemon or 3 Tbsp of dried peel
  • 5 Tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 cup of raisins or chunks of plums (you can leave it out if disliked)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Preparing the dough: Get the yeast started in the warm milk (104-108F). This is a temperature that should feel neither hot or cold on your wrist or when you stick your index finger in the solution. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm milk with 1 tsp of sugar, stir and cover for 5 minutes or until yeast comes up to the top. Meanwhile start sifting the pinch of salt and 3 Tbsp sugar into the flour. Then cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture and quickly mix until a ball is formed. Let it rise for 2 hours, cover with a damp cloth.

Preparing the filling. Start preparing the filling right away because it has to cool. I would not make it ahead of time because it can dry out. If you start it right after you finished the dough, it should be fine. Grind the poppy seeds. Boil the 1 1/8 cups of milk, add the ground poppy seeds, orange peel (for me the more the better, I used 5 Tbsp of orange peel), sugar, flour and raisins. Mix and set it aside to let it cool.

Assembling the rolls. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed shortly until they are smooth. Divide it into 2 bigger or 4 smaller pieces. For me it is too hard to get 4 equal sized balls so I either do 2 or 3 ball. Roll them out into a rectangular shape and spread half, third or quarter of the filling, respectively in about 0.5 cm thickness on the dough leaving about 1 inch from the edges. Please see picture for clarity. Start rolling the longer side not too tight but not loose either. Pinch the two sides so the filling cannot come out on the sides. Repeat with the others. Put the rolls on a lightly buttered cookie sheet so the rolled up edge is on the bottom of the cookie sheet. Do an egg wash with 1 egg and let the rolls rise in a coolish area (60-68 F) for 1 hour. Note the kitchen might be too hot for this step. Then spread 1 egg white on the rolls and cool in the fridge for a half hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Before I put the rolls into the oven, I do another layer of egg white wash and prick the side on the sides 6-7 times to prevent cracking.

Baking the rolls. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Take out when done or when the surface has a beautiful golden finish. Try to avoid opening the stove door. Wait a good 20-30 minutes before cutting the slices.

enjoy! Merry Christmas! Boldog Karácsonyt!

Sources

https://www.motherearthliving.com/food-matters/health-benefits-of-poppy-seeds-zb0z1806

https://www.blessayurveda.com

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/poppy-seeds.html

Text, photos, recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Marinated pork with prunes

It is December now and I am already missing the plums from this summer. Then I happened upon this recipe (source of the recipe) … a dish with pork baked in prune sauce! I really like to prepare meats with fruits and the prunes work nicely with the pork here. Oh and that savory aroma of the prunes cooking with the shallots!!! … I decided that I will be making this recipe for Christmas Eve. I believe it would be perfect for this busy night. It can be marinated ahead of time and then just has to be cooked on the 24th … and after eating this dish I might have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head…

I really like simple meals that have an interesting flavor and this dish does just that. The pork is first marinated in a mustardy sauce and further baked in a savory plum sauce to perfection. The moist pork works nicely with the sweet prunes along with pungent spices and results in a unique sweet and savory flavor. Of course, it needs to be served with some nice wine or grape drink.

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe. I added a little red hot pepper, of course it is optional but for me, some spiciness was missing. I felt that the sweet pork along with the sweet sauce needed a touch of spiciness to balance the dish out. Not sure if it is authentic but this was more to satisfy my personal taste.

Also, I served this dish with brussel sprouts in addition to the potatoes that the recipe already calls for. I served brussel sprouts but any other bitter green leafy vegetable like kale, lettuce would work well. Also, the recipe calls for 2 cups of chicken stock. You can do half white wine and half chicken stock if you wish.

If you can’t find tenderloin or just don’t want to spend so much money, sirloin is a nice alternative. Sirloin, a different part of the pork is not as tender, will require longer cooking time and more cooking liquid. (I cooked it for 15 minutes longer and added an extra 1/4 cup of chicken stock). Honestly, they both taste nice though. Of course, if you want to impress your guests, or just treat yourself to something special, the tenderloin is more superior in flavor so go for the tenderloin!

A few words about the pork. It is sweet and salty. According to Ancient Chinese Medicine, pork is great for the fall and the winter as it is moistening. In fact, pork is moistening for the lungs, kidneys, and the spleen-pancreas. In Europe, it is a popular meat during the cold months especially during Christmas time.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (approx. 1.25 pounds) or sirloin
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced + 4 whole cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 dried plums (prunes), chopped in half
2 smaller shallots or 1 bigger one, peeled and thinly chopped
2 cups chicken or pork broth or 1 cup of chicken/pork stock and 1 cup of white wine
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
fresh parsley

Dierections

Marinade: In a small bowl mix sugar, dijon mustard, 2 tsp olive oil, thyme, sale, pepper and 2 cloves of garlic. Put the mixture on the tenderloin, evenly spreading it all over the pork. You can put the pork in a zip lock bag or a marinating dish with a lid. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190C). Take the pork mixture out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

Prune sauce: In a pan with oven proof handles, gently heat 2 tsp of olive oil, add shallots and stir. Cook until it start becoming soft and you can smell its aroma – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, the chopped prunes and stir … Now if I may,
I would like to invite you to stop for a few seconds and smell the aroma of the shallots, the garlic and the prunes, it is amazing … after 1 minute add the chicken stock, vinegar and hot pepper (optional). Cook for 5-10 minutes.

Place the pork in the middle of the pan. Put the pan into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes basting 2-3 times or until the meat is 160F.

When meat’s temperature reached 160F, take the pan out of the oven and cover. Let it rest here for 10 minutes before you start slicing them.

Serve sliced with potatoes, brussel sprouts and some wine. Drizzle the sauce on the top.

enjoy!

Sources

Eating with the winter season (no recipe)

Winter is rather a complex and mysterious season. It is more like cold and darkness desiring warmth.

When I’m outside in the woods in the winter, it is so quiet, I can hear every step, every movement. I always wonder about what is inside the Earth and deep inside the lakes. It is almost like you can hear it. It is so mystical. Where are all the plants and animals? As a great Hungarian poet, Petöfi Sándor put it “Nature doesn’t die, it is just sleeping”.

Winter is an auspicious time of the year for sure. In the absence of many distractions, our life quiets down. We naturally tend to turn more inward and spend time in the quiet. With the scarcity of warmth and light, we start acknowledging them more as we bring them into our lives by making bon fires outside, lighting candles or by sitting by our fire places.

In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with a natural element so winter is associated with Water. Also, each element has corresponding Western organs. The Western organs of the water element are the Kidneys and the Bladder and in addition, the Adrenals’ and the Sexual organs are also included. I capitalized the organs because in Chinese Medicine, it is more like an organ is considered to be the organ itself and its energetic functions.

Let’s look at what the Kidneys are like. The Kidneys provide warmth and moisture and are the source of vitality. Salty (pork, salt, sea weed, barley) and warming foods (squashes and root vegetables) are great. The Kidneys ‘govern’ water metabolism and ‘control’ the Bladder. It is important to keep the Kidneys healthy during the winter months so they can perform these functions now and later in life. For vitality, it is essential to avoid too much stress and try to rest more, curl up on your sofa and read a book or do whatever your heart is desiring.

This is a great time for eating nourishing foods like bone or vegetable broths, meats and beans especially kidney and black beans. The Chinese and many other people take their nourishing, rejuvenating herbs at this time. Of course all kidney nourishing foods should be mentioned here. As we are preparing for the Holidays poppy seeds, walnuts and pork come to my mind. In addition, the following foods are also great to nourish the kidneys: millet, barley, mung bean, potatoes, spirulina, cheeses, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, onions, quinoa, lamb, salmon, trout, wheat berry, sweet rice, animal kidneys, almonds, royal jelly, bone marrow soup, butter, ghee, chicken liver, chestnuts. Oh and let’s not forget the cranberries!

Paying attention to our cooking and eating methods could help us get through the harshness of the cold winter easier. Just like the trees that move their sap deep down and inward, so too energy in humans should have the same movement. The flavors of the winter, bitter and salty (of course in moderation) should facilitate this sinking, downward moving and storing energy. The bitter foods help the body’s energy to sink downward and get the body ready to store food. Winter bitter foods are oats, rye, quinoa, kale, celery, turnips, cranberries, citrus peels. Salty foods are able to move energy inward concentrating warmth inside while keeping the outside slightly cool. Salty flavor also keeps the kidneys stay moist and healthy so they can promote fluid metabolism. Salty foods are pork, barley, seaweed, salt.

Winter cooking method should focus on storage and moving energy inward. Mainly cook your foods longer at lower temperatures and use less water. Try to avoid ice, raw and greasy foods, excessive salty and bitter foods and over-eating.

If you are looking for dishes to make during the winter, please, click on the winter ‘keyword’ on the right and you should get all my winter recipes.

Sources

  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Art: Unkown

Apple pie with cranberries

Apple pie is a special American dessert. I have always wanted to make it ever since I took the first bite of my mother-in-laws home-made pie like 25 years ago but I was somehow afraid of making it. I even gifted a pie form for my husband’s birthday 15 years ago to make sure that I made it. Ok so a few years ago I ventured into making one from a recipe I found online. I thought all apple pie recipes were the same lol … hmmm not true it didn’t turn out good, in fact it was terrible. Then I found Martha Stewart’s pie recipe … and it was a huge success. I felt such a great accomplishment after I made it. Here I have the full proof Martha’s pie recipe so you don’t have to hunt for a good one.

An apple pie is an important part of the Thanksgiving dinner for many people. The delicious savory apple filling is wrapped in a flaky buttery crust and is served with whipped cream. According to marthastewart.com, there are three basic rules for making a fabulous apple pie: Use the best ingredients, keep the dough cold and when you handle the dough less is more. Have fun making the pie, it is so worth it!

As Martha Stewart says you should get the best ingredients for your pie in other words your pie will be only as tasty as the ingredients are. The most important part of the pie at least as far as taste goes is the apples. When I go to the farmers’ market to get my baking apples, they always give me a mixture of apples. In fact the lady at my favorite stand always gives 7-8 different apples. So how do you select the right apples?

Basically you want baking apples that are firm and keep their shapes while baking. The best apple for this is the Granny smith. If you like your pie more tart you can just use this variety. Ok I know some people want more of a sweet apple pie. There are many other apple varieties that would make the pie sweeter like Cortland, Breaburn, Regent, Harlson. And I always like to add a very sweet one like Fuji, Honey crisp. Once you decide on the type, make sure they are also tasty. It is hard to describe but they should have a zesty flavor. When you try it you know what I mean! Sorry to say but supermarket apples often don’t have this. I personally like to get local apples for this purpose.

The other important part of a good pie is the crust. Of course keeping the surface cold is extremely important … but so is the quality of the flour you use. I would stay away from low quality flours that need to be enriched and have other additives in them. I buy only organic flour that fits this criteria. I used Bob’s Red Mill flour in this recipe but King Arthur’s flour is good too.

The third most important ingredient would be the shortening. The shortening is also crucial for a successful pie crust. Often people use butter flavored sysco shortening because it gives nice results. Well it is a good choice but I am not a fan because it is not that good for health. It is better to get a nice high quality butter or better yet lard if you have access to it. My mother-in-law always made her pies with lard and she honestly made the best pies.

Pie is a cold weather dessert. It is made starting September when the weather gets cold in the Northern hemisphere because it needs to be cold when handling the dough. That is right the work area needs to be cold when you are working the dough to get the scrumptious flaky buttery crust. The pros use special tools to work on that keeps the dough cold. If you don’t have these special tools, no worries. I just open the kitchen window and let the kitchen cool off a bit. It seems to be working fine.

Try to become familiar with the recipe. This is more of a challenging recipe as there are are many steps and specific instructions. I think the video (see below) is very helpful to watch for technique although the video is sometimes a little too cautious. For instance, you can handle the dough by hand. The recipe of the video and the one I’m presenting here are not exactly the same. Please follow my recipe to avoid mistakes.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (leveled with a knife)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 5-7 Tbsp of icy cold water

For the filling

  • 7 baking medium sized apples at room temperature (Granny smith, Cortland, Empire ) (about 2-2.5 pounds) (Martha uses 3 pounds of apples)
  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries, optional. Replace with another Granny smith if not used. If frozen do not let thaw.
  • juice of 1 lemon or orange (Martha uses lemon juice)
  • 1 Tbsp of orange peel (optional)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon +1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp mace or 1 1/2 tsp of Pensey’s apple pie spice
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar + little more for the top. If you use cranberries, use 3/4-1 cup of sugar.
  • 2 Tbsp of corn starch or 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp dried ginger (cut and sifted) or 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For finishing

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp of heavy cream
  • granulated sugar

Prepation

Please watch this video for clarity: https://www.marthastewart.com/341735/apple-pie

Put 1/2 cup of water in the freezer or you can use ice cubes in water. This will be used for the dough in the next step.

Making the dough. Mix flour with the sugar and the salt. Cut the cold butter into the flour with your finger tips, pastry cutter, knives or a food processor. If you are using a food processor, pulse for 10 seconds at a time, paying special attention not to over-process the dough. Stop when coarse crumbs form. The mixture should have pieces ranging from coarse crumbs to the size of small peas. Take water out of the freezer. Add 5 Tbsp of ice water slowly, 1 Tbsp at a time and mix until dough just holds together when pinched. Add more water only if needed. The mixture should retain a crumbly texture at his point; it should not be sticky. Again do not over-pulse the dough. If you are not using a food processor, you do not have to worry about over-processing that much, you’ll be most likely ready to stop. Do pay a close attention though what the dough should be like.

the crumply dough

Shaping and chilling the dough. After making the dough, now it will be divided into two parts. Make sure the dough has all the loose pieces incorporated. Wrap each piece tightly with a plastic wrap and refrigerate at least for 1 hour or overnight. You can make this the day before and keep it in the fridge. This will help the crust to be flaky.

the dough wrapped in plastic

Preparing the filling. Wash, peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2 inch-thick slices. I like to use a mixture of baking apples for a more interesting flavor. I used 4 granny smith, 2 cortland and 1 sweeter honey crisp apple. Add the orange/lemon juice and coat the apples well. Don’t add anything else to the apples until ready to assemble the pie. When ready add 1 cup of cranberries to get a more interesting flavor or add another apple instead. Then add everything else and mix. I happen to have an apple corer gadget, my daughter made me purchase a while ago. I have to say it was helpful for coring the apples but if you don’t have one, you don’t need to rush out to get one.

Assembling the pie. Your working area is supposed to be cold for this part. I just open the kitchen window while I’m doing this step and it should be cold enough.

Take dough out of the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough until 1/8 inch thick. I check the diameter by putting the bowl above the dough. I just eye it to see if the dough is large enough in diameter to cover the bowl. The finished dough should be about 1/2 inch bigger than the baking dish around.

The chilled dough

Roll dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9 inch glass plate, pressing gently to fit into pan. Fill it with the apple mixture from above. Roll the other disk of dough in the same manner.

rolled out dough

Drape over the bottom part. Use kitchen shears to trim overhang of both crusts to 1 inch. Press edges to seal. Fold overhang under and crimp edges: With thumb and index finger of your other hand, gently press dough against index finger of other hand. Continue around pie. Make several 3 inch slits in the top crust. This will allow the liquid to evaporate. I have a special clay bird that does this job. If you use the clay bird, you will not have to do this. If using the bird, cut 3 small slits in the middle of the pie, making an opening for the bird. Gently place the bird in and try to wiggle it around the apples. You can find these birds (see picture) at Williams Sonoma in the US -if anybody is interested.

Refrigerate the pie for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F.

Finishing the crust for baking. Whisk egg yolk and cream in a bowl; brush over the top of crust. Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Baking the pie. Place pie in preheated oven. Put a baking pan underneath to catch any liquid that escapes during the baking. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F. Continue baking until top and bottom crust are golden brown and juices are bubbling in the center for 70 to 85 minutes. Check on the pie after 1 hr and see if it is getting brown too quickly and needs to be covered with aluminum foil.

When ready, take the pie out and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours before serving. If you are not eating it all the same day, leave it on the counter loosely covered. Do not store in the refrigerator, the dough will get soggy.

enjoy!

Sources

text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Spiced orange cranberry sauce

According to my mother-in-law, a good cranberry sauce should have whole cranberries and a nice sauce, so as to not be mushy or dry. I created this cranberry sauce keeping this in mind. It is gently infused with oranges and pungent spices and is slowly baked in the oven. In addition, the alcohol will elevate it to another level that gives an unexpected kick to the sauce. It will go nicely with any savory fall or winter dishes. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving, go ahead and you can try it now!

I really like how this cranberry sauce turned out. Here is my little story… As a foreigner I did not grow up eating cranberries so I have been relying on the Joy of Cooking cookbook for the recipe. I was contemplating whether to make some changes to the basic recipe or just let the cranberries be what they are and enjoy their true taste.

I started experiementing. First, I put the oranges to the test. Why add oranges, another bitter fruit?!? Ok orange peels are bitter but are also sweet. I found that the sweet oranges paired nicely with the sour cranberries. Perhaps because their common denominator is the bitterness ?!?

In the culinary world, it is well known that pungent spices offset the sour flavors so I also added cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice. They bring a little warmth to the sauce, too. In addition, the allspice gave a nice citrusy flavor. They balanced out the sauce nicely and resulted in a pleasant sweet and sour dish. Again, I can’t imagine the sauce without them.

Oh and the sugar! Most recipes use sugar for cranberry sauce; after all it is a sour dish and sweet can offset sourness. I have nothing against sugar if used well in a dish, meaning it does not overpower the foods that it is added to. I am excited to say that I was able to reduce the sugar a bit in this recipe just by adding the seasonings. Not bad ehhh …

There is more! I used to cook the sauce in a pot that yielded a rather mushy appearance. It did not bother me, I did not even realize I did not cook the cranberries properly. To make sure the cranberries stayed whole, my mother-in-law used to prick each berry one by one with a needle so they didn’t burst open in the pot. I have recently learnt from a chef that slowly cooking them in the oven would give very nice results and the berries stay whole. I would like to mention that of course cranberries carefully made in a pot can stay whole as well.

I think my recipe made the cranberries more suitable to eat with savory foods, it has a pleasant flavor without overpowering the cranberries. You can keep it in the refrigerator for at least 3 days. The flavors come together while the sauce sits in the fridge. Hope you will enjoy it! Of course, there are many other techniques to cook cranberries that yield beautiful results too.

Cranberry sauce recipe

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries (frozen is fine just make sure they are fully defrosted)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp dried ginger (cut and sifted) or 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 orange (chopped up 4 Tbsp peel and the juice) Chop up the orange peel into very small pieces it tastes great in the sauce.
  • or 2 Tbsp dried orange peel and 1/3 cup of orange juice
  • If you don’t have orange juice you can use 1/3 cup of water and maybe even a little orange essence
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 pieces of all spice berries
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2-3 Tbsp of spirit of your choice: whisky, fruit brandy (optional)
  • touch of freshly ground black pepper and salt, to be added at the end
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Wash cranberries, discard any with blemishes. Combine all ingredient in a baking/glass dish and wait until cranberries start releasing their liquid for about a half an hour. Set oven to 250F and slowly bake for about two hours. Cranberries are ready when nicely cooked but not raw or mushy.
  • When done take the dish out of the oven and remove the larger spice pieces (cinnamon, allspice).
  • Add the salt and the pepper.
  • Serve at room temperature.
  • You can triple this recipe for Thanksgiving for 9-10 people.

enjoy!

Text, photo and recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Poached pears and pear autumn drink

You get two for one with this recipe! There are the fabulous poached pears and also you get to enjoy its delicious liquid as a tea. They can be served for the holidays to delight your guests or any time when you need a little boost in the fall. As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I like creating individualized teas for people but it is also gratifying to come up with fun seasonal teas as well. This fall drink is no exception.

The sugar is caramelized, the warming spices are gently infused and the sweet pears are added at the end for poaching. The end products are the firm poached pears that can accompany any fall dish and this wonderful light drink that warms your body and soul. You can surprise your guests for Thanksgiving dinner with these delicious treats!

The sweet and juicy pears are also valuable for health. They are cooling and slightly acidic. They help the lungs by moving stagnation and keeping them moist during the dry season. They are high in fiber that is very much needed in the fall. Pears are also good source of antioxidants, minerals like copper, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium and vitamins A, B, and C.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Qt of water
  • 4 larger firm but ripe pears (Bosc, Bartlett). You can poach more pears in this liquid. Leave the stems on if they have stems.
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup of sugar
  • Mulling spice (please see below)
  • zest of lemon peel
  • 3 orange rings if you have it
  • pinch of salt
  • maple syrup or caramel sauce

Preparation

  • Place 2 Qt water along with the sugar in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil, this will caramelize the sugar.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer the spices for 10 minutes. I chose cinnamon, all spice, orange peel, ginger, cloves, cardamom. It is a good idea to set a timer, time is important here. Please see the recipe below.
  • Meanwhile wash the pears. You can peel them and cut the bottoms of the pears off or just leave them as they are.
  • Turn off heat completly and add the pears into the pot. Keep them in the steam for about 5-10 minutes. The pears will poach in the steam. You want your pears to be soft but not mushy.
  • Serve the poached pears with dinner or own its own as a dessert with maple syrup or caramel sauce. Keep the liquid for a delicious warming drink.

Mulling spice

  • 1 tsp cinnamon chips
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 3 pieces of cloves
  • 1 Tbsp dried orange peel
  • 7  cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of dried ginger root (cut and sifted) or 1 tsp fresh ginger root

enjoy!

Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

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 lb of ox tail
  • 1 lb of 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)
  • 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 and washed
  • 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)
  • smoked meat like kielbasa, sausages (optional)
  • few strings of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1/2-1  cup of uncooked  rice
  • 1/2- 1 cup of water to cook the rice in
  • 1-2 heads of large Savoy cabbage or green cabbage or sour cabbage 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