Monday, March 29, 2010

Hungarian Mushroom Soup



I had Hungarian Mushroom Soup for the first time about two years ago in a small cafe in Missoula, Montana. I saw it on the menu and, since I'm a quarter Hungarian and love mushrooms, decided to try it. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was completely amazing and I've been perfecting my recipe for Hungarian Mushroom Soup ever since. It's warm and comforting and is so hearty that you don't even realize that it's vegetarian and sort of good for you. I have the recipe here for you all today, and I hope that you enjoy this creamy amazing soup as much as I do!


Ingredients:

8 Ounces Crimini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 Ounces Small Portabello Mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups Onions, chopped
5 Teaspoons Hungarian Paprika
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
1 Teaspoon Fresh Dill, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1/4 Teaspoon Marjoram

Sauté the onions and the olive oil in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, paprika, thyme, marjoram, dried dill and soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms soften and become dark in color.


Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then whisk in the flour and continue whisking while the mixture cooks for another 3 minutes. Add the milk and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 10 minutes allowing the mixture to thicken, stirring once every minute or so. Now empty the mushroom mixture into the milk mixture. Add the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable stock and the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and watch mixture until it stops boiling. When the boiling ceases, stir in the sour cream, salt, pepper, and fresh dill. Serve hot.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Autumn Brittle


Several weeks ago I tried a new snack from Costco called "Cashew Clusters" and became completely obsessed with it. It is amazingly and utterly delicious! They're these kind of granola chunks with cashews, pumpkin seeds and almonds in them. I decided to try to make a brittle using mostly the same ingredients, but added some dried cranberries as well to boost the healthiness of the candy. I had never made brittle before, so I was quite surprised at how long it took for the sugar mixture to reach the "hard crack" stage (almost an hour!). It turned out wonderfully and makes for a good candy that you don't have to feel guilty about eating, since it has a lot of vitamins aside from the sugar and honey. I decided to call it Autumn Brittle because the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries seemed very fall-y to me, and autumn is my favorite season and I've been missing it as of late spending my time here in Los Angeles.



Ingredients:

1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup Cashews
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
2/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 and 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar 
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter

Heat the sugar, honey, water and salt in a large pot over a low-medium flame. Use a pot that is larger than you would think necessary because when the mixture begins to boil it will foam up and increase in size. Stir every five minutes or so. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 310 degrees Fahrenheit. This is very important because this is the temperature at which sugar hardens into a rock-like state after it cools. It can take up to an hour for the mixture to reach that high of a temperature, so don't get too worried if 15 minutes go by and the thermometer is still at 175.


While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a shallow pan, about 9 x 13 inches in width and length, and grease the parchment paper. Set aside. After the sugar mixture reaches 310 degrees turn off the heat and allow to cool to 302 degrees, then immediately stir in the butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries until they're coated in the mixture.


Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out into a large rectangle using a rubber spatula. Try to keep the surface relatively even and about 1 inch in height. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the brittle to cool for one hour. Once it has finished cooling, remove the sheet of brittle from the parchment paper and break the brittle into pieces using a meat tenderizer or clean hammer. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and serve. Store excess brittle in a cool dry place.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lattice Fennel Bread


Last week I went home to Portland for a few days, and while I was there my Mom gave me a stack of old recipes she had held onto for years and years. I went through the little hand-written notes and random clippings and came across a collage of Easter Bread recipes. I hadn't made fresh bread in quite a long time, so I decided to try an old lattice bread recipe that sounded simple and healthy. It turned out really delicious, and had a strong taste of rye bread due to the caraway seeds. But what was the most striking was how beautiful is looked coming out of the oven, all inter-weaved and golden brown. If you're going to a large Easter gathering and want to bring something impressive-looking, I'd highly recommend making this bread.

Ingredients:

4 and 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Packet Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 and 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Flaxseed
2 Tablespoons Fennel Seeds (or Caraway Seeds)

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and 2 cups of the flour, set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan stir the milk, sugar, salt and butter over medium heat until butter has almost melted and the mixture is warm, but not hot.

Add the eggs, the milk mixture and 1/4 cup of the olive oil to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the seeds and then stir in the remainder of the flour in 1/2 cup increments.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic in texture. Turn the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a small amount of olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm dry place to rise for one hour. If you don't happen to have a "warm" place on hand, I always leave the bowl on top of a heating pad set at a high-heat setting for an hour, which seems to do the trick.


Punch the dough down and divide it in half, then cover and leave it in the bowl for another 10 minutes. Grease a large baking sheet and set it aside. Roll out one of the halves into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 3 individual 12 x 2 inch strips and arrange the strips 1 inch apart on the greased baking sheet. Roll the second half on the dough into an 8 x 10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 5 individual 8 x 2 inch strips.

Weave the 8 x 2 inch strips between the 12 x 2 inch strips, going over and under them in rotation. Once you have finished weaving, it should look like the photo above. Cover the baking pan with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and makes a slightly hollow sound when you tap on it. Brush the bread with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil during the last 5 minutes of baking. Cool the bread on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then serve.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Old-Fashioned Blood Orange Ice Cream


Late last week I saw that a shipment of blood oranges had come into the supermarket, I'd only had them once before and loved their flavor, so I decided to try and make something with them. Oranges in a pastry or dough just seemed a bit strange to me, oranges in ice cream, however, seemed like a fantastic idea. I don't have an ice cream maker, so I made this the old fashioned way in a plastic bag with epsom salt and ice. It came out amazingly well, the orange flavor goes so well with cream and the colors in the ice cream were just beautiful.


Ingredients:

Juice from 2 Blood Oranges with Pulp, about 2/3 Cup
2 Tablespoons Grated Blood Orange Rind
2 and 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract 
2 Cups Half & Half
1/2 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Epsom (Rock) Salt
2  One-Gallon Size 
Ziploc Bags
Ice Cubes

Fill one of the gallon ziploc bags half full with ice cubes and add the epsom salt, seal the bag and set aside. Place the half & half, sugar, blood orange juice, blood orange rind and vanilla in the other ziploc bag. Seal the bag and shake it for about 30 seconds to mix up all of the ingredients. Place the sealed bag with the blood orange mixture inside of the bag with the salt and ice cubes. Seal the outer bag as well. 


Move and shake the bag constantly, turning it over from the front and sides, until the ice cream mixture hardens and becomes heavy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the ice cream from the plastic bag and place it in a plastic bowl. Place the plastic bowl in the freezer for one hour, then empty the ice cream into a blender and blend on high until the ice cream is smooth. Place the ice cream back into the plastic bowl and place it in the freezer for another hour.

Scoop out ice cream and serve with a cold glass of milk. Makes about 5 servings.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blue Velvet Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting


My friend Alana hosted a "Galaxy Quest"-themed party this past weekend, complete with blue jello shots and blue mixed drinks, yum! So of course, I wanted to make a dessert and I wanted it to be blue. Red velvet cake is my favorite cake of all cakes! Thus, I decided to try to make it with blue food coloring instead and see how it turned out. I used an angel food cake recipe for the base and added a tablespoon of cocoa powder in an attempt to keep the cake from turning greenish from the egg yolks in normal red velvet recipes. Because of the angel food base, the cake turned out with a much lighter flavor than red velvet, which is usually super rich. I also threw some blueberries into the actual cake and made a blueberry syrup to drizzle over the slices for some extra fruity flavor.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the syrup to the party. BUT, I did manage to bring the cake, which ended up being incredibly difficult to transport by myself while driving and balancing it on a cake stand. I basically ended up holding the base of the stand in between my legs in my lap while I was driving. Then, when I had to brake suddenly, the cake lurched forward just enough to smear a bit of frosting on my steering wheel, and because I couldn't stop on the highway to clean it off, it smeared all over the wheel while I was steering. I made it to the valley though, cake intact! And it was well worth it. Galaxy Quest = awesome.



Blue Velvet Cake

1 and 1/4 Cups Cake Flour, sifted
1 and 1/4 Cups Ultra-Fine Sugar
11 Egg Whites, room temperature
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 and 1/2 Cups Blueberries, fresh not frozen

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the cocoa powder. In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt until they begin to hold soft peaks. Then beat in the remaining 3/4 cups sugar and the blue food coloring until the mixture begins to hold stiff peaks, about 4 minutes or so.

Slowly fold in 1/4 cup of the flour mixture at a time. Use a spatula and take care not to stir the mixture, just keep folding until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Pour  one cup of blueberries into the batter and fold them in as well. Pour the batter into two well-greased 9-inch cake pans and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.


While the cake is baking, make the Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe below. Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Shake the pan a little bit to loosen the grip of the cake, then place a plate on top of the pan and, wearing oven mitts, flip it over so that the pan is on the top and the plate is on the bottom. Gently remove the pan and place the plated cake layer in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Repeat this process with the second cake pan as well.

While the cake layers are cooling, make the Blueberry Syrup recipe below. Once the cake layers and the frosting have finished cooling, place the bottom cake layer onto the display surface, (i.e. a cake stand or pretty plate that you will serve it off of), and begin evenly frosting the top of the bottom cake layer. Then, center the second cake layer on top of the bottom cake layer so that they line up perfectly. Now frost the sides and top of the cake so that the entire cake surface is frosted and no cake surface is visible through the frosting. Place 1/4 cup of the frosting in the center-top of the cake in a dollop. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries and arrange them on top of the dollop in the center of the cake. Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of blueberry syrup over each individual cake slice.



Cream Cheese Frosting

10 tb butter, softened
16 oz cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
4 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cream cheese, vanilla and butter together until they are completely combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until blended. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to help solidify the texture.


Blueberry Syrup

1 Cup Blueberries, fresh not frozen
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Blueberry Jam, good quality

In a small saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar and water over low heat for about 8 minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved, breaking the blueberries apart with the end of a wooden spoon when they begin to soften. Pour the mixture into a food processor, add the jam, and blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill until serving time.