Tag Archives: bread

Hungary…

Monday, March 18 –

Full house for this dinner, that’s for sure! We had: Hot Momma (wine and bread), Baby Bear, MoneyShot, SlotMachine (cucumber salad, wine, and beer), Officially Gangster, ChinUp (goulash), MyBuddy, photo(5)BestestFianceEver, and yours truly. Whew, what a crowd! And we had some seriously good food, too.

I heated up two large pans and put the cubed pork in, browning the pieces on both sides but not worrying about cooking them all the way through. Then I transferred the pieces from the secondary pan to the main large one and added a little oil to the smaller pan and cooked the onions until they were translucent. In the big pan I added in the paprika, crushed tomato, sugar, bay leaves, water, and drained sauerkraut. Once the onions were done I added them in as well. Covered and set to simmer on low until everyone showed up. Once everyone was over I added the sour cream, stirred, and it was ready to go.

The green beans I rinsed and trimmed off the ends. I put them into a large pot, covered them in water, set it on the stove, covered it and turned it onto medium high. I let that boil until they were tender but not squishy. Drained and set aside. In another pan, while the beans were simmering, I melted the butter, added the onions, and cooked until they were soft. I used dried dill and then added the flour. Once that was well mixed I added the rest, let it bubble, and it thickened pretty quickly. I added the beans, stirred, turned the heat to low and put the lid back on.

That’s all four burners going at once! Which meant I had to quickly shuffle the two extra pans into the sink when everyone showed up so that the goulash could be on the heat as well. And dinner was served!photo(4)

The pork was tender and cooked through after being on low for about 40 minutes. The sauerkraut, tomatoes, and sour cream tasted almost like a vodka sauce for pasta. You almost couldn’t tell it was sauerkraut except for the texture. That with a good crusty bread would be a great warm, filling dinner. The goulash looked tender (I say looked because I didn’t try it, as it was beef) but the potatoes I did nibble on had great flavor and were extremely good. And finally the cucumber salad was a good bright, sharp flavor to cut between the rich flavors.

Definitely a win all around – and all of the plates were scraped clean. Keep these recipes handy!

Hungary
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: http://homepage.interaccess.com/~june4)

Sauerkraut and Pork (Szekely gulyas)

  • 2 lbs. pork cubedphoto(6)
  • 1 &1/2 lbs. sauerkraut, rinse and drained
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbls. lard or oil (if meat is very lean)
  • 2 Tbls. Hungarian sweet paprika (no generic please)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomato (or fresh tomatoes peeled and crushed)
  • 1 Tbls. sugar
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 pint of sour cream (no yogurt please)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the meat and onion (in lard or oil if needed) in a pot with lid. Add the paprika to the meat and onion mix, stir to mix in (do not burn). Put in the drained sauerkraut, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Mix. Cover pot. Cook slowly for about one hour, or until meat is tender. Add the sour cream and stir it in. The aroma will make yphoto(3)our mouth water. Serve in soup plates, with good crusty bread, a meal fit for the Kaiser.

Green Beans with Dill (Kapros zoldbabfozelek)

  • 2 packages of green beans
  • 2 Tbl. Lard or butter
  • 2 Tbl. flour
  • 1/2 cup of sliced onion
  • 1/4 cup of good vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbl. chopped fresh dill

Directions: Cook beans in salted water till tender, not soft. Melt lard or butter, add onions and saute till limp, add chopped dill. Then add flour making a roux. Add 1 cup of water, sugar and vinegar and stir while the sauce gets thick. Add drained beans, and mix, if too thick add a little more water.


France…

Saturday, October 20 –

I am not even sure where to start with this dinner. It was a potluck and there was so much food that it still hurts to even think about it. A HUGE thank you to Sassy Desserts and ManlyMan for hosting this French food explosion. This might be my favorite dinner so far, and I feel like it’s going to be hard to top in the future (but I will certainly give it a shot!).

DevouringWorld & BestestFianceEver: saffron mussels bisque, au gratin potatoes, mushroom garlic escargot, french bread, 3 types of french cheeses, crackers, wine
ChinUp & MyBuddy: ratatouille, wine
Sassy Desserts & ManlyMan: artichoke tartlets, shrimp cucumber & curry cream cheese canapes, apple clafouti
Kid Kreole: etouffee
Miss Sweets: nutella crepes
Harvey Danger: drinks, garlic bread
RubsWithLove: stuffed pumpkins with everything
Mr. Hero & Hot Momma & BabyBear: wine, french bread
SlotMachine: wine, eclairs
OurCuz: food photographer for the night

I started with the au gratin potatoes, knowing that they had to bake the longest. I sliced up four russet potatoes, which actually filled two 9×12 casserole dishes and needed twice the amount of sauce. I made it exactly as it is written, and it was simple and straight-forward. Butter, then flour, then salt, then milk, then cheese – stirring often. Presto! Cheese sauce! Covered with foil and into the oven for 1.5 hours it went.

Multi-tasking around the sauce thickening I started the escargot. Again, this recipe was followed exactly as it was written and it was simple and easy to make. I soaked the escargot in water and then cut each of the snails in half. In the pan was the butter and garlic, then the mushrooms and snails. Wine, cream, flour, pepper, and tarragon were whisked together and poured on top. Left to simmer for a few moments the sauce thickened and I took it off the heat. Into the baking dish went the mushrooms first, then the escargot into the caps, then the sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese, then into the oven for about 15 minutes.

As the mushrooms were softening, I was starting the mussels bisque. Lucky number three, this recipe didn’t need much in the way of change either. Mussels cooked in water and wine, drained with liquid reserved. Butter, onion, garlic, leek, and fenugreek cooked until soft. Flour, then saffron mixture, then broth and reserved liquid. Simmer until flavors are all mixed together. Then parsley, salt, pepper, and cream – and finally the shelled mussels.

My thoughts on all of this:

  • saffron mussels bisque and french bread – Flavorful without being heavy. I usually think of bisque as a creamy, heavier base and this was not. With the fresh French bread dipped in it the flavors made a perfect fall-time soup.
  • au gratin potatoes – This dish was all of the best things that I love about cheesy potatoes, especially the crispy cheese on the edges!
  • mushroom garlic escargot – Creamy, garlicy, heavy sauce on top of cheesy, baked mushrooms = heaven. I could have easily left the snails out and been just as happy with the flavor. Yum!
  • 3 types of french cheeses and crackers – There was a creamy white, an herbed, creamy white, and a sharp, nutty orange cheese. This managed to keep the hunger at bay while the oven worked overtime trying to get all of these dishes done.
  • ratatouille – The last time I had ratatouille it was slightly mushy and mostly flavorless. This time, it was heavenly and very, very flavorful. Apparently if you make it like Disney, you get a great dish!
  • artichoke tartlets – Picture it: flaky pastry, gooey cheese, ripe tomatoes, and salty artichoke. Sounds amazing, right? It was. Very, very. Have a party you’re throwing soon? Make these, they won’t disappoint.
  • shrimp cucumber & curry cream cheese canapes – These were indulgent squares of flavorful goodness. It was almost overwhelming how much flavor they had in them, but then you reached for another and realized that you didn’t mind.
  • stuffed pumpkins with everything – Get up. Go to the store. Get the stuff. Go home. Make this recipe RIGHT NOW. Your mouth (and whoever you decide to share it with) will thank you. I could easily see this becoming a base for many recipes in my kitchen.
  • etouffee – This was a homemade recipe, hence no link. It was spicy, slightly creamy, and very flavorful. He even plated it for everyone so that it ended up beautiful when served.
  • nutella crepes – I only managed to eat half of one of these, but it was dangerously good. With banana and nutella inside and whipped cream on top – how could you say no?
  • apple clafouti – Almost like a pie, almost like a tart, and almost like coffee cake – it was amazing. And the very last thing that I could possibly eat.
  • eclairs – I couldn’t even have one of these, I was so full. But they looked amazing and I am sure they were delicious.

Food and wine and people everywhere – holy cow. Thank you to everyone who came to this dinner and made such wonderful food. All of it collectively knocked my socks off and I’m so happy it turned out the way it did. Three cheers to our France potluck!

France
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com)

Saffron Mussels Bisque

  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 1 1/4 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 leek, bulb only, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 saffron threads
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions:  Place saffron threads in a small bowl, and cover with 1 tablespoon boiling water. Set aside.

Scrub mussels clean in several changes of fresh water and pull off beards. Discard any mussels that are cracked or do not close tightly when tapped. Put mussels into a saucepan with wine and water. Cover and cook over high heat, shaking pan frequently, 6-7 minutes or until shells open. Remove mussels, discarding any which remain closed. Strain liquid through a fine sieve and reserve.

Heat butter and oil in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic, leek and fenugreek and cook gently 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add saffron mixture, 2-1/2 cups of reserved cooking liquid and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, keep 8 mussels in shells and remove remaining mussels from shells. Add all mussels to soup and stir in chopped parsley, salt, pepper and cream. Heat through 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired, and serve hot.

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

Easy Garlic Escargots

  • 1 (7 ounce) can escargots, drained
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 20 mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:     Place escargots in a small bowl, and cover with cold water; set aside for 5 minutes. This will help to remove the canned flavor they may have.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Drain the water from the escargots and pat dry with a paper towel. Melt butter with the garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the escargots and mushroom caps; cook and stir until the mushroom caps begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together wine, cream, flour, pepper, and tarragon in a small bowl until the flour is no longer lumpy. Pour this into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and use a spoon to place the mushrooms upside down into the prepared baking dish. Spoon an escargot into each mushroom cap. Pour the remaining sauce over the mushroom caps and into the baking dish. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake in preheated oven until the Parmesan cheese has turned golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


Croatia…

Wednesday, June 13 –

First things first, I have to right a wrong from last week’s post. I didn’t give proper (or any) credit to my Wonderful Boyfriend for all of the help he gave me cooking that dinner. Thank you, retroactively, for your wonderful goodness and constant willingness to lend a helping hand. You make this project something that I not only look forward to, but look forward to sharing with you.

This week’s guests also contributed to this adventure, and here are my thanks: Hot Momma brought wine and the turkey breasts. Bestie Extraordinaire brought lots of wine. And Amine Chef and BeatBox brought a wonderful green salad and bread to snack on while the chicken was baking. Thank you!

Now, on to this week’s post. I have to say that I approached this dinner with a huge amount of excitement in my heart. I had a real family recipe given to me and I didn’t want to mess it up. But mess it up I did (sort of). First of all, I didn’t give enough consideration to how long this recipe takes to make and to bake. So my boss said I could skip the part of putting the pan into the double boiler and it would cut down on baking time. Second of all, I tried to accommodate guests with this recipe when I really, really shouldn’t have modified it. And third, I made guesses about the way the structure of the recipe worked and I got them wrong. I did this recipe a disservice and I promise to make it again soon, doing it the right way. If any of my guests for this dinner want to come for the re-do, you are more than welcome.

How it all happened…

This is really a two-day recipe, so let me start at the beginning. I was planning on cooking for Bestie Extraordinaire, Amine Chef, and BeatBox (who, if you remember back several weeks, cannot eat any sort of dairy). So I figured that I could substitute soy milk for the regular cow milk (I love soy milk on cereal, on desserts, and for my coffee drinks, so how could this possibly go wrong?). Wonderful Boyfriend and I cut, toasted, and soaked the bread just like the recipe describes. I was running out of time so I let the bread sit on baking sheets in the fridge to finish soaking up the soy milk. Then we get to Wednesday, and we add Hot Momma, Baby Bear, and Mr. Hero to the dinner. (Eek! Not enough meat on that chicken to feed everyone! So we bought turkey breasts and threw them into the same pan. Makes sense, right?)

I saute the onion, celery, parsley, and garlic as per the instructions. I mix it all into the bowl with the ripped up bread chunks of one of the loaves of bread. It looks like A LOT of stuffing. So my brain told me, “Just don’t use the other loaf. It’ll totally be enough.” However, it didn’t tell me, “Remember to halve the spices because you’re only using half the bread.” So into the bowl went all of the spices and eggs. Mixed up and stuffed into the bird, bacon placed on top, turkey placed on the side, bacon placed on the top of that. Into the oven at 400* for 30 minutes, then I basted with the wine and olive oil. Then stuff the rest of the stuffing around the bird and then an hour in the oven at 350*, basting twice more. My digital thermometer read 155* , so with resting that gets it up to 165* as the food safety sites tell us to get chicken up to. Onto the plates it went, along with a salad from Amine Chef and BeatBox, we were ready to eat.

The chicken was moist, flavorful, and delicious. I don’t remember ever having a baked chicken dish that turned out so incredible. I could have eaten half the bird, I swear! The stuffing, well, wasn’t my best-in-show, that’s for sure. It tasted all wrong because of the soy milk and while most of the people at the table liked it I was crying on the inside. *sniff* It still breaks my heart to think about how amazing that dinner could have been if I hadn’t tried to cut so many corners. If there is anyone out there making these recipes, please, please, please do this recipe how it is written rather than how I tried to do it. As many successes as I have had with this, this is my most heartbreaking failure.

On that note, learn when it’s ok to change recipes and when it is not. It will save you from stories like this.

Croatia
(recipe borrowed from my boss!)

Croatian Stuffed Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Fresh parsley (1/4 – 1/3 of a bunch)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil
  • White wine (chardonnay)
  • 2 loaves Albertson’s French Bread (white)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2% milk (3/4 gal. will be used)

Directions:

(if having more than 4-6 people over, do 2 chickens and 3 loaves Albertson’s French bread, 3 eggs, 1.5 onions, 3 stalks celery, little more milk  – don’t use Safeway bread – turns out mushy)

Day prior:

  • Wash chicken, salt inside and out; place in refrigerator overnight.
  • Cut bread loaves and dry out in oven (approx: 1/2 hr. on 300 & 1 hr. or longer on 200 or less)
  • Finely chop together:  onion, garlic, celery, parsley.
  • In non-stick skillet:

Place 1/2 c – 1 c. olive oil & heat to med. high; add onion/parsley mixture; careful it doesn’t burn – you want the excess moisture to cook up –      approximately 30-40 min.  Towards the end, you will need to turn down the heat to med – low.   Cool mixture.

  • When bread is dried out and cool, place bread in a large broiler and slowly add half the milk; as bread absorbs milk, turn bread pieces over and add the remaining milk.  Every 20 min. or so turn bread pieces over making certain that all pieces absorb milk and let stand for approx. 1.5 hrs. until you can easily mix and crumble the pieces (should not be any hard pieces of bread).  If you think there is too much milk, you can squeeze some out (should not be dripping milk).  Add the sauteed onion/parsley mixture to the bread and mix well; add 1- 2 tablespoon salt, 3-4 tablespoon pepper, 3 tablespoon paprika; continue mixing well; add 2 eggs; mix well.  Place in refrigerator til ready to start cooking chicken.

Cooking Day:

(Chicken will take 4 hrs. to cook on 350, Bake)

  • Place chicken – add slice of bacon on top of chicken — in a large black broiler plan (place as much stuffing as you can fit inside chicken at this time) & let it bake in the oven for 30 min. on 400 degrees.
  • Remove chicken temporarily from the oven while you place a larger, shallower pan with HOT WATER in oven.
  • Take the remaining stuffing mix and place it around the chicken in the large black broiler plan.  Cover and seal with aluminum foil & place into pan with hot water.  TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 AND KEEP IT THERE FOR THE REMAINING 3.5 HRS.
  • After 1 hr., start basting chicken with olive oil and white wine (place in a bowl approx. 3/4 cup olive oil and 3-4 cups white wine.  After the first hour, baste every hour or so.  Be sure to place olive oil/wine mixture over chicken AND stuffing.

When chicken is done, remove chicken; remove stuffing from inside chicken & add to rest of stuffing.  There will be a lot of juice from the chicken and wine – be sure to mix well this juice into the stuffing.  Enjoy!!!


Bulgaria…

Friday, February 10 –

As I sit here trying to think of what to say about this dinner, my mouth is literally watering. Just remembering the smell of the food cooking is making me want to make it again for dinner tonight.

I definitely changed this recipe, but I’m sure it would be good as written too! I only made one eggplant for the four of us (Wonderful Boyfriend, Roommate Extraordinaire, and our new guest, LostBoy) and cut the ingredients down accordingly. I used one shredded carrot, two celery stalks, four roma tomatoes, and two sweet onions. I also used one pound of ground lamb and an entire bulb of garlic. So I started with cooking the lamb, then added the onion and garlic, then the celery and carrot, then the tomatoes, and then topped it off with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. (I know what you’re thinking… “This isn’t really the recipe at all!” And you’d be mostly right. I used the recipe as the base and expanded it to a full entree from there.) I let the mixture simmer down a little while I scooped out the middles of the eggplant. Then I filled it with the lamb and veggie mix, surrounded it with the rest, topped it with a light sprinkle of parmesan, and baked it for 25 minutes. The smell was intoxicating, let me tell you!

On the side I served a small green salad and some fresh sourdough bread. For LostBoy and I, I also made black pepper mushrooms (olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic salt, and a half a ton of black pepper – saute until soft). I felt like it needed a little bit extra (the salad and mushrooms) and something to scoop up the yummy juices (the sourdough). Definitely good choices!

The eggplant was firm but well cooked. The lamb and veggie mix was full of flavor with a slight heat-spice because of the red peppers. The salad was a great starter. And the bread was a great way to soak up the juices!

Things I have learned: You can eat eggplant skin! Weird! Of the few ways I’ve ever cooked it the recipes always said to peel them first. So surprise, surprise, you can eat the skin. It definitely changed the flavor a little, but in a good and interesting way. So next time you think to cook eggplant, don’t be afraid to leave the skin on!

Bulgaria
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.findbgfood.com)

Imambayalda (Babaganoush, Stuffed Eggplants)

  • 4 eggplants
  • 6 tomatoes, grated
  • 5 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 celery, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • half a lemon,
  • 1 bay leaf,
  • parsley,
  • peppers,
  • half a cupful sunflower oil,
  • salt

Preparation:  Remove the top of the eggplants and scoop out the soft insides (you should end up having 4 hollow eggplants with half of their meat still on the sides). Heat the oil and cook the onions until golden. Add the carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, add the bay leaves and some water and sauté for 5 minutes. Stuff the eggplants with this mixture (you can add some of their meat you scooped out if you don’t have enough ingredients to fill them with), top with a slice of tomato and bake in a 375F oven for 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


Bahamas…

Saturday, October 22 –

For this particular country I picked a couple of different recipes and ideas from other blogs and threw them together (maybe not as 100% authentic, but I think it worked out well anyway). The thing I noticed that a lot of the recipe sites had in common for this country was that they all had something that had to do with seafood stew (clams, fish, etc). So instead of just focusing on one type of seafood I decided to do them all. I used a cioppino recipe (which is actually originally from San Francisco) and muddled the seafood proportions with the ideas behind some of the Bahamas recipes. It was a very easy recipe to put together and the results were so good I was dreaming about leftovers before we had even gotten up from the table.

This recipe called for onion, garlic, white wine, and chicken broth – which happens to be a combination I love very much. I made the broth, which I added 2 bulbs of garlic to instead of just 4 cloves, and then added shrimp, crab meat, mussels, clams, and cod. I simmered everything together until the smell filled the house, the shells were all open, and the garlic and rosemary bread was on the table. Both the guys made “oh my gosh this is so amazing” yummy sounds – mostly with their mouths full of bread dipped in broth. I will definitely be making this recipe again!

Bahamas
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com)

Cioppino (Modified into Fish Stew)

  •     1/3 cup butter
  •     1 onion, chopped
  •     2 bulbs garlic, minced
  •     1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  •     1 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  •     1 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  •     1 bay leaf
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  •     1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  •     1/2 cup water
  •     3/4 cup white wine
  •     13 ounces large shrimp – peeled and deveined
  •     10 small clams
  •     10 mussels, cleaned and debearded
  •     3/4 cup crabmeat
  •     12 oz cod fillets, cubed

Directions: Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large stockpot, add onions, garlic and parsley. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft.  Add tomatoes to the pot (break them into chunks as you add them). Add chicken broth, bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, water and wine. Mix well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp, clams, mussels and crabmeat. Stir in fish, if desired. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until clams open. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with warm, crusty bread!


Austria…

Sunday, October 9 –

This weekend was Austria, which included veal (yes, baby cow), apple and cabbage saute, and knodel. I made everything just a little bit quicker than was recommended, because most of two of the three recipes wanted me to prep stuff and then let it sit for an hour, which I didn’t have time to do. However, everything still turned out extra delicious.

I started by putting the knodel together (half of the recipe), which looked and smelled a lot like American Thanksgiving stuffing. It was sauteed onions mixed with toasted bread, with milk and eggs thrown in. I let it sit for 20 minutes instead of the hour the recipe called for, and then I had to come up with a way to get the baking dish into a pot of steaming water. This meant that I not only had to use my biggest pan for the boiling water, I had to put a little dish at the bottom to keep the knodel dish raised up off the bottom of the pan. It definitely looked like I had a “MacGyver” moment, but it worked just fine. Set to steam for an hour, I moved on to the saute.

Onion, cabbage, and apple – what a great combination. Everything got a chance to simmer down to become soft, tender, and flavorful without hitting the mushy point. I made half of the recipe I posted, and it still made quite a lot. Definitely more food than 3 people could eat. For one dinner of 4 people I’d recommend cooking 1/4 of the recipe as it’s posted. Once that was on to simmer for 20 minutes, I moved on to the Wiener Schnitzel.

Roommate Extraordinaire helped to tenderize the veal – with his knuckles (which worked really well, actually). We made about 3/4 of a pound instead of the 2 pounds the recipe called for, because there were only 3 of us. Then one at a time the veal went into the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, then into the hot oil. Because we had smaller, more tenderized cuts of meat than the recipe called for it didn’t take as long on each side to make them brown. After I cooked each one we put it under foil so we could eat all at the same time and not have lukewarm meat.

Once everyone was dished up, with melted butter drizzled on top of the knodel, I was instantly struck by the thought “comfort food”. The cabbage and apple saute I will definitely make again. I will probably make the ratio of cabbage/onion/apple a little more even, then throw some sausage in with it and serve it with something like squash. Yum! The wiener schnitzel was alright, not my favorite, but the flavor and texture were both good. And then there is the knodel – the extra, super, mega delicious steamed stuffing. It tasted like Thanksgiving without the turkey, and stuffing has ALWAYS been my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, so I probably could have eaten the entire dish of knodel. It was the perfect side, and I could easily see it going with a great many other types of protein and veggie sides. I’m definitely marking this one down as a favorite.

The guys, Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire, picked up beer from Austria and they both said it was like a “good pale pilsner”. I started by drinking white wine (definitely not regionally correct) and moved on to cider with Roommate Extraordinaire. He picked up a dark, dry, unbelievably good cider that I’m including on here just because it was that good.

Things I have learned: Some countries take a really long time to marinade and prep the food, which make it a little harder to do if you only have a small amount of time to make everything. But so far I’ve managed to make everything taste good anyway, so I’m going to assume that the leftovers for this will be even better than the day-of. While veal is baby cow, it didn’t set off my crohn’s, so either I’m becoming stronger in my digesting abilities or it isn’t as hard to break down the fibers of veal. Either way, it was good but not something I’d chose to make again. When seasoned well, cabbage makes an excellent side dish and I need to learn to add it to my arsenal of ingredients that I use on a regular basis.

Austria
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com and www.food.com)

Wiener Schnitzel

  •     2 pounds veal
  •     1 cup all-purpose flour
  •     4 eggs
  •     1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  •     salt and pepper to taste
  •     4 cups bread crumbs
  •     1/8 cup oil for frying

Directions:  Cut the veal into steaks, about as thick as your finger. Dredge in flour. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Coat the veal with egg mixture, then with bread crumbs. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Fry veal until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.

Knodel

  •     1 onion, chopped
  •     2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  •     2 teaspoons butter
  •     1/2 (1 pound) loaf white bread, toasted and cut into cubes
  •     2 eggs, beaten
  •     1 cup milk
  •     salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Butter one 9×11 inch baking dish. In a skillet over medium heat, combine the onion, parsley and butter. Cook until onions begin to brown. Pour over bread cubes and toss well. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over the bread and onion mixture; mix well and allow to stand for 1 hour. Firmly press mixture into baking dish; tightly cover with aluminum foil. Place baking dish on a rack in a larger pot with 3 inches of water. Cover pot and steam for 1 hour. Remove from pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Drizzle with melted butter before serving.

Green Cabbage and Apple Sauté

  • 3 lbs head green cabbage, halved cored and coarsely shredded (12 cups)
  • 1 cup riesling wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled halved, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the wine, lemon juice and sugar. Let marinate for 1 hour, tossing often.
  2. In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the cabbage and its marinade and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the apples and toss well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Andorra…

Wednesday, August 10 –

This dinner was a challenge to my sense of timing, more than anything. It is always a trick to get stuff to the table, all being warm and done at the same time. I started with the trinxat, which is basically a cabbage, potato patty. I chopped up two potatoes and a half a head of cabbage into roughly one- to two-inch pieces and dumped them in a big pot of boiling water. Then I moved on to braising the spinach (which if you’re like me and you’re not sure how exactly to braise something, youtube is a great resource). I used an entire package of spinach from the premade salad mix section of the grocery store. Then I took the spinach out of the pan, finished the recipe, and mixed it all together in a bowl and wrapped it in aluminum foil to keep it warm.

This was about the time that I started checking on the potatoes and cabbage, and started on the bread mixture. When someone says to me, “Get some good, crusty bread.” I usually head straight to the loaves of garlic rustic bread, which is exactly what I did here. I toasted the slices and spread a little bit of roasted garlic on top, topped with the tomatoes and serrano ham like the recipe calls for. It looked like a little open-faced sandwich of goodness.

The potatoes and cabbage were done by now, and I set my Wonderful Boyfriend to smashing it all together with the garlic. I diced and cooked the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Our Roommate Extraordinaire made the patties and I cooked them in the bacon grease. (Yes, I really did. Everything is better with bacon. And garlic. And wine. But really, bacon makes my world a better place. Both the guys agreed wholeheartedly.)

While this was all being put together, I figured that I had to do something with the other half of the cabbage. Cabbage is dangerous to crohn’s, so I don’t cook with it much and I didn’t want it to go bad in our refrigerator. So I made coleslaw. I know, it’s not really something that screams “Andorra” from the recipes that I read, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to make as a side. So I threw it together to go with the dinner we were making.

We ate outside, and both my Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire made sounds of contentedness throughout the meal. I would have to say that the spinach dish was my least favorite, but the dish was almost empty at the end of the meal, so I think the guys liked it.

After dinner was over, I started on the honeydew dish, which while it was cooking smelled like candied heaven. It made a lot more than we could eat in one sitting, so it will definitely be warmed and appreciated again over the next couple of days. The weird thing about this recipe was the way the sugar behaved. The recipe said to let the sugar melt over the heat and then throw in the melon. I did, and it instantly hardened into candy crystals. I let the little pieces melt again into the melons but had to scoop out the bigger crunchy pieces. I let the melons warm up and then I sprinkled a little more sugar on top to make up for what I scooped out. It worked much, much better that way. Then I added the honey as a drizzle from the bottle, and then juice from a whole lemon and a whole orange. I used white wine and poured about a quarter of the bottle into the mix. I let it bubble for a little bit and then took it off the heat so it would thicken. We were too impatient to wait for it to cool very much, so I scooped it over the vanilla ice cream and it turned into a melty, delicious mess. People with more willpower than us would probably have more luck waiting for it to cool a little longer so the ice cream wouldn’t turn into instant soup, but it tasted amazing anyway. Believe me, all three bowls were scraped clean of any lingering sauce.

Things I have learned: Making this many dishes at the same time is possible to do by yourself, but having an extra set of hands is nice. Don’t turn down help when easy stuff like smashing potatoes can be done out of the way. Cold melons makes hot sugar crystallize. And don’t be afraid to add something extra to use up an ingredient that would otherwise go bad, it might be just the right touch to round out the meal.

Recommendations from our sommelier, Leigh Olson: Today’s meal, with it very diverse flavors and ingredients, gives us an opportunity to do some course pairing.  Simply put, each course will have a specific wine matched to the dish.  Though not necessary, it is fun.

For the sake of tradition, we will assume that the salads ~ Catalan Spinach Salad and Andorran Onion Salad with Honey ~ would be served first.  Both salads have an underlying “green” flavor that is punctuated with some sweetness (raisins in the case of the spinach salad and honey for the onion salad).  In steps Sauvignon Blanc with its bright green grass flavor to complement the green flavors of these two salads.  Truth be told, if you are serving a salad this wine is a pretty sure bet.

Next comes the Trinxat.  This course is pure comfort on a plate. There is nothing pretentious about the ingredients or the preparation. Just earthy, smooth  flavors.  In my mind a French Chablis would work wonderfully.  The brisk, flinty flavors would be a perfect contrast to the silky textures of the Trinxat.

For our last course, Pan con Tomate, we will end with a Soave (pronounced So-Ah-Ve as in Rico).  This is a wine from the northeast region of Venento in Italy and is a very subtle wine that will play nicely with the tomatoes and the ham.

Fun Facts:  Sauvignon Blanc was dubbed so due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in Southwest France ~ sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”). The Chardonnay grape grown in the Burgundy Region that creates French Chablis has endured The French Revolution, The Little Ice Age, the Prussian Invasion, an odium outbreak, the phylloxera epidemic and two World Wars. Soave is experiencing a revival in the United State somewhat due to the movie “Letter to Juliet” which was filmed partly in the town of Soave, Italy.  Oh, how our movies inspire us!

Serving Temps:  Mid 40’s – 50 degrees.  No wine cooler, no problem.  Store your wines in the refrigerator and pull it out 45 minutes before serving.

Vessel of Choice:  General White Wine Glass with a tulip shape to capture the aromas of these three whites. Remember, if you can’t smell the wine, you can’t taste the wine.

Andorra
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.alleasyworld.com, www.curiositykilledthecook.blogspot.com, and www.celtnet.org.uk)

Trinxat

  • Savoy or green cabbage
  • 10 thick slices of salt pork or bacon, diced
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Directions:  Boil the cabbage and potato until well done and very tender. Mash both ingredients together with a potato masher. Season to taste with salt, and set aside. In a frying pan, lightly brown salt pork or bacon on both sides, drain on kitchen roll and set aside. Fry garlic, in olive oil until soft, 2-3 minutes; then add oil and garlic to cabbage mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined, but still a bit chunky; Stir in the bacon or salt pork. Drop the mixture into hot oil by large spoonfuls, pat into smooth patties with a spatula and fry until browned on both sides, or mound onto a serving platter without frying and garnish with any leftover bacon.

Catalan Spinach Salad

  • 2 bunches of spinach, chopped and blanched
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (I used slivered almonds)

Directions:  Wash, chop, and blanch the spinach. Warm the oil and garlic in a pan until the garlic turns golden, then add the raisins and nuts, cooking until the raisins are plump. Place spinach in a bowl and top with the raisin/garlic/nut mixture.  Serves 4

Honeydew Melon with Caramelia Sauce

  • 1 Medium honeydew melon, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 4 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 120ml (just under a half cup) White or red wine
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • The juice of half an orange
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • vanilla ice cream

In a large frying pan, cook the sugar until it melts then add the honeydew melon and stir to coat in the sugar before adding the remainder of the ingredients. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken and bubble then serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.

Bread with Tomatoes (Pan con Tomate)

  • 4 thick slices of good, crusty, bread
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large, very ripe, tomatoes
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 4 slices Serrano ham

Method: Toast the bread, then rub it all over with the garlic. Halve the tomatoes then rub one half over the top of each piece of toast, squeezing them to get the pulp out. Season with salt, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, add the Serrano ham and serve.