Month: June 2011


Blueberry Cardamom Ice Cream

Makes 2 quarts There’s an old Icelandic saying: “Even though you are small, you can still be clever.” Teeny weenie blueberries, fresh from the bush may be small, but they make the most adorable and extraordinary purple ice cream. And, as you drown in bite after bite of cold, sweet, glorious goodness, you also consume a quarter ton of antioxidants. Clever, indeed. So, churn up a batch. Stick around to watch as it freezes in the belly of your ice cream maker – you’ll be all smiles as the violet blue blends with the rich cream and sweetened by a light touch of sugar and cardamom. Make ice cream. Let joy overwhelm you – become a child, yet again. I’m honored that this recipe was featured in Penzy’s Spices’ 2012 early summer catalog. Ingredients: 2 cups blueberries 1 Tbsp water 1/2 tsp fresh, crushed cardamom (the seeds of about 15-20 pods) 2/3 cup sugar 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup milk Method: Ah, blueberries. There’s no quicker way to revive the inner child. Especially when the winter …

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Menu: Iceland

Good things are all around me. Yesterday I celebrated my third wedding anniversary with Keith. On Friday my brother Keith is coming to visit us all the way from Florida.  (We haven’t seen him in a year and a half. We miss him.) But, lest you think it’s all about the many Keiths in my life, Monday is Ava’s 2nd birthday. That’s pretty great, too. Not to mention I’ll be sharing Icelandic treats with you all week. Given the heatwave we’ve been enduring, I’ve put together a summertime sampler… except for the hot and hearty Rye Bread Soup. I dedicate that recipe to our friends in the Southern hemisphere, where a sweet, hot bowl of rye bread soup might be just the ticket. What sounds good to you? Rhubarb “Raisins” [recipe] A simple and ingenious way to use up rhubarb in baked goods. Rye Bread Soup [recipe] The hot answer to Iceland’s sweet tooth. This unusual soup is loaded up with raisins and sugar. And, of course, rye bread. Blueberry Cardamom Ice Cream [recipe] Cream. …

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About the food of Iceland

Do you remember in gradeschool when your teacher told you that Iceland is actually greener than Greenland? That blew my wee, 11 year-old mind. It still does. The simple factoid pops up at the strangest times, like when I’m in line at the grocery store or weeding the garden. Or brushing Ava’s hair. It’s amazing the lifelong influence our teachers have on us. Iceland is greener than Greenland. Apparently the island was named Iceland to deter people from overpopulating the small country. They hoped instead that icy Greenland would lure people over instead – you know, because they named it Greenland. Tricky, tricky. I’m happy to report that’s not the only trick Iceland has up her sleeve. In the kitchen they turn trick after trick, resourcefully turning unusable food into delectable nibbles. Have a bunch of stale rye bread? Don’t throw it out – make sweet rye bread soup [recipe]. Need a handful of raisins, but only have rhubarb? No problem. Icelanders make it happen [recipe]. They even make cod roe waffles, which I read …

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Monday Meal Review: Hungary

THE SCENE: “No, no, no. That’s not how you make it! You need much more paprika.” I looked down at the heaping tablespoon in front of me. Like, what? Two tablespoons? I asked, raising my eyebrows. “At least.” Mom waved her hand like she was shooing a fly. “As much as you can stand.” She looked down at Ava’s head and wrapped another strand of hair around the soft cotton curlers. In a few short hours they’d have matching curls. I tasted the broth. My eyes began to water. “It’s spicy.” “That’s what the sour cream is for.” “Should I add it now? That’s what these recipes say to do.” “No no no. Where did you get these recipes? Add it at the end. At the end.” She sighed dramatically. Ava looked up at her and sighed a little copycat sigh. Laughing, mom patted Ava’s head. The curlers were secure. An hour later I whisked in the sour cream. “I can’t believe you’re not even going to eat this.” She got up and peeked in the …

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Mom’s Chicken Paprika

“Whose recipe is this? No, no, no. Much more paprika! Heap it on!” And so the Adventure to recreate a favorite childhood supper began. I say this is mom’s chicken paprika, but it didn’t start out that way. I had a basic recipe and then asked for her help to execute it. As we simmered along, however, mom tossed corrections my way – saving me from disaster and cluing me into how she would have made it, if she was the one wielding the wooden spoon. I promise you – although Chicken Paprika is not much to look at (especially if you add chunky chopped onions, like I did), it tastes amazingly creamy and – if you use good, half-sharp paprika – surprisingly spicy. Serve with buttered noodles for a completely addicting bite of Hungary. You can also roll shredded bits of the chicken inside Hungarian Crêpes (palacsinta) [recipe] and coat with the sauce – a great way to use up leftovers. Ingredients: One 4 lb chicken, cut into pieces (or 2 lbs assorted chicken pieces) 2 …

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Chilled Cherry Soup

Serves 2-4 Relaxing has never been so easy. Dive into this cool bowl of deep violet cherry soup and feel the blissful calm of Hungary overtake you. It only takes 12 minutes to make, 10 of which you’ll be daydreaming in a lawn chair with your sunglasses on. That’s the kind of cooking I can get behind on a hot summer’s day. If you can get your hands on fresh tart cherries (a.k.a sour cherries), the soup will be even better. In fact, if you do, you’ll be able to float some whole cherries on top of the soup as a garnish. The season is just getting started – they haven’t made their way to Oklahoma yet – but keep an eye out – they’ll be here any day now. Note: The recipe is vegan if you leave out the sour cream garnish. Ingredients: 1 jar tart cherries in water (29 fl oz), plus the liquid from the jar. 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste 1/4 cup dry red wine 1 cinnamon stick Garnish: sour …

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Hungarian Campfire Bacon

Stars poke holes in the black sky. Crickets chirp. A campfire crackles. A few dear friends sit in a circle, chattering. They laugh until they cry and cry until they laugh. And, since they’re Hungarian, they’re holding bacon. Giant cubes of bacon. On sticks. Welcome to Hungarian summer. Campfire bacon kabobs, a.k.a. Gypsy Bacon (Cigany Szalonna) are an integral part of any Hungarian barbecue. In Planet Barbecue Steven Raichlen states: There once was a time – perhaps it’s true still – when Hungary had the highest per capita calorie intake of any country in Europe. Lard and Goose fat undoubtedly helped Hungary achieve this distinction, but the real culprit was […] grilled bacon. Now I know why mom and brother, Damien, always loved to “chew the fat” – literally. Our Hungarian roots all but require it. Here’s how it works: 1. Buy the biggest piece of rind-on slab bacon you can find. Unsliced. I had to call about 5 butchers before I found it at Perry’s in Tulsa. Even then, they tried to slice it up …

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Hungarian crêpes | Palacsinta

Serves 2-4 Ah, the glories of simple love. Simple food. Simple summertime breakfasts in Hungary. My mom has been making palacsinta under the guise of crêpes for decades. Despite being half Hungarian, she even calls them crêpes -I suppose because it’s easier to say. Still, like any good Hungarian, she’s made an art of rolling them up with fruit, yogurt, and nuts. Today – in her honor – we make the simplest preparation of all: smeared with apricot jam, sprinkled with crushed walnuts and stacked as high as we can handle. It’s like a Hungarian hug on a plate. Start this recipe the night before you need it. The next morning you’ll have thin, delicate palacsinta, perfect for wrapping up sweet or savory food (you could even wrap up chicken paprika in it). Some will tell you to keep the batter thin – it should pour about like maple syrup. You can thin it as needed with extra milk. Ingredients: 2 cups flour 2 cups milk, plus extra as needed 2 eggs 1 1/2 tsp …

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Menu: Hungary

Ava calls my mom Grammie Sue, but it really comes out more like “miss you,” which is exactly how we’re feeling today. Living far from my family was okay when I was single, but became excruciating once Ava was born. It’s like Keith and I have a home filled with starlight and each day she glows and smiles and spreads joy all over the place. Not being able to share that on a regular basis feels like a crime. After a completely lovely visit, Mom flew back to Boston in the “ahww-pwane,” as Ava calls it. We’re all sad to see her go, but the memories of this happy meal – straight from our Hungarian heritage – will keep us until the next time. What would you like to try? Chilled Cherry Soup [recipe] Traditionally served as an appetizer in Hungary, Chilled Cherry Soup is tart, slightly sweet, and rounded out with earthy cinnamon and the slightest hint of red wine. Chicken Paprika [recipe] Chicken stewed with loads of paprika, chopped onion and finished off …

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About the food of Hungary

I’m Italian-Hungarian on my mother’s side. Which is like saying I’m wet-dry. Hot-cold. Tall-short. In our family, the Italian side is loud, boisterous and in each other’s business. On the Hungarian side no one talks about anything. Discussions rarely surface and, if they do, they begin and end with “just forget about it.” I rather like the combination. It makes for interesting family gatherings. When I quizzed my mother about our Hungarian heritage, she said “I don’t know. It wasn’t like the Italian side, where we got together every Sunday to have a big fight.” The only story I ever heard my Hungarian Grandpa tell was how he would ring the chickens’ necks for dinner. It consisted of two sentences: “I wrung their necks. Your grandmother cooked ’em.” I had to really probe to get this tiny tidbit. My mom only found out what her grandpa, Lajos, did for a living a few years ago. The story? He was in construction. She asked for details. “Like building houses?” “Yeah, something like that.” End of story. The Foppiano …

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Monday Meal Review: Haiti & Honduras

Keith’s parents would be here in just a few hours. I went to the window. Blue and clear. A good time as any to get cooking. I tore open the gelatin and whisked it together with warm water until dissolved.  Next, I cracked open the thick white coconut milk, and swirled it with the rest of the ingredients, stopping to dab a little vanilla extract on my wrists. Time for the stove top. I clicked on the burner and let things heat up. After a moment, the smell of summer billowed up. I poured the steaming liquid into the mold and stirred in the tropical fruit. The next day we’d have elegant, grown-up jello from Haiti. Blancmange. The whole thing took less than ten minutes. I smiled at the novel simplicity. Ava would love it. I pushed the dessert into the refrigerator gently, trying not to splash the blancmange around too much. I should have made something like this a long time ago, I thought to myself. I hardly ever make food that wobbles. In fact, …

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Haitian Coconut Fruit Jello | Blancmange

Makes a 1 1/2 quart, large molded dessert There’s something about jello that’s so 1897. So Victorian. So old-school. So… over-the-top-retro. You see, 1897 is the magic year gelatin and fruit syrup were first combined to make the wobbly dessert we’re familiar with today.  Fast forward through several decades and continents and you get today’s recipe, blancmange. It’s loaded up with evaporated and coconut milks, making it jello’s creamy counter part. It’s the reason Haiti’s get up in the morning. At least, I like to think so. This wibbly-wobbly dessert is fun for kids to make – you’ll find it at weddings and other celebrations. While it is not very sweet it is creamy, smooth and silky, almost like eating a wet coconut cloud. The tradition hails from France, where these sorts of molded desserts are extremely popular. Haiti was a French colony, so it’s only natural they put their Caribbean twist on the dessert. Ingredients: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional 1, 13.5 oz can coconut milk 2, 12 oz cans evaporated milk 3 packets …

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