Archive for October, 2011

Krumplis Lángos

15 October 11

Theoretically the original flame baked flat bread was introduced during the Ottoman Turk occupation of Hungary in the 16th

2014-02-12 17.45.40century. An alternate theory is that they descend from the Roman hearth bread panis focacius, which is also an ancestor of the Italian focaccia, which I have written about elsewhere. Actually, both theories could be correct – since the Turks were Byzantine Christians until the Moslem conquest and Constantinople was the Eastern Rome. Things have changed a bit over the centuries. The bread is no longer cooked in front of an open flame, but has become deep fried. The basic version –lángos – is a standard bread kind of thing. These are the potato variety – called krumplis lángos. I’ll write up the plain lángos one of these days – they are good also.

340 g mashed potato (3/4 lb)
1 pkg yeast
 5 g sugar (1 tsp)
250 g all-purpose flour (1-3/4)
15 g olive oil (1 Tbs)
5 g salt (3/4 tsp)
125 g milk (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, cut in half

You know the basic drill for a mashed spud: peel it, whack it into about 8 pieces, put into boiling salted water for about 15 minutes. The test is to stick a fork in it. When the spuds are tender all the way through drain them and then mash them up. Put the mashed spuds and everything else except the garlic into the mixing bowl. Mix with the flat beater for about one minute, just to get things together. Swap the beater for the dough hook. Mix 3 minutes on first speed. Mix 3 minutes on second speed.

You will notice that the dough starts off rather dry, but becomes pretty loose and wet by the second speed mixing. This behavior is pretty typical of potato breads. Put the dough into a lubed covered bowl and let rise until doubled. Don’t be fooled, this stuff rises pretty fast, as in about 20 minutes or less should see the volume double.

You will find this to be some of the smoothest, silkiest dough that you have ever felt. Anyway, cut into four pieces, flatten on a floured board and form into rounds. Cover with plastic or a floured cloth and let rest about 20 minutes.

In an electric skillet, or a large fry pan heat up about 1 inch of good oil to about 375°F. Peanut or canola come to mind.

Flatten and stretch each piece to an 8” round on the floured board. Fry them one at a time for about 2 minutes 30 seconds per side. You are looking for a rich golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

The most frequent way of serving these is to cut a piece of garlic in half and rub it over the round while it is still hot, then sprinkle with a good coarse salt. A good Atlantic sea salt or a Himalayan pink do very nicely. Himalayan pink is actually from Pakistan, which I’m not fond of enriching, but I won’t let that get in the way of the taste buds.

Other common toppings include sour cream and minced dill, shredded Emmanthaler and/or Gruyere (try mixing in 1/3 Parmigiano-Reggiano). For a nice desert cinnamon/sugar or powdered sugar work well. Really, you can top them with anything you like.

People have referred to lángos – pronounced lon-gosh – as Hungarian pizza. I disagree. These have got a whole lot going for themselves and don’t imitate anything. They are their own wonderful flavor.

I suppose I should mention that these have spread all over Eastern Europe, popular everywhere. Mostly served in fast food joints or by street vendors.

Once you’ve done these you can pretty well knock them out while preparing the rest of dinner. Be warned that these are addicting and filling – particularly the original garlic and salt variety. {{Herself Sez: Yummmm!}}


A Quick Can o’ Peas

15 October 11
The reflection pond at Clemson University

Image via Wikipedia

“A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker and chopped liver. He says ‘Canapés,’ I say, ‘Can o’ peas my ass! That’s a Ritz cracker and chopped liver.'”

The Godfather IIFrank Pentangeli to Fredo Corleone

Sometime a happy taste sensation can occur simply because of a need to fill in a corner of the stomach. And, of course, what you have on hand. Anyway – this turned out to make a jim-dandy little snacker – and really simple.

1 part chicken, white meat, chopped fine
1 part quality blue cheese, chopped fine
1 part mushroom duxelles
1 part good mayonnaise
French bread, sliced thin

Chop up the chicken and blue cheese pretty fine, but not a mush. Mix the meat, cheese, mushroom and mayo together until nicely blended. You want to use a really good quality blue cheese. We used the stuff from Clemson University. They’ve had blue cheese growing in local cow juice for many years and it is a really nice strain. Put about a half tablespoon of goop on each slice of French bread and run into a 350°F oven for a few minutes. You don’t want to cook this stuff, just warm it up nicely.

Herself Sez: We learned about Clemson Blue Cheese when I was working at Clemson University back in the ’80’s. They used to have a dairy store with incredible locally made ice cream. Although the shipping eats us alive, we occasionally order a couple of 10oz Krumbles and use them in everything that calls for blue cheese. Oh Yummm!

Mushroom Duxelles has already been written up, and is something you want to keep handy in your refrigerator.

Homemade is the best way to go on the French bread and the mayonnaise.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

15 October 11

1/4 cup onions, minced
3 Tbs Unsalted butter
3 Tbs a/p flour
6 cups unsalted chicken broth, seasoned with 2 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/8 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 lb fresh mushrooms – save the caps, rough-chop the stems
2 Tbs unsalted butter
thinly sliced mushroom caps – from the above pound of mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted softened butter

cream mushroom soup

Image via Wikipedia

This is Julia’s recipe for the real French cream of mushroom soup. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps. Rough chop the stems. Fine slice the caps. Set them both aside.

Start the stock heating up to the boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. If you make your own stock what you want is a traditional white stock. I can’t find it in my local store, so I use chicken stock. If you are using chicken stock you will need to remove the bay leaf and parsley after boiling a minute of two.

Sauté the onions in 3 Tbs of unsalted butter. Do not let them brown, what you want is just nice and softened. Probably about 5 to 8 minutes depending on your stove’s low setting. Once again: DON’T BROWN.

Make a pale roux: add the flour and stir or whisk over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Don’t get it brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and add boiling stock a cup at a time, stirring continuously. When the roux has been completely liquefied and absorbed add all back into the liquid.

Add in the rough chopped mushroom stems and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. If there is any scum on the surface skim it off.

Strain the mixture through a sieve. Squeeze the juice out of the mushroom stem pieces. The easiest way is just prop a sieve over a pan, pour the juice through and let it sit for a few minutes. Dispose of the remains of the mushroom stems and onions that are left in the sieve.

Slowly sauté the sliced mushroom caps, lemon juice, and salt in the 2 Tsp of butter for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and their juices to the strained soup base and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Beat two egg yolks and 3/4 cup heavy cream together. Temper by adding hot soup about ½ to 1 cup at a time while whisking constantly and vigorously. When the mix has been tempered add it back into the soup. Stir over very low heat. Do not let it come to a simmer. All you want to do is let it thicken a bit – about 2 minutes.

Taste and correct seasoning. Off the heat stir in 1 to 3 Tbs of butter to taste.

If you want to impress your dinner guests reserve some of the prettier mushroom caps, flute and sauté in lemon and butter. What is fluting you say? It is just carving a pretty curved pattern with a small, very sharp knife. If you don’t want to flute – or don’t know how, you can use a zester to make a pretty pattern, or skip the pretty pattern bit and just serve the caps undecorated. Anyway – float the sautéed caps in the bowls or cups just before serving.

This stuff is easier than it sounds, and doesn’t take all that long.

This lot will feed 4 to 6 depending on whether you just want a small soup course or more of the main meal. Really outstanding with a crusty French bread for dunking.

Oh yeah – for those who are used to the canned cream of mushroom that is kind of stiff this will seem a bit liquid. You can stiffen/thicken it up by adding a small amount of arrowroot or cornstarch before serving. On the other hand – if what you are after is the taste of the canned junk then just serve it and don’t go to this trouble. But – my taste buds claim that this well worth the minor effort.

Final note: You could probably use any mushroom that tickles your fancy, but for the best results the plain old button mushroom just can’t be beat. This is a rather balanced and delicate taste and the stouter mushrooms just overpower everything in my opinion.

Mushroom Duxelles

13 October 11

1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped fine
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs shallot, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry sherry

Chop up the mushrooms very fine. If you’ve got good knife skills – go for it. If your life skills are on the blink or your get up and go got up and went then use a food processor. You probably want to do about 1/3 of the mushrooms at a time. You can also chop the shallots in the processor if you like. Use any kind of mushrooms that you really like, but I advise that you do not use those that are too strongly flavored. Good old button mushrooms work very well indeed.

Wring the moisture out of the chopped mushrooms. If you haven’t done this before you are likely to be plumb amazed at the amount of liquid that comes out. For those who haven’t done this before – take a clean non-fuzzy kitchen towel, place the mushrooms on it, fold the towel so that you’ve got the mushrooms in a ball. Start twisting the ball around while holding on to the towel with the other hand. Continue wringing until you’ve gotten all the water that you can. Be amazed. If this is still unclear look around on YouTube and you can probably find a video showing this. This same technique is useful for wring out frozen spinach. If you like you can save the mushroom juice for use in a stew or sauce. I don’t usually bother.

Add a bit of oil and a tablespoon of butter to a good, heavy skillet. When the butter is ready add the mushrooms and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add thyme. Sauté over medium high heat stirring frequently for about 8 minutes. At that time the mushrooms should be nicely browning.

Add another tablespoon of butter and stir. Add the dry sherry. You can use any dry wine or vermouth that you have. Keep the heat up and keep stirring until the liquid has evaporated.

Remove from the heat, let it cool down, and cap it in a jar. This makes about a cup. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Makes a nice addition to many things.

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