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Posts Tagged ‘comforting’

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you all had a lovely weekend. In Canada we have Good Friday as a holiday. Some things like the LCBO are closed on Sunday as well. Saturday will be a busy day, so better get there early to stock up for the family dinner!

My earliest memory of eating Hungarian Lecsó was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my father made it for us. We were a typical Eastern European family in that the father virtually never cooked, that was ‘woman’s work’ but my Dad did step up on the occasion that my dear Mom had to go into the hospital and have an operation. I don’t remember much else about this time except that Dad cooked lecsó. One other thing, my 6 or 7 year old brother was beside himself with worry when our parents told us that Mom was going to be away in the hospital for a few days, and through tears a great degree of anxiety he asked, “Who will cook for us?” Our obsession with food runs deep.

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Circa 1974 Edward’s Gardens in Toronto. Dad, my little brother and I. Mom was taking the photo. What the heck is going on with my hair????

My experience has been that Lecsó is to Hungarians what Lasagna is to Americans or Bangers and Mash are to the English, it’s a fairly common staple. It’s easy enough to put together and it’s comforting and satisfying without being overly filling. The Hungarians generally use a Hungarian green pepper which is more like a Cubanelle, longer and lighter in colour with a more subtle flavour than the green peppers we are accustomed to in North America. I switched up this dish by using colourful red, yellow and orange peppers (capsicums) and Vidalia Onions which are much sweeter.

The traditional protein accompaniment in our household was Debreceni Kolbász which is like a thick hot dog, named after the city in which it was made. Most Hungarian sausages are coarsely ground pork seasoned heavily with paprika and garlic where as a Debreceni is subtly seasoned very finely ground pork that has the texture that resembles what you would know as a hot dog. The only difference from North American hot dogs and Hungarian Debreceni is that Debreceni has a very distinct ‘pop’ as you bite through the casing. I haven’t had a Debreceni in many years for the same reasons I haven’t had a hot dog — they are just too unhealthy to be worth it for me. I made poached Cod to eat with this dish and it was exceptional.

Lecso_2296

A delicious and warming brothy sauce with cooked peppers, onions and tomatoes.

Hungarian Lecsó

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 orange peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (peeled and seeds removed)
  • 1 medium sized Vidalia onion, finely sliced
  • 200 mL home made tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for garnish

Directions:

  • In a light spray of olive oil, cook the onions until translucent.
  • Add the sliced peppers and tomatoes and cook until very slightly softened.
  • Add the tomato sauce and seasonings and cook for about 10 minutes on a medium temperature.
Lecso_2293

Spice it up a notch by adding some hot peppers to the mix.

Notes:

  • Hungarians traditionally use lard as the fat which adds flavour but is extremely unhealthy so I add a pinch of smoked paprika which also adds to the depth of flavour that the debreceni would bring.
  • Traditionally the peppers are cooked until limp but I prefer a little texture to my lecsó so I don’t cook them as much.
  • Like most stewy dishes this is a lot better the second day.
  • Consider adding a poached egg to this dish (Hungarians might eat this with scrambled eggs).
  • Sour cream or yogurt are also used as a garnish to this dish.
  • Cubanelle peppers come in both hot and sweet varieties and look virtually identical. You will want to make sure you buy the right one and not make the same mistake we did for a meal we served at the cottage several years ago — that was a rude awakening!

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It’s that time of year again, cold and flu season. For the most part, I can pretty well ward off any cold or flu I come across with my evil powers (just kidding) but this one bugger finally got me late last week. I’d been plagued with a sore throat since a week ago Monday, but no coughing or sneezing or any other symptoms, until Saturday. My voice is now three octaves lower and a little raspier…dare I say sexy? Well, if it wasn’t for the sneezing and coughing, perhaps. But not so much ;-)!

We went Christmas tree chopping on Sunday (you may recall we did this last year too), I probably shouldn’t have gone, but I really, really, really wanted to. And it was cold, and slightly snowing. We snapped a few pics but the weather wasn’t great and I paid for it the following day. I stayed home and nursed my achy body. And with great timing, my friend Kelly up in Ottawa at Inspired Edibles created a alcohol free (I know, what was I thinking?) hot toddy that sincerely HIT THE SPOT. I will make this my go to winter drink when I feel a cold coming on. You can actually taste the healing properties (and heating properties ;-)!) I’m not going to post the recipe because I made it just as Kelly suggested (except I didn’t have star anise, so I used cloves instead) and her pictures are better anyway. Please do yourself a favour and try this drink. It is seriously yummy and it works!

Lightly snowing made it picture perfect for tree cutting

No, we don’t just walk into a forest to chop down our tree, we actually to go a tree farm!

We chose another smallish tree, but this one has a lot more girth (but Mum’s the word when the tree asks if it looks fat all dressed up!)

We’ll decorate it tomorrow night! (Weird glow is from the iPhone 4 flash)

When we arrived home that evening, I just felt like soup, so I made just what the doctor ordered, chicken noodle soup. This is a variation of Nigella’s Cold Cure Soup as I wanted something a little simpler than her version. And I only put 1/4 of a fresh lemon into it as I have found that more than that can make the soup bitter tasting, particularly when your taste buds are a bit off with a cold.

Cold Cure Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 4 generous portions

A gorgeous mix of carrots, parsnips and onions garnished with parsley and green onion. There are glass noodles hiding in there too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone in, skinless chicken breasts (about 400-450 g)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium parsnip, cut into large chunks (reserve the tops)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, smashed but left whole (so you can remove them)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • Water
  • Salt to taste
  • Glass noodles
  • Parsley to garnish
  • Green onion to garnish

This is the instagram photo

Directions:

  1. If the chicken still has some fat on it, remove all fat (you’ll thank me later so your soup isn’t a large puddle of grease!). Sear the chicken breasts, meat side down until lightly browned.
  2. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic and the lemon. Stir for a moment. Fill the pot with water to cover all of the chicken and vegetables.
  3. Wash and tie the parsnips tops, add to the soup pot. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through (I found that 1 hour 30 minutes was good for our chicken, but you should definitely check the internal temperature) You don’t want to cook it too long so that the vegetables are not mushy!
  4. Remove chicken and allow to rest for about 5-7 minutes (covered). Taste and salt stock to your preference.
  5. In the meantime, soak the glass noodles according to directions.
  6. Strain the soup through a fine sieve, reserving the carrot, parsnip and onions. Discard the parsnip tops, garlic and lemon.
  7. Cut the carrot and parsnips into small bite size sticks.
  8. De-bone the chicken and tear into small bite-size pieces.
  9. Into four bowls, add even amounts of the noodles, vegetables and chicken and cover with the hot stock.
  10. Serve immediately garnished with parsley and green onions.

On an unrelated note, my blog is fast approaching our 100,000 visitor! I’m hoping we can reach that goal before the new year. I might even do a give away! Stay tuned.

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