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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

February 10, 2013: I have updated this post with additional instruction for the nokedli and a new photo.

It’s the eve of Halloween and we’re getting really excited about our fast approaching trip to Morocco. There are so many things still to do, like packing, for example!

Our House Decked out for Halloween

Pumpkin Lights in the Planters

Not withstanding, I promised a scary story, the final installment. So here it is… Sadly, my dear Dad was jaundiced from owning a home because the Russians had taken away his family home and he was afraid it would happen again, so we lived in a very nice newly built apartment in suburban Toronto. We had just visited Hungary the first time and both my brother and I were a little freaked out because we had seen museum after museum of archeological digs – mainly skulls (Hungary was the munitions centre of the Roman Empire and the country is littered with Roman Ruins). The skulls both fascinated us and freaked us out at the same time.
Upon our return to Canada we decided to share a room in our apartment, on his side the walls were decorated with Hot Wheels and on mine, Barbie wallpaper. Most nights were fine, but on occasion one of us would have a bad dream and crawl into Mom and Dad’s bed. On this night, it was my brother that ventured into Mom and Dad’s room for safety and my Dad came in and slept in my brother’s bed.
Waking up in the middle if the night is never fun when you’re little; everything is so dark and shadows seem alive! I should have felt safe because my Dad was in the room, but he was snoring away about 10 feet from me and unaware of the shadows. The head of my bed faced away from the window; we were on the second floor and plenty of street light poured in through the curtains — plenty to make evil shadows come alive, that is. I awoke with a start! There is a HUGE man in a cowboy hat standing at the foot of my bed; I see only the silhouette, there are no features, but he looks mean. I can’t speak, I can hardly breathe. I blink, oh my god, he’s still there. I blink even harder, damn, still there. I hide my head under the covers and count to ten. There is no man in the room and my Dad is right there not more than 10 feet from me. I know it’s in my head, but crap, it seems so real. I peak out one last time, and HE’S STILL THERE. Now, I really can’t breathe. I hide my head under the covers and I stay there; I imagine the lack of oxygen caused me to fall asleep, and when I woke up in the morning, with the sun pouring in, the shadow man was gone! Or the entire episode was a dream that seemed so real.

Year’s later, as an adult, I read about the Shadow People, and now wonder if it had been real!

Ready for the recipe? I have perfected this recipe over the years trying to make it healthier (Hungarians cook with a lot of lard and although it is flavourful, it is definitely not good for you).

Healthy Chicken Paprikas

Ingredients:

  • 4 x 100g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 roughly chopped medium sweet onion (I used vidalia)
  • 1 cup cubed celery root
  • 3 ripe red peppers
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Sweet Papkria
  • 1-2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup + 4 tbsp non fat Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Roast the peppers in the oven until the skins are black. Set into a bowl with a plate covering it to allow the peppers to steam.
  2. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off.
  3. Purée the peppers using an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the Hungarian paprika, but be careful not to burn, this isn’t like Indian spices, paprika will burn quickly.
  5. To the onions, add the celery root and 1 cup chicken stock. Add the puréed roasted red peppers, and a little more chicken stock. Cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat, until the celery root is soft.
  6. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine seive.
  7. Before returning the sauce to the heat, add 1 tbsp oil to the dutch oven. Chop the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and brown in the hot oil. Add the paprika sauce back into the pan with the chicken and cook for 1/2 hour on medium heat or until the chicken is cooked through. You can remove from the heat and freeze for future use, or use right away.
  8. Add 1 tsp flour to the yogurt and mix well (this will prevent the yogurt from separating when adding to the paprika sauce). Add the yogurt to the chicken paprikas and mix well.
  9. To serve, pour into a large decorative dish and drizzle with the remaining yogurt, garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Ingredients for the Nokedli (dumplings):

Hungarian Paprika and the Nokedli Szagato (dumpling tool)

General rule of thumb for this recipe is 1 cup flour and 1 egg per person. In my efforts to make this a healthier meal, I generally use 1 egg for the pot and 4 tbsp egg whites and 1/2 cup flour per person. The nokedli are lighter and not as yellow as using full eggs, but the flavour is still there. You make the nokedli by hand using a small cutting board and a knife and just cutting off small bits of the dough right into the boiling water (Hungarians call this Csipetke) or you can use a nokedli maker.

  • 2 cups flour (you can substitute whole wheat but it changes the texture a bit, so I would only recommend 1/4 cup ww and 1 3/4 white flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tbsp egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste
The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

The dough should be loose enough to press through the Nokedli maker without much effort, but it should not be wet.

Directions:

  1. Beat egg and egg white until slightly frothy. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the flour until it form a soft dough (I usually do this in the food processor). Add little bits of water if necessary to make a loose pasta-like dough (don’t worry if it’s too thick, you can add bits of the hot water to it as you are pressing it through the nokedli press.
  3. In a large soup pot, boil water with salt.
  4. Once the water is on a hard boil, start making the nokedli. You can make the entire batch in this one pot, they won’t stick together if you stir them once in a while. When you are done they should all float to the top. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Add the nokedli to a bowl and drizzle with oil so they don’t stick together.
  6. When ready to serve, heat 3 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven. Add nokedli and reheat, crisping up the edges a bit (we like them crisped).
  7. Serve family style in a large serving vessel.

Egéségedre! (to your health!)

 

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When it rains, it pours! We’re so busy at work (not complaining!) and I’ve just gotten a huge freelance project that needs to be completed before we leave for Morocco, AND we’re hosting two dinner parties on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday evening! Call me crazy but I actually get invigorated when things are so hectic!

Here are some pics from past Halloweens – we try to do different pumpkins every year. This one will be a challenge for me as I have a slight tear in my right rotator cuff and I’m right handed! But JT said he would eviscerate my pumpkin for me (gosh, that sounds so ghoulish!)

Our pumpkins from 2006

Our 2007 Pumpkins

Here is another scary story: Several years ago JTs elderly Aunt and Uncle had to move from their home of 65 years to a retirement home. They had three children a boy and two girls; sadly the boy, Norman who was very close to JT, unexpectedly died at 18 at home. Because the remaining children were unable to help clean up the house (renamed the “stinky house”) for resale, JT stepped up. It took several weeks and several dump bins to empty the house (read horders) and because JT refused any money for the work he put in, the Aunt generously told him he could have anything he wanted from the house. We fell in love with a couple of things (that were from JTs grandparents) including a small enamel lamp that we put into the guest room upstairs.
As I’ve mentioned before, our home is a craftsman style home that was built in 1928. The front door was original at that time; it had a retrofitted key operated dead bolt but it also had one of those weird locks that operates with a little button on the side that we NEVER used. Here is a photo of a similar lock (our’s was not that ornate), you would push the little button above the dead bolt and it would bolt out. I am illustrating this to show how difficult it is to push the little button in, one would have to intentionally do it!

You see how difficult it might be to push that little button in? We had all but forgotten about that feature on the door lock.

The day we brought the stuff home we were UNABLE to unlock the front door! Fortunately, I had hidden a key to the back door so we were able to gain access to the house only to discover that somehow, someone had pushed that little button in. Hmmm.
About a week later I awoke in the middle of the night and was unable to sleep, so instead of waking JT I went into the guest room to read; I tried turning on the little enamel light…nothing. I checked the bulb, it was there and it was screwed in well. I had to turn on the overhead light to find that the light had been unplugged! I hadn’t done it, nor JT! I got really creeped out and decided to go back to our bedroom and force myself to sleep. These two coincidences freeked me out a bit (yes, I believe in ghosts!) so the very next morning I stood in the guest room and said out loud: Norman, you’re freaking me out, please stop it.” and nothing weird has happened since. Thanks Norman.
For our first dinner guests this weekend, I needed to keep things simple, so we’re serving the Provençal fish soup that I made last week and froze, and JT has generously offered to make that delicious Moroccan beef recipe. Dessert is an old fashion apple crisp — I’ve taken a few pointers from Chicago John’s from the Bartolini Kitchens so this standard recipe has been modified with his experience. Thanks John.

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 3 Baking apples (we used Royal Gala), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (we are not sweet eaters, so you may wish to increase this)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp cognac for each serving (I made these up in ramekins)

Topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly ground walnuts (so they are about the size of the oats)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix both types of apple cubes with the lemon juice in a bowl.
  3. Mix the spices, sugar, flour and walnuts in another bowl.
  4. Toss the apples with the spice mix to coat well.
  5. Lightly butter 6 ramekins (I used 4oz).
  6. Evenly distribute the apple mixture in the 6 ramekins.
  7. Blend the topping mixture with the exception of the butter. Mix well.
  8. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until mixture forms soft clumps.
  9. Evenly press this mixture over the apples in the ramekins.
  10. Place the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are soft.
  11. Serve with your very best vanilla ice cream.

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