Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thumbprint cookies

No, this is not my recipe, but couldn't keep it to myself. In my quest to find sensible, healthy sweet munchies I came upon this wonderful little cookie from Whole Foods. It's easy, quick and most of all has no refined sugar in it, but almonds (oh my) and apricot jam (homemade!) and oatmeal. How can you go wrong with those?! They also keep well for days (if you can resist inhaling them at once) so they can be given as presents or Christmas cookies. (Now if I could just remember that when the holidays are rolling around!)

Now unto our recipe.......

....and since I finally acquired the pastry flour,

I could actually try sticking to the recipe this time. You see, when I'm missing an ingredient it doesn't stop me from figuring out what to substitute it with. In case you do not own a 5 lb. bag of this beauty, you can mix 1/2 cup of AP flour with 1/2 cup of cake flour. I used to do that, but this little package will last for the next couple of batches of cookies!

For those who do not want to click on the link above, here is the quick recipe:

Grind up a cup of almonds and rolled oats in a food processor until somewhat course (I like mine on the  more meal side). Pour in a bowl and mix it with 1 cup of pastry flour (Bob's is really good!) a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of oil and maple syrup, respectively.

Using this little device (1.5 inch diameter)

I scooped out the batter unto a cooking sheet, spacing them evenly.

 Now comes the thumb printing part! I have no idea who has that large of a thumb to make the indentation at once?! I had to pat down the cookies with wet fingers to shape them with a little hollow in them.

Aren't they cute?

Now this is where I beg to differ from Whole Foods' directions. 5 tablespoons of jam into 30 cookies? Come on! I believe good jam is never too much. I have a stash of homemade jams of apricot and strawberry every year (my husband is positive we are ready for nuclear catastrophe with those!) and like to use them in my baking. I cook them as little as possible with very little sugar mixed in. I like the fruits to shine, not the sweetness. I never use fruit juice, I just don't see the point to make jelly instead of wonderful fibrous preserves! So my jams look like this:

So whatever is your choice of filling, apply it liberally to the dents, since the rest of the cookie is on the dry side! Then ..... ready.....set......GO IN THE OVEN!

Bake them at 350F for about 15-20 minutes, but watch the edges as they show doneness. The cookie has a lot of almond in it that can become bitter if overbaked.

Hopefully you will enjoy these cookies as much as I do. They might be considered health-foods, but who doesn't want a cookie that kills two birds with one stone. They are nutritious with no refined sugars, but antioxidants in them AND tasty. Kids can munch on them or mom can have a few with the afternoon coffee!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Crescents of Pozsony

So I see a thematics here; sweets are taking over the blog. I admit I am a born sweet tooth. I was planning to add something savory, but just couldn't resist the poppy seed in my refrigerator. Yes, this one is made with an overlooked ingredient in the US that is actually very popular in Eastern Europe. Thanks to the influx of immigrants of that region, poppy seed or 'mák' is becoming more available in ethnic stores even in the South. So instead of smuggling warily the precious black speckles from home once a year, now I can indulge anytime in some wonderful pastries that remind me of my native country. 
Pozsony or Bratislava is located in Slovakia, but used to be part of Hungary before 1920. In baking the term "pozsonyi" stands for poppy seed- or walnut-filled pastry. It is common on weddings, family gatherings, but mostly at Christmas.

First you should start with the filling as it has to cool before assembling the cookies. The ingredients are:
4 fl oz milk, 4 oz sugar (by weight), 1 packet vanilla sugar, 4 oz ground poppy seed, 1/8 tsp ground clove, rind of 1/2 lemon

Start by bringing the milk and sugar to a low simmer, remove from the heat and mix with all the other ingredients. You can grind the poppy seed in a coffee grinder but take about half of the sugar of the recipe and add to the batches of grind. The oil in the seeds can clog up your machine! 
This is how my mixture looked before mixing with the milk. Yes it does look like dirt, but I  promise it's awesome!

Once it is mixed thoroughly, set it aside to cool.

Next, work on the dough. It contains yeast but doesn't need to proof before assembling. You will need:

1 lb +1/2 cup AP flour, 2 sticks + 2 tbsp butter, 2 oz powdered sugar, the rind of the other half of lemon, 2/3 cup sour cream, 1 egg (one more for the egg wash), 2 tsp active yeast

First you have to cut up the butter into small cubes and mix with the flour until it resembles crumbs. I actually like to use my mixer with the whisk attachment as it seem to incorporate the butter nicely. In the meantime warm up the sour cream and let the yeast get comfortable in it. Then I add the rest of the ingredients (sugar, lemon rind) to the flour and mixing the egg into the sour cream finally combine the wet and dry parts. Here is my mix before kneading:

When it is uniform in texture, or as my mom would say: when it separates from the bowl, you are ready to roll out your dough! It should be malleable but should have a nice structure!

On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 2 mm (or about crepe thickness) and cut out 3 1/2 in circles with a cookie cutter. Place about 1 rounded teaspoonful of the poppy seed filling onto each round and wet the outer half edge of the dough with egg wash before pressing one half to the other. Make sure that the dough is sealed using a fork or the handle of any utensil to press. 

Transfer the closed pockets to a baking sheet with parchment paper and let it rise for 30 minutes. When time is up, preheat the oven to 350 F and use the rest of the egg wash to glaze the dough. My cookies before entering the oven:

Bake them for about 30 minutes, let them cool and dust them with extra powdered sugar if necessary! Enjoy!

This is the original rolled-up crescent version with a similar, walnut filling!I like when the dough rips a tad when baking revealing a little of what's inside!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sweet ravioli - with prune jam

Today my daughter requested 'derelye', this sweet ravioli filled with prune jam. It is similar to its Italian relative, but I have not heard of any sweet version other than this Hungarian recipe. I like to prepare Derelye on the weekends when I have enough time for all the steps it involves. Usually I serve it as a second course after chicken soup or something light. It is our version of comfort food, that also covers the dessert course. Even if you spend a little more time in the kitchen, it is worthwhile investment when your family inhales the pasta in seconds!

The first part is making a dough! I like to use a food processor to start mixing the ingredients and then take matters in my own hands!!

The dough:
1 lb 5 oz (by weight) AP flour, 4 eggs, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup water

Mix in the eggs with the flour that has the salt in it using the pulse on the food processor. When the mixture looks like crumbs, add the water slowly. When the dough starts to stick together, I remove it from the bowl and start kneading a little more.

Once it becomes smooth and homogenous you can let it (and your hands) rest for half an hour covered with a bowl.

 You can start working on the crumb in the meantime. You will need:

1 stick butter, 1- 1,5 cup of breadcrumbs (plain)

In a saute pan melt the butter and start browning the breadcrumbs gently until it becomes a little (!) darker. Watch out, it can burn quickly! When done, set it aside to cool.

When the time is up, have your table ready for assembling the raviolis. I like to have my materials and tools handy! You will need a flat surface to roll out the dough or use a pasta machine (I rolled to my machine's setting #5). 

The filling is prune jam that comes in a jar or can. I personally love Solo Prune Plum Pastry Filling that is available in most grocery stores close to pie fillings. If there's a European store nearby, check out their selection, too. (Look for Lekvar!)

When the dough is rolled out we are ready to fill! Drop tablespoonful of plum jam onto the middle of the dough about 2 inches apart. On one end of the rolled pasta and in between the jam brush a light line so that the dough will stick and close the filling in. (I know they look like black blobs; sorry the picture doesn't do justice to the color!)

Carefully turn the dough over and close the little pockets by pressing down the dough between the droplets. I have a little tool, a kitchen rotary cutter that creates a wavy edge. If you have a ravioli cutter you can use to seal the edge. Mine turned out like this:

Then it's time to throw them in boiling water! Depending on how you like your pasta, al dente or not, cook them in smaller batches for about 10-15 minutes. When done, drain them from excess water and drop them in the crumbs to coat.

Serve them on a plate, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My first contribution - a cake

In Hungary we LOVE cakes! they don't have to be round (that is called torta in Hungarian) but has to pack in lots of flavors. We use nuts, poppyseed and fruits to enhance the taste of sweets. This particular cake has walnuts in it, ground up, incorporated in the batter and the mousse.

The recipe for the Walnut Mousse Cake is the following:

Sponge cake ingredients:  7 eggs, 4 oz (by weight) AP flour, 6 oz sugar, 2 oz ground walnut, 1 tsp baking powder

Separate the eggs, collecting the yolks in a bowl and whipping up the egg whites. When they are at soft peaks, add the sugar slowly then mix in the yolks one by one. When it's fully mixed, take out the mixing bowl and fold in the flour (that has the baking powder mixed in) gently and the ground walnut. Take care not to break up the egg whites. Pour it in a pre-greased and flour-dusted 9x13 pan and bake it at 350F for about 15 minutes. Let it cool, it might sink in a little; don't worry, it won't change the flavor.

Next step the Mousse! The ingredients are:
1/2 cup of milk, 5 oz sugar, 5 oz ground walnut, 2 cups whipping cream (used only half of that box), chocolate for garnish

Mix milk and sugar in a midsize pot and bring it to a short boil so that the sugar would dissolve. Remove from the heat and pour in the walnut; let it cool down. In the meantime, whip the chilled heavy cream until hard peaks will appear and keep it in a cold place until ready to mix. When the walnut cooled down, mix a little whipped cream (1-2 spoonfuls) to loosen the syrup. When it's workable, fold in the rest of the whipped cream gently. You can put it in the fridge to cool some more. When the dough is totally cooled spread the mousse on top of it evenly. Shred the chocolate onto the mousse and keep in fridge to set. When ready, carefully cut slices with serrated knife. Enjoy!

Friday, August 31, 2012


Hello everybody! This blog came to life out of frustration as I had failed to find an appropriate site where I could organize my favorite recipes. I am a Hungarian living in the United States. Since I moved here I learned and tried a lot of recipes from all over this country and more. But I never gave up on my culinary heritage and tried to incorporate into my everyday cooking. This blog is my attempt to collect my past and future experiments, successes and failures. There might some people who are interested in my ideas or just Hungarian cuisine itself.
Let the adventure begin!