Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goulash with caraway seeds

Ok, this recipe may be cheating, but it’s so good, I couldn’t help myself. Part of this cooking challenge is to find new ways to use spices, but I have been preparing Hungarian Goulash with caraway seeds since 2000. I just wasn’t interested in searching for a new way to prepare anything with caraway seeds, since they already came in one of my favorite dishes. I printed the original recipe from but it’s not there anymore. I modified several ingredients anyway, so I’ll give you my version.
You’ll need:

1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil (I omitted the additional 2 tablespoons of lard called for in the recipe!)
1-2 pounds pork, cut into cubes
¼ cup paprika
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 or 2 cans sauerkraut (I used one 14.5 ounce can, original recipe called for 3 cups)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup relish or 1 large dill pickle, chopped
optional: hot peppers of your choice, ¼ cup white wine, 1 cup sour cream

I sliced and diced, drained the sauerkraut, and did not use any hot peppers.

Directions: place butter and oil in a medium to large pot, melt butter, and add onions. Saute until translucent, then add paprika and stir well. Add pork, and brown it. Add peppers, garlic, caraway seeds, and chicken stock. The original recipe gave an option of substituting ¼ cup of chicken stock with ¼ cup white wine, but I like my stews kind of soupy, so I added the extra liquid on top of the entire broth amount- actually, I was supposed to only use 1 cup of liquid but I always use 2 cups of broth. Stir well, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover- let simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut and pickle (I made up the relish part because I don’t usually keep pickles in the house). Cover again and simmer 20-30 minutes. 

The original recipe calls for a cup of sour cream to be stirred in just before serving, but I don’t do that because I prepare dumplings over the stew! If you’d like to make the dumplings, mix 1 cup Bisquick or equivalent with 1/3 cup milk (I used skim), and drop by spoonfuls onto the goulash. Cook 10 minutes with the lid off, then put the lid on and cook for another 10 minutes. The dumplings will not be brown and crispy on top, but they will be cooked through and tasty!
Do you have a favorite dish made with caraway seeds? Or, do you have a goulash recipe that's different from this one? Please share!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brunch Casserole with dry mustard

I organized a cook-book fundraiser for a non-profit group*, and thought this recipe from my friend Hannah looked amazing! After being lazy for some five years while eyeing the sort-of long list of ingredients, I finally prepared it because the dry mustard called for in the recipe met this challenge criteria... and it was delicious.

The original recipe called for a 9x13 pan worth of casserole, so I halved the recipe and added some vegetables. Here is what you will need:
2 or 3 slices of bread, cubed (I found that 3 slices made for 4 large servings of casserole, and high fiber bread tasted good)
1 cup of shredded cheese
5 eggs
2 cups of milk (I used skim milk)
½ tsp dry mustard (next time I will up it to 1 teaspoon, so don’t be shy)
optional pepper (I did not add more salt as called for because I sautéed the vegetables in the bacon fat)
½ small onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
half a bag of spinach (2-4 cups, not packed down)
5 or more slices of bacon (I used 5 this time, but would use more next time)

Preheat oven to 350.
I like my bacon extra crispy, so I cooked the bacon first, then added all the veggies to the pan. I cooled the bacon down on paper towels and cut it into small pieces using kitchen shears. You can keep the veggies raw as a time-saver.
Beat eggs, milk, and mustard together.
Put bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish (I thought since I was using half the recipe, I should use a smaller dish, but the bread cubes really expanded with the egg mixture, so I may try it in the larger dish next time for a thinner casserole).
Pour egg mixture on top of the bread. Cover with veggies and bacon.

Bake for one hour.

*volunteering for a project like this is time-consuming, but worth it, especially if you have the energy to taste test the recipes ahead of publication (to verify ingredient quantities, of course)!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pastitsio with Fennel

This recipe has been in my 3-ring binder for over 10 years, according to the date printed at the bottom of the page! I’ve been following it with a few modifications over the last (gulp!) decade, with great results. I’m so glad that I tried authentic Pastitsio at a Greek Festival all those years ago and decided to make it at home. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I should try some more recipes along those lines!

I used whole wheat pasta and home-made spaghetti sauce. I have not yet found a way to prepare lamb that is appealing to my taste buds, so I used a pound of ground beef, intending to save half of the meat for another dish (the recipe calls for half a pound). When I mixed half the cooked meat with the pasta, the ratio seemed inadequate, so I added the rest of the beef and sauce mixture.

It came as a surprise to me that I had run out of white sauce mix, so I used a non-tomato based mix packet that wasn’t white but tasted great (I have prepared this before with a pesto mix packet, etc.), so my photo looks nothing like the website version because I didn’t think that a layer of a non-white color on top of the pasta would look very appealing. I mixed it all in like baked pasta would typically be prepared. I used skim milk and forgot to garnish with marjoram- but the spices in the recipe were a phenomenal combination already! I also add vegetables to most dishes that don’t already call for sizable amounts, so the photo shows the spinach I stirred in. I have prepared this in the past with mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, etc.

What is your favorite international dish? Are there any particular spices or flavors that make it special?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Apple pie with cinnamon

This recipe has been in my family for decades, and I decided to make bite-sized treats in a mini muffin pan instead of a traditional pie, in the interest of portion control.

List of ingredients and quantities
(c=cup, tbsp=tablespoon, tsp=teaspoon)

6 medium apples, peeled and sliced (I used four large)
1 unbaked pie crust
2 tbsp flour                  
¾ c sugar (I used slightly less, just about half a cup)           
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c sour cream (I used fat free sour cream)

Topping: ¼ c butter at room temperature, 1/3 c flour,
1/3 c sugar (I used about ¼ cup), 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees


Peel and slice apples, mix with flour and all other ingredients. Pour into pie crust.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes.

Mix topping ingredients with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Remove pie from oven after 45 minutes at 350, sprinkle topping over apples, increase heat to 400, and return pie to oven for 10 minutes.

Serving suggestions: vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream

The filling makes for a heaping pie, which will deflate a bit during baking, but resulted in too much filling for the mini muffin sized bites, so I put the remaining filling into some ramekins and baked them without a crust. I tried making the topping with butter substitute, but ended up with a paste instead of crumbles, which I used anyway- the look might not be so cute, but the ingredients for the flavor were the same.

Lessons learned:
1. fat free sour cream is fine in this recipe.
2. Substitute butter product doesn’t result in crumbles for the topping.
3. For my taste, the crust to filling ratio in the mini bites is off… in the future I will stick to a full-sized pie with this recipe. The taste is great, so for first timers, there won’t be anything to compare it to, but one of my favorite aspects of this pie is that it’s so moist.
4. In the past, I have made this recipe with whole wheat flour, and have not noticed a different taste. You can see a slightly darker look of the filling, so a photo of a slice of pie would have picked up on it, but the flavor is fine.
5. If using a mini muffin pan, use plenty of non-stick spray before putting the pie dough circles in.
6. Next time I would use even less sugar: under ½ cup in the filling, and under ¼ cup in the topping.
7. This is yummy, even without ice cream or whipped cream!
The last time I had apple crisp, I did load up on the toppings!