Books

The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson: Review and Recipe - Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

Cookbooks are my absolute favorite type of book.  I love learning how to mix different ingredients together to make a completely different taste.  Finding and using a good recipe reminds me of that animated movie with the little foodie rat that puts a mushroom with a piece of cheese and smokes it over a chimney fire.  After getting struck by lightning, he experiences a fiery taste explosion he likes to call "lightningy".    

Speaking of fiery taste explosions... 

 ...and getting back to my original thought, I was so pleased when given the opportunity to review Judith Finlayson's newest cookbook the Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between. (I received this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.)

CPB_Cover

Photo courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Chile peppers have a BIG part in so many different recipes and are found in about 3/4 of everything I cook.  But to be completely honest, I had no idea how many different types there are.  Until reading the Chile Pepper Bible, I thought a chile was a chile was a chile.  Turns out there are 5 major chile species with many different types in each ranging from sweet to hot to set-your-mouth-on-fire and beyond.  

The beautiful cookbook contains so much interesting information about chiles and the culture surrounding them.  Did you know that it is believed that capsicum (the genus of  chile peppers) may have been the first spice ever used by humans? Or that the Indian pepper, the bhut jolokia was dethroned as the Hottest Pepper in the World per Guinness World Records leaving the title to be reclaimed by the Carolina Reaper?  

Of course, the Chile Pepper Bible's crown jewels are its recipes.  With 250 recipes to choose from, you can plan a whole chile pepper party if you want!  

Little story for you:

Last week when picking up my CSA share from the farm, I noticed a small basket of red finger-like peppers on the counter.  I asked what they were and my friend farmer Jen told me they were some sort of Thai pepper that one of her farm sharers was growing.  She offered me a couple, so I took them.  Coincidentally, on the same day my Chile Pepper Bible showed up in the mail.  I couldn't believe it!  I was able to look up the pepper and correctly identify it as a Thai bird's-eye chile! 

Pepper

So then I flipped to page 108 and found a recipe for Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup for which I could use my new little bird's-eye friend!  Here's the recipe and an excerpt from the book in case you'd like to try it yourself.

Chinese Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup

ChilePepper_03

Photo and Recipe courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

 In Chinese medicine, which is fundamentally based on the balancing principles of yin and yang, heating foods are those that warm the body, feeding it with energy. Balance, which includes establishing equilibrium among the five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), helps the body’s vital spirit, called qi, to flow freely and support excellent health. Need I say more? Hot, sour, salty, sweet and loaded with umami from the soy sauce and mushrooms, which are also known to strengthen the immune system, this soup has all the makings of a restorative tonic. And it tastes good, too!

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced gingerroot
  • 8 oz  trimmed fresh shiitake mushrooms,sliced
  • 1  red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1⁄2 to 1 red finger chile, cut into paper-thin rings
  • 4 cups   mushroom or beef stock
  • 1⁄4 cup  soy sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup  Chinese black rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)

 In a heatproof bowl, soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes, weighing down with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain and discard liquid. Slice mushrooms thinly and set aside.

In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add soaked dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, bell pepper, and finger chile to taste. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Mushrooms shouldn’t be fully cooked at this point.)

Add stock, soy sauce and vinegar and stir well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for until flavors are infused, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.

Ladle into warm serving bowls. Garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.

 Makes 4 servings. Vegan Friendly. Gluten-Free Friendly

 Tip: Be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or wheat-free tamari if you are making this soup for someone who is sensitive to gluten. To make it Whole30 compliant, substitute the soy with coconut aminos.

 Chile Savvy: Bitterness is an important flavor in this soup. The sweet red bell pepper balances that component, adding lovely complexity.

Chiles have so many great health benefits and are great in so many different diets.  I am a big fan of the Whole30 way of eating and this Chile Pepper Bible has a lot of compliant (or easily adjustable) recipes I plan on adding to my rotation.  Chiles help bring flavor and color to otherwise boring meals.  

For your own copy, you can use my affiliate link here and purchase from Amazon or you can purchase it at your favorite book store.  With the holidays right around the corner, why not grab a copy for your chile loving friends, too?  

 Follow author Judith Finlyason on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @judith.finlayson to find out more about the Chile Pepper Bible and her other awesome cookbooks! 


The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb- review and recipe

ADA-Perfect Meal Cookbook final_sm

Every once in a while, I'm asked to review a cookbook.  I love doing it because collecting cookbooks is something I've always done.  I love flipping through the pages to find new recipe gems just waiting to be made.  I especially love it when the cookbook is written with a certain audience in mind, but contains recipes that are delicious for everyone.  

In the case of Robyn Webb's newest book the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection, the recipes not only look great and are easy to make, they fit perfectly into the diabetic diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. For example, check out this awesome recipe for Thai Beef Salad I pulled from the book.  Doesn't it sound just perfect?   

THAI BEEF SALAD*

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 3/4 cup

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 12 minutes + 10 minutes for standing

This recipe is courtesy of the chefs at the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. Sitting at the terrace

restaurant of a grand hotel, I ordered the beef salad. After one bite, I asked our waiter to

summon the chef so I could know what all these fabulous exotic tastes were. When I explained

what I did for a living, the chef was more than happy to introduce me to the world of chiles, fish

sauce, and more.- Robyn Webb

 

4 ounces udon noodles

1 pound flank steak, trimmed of excess fat, brought to room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DRESSING

3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon chili puree with garlic

VEGETABLES

1 cup sliced red onion

1 cup thinly sliced red pepper

1 cup thinly sliced cucumber

1/3 cup chopped scallions

4 cups romaine torn lettuce leaves

1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Sprinkle both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. Coat an outdoor grill rack with cooking

spray and set the rack 6 inches above the heat source. Set the grill to medium high.

Alternatively, coat an indoor grill pan with cooking spray and set it on medium-high heat. Place

the beef on the rack and grill for about 6–7 minutes per side. Remove the beef to plate, cover

loosely, and let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the beef diagonally across the grain into thin slices.

3. Combine all the dressing ingredients. Add the beef, red onion, red pepper, cucumbers,

scallions, and udon noodles. Add the dressing and toss well. Serve on lettuce and top with

peanuts.

CALORIES 300, CALORIES FROM FAT 140, TOTAL FAT 15.0 g, SATURATED FAT 3.3 g, TRANS FAT 0.0 g, CHOLESTEROL 40 mg, SODIUM 450 mg, POTASSIUM 480 mg, TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 21 g, DIETARY FIBER 3 g, SUGARS 7 g, PROTEIN 20 g, PHOSPHORUS 220 mg, EXCHANGES/CHOICES: 1 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 Protein, lean; 2 Fat 

*Reprinted from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb, MS, published by American Diabetes Association/October 2016

To me, this recipe seems like a real treat, not something that fits into a "diet".  That's true for all the recipes in the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection.  Robyn Webb's take on all the comfort foods we know and love is adventurous without going overboard.  Her recipes incorporate familiar tastes with new exciting ones all while keeping carbs and sugars down and staying within the ADA's guidelines.  Some other recipes include: 

  • Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney
  • Fresh Tuna Burgers
  • Apple Cider Chicken
  • No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna
  •  Shrimp and Fruit Tacos
  • Crispy Tofu Stir Fry
  • A Better Turkey Meatloaf
  • Lentil and Brown Rice Loaf
  • Swordfish Salad with Salsa Dressing
  • Lemon Asparagus Soup

One of the chief complaints of anyone placed on a restrictive diet is that foods don't always taste great.  With recipes like these, those complaints will be few and far between!  

Whether you or someone you love has diabetes or you simply want a new exciting cookbook to add to your collection, I hope you will consider the Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb.  I am very happy to have had to opportunity to add it to my collection in exchange for this review.  My affiliate link is below, if you'd like to purchase the book but it is also available at your favorite book distributors.


Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex by Cappy Lawton & Chris Waters Dunn - book review and recipe for Enchiladas de Camote (Sweet Potato)

Disclosure: I received a copy of Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex in exchange for this post.  No additional compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.
  EnchiladasCoverArtOnly_Page_1
My family and I recently discovered that we love enchiladas.  After a long day about a year ago, I sort of threw some together following a basic recipe I found online.  I can't even remember where at this point.  But since that day, I've tried several different variations including different meats, cheese, sauces, vegetables, etc.  So far, our favorite has been slow cooked pork and black beans with cheddar in flour tortillas.  But, there may be a new favorite brewing...
 
I received the book Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex by Cappy Lawton & Chris Waters Dunn at the perfect time.  I was ready to try my hand at some more enchilada recipes and this cookbook has basically everything I need to know about cooking, preparing, assembling, and garnishing many different types.  It even has instructions on how to make your own tortillas.  One recipe in particular caught my eye - Enchiladas de Camote. Camote is the Spanish word for sweet potato.  I would have never thought to put sweet potatoes and enchiladas together in the same sentence let alone on a dish.  So, I tried it and guess what?  It works! VERY well, too!
 
Here's the recipe:
 
Enchiladas
Enchiladas de Camote (Sweet Potato)
 
Yields 12 enchiladas / Serves 4–6
 
Ingredients
 
For the filling:
* 2 cups (460 grams, about 3 medium) sweet potatoes, roasted and mashed
* Kosher salt to taste
For the sauce:
* 1 recipe Chipotle Sauce (see page 191)
 
For the assembly:
* 12 tortillas (the book does not specify what type.  I used corn)
* Vegetable oil as needed for frying
 
For the garnish:
* Crema Mexicana
* Queso fresco
* 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and shredded for fried sweet potato strings or
very thinly sliced lengthwise into chips (recipe follows)
 
Directions
 
Start with the filling:
* Cut the tip off the narrow end of each sweet potato to keep it from bursting. Place
on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 400°F (200°C) oven for about 1 hour, or until
fork-tender. Cool for a few minutes.
* Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and pass through a food
mill or ricer to achieve a smooth consistency. Add salt to taste.
 
Prepare the sauce:
* While the potatoes are baking, prepare the chipotle sauce.  
  • 2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 large chipotles en adobo sauce, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • for the filling:+
  • 2 cups (460 grams, about 3 medium) sweet potatoes, roasted and mashed
  • Kosher salt to taste

*Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until very soft and blackened in spots, turning as a side is done, 15 minutes or so total. Remove from oven. In the meantime, eat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles to skillet and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat.

*Transfer the tomatoes and any accumulated juices to the jar of a blender, then scrape in the onion mixture and add the salt. Puree until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer. 

*If proceeding immediately, pour the sauce into a saucepan over medium-low heat, cover, and keep warm (reheat in the same manner if made in advance). Store cooled sauce in an airtight container with a lid in the fridge for up to 5 days. If the sauce was prepared ahead of time, place it in a saucepan set over medium low heat, cover, and keep warm.

 
Assemble the enchiladas:
* Preheat the oven to 140°F (60°C).
* In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 1⁄2 inches (6.33 cm) and
place over medium-high heat. Bring to medium frying temperature (about
350°F, 177°C).
* To soften the tortillas, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel, place in a plastic
storage bag (do not seal), and microwave on high for 45–60 seconds.
* Place 2 tablespoons sweet potato purée on the lower third of a tortilla, roll, and
skewer with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
* Deep fry the enchiladas a few at a time (do not crowd) until crispy. Drain on
paper towels and place on an ovenproof platter in the oven to keep warm.
Continue frying the remaining enchiladas (allow the oil to reheat to frying
temperature between batches).
* When ready to serve, remove the toothpicks, place 2–3 enchiladas per serving
on warm individual plates, top with the chipotle sauce, and garnish with crema
Mexicana, queso fresco, and (optional) fried sweet potato strings or slices.
 
Sweet Potato Chips
 
How to make sweet potato strings or chips:
* Using a mandolin slicer, slice a peeled, raw sweet potato into very thin, long
slices or shred into strings. Just before serving, place in a deep fryer at 350°F
(177°C) until golden, drain on paper towels, and use as a garnish.
 

Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. published by Trinity University Press.

 
 As per my usual, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand today while making these, so I had to substitute a garlic & herb soft cheese for the crema Mexicana and the queso fresco garnish.  And of course, you all know I despise cilantro, so I just added some parsley to the top for some fun.  Also, I wish I would have made the sweet potato chips!  I think I'll make some tomorrow just to make up for it.
 
I really enjoyed the crunch and the unexpected sweet potato flavor of these little gems.  When I finished eating, I found myself licking my lips from the lingering smoky spice of the chipotle sauce - wishing I had made more.  I think these would be great as appetizers fried up in small batches.  
 
This is just one of the many delectable recipes in Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex.  I'm looking forward to trying as many as I can from Tex-Mex Brisket to Enchiladas de Frijoles y Chorizo.  I hope you'll try this recipe and get yourself a copy of Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex!
 
Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex is available on Amazon.com and other book sellers. You can use my affiliate link here: 

Or check out the book's website at www.enchiladasbook.com.  Right now they are running a special ONLY available on purchases made through www.enchiladasbook.com!  Buy 3 books, get 1 FREE! Makes a great gift for the foodies in your life.   


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

This installment in the Big Grandma's Cookbook series might be my favorite so far.  These little cookie gems are what bring back the most memories of my grandmother.  She would make these for us as kids on special occasions.  When we would eat them, she would eat them too, very daintily with the tips of her fingers.  We would have milky, sugary tea in our own special tea cups she kept special for us in the china cabinet.  We felt so grown up enjoying the cookies and tea in that fashion.

But then we would devour them like animals once we left her house with our little box of leftovers.

I often wonder if Big Grandma did that, too, once we left.  Thoughts like that make me smile.

Some people call these cookies kiffles.  But that is a word I had never heard until last Christmas when my mom brought us some cookies that resembled Big Grandma's cream cheese cookies.  We all tried them and while they were delicious in their own way, they weren't the same.  Nothing could match Big Grandma's recipe.

So when I found her recipe in her little handwritten cookbook, I cried.  

I made them and watched as my kids devoured them in the same way my sister and I used to as  I ate them daintily with my fingertips just like my beautiful grandma.  My cookies weren't nearly as pretty as the ones she used to make, but the taste was spot on.  

Cream cheese cookies

Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

*I had to take some liberties with the recipe as it was not really written with clear instructions.  I had to wing it a little bit.*

 

  • 1 lb butter softened
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese softened
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 -4 cups all purpose flour plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 jar apricot jam (or your favorite jam - strawberry is good, but a little sweet)
  • 1 beaten egg

 

 Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs until smooth.  Add baking powder to 3 cups flour and then gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.  You will be rolling out the dough, so if it seems too thin to roll add more flour by the tablespoon until it is thick enough to form a soft dough.

Roll thin (about 1/4 inch) on a floured surface.  Cut into 3 inch circles.  Fill each circle with a dollop of apricot jam and fold over the edges.  Brush each cookie with the beaten egg.  Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes of until they are light golden brown.

Even though you might want to grab one and eat it right off the pan, don't do it!  That apricot jam is going to be hot for a good 10 minutes after they come out.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and then enjoy!

Big Grandma's cookbook

 


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

Big Grandma didn't always make Hungarian foods.  She was actually quite adventurous in her cooking style and would try just about anything.  Most of the time, we enjoyed whatever she was making.  But I wouldn't be truthful if I said we liked everything.  

I can remember a time when Big Grandma made us some pumpkin soup during a visit.  Now, I love pumpkin soup.  But not that time.  I don't know what was in it, but I can still taste it 30 years later.  Every time I think of that soup, it makes me chuckle a bit because even though it wasn't a favorite, it makes me think of my grandma.  

If I can get sentimental for a minute, I'd like to share something...

My grandma was a very proper woman.  She is the one who taught us how to set a table the right way, how to keep a smooth complexion by never washing your face with soap, how to sit with your legs properly crossed at the ankles during tea...all that.  Up until we were all older, I didn't really know my grandma any other way.  So when something came up like the pumpkin soup incident - where she made something that wasn't perfect - it made me feel closer to her.  She normally didn't DO anything that wasn't perfect.  It helped me to realize she was a normal human being.

Back to recipes.  This recipe also reminds me of Big Grandma for the same reason the pumpkin soup did, except it is delicious (unlike that soup).  It's not one that I would have expected from Big Grandma's cookbook and seems to be a far stretch from the more proper recipes she has in there.  It really made me smile to see it.  It made me smile even more to taste the end results!  Enjoy.

Molasses cookies

Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used softened butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Cream shortening (or softened butter) & sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg & molasses.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to above alternately with water.  Drop by heaping teaspoon on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375° 8-10 minutes.  

  Big Grandma's cookbook


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Stuffed Cabbages

My grandmother spoke Hungarian.  Not to us and not all the time or anything.  She learned it on her own for fun.  In fact, when she went to Hungary for the first time, a native asked HER for directions because her Hungarian was so fluent.  

When I sit and read through her cookbook, I find many Hungarian words that I have to translate through the magical thing we call the internet.  However, I did find a word she wrote that I can not seem to find here online: Golubtsk

It is very similar to the Polish word gołąbki and the Russian word Golubtsi  which both mean stuffed cabbage.  I can't help but think maybe she was trying to write one of them..?  

Anyway, the Hungarian words for stuffed cabbage are töltött káposzta.  Here's my grandma's recipe for stuffed cabbage...or whatever she called them.   Stuffed cabbage collage

Golubtsk

  • 1 large cabbage (You will need a large pot filled with water a well)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 T table fat (I substituted with avocado oil)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 2 cups of cooked lb brown rice 
  • 2 c beef stock

Boil the large pot of water and parboil cabbage 3 minutes.  Remove and cool enough to handle. Separate leaves from head.  (You may need to put the head back in the water once you get to the inner leaves)  Salt beef and fry in 2 T fat (or oil).  Add pepper.  Remove meat to a large bowl & fry onion in 1/2 T butter.  Add to meat.  Also add rice to meat and stir.  Season to taste.  Put 1 T mixture on each cabbage leaf & fold in shape of thick sausage.  Place in saucepan, pour stock over them, cover and simmer 1 hr.

I make stuffed cabbages all the time, and I have NEVER made them this way until reading Big Grandma's cookbook.  My recipe does not require cooking the meat before adding it together with the rice. I do not use any onion and instead of beef stock, I use tomato juice to cook them.  I also add either sauerkraut or keilbasa to the pan towards the end for more flavor.  

These turned out really nice... kind of like a naked version of the classic I'm used to.  They even tasted like a light version.  Try them and let me know what you think!

 


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Csorege (pronounced cher-o-ga) cookies

One thing I'm finding a bit difficult while reading my Grandma's cookbook is that there are no pictures in it.  I have no idea what most of her recipes are supposed to look like when finished.  So I either guess or look up someone else's recipe online to get a ballpark picture in my mind.  

This recipe was particularly interesting to me because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck the result would be.  

It's a deep fried cookie...with wine in it.  

After doing some research, I found that this cookie can be compared to the Polish cookie called kruschicki.  Only kruschicki is sometimes made with whiskey and has a distinctive bowtie shape.  The csorege I made following Big Grandma's recipe only called for me to cut the dough, not shape it.  Therefore, mine were just flat.  The kids enjoyed them!

Csorege

Csorege

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp cream or milk
  • 1 Tbsp wine (I used white)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • About 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour

Combine above adding enough flour to make a soft dough.  Roll thin and fry in deep fat.

Things I noticed:

- Make sure your dough is not too wet.  It will be hard to roll out thin.  I suggest starting with a heavy cup of flour and add from there as you see fit.

- I used canola oil to fry and it was good.  Pay very close attention to the frying dough as it only takes about 30 seconds on each side to cook.

- The cookies are sweet on their own, but sprinkling some powdered sugar on top makes them much prettier.

Enjoy! Big Grandma's cookbook

 

 


Big Grandma's Cookbook: Hungarian Goulash

Big Grandma's cookbook
Of COURSE I'm starting this new series with Hungarian Goulash.  It just feels right considering my grandma was full blooded Hungarian.  She wasn't born there, but both her parents were.  There's a cute little story about them I always like to tell.

When they emigrated over here to the States as children, the didn't know each other at all.  They met and were married as adults then had my grandma and 3 other children.  Long after they passed away, my grandma went over to Hungary for the first time to find where they grew up.  She didn't realize it, but her parents actually grew up right across the river from one another!  Their childhoods were spent so close and yet they never met.  Now, that river separates Hungary from either Slovakia or Austria (I'm not sure which).  

Anyway, I wanted to start this series of recipes from my grandma's cookbook with a big ol' Hungarian bang.  So here it is.  My grandma's recipe for...

Goulash

Hungarian Goulash

  • 3T shortening
  • 3 onion sliced thin
  • 1 pound beef, cut in cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1t paprika
  • marjoram 
  • Clove garlic pressed
  • beef stock
  • 2 c sauerkraut
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 t caraway seeds

Brown onion in stew pan or pressure cooker.  Brown meat quickly.  Add seasoning & stir.  Cover with liquid & simmer 30 minutes. (Pressure cooker add 1/4 c liquid & cook 10 min at 10lb pressure).  Add sauerkraut & continue simmering 3/4 hour. (Pressure method, 3-5 min at 10lb).  Thicken sauce with butter & flour.  Add sour cream & other variations.  Heat 5 min.  Serves 4.

OK, so I wrote the recipe exactly as I saw it in the cookbook.  You might have a few questions about the recipe.  I did, too.  

1. I don't have a pressure cooker, so I just ignored those bits.

2. Which seasonings should you put on the meat before covering with the liquid? I went with salt & pepper, paprika, marjoram, and garlic. How much marjoram?  About 1/4 tsp.  If you don't have marjoram, you can substitute oregano but use less - only about 1/8 tsp.

3. How much beef stock do you need? I would use about 1 cup, but have a bit extra on the side (1/4-1/2 cup) for the next step.

4. Do you just add the butter and flour to the pan seperately?  I actually made a roux in a separate pan and added a bit of the beef stock to it to thin it before adding it to the meat.  That worked very well.

Please stay tuned for next week's recipe!


New series: Big Grandma's Cookbook

Last year I was looking through some drawers and came across a book I had never opened.  It was kind of scraggly looking with duct tape holding the binding together.  I must have picked it up when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house years ago.  When I turned it over to check out the front cover, I burst into tears.

It's my grandma's cookbook.

Big Grandma's cookbook

Not only does it include every single thing I remember eating at her house, but it's written by hand- HER hand.  She gave it a table of contents and everything.  It's beautiful.  There are pages that have clippings she must have found in magazines or the daily newspaper along with her own personal recipes.  When I read through it the first time, I could actually smell the foods of my childhood.  

My grandmother was a very fine cook.  She was full blooded Hungarian so most of her dishes had an eastern European flair to them.  She liked to follow a recipe, but she also loved to add her own personal touches to everything she made.  Every time we would visit for dinner, it was an adventure.

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Big Grandma and my daughter

I've decided to test out some of her recipes here each week in a new series called Big Grandma's Cookbook.  Funny story about how she became "Big" Grandma.  No, she was not a large woman by any means.  When my niece was very little, she knew her great grandma very well as they lived right next door to each other in my parents' two-family home.  She started calling her Big Grandma when she couldn't quite remember the word Great.  She knew her great grandma was someone important; someone BIG in her life.  So the name stuck.  I think my grandma liked it.

So please look for a new recipe every week from Big Grandma's Cookbook.  I'm looking forward to making them and I hope you will enjoy trying them yourself!

 


Review of the North American Whiskey Guide

Disclosure: I was given this book to review free of charge.  No other compensation was given to me.  All opinions are my own.

Cover

I have never been a whiskey drinker, because I had a bad experience with it when  I was younger.  Let's just say whiskey and I went from being best friends to being lifelong enemies one night at a high school party and leave it at that, ok?  Ever since then, the smell of it made me shudder. 

But...

Lately I've found that a lot of things I used to loathe when I was younger are now suddenly appealing to me.  For example, I used to think coconut was disgusting.  Now?  Now I can't get enough of the stuff.  Peanut butter went from yuck to yum.  And I used to always remove the bread from my sandwiches and just eat the innards. Now, if I could figure out a way to mainline bread, I would be an addict for sure.

However, you will never get me to like cilantro.

Back to whiskey...  

I was given a book to review called the North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar which is a collection of reviews from bartenders on over 250 whiskeys.  The book is set up like an encyclopedia which is perfect for me in my old age. The whiskeys are separated into eight categories: bourbon, Tennessee, rye, Canadian, blended/other, wheat, corn/white, and malt.  Each entry has a small summary of the whiskey including its variety/style, origin, bottle type, proof, price, and a fun fact.  There are comments from all four bartenders who reviewed each whiskey and a fun fact about each as well.  

The best part about the book, in my opinion, is the section on whiskey cocktails because that is how I would probably partake in my next whiskey adventure. I have an awesome bartender friend named Sparkles at Doyle's Pour House in Tuckerton, NJ who told me she would gladly make me one of the cocktails next time I come in.  I think I'll go with this one:

Aerowhiskeysour

Aero Whiskey Sour 

  • 2 slices lemon
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Fighting Cock Bourbon
  • ¼ oz (7 g) simple syrup
  • ¼ oz (7 g) egg white
  • Ice
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Cherry, for garnish
  • Cinnamon, for garnish 

Muddle the lemon in a shaker, then add the bourbon, simple syrup and egg white. Dry shake vigorously, then add the ice and shake vigorously again. Strain over ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a dash of Angostura Bitters, a cherry and a pinch of cinnamon.

Doesn't that sound awesome?  

You can check out the rest of the book and purchase it here through my affiliate link, if you'd like.  (By clicking on the link, it will bring you to Amazon and I could possibly get a small commission if you decide to purchase it.)

 

Recipe and pictures courtesy of The North American Whiskey Guide from Behind the Bar: Real Bartenders' Reviews of More Than 250 Whiskeys by Chad Berkey and Jeremy LeBlanc. Printed with permission of Page St. Publishing