Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old...and In With the New Year!

Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls- click on the link, for the recipe!
With the new year quickly approaching upon us, where as in Australia, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, and Japan, already has celebrated the New Year 2012...we will be be doing the same, at midnight! I will be featuring some of my dishes from 2011 that in our Hungarian/Italian tradition we celebrate.Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, or Sweet Stuffed Cabbage Rolls is our tradition, to start the New Year off. The ground meat stuffed cabbage, is made with beef, but the fresh sausage is pork, and pork is traditionally eaten, for good luck!
Italian Sausage with Grilled Cheddar Polenta-click on the link for recipe
Here's another suggestion: Italian Sausage with Grilled Cheddar Polenta. One of our very favorites, but if you're a vegetarian, you can omit the sausage...in fact, don't omit the sausage, just try the delicious polenta, filled with chopped jalapeno pepper, and grilled potatoes, onions, and zucchini, is sure to satisfy your hunger, and it's such a fabulous meal combination.
Garden Lentil Balls
No...these are not meatballs, they are actually Garden Lentil Balls and are packed with fresh gremolata, made with a combination of fresh herbs and fresh garlic, of course. Check for the recipe for the gremolata, as well. You can use lemon, in place of orange to make it traditional.You can also add Marinara sauce on top of these yummy lentil balls, and eat it as a main dish, with past

In Southern Italy, there is a tradition: OUT WITH THE OLD...meaning, on New Year's day, you throw out old objects, out the window, or over the balcony...just with caution!

Last...but not least, another Italian tradition, I don't know exactly which region it comes from, but listen to this one...WEAR RED UNDERWEAR!...yes, it's a tradition, but not just any old "ratty" red underwear, it has to be a new one!...most importantly, a gift from someone...LOL

...another suggestion for New Year's, is brunch... too early for breakfast, and maybe you want to chuck the suggested tradition, and go with BRUNCH!
Home fries-click on the link for recipe
There's nothing more comforting for a brunch than Home fries, bacon, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, waffles, and most comforting and so yummy, are the french toast!
Mark Bittman's Perfect Pancakes
 ...or how about these totally delicious and perfect pancakes...Mark Bittman's Perfect Pancakes. I was on a blueberry "kick, when I made these yummy pancakes! So amazing, really good!

It has been such a blessed year, with family, and friends, my life is fulfilled with such joy, you have all given me...by supporting my blog with all your sweet comments, love, and caring!

Wishing all of you a Very Happy New Year, in health and prosperity...with Love!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!


Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Potato Latkes...and end of Holidays

As the holidays are winding down, and we're facing the new year, we can reflect back to last year, at this time, already thinking about the changes we are going to make in our lives, our homes, our friends, our bad habits, and start our diets for the hundredth time!...Yeah, sure! I do this every year, and keep promising to go back to Weight Watchers where I actually successfully lost 35 lbs, and kept it off for about 3 years, but gradually gained it back...and then some! So now, I will try the Weight Watchers online, and don't have to go to those boring meetings!
Well, let me tell you...it's a good thing that the year is ending, because December is the last month we can "pig out" with all the good food, and desserts...never say "never" to latkes, at least once a year, which is at Hanukkah! I promise you that I stand by my "best potato latkes recipe!"...it's not even a recipe it's really from all the failures of trying out different ways, but the best kept secret, is adding equal amount of Matzo Meal to your flour, a small amount of baking powder, and to make sure your grated potatoes do not turn brown, adding a tablespoon of whit distilled vinegar to the water. I will be glad to show you the directions, and promise that your latkes will come out crispy, light, and you don't even have to blot any excess grease if you use parchment paper...honest!

Having a 10 or 12 inch well seasoned cast iron skillet is another helpful utensil, that I feel every kitchen should have. It has so many uses, and will never, ever wear out....the older it gets if it's treated properly, the more use you get out of it. Just look at the fresh clean vegetable oil bubbling away, and the potatoes so light, and crispy. Never overcrowd the pan, or it will slow down the cooking process!

Best Potato Latkes
recipe by; Elisabeth


For single batch:


4-5 medium Russet (baking) potatoes, or your favorite
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Matzo Meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 medium onion chopped
vegetable, or canola oil, for frying
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
In a large bowl add water, and add the peeled potatoes and vinegar.
(you can use double batch by doubling the potatoes, 8 to 10, but it's less work with half the amount)
Cut the potatoes in half lenghtwise and in a food processor feed them right into the water, just like it's show in the photo.
Note: The starchier the water gets, but not dark, the crispier and lighter the latkes will be.





This is how the grated potatoes will look in the water...all starchy, cloudy, and beautiful. That's how you want it.














Now, you're ready to put the potatoes with the liquid, and strain it. Rinse it if you like, but you don't have to. The important thing, is to squeeze out all the liquid.








Add the potatoes back into the cleaned out bowl, and add all the ingredients, (except the oil, and vinegar)

With clean hands, or wear plastic gloves, mix together all the ingredients to combine well.










With a small ice cream scooper, scoop out portions, and add to the preheated heavy skillet, if you don't have cast iron skillet.











You can easily scoop out as much as it can fit, but make sure when you drop the scoop, do not touch it for a couple minutes, fry them over med-high heat, without disturbing them.










You can now flatten them down with a spatula, and turn them over to fry until lightly golden. Have your oven ready, at 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet, or two, with parchment paper. When all the latkes are ready to be taken out of the frying pan, just line them up on the parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for an additional 25 minutes, turning them once.

You should have about 12 small latkes. Serve them with apple sauce, and sour cream!
Yields about 4- 6 servings



When you see the jagged, lacy edges, is how you know it is perfect, lightly golden...no need to blot with paper towel, no grease is left on the parchment paper!
The latkes are also really delicious with brisket, or pot roast, you can serve them with chicken, or just on the side. Every one loves this, especially young children, and adults alike!





Linking to:
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop 16 @ Katherines Corner
Full Plate Thursday 12-29-11 @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage 



I would like to share this special  event with you...I enjoyed taking these special  photos. The photo below, is my granddaughter Mattia at her violin concert. She is in kindergarten, and a beginner, with children in her age group.they did an awesome performance of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!
It was such a beautiful event...beginners, intermediate, and advanced students took part!

Before the concert...
Such a beautiful concert with amazing and talented kids!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Hungarian Nut Roll...and Counting Our Blessings

The holidays are almost over, and the new year will begin, in less than one week. We have so much to be thankful for...but mostly for our life, our freedom, to enjoy our choice of practicing our religion, our ethnic tradition, and respect one-another. This is the time of year when families get together and celebrate the "gift of giving!" It's not about how expensive, or how bright the gift should be...it's about the true meaning of our giving from the heart, and not putting a price on it!

My daughter Lora specifically asked me to make her Kalács (Hungarian Nut Roll) and I just put it off not realizing that it's the traditional value of the holiday season that she still remembers from the time she was little and my aunt making all the wonderful bake goods every Christmas! So, on Christmas Eve...just a few hours before we went to our dear friends for their Southern American/Italian dinner, I, at the last minute literally threw this wonderful quick nut roll together to have it for Christmas day! I rarely make yeast dough, but I made this with the full recipe, and freezing half of the dough! The filling is the same filling, that I used for my Kifli, in my previous post. I just did not have the time to make it the traditional way.

Googled the recipe, for the dough...just did not have the time to figure out the metric system to our American system. Turned out real moist, and everyone loved it. I got the nicest compliment from Lora, telling me that this was the best Christmas gift...better than any other present!

Hungarian Nut Roll
Adapted from Taste of Home

2 packages (1/4 ounce each active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm 2% milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter softened
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour




Filling:
my own recipe

1/2  lb. walnuts
1 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup light raisins (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the sugar, salt, butter, sour cream, eggs, and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.( Dough will be sticky.)
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-9 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.


This is how the dough will look, doubled in size, nice and puffy!






Recipe calls for dividing dough into 4 portions, I divided mine into three. Roll out dough on a floured surface. Roll each into a 12x10 inch rectangle. Spread filling within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on parchment paper lined baking sheet.








Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. This is how it looks after 30 minutes...doubled in size. You can use egg wash with 2 eggs beaten with about 1 Tbsp. water, and with a pastry brush, just paint the tops and sides. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool.


For traditional walnut filling:

4 cups walnuts
1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brandy
1/3 cup hot milk

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor, ending with the brandy, and hot milk. Spread on the rectangles, and roll up jelly roll fashion, and proceed with the instructions!









Having our Christmas Eve dinner celebration with our friends...saying "grace"...with our Southern Baptist friends, and Italian/American Catholic, with traditional Southern and Italian feast!










Nicest people you would ever want to meet...One family, of extended family!











The weather was exceptionally warm, in the upper seventies, with a nice breeze...dinner was buffet style, held outside on their patio.










You guessed it...that's my plate of yummy food!















Such delicious homemade foods. I really loved the meatballs, and the sauce, the sausage looked really good, but I didn't have any of that. Loved the Broccoli Rabe, as well!









Anne's Southern Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting....The BEST...ever. She graciously offered to share her recipe with me.











My contribution of New York Style Cheesecake, with Christmas decoration.











Lora's contribution of pear, and chocolate chip cake.















Yummy fudge...different kinds!











Such a beautiful, blessed, and joyful Christmas Eve...finally crashing for the night at Lora's



Taking my last photo of the night, just the Christmas tree light glowing in the dark of the night...everyone sleeping, and grandchildren waiting for Santa Claus to arrive!


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Snowflake Muffins...and Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Since I noticed these ultra gorgeous muffins on my Hungarian food blogger friend's blog Citromhab...which literally means Lemonfoam!  I would like you to meet the talent behind these amazing cupcakes, and the snowflakes made with royal icing, has caught my attention that I haven't seen on any of the foodblogs, yet!

Erzsébet has a tremendous talent for baking cakes, and yeast breads and rolls, as do quite a few of the other Hungarian ladies, which you can see on my blogroll list.Their cakes are the traditional European cakes that differ from ours! Another favorite of mine, among others, is Gizi with her amazing cake and dessert creations...but oh, my!...can that lady cook. Her cooking is truly delicious and authentic Hungarian!

With Erzsebet's permission, I am proud to present her festive Snowflake Muffins and please, do visit her blog to check out her other fabulous cakes, and various other delightful desserts!

If anyone has the "little elves" working in her kitchen... well, in case you don't see them around since the last week or so, they are busily working away in her kitchen, baking all the beautiful things!

I know I can't fool you, and I'm not even trying to, because I don't decorate like this but I am a fairly good baker. What I meant to say,  I don't can't decorate like this...it is just not possible, yet!


 "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" 
(Luke 2:10 )

Wishing all my friends, a Blessed Christmas in Peace, love, and  joy...may your hearts be merry and your holidays be ...bright!

Boldog Karácsonyt,(Hungarian) Feliz Navidad,(Spanish) Buon Natale! (Italian)
with love!


do check out our local neighbors' Christmas lights!

There's a tradition in our local West Palm Beach, Florida neighborhood... every Christmas, each house "decks the halls" with the utmost and beautiful decorations...outdoing each other. At least this is not the neighborhood that I saw on the news that were sabotaging each others' houses by shutting off the main power for the lights, stealing decorations, of all things...Gee whiz...you'd think the Grinch was here, stealing Christmas! Well, it didn't happen in our town, so that's good! We have good cheers, and "love thy neighbor" feeling in the air!





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