Letcho – Hungarian sausage and pepper casserole

Today it’s Hungary’s turn. Letcho turned out to be a lovely, rich and warming dish. I followed this recipe.
I cheated only slightly by using a Polish Kielbasa sausage. It’s just easier to come by with a Polish shop just round the corner.

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I cooked it slowly for at least an hour. The addition of tomato paste, ketchup and paprika really makes it very rich and tasty. And extra points for being so colourful!
I recommend this meal. It’s easy and quick to make, and the ingredients are cheap.

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Give it a try!

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Pasca – Traditional Romanian sweet bread for Easter

Just in time for Easter, here is a recipe for Pasca, a traditional Romanian sweet bread. Thank you to Gabi from Cooking Without Limits.
Check out her blog, and Happy Easter!

Cooking Without Limits

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Our Easter Pasca is made on Great Thursday (Thursday before Easter) and is considered the most important bread of the year. It can be simple, with jagged margins, or it can have dough braided edges. Sometimes a cross-shaped braid is placed in the middle, representing the crucifixion of Jesus. You can make this cross out of raisins or cacao powder.

The dough is the same dough that you make for Cozonac. So when you start making desserts for Easter you know the quantity.

The filling is made with fresh cow’s cheese, something like a dry cottage cheese, which is sweetened with sugar and spotted with raisins or sultanas.

Nowadays, you see many other recipes using more filling and a thinner, more easily-prepared base, but a traditional Pasca is more like a stuffed bread than a flan. You can have a chocolate filling or a sour cream filling.

I love Pasca…

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Flemish Waterzooi

 

img_20170414_183546.jpgIt being Good Friday, a fishy recipe seemed the obvious choice. Waterzooi sits somewhere between a fish soup and fish stew.

I followed this recipe. We like our potatoes and this was our main meal, so I made more than the recipe asked for. I also cheated with the different types of fish by resorting to buying a bag of mixed fish and a bag of seafood.

Ingredients:
10,5 oz (300 g) potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp (30 g) butter
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
1 leek, finely sliced
7/8 cup (7 fl oz/200 ml) fish stock
5 oz (150 g) plaice fillet, skinless, cut into pieces
5 oz (150 g) haddock fillet, skinless, cut into pieces
3,5 oz (100 g) mussels, cleaned (see Tips)
1 egg yolk
2/5 cup (3,5 fl oz/100 ml) cream
3,5 oz (100 g) peeled Hollandse garnalen (brown shrimp) or 10,5 oz (300 g) unpeeled shrimp
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
Salt & freshly cracked pepper

Method:

Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked.

Heat the butter in a frying pan. Add the celery, carrot and onion and cook the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, or until they are soft and glazed. Now add the leeks and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock to the vegetable mixture and allow it to infuse for 3 minutes.

Gently poach the fish fillets in the broth for 3-5 minutes. Add the mussels after 1 minute.

Remove the seafood from the pan once the mussels have opened and set aside. Strain the stock into a saucepan. Set the vegetables aside to use later.

Whisk the egg yolk with the cream in a bowl. Put the stock back on the heat and, once it reaches boiling point, add the cream and egg mixture to thicken the stock and create a sauce. Now mix well with a whisk and make sure the sauce does not come to the boil again. Add the peeled shrimp and half the chives and stir.

Place the fish pieces in a serving bowl along with the vegetables and potatoes. Pour the sauce over it. Garnish with the remaining chives.

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The egg yolk/cream sauce was something I had not tried before, but it was easy enough. The important bit is not to let it get back to boiling.

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Overall verdict: We all enjoyed it. The sauce was particularly nice and delicately flavoured.
I had cooked the fish longer than the recipe asked for which didn’t affect the flavour, but made it a bit soft.

Swedish Meatballs

No, not bought in IKEA, but made from scratch. Here is the recipe for classic Swedish meatballs which I followed. Interestingly it asks for minced pork, not beef.

Ingredients

  • 400g lean pork mince
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 85g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400ml hot beef stock (from a cube is fine)

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix the mince with the egg, onion, breadcrumbs, dill and seasoning. Form into small meatballs about the size of walnuts – you should get about 20.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and brown the meatballs. You may have to do this in 2 batches. Remove from pan, melt the butter, then sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Cook for 2 mins, then slowly whisk in the stock. Keep whisking until it is a thick gravy, then return the meatballs to the pan and heat through. Sprinkle with dill and serve with cranberry jelly, greens and mash.

It is strangely therapeutic to squish the raw mince, egg and other ingredients together. Don’t ask me why…

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I am a little twitchy about half-cooked pork, so I popped the browned meatballs in the microwave for a couple of minutes before returning them to the sauce. 

I had no dill (which is probably a vital ingredient in anything Swedish), so I cheated by using chives instead. Sorry, Sweden. 

Served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. It was delicious! 

Cinnamon Buns (Nordic)

I’m being diplomatic here, I think there are few nations that would like to claim cinnamon buns as theirs so to save an argument between Danes, Finns and Swedes I’ve called these cinnamon buns Nordic.

I mainly use my mum’s old recipe (origin not known), but also refer to Nordic Bakery’s recipe book at times.

 

Dough:

500ml milk (full fat is best)

50g of fresh yeast or 2 sachets of dried yeast

1 egg

200ml caster sugar

2 tsp crushed cardamon (you can leave this out – I sometimes do)

1500ml strong white flour

150g softened butter

 

Filling:

100g softened butter

200ml granulated sugar (caster sugar is fine too)

3 tbsp cinnamon

 

If using fresh yeast mix it with warm milk. If using dried yeast mix it with the flour. To make the dough mix milk, egg, sugar and cardamon. Slowly add margarine and flour. I use mixing bowl and a wooden spoon but food processor with a dough hook works too. Mix until the flour is fully incorporated and dough doesn’t stick to your spoon. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm place (mine goes in the airing cupboard) for about an hour to prove. Dough should roughly double in size.

Transfer your dough onto work surface with plenty of flour. Work the dough until there’s no air.

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Then divide the dough in 2. With using rolling pin make 2 rectangle flat pieces, roll them until about 1cm in height.

spread the butter evenly on the dough and then sprinkle sugar & cinnamon (I often mix the sugar & cinnamon together in a bowl before sprinkling). Roll the dough up and then cut slices slightly diagonally going opposite way each time. Once cut press the cinnamon buns onto baking sheets with the narrow end on top. Cover baking sheets with tea towels and leave to prove for 30 – 40 mins.

Before baking the cinnamon buns glaze with egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.

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Bake in 200c for 10 to 15 mins until golden brown. And then enjoy!

There are many variations of how to use the dough, I sometimes just straight pieces and place all in round cake tin to speed things up a bit. Or you can fold the dough in half after spreading butter and sprinkling sugar – cinnamon mix and cut thin strips and then twist them into buns.

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Mara’s breadsticks – Italy

Here is my friend Mara’s recipe for Italian breadsticks. I think they look fabulous, and will go on my list of must-tries.

Ingredients :

350gr strong white flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

7gr sachet dried yeast

200ml luckewarm water

3 tbsp oil (or more for extra crispiness, I like them chewey)

Extra oil for brushing

Instruction :

First mix the dry ingredients and then add the liquids. We use a kneading machine, 1min at low speed and the 4mins at speed 1, until smooth and soft.

Leave to rise until doubled in size. Knead it again and split into 3 equal chunks. From each chunk cut 10 pieces and roll a long breadstick.

Brush with oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, or anything else you fancy.

In the oven at 200° for 15-20 mins

And to prove it’s child’s play, here are some breadsticks rolled out by Mara’s four-year-old daughter.

If you want to check out Mara’s blog, please look here.

Coq Au Vin – France

Coq Au Vin is a chicken casserole in a rich wine sauce. I used six chicken thighs and followed this recipe.
The ingredients were easy to get in any British supermarket, although I made a point of buying an authentic French red wine.


It’s a recipe that takes a little time. No “simply throwing all ingredients together and popping them in the oven”. The onions, shallots and mushrooms want to be gently caramelised and the wine sauce reduced to the right consistency. But it’s worth it.
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Once it is in the oven, there is little left to do that pour the juices over the meat at half time.
I opted for peas as an accompaniment, and crusty French bread – although potatoes or even rice would have been good too.
Family feed-back: We really liked the thick rich sauce. Two chicken thighs each didn’t seem enough – we all wanted more. Another plus point: after cooking the meal there’s half a bottle of lovely red wine left!
Enjoy!

If you have any suggestions, corrections or alternative versions of the recipe, please let us know in the comments section. Thank you.