Lovely Little Palmiers

palmiers

Colder days, warm beverages. A cup of steaming coffee, a pot of tea, some mulled cider warms my cold cold heart hands. Hmmm. When I have the time, I try to make it a ritual by drinking from pretty vintage porcelain cups and providing a bite-sized sweet treat too.

One such delicacy I particularly adore is Palmiers. These elegant French biscuits are made from rolled puff pastry and regular granulated sugar. Flaky, buttery layers, crispy caramelized crunch – they are literally melt-on-the-tongue goodness. Very fancy on a cookie tray yet despite their impressive nature, palmiers are super easy to put together.

Let me show you!

Admittedly, puff pastry is not easy to make. Or quick. That’s why I always keep store-bought, all-butter puff pastry in my freezer. The dough is the hard part and since we already got that covered, the rest is a cinch!

Although the name translates to palm tree, I prefer making them a wee bit different from the traditional shape and form delicate little hearts instead. Also, authentically they are filled with just sugar, but if you could think of a creative variant to fold into your palmiers (like cinnamon sugar, maybe?), go ahead. Just don’t tell the French I encouraged it. 🙂

First you need to thaw your puff pastry completely, which I do by transferring it from the freezer to the fridge and let it stay there overnight. Then, if you weren’t savvy enough to get the ready rolled, you roll out your puff pastry to a rectangle.

Now grab your sugar container and try shutting the part of your brain out that screams diabetes. Sprinkle the dough generously (very generously: remember, we want caramel!) with sugar and gently press into the dough to stick. Flip puff pastry sheet carefully and repeat on the other side as well.

Mark the center of the pastry sheet lengthwise (fold in half if you don’t trust your eye), and make 2 folds from each side leaving some space in the center. Roll one fold on top of the other to form a log.

To make the cuts clean and easy, refrigerate log for 30 min or pop it in the freezer for 10. Cut firmed up log to thin (0,5-1 cm) pieces. The thinner they are, the crispier they will be.

Before you place them on a baking sheet, be a love and roll them in more sugar. Well of course, both sides! To shape them into hearts, pull the two ends slightly away. Repeat with all your pastries and place them on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

shaping palmiers

Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 25-30 min, flipping them at the halfway mark to properly brown both sides. Watch these carefully, they are thin and can burn quickly with all that sugar. Be sure to cool them completely to give them a chance to fully crisp up (and to prevent third-degree lip burns).

Your palmiers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, but… 1-2-3 gone! Quite hard to resist.

Palmiers

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Perfect French Palmiers pastry. Makes about 30.

Ingredients

1 all-butter, ready rolled sheet of puff pastry, thawed

granulated white sugar

Directions

  1. Roll out puff pastry sheet and sprinkle generously with sugar. Press gently for sugar to stick to pastry.
  2. Flip pastry over, and repeat sprinkling and pressing.
  3. Mark center lengthwise. Make 2 folds from each side, leaving some space in the center.
  4. Roll one fold on top of the other to form a log.
  5. Refrigerate log for 30 min to firm up.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Cut dough to ½-1 cm thin pieces, roll both sides of cookies in sugar.
  8. Shape cookies by pulling two ends slightly away, place on baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 10-15 min, flip to bake evenly on both sides, than bake for another 10-15 min, watching pastries carefully.
  10. Cool before serving. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

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Baked Beet Chips, a Healthy Swap

baked beet chipsYesterday, the Husband and I officially strated mulled wine season, but that’s not exactly what I’m here for today. I have a confession to make.

I don’t really know how to put this, but I don’t like potato chips. Yup, that’s right. There was a time in my life when I thought I did and I snacked on them like everyone else, but they gross me out now.

What’s wrong with her I hear you ask, but it’s what it is: the thought of that rancid, oily smell and overpowering artificial flavors of the commercial stuff got me to skip the greasy bag. When I want potatoes, I make them for myself.

Cravings don’t mess around though. Speaking of nibbling on crispy and crunchy, you must have seen the veggie chips trend. Carrots, kale, sweet potato, plantains, zucchini, radishes, even tomato. And beets. Don’t forget the beets!

I love beets, but that wasn’t always the case. As a kid, you encounter the dreary pickled variety in kindergarten, and that’s the point when most of us come to hate beets for the rest of our lives. (Mind you, pickled beets are really yum, just not those they serve at the cafeteria.)

Then you become a grown-ass adult, learn to admit when you’re wrong and revise your opinion on a bunch of matters. I did that with beets, among other things.

No, beets don’t taste like dirt. If you still think they do, you need to grow the eff up and learn to like them because beets are really amazing! Ok, they are unsightly and stain your hands, but also extremely healthy, crazy delicious, and more versatile than you ever could have imagined.

Let’s go over the health benefits of consuming beetroot real quick:

It may help reduce your blood pressure due to high nitrate levels, decrease the risk of diabetes thanks to a strong antioxidant and promote healthy digestion because of the fibers. Beets are also packed with vitamins and minerals and are anti inflammatory. Some people even call beets superfood!

They can be roasted, steamed, boiled, pickled, or just eaten raw. And flavoring them up is half the fun! You will feel so much better about crunching away on a delicious, real-food snack than reaching for that bag of chips. It’s so easy too!

baked beet chipsbaked beet chips

Baked Beet Chips

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Healthy veggie chips bursting with flavor. Serves 2.

Ingredients

4-5 medium-sized beets

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

1 fresh sprig of rosemary finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

Directions

  1. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. Wash and peel beets (it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves so they don’t stain your hands).
  3. Using a handheld slicer or mandoline, thinly slice beets.
  4. In a large bowl, toss beets with the oil, salt, black pepper and rosemary to coat evenly.
  5. Arrange beets in a single layer on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 20 min, flip beets over to bake evenly on both sides, and rotate baking trays as well.
  7. Bake until sides are dried out, curled up and beets are lighter in color, about an additional 20-25 min. They will crisp up as they cool. Enjoy fresh and warm!

Love,

Fruzsi

Maple Walnut Pudding Chômeurs to Help Embrace the Fact It’s October

maple pudding chomeurs

Warning: Monday rant ahead!

I mean, weren’t we suffering from a heat wave just yesterday? And it’s October now? (*Has mild nervous breakdown)

Anyway. The following recipe is adapted from The Bojon Gourmet. A seriously mouth-watering photo of Alanna’s pudding chômeurs popped up on my Pinterest feed a few weeks ago, and I instantly said je veux!

No, I actually did not say that. I don’t speak French. But I still wanted to try them really badly. 🙂 I also felt like writing a post on chômeurs, despite the fact this dessert has nothing to do with Hungarian cuisine. Sorry not sorry, and you won’t be either!

Maple syrup is not a pantry staple in Hungary. I also believe it’s safe for me to say that we, as a nation know very little, if anything at all about French Canadian cuisine.

Which is about to change with this one!

As I’ve learnt, these puddings were invented during the Great Depression when they were presumably used to bring comfort to the out-of-work Québécois (chômeur stands for unemployed in French). Once poor man’s food, these soft, spongy cakes on top of a silky sauce flavored with maple syrup, coffee, vanilla and brown butter are rather brilliant.

Best enjoyed warm, chômeurs are simple to put together and even reheat beautifully (not that ther’s even a chance of having leftovers).

Although the recipe called for it, I neither keep chestnut flour, nor rice flour at hand. I always have walnut meal though, so that’s what I used instead and it did not disappoint. (Sidenote: nut meals are ground with the skin on, while nut flours are made with blanched nuts)

I fine tuned the recipe a little bit further by throwing greenwalnut liqueur into the mix. Plus, I simply forgot to add the vegetable oil to the batter, which I do not regret as the cake turned out perfect without it, so I won’t even list it in the ingredients.

Should’ve seen our faces when we slipped the first bite into our mouths!

Maple Walnut Pudding Chômeurs

  • Difficulty: easy
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A French Canadian dessert for the approaching colder days. Yields 6.

Ingredients

For the sauce:

55 g unsalted butter

½ cup maple syrup

¼ cup freshly brewed espresso

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp greenwalnut liqueur (optional, use 1 tsp vanilla if you don’t have it)

For the cake batter:

½ cup AP flour

½ cup walnut meal

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp fine salt

2 large eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrup

powdered sugar and whipped cream to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C (350 °F). Place 6 ramekins on a baking sheet and grease them lightly.
  2. To make the sauce, place butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally. When butter foams up, turns golden and smells nutty (3-5 min), remove from heat. Carefully pour in maple syrup, coffee, vanilla and greenwalnut liqueur (if using), transfer to a measuring pitcher and set aside.
  3. To make the batter, sift together flour and walnut meal with the salt and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the mixture and add the eggs, buttermilk and maple syrup. Whisk until well-combined.
  4. Scoop the batter into the ramekins, dividing evenly. After giving it a good stir, pour sauce over the batter, also dividing evenly (it will pour straight through the batter which is fine).
  5. Bake puddings until puffed and golden, about 20 min. Remove from oven and let cool a little before serving, sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Homemade Appleasauce Because It’s Apple Season (Enthusiastic Thumbs Up)

apples on linen

On this climate, apples are one of, if not the most widely available and cheap fruits. I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t like apples, and with colder days approaching, the idea of a warm slice of anything with apple and cinnamon gets stuck in my head like earworms.

Cinnamon-apple is our pumpkin pie spice: come fall, every product gets this flavor update from cereal to yogurt to porridge to rice pudding to bubble gum to scented toilet paper. No kidding!

And while the whole health picture just might be more complex than eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away, apples undeniably supply nutrition vital for good health.

This fruit is a great source of natural fiber that lowers risk of heart disease by decreasing bad cholesterol levels. A serving can supply much of your daily vitamin C needs, plus the flavonoids in apples reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and reduce excessive fat production in the liver. Also, phytonutrients in them work as antioxidants.

Not bad from the humble apple, huh?

If you have a few that you won’t be able to eat before they get grainy, soft and wrinkled, or you simply want to stock up on a delicious, healthy and versatile food item, turn them into applesauce! It’s inexpensive, takes no time to make and keeps well canned or frozen as well.

Commercial applesauce is not a common sight in Hungarian supermarkets, but I don’t mind at all. The advantage of making my own at home is that I can choose my favorite apples and make the applesauce as sweet or as tart as I prefer.

Applesauce contains only about 100 calories per serving (if you choose to make it unsweetened), and while most of those calories come from sugar, it’s the naturally occurring fructose.

There’s no fat in it, yet applesauce is a great substitute for fats in baked goods. Try swapping half of a recipe’s margarine, butter, shortening or oil component with applesauce to reduce calories while adding fiber. The finished baked item will have a tender, crumbly texture and a slightly sweeter flavor.

As I said, applesauce is really easy to make. This recipe is for 4,5 kg (10 pounds) of apples, which will yield somewhere around 3 to 3,5 litres (7 pints) applesauce. I used golden delicious apples this time.

homemade applesauce

Here’s how to make applesauce at home:

Wash, peel, and core apples. To prevent browning, slice apples into water containing ascorbic acid (1 tsp to a gallon of cold water).

Place drained slices in a heavy bottomed pot, add ½ cup water. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning, heat quickly until tender (5 to 20 minutes, depending on maturity and variety). Don’t overcook, it’s not a jam.

Blitz with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Reheat sauce to boiling (it will spatter, so be careful) and add the juice of 1 lemon, or 1 tsp citric acid to serve as a natural preservative.

Fill sterilized jars with hot sauce, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water for 15 min. Applesauce can be frozen as well.

Traditionally, applesauce is eaten along cooked meat or roasts around here, but I’m beginning to see it in desserts as well. I like it either way. If you can’t imagine applesauce with a slice of roast beef, give my healthy oat bars recipe an autumn update substituting the fig jam with applesauce heavily flavored with homemade apple pie spice, or try apple pie baked oatmeal for a delicious and filling breakfast.

Love,

Fruzsi

Title image by Lindsey S. Love

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup, a Salute to Summer

roasted heirloom tomato soup

When I told him I’m writing a post on tomato soup, the Husband pointed out I once said  – in front of an audience to make matters worse – that I quote despise unquote said meal. In so many words, yes. Anything I said about tomato soup, I meant and I stand by.

Mind you, the conversation was about the Hungarian variety and I’m sorry to say this, but it’s really, truly appalling. Sweet (like, really sweet), thickened with plain flour and often further aggravated with overcooked alphabet pasta. A fond school cafeteria memory for some, a dreadful flashback for me. I never made it, and my mother gave up on it long ago as well.

Then I’ve learnt about this rustic, Italian approach and I was immediately smitten. This soup is not in heavy rotation at my house, merely because I’m only willing to make it with in-season, sun-ripened produce, nothing less: heirloom tomatoes, yellow onions and garlic from my parents’ garden. A celebration of the wonderful flavors of summer.

(I understand not everyone’s as lucky as I am to have a personal farmers’ market in the form of a childhood home. Your next best option is buying fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables directly from the source.)

Roasting makes all the difference in this soup, so do not omit this step! Going the little extra really isn’t any trouble, it’s just time the tomatoes spend on a sheet pan in the oven while you carry on with whatever household chore you’re choosing to entertain yourself with. The added flavor is just incomparable! Close your eyes and imagine your ingredients going soft, caramelized and sweetened naturally with their own juices… that’s right!

After they come out the oven, you’re just minutes away from the best tomato soup of your life. Everything goes into a pot to simmer some more, then in the blender to be pureed to smooth greatness. (It can be blitzed with a stick blender instead, no worries.)

On a sidenote, let me tell you a story about me and blenders: after two broken cheap-ass units (one of which flooded my kitchen with raspberries and plastic shrapnel at stupid o’ clock in the morning while prepping a post-workout smoothie), I finally invested in a high-power one.

Should’ve done it way earlier – my Philips ProBlend 6 is a workhorse. So far it tackled everything I’ve thrown in the durable glass jar: hot, cold, raw, cooked, frozen, fruits, vegetables, even ice. I use it to make smoothies, soups, purees, frozen drinks, even dutch babies. It’s multi-speed function will blend, crush or cut to the consistency you want. It has an easy clean option, and the parts are machine washable too, bless their little souls.

Back to the soup, it’s best served warm, garnished with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of cream, scattered with more basil. Some crunchy croutons, or a cheesy-garlicky toast might be in order too.

Go dip in!

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

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A hearty, creamy soup bursting with the best of summer’s flavors. Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 kg (2 lbs) sun-ripened tomatoes

2 medium yellow onions

1 head of garlic

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

salt, black pepper

handful of fresh basil, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 l (1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock

200 ml (3/4 cup) cooking cream

1 tbsp sugar, if needed

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 230°C/450°F
  2. Wash and cut tomatoes in half, peel and quarter onions. Peel most of the paper off the garlic, trim the top off the head to expose tops of cloves.
  3. Spread tomatoes, onions and garlic onto a baking tray in 1 layer, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Roast for 30-40 min until caramelized, remove from oven.
  5. Press on the bottom of the garlic cloves to push them out of the paper (careful, hot!). Including the liquid in the tray, transfer vegetables to a pot.
  6. Add stock and bay leaves. Simmer for 15 min or until liquid has reduced by a third, discard bay leaves.
  7. Transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back to pot, add cream and basil, bring to a boil. Taste to adjust flavors (if tomatoes were too acidic, add a tbsp of sugar). Turn heat off.
  8. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders, what I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion. I am not being compensated through sponsorship or gifts, but this post contains an affiliate link: I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!*

5-min Creamy Feta Dip

creamy feta dip spread

Hors d’oeuvre? Warm, a little to the East. Antipasto? You’re getting there, but further eastwards. Mezze – now there you are!

Mediterranean mezze or meze, typical in the Balkans and the Near East, is a selection of small appetizer dishes just like the more renowned French and Italian varieties. Hot or cold, spicy or savory, served at the beginning of a multi-course meal or a meal in its own right, meze is a social event – you are not expected to finish every dish, but rather share at ease.

The recipe I have for you today is meze at its best: not only it is a total no-brainer to make, but also ready in under 5 and full of flavor. You might even have all the ingredients at home as we speak, and hopefully also the wine to go with it!

Fact: I am a feta addict (but you already know that). And after careful and completely unscientific observation of people, I came to realize it’s not just me. So meet your new way to obsess over feta cheese: a smooth, tangy spread Greeks call Kopanisti.

Base your end-of-summer party formula around this dip and lots of complimentary fresh veggies (think zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, celery sticks) and freshly toasted baguette or crusty ciabatta. Seriously, eff those carbs! Just slather on.

So, without further ado, here it is. Because you can never have too many easy, cheesy recipes up your sleeve! 🙂

Creamy Feta Dip

  • Difficulty: easy
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The taste of the Mediterranean in a schmear that’s so so easy to make.

Ingredients

500 g feta or similar white cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil to garnish

optional: lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crushed garlic

Directions

  1. Use a food processor, or mash feta with a fork in a medium bowl.
  2. Season and mix in other ingredients.
  3. Garnish generously with olive oil.
  4. Serve with warm, toasted slices of baguette or ciabatta, or as a dip with raw vegetable chunks.

creamy feta dip spread

creamy feta dip spread

Love,

Fruzsi

Eggs à la Chrissy & a Controversial Question, Answered

Ok so before everyone’s imaginary BFF Chrissy Teigen and her cookbook, let me address a question I am asked frequently, sometimes with thinly veiled hostility by fellow Hungarians – family, friends and strangers alike:

But why do you write in English?

The language of my blog was an intentional decision, reach being quite high on the list obviously. How about this as a demonstrative example: more people follow Chrissy’s Insta (which is required reading BTW!) than there are Hungarians in the whole wide world (duh!)

And then there’s this: I like writing in English (and hereby apologise for any grammar mistakes, typos and idioms used incorrectly). My language choice has had a most heartening effect on me – through food and the personal stories I post along the recipes, I am able to give a glimpse to non-Hungarians into our culture, the way of life here in the heart of Europe.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, moving on to today’s topic.

Chrissy is one of the most relatable celebrities out there. I absolutely adore her for a list of reasons: she’s got tons of personality – a supermodel with a refreshingly frank tone, being freaking hilarious and with an attitude towards food I can so relate to.

Her first cookbook Cravings – Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat was #1 best pre-seller on Amazon, an instant success. ICYMI, here’s my short review:

Yes, there is no shortage of celebrity cookbooks, so is it worth all the hype seems to be a valid question. Spoiler alert: it absolutely does! Cravings is lively and fun just like her, filled with enthusiasm and happiness.

It’s broken up into sections with witty titles and it’s studded with Aubrie Prick’s really pretty pictures. There are Thai recipes inspired by her mom, there’s a chapter on breakfast and a chapter on carbs and a chapter on toasts as well. No dish is too difficult; her recipes are accessible and un-fussy, in the realm of hearty comfort food.

I wanted to be honest in this book about the kinds of food I love, the kinds of food I crave she claims. Dear Chrissy, my husband says hi and thank you. Also thanks for liking my post on insta. It made my day, I really appreciate it!

1st recipe made from #cravingscookbook and it is soooo #delish 🍳☕️🍽🔝

A post shared by Fruzsina Farkas (@mychestofwonders_hu) on

Thumbs up for my brother-in-law as well for squeezing Cravings in the tiny carry-on allowed on board London-Budapest flights and hauling it all the way here as it wasn’t available in Hungary at the time.

I’m not really accustomed to feeding on crumbs from others’ tables, but this brunch recipe is perfect. I can hear you rolling eyes like those are just eggs but believe me when I say this is downright awesome. For me Cheesy Cheeseless Eggs justifies the purchase of the book by itself.

Although it’s supposed to be cheeseless, I still give them a good sprinkling of grated parmesan before serving and I have a strong feeling she wouldn’t find this move in poor taste. 🙂

As for the burst tomatoes, I make them in the oven, not in a skillet. While the temperature is rising to 200°C, I arrange the tomatoes with the stalks on in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then roast until tomatoes are blistered and a little shriveled.

I always did the bacon as Chrissy does: roasting in the oven too, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. No skillet means no oil splatters and undercooked parts. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and crushed garlic, it’s crisp and wonderful in under 15 min.

Make this meal for a lazy weekend breakfast and watch with undisguised satisfaction as your loved ones gulp it down!

Cheesy Cheeseless Scrambled Eggs

  • Difficulty: easy
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A breakfast feast from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook. Serves 4.

Ingredients

12 eggs

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper until homogeneous.
  2. Heat oil and butter over low heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet until butter is melted.
  3. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring slowly but constantly until curds form and eggs start to thicken, 10+ min. Remove from heat.

Good news: I hear a highly anticipated Cravings Part 2 is coming!

Love,

Fruzsi

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link; I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

balsamic reduction sauce

Hmm, balsamic vinegar. Either you absolutely love it or hate it, there’s no other way around the matter. You could probably guess which side I’m on based on the fact this post is bearing the name in the title.

This aged elixir of grapes is known since the Middle Ages. Highly valued by chefs and increasingly popular in everyday cooking, balsamic vinegar is not only the base component of my favorite vinaigrette and marinades, but is great as a glaze, brings the flavors nicely together in soups and sauces, and definitely a partner in crime when braising.

My latest obsession is Crema di Balsamico, a thick, sweet-and-sour syrup over, well, a great many things actually. My go-to used to be Deluxe Crema di Balsamico and Italiamo Crema con Aceto Balsamico di Modena from Lidl. A real treat, I can only recommend both. I’ve always found the price a bit steep for those tiny bottles, but a girl has to splurge occasionally, isn’t that so?

You’ve recognized I used past tense though. The reason being, my current idée fixe just got cheaper. I was reading a recipe the other day which called for reducing a sauce instead of a classic roux, and you know what? Turns out the same thickening method is used to make balsamic sauce.

I had two bottles of the less expensive supermarket own brand Acetino (also IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta of Modena) in my pantry, so I’ve decided to give homemade Crema di Balsamico a go. And guess what, it is amazing! That rich, sweet, complex taste… still tangy but not offensively acidic at all.

Even the first batch turned out so good I found myself licking fingers to save every last drop from the pan. Now that I’ve acquired the know-how, I have a long list of dishes both sweet and savory in mind I want to drizzle with my very own balsamic reduction. And since I’m not one to keep knowledge like this to myself, here’s how you can make it too:

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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A sweet glaze with a lovely complex flavor.

Ingredients

500 ml (2 cups) balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, stir occasionally.
  3. When half of the liquid has evaporated (somewhere around 45 min to 1 hour), your sauce is ready.
  4. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container. No need to refrigerate.

It should outlive all of us, but only if you forget where you kept it. Otherwise it will be gone very soon.

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Image via The Creative Bite

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

sour cherry slab pie

Pie. One of world’s favorite desserts, an affaire de coeur no matter where you live. Yet it only cleared on me know that I’m writing this post, that slab pies are quite under the radar over at your end in America. That needs to change!

When we use the word pite (pron. pee-tech) in Hungary, 9 out of 10 times it comes in rectangular form. Ditch your circular dish for once and try baking pie in a shallow, rimmed baking pan. It feeds more mouths with less mess ’n fuss, and with the bar outfit you get more crust too. Sensible. Yes, that’s the word for slab pies.

Side by side, sweet quark and sour cherry filled slab pies must be the most popular around here; almost every house in our neighborhood has a sour cherry tree in the front yard. My family moved from the capital to the suburbs some 20 years ago so ours is old now, but we still get a steady supply of the tart fruit year in, year out.

And so it pains me to see how my parents are the only ones there taking the time and effort to harvest the crimson-to-near-black delicacy when these are so sought after at the farmers’ market. Fresh sour cherries don’t show up often in stores as their shelf life is quite short: they bruise easily. That said, packages from the frozen goods section of the supermarket is your next best option.

More acidic and having greater nutritional benefits than sweet cherry, the sour type also holds its shape better when baked. And there’s no need to restrict lovely sour cherries to just pie either! Dry, can, freeze, or make jam from a batch to enjoy later in many kinds of sweet and savory dishes.

sour cherry slab pie

In this recipe, a little cinnamon goes a long way, and a woven lattice-top is making the pie visually pleasing. This crust recipe works with any berry or stone fruit that’s in season near you. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or cold after a good sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Yet another reason to love pie!

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

  • Difficulty: medium
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The #1 summer pie in Hungary, coming in a sheet pan.

Ingredients

For the crust:

500 g AP flour

250 g cold butter, cut to cubes

pinch of salt

2 tbsp sugar

½ tsp baking powder

1 medium egg + 1 for eggwash

1-2 tbsp sour cream

For the filling:

1 kg sour cherry, washed and pitted

4 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 packet vanilla flavor pudding mix (not the instant variety) or 40 g / 2 ½ tbsp cornstarch + 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Mix pitted sour cherries with sugar, set aside.
  2. For the crust, in a medium bowl mix flour with salt, sugar and baking powder.
  3. Working quickly, cut in cold butter until rough crumbles are formed. Do not overwork, clumps should not yet collect.
  4. Add egg, plus 1 to 2 tbsp sour cream and work with your hands until dough comes together. Wrap in cling foil and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  5. For the filling, drain the juice from the previously sugared sour cherries. If it’s less than 300 ml (1 ¼ cup), add water. Mix juice thoroughly with the pudding mix or cornstarch (watch out for lumps).
  6. Heat mixture in a medium pot, stirring continuously, until it starts to thicken. Turn heat off, add sour cherries and cinnamon. Mix well, set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F. Divide chilled dough to 2 equal parts, roll out one half on a lightly floured surface to the size of your pan. Gently lift and fit dough into the pan.
  8. Pour filling over dough (no need to pre-bake), and spread evenly.
  9. Roll out remaining dough, cut strips with a knife or pizza cutter. Weave lattice top, wash with the other egg.
  10. Bake until crust is golden, about 40 min. Enjoy!

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Love,

Fruzsi

Baked Ricotta, the Appetizer You’re About to Fall For

baked ricotta

When I told you guys my plans for at-home cheesemaking and the culinary course I’ve attended, I said I’d report the results – if any – of my attempts. Well, I’m here to make good on that promise, and I’m topping it off with a recipe which defines easy entertaining.

So, ricotta. I was surprised to learn that behind the posh Italian name (simply meaning re-cooked by the way), you’ll find the very same dairy product we call orda, urda or vurda in Central-Eastern Europe. It’s a creamy, neutral tasting fresh cheese made from whey, the leftover of cheesemaking.

I don’t exactly know why, but only a few supermarkets carry it around here and it’s quite expensive for what it is. But good news! Ricotta is easy to make at home and a great secondary use for the whey which still has a lot of the goodness of milk in it, and would therefore be a waste to discard of.

For this fresh cheese, all you need to do is heat the whey from 5 litres (about 1.3 gallons) of milk to 85-92°C (right below boiling) and add 5 g (1 tsp) citric acid. Turn the heat off and wait for the proteins to coagulate: after a few minutes you’ll notice tiny “flakes” floating in the greenish-yellowish liquid. Pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and wait a few hours for the curds to strain. This amount of whey yields around 1 cup of fresh ricotta.

I like eating it as-is, but you may find this dairy to be a little bland. That means it’s a blank page and you can flavor the sh*t out of it! Wether you make or buy your ricotta, the following cheese number is a hugely versatile dish you can whip up in a blink of an eye even ahead of time, and play around with spices and other additions to suit your fancy.

Rich, creamy and indulgent, baked ricotta will rise nicely in the baking dish. Like a fancy soufflé, just easier – no need to worry about your folding technique. Only a few ingredients, but a gourmet addition to your repertoire.

baked ricotta

baked ricotta

Your baked ricotta will somewhat collapse after taking it out the oven but this is only natural, the steam holding it up evaporates. Serve warm on fresh baguette or as a dip with crackers.

baked ricotta

Here I made it with basil and oregano, but since then a few other variations emerged from my oven: sage and lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, rosemary and thyme… Can’t seem to get tired of this! 🙂

Baked Ricotta

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A versatile, creamy cheese number. Makes 4 ramekins.

Ingredients

500 g (2 cups) fresh ricotta

2 medium eggs

½ cup grated parmesan

pinch of salt and black pepper

any variety of fresh or dried herbs to taste

Directions

  1. Grease a medium baking dish or 4 ramekins with a few drops of olive oil, preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta with eggs, salt, pepper and parmesan until combined with a fork.
  3. Fold in herbs of your choice, fill ramekins 2/3 full.
  4. Bake until “soufflé” has risen and set, top starting to turn golden (about 40 min).

Love,

Fruzsi