Caramelized Cabbage Potato Pancakes

Every Christmas Eve growing up, and a lot of other days throughout the year, Kápostás Tészta (Hungarian Caramelized Cabbage Noodles) and Potato Pancakes were featured meals leading up to the greater Christmas celebrations. We would have one for lunch and the other for dinner or one or the other, but each of them would be featured as part of Christmas.
I thought harmonizing the two flavours would be the ultimate Christmas treat! I decided to do two different service options. Firstly, caramelize the cabbage like I would for the noodle dish, then add bits of the caramelized cabbage to the potato pancake as it griddled, much like how one would add blueberries to a regular pancake.
Secondly, I stirred some caramelized cabbage into some sour cream and served it over a regularly prepared potato pancake. Each has their charm and showcase the sweet depth of flavour that is achieved in caramelizing the cabbage. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!!

Caramelized Cabbage Potato Pancakes:

For the Caramelized Cabbage:

2 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
300g/12 oz green cabbage (not Savoy or other kinds of cabbage. Only regular green cabbage works for this), finely grated
1/2 tsp salt

For the Potato Pancakes:

250g/8 oz peeled and cubed starchy potatoes (about 1-1/4 cups of potatoes)
1/2 cup peeled and chopped onions
2 cloves peeled and chopped garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2/3 cup milk (cow’s milk or any non-dairy alternative works fine)
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour (I’ve used everything from regular all purpose, whole grain red fife wheat flour or buckwheat flour. All work equally well)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

To caramelize the cabbage, add the oil to a medium pot over medium high heat. Add the grated cabbage and salt. Stir every minute or so, scraping the bottom of the pot. After about five minutes, the cabbage will start to stick and brown slightly along the bottom of the pot. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir more. Reduce the heat to medium and stir every minute or two for another 15-20 minutes, adding a bit of water if the browning starts to stick the cabbage to the bottom of the pot. After that time, the cabbage should be deeply golden brown and soft. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the potato pancakes, add the potatoes, onions, garlic, garlic powder, milk and egg to a blender. Purée until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a medium bowl. Stir to blend the dry ingredients together. Add the dry mixture to the potato mixture. Stir until a smooth batter forms.
For option 1: Preheat a cast iron pan or other heavy pan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of oil and once it is hot enough to smoulder but not quite smoke, add 1/4 cup portions of batter and spread into pancakes. Griddle for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side until deeply golden. Stir together 1/4 cup of the Caramelized Cabbage with 1/2 cup sour cream and spoon over the top of the prepared Potato Pancakes.
For option 2: Preheat a cast iron pan or other heavy pan over medium heat. add a few tablespoons of oil and once it is hot enough to smoulder but not quite smoke, add 1/4 cup portions of batter and spread into pancakes. Griddle the pancake on one side for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Place 1/2 tsp bits of the Caramelized Cabbage all over the uncooked portion of the pancake while the first side griddles. Flip the pancake and griddle for another two minutes or until deeply golden. Drain on paper towels and serve with a sprinkle of salt. Makes 8 pancakes about 15cm/6″ in diameter each.


Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts

As the last few days before Christmas approach, I’m always trying to do more with what I have already at home. Stores are crazy busy, farmers markets are only once or twice a week here so certain things I’ll have to wait for. Upon taking stock of my freezer and pantry, I found some chocolate pepparkakor (Swedish style gingersnaps) in my freezer from a recipe I did a couple of weeks ago. They were in various states of broken so I thought, “These would make a perfect base for cheesecake.”
Because I didn’t want to occupy the oven any more than I already was with the variety of other baking I was doing I wanted to do a no-bake variety. The crust only takes about 10 minutes in the oven. In that time, the filling was whipped together and I was able to continue on with other tasks.
The main flavour came from a wonderful dehydrated raspberry from Sunrise Organic Gardens. They’re not dried like raisins, but fully dehydrated. I had been enjoying a few of them in my tea, but when I put some in a spice grinder, they turned into the most beautiful and aromatic blush coloured powder. It was like concentrated summer in a few glorious teaspoons. So in an instant, I had a gorgeous and delicious dessert that will be a star at my Christmas dinner!! It’s so quick, you can enjoy it too!

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Tarts:

For the Spiced Chocolate Cookie Crust:

2 cups coarsely ground spiced chocolate cookie crumbs (if you don’t have the exact cookie I baked, you can use a blend of regular chocolate cookie crumbs and gingersnap cookie crumbs)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup butter

For the Raspberry Cheesecake Filling:

100g/4 oz cream cheese
2 Tbsp white sugar
50g/2 oz dehydrated raspberries, ground into a powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
For the crust, place the butter and maple syrup in a small pot over medium heat. When the butter has melted pour the mixture over the cookie crumbs in a medium bowl. Stir together until the cookie crumbs are moistened. Spoon about 2 Tbsp of this mixture into mini muffin pan cups. Press the centre of each to ensure the sides of the cup reach the upper edges of the muffin cup. There is enough crust mixture for 24 mini muffin cups. Bake for 8-10 minutes. While still warm, press the centre of the cookie cup again to form a well to spoon the filling in, as the depression tends to fill in while baking. Allow to cool in the pans.
For the filling, add the cream cheese, sugar, dehydrated raspberries, vanilla extract and sour cream to a medium bowl. Stir together until smooth. Add about a tablespoon of filling to each cookie cup and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. Makes 24 mini cheesecake tarts.

Beef Satay Pastry

While at my neighbourhood bakery, Dutch Delicious, a few weeks ago, I was having a chat with the owner/baker Siebe Koopman. I was talking about how I do a recipe every day during Advent to honour the memory of my mother. The topic went to my sister-in-law and her Indonesian heritage. Siebe’s eyes lit up because there is a lot of Indonesian food in Dutch cuisine from the Dutch colonial days. He told me how he likes to prepare an Indonesian-style satay (a tangy, spiced meat skewer), dip it in peanut sauce, then wrap the whole thing in pastry and bake it until golden!
I loved the idea because I’ve made hundreds of satays with my sister-in-law as a part of family BBQs. I wanted to harmonize the idea of my brother and sister-in-law, so I chose my brother’s favourite pastry, the pastry for Hungarian Kifli. Normally Kifli is stuffed with a sweet filling, but it’s a strong enough dough to hold the meat without being too “bready.”
It’s great as a snack, as an appetizer or as a treat with coffee. Enjoy!

Beef Satay Pastry:

For the Beef Satay:

600g/21 oz beef striploin steak, sliced into thin slices
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp each, fennel seeds, cumin, celery seeds

For the dough:

1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 small red finger chillies
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 to 1/2 cup water

To prepare:

1 egg + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup flax seeds

Place the slices of beef in a medium bowl. Grind the spices to a fine powder and add them to the meat. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup and lime juice to the meat and spices and massage all of the ingredients together. Allow to marinade for 15 minutes.
Weave each slice of marinated beef on a skewer, bending it like an accordion. Keep threading slices of meat this way on the skewers until each skewer holds about a 15cm/6″ bundle of meat. Grill the skewers over high heat (on an indoor grill) or medium high heat (on an outdoor grill or charcoal) for 3-5 minutes per side or until charred on the outside. Set aside to cool. Place on a parchment-lined tray and freeze for at least an hour.
For the Peanut Sauce, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, chillies, maple syrup and 1/3 cup water to a blender. Purée until smooth. If the sauce is too thick add a couple of tablespoons of water and purée again.
Remove the chilled satays from the freezer. Brush each satay on both sides liberally with Peanut Sauce. Return them to the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.
For the dough, place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until the dry ingredients are crumbly with butter. Make a depression in the centre of the crumbly flour mixture. Add the egg and milk. Beat the egg and milk together until smooth and start to work in the butter-flour mixture. Once the mixture comes together as a dough, divide into two portions. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out each portion of dough until just under 1cm (3/4″) thick. Cut the rolled dough into 10cm/4″ squares. Place the frozen Peanut Sauce-brushed Satay in the centre of the square of rolled dough. Roll the dough around the Satay and press the edges to enclose the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and Satays. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with flax seeds. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve with extra peanut sauce or sambal.

Ferris Burger’s Day Off

Since its release in 1986, I probably have watched the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off over a thousand times. At least I lost count after a thousand and that was some time in the ’90s. I pretty much watch it alone because I’m *that* guy who talks word-for-word through the entire movie, quoting every line, adding every sound effect, pantomiming every action.
Upon a recent viewing, I was thinking that there’s a lot of food and drink references either directly or indirectly throughout the film. I decided that they would incorporate nicely into a tasty burger!
Firstly, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the first movies to have pervasive product placement throughout. The predominant brand was Pepsi. One of the more prominent scenes was where a deluded, but well-meaning teen was collecting money for an ill Ferris to fund a kidney transplant.
It was nice of the teen to think of Ferris, even though the illness became massively exaggerated. It got me thinking, Pepsi and kidney…Since most people’s appetite for kidneys are rather low on a burger, I decided on a refried kidney bean spread flavoured with elements that make up the popular cola.
Instead of using the cola itself, I looked around for a recipe for the cola. Finding that the natural flavours in the cola are a collection of spices and citrus, I thought that these would be a great flavour base.
Next, Ferris’s sidekick, Cameron Frye, says a food name right in his surname! And during the baseball game they attended, Frye was heckling the batter and I thought “Batter, batter, batter.” Make a fry out of a batter.



Ben Stein’s monotonous teacher character gave further credence to the name of the fry treat “Frye, Frye, Frye”….so the Hey Batter Batter Frye Frye Fries were born




To drizzle over the fries, a sauce was needed. The movie was based in Chicago, but Cameron wore a Detroit Red Wings jersey throughout much of the film. A spicy, yet underlying sweet sauce with roasted red chillis and honey caramelized onions became the base for Red Wing Sauce.



   Finally the burger itself needs to be made from sausage meat to match Abe Froman, The Sausage King of Chicago! The poor gentleman whose lunch reservation was absconded by the truant teens out for a day of adventure and “eating pancreas.”
Enjoy this silly little culinary sojourn! Be sure to pair this burger with a big glass of ice water, happily crunching the ice with delight! And finish with a….


Ferris Burger’s Day Off:

For the Hey Batter Batter Frye…Fry…Fries:

1 cup einkorn flour (or whole wheat all purpose flour)
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk

For the Red Wing Sauce:

4-6 red finger chillis
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
3/4 cup onions, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

For the Cola-Spiced Kidney Bean Refritos:

2 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp, each, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander seeds and dried mint.
Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
1 cup cooked kidney beans
Lime juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup maple syrup

Abe Froman Sausage King of Chicago Patty:

4 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
600g/21 oz Italian sausage meat

To serve:
1 whole wheat baguette, cut into 15cm/6″ lengths

To prepare the fries, whisk together the flour and egg with a fork in a medium bowl until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Gradually whisk in the milk until a smooth batter is formed. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter on a small cutting board. Using a knife, cut strips of the batter and push it into the gently boiling water. Once the “batter fries” float, remove them with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet to dry. Repeat with all of the batter.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot and smouldering but not smoking, add the batter fries in a single layer. Allow them to toast in the pan for 1-2 minutes per side or until deeply golden. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, seasoning with celery seeds (a common topping for the famous Chicago Dog 😉 ). Set aside and keep warm.
For the Red Wing Sauce, place the red finger chillis in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven while it is set to Broil. Broil for 3-4 minutes per side until the skin is charred and bubbled from the flesh. Transfer the broiled chillis to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
In a small pot over medium high heat, add 1 tsp oil, the onions and salt. Stir and sauté for 7-10 minutes until it’s starting to go darker in colour. Add a tablespoon or two of water to scrape the bottom of the pot of any onions that stick. After another 7-10 minutes add the honey and sauté for a few minutes more to full cover the onions and make them a softened, deep caramel colour. Transfer these honey caramelized onions to a blender with the ginger, vinegar and 1 Tbsp oil.
Peel the cooled chillis and remove the stem and most of the seeds. Transfer the roasted flesh with the other ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
For the Cola-Spiced Kidney Bean Refritos, add the oil and onions to a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir and sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes to soften them. Add the spices and lemon zest, stirring to coat the onions and make the spices more fragrant with a brief toasting. Add half of the kidney beans and maple syrup. Simmer the mixture for a further 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to harmonize the flavours. Transfer this mixture to a blender and purée until almost smooth. Return to the pot with the remaining beans and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, stirring constantly for a further 3-4 minutes. Take off the heat, add the lime juice, stir to bring the mixture together and set aside, keeping it warm.
For the burger, divide the sausage meat into four equal portions. Form each portion into an oblong patty to fit your baguette portions. Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of oil and griddle the sausage patties for 3-4 minutes per side until deeply golden on each side and cooked through.
To serve, spread 1/3 cup of Cola-Spiced Kidney Bean Refritos on the bottom of each split baguette portion. Top the refritos with a griddled sausage burger. Scatter a few batter fries on the burger and drizzle with Red Wing Sauce, spreading more of the sauce on the cut side of the top of the baguette portions. Serves 4 burgers befitting the Sausage King of Chicago himself!!










Shaved Carrot Salad with Cranberry Coffee Dressing

One of my favourite salads is the Moroccan carrot salad. Basically, it’s a simple blend of carrots, dried fruit like dried currants and a basic dressing of lemon juice.
I was pondering this while reaching in a cupboard reaching for the sugar to add to my coffee one morning and saw dried cranberries nearby. I decided to pour some of my coffee over some dried cranberries to let them hydrate while enjoying the rest of my coffee with a basic idea in mind. A dressing.
The infancy of the idea had it as a part of brunch with eggs, but it turned back to the dried fruit origins in Moroccan carrot salad. By adding the bright, flavourful dressing to shaved carrots, a new idea was born.
On its own it would be a great side to lamb or other main meat dish, but it would also be great paired with a nice brunch dish of eggs and hashbrowns. Enjoy!

Shaved Carrot Salad with Cranberry Coffee Dressing

For the Cranberry Coffee Dressing:

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp finely ground coffee
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cold pressed camelina oil

!For the salad:

Prepared Cranberry Coffee Dressing
4 cups shaved carrots (about 4-6 medium carrots, shaved with a vegetable peeler into long ribbons)

To prepare the dressing, pour the hot coffee over the dried cranberries in a small bowl and allow the cranberries to hydrate for a half an hour.
Place the hydrated cranberries and coffee in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Add the vinegar, ground coffee, ground cardamom, salt and oil. Purée again until a smooth dressing is achieved.
Add the shaved carrots to a medium bowl. Drizzle in half of the dressing and toss with the carrots lightly with your fingers. Divide over 2 plates and drizzle each with the remaining dressing. Serves 2.


Magyar Mac and Cheese

More and more, as I get older, I run a lot of what I eat through my dad’s Hungarian (Magyar) background. It played a large role in my food development as a kid. Usually at least a few meals a week had a traditional Hungarian element to it. A specific cabbage dish, a paprikás, a goulash, a Hungarian style chicken soup. These recipes seeped deeply in my pores.
Recently, I started to think, “What if you explained the idea of mac and cheese to a Hungarian without showing them a picture or letting them taste it? What would they make?”
One of the first things I thought was Csirkeleves, Hungarian Chicken Soup. One of it’s characteristic flavours was always parsnips. The Hungarian variety, Turga parsnip, was always growing in my dad’s garden in the summer time. He’d specially order the seeds each winter to ensure a crop of these heirloom variety of parsnips.
The flavour was always a little more peppery. Although, he usually planted them near his Hungarian banana peppers so the “spicy terroir” may have been created by him. After slow simmering a chicken soup, he’d always have the simmered vegetables alongside the soup. That flavour is a lingering culinary memory for me.
I thought if I incorporated that flavour, along with carrots and rutabaga, into a purée with chicken stock, it would make an interesting base for a cheese sauce. Spooning it over the Hungarian fresh egg noodle, nokedli (a cousin to the German spaetzle), makes this dish complete! Jó étvágyat (bon appetit)!!

Magyar Mac and Cheese:

For the Root Vegetable Cheese Sauce:
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled and chopped rutabaga
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup peeled and chopped parsnips
1 tsp finely grated fresh garlic (about 1 clove depending on size of your garlic)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
75g/3 oz shredded maple smoked aged cheddar cheese (or any intensely flavoured cheddar)
75g/3 oz shredded pecorino cheese (or any dry aged cheese like parmesan)
1/3 cup cold pressed camelina oil

For the Nokedli (Hungarian Egg Dumpling Noodles):

2 cups einkorn flour (or whole wheat all purpose flour)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

To prepare the Root Vegetable Cheese Sauce, place the chicken stock, rutabaga, carrots and parsnips in a medium pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat, lower heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Purée the mixture with a hand blender or by transferring the mixture to a food processor or blender. While warm, add the sour cream, paprika and cheeses. Stir to combine. Pour the sauce through a strainer, return the mixture to a blender, add the garlic and oil and purée to emulsify. Set aside and keep warm.
To prepare the Nokedli, stir together the flour and eggs until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually stir in the milk until a smooth batter is achieved. Allow the batter to sit for 10-15 minutes to relax and thicken slightly.
Place a coarse grater, flat side up, over a medium pot of boiling water. Ladle the batter, 1/4 cup at a time on the grater. Press the batter through the grater into the boiling water with a flat spatula, making small dumpling-like noodles. Cook in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet.
To serve, divide the prepared Nokedli over four plates. Ladle about 1/2 cup of prepared Root Vegetable Cheese Sauce over the Nokedli on each plate. Serves 4.

Spiced Root Vegetable Pyttipanna (Swedish-Style Hash) with Leek Fondue

Pyttipanna. Bubble and squeak. Hash. It all amounts to a similar idea. An often random gathering of vegetables, meats and flavourings tossed in a pan to heat through, add some roasted flavour and liven up often leftover bits of food.
I love doing this idea for brunch because it’s quick, easy and it’s a great way to vary flavours and ingredients one thing at a time.
In the winter months, root vegetables are in abundance. I always love to have a variety of them available. Rutabaga for their sweet corn and parsley essence. Carrots for their often candy-like sweetness and versatility. Parsnips for their slightly peppery but buttery texture when steamed or blanched. I seem to go through these ones the most. Stews, soups, sandwich fillings. And the perfect base for a hash, or the Swedish variant, Pyttipanna, which is automatically served with fried eggs.
Traditionally, Pyttipanna has bacon or some kind of smoked meat, but I decided on a meatless variation today.  To compliment the vegetables and add an extra savoury and almost smoky element, I tossed it at the last minute in dried spices and toasted it all together. Pairing it with a sour cream-spiked version of the French classic Leek Fondue, gave it an extra richness that has levels of extra warming comfort to carry you through those chilly December days. Enjoy!!

Spiced Root Vegetable Pyttipanna with Leek Fondue:

For the Leek Fondue:

2 Tbsp cold pressed camelina oil
2 leeks, dark green parts removed, remainder split in half lengthwise, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock
1/4 cup sour cream

For the Spiced Root Vegetable Pyttipanna:

2 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
1 cup peeled and chopped rutabaga (1cm(1/2″) chunks)
1/2 cup peeled and chopped parsnips
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

To serve:

2 tsp cold pressed camelina oil
2 tsp butter
4 eggs
4 pieces of toasted rye bread

To prepare the Leek Fondue, heat up the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the leeks and red onion, stir to coat everything in oil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the leeks and onions soften and become golden in places. Add the chicken stock and sour cream. Stir until there is a smooth consistency then turn up the heat to medium high. Stir fairly regularly for another 7-10 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced, leaving a very creamy coating on the leeks and onions. Set aside and keep warm.
For the Pyttipanna, cook the rutabaga, carrots and parsnips in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain and add the blanched vegetables to a pan with the 2 teaspoons of oil over medium high heat. Allow the vegetables to pan roast, tossing and stirring them every minute or two for 7-10 minutes or until they start to toast a light golden colour. Add the chilli and sauté for another minute or two. Add the cumin and paprika, stir and toss the vegetables to coat them in the spices. Toast over medium high heat for another minute and take off the heat. Keep warm while you fry the eggs.
To serve, fry the eggs two at a time in a teaspoon of oil and butter. Place the two eggs in the centre of the plate, surround it with Spiced Root Vegetable Pyttipanna and spoon some Leek Fondue along the bottom so your plate looks like a bundled up little child on a winter’s day!!

Roasted Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

There are few things that set my nostalgia trigger to near blinding bliss. Roasting kolbász, or Hungarian-style smoked garlic sausage is one of these moments.
Today, while shopping at the farmer’s market, I was getting some various pork products for Christmas next week: pork shoulder, ham hock (No, Ed! Not all the legs of the pig! Just one!!) I have a lot of fun with one of the local organic meat ranchers. He not only raises wonderful pork, but beef, chicken and turkey, as well as grows all of their feed, processes everything himself on the farm’s on-site butcher shop, including linking and smoking amazing sausages.
His Hungarian background was evident even before he said his last name. The way he prepares and smokes his sausages, ham or bacon all have the same distinctive smell and flavour of my youth. He also never uses nitrates of any kind, or any preservatives, so this reduces the sodium of his wonderful products overall.
Last week, I had taken home his version of kolbasz, a fresher smoked sausage that hasn’t been air dried, suitable for roasting. I thought it needed to be a part of pizza night this week, so I roasted it in a hot oven (200C/400F for 15 minutes or so). Slices of this are a rich, smoky, garlicky treat on their own, but with a deep, earthy mushroom sauce, it’s perfect on a pizza.
….I did tell you to make extra of that Roasted Mushroom Gravy from a few day’s ago….But it’s ok, I’ll add the recipe again here so you don’t have to flip back and forth 😉 Enjoy!!

For the dough:

1 cup einkorn wheat flour (or whole wheat all purpose flour)
1 cup red fife wheat flour (or whole wheat bread flour)
1/2 tsp salt
7/8 cup warm water
1 tsp dry active yeast

For the Roasted Mushroom Gravy:

½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
100g/4 oz quartered fresh white mushrooms
¼ cup cold pressed camelina oil (or your favourite cold pressed/extra virgin oil)
¾ cup water
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp celery seeds
3-4 Tbsp water, as needed

For the pizza:

Prepared dough
Prepared Roasted Mushroom Gravy
100g/4 oz roasted kolbasz (or other smoked garlic sausage), thickly sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
75g/3 oz smoked mushroom aged cheddar, or any cheddar, shredded
75g/3 oz pecorino cheese, shredded

For the dough, blend the flours in a large bowl. Make a depression in the centre, add the warm water in the middle with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Sprinkle the salt on the flour along the outer perimeter. Allow the yeast to dissolve for about 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Gradually start to stir the flour into the frothy yeast mixture until a sticky dough comes together. Turn on to a floured counter and knead until smooth and still slightly sticky. Place in a floured bowl and cover with a towel for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
In a medium roasting pan, scatter the onions, celery and mushrooms evenly. Drizzle with oil and toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Roast on the lower rack of the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, add ¾ cup water, bay leaf and thyme. Return to the oven on the lower rack and roast for another 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf, transfer the remaining contents of the roasting pan, including the juices, to a blender and purée until smooth. Season with salt and celery seeds. Add more water if necessary to get to a thick “gravy-like” consistency. Set aside.
To prepare the pizza, divide the dough in two. Upturn a large baking sheet so the bottom faces up. Lightly drizzle that upturned surface with oil and spread it lightly over that surface. Stretch each dough portion into a rough circle about 25cm/10″ in diameter. Place them side by side on the pan. Spread about 1/2 cup of prepared Roasted Mushroom Gravy on each pizza, leaving a 2cm/1″ border around the edges. Sprinkle with cheddar on each pizza. Lay out kolbasz slices in a radial pattern on each pizza, Scatter cherry tomato halves around the kolbasz slices and top with pecorino cheese. Bake in the same preheated oven that you made the gravy in for about 20 minutes. At this point switch the oven to broil/grill and broil the top of the pizzas for about 4-6 minutes or until deeply golden. Makes 2 25cm/10″ pizzas.

Fánk (Hungarian Doughnuts)

In Canada, like across North America, many towns were named after place their European settlers used to call home: London, Surrey or in the case of much of my Hungarian family, Stockholm?
Wait a minute…
Stockholm, Saskatchewan, Canada was actually settled initially by a handful of lovely people from Sweden, but after the influx of Hungarian immigrants as a result of the Russian Revolution in Hungary in 1956, many Hungarian refugees made their way to Canada.
My dad and a couple of his cousins were amongst that first wave in the early 1960s. My dad spent almost a year in a refugee camp in what was called Yugoslavia at the time. He then went to France for a year before coming to Canada.
Once he and his cousins finally settled in Saskatchewan, more of my family came across. My Uncle Steve (technically a cousin, one of them who came with my dad), brought over his mother and aunt. His mother, we all called “Auntie.” Auntie what? No one asked and most of us never learned.
All we learned was Auntie made doughnuts.
The smell always hit you from the sidewalk outside of her house. Slightly sweet dough and fresh frying oil.
We’d run inside and see plates heaped with still warm doughnuts. As they cooled they’d be dusted in a blizzard of powdered sugar.
A happy mess of powdery smiles, the exterior would crack to a soft interior. Booming voices shouting in Hungarian, singing and laughing, and this would be the symphonic soundtrack to these wonderful morsels.
The recipe was nothing more than a list of ingredients with vague amounts scrawled on a card. I standardized the recipe as much as possible with any yeast dough. The moisture content of the lard, the dryness of your flour, all have an impact on texture.
For ease of doing the recipe, I’m making doughnut holes. Little balls of goodness that anyone can do. Rolling a very soft dough and cutting doughnuts is a special skill that requires practice. Enjoy!!

Fánk (Hungarian Doughnuts):

3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup lard
1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp yeast
1 egg
1/2 tsp cardamom (or nutmeg)
2-1/2 tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
2-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups flour (I used a blend of einkorn wheat and red fife flour)
Oil, for deep frying
Icing (powdered) sugar, for serving

In a small pot, heat up the milk. Pour over the lard in a small bowl, stir to melt the lard. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly. When the milk-lard mixture is cool, add to the yeast mixture with the egg, cardamom, salt, sugar and half of the flour. Whisk together with a fork until a light batter comes together. Gradually stir in the remaining flour until a sticky dough comes together and pulls away from the bowl. Transfer to a bowl that has been oiled liberally. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for an hour.
To make doughnut holes, line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Pinch off roughly golf ball-sized pieces of dough. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet. When they’re all rolled out, cover with a towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Heat about 4 cups of oil in a large pot or wok (or countertop fryer if using) to a temperature of 190C/375F. Drop the risen doughnut holes into the preheated oil for 1 minute. Flip them and fry them for another minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a rack over paper towels. Allow to cool before dusting them with powdered sugar. Or eat them plain. They’re delicious either way!! Makes about 36 doughnut holes.

Fruity Oat and Bran Muffins

I think about food a lot. And because of that, I will randomly say something when someone makes an innocuous comment. In a coffee shop, years ago, I was talking about the muffins. The person who worked there wished that the low fat muffins were softer. I open my mouth saying, “Yeah, I can do better.” So I proceeded to go home and create a near zero fat muffin, that’s also moist and delicious.
A lot of recipes simply straight swap oil or butter with applesauce. For moisture it’s ok, but not perfect. The sugar component of applesauce can make things a little more crumbly than it should be. Sugar has properties that can be harnessed, but there’s usually enough sugar in the recipe itself.
How does one add moisture without altering the sugar balance too much?
It’s gonna sound weird…
Roasted Eggplant Purée.
Ok, ok. It’s not so weird. My thought process was, zucchini makes muffins awesome, but it’s usually added by grating a bunch of it. I love zucchini muffins, but sometimes you just want the muffin to look like a regular muffin, not with little green threads throughout. So I turned to zucchini’s cousin the eggplant, roasted it into a smooth purée and texturally it goes in exactly like applesauce. I like both applesauce and roasted eggplant purée. They both add moisture in different ways. Applesauce adds an immediate moisture, while the moisture from the roasted eggplant keeps a lingering moisture.
I tend to try to keep some roasted eggplant purée in my fridge a lot. It makes putting together a recipe like this very easy.

For the Roasted Eggplant Purée:

300g/12 oz eggplant

For the Flax Eggs:

1-1/4 cups water
1 Tbsp flax seeds

For the Fruity Oat and Bran Muffin:

1-2/3 cups flour, sifted volume (I used a blend of red fife wheat and spelt flour)
3/4 cup large flake rolled oats
3/4 cup wheat bran
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup Roasted Eggplant Purée
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp cold pressed camelina oil
2/3 cup Flax Eggs
1 cup dried fruit (it can be just raisins, but I used dried cherries and dried strawberries)

Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a regular muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and dried fruit. In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, Roasted Eggplant Purée, maple syrup, oil and Flax Eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir gently until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix or the batter will become tough. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until you poke it with a skewer and the skewer is clean, not wet from the interior batter. Allow to cool in the pan for at least ten minutes after taking out of the oven. Makes 12 muffins.