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A European Christmas…Downunder

As some of you may know, I was born in Hungary and was four when we arrived in Australia as refugees. To keep some of our Hungarian heritage alive, we spoke only Hungarian at home, and we always celebrated Christmas on the 24th. That’s a tradition the Offspring and I have continued to this very day, so we’ve already had our Christmas, but now I’d like to invite you all to share a digital Christmas feast with us. 🙂

We had duck last year, so this year I decided to cook a whole eye fillet with scalloped potatoes [a la Mumma], and the Offspring made a huge green salad. No turkey [not fond of turkey], and salad instead of hot vegetables because it was hot, hot, hot yesterday. I think it got to about 35 C [roughly 95F].As it was, to counteract the heat of the oven, we had to have the air conditioner on all day.

If any of you cooks out there are interested, I made a stuffing/marinade for the eye fillet by mixing together:

  • 3 large cloves of garlic [mashed],
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard,
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut oil,
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh, finely chopped parsley,
  • freshly ground black pepper,
  • a pinch of dried chillies,
  • a heaped tablespoon of breadcrumbs,
  • a pinch of salt.

Next, I lightly scored the ‘skin’ of the eye fillet [just enough to expose the meat underneath] and gently pressed the stuffing/marinade all over the top of the fillet. Then I placed the fillet in a small baking dish, covered it with foil and placed it back in the fridge for about 8 hours [overnight is fine too].

About an hour before we were ready to eat, I placed the dish containing the fillet in a cold oven and turned on the heat [approx. 160 C on fanbake]. I left the foil on for the first 1/2 an hour so the meat would cook gently.

After 1/2 an hour, I removed the foil and continued baking the fillet for another 1/2 an hour until the ‘stuffing’ on top turned into a crust. I allowed the fillet to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

Baking the fillet for an hour created a moist, juicy roast that was just a tiny bit pinkish in the middle. That’s how we like our beef. If you want your beef to be more rare, reduce the amount of time the fillet stays under foil.

I have to say that the fillet was literally melt-in-the-mouth tender, and the tiny bit of heat from the chillies went perfectly with the full cream goodness of the scalloped potatoes and the tart freshness of the salad.

Everyone has a scalloped potato recipe, and mine comes from my Mum. It starts with pink, Desiree potatoes. I cooked them, in their skins, along with the eggs. The eggs came out first, obviously, and went straight under cold tap water. The cold water causes the inner membrane of the eggs to slightly detach from the whites so the eggs are dead easy to peel.

Next, I tested the potatoes with a bamboo skewer. As soon as the skewer just managed to go through, I drained the water and plunged the potatoes into cold water as well. Again, this made it much easier to peel the skin, plus it stopped them from cooking further.

Finally, I sliced both eggs and potatoes and layered them in a baking dish with a generous drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of table salt between in each layer. I drizzled more cream over the top, then placed the dish into the same oven as the fillet. When the potatoes turned a golden brown, everything was ready to come out of the oven:

To say that the potatoes were rich would be a monumental understatement. To cut that much richness, you just have to have a big salad:

The Offspring made the salad with Romaine lettuce, sweet red capsicum [peppers?], cucumber and spring onions [scallions?]. The dressing included oil, Balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and freshly chopped parsley [about 1 tablespoon].

But, of course, no feast would be complete without dessert. The Offspring made Gingerboys, lots and lots of Gingerboys:

…and I made chocolate mousse cupcakes:

These cupcakes were made using the exact same recipe as for Chocolate Mousse Cake. The only difference was in the banking. I made ten little sponge cupcakes [approx. 7 minutes in the over], glued two together with about an inch of chocolate mouse and shaved dark chocolate over the top. Bite sized versions of death-by-chocolate. 😀

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, The Offspring and I wish you all a very happy Holiday with oodles of delicious food and even more good company.

-massive hugs-

Meeks & The Offspring

Christmas 2018

 


WANTED: Betatasters

pears in portOkay, the port-baked-pears in the pic above are from ‘How to eat well on $9.04’ , but the actual book is nowhere near ready yet. 😦

I have, however, started re-cooking the recipes and checking the quantities, and that’s why I need you guys. I won’t know how accurate my recipes are until some brave souls try them out – i.e. become my guinea, I mean, my betatasters.

Ideally I’d like a mix of experienced and inexperienced cooks to test the recipes so if you’re brave enough to give it a go I’ll love you forever. 😀

If you’d like to become a betataster, please contact me via the Contact page [at the top of the screen]. I’ve changed the way my contact details are displayed so it should now be a lot easier to mail me.

If you don’t have the time to try one of my recipes, how about you send me a VERY simple recipe of your own for me to betataste? I can’t promise to publish every recipe sent to me, but I would like to give readers some quick and easy alternatives to try. Oh and the recipes must be cheap as well!

Third Party Recipes published in my book remain the property of whoever donated them, and the owner will be credited for the recipe by name and/or blog or however they prefer.

No money will change hands because I have absolutely no idea how to do something like that [assuming there is any money], but perhaps between all of us we can raise food awareness all over the world!

-cough- Okay, a bit grandiose, but a girl can dream can’t she?

-happy Sunday hugs-

Meeks


Hungary at last!

A few days ago I looked at my wordpress stats page and noticed that someone from the Czech Republic had visited my blog. That lead to a draft blog post where I wondered why no-one from Hungary had ever visited me. I never did complete that post and now I never will because…. ta dah! Hungary has arrived at last. 😀

If you look very, very closely you may see a tiny dot on the eastern end of Europe. That is Hungary.

I was born there a very, very long time ago and I still have some first cousins living there – hi Kati and Zoli!

To be honest I feel far more Aussie than Hungarian but like most other New Australians in this multi-cultural society of ours there are aspects of my ‘roots’ that I still cling to – such as food.

I cook in a variety of styles and flavours including French, Italian, Anglo-Indian and Asian, however when I cook comfort foods they are almost always recipes from my childhood.

For those who have never had traditional Hungarian food the mix of flavours may be a little surprising. We love strong, rich flavours and ‘dry’ meat dishes such as schnitzel or pork chops will often be accompanied by a hot fruit sauce such as apple or morello cherry. However we don’t just dab a spoonful of sauce on the plate as a kind of condiment, we ladle it on and eat it as a major component of the dish. Usually with a spoon!

One of my favourite dishes is pork braised with garlic and served with morello cherry sauce. Nothing else. No potatoes, no rice, no pasta. Just those two strong, competing flavours. Both my mother and my grandmother made the same dish in much the same way so I know the following recipe is pretty authentic.

Pork braised with garlic.

Lightly brown 4 thick slices of pork neck [may be called pork scotch fillet by some butchers] in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. [Lard would be more authentic but not so good for your heart].

Reduce the heat to low, add 3 large cloves of garlic [crushed] and just enough water to stop the meat from burning. Cover with a lid and cook gently, topping up the water as necessary until the meat it tender. Do not add salt!

Morello cherry sauce.

Morello cherries are sour and come preserved in a sweetened syrup. Here in Australia you can find glass jars of Morello cherries in the preserved fruit aisle of most supermarkets next to tinned peaches and pears. If you’ve seen them and wondered what they were, now you know.

While the meat is braising pour one jar of Morello cherries into a small saucepan, syrup and all. Add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and bring to the boil. [The juice surrounding the cherries is a little bit sweet already but you will need the extra sugar to stop the cream from curdling at the end!]

Mix about 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with 3-4 tablespoons of cold water and stir until the cornstarch mix becomes a thin paste.

When the cherries have come to the boil add the cornstarch and stir energetically so you don’t get lumps. Then keep on stirring until the liquid clears and the sauce starts to thicken. Take the pot off the heat and add just enough fresh cream to make the sauce change to a creamy burgundy colour.

To plate up simply arrange two slices of meat on the side of each plate and then ladle the sauce onto the opposite side of the plate. The sauce will flow around the meat so don’t expect to ever see this dish on Masterchef! This is homecooking where flavour is everything and aesthetics don’t count!

Eat the meat and the sauce together because the flavours are meant to combine. Jó étvágyat kívánok! Bon Appetit! Enjoy!

 

 


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