A really good vegetarian treat

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Xmas 2012 Belgium 041I spent the Christmas with my relatives in Belgium. On december 27th I invited some of them to a vegetarian dinner. After it I got lots of compliments which meant (I hope) that they liked the taste of everything very much. Here is the menu:

Starters: Kohlrabi cream soup with beetroot

Kohlrabi has always been a popular Eastern European vegetable since it tolerates frost well and can be stored a long time in a root cellar. Since I have never seen and eaten in Belgium I decided to introduce it to my Belgian relatives. In Hungary it exists in white and purple varieties (the white are more flavorful and tender when small and have a hint of radish and cucumber flavors. Purple Kohlrabi tends to have a slightly spicier flavor) but in Germany (where I live at the moment) I could find only the white one. And what was the result of my kholrabi cream soup? With one word a hit!

Xmas 2012 Belgium 176Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons butter, 1 medium onion, chopped, 1 pound kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped, 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock, 2 1/2 cups milk, 1 bay leaf, salt and black pepper

Melt butter in a large pan with a lid. Add onions and peeled and diced kholrabi, cook gently about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of sugar and wait until kholrabi gets a brown color. Bestrew with pepper. Add vegetable stock, milk or water to pan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until kohlrabi is tender. Let cool a few minutes.
Using an immersion blender or conventional blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth. You may want to strain the soup through a fine sieve if the kohlrabi is especially fibrous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls with hearty bread of choice and decorate with beetroot slices which was sprinkled with pumpkin oil, or balsamic vinegar.

Note: If your kohlrabi come with the green tops, blanch them and clean as you would for spinach, stripping the leaves down off the tough center stem. Roll the leaves and slice across as for a “chiffonade” of basil.

Indian palak paneer (spinach with quark and chapati bread)

Many of the best loved vegetarian punjabi dishes are the ones where paneer is combined with a vegetable. Paneer is widely used and very popular in punjabi due to the abundance of milk and milk products in the area. This combination of spinach and paneer is not only highly nutritious, but is a splendid blend of taste, texture and flavor. The paneer in this recipe has been fried to add some extra flavour. You can however add the paneer pieces without frying if required.

Preparation Time: 20 mins Cooking Time: 10 mins Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:10 cups chopped spinach (palak), 1 1/2 cups paneer, cut into 12 mm ( 1/2″) cubes, 2 tbsp oil, 3/4 cup finely chopped onions, 4 cloves garlic, grated, 25 mm (1″) piece ginger, grated, 2 green chillies, finely chopped, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi), carraway seeds, salt to taste, 1 tsp punjabi garam masala, 2 tbsp fresh cream

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, refresh with cold water and keep aside to cool for some time. Blend in a mixer to a smooth purée and keep aside. Heat the oil in a kadhai, add the onions and sauté on a medium flame till they turn translucent. Add the garlic, grated ginger, green chillies and turmeric powder and sauté on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach purée and 2 tbsp of water or cream and mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes. Add the salt, garam masala and left of the fresh cream and mix well. Add the paneer (I used the Italian Ricotta cream cheese or Cottage cheese is also excellent with the spinach), mix gently and cook on a medium flame for another 1 to 2 minutes. Serve it hot (4 bunches of spinach will approximately yield 10 cups of chopped spinach).

Prepare chapati bread (wrap) in an oiled casserole fry chapati on each side for one or two minutes.

Main course: Hungarian mushroom stew with Hungarian noodle

Ingredients: 1 shallot, chopped, 1 kilogram button mushrooms, halved (2 lbs), 2 cups dried mushrooms (500 ml), 2 cloves garlic, minced, sour cream (30 ml), salt and pepper, 1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley

In a cast iron casserole on medium heat, heat oil and add shallots. Sauté for about 5 minutes until it softens. Add button mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 minutes until brown. Add garlic, red pepper powder and continue cooking for a few minutes. Drain the rehydrated mushrooms and keep the liquid aside. Give the rehydrated mushrooms a quick chop and add to the pan. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the reserved liquid from the rehydrated mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Before serving stir sour cream into stew let it cook for a minute together.
For serving: Garnish with parsley.

The stew can be varied with a seemingly limitless list of mushrooms. Substitute hedgehog, lobster, black trumpet, porcini, portobello, or hen of the woods, so long as you have a total of 2 pounds.

Prepare Hungarian galuska-noodle or nockedli..or just simply serve with spagetthi.

Dessert: Greek fruit plate

In many Greek restaurants, this dessert is served compliments of the house. Both yogurt and honey are great for the digestive system, and the combined tastes are delicious. It’s worth the effort to find the original thick Greek yogurt available at Greek and ethnic markets, or make your own thick yogurt using regular, low fat or nonfat regular brands.

Ingredients: 3/4 cup of strained Greek yogurt per serving, apples, oranges, brown sugar, cinnamon, Greek thyme honey per serving, crushed walnuts, almonds (optional)

Peel fruits and cut apple into wedges, orange into round slices. Place them nicely into a plate and sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon. Add walnut flavoured honey to Greek jogurt and serve in a glass bowl.

Enjoy!

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