Day: April 19, 2013

Bear’s garlic soup with fennel bulb

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termoplazma 023food 002In Hungary a new crazyness has broken out, people are jonesing the ramsons, they hunt them and even created a festival around them (which was held last weekend in the South of the country in Orfű).

As far as I am concerned I discovered the herb in Germany about three years ago but in spite of the lots of medical benefits, I didn’t become fond of it. Well, until yesterday when I got a bunch of ramsons from my neighbour’s garden and I decided to prepare a fennel soup seasoning with this new kitchen star. It tasted garlicy, no wonder as the plant has a strong garlic aroma, but without the side effects of the garlic, (such as smelly breath) and with the combination of the fennel, my family voted for that to keep the recipe and make it again.

Few more words about the herb

The Germans call the ramsons bear’s garlic, but in English it is also known as buckrams, broad leaved garlic, wood garlic and wild garlic, among other local names.

The wild garlic is a wild herb and it is native to Asia and Europe. The plant has both culinary and medicinal uses. I’s a very invasive plant and if left to grow uncontrollably, it usually creates a full blanket of dense growth in the area. One needs to be cautious while picking the wild garlic because of its similarity to other bell shaped flowers (are easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is extremely poisonous and possibly deadly! The plant can easily be mistaken for other two poisonous wild growths too). One of the best ways to distinguish wood garlic from other wild growths is by rubbing the flower between fingers. If it releases a strong garlic aroma, it is the right plant. It is important to not consume the herb unless it has been properly identified. As a food, ramson is considered very healthy and its consumption is encouraged almost everywhere in the world. The plant has leaves that are fully edible and are used raw in salads and also as an ingredient in soups, spices, stews and other preparations. When added to homemade pesto, leaves of wild garlic add a powerful flavor to the sauce and make it more aromatic. Chefs generally opt for ramsons instead of basil to flavor pesto.

Wild garlic is a favorite of both brown bear and wild boar. The brown bear has quite a taste for the bulbs and has a habit of digging the ground to reach them. Cows that feed on wild garlic leaves produce milk that has a very strong garlic-y flavor. It is used to make a garlic butter that has been very popular in Switzerland since the 19th century.

When boiled, wild garlic can be eaten as a vegetable or added as an ingredient to other vegetarian dishes. In Russia, stems of the plant are preserved by salting and consumed as a salad. Bulbs and flowers of the wood garlic plant are quite delicious and added to various food preparations.

My beloved fennel bulb wild garlic soup

Ingredients: 2 fennel bulbs, oil and butter to cook

1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic,

salt and pepper to taste,

1 tbsp of corn starch,

1 chicken stock, 1 bunch of wild garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds,

1 teaspoon of dill and freshly chopped parsley

sour cream to taste

Directions: Trim the fennel leaves (discarding any woody stems). Melt butter and oil mixture and add the onion, fennel leaves, garlic cloves and soaté them, add black pepper. Dense with 1 spoon of corn starch and pour over one and half liter of chicken stock, simmer for 5 minutes.

Let it to boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Bestrew with dill. Serve with sour cream on top and finelly chopped parsley. You can eat with crunchy bacon slices as well.

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Pear La Belle Helene

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Belgium 2011 049This classic French dessert, what I ate in Bruxelles first, was not only striking but it was punched up with the essence of cinnamon.

Actually La Belle Helene dessert was created first around 1864 by Auguste Escoffier who named it after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach.

I prepared the dessert from pears poached in sugar syrup and I served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and crystallized violets.

But there is a simpler version, in which poached pears could be replaced with canned pears and crystallized violets with sliced almonds.

Ingredients: 2 cinnamon sticks, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 ½ cups water, divided, 4 firm Bosc pears, cut lengthwise with stem intact and cored, 8 small scoops vanilla ice cream, Chocolate sauce, for drizzling

Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine the cinnamon sticks, sugar, and ½ cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-5 minutes, until it becomes thick like syrup and turns golden brown. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and gently whisk in the remaining 2 cups water, until the syrup is completely incorporated into the water.

Add the prepared pears to the syrup mixture and bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Test doneness with a knife prick in the thickest part of the fruit; the pears are poached when they are just cooked through, but not completely soft. Allow the pears to cool in the syrup until they are room temperature. Serve with 2 small scoops of ice cream and drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Creamy courgette plate with Hungarian “hamburger”

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termoplazma 006This is an excellent Hungarian dish. Easy to make and it tastes divine!

Ingredients for the courgette dish:

2 medium sized courgettes, grated /peeled on unpeeled (both are possible)

1 onion finelly chopped

1 teaspoon of dill

200 ml or 100 ml cream/100 ml milk or 100 ml sour cream

salt, pepper, paprika powder

1 tbsp of cornstarch or flour

2 tbsp butter or oil to fry

Method:

1. Wash and clean courgettes, peel or leave the skin on them. Grate them. Salt and pepper to taste. Chop onion.

2. Heat oil or butter in a saucepan and add chopped onion and grated courgettes. Cook for three minutes then add flour, stir it in and pour over a bit of water or milk.

3. Bestew courgette with the dill and paprika powder. Cook further about five more minutes.

4. Add sour cream or cream to courgettes .

5. Salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

Ingredients for the Hungarian hamburgers:

300 gr minced meat (pork and beef mixture)

half of an onion chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 egg

a dry or toasted two slices of bread soaked in water

1 tbsp of semi-sharp mustard

bread crumbs for frying

Method:

1. Chop onion and fry it in a little oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef/pork meat, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, and fried onion and egg.

3. Soak bread until  it is absorbed. Squeeze water from bread then add to minced meat.

4. Mix everything together using your hands. Shape the mixture into 10 hamburger patties.

5. Coat hamburgers in the bread crumbs. Heat oil or fritture and fry each hamburgers for 5 minutes per side, or until well done.

6. Serve with the courgette dish.

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