The Kid, World Traveler

Greetings from sunny Budapest!

Or, rather, as I just got back, rainy North Carolina. Pardon the interruption, but your regular food column has been briefly supplanted by a guest column from The Kid.Regular readers will be familiar with The Kid, the offspring of your regular columnist. I just got back from vacation, and she asked if I would be willing to talk a little about the food of Budapest. I offered Toronto as well, but as I never left the airport, it would be “Yes, Starbucks here tastes like nearly every other Starbucks.”As every meal shared amongst friends in Budapest starts with a small glass of palinka, I’ll start there. Palinka is a clear fruit brandy that is traditionally served before a meal. The idea is that you drink the palinka, and it prepares your digestive system for food. Every restaurant and pub I went to had at least 5 and 20 flavors. I guess they were all just hoping to ready people for digestion? I’m sure that was it.

And now food.My first meal in Budapest was Chicken Paprikas. It was at a restaurant my Airbnb host pointed me to, and it was a perfect introduction to Hungarian food. Chicken Paprikas is slow-cooked chicken, in a creamy red gravy. It’s full of Hungarian paprika, and served with spaetzli, a homemade egg noodle. While it’s traditional and delicious, I learned later that most Hungarians save Paprikas for the cooler months at my next culinary outing.There is a dinner hosted by a local, called Meet and Eat in Budapest. While the host is from Budapest, she moved away to go to school for a hospitality degree. When she got back home, she found that there just weren’t enough jobs, so she made one. Four nights a week, she opens her home to tourists of all different nationalities. With the help of her parents, she cooks family recipes and pairs each of the three courses with a different wine.All the courses were amazing, and so was the company. Who would have thought that I would spend my Hungarian vacation sharing a meal with people from Scotland, France, and England? The stand-out dish, though, was the dessert. It was a Dobras Torte, a chocolate and vanilla mouse sandwiched between chocolate sponge cake. It was fluffy and lightly sweet. I don’t really have a sweet tooth (a stark difference between myself and your regular columnist, who would list birthday cake as her favorite food), so the cake was a perfect end to a wonderful meal.If my prattling on about Budapest has got you excited for the food, try this one on for size:

Chicken Paprikas:chicken paprikas¼ cup butter + 1 tablespoon

2lb chicken legs

1 medium onion, chopped

1 ½ cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup sour cream

Prepare the Chicken Paprikas:

  1. Dry chicken and dust lightly with flour, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Melt 1tbs butter. Add chicken and brown. Remove chicken from pan and tent loosely with foil.
  3. Add remaining ¼ cup butter to pan and sauté onions until they are translucent add paprika. Return chicken to the pan.
  4. Add chicken broth and gently simmer over low heat until chicken is falling apart. Remove chicken from the pan and tent loosely with foil.
  5. Add sour cream and return chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
  6. Serve with spaetlze or egg noodles.
    Torte and coffee at Sacher Cafe

    At the Sacher Hotel and Cafe in Vienna, with its world famous Sacher Torte.  The Kid said it’s kind of dry.  And the whipped cream looks badly over whipped.

    Thanks for your time.

Year 3.1415

You get a pie!  You get a pie! You get a pie!  Everybody gets a pie!

Somehow, 2018 turned out to be the year of pie.  This year, The Kid has been busier than the Pillsbury Dough Boy making pastry. I love cake.  It’s one of my two favorite foods.  And cake can be homey and comforting; coffee cake and Bundt cake are two tasty examples.  But there’s something about pie.  It’s never fancy.  You never feel underdressed in front of pie.  You never feel judged or challenged by pie.Cake is a delicious, delicious show horse.  Pie is a puppy.  Pie’s just happy to be there.

So happy…

My dad was raised in Depression-era Pennsylvania; home of odd and obscure confections like shoofly, Montgomery, and Tears-On-Your-Pillow pies.  But I think his all-time favorite pie is raisin pie.  Which I think we can all agree, sounds both bizarre and unappetizing.  But we all have some insane childhood treat that we hold dear and would fight to both obtain and defend.

Mine is Goober Grape.  There is always a jar in my kitchen.  I eat it by the stress-obliterating spoonful.Image may contain: foodBut, back to the year of π.

For my dad’s birthday in March, The Kid made him a raisin pie.  He loved it.  Then he and my spawn put their heads together and decided that for Father’s Day, The Kid would create a new pie for her fruit and nut-loving Grampa: a dried cranberry pie with a granola crust.

One possible outcome.

I’ll let you know how it comes out.

For my mom, there was no question; it would be her absolute favorite, egg custard pie.  Last weekend we went to Greensboro bearing pie.

I’m not normally a huge custard pie fan, but it was delicious. But the crust that was a sensation.  It was insanely flaky, even in the center.  It was crispy, and it was delicious. Gramma’s Birthday Egg Custard Pie

egg custard

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 stick butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

¾ cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

8-10 gratings of fresh nutmeg

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Mix all ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake for 35 minutes or until uniformly puffed and lightly browned.

Let cool completely before slicing. Refrigerate leftovers.

Slammin’ Pie Crust

Makes 2 9-inch crustspie crust 5-5-182 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 ½ sticks cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons chilled Bourbon (Alcohol adds flavor and does not produce gluten in the flour.  Gluten is what makes bread dough stretchy [good], and pie crust tough and rubbery [very bad])Put all ingredients into food processor.  Pulse until it comes together in blueberry-sized pellets.  Turn it out onto floured surface and knead just until it comes together.  Gently shape into two discs and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to four days, or freeze, well-wrapped, for up to six weeks.When you’re ready to use, roll out into square.  Fold it into thirds, then fold in half.  This will increase the flakiness of the baked crust.  Roll into 9-inch circle, press into pie pan.  Thoroughly chill before filling to decrease shrinkage during baking.  Then fill and bake according to instructions. custard pieSo, if you, Gentle Reader somehow find yourself also observing the year of pie, you could do much worse than using this champ of a pie crust—it’s truly the best one I’ve ever had.  And I will keep you up-to-date on our very own annus scilis.Thanks for your time.

It’s Chili, Wear a Sweater

Katey and Jim

Petey and The Kid.

This week, the essay has been hijacked by The Kid’s new chili recipe.

We both hope you like the recipe.  It’s in my spawn’s own words and singular style.

The Kid’s Chili1-5 k's chili–              About 3lbs of beef cut into 1-1 ½in cubes (I used a mix of chuck roast and Denver steaks as that was what was on sale, but the only hard rule here is to not use stew beef. Stew beef is the little bits and bobs left over when trimming larger cuts, so there’s no telling what you’ll end up with)

–              6 slices of bacon

–              1lb sausage (I used bratwurst, but this can be subbed for any pork sausage) removed from casing

–              1 12oz dark, high alcohol beer (My favorite is Founder’s Breakfast Stout)

–              1qt Chicken stock6-9–              3 dried Pasilla chilis, torn into 1in pieces, seeds removed

–              3 dried Guajillo chilis, torn into 1in pieces, seeds removed

–              6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

–              2 poblano peppers with ribs and seeds removed, finely diced,

–              1 yellow onion, medium dicedk's chili–              1 12oz can of tomato sauce

–              3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I used two cans of great northern beans and a can of kidney beans, but feel free to mix it up.

–              2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed

–              1 Tbsp tomato paste

–              1 tsp anchovy paste

–              1.5 Tbsp Dark or mushroom soy sauce (Available for cheap at Asian markets, excellent for adding an umami punch to just about everything)–              2 tsp marmite (Optional but recommended. It will keep forever in the fridge, but also adds a good umami kick)

–              ½ Tbsp Cumin

–              1 tsp Cinnamon

–              1 tsp Garam Masala

–              1 Tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste)

–              2-3 bay leaves

–              1 packet Goya Sazon con achiote y culantro

–              Salt and pepper to taste                Bring chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat, add dried chilies. Simmer until stock has reduced to a third starting volume. Once reduced, blend stock and chilies together until very smooth. Set aside.

               Render bacon on low heat in large dutch oven. Once bacon has fully rendered, remove from pot and set aside. Turn heat up to medium.

               Add sausage to the pot and allow to brown. Once it has some color, remove from pot and set aside. Turn heat up to medium high.

               Once hot, add cubed beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside. Turn heat down to medium low.

               Add onion and garlic, seasoning with salt. Sauté until it begins to turn translucent. Add poblanos, and sauté until soft. Add tomato paste and anchovy paste and stir.                Add sazon packet, cinnamon, garam masala, and cumin. Cook until pan is mostly dry. Add gochujang and marmite and stir.

               Add beer and dark soy sauce to deglaze pan and bring to a simmer.

               Add tomato sauce and the chili sauce from step one.

               Once at a simmer, add all meat and bay leaves. Turn the heat down to medium low and lid the pot.

               Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

               After an hour passes, add in beans and hominy. Since they are fully cooked, there’s no need for them to be in there the whole time but adding them an hour in still allows for some flavor absorption.               Cook until beef is tender, about 2-3 more hours. Make sure to stir occasionally.

               Either serve immediately with your favorite chili toppings or chill and reheat the next day for best flavor.

Thanks for your time.

Falling from the tree

Twenty-five years ago, I gave birth to a mini-me.The Kid and I both love dogs, to complete and utter distraction.  Our favorite movie is The Big Chill, but we adore those awful chimera movies (think of the walking abomination of a horse/wasp hybrid) on SyFy.  My child and I are big fans of Chap Hop; a musical genre wherein polite, anachronistic British gentlemen rap about things like tea, robots, and orangutan valets.  Clean sheet night is our favorite night of the week.  We talk to strangers, probably way more than we should.And our hearts reside in the kitchen.

As soon as my toddler was tall enough to stand on a step stool and reach the kitchen counter, I had a partner-in-crime.  I taught The Kid, and later, after attending summer cooking classes, and then culinary school, the tables were turned, and I became the student.   This means, that just like the rest of our Southern-fried psyches, in cooking and food, we have many similarities.

Thanks to my mother we’re rabid about cleaning as we go along.  We constantly throw away and wash up because we’re completely twitchy when faced with kitchen untidiness.  We both have the ability to create and actually taste recipes in our heads, and possess uncanny senses of smell. And, I honestly don’t think we’ve ever cooked from a recipe without changing something.  It’s usually the addition, subtraction, or tweaking of an ingredient.

As the one in the social group who went to culinary school, my little chef is often called upon to bring home-baked treats to gatherings of friends.Recently The Kid tried out a new recipe from a website called, Smitten Kitchen.  It’s for blondies; the moist and gooey love child of chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

And true to form, my child tinkered.

Below is the email I received when I asked for the recipe.  I got the naming rights:

The Kid’s buffed-up blondiesblondies8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Butter 8×8 pan

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions*.Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. I always err on the side of caution with baking times — nobody ever complained about a gooey-middled cookie. Cool on rack before cutting them.

*I made these changes- I browned my butter (decently dark too, like the brown of an old dictionary, so flavor comes through), replaced a pinch of salt with a full quarter teaspoon (or so), added 1/3 cup salted caramel chips, added a SCANT quarter cup of sprinkles, and topped with Maldon salt. The dough turns out way stiffer than you’d think, but it all works out happily—The Kid.

Even though my homemade mimeograph and I are very much alike, there are some stark differences.

This is a room made of cake.  I want to be there unsupervised.

To me, frosting is a food group; my child has a severely underdeveloped sweet tooth.  I wear my volatile emotions on my sleeve.  My little stoic?  Not so much.  Although my spawn’s a huge fan of Getty Lee’s Canadian band, I think Rush has all the pretentiousness of Pink Floyd but the talent of the Bay City Rollers.

And, although a wholly committed bookworm like me, no matter what I said, or which volume I produced, I never could get The Kid to crack open even one Trixie Belden mystery.Thanks for your time.