Friday, November 25, 2011


Langos (lan-gosh) is another ubiquitous Hungarian treat. It is very popular in markets and with street venders all over Hungary. You can find it all over Eastern Europe too. It is made with a yeast leaven dough of flour and water, left to rise, then it is rolled out and deep fried. The dough is also made with flour and potatoes. This is called Krumplis lángos (croom-plee lan-gosh). Which is how we usually make it at home and that is what is pictured above.Typically they are topped with raw garlic, sour cream and a type of quark cheese. They are also often topped to be sweet with confectioners sugar, jam, even chocolate.

To make Krumplis langos you need a medium sized frying pan or one to accommodate the size langos you are going to make. You can make them small or you can make them big.

INGREDIENTS: for six or eight loaves.

  • 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 3 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1 table spoon bread yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • warm water or milk
  • fresh garlic
  • sour cream
  • grated Parmesan cheese , Gouda or some other similar cheese
Start by putting the yeast into a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Peel cut and boil the potatoes until they are soft. Put them in a bowl with a pat of butter and mash them until they are smooth. Put all of the other ingredients into a mixing bowl including the yeast and mashed potatoes and mix well until a tacky dough forms. It should stick to your fingers a little bit. If it is too dry add some more liquid, if it is too wet add a little more flour. Now cover the dough with a warm damp cloth and let it rest in order to rise for at least an hour.

After the dough has risen put a frying pan over med high heat. Pour in about 3/4" deep of vegetable oil. Bring the oil to 300 degrees and adjust the burner to maintain.

Then flour a section of the counter for rolling out the langos. Make balls about twice the size of a golf ball for medium sized.  Roll them out to about 1/8" thick and flour them well so they do not stick together. Stack them near the pan for frying.


After all of the dough has been rolled and the oil is ready carefully lay them into the oil and fry them until golden brown on both sides. They should bubble up and blister. This is the sign of a good langos.

Fry all of the Langos and stack them into a cullender over a plate to drain.

While they are still warm put garlic cloves into a garlic press and squeeze gently. As the mashed garlic comes out rub the press onto the langos. Put on as much or as little garlic as you desire. Put on a dollop of sour cream and with the back side of a spoon spread it around, then top with grated cheese. 

Viola, langos!

Tasty and fun to make. Especially if you have a helper.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Goulash is one of those iconic Eastern European Dishes. It was invented in Hungary but it is popular all over Europe and the world. It is made many different ways. But there is only one authentic version of goulash and it is Hungarian. I actually learned how to make this dish while visiting Hungary.

The first goulash appeared 300 or more years ago when the Hungarian Horsemen would set out on The Great Hungarian Plain or Alföld as it is called in Hungarian. They would travel for days, or even weeks at a time on horseback and this created a need for preserving food for the trip. One of the things they would do is roll chunks of beef in salt and paprika and dry it in the sun. When out on the plain they would store it packed into their saddle bags.

At dinner time they would cook the beef cubes in a kettle of water over a fire which would reconstitute the beef cubes as it cooked. Onions ,potatoes and carrots etc. would often be added.  They call it Gulyas Leves  (Goulash Soup) or Bogracs Gulyas (Kettle Goulash)

Goulash can be made with any beef stock and cut of beef but what works best is ox tails and shin meat. A rich beef stock is made with the ox tails, onions and herbs and spices. It is rich in paprika which gives it a deep red color.

To make goulash you need a large heavy stock pot and a lid.


  • 2lbs ox tails (or beef bones)
  • 3lbs beef shin or heel meat. (or any cubed beef will substitute)
  • 2-3 large onions diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2-3 carrots sliced (optional)
  • 3-4 large potatoes (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 4-8 tablespoons paprika (You can never put too much paprika in goulash IMO.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (Always use kosher or sea salt)
  • Water to cover
  • Parsley and or green onions to garnish.

    PREPARATION: Start by chopping the onions to half inch squares and cutting your meat to 1-1/2" cubes and set aside. Cut any other vegetables, garlic and set aside.

    COOKING: Get a large enough stock pot hot over medium high heat. When it is hot add a couple of table spoons of veg oil ( or lard) and throw in the meat cubes a few at a time so that they dont cool down the pot to much. Brown them a on all sides while you sprinkle them with a little salt. Remove them to a bowl and set aside. Keep doing that until all of the beef cubes are browned.

    Before the pot cools down add a little more oil as needed. Throw in the dry herbs and spices including the paprika. Give it a quick toss around with a spoon and then add the onions. If it seems to dry or burning add a little oil. The dark browning caramelizing action here is what makes the deep roasted flavor that is associated with good goulash. Add more oil a little at a time if needed.  Put in the ox tails toss them around a little bit and then pour in enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil then turn it down to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about an hour until the meat on the ox tails begins to get soft.

    Add the beef cubes and vegetables at this point. If you are adding carrots and potatoes add the carrots now but wait to add the potatoes until the last twenty minuets of the cook. This is because the potatoes will over cook and turn to mush. Simmer covered  until the meat is tender, this could take another hour or so.

    SERVING: When the goulash is done it will be goulash leves (pronounced le vesh) Its brothy and fantastic in a bowl topped with a dollop of sour cream served alongside a slice of hearty rye bread.

     It is also served as a stew plated instead of in a bowl. To achieve this consistency make a butter and flour roux. Melt a couple of table spoons of butter in a little pot over med low heat and add a couple of tablespoons of flour. Toss the flour in the melted butter a bit. Don't let it turn dark brown and add a little more butter or flour if necessary. Add the roux to the simmering stew gradually a little at a time and wait to see how thick it gets. When it reaches the desired thick sauce consistency it is ready to go.

    Shown here it is served alongside CZ dumplings as we call them. Basically they are steamed bread dough. They are very filling.

    So now is your big chance, get out the goo and and get down with some goulash!

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011


    Fall is all about Eastern European food in our house. It starts when we pack the crock with cabbage to make ready our holiday sauerkraut. It is warming comfort food that just screams cold weather. It goes on right up until Christmas when we make the traditional Slovakian feast of Vianoce.

     You just cant celebrate Eastern European fare without delving into the perogi. They are delicious pockets of dough stuffed with all sorts of tasty fillings. Most common is the potato perogi. One might think that the combination of dough and potatoes is too much but it just works so well in this magical dumpling. They are hearty and filling harkening a simpler time and place. No doubt like many hearty peasant foods they were devised when there was very little to eat.  Winter was setting in and food had to be rationed. Potatoes, cabbage and flour., if you were lucky there may be some eggs in the barn and some smoked meat in the attic. To avoid eating the same thing over and over the same way, it was during these times that the best dishes in the world were invented. When we have very little we get creative, when we have too much we get lazy and boring. It was here that the perogi was born. 

    When making homemade perogi it is fun to get the whole family involved, though it is not terribly difficult to make them on your own. Start out by making the dough. It is an unleavened pasta dough. Though thicker and lighter in body then the pasta dough used in Italian cooking.

    Before we start lets talk about mixing dough. Mixing dough by hand takes a little time but it is in my opinion fun. I find it meditative and it is relaxing to me.  However time does not always allow for it. I still mix dough by hand but it is for Indian breads like chappity, paranthas and what not. Those doughs mix easily by hand.. Peogi dough; as with many bread doughs can be strenuous to mix by hand. That is why I bought a Kitchen Aid mixer. I love it and use it a lot, If you are serious about cooking and you want to take it to the next level get a Kitchen Aid, it is the best mixer for the money.  

    Most people make a LOT of perogi at a time. Then they freeze them or give them away. I guess this is because they presumably take a long time to make. Me and my mixer can bust them out pretty quick. Following are the ingredients for a batch of about twelve medium sized perogi or about twenty small ones etc. Large perogi are good too.

    For the dough:
    • 2 cups unbleached flour
    • 2 eggs beaten (room temperature)
    • 3 tablespoons of sour cream (room temperature)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/3 cup hot water from boiled potatoes. (This is one of those "little tricks" and it makes for nice tender dough)
    For the filling:
    • 6-8 large potatoes. (Dont choose baking potatoes, any boiling potato will work, red, yellow, etc)
    • 2 cups chopped onion
    • 4 cloves of garlic minced
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (Optional)
    • 1 teaspoon celery seeds (Optional)
    • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
    • salt and pepper

    GETTING STARTED: Start peeling the potatoes, cut them in smaller cubes and set them aside. Start a pot of water boiling over high heat. Then get a saute pan hot over med high heat. Put the butter into the pan and then throw in about a cup of the diced onions and the chopped garlic. Then throw in the herbs and spices, brown these a little and then set the pan aside to cool. By this time the water should be ready for the potatoes. Drop them in and cook them as you would for mashed potatoes. When the potatoes are done strain them but retain a cup full of the hot starchy water.

    MAKING THE DOUGH: Put all of the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and turn it on low, add the beaten eggs and the sour cream. At this point a dry dough should be clumping up. Now gradually add a little of the hot starchy potato water at a time. (If it so happens that it cooled down get it hot in the microwave or something.) Keep adding the water till the dough forms nicely. It should be on the wetter side but it should not be sticky to your fingers. Form a ball with the dough and cover it with a damp cloth for a 20 min rest. 

    MAKING THE FILLING: Take the pot of strained potatoes and make sure they are cool enough to add egg without it cooking, dump in the sauteed onion mixture add an egg and then mash everything together until mixed.

    STUFFING THE PEROGI: Get a good size space laid out on a cleaned table or counter. Set out your bowl of filling, the dough ball, a rolling pin and a small bowl of water for your fingers. Start a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat for cooking them as they are assembled. Have a cullender in a pot for straining the cooked perogi .

    Flour the rolling area and the pin. Form the dough into balls about one and one half the size of a golf ball for medium sized perogi. Roll them out to about 3 or 4 inches in diameter then put a dollop of filling on the center. Dip your finger into water and rub it gently around the outer circumference of the dough pocket.

    Fold the dough over the top. Its OK if you have to stretch out the dough to make it fit over the filling but be careful not to get the filling on the area where it will close the seam. If it does the perogi will open when it is cooked. Now give it a good pinch around the joint until it is all sealed up. You can go over the top of the joint with a fork to add a decorative edge and ensure the sealing or do like I do and twist and pinch along the joint.

    COOKING THE PEROGI: As the perogi are assembled start putting them in the boiling water three or four at a time. Do this by first putting them onto a spoon and lowering them into the water. Hold them for several seconds and then release. Do this with every perogi, the reason for this is that if you just drop them in they will sink fast and then stick on the bottom. When they float then they are ready to move to the strainer. Each time you put them in the strainer sprinkle them with a little veg oil. This will keep them from sticking together. When they are all cooked set the cullender aside.

    SERVING THE PEROGI: Over med high heat melt a few pats of butter, pork lard or veg oil in a saute pan big enough to fit the perogi. When the onions begin to turn light translucent add the perogi and brown them a little with the onions. Turn them over gently making sure not to brake them open . Add more oil or butter if need be.
    After the onions are browned a little turn them out onto the plate and top them with a dollop of sour cream. 

    Perogi are one of my favorites, There are all different kinds, filled with meat, mushrooms, sauerkraut to list a few.


    Monday, November 21, 2011


    No its not what you think. But its fast, delicious and extra convenient if you have the munchies. Pot smoking is a method of stove top smoking. There are a few types of "stove top smokers" out there but I am from the school of thought that less is more. A lot of kitchen pots and appliances are not really necessary. For example I don't have a steamer because I use a big stock pot and a cullender. I dont need more stuff taking up room in my kitchen so I use a pot when I am pot smokin. Its a great method of cooking and or infusing some smoke flavor into food. It works especially well with seafood like fish or scallops. Pot smoked scallops are unbelievably delicious!

    Its pretty easy to set up, the equipment you will need is as follows:

    • A large stainless steel pot with a good fitting lid. (dont use aluminum, enameled or non stick cookware as these may burn.)
    • One of those spreading steamer baskets or a cullender that will fit inside the pot. 
    • A pie pan that will fit inside the pot.
    • A few tablespoons of hardwood saw dust like oak, hickory, apple etc.

    You can buy sawdust from places that sell smoking wood. Home depot and Loews don't carry it though. Its in gourmet cooking shops under different names. You can buy one of these or you can just saw some oak branches or apple branches over a pan to catch some saw dust. It stores well in a glass jar or plastic container

                              Here we are smoking some stripped bass fillets. Extra good stuff!!!

    Take the fish fillets and rub them with some salt and pepper and perhaps some other spices. I keep it simple and add only salt pepper and a small amount of Old Bay.

    Put the pot on the burner over high heat. Set the fish fillets onto the steamer basket and set aside. Put a few tables spoons of the saw dust onto the center of the pot.

    Then put the metal pie pan on top of the saw dust. This is some maple wood dust that I made sawing up some branches. Put the lid on the pot and wait a few moments. When you see the pot start to release small wisps of smoke from around the lid turn the burner down to medium low. Remove the lid and put the steamer basket of fish into the pot on top of the pie pan. The pie pan serves a drip catcher because the dripping juices will burn and perhaps give the fish a burnt flavor.

    Put the lid back on quickly and the pot will fill up with smoke. Keep an eye on it. If too much smoke begins to escape turn the heat down. If no smoke is escaping turn the heat up a little. Smoke should be escaping slightly like in the picture above. The house never gets "smokey", left behind is what I would call an agreeable smell of wood fire. No more then a fire place may leave behind. The reason is that you are burning very little wood and you are smoldering it slowly.

    After about twenty minutes or so depending on how thick your fish fillets are, they will be done to perfection. Like something from a five star restaurant. People WILL think that you slaved over the smoker for hours preparing the fish.

    Pot smokin' works great, it is really fast and very agreeable. clean up is a snap too.

                                                                            Before Clean up.

                                                                              After clean up.

    So you don't have an excuses with this one. If you like smoked fish give it a try, get some nice fresh fish and smoke it up!

    Sunday, November 20, 2011


    Seems just about every country and culture have a recipe for this dish. Most popular is the polish version but there are all kinds. There is a Jewish version, a middle eastern version made with lamb and a Ukrainian version where the sauce is made with sour cream. So many kinds of stuffed cabbages.

    The Polish version is called Golabki, literally translated it means little pigeons. Not sure how they came up with that name since there is no pigeon in them and they don't look like a pigeon.

     We made them this weekend stuffed with venison, smoked sausage and rice. There are all sorts of combinations of meats and grains like kasha and millet.

    As always when shopping for cabbages always choose solid sound cabbages. This will almost always ensure a quality finished product.

    Bring a pot of water big enough to fit a head of cabbage to a boil. Then bring it down to a simmer. Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and carefully put the head into the water. Wait a few minutes and then using a couple of large spoons turn the head over. Watch out for splashing, the water could burn you.

    When the leaves start getting soft start to remove them carefully one by one. Be careful not to break them apart. Stack them on the side and continue till the leaves become too small to use.

    Next, prepare the stuffing.

    Stuffing Ingredients for approximately ten golabki:

    •  1lb ground meat (Venison, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, or any combination)
    • 1/4 lb kielbasa or other smoked sausage ( you can substitute some cooked bacon)
    • 2 cups cooked rice
    • 2 large onions diced
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon marjorum
    • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
    • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
    • 1/2 cup red wine, white wine or beer, you could even use vodka.
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Get a saute pan hot over med/high heat. Melt some butter or oil in the pan and drop in the caraway seeds. When the seeds start to crackle throw in the chopped onions and chopped garlic. Saute these till they are golden and starting to brown. Then put in the chopped kielbasa along with the rest of the herbs and spices. Cook these a little and there should be a sticking browning action going on on the bottom of the pan but not burning. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and stir up all that caramelized goodness. Then set the pan aside to cool.

    Use fresh ground meat, you can use beef, pork, lamb, turkey or any combination. Here we used venison. Take the meat in a bowl and then with your fingers incorporate the cooked rice until it is well mixed.

    Once the rice is well incorporated add the cooled ingredients from the saute pan. Again using your fingers to mix the stuffing until all of the ingredients are mixed.

    Sauce Ingredients:

    • 2 small cans of tomato paste
    • 2 cups beef or chicken broth or water (some people use apple cider)
    • 1 cup red or white wine
    • 1 small onion diced
    • 1 clove of garlic minced
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or to taste.
    • 1/2 cup vinegar ( I like using rice vinegar)
    • pinch of caraway seeds
    • pinch of marjoram
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill
    • salt and pepper to taste
    In a pot over medium heat put a little oil and drop in the caraway seeds onions and dry herbs. saute briefly then add the wine. Add the tomato paste and the broth or water till you get a slightly thick but still broth like consistency. The sauce will thicken a lot when you put it in the oven. Then add all of the ingredients. simmer for a few minutes and then turn off heat and set aside.

    Now the fun part. Rolling them up. Take a leaf and set it out on a cutting board. At this point it is easy to see why people decided to start stuffing them. It makes the perfect pocket for stuffing.

    Put a hand full big enough to fit the pocket onto the cabbage leaf.

    Then fold the edges over and under like so.

    Roll the whole thing over till you end up with something like this then continue till all of the stuff or the cabbage leaves are used up. Which ever comes first.

    Now pour some of the sauce into a casserole dish big enough to fit your cabbage rolls. Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the casserole then start stacking in your golabki until the pan is well filled. Pour some of the sauce over top.and retain some for plating. Cover with lid or foil and bake for an hour to an hour and a half. Depending on how big your rolls are. Check throughout the cook to make sure they do not burn on top. Baste them with a spoon or syringe.

    Serve and enjoy this old world stick to your ribs meal. Its not sissy food for sure! 

    The Ukrainian version is called Holubtsi. It is prepared several different ways there. Pictured above it is prepared nearly the same way as the Polish version though in the Ukraine the stuffing often contains no meat. It is also usually made with millet not rice. The sauce is made with onions, mushrooms sour cream and dill.