Mar 012014
 
Mark and Jared at the Chopping Block

Mark and Jared at the Chopping Block

Last Christmas, Natalie gifted our oldest son, Jared and me with a cooking class at The Chopping Block which is a wonderful cooking school and gourmet shop at Lincoln Square in Chicago. (See the link at the left) This was my second class there,  and the first for Jared — hopefully there will be many more.

One of the recipes that we prepared was this soup, and it is to die for. It uses fall and winter vegetables, is very healthy, and is hearty enough to be a complete meal. The combination of spices creates a rich, unique and complex flavor palette. Jared and I couldn’t wait to try this at home, which we both did the week after the class. It is certainly going to be a fall and winter favorite. Many thanks to The Chopping Block for this wonderful recipe.

 

Spicy Chickpea and Leek Soup with Kale

51

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 main servings. 6-8 appetizer sixed servings.

Spicy Chickpea and Leek Soup with Kale

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, well-cleaned and tender green and white parts cut into medium dice
  • 1 parsnip, scrubbed well and cut into medium dice (about 1/4 X 1/4 inch)
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed well and cut into medium dice
  • 1 Tbsp. of fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron
  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (Garabanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (about 1/2 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley rough chopped.

Instructions

  1. Heat a deep heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Gently saute the leek, carrot and parsnip until lightly carmelized, about 7-8 minutes. Be careful not to burn the vegetables.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, cinnamon, and curry powder, and cook an additional minute or so until the spices are toasted.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook an additional minute.
  5. Stir in the stock, saffron and sweet potato, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the sweet potatoes are almost done.
  6. Mix in the kale and continue to cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the chickpeas and cook until just warmed through.
  8. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, stir in the parsley and serve.
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Feb 022014
 
Ribs in smoker

Ribs in smoker.

Year’s ago we were driving through Kentucky on our way to a video shoot in Chattanooga and stopped to eat at a roadside restaurant. In the gift shop I found a book, Jack Daniel’s Old Time Barbecue  Cookbook.  This is a wonderful book that tells the  history of barbecuing, the techniques and culture of barbecue and has many recipes that came from Jack Daniels employees and other traditional barbecue sources. This recipe is adapted from some of the sauce recipes in that book.

I’ve had a smoker for a long time and I like the taste of smoky ribs. In the tradition of the barbecue greats, I smoke the ribs without the sauce and you add your own sauce before you indulge. That way the great taste of the meat comes through and you are not eating sugary candied pork that is so often passed off as barbecued ribs.

 

Mark’s Rickyard Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, add the oil and saute the onion and garlic until translucent.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Serve on the side with your slow cooked ribs.
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Dec 222013
 

Kifli is another Hungarian Christmas tradition that I remember well, and they were always my favorite of the Christmas cookies.  Growing up, we called them Kiffles, which is the anglicized version of Kifli.

I had never made them until long after my mother was gone, and reclaiming the recipe was not easy as my mother had about 10 different recipes from my aunts and other relatives. She had one labeled “My own special recipe”, that had graham cracker crumbs in at and some other things not in the other recipes, and I’m sure were not in the Kifli that I remember.

After a few years of experimentation with the different recipes and many failures, I finally settled on this one which produces Kifli closest to what I recall.

Kifli – Hungarian Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 96 Kifli

Kifli – Hungarian Cookies

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 4 to 4 ½ Cups Flour
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Sticks butter
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • Filling
  • 2 1/2 Cups Ground Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ¼ Cup milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. For the dough, melt the butter and mix till dough forms a soft ball.
  2. Divide into 8 balls and refrigerate overnight, or at least a couple of hours.
  3. Let the dough warm up and soften a bit, then, one by one, roll each of the 8 balls into a 9 inch circle.
  4. Using serrated pastry cutter, cut each round into fourths and each of the fourths into thirds, pizza style.
  5. Spread about 1 tsp. of filling on on the bottom 2/3 of each triangle starting at the wide end of each section.
  6. Roll each piece toward the center, crescent roll style and place on ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Brush with egg-white if desired.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the Kifli just start to lightly brown. The secret is to not overbake. If the filling is oozing out and turning dark brown or burning, you are baking too long.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

Kifli can also be filled with fruit butter or preserves. Apricot would be often used or Lekvar, a Hungarian prune butter.

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Dec 182013
 
Helen Kun Karney, Circa 1925

Helen Kun Karney
circa 1925

My paternal Grandmother, Helen Kun Karney, immigrated to the United States at the tender age of 16, in 1901. She married my grandfather, Steven Karney in 1904; they both came from the same town in Hungary, Battyan.  Dios (‘dee-oshe) or Nut Roll is a Hungarian Christmas tradition, and I’ll never know if she carried a hand-written recipe with her on the boat from Europe, or if she created it from memory, but the recipe remains over 100 years later.

Grandma Karney’s recipe was passed on to me through my mother who used it to make the nut roll I remember so well. Although, I’m sure I watched my mother make it (and probably licked the bowl that contained the sugar and walnut filling,) I had never prepared it on my own until recently. I still use the same Wearever aluminum pan that my mother used, and it perfectly holds the four rolls that that this timeless recipe makes.  It freezes well, so while you are at it, make a couple of batches.

Mom’s Nut Roll (Dios)

Mom’s Nut Roll (Dios)

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter or margarine
  • 2 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 to 5 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Filling
  • 2 lb. ground walnuts
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 scant cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Make a leaven of 1/4 cup of warm water, 1 tsp. sugar and the yeast. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and mix with the sour cream, sugar, 2 cups of flour and finally the egg yolks.
  3. The mixture should be cool or only slightly warm. Now you can add the yeast mixture and knead in the rest of the flour until the mixture is about the consistency of bread dough.
  4. Knead until smooth.
  5. Divide into 4 parts and refrigerate covered overnight.
  6. Mix together walnuts, egg whites, sugar and vanilla to make filling.
  7. Roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle the length of your pan.
  8. Spread with 1/4 of the walnut filling.
  9. Roll up jelly roll style.
  10. Butter the baking pan lightly.
  11. Put the 4 rolls in a baking pan and let rise in a warm place, covered, for 2 hours.
  12. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.
  13. Cool and slice.

Notes

I usually cut the rolls in half crosswise, wrap them in foil and refrigerate until needed. Then I slice the larger piece into 1/2 in slices for serving. It dries out less than if you pre-slice the whole thing.

For freezing, wrap in foil and then seal in air-tight freezer bag.

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Dec 072013
 

I found the basis for this recipe on the web and did my usual modifications to spice it up a bit. We served it for our Friday night group and it was an instant hit. It takes a little more effort than a typical simple spread, but is every bit worth the effort.

Mushroom Walnut Paté

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Serving Size: 1 Tbsp.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs or about 1 tsp. of dried thyme
  • 12 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, diced.
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, diced (2 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp.Porcini powder
  • 4 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • Cayenne pepper. (Add a little to taste if desired.)
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Thinly sliced scallion greens or chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they become lightly browned and aromatic. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the heat and set aside to cool. (If you start with whole walnuts, rather than chopped, you'll be less likely to burn them.)
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions & thyme. Raise the heat and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are translucent.
  3. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the onions caramelize. Stir the onions frequently, you want them to caramelize to a deep rich brown, but not burn. This will take about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and thyme and stir them in to combine.
  5. Season with about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. of black pepper. Raise the heat to medium to high, and continue cooking. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid has evaporated. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the sherry, scraping the pan to remove the browned bits of fond. Cook about a minute or two until most of the sherry has been reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  7. When cool, transfer about half of the mushroom and onion mixture to the food processor. Add the toasted walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, porcini powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the container as needed.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings adding salt, pepper, lemon juice and cayenne as desired.
  9. Add the remaining mushroom and onion mixture and the chopped eggs. Pulse until coarsely chopped and well combined. Again, adjust seasonings to taste.
  10. Serve with a sprinkling of chives or scallion greens if desired. This is especially good on dark rye bread.
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