Ayobowan Sri Lanka!

Photo via Skyscraper City
Looking forward to learning more about India’s island neighbor.  Beautiful beaches, good surf, a longstanding coffee and tea culture… I have a good feeling about this place.

Viszontlátásra Hungary!

Photo via Hungary Property

Another two weeks, another country down.  I made veal for the first time, used copious amounts of paprika , learned a new way of making cabbage rolls, and ate a whole lot of baked goods (here, here, and here).  One thing’s for sure… it was not a good two weeks for my vegan friends.  Sorry- I’ll try to be better in the second half of the month, I promise.

Not real flops this time- probably the biggest disappointment was finding sour cherries at an Indian market right after I was done with Hungary.  Bummers.  I guess the cherries will have to wait for Bulgaria or Slovenia…

After being in a land-locked country for two weeks, it’s back to the coast for me.  See you all tomorrow!

Toltott Kaposzta- Hungarian Cabbage Rolls

Hey folks: sorry for the delay.  As I’m sure you all know by now, Blogger is having major issues.  I was expecting my post from yesterday to reappear and be sent out again today, but a post from a couple weeks ago was sent instead- weird.  Sorry about that. Anyways, here’s today’s belated post.  If the chestnut cake from yesterday doesn’t automatically come back, I’ll be sure to re-post that one as well.   Now back to the food…

I’ll admit that I went into this thinking I wouldn’t like these very much.  After all, I felt like my allegiance should be to Polish cabbage rolls, which I’ve eaten since I was a little girl, rather than the Hungarian version.  When you start to analyze things, the two seem to have more differences than similarities: the Hungarian version has both pork and veal, very little rice, uses sauerkraut and paprika, and omits tomato sauce.

But then I began to realize how ridiculous that was; it was trying to decide between pepperoni pizza and supreme: why can’t I like both?  These are very rich; the filling is very reminiscent of pork hash, a common pupu here in Hawaii.  Hearty and filling, the sauerkraut contributes some tang while the paprika adds an unexpected flavor twist.

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Hungarian Cabbage Rolls

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

* 1 medium head cabbage

Filling:
* 1 pound ground pork
* 1/2 pound ground veal
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 1 cup cooked brown rice
* 1 egg
* 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 Tablespoon paprika

Sauce:
* 1/2 cup finely minced salt pork (note: its much easier to cut/mince when partially frozen)
* 1 medium onion
* 1 1/2 Tablespoons paprika
* 1/2 cups water
* 2 cans (14 oz.) sauerkraut
* water or stock

* sour cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Rinse the head of cabbage and remove any damaged or dirty outer leaves. Remove the core and place the cabbage into the boiling water and boil for ten minutes, or until the outer leaves are tender. Drain and let cool slightly. Remove the outer leaves, taking care not to tear them. You should have at least a dozen leaves that are soft and flexible. Finely shred the remaining cabbage and set aside.

Combine the ground pork and veal, salt, minced garlic, chopped onion, rice, egg, black pepper and paprika and mix well.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling mixture into individual cabbage leaves and roll to secure the filling.

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the salt pork over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the salt pork is cooked and crispy. Remove the salt pork bits with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Add the onion to the salt pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Add the paprika and water and stir well. Add both cans of sauerkraut with their juice and the shredded cabbage. Stir to combine.

Divide the sauerkraut mixture between two baking dishes (I used a 9-inch by 13-inch dish as well as a 9-inch square dish). Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down into the sauerkraut mixture. Add enough water or stock so that the cabbage rolls are just peeking out of the liquid. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are just beginning to brown.

To serve, place a cabbage roll or two on a plate or shallow bowl on a bed of the sauerkraut mixture. Top with sour cream and sprinkle some of the salt pork bits on top.

Chestnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache, Naturally Gluten-Free

I love chestnut-flavored desserts (a Korean bakery in Honolulu makes the best chestnut balls/cookies that I used to love back when I ate gluten) and was totally thrilled when I accidentally stumbled on a bag of cooked chestnuts at a specialty food store.  Finding chestnuts is really the hardest part of this recipe; it’s a shame they aren’t more popular in the U.S.

But if you’re not able to find chestnuts, feel free to substitute another nut flour; the book that served as the inspiration for this recipe has several variations using almond, walnut, and even coconut flour.  I also want to note that although I made this into a rather decadent layered cake, the cake would be equally amazing plain with just a dollop of whipped cream.

In fact, if you went through the trouble of tracking down chestnuts, it’s nice to allow the chestnut flavor to take center stage, rather than playing second fiddle to the chocolate.  If you go that route, it would make an amazing breakfast cake.  Or feel free to just do the top layer of ganache and skip the whipped filling.  I’m pretty sure you’ll love it anyway you make it.

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Chestnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

* 6 extra large eggs, separated
* 2/3 cups sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1 2/3 cup ground chestnuts
* butter, for greasing pan
* rice flour, for dusting pan

Ganache Topping:
* 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

Ganache Filling (Optional):
* 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Prepare the whipped ganache filling, if using, by putting 2/3 cups chocolate chips into a large bow. Put 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a microwave-safe glass or mug and microwave until it just begins to simmer; watch carefully to make sure the cream doesn't boil over. Pour over the chocolate chips and let stand for a couple minutes and then stir until the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, about 2 hours (you can speed this up by putting it in the fridge after it has cooled slightly). Using an electric mixer, whisk on high for several minutes until light and fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch" springform or cake pan and generously dust with rice flour. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy. Add the chestnut flour and mix well.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until firm and creamy. Add about 1/4 of the egg white mixture to the hazelnut mixture and thoroughly combine to lighten. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake begins to shrink from the rim of the pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool.

If making a layer cake, cut the cake horizontally into two layers. Spread with the bottom layer with whipped ganache filling and the place the other cake layer on top.

Prepare the ganache by putting 2/3 cup chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Put 1/2 cup heavy cream in a microwavable-safe glass or mug and microwave until it just begins to simmer; watch carefully to make sure the cream doesn't boil over. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let stand for a couple minutes. Stir until smooth, let cool slightly. Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake and let the cake cool, allowing the glaze to harden.