Thursday, May 16, 2013

couscous salad

This might be my family's ultimate recipe, and I've made it dozens of times, but I've never blogged it because I never remember to take a photo (as with everything else that languishes in draft posts). The other day, however, I had the terrifying experience of realizing that I'd somehow lost the recipe (or perhaps Gmail couldn't resist swallowing it). Luckily, I'd shared it around to a bunch of friends and one of them was able to swoop in and save me. Be warned: this recipe makes a party-sized quantity of food.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups Moroccan-style couscous
1 large tomato, chopped and drained*
1/3 cup minced green onions
1/3 cup minced black olives
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup crumbled feta**
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil
pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a boil, stir in couscous. Remove from the heat and let sit for five minutes. Stir and transfer to a large bowl. Let it cool while you chop the vegetables.

Add the onions, olives, cilantro, and pine nuts. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the couscous, then mix through with a large spoon. Add the feta and pine nuts and mix again. Let the salad sit for an hour (or overnight) in the fridge. Serve with pita. Or a big spoon.

* I'm not a fan of raw tomatoes, so I usually use a red bell pepper or sun-dried tomatoes.
** Totally optional. If you leave it out (and are careful with your vegetable broth), this dish is vegan. You can also leave it on the side for people to add to their own plates.


This recipe came from my mother's cousin Zsuzsi, who learned it from my grandmother. The baffling way the original was written confirms that it is indeed an "old family recipe." To my delight, they came out tasting almost exactly like I remember them from my childhood.

Fasírozott (Hungarian Hamburger Patties)

1 1/2 lbs mixed ground meat (pork/beef/veal)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp paprika (1 sweet, 1 hot, or however you prefer)
5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 small white onion, grated or minced
1 tbsp flour
pepper to taste
3 thick slices white bread
2 eggs

Soak the bread in a shallow bowl of water for a few minutes, then wring it out and put the mush in the bottom of a large bowl. Mix in the meat, salt, paprika, garlic, onion, flour, and pepper.

Lightly beat the eggs and mix into the meat. Form small patties, about 2" across, and coat in breadcrumbs.

Either fry for 5 minutes on each side or bake in a 350ºF oven for 25-35 minutes until the meat is cooked through, flipping over for the last 10.

The recipe makes about two dozen patties. You can also bake some and then refrigerate the leftover meat mixture for a few days. Or do what my grandmother did and prep the patties, breadcrumbs and all, on a baking sheet, then cover with wax paper and foil and freeze until you want to bake them. If only we all had that kind of freezer space.

Best leftover trick: crumble/smoosh one patty onto a tortilla, top with cheese and hot sauce, cook as a quesadilla. Seriously addictive.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

artichoke and roasted garlic dip

This stuff is so good that I couldn't even get a picture before people swarmed in and ate it. I found this recipe while trying to think of something to do with roasted garlic that was not 'eat it with a spoon because it's magically delicious.' Original is here, but I modified it quite a bit.

Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Dip

2 heads garlic
olive oil
1 can artichoke hearts, diced
2-4 green onions, sliced thin
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2-2/3 cup sharp cheddar (or similar)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon whole-seed mustard
1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Slice the top 1/2 inch or so off the heads of garlic, and discard any loose bits of peel. Put the garlic on a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Loosely wrap the foil around the garlic and bake for about an hour or until the cloves are soft and mushy. Be smarter than me and wait until they cool before squeezing the softened cloves out into a large mixing bowl.

Mix the artichokes, onions, cheeses, mayo, mustard, and sriracha in with the garlic, and add salt and pepper to your liking. Transfer to a baking dish. Mix the topping ingredients together and spread evenly over the dip.

Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (depending on how deep your dish is), until the panko browns a bit and the edges of the dish are bubbling. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.