01 January


Paprikás Csirke

(Hungarian Paprika Chicken)

Paprika Chicken

January 18: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Hungary

With a large European population in the Chicago suburbs and Northwestern Indiana, there were several interesting international grocery stores where Islander and her Ukrainian friend, Olga W., would often go together to shop for sweets, snacks and spices. Islander bought Hungarian paprika to replace the blander one in her pantry and it made a difference to the dish she cooked by boosting the flavor and color of paprika chicken (also known as chicken paprikash).

Paprika chicken (paprikás csirke) is a popular Hungarian stew. This is a nice recipe to make in observance of the feast days of Hungarian saints, beginning with St. Margaret in January. Jó étvágyat!

 Recipe

(Adapted from Squidoo)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken (drumsticks, thighs, etc.)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1-2 cups water (enough to cover the chicken)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • parsley, chopped (optional garnish)
  • hot cooked pasta noodles or rice

Directions

Dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off excess flour and set aside. In a large pan, melt the butter over low heat. Raise the heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the pan. Keep warm.

Paprika Chicken

In the same pan, brown the chicken, turning to cook all sides. Return the onions to the pan. Pour water over the chicken. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika. Lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for an hour or until the chicken is tender. Check seasonings and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper to taste.

Paprika Chicken

When cooked, remove the chicken, leaving the sauce in the pan. Add the sour cream and stir constantly until smooth (do not allow to curdle). Place the thickened sauce in a plate and add the chicken on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve over hot cooked pasta noodles or rice.

Paprika Chicken

Notes

  • Some calendars list the feast day of St. Margaret of Hungary on January 19 and 26.

Fig Newton Bibles

Fig Newton Bibles

January 16: National Fig Newton Day

With 50+ references in Scriptures, the fig is the most mentioned fruit in the Holy Bible. The first instance is in Genesis 3:7, when Adam and Eve used fig leaves to clothe themselves. Figs are abundant in the Holy Land and the Middle East and is used in many regional recipes. Ancient Egyptians made a rolled pastry filled with fig paste. Nabisco brand’s Fig Newtons are a modern version of these sweet snacks.

Going back to its biblical roots, we literally fashioned Fig Newtons into the blessed book. Fig Newton bibles are a cute cookie to serve for Sunday school, bible study, prayer group meetings and especially National Fig Newton Day!

Recipe

(Inspired by Catholic Cuisine)

Ingredients

  • Fig Newtons
  • Red fruit roll-up
  • White icing (we used Cake Mate brand bakery frosting)

Directions

Slice each Fig Newton down one side instead of laying it flat for a cleaner cut. Set aside. Open a red fruit roll-up.

Fig Newton Bibles

Slice the fruit roll-up into thin strips to make the bookmarks. Cut into smaller pieces with angled ends. Position the bookmarks on the bottom of one of the Fig Newtons using a toothpick.  Use white icing from the tube to outline the book cover.

Fig Newton Bibles

Pipe in the spine of the book and add a cross on the cover. Allow the frosting on the Fig Newton bibles to dry completely. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Fig Newton Bibles

Chicken Curry Puffs

Chicken Curry Puffs

January 12: National Curried Chicken Day

During our graduate school days, Islander’s “Singapore Sister” AAW introduced her to her country’s quintessential street food—curry puffs. These snacks satisfied her study-buddy when working together on projects late into the night at AAW’s apartment. Islander liked that her classmate had a small but private cooking area, unlike the inconvenience of the shared community kitchen in our dorm.

Curry puffs are delicious dumplings reminiscent of European pasties, Latin empanadas and Indian samosas. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and China have various versions as well, with different fillings inside a doughy shell.

AAW makes her curry puffs with potatoes, chicken, onions and spices and deep-fries the half circle-shaped parcels. We have adapted her recipe by using store-bought puff pastry, shaping them into triangles and baking them in the oven (although they can be fried, too).

Fried or baked, try cooking a Singaporean snack, chicken curry puffs, on National Curried Chicken Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from AAW)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked chicken breast meat, finely diced
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon korma curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed (we used Pepperidge Farm brand)

Directions

Wash the potato and place in a pot of water. Cover and boil for 20-25 minutes; the potato does not have to be cooked all the way through as it will be sautéed and then baked/fried later in the process. Remove the potato from the pot, cool, peel and dice into small squares. Set aside.

Chicken Curry Puffs

Finely chop the onion and chicken. Set aside. In a skillet or wok, heat the oil. Sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the curry, chili and turmeric powders and stir well, being careful not to burn the onions.

Chicken Curry Puffs

Mix in the chicken, sugar and salt and pepper and sauté for about five minutes. Stir in the potatoes and blend well. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Chicken Curry Puffs

Remove the thawed puff pastry from the package and unfold them on a lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into nine squares for a total of 18 pieces. Place a tablespoonful of filling in the middle of one square. Moisten two adjacent edges of the puff pastry with water. Fold into a triangle and press down on the edges. Use the tines of a fork to mark and seal. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue making the rest of the curry puffs.

Chicken Curry Puffs

The curry puffs may be frozen and cooked at a later time. To bake them, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then bake the curry puffs for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve hot. To deep-fry them, heat the oil until hot. Carefully place the frozen parcels into the oil and fry for about five minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

Chicken Curry Puffs

Notes

  • We are still in touch with our “Singapore Sister”. Like us, AAW is in an intermarriage; her husband, Lars, is from Germany. We look forward to seeing them at Islander’s conferences and hope that she and AAW will continue working on special research projects about intermarriage.
  • Korma curry powder may be found in Indian or Asian grocers or in the international foods section of the local supermarket. If this is unavailable, omit it and double up on the regular curry powder.
  • Optional: If baking the curry puffs, brush the tops of the pastry with an egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 teaspoon water) before baking. This will give a nice, golden brown sheen to the dumplings.
  • We made our curry puffs into triangles to avoid wasting scraps of dough. But they can be made into the traditional half-circle shapes by using a 3-inch round cookie cutter on the puff pastry dough.
  • Check out our other international curried chicken recipes from Sri Lanka and Hawaii by searching our blog.

Portuguese Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)

Portuguese Bean Soup

January 6: National Bean Day

Although Pacific Islanders and Asians dominate Hawaii’s immigrant population, there is a sizable settlement of Europeans (Brits, Scots, Russians, Germans, Spaniards and Portuguese) on the islands.

Portuguese cuisine is especially popular in Hawaii as the people shared their cultural cooking customs at the historic plantations. We especially love their donuts (malassadas), sweet bread (pão doce), sausage (linguiça) and bean soup served in several restaurants and food trucks.

This blog post presents a slow cooker recipe for Portuguese bean soup, a hearty stew of linguiça, ham hocks, vegetables and kidney beans. Portuguese bean soup is perfect for cold winter days, during January’s National Soup Month and National Slow Cooker Month and on National Bean Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Star-Advertiser)

For the soup stock

  • 2-3 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions

Line a 6-quart slow cooker with the appropriate cooking bag. Place the ham hocks in the crock pot and pour water over them. Sprinkle rosemary and crushed garlic.

Portuguese Bean Soup

Chop the cilantro and add to the crock  pot. Cover with the lid and cook on low for at least four hours until the ham hocks are tender. Remove the ham hocks from the crock pot and slice off the meat, discarding the bones and fatty skin. Return to the crock pot and add the remaining stew ingredients.

Portuguese Bean Soup

 For the stew

  • 12 ounces Portuguese sausage, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced and quartered
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 3 cups cabbage, shredded

Directions

In the crock pot, add the sliced Portuguese sausage, tomatoes, onions and potatoes.

Portuguese Bean Soup

Mix in the carrots, kidney beans and tomato sauce. Stir until blended. Cover and cook on low for 6-10 hours or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the cabbage, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft. Ladle the stew into soup bowls and garnish with a sprigs of fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve hot with Portuguese sweet bread or over steamed white rice.

Portuguese Bean Soup

Notes

  • Obrigado (thanks) to Lisa L. for the San Miguel rooster prop in the final food photo above that she got for us in Portugal. She also used to be stationed in Hawaii years ago and is back this year for a few months working for the U.S. Navy. Lucky for her, she gets to eat Portuguese bean soup and other authentic local-style foods in Islander’s home state!
  • Other versions of the Portuguese bean soup recipe include macaroni to add texture and thickness to the broth.

Cock-a-Leekie

(Scottish Chicken and Leeks Soup)

Cock-a-leekie

January: National Soup Month

The ultimate comfort food for cold weather (and for colds and flu) is chicken soup. We have blogged before about tinolang manok, a Filipino-style chicken soup. But this recipe post is for cock-a-leekie, a Scottish-style chicken soup, for Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) and the upcoming Burns Supper celebrations in the latter part of January.

Highlander’s Scottish relatives shared several versions of their recipes with us but we have adapted one for our own tastes and kept the traditional ingredients—cock (chicken), leekie (leeks) and prunes. Other recipes add bacon rashers, rice or barley as thickeners, carrots, celery and onions. The hot broth is heart-warming, the chicken provides protein to the body, leeks lend a natural flavor and the prunes are for fiber.

During National Soup Month, cook a comfort food, cock-a-leekie, (Scottish chicken and leeks soup). Slàinte mhor (great health)!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (2 leg quarters or 4 thighs)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 8+ cups of chicken stock
  • bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf and parsley mix)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ – 1 cup prunes, cut in half

Directions

Wash the leeks thoroughly to remove the dirt embedded below the green tops. Trim the bottom of the leeks and slice the white parts. In a large pot, brown the chicken in melted butter. Stir in the chopped bacon and cook till crisp.

Cock-a-leekie

Add the sliced leeks. Pour in the chicken stock and bouquet garni. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer. Let it stew for one hour, stirring occasionally and adding a cup or two of water to the broth, if more liquid is needed.

Cock-a-leekie

Remove the chicken from the pot, then take the meat off the bones and chop coarsely. Return the chopped chicken meat to the soup pot and season with salt and pepper. Add the prunes and simmer for 15 more minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls or cups. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Cock-a-leekie

Notes 

  • Happy Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) to all our blog readers! Have a happy and healthy new year!
  • We made a bouquet garni by putting a half teaspoon of dried thyme, one bay leaf and a teaspoon of dried parsley in a tea bag. Soak it in the soup while it is simmering over the stovetop. Discard after cooking.
  • Check out other chicken soup recipes by searching our blog.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

January 24: National Peanut Butter Day

Islander and her brother often travel together to attend work-related conferences because they are in the same field. On one of their trips, the weary travelers walked to a restaurant near their hotel and quickly devoured their dinner. But they also wanted to eat something sweet afterwards. They split a chocolate peanut butter pie—oh my! It was a deliciously decadent and terrific treat after a long day of traveling.

Upon her return home, Islander searched online for a simple recipe for chocolate peanut butter pie. She found a basic recipe that allowed her to add creative combinations of toppings of her choice (see the Notes below for other decorating ideas), although it is perfect as a plain pie, too.

On National Peanut Butter Day, give chocolate peanut butter pie a try!

Recipe

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (8 ounces) bar cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 container (8 ounces) non-dairy whipped topping (Cool Whip)
  • chocolate pie crust (we used Keebler brand Ready-Crust)

Directions

Cream together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until well blended. Stir in the non-dairy whipped topping until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Pour into the chocolate pie crust. Use a spatula to smooth out the top. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm. Decorate as desired.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Notes

  • Make this chocolate peanut butter pie pretty by sprinkling chocolate curls/chips and peanut butter baking morsels, drizzling melted chocolate or peanut butter or adding crushed peanuts or chopped chocolate peanut butter candies (such as Reese’s brand) on top.
  • Search our blog for more recipes containing peanut butter.

French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie

January 23: National Pie Day

Scared of salmonella but still want a slice of French silk pie? The classic confection contains raw eggs but we wanted to try a recipe that uses cooked eggs—just to be safe, especially when serving guests whose digestive systems are sensitive (like Islander’s).

French Silk Pie is like a chocolate pudding cream pie but richer and velvety smooth. We chocoholics now prefer it over the latter but the raw eggs made this a rare indulgence.

Cook’s Country adapted Pillsbury’s award-winning original French silk pie recipe by cooking the eggs over a double boiler and increasing the amount of chocolate (we especially liked that part!) for a fuller flavor and deep, dark color. Now we can enjoy this delicious dessert without worrying too much about salmonella poisoning.

For peace of mind, have a piece of French Silk Pie (with cooked eggs in the filling) for National Pie Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cook’s Country)

Ingredients

  • 1 baked pie crust (we used Pillsbury brand deep dish frozen crust)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided use
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened and cut into chunks
  • 8 (1 ounce each) squares unsweetened chocolate (we used Bakers brand), melted
  • chocolate shavings or curls (optional)

Directions

Brown the pie crust in the oven and let cool. In a large bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate the cream while preparing the other ingredients. In a glass mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and water.

French Silk Pie

Place over a pot of simmering hot water to act as a double boiler. Avoid scrambling the eggs by immediately beating the egg mixture on high speed until smooth, pale and frothy (about 7-10 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 160 degrees F). Remove the bowl from the double boiler and continue beating on high speed for another 10 minutes or until cool. Beat in the vanilla and softened chunks of butter. Mix in the melted chocolate until smooth.

French Silk Pie

Gently fold in half of the whipped cream until well blended with the chocolate. Pour into the prepared crust. Smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate at least three hours or overnight to set until firm. With the remaining whipped cream, fill a pastry bag and pipe decorative swirls over the pie. Sprinkle the top with chocolate shavings or curls (optional). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

French Silk Pie

Notes

  • Substitute one cup of the whipped cream for Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping. Cool Whip is smoother and light but firm for piping the decorations on pies.
  • Substitute unsweetened baking squares for semi-sweet for a sweeter French Silk Pie.
  • Substitute the store-bought pastry pie shell for a homemade recipe.
  • Search our blog for other pie recipes.

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