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Even after fifty years in Canada, I am completely satisfied with a bowl of fresh vegetable stew. But this was a problem in 1967. I knew that főzelék or vegetable stew required rántás [roux] or habarás [slurry] to thicken so I wrote home for help. The turn around for mail those days could be three to four weeks, and in the meantime I kept on making "wallpaper paste". My roux sometimes was so thick the spoon stood up in the pot. Lumpy too. Roughly a month passed before I began to receive instructions how to make roux. It would begin with “put some lard in the pot, add some flour...” It never entered their minds to write down the steps for me. I soon realized I could not rely on my family for cooking. The struggle with roux continued and I was making less and less főzelék as the years went by. You might say I was roux challenged. No matter what I did, my roux was always lumpy, either too thick or it simply failed to thicken the vegetable stew. Often times I had the painstaking task of forcing it through a sieve, then it would lump up again in the hot broth. If you share my bewilderment with roux... this one is for you. 

There is more than one way to thicken a vegetable stew. You can use nut meal, coconut milk, heavy cream, mashed potatoes, potato flakes or a small amount of puree made from the vegetables. Some methods are more satisfying than others. But the most common thickening agents for Hungarian vegetable stew remains to be roux or slurry.
Chop the vegetables uniform and put them in a pot. Add hot water barely covering the vegetables. Bring it to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender. Remove the pot from heat and set it aside. Next make the roux. The components of roux is fat and flour, roughly half and half in volume. Always start with the fat. Heat it up on medium low heat before you add the flour. If the fat is butter, melt the butter just, don't heat it up too high, butter on its own burns easily. Add the flour gradually, maybe you will need less maybe more. This will depend on the type of fat and flour you use. Stir the flour into the fat and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Remove it from heat before you add the seasoning. Seasoning burns in roux and you end up with a bitter taste. Now add cold liquid, always cold and never hot. Stir to combine to a smooth paste. The next step is what every roux instruction leaves out. Diluting the roux with cold liquid is the most crucial part of thickening with roux. When you stir in the cold liquid you get a lukewarm slurry, this lukewarm slurry  is what you add to the pot. Stir and slowly bring it back to a simmer. Continue to simmer until your stew has the desired consistency.

To Make Roux:

2 Tbsp oil or lard or butter
2 Tbsp flour

  • Begin by heating 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled in the oil begins to bubble.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour to form a paste. 
  • Continue stirring as the roux gently bubbles for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not cook longer.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the seasoning such as paprika or chopped up herbs if desired. Do not cook the roux with the seasoning or it will turn bitter.
  • Add 1/2 of a cup of cold liquid: water, stock, or the cooled down broth from the stew.
  • Stir smooth. You now have roux.
To Thicken with Roux:

  • Add the roux to the slowly simmering stew and continue to slow simmer until the desired consistency. Do not cook it longer than 2-3 minutes, because continued cooking will eventually break down the flour and the liquid will be thin again.
  • This amount is sufficient to thicken 2 cups of liquid.
    You can make roux ahead of time, freeze it in small blocks and use it as needed. Works rather well, but this method requires planning ahead. Check out the following video.

    To Make A Slurry:

    2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch
    1 cup cold liquid

    • Add the flour or cornstarch to a small bowl and gradually stir in the cold liquid.
    • Stir until a smooth. This is the slurry.
    To Thicken With Slurry:

    • Whisk the cold slurry into the hot, simmering liquid you want to thicken.
    • Bring it back to simmer and continue in a slow simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the starchy taste is cooked away. Don't cook longer or the starch will break down and the liquid will be thin again. This will thicken 2 cups of hot broth.
    Note: When thickening stews with slurry, a small piece of butter or a few tablespoons of full fat sour cream helps with the flavour. Cooking low fat sour cream into the stew tends to break apart into floating white bits. So if you insist on using low fat sour cream, add it at the table. 



    Liv turned 14 yesterday. After an afternoon of exciting zyp lining and free fall over Chase Canyon and homemade cheese pizzas courtesy of grandmama, the four young friends had a cookie bake off. It turns out each of the young ladies is a promising baker. Who won? Methinks EVERYONE! 

    The following recipe plan was Liv’s. I helped her organize the recipe, but the vision and execution was entirely hers.

    Cut a parchment paper to fit a small tray. 
    Draw a designs on the parchment. 
    Turn the parchment over so the clean side is up. 
    Put 1/3 cup chocolate chips into a small measuring cup. 
    Melt it in micro for 30 seconds. 
    Take it out and add 1 tsp shortening. 
    Pour chocolate into Ziploc bag, seal, push chocolate to one side. 
    Opposite side cut off a tiny corner. 
    Squeeze the melted chocolate over your design. 
    Put into fridge to set. 

    Whip the butter and sugar together until VERY fluffy. 
    Don’t squeeze the dough too much. 
    Keep it light and airy. 
    When shaping the cookies don’t press too much or overwork the dough. 

    1/2 cup soft butter 
    1/2 cup granulated sugar 
    1/4 cup brown sugar 
    1 tsp vanilla 
    1 egg 1-1/2 cups flour 
    1/2 tsp soda, but no more 
    1/2 tsp salt 
    1/3 cup toasted coconut 
    2 cups chocolate chips 

    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
    Turn oven to 350F. 
    Lightly toast the coconut. 
    Set aside to cool. In the metal bowl whip together [until very fluffy] the butter and the sugars. 
    Add the vanilla, egg and whip some more. 
    In a separate bowl whisk together flour, soda and the salt. 
    Combine the butter mixture with the flour mixture. 
    Do not overwork or compact the dough or the cookies will be tough. 
    Add the toasted coconut and the chocolate chips and mix it lightly into the dough. 

    Put the cookie dough on parchment paper. 
    Pat it flat with hands a little. 
    Rub little flour on rolling pin and roll out the dough. 
    Cut the rounds, re-roll leftover dough until you have the following: 

    peanut butter Oreo cookie: cut 4 large rounds 
    cookie and ice cream dome: cut 2 small rounds bowl 
    cookie with chocolate cream: cut 2 large rounds 


    peanut butter Oreo cookies: 
    Place an Oreo and a Peanut Butter Cup in the center of two large rounds. 
    Place the other two large rounds on the top. 
    Shape it, but don’t overwork it. 
    Trim with the large cookie cutter. 
    Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. 

    cookie and ice cream domes: 
    Place the small rounds on parchment lined cookie sheet. 

    bowl cookies with chocolate cream: 
    Place the two large rounds in the small bowls. 
    Wrap and put in fridge leftover cookie dough. 

    Place the large and small cookie rounds on parchment lined cookie sheet. 
     Place the 2 bowl cookies right on the oven rack beside the cookie sheet. 
    Set the timer for 17 minutes. 
    Take out small cookies. 
    Set the timer for 4 extra minutes for the rest. 
    Remove the remaining cookies from the oven. 
    Cut the peanut butter Oreo cookies in half immediately. 
    Let the cookies cool down before setting up.


    3 Tbsp cocoa 
    3 Tbsp sugar 
    1/2 cup whipping cream 

    In a small bowl combine cocoa with sugar. 
    Whip up whipping cream until stiff peaks form. 
    Gently fold cocoa mixture into the cream. 
    Place in fridge until serving. 


    Place the two halves of peanut butter Oreo cookie in center. 
    Place one cookie bowl on one side. 
    Place one small cookie on the other side. 
    Pipe the chocolate cream into the bowl and top with 1 raspberry. 
    Place one scoop of ice cream on the small cookie. 
    Take out the chocolate squiggles from the fridge. 
    Top it with the chocolate squiggles.

     zyp lining over Chase Canyon



    This is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I made Stella Park’s “Effortless Angel Food Cake” on the weekend and was promptly told to put it on line sooner than later. Well a year passed away without posting, though I keep on cooking and baking much like before. Not yet ready to face the blogosphere, hint: feeding a cooking blog is work. With my attention firmly rooted elsewhere, I am making an exception with this remarkably fluffy and stable angel food cake. Beware, I would not attempt this without a Kitchen Aid or some type of standing mixer.

    European cuisines call for more yolks than whites. It has been an ongoing challenge for me to use up leftover egg whites.  Fortunately egg whites freeze, thaw and refreeze really well. This recipe calls for 2 cups of egg whites! [That's about 12 to 14 eggs] You can save up for it or buy a cartoon of egg whites.  Egg whites are found in the dairy isle near the egg replacements.

    I will make the next angel food cake in the strawberry shortcake style. I don't care for the heaviness of shortcake and usually just bake a piskóta. But after this wonderfully light cake I will be making an angel food. Doesn’t it sound good? Angel food cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream? All in all I followed the conventional method of baking and cooling an angel food cake. As for the cake batter... I had to submit to a new method. Though I tweaked the recipe, the credit goes to Stella Parks

     This is the batter

    Stable Angel Food Cake

    1 cup + 2 Tbsp sifted cake flour
    2 cups of egg whites [from 12-14 eggs]
    2 cups sugar
    2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt

    • The numbers in brackets correspond to the mixing speed on the KitchenAid.
    • Preheat oven to 350F.
    • Combine egg whites, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer.
    • With the whisk attachment mix on low for 1 minute.
    • Increase speed to medium-low [4] and whip for 3 minutes.
    • Add the lemon juice and the salt.
    • Increase speed to medium [6] and whip 3 minutes.
    • Increase speed to medium-high [8] for 6 minutes.
    • Transfer the meringue to the largest bowl you have.
    • Sprinkle the sifted cake flour on the top.
    • Gently fold the flour into the meringue.
    • Transfer the batter to a large, 10 inch, aluminum tube pan.
    • Do not line or grease the pan.
    • Bake until the cake is golden blond and firm to the touch, for 40 to 45 minutes.
    • Invert pan upside down to cool.
    • Cool it down, completely.
    • Loosen the sides and the center tube with a table knife and slide the knife under the bottom.
    • Transfer cake to a serving plate and decorate it with fresh fruit or cut a slice and serve it with a fruit coulis. This cake slices like a dream.

    Served with sugared berries [with a bit of melted butter mixed in]



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