lenox almond biscotti

rock’s post: lenox almond biscotti

I always liked to drink coffee or tea with a cookie; but the biscotti is a way better option !  Like the name says, a biscotti is a twice-baked cake that you can dip in beverage.  Because they are dry and could be stored for long periods of time, they were particularly useful during long journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman legion; just a little history interesting fact.  This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.

(for about 30 biscotti)

1 and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour  /  1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder  /  1/4 tsp of salt /  1/2 cup yellow cornmeal  /  8 tbsp of butter  /  1 cup of sugar  /  2 large eggs  / 1 and 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract (the original recipe was calling for almond extract but I made a substitution)  /  3/4 cup of sliced almond blanched or not

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Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cornmeal together in a bowl.  Then separately, I used the stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the butter and sugar together until very smooth, takes about 3 minutes at medium speed.  Add the eggs to the butter mixture and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the vanilla extract, reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients until integrated.  You should have a very sticky dough.  Add the almonds and mix just to blend.

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Good time to turn the oven to 350F with the rack centre.

Split the dough in two.  On a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper, work the half the dough into a log about 12 inches long by 1.5 inches wide. Don’t try to shape the dome, just a very nice rough, uneven, bumpy rectangular.  Work the second half on the other side of the baking sheet.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft when to push on it.  Transfers the sheet to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

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Re-heat the oven to 350 F if you turn it off.

With a lot of care, transfers the cakes to a cutting board.  Cut the log the into 3/4 inch thick slices.   Re-transfer the slices to the baking sheet, standing side by side.

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Bake them for 15 minutes or golden and firm.  Back on the cooling rack for the last time!  Let them cool down to room temperature if you can wait that long !  They will stay good  for a week.  You can store them on the counter but they won’t last long…

imagelenox almond biscotti

 

Sautéed 'shroom burger with garlic Parmesan butter

sautéed ‘shroom burger with garlic parmesan butter

It’s barbecue season which means: burgers!  I’ve recently been making a burger with sautéed mushrooms, swiss cheese and a (total game changer) garlic and parmesan butter.  It’s been many years since I’ve been to a Red Robin restaurant but all of a sudden the other day I thought of their sautéed ‘shroom burger and I just had to try and replicate it.  It was my mom’s favourite burger and she had great taste in food so you know it’s gotta be good.

For 4 burgers.

for the butter:  1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature  /  2 cloves garlic, finely minced or smushed through a garlic press  /  1/8 cup finely shredded parmesan or parmigiano reggiano cheese  /  a few sprigs of fresh parsley, leaves finely chopped

for the burgers:  1 lb regular ground beef (I used to always make burgers with lean beef and now I see the error in my ways. Fattier beef all the way.)  /  a few big handfuls of cremini mushrooms  /      2 cloves garlic , finely minced  /  4 slices swiss cheese  /  4 of your favourite burger buns  /  1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil  /  salt and pepper

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First, make the flavoured butter by simply combining all the ingredients together.  Easy.  This makes more butter than you need for the burgers but you can keep it in the fridge and make garlic toasts or just slather it on crackers for a late night snack… which is what I’ve been doing…

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Fire up your barbecue and hand shape your patties using 1/4 lb beef per patty.  I don’t like to add any fillers in my burgers; I just season with a bit of salt and pepper.  While your barbecue heats up, slice up your mushrooms and sauté in a pan over medium to medium-high heat with the minced garlic, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

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Barbecue your burger patties and just before they’re cooked through, top each patty with a slice of swiss to let it melt.  Toss your buns on too to toast them. Spread some (or a lot) of the butter onto each top bun and then simply stack your burgers.  Happy eating!

Sautéed 'shroom burger with garlic Parmesan butter

meissner quarktorte

meissner quarktorte

This is a German cheesecake made with quark, a type of fresh cheese that is common in numerous European countries.  It’s lighter than North American cheesecake and has a very different texture; maybe kinda like a cross between a cheesecake and a spongecake.  If you’ve never had it before it’s definitely worth trying.  We had eaten this type of cake when we were in Germany last year except we had no idea what we were eating at the time.  But now we know!  This recipe was graciously passed on to me by my German friend here and is an old family recipe of hers.

You can find quark packaged in plastic tubs and it’s available at Save-on-Foods in Regina.  The recipe also calls for packaged vanilla sugar, which along with quark, is something I didn’t even know existed.  Apparently it’s really popular in Germany and you can find it here too (I think I saw it in Safeway) but I just made some myself since I already had sugar and vanilla beans.  I filled a 250 ml mason jar with granulated sugar and scraped the seeds of 2 vanilla beans into the sugar. I rubbed the seeds into the sugar with my fingers and buried the pods in. Then I popped the lid on, gave it a shake and let it sit for a week or so.  You can do that or I guess it may be easier to just buy the packaged stuff!  OK, onto the actual recipe.

125 g unsalted butter, room temperature  /  6 large eggs, yolks separated from the whites  /  200 g granulated sugar  /  1 pkg or 9 g vanilla sugar  /  1 lemon (which I forgot to include in the photo, oops!)  /  1 kg quark  /  100 g semolina  /  14 g baking powder  /  1 tbsp all-purpose flour

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Preheat the oven to 356F.  Using  a stand mixer, cream the butter.  Next, mix in the sugar until well combined and then mix in the egg y0lks, again until well combined.  Then add in the juice and the zest of your lemon.  Now mix in the quark, semolina, flour and baking powder until you get a smooth batter.

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Next, you have to whisk your egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Obviously I wanted to use my stand mixer ‘cus my arms are pretty damn weak so I transferred my batter into another bowl, washed out the mixer bowl and then used that for the egg whites.  Switch to a whisk attachment and whisk the whites until you get stiff peaks, being careful not to over-whisk and deflate them.  Next, gradually and gently fold the egg whites into the batter until all mixed in.

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Gently spread the batter into a well-greased springform cake pan (I think mine is 9 inches) and bake for 1 hour.

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After an hour the centre of my cake was still a bit jiggly in the centre so I thought it wasn’t done and popped it back in for a few minutes but it quickly browned up within those few minutes.  In hindsight, the centre would’ve kept cooking a bit even after taking out of the oven so don’t be concerned if your centre doesn’t seem fully set yet; it’s still ready.  Let it cool in the pan which will take at least a few hours.  Don’t be surprised as the centre will deflate as it cools.  After it’s cooled, wrap with clingfilm and set in the fridge.  Since cheesecakes usually need to be chilled, I left it in the fridge for I think about 5 hours before slicing into it.

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I had to give away cake to keep Rock from eating it all and my toddler would not stop stuffing cake into his mouth with his hands.  So, success!

meissner quarktorte

(better than) milestones bellini

(better than) milestones bellini

I love the frozen (not at all authentic) bellini at Milestones and my sister told me that her and her friend once made bellinis in an ice cream maker which gets you that nice slushy consistency.  Well, Rock got me an ice cream maker for mother’s day so of course I had to give it a try and today’s a bright sunny Sunday so what better day for it.  I know that a true bellini is prosecco poured over pureed peaches and I looked up the drink’s description on the restaurant’s menu. I also googled copycat recipes which all seem to say that there’s 7-Up in it and peach drink powder.  I guess the 7-up is what makes it taste like freaking candy and the peach powder is what makes it a bright orange colour but I wanted to use fresh peaches instead.  We ended up with bomb ass bellinis that we drank sitting out in the sun.

This makes 2.  I wish we made more.

5 oz prosecco  or another sparkling white wine of your choice  /  1 oz white rum (which I forgot for the photo)  /  2 ripe white peaches  /  300 ml 7-Up  /  1-2 oz sangria (we just poured, I don’t really know how much)

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Peel the skin off the peaches and cut the flesh off the pit.  Using a handheld immersion blender (or if you don’t have one, a regular blender), puree the peaches in the blender jar until smooth.  Slowly pour the 7-Up into the jar and then the prosecco and rum.  Just using a spoon stir everything together.

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Pour into your ice cream maker and let it do its thing until you get a slushy consistency.  This is the ice cream maker Rock got for me and I used the sorbet mode for about 15 minutes.

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Spoon into your glasses and then top with sangria.  Enjoy!

(better than) milestones bellini

crispy baked zucchini fries

crispy baked zucchini fries

These unbelievably crispy, fat zucchini wedges are from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook and they are so good!  They remind me of zoo sticks from White Spot (every native British Columbians’ fave restaurant chain) except they’re baked instead of deep-fried.  Which makes these…healthy?  Healthier?  Whatever, I think these may be even better than zoo sticks.

Makes enough for 4 as a side.

1 lb of zucchini (that was 2.5 medium zucchinis for me)  /  1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour  /  1/2 tsp cayenne pepper  /  2 tsp salt  /  1/2 tsp black pepper  /  2 eggs (original recipe calls for 3 but I had a lot leftover)  /  1 cup panko bread crumbs  /  1 and 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese  /  3 tbsp olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 425F and trim the ends off the zucchinis.  Halve the zucchinis crosswise and then quarter them lengthwise to make fat chunky wedges.  You’ll need 3 large plates or shallow bowls for breading the fries.  The first plate, mix together the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper.  The second plate, the eggs whisked together.  The last plate, the the panko breadcrumbs, the grated cheese and olive oil all mixed well together.

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Now is the most laborious (but totally worth it!) part, breading the fries one at a time. Take each zucchini wedge and first coat in the flour mixture.   Next, dip in the egg and then press into the panko mixture, making sure it’s well-coated.  Evenly spread the fries out on a baking sheet.

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Bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. You can season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste but I didn’t bother.  The recipe suggests serving these with sriracha caesar dressing (which I’ve made multiple times and is really yummy) but I was kinda lazy so just tossed together a sriracha mayo and called it a day.  The fries turned out crazy crispy and we couldn’t stop eating them.  Will definitely be making these again!

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herb & garlic crusted rack of lamb

herb & garlic crusted rack of lamb

I’ve only had lamb once or twice before and had never cooked it but Rock out of the blue this weekend couldn’t pass up picking up a rack of lamb at Costco.  He’d never cooked lamb before either so I had to figure out what the fuck to do with it.  The one time I can remember eating lamb I’m pretty sure there was mustard involved and a coating of breadcrumbs, but we’re talking over a decade ago so who really knows.  So I had my lamb, wanted to use mustard and breadcrumbs, and wanted to use some of the fresh herbs we’ve been growing in our garden.  I think these are pretty classic flavours to go with lamb.  In the end I threw together bits and pieces from a whole bunch of recipes; whatever recipes came up when I googled ‘rack of lamb.’  Happily, my rack of lamb actually turned out really good.  The lamb did take quite a while longer to cook than what the multiple recipes I read said so definitely use a meat thermometer to check doneness.  Oh and somewhat related, in the past I have been known to stuff mushroom caps using basically this same breadcrumb mixture mixed with some grated parmesan.

1 frenched rack of lamb  /  1 tbsp olive oil  /  1 tbsp butter  /  salt and pepper to taste  /  2 tbsp Dijon mustard /  2-3 cloves garlic, minced  /  1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs. /. ~ 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley  /  ~ 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves  /  ~ 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

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Preheat the oven to 400F.  On a plate, mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, thyme and rosemary.  Generously season both sides of your lamb with salt and pepper.  Heat up the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sear all sides of the rack of lamb until nicely browned.  Next, brush the mustard all over the seared meat and then press on the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating.

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Rock took that ‘action shot’ above.

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Place in a roasting dish and slap it in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  This is longer than what most other recipes call for but thats how long it took for me.  Just in case, start checking with a meat thermometer around 15 minutes.  For medium rare, you need the lamb to have an internal temperature of 145F.  You definitely don’t want to overcook it ‘cus Rock says overcooked lamb ends up being really tough and that would be pretty damn disappointing.

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Tent a piece of aluminum foil over the meat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, cut into single or double chops.

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Not bad for my first time cooking lamb!  We had the lamb with just a simple mixed greens salad and some smashed potatoes.

cheesy black bean dip

cheesy black bean dip

I don’t know what’s going on.  I don’t even like beans but I found myself craving this dip that we had at my friend’s house about a month back.  It’s probably ‘cus I love anything with cheese in it and, really, who doesn’t love a good dip?  My friend graciously shared her mom’s recipe for this dip with us.  I may or may not have used a lot (almost double) more than the amount of cheese the recipe calls for.  (I did.)

1 tin of black beans, drained and rinsed  /  1 tsp canola (I used avocado) oil  /  1 small onion, finely chopped  /  2 cloves garlic, minced  /  1 large tomato, chopped  /  1/2 cup salsa  /  1/2 tsp cumin  /  1/2 tsp hot chilli powder  /  1 tbsp lime juice  /  1 cup old cheddar or monterey jack cheese (I used both)  /  1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I just garnished with a few sprigs ‘cus my cilantro plant hasn’t grown enough for 1/2 a cup yet! )

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Mash the beans with a potato masher or a fork until they’re kinda chunky.  Heat up the oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté the chopped onion and the garlic for a few minutes or until the onions have softened up.  Next, add in the beans, tomato, salsa, cumin and hot chilli powder and cook for about 5 minutes, giving it a stir every so often.

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Take off the heat, and If you want your dip kinda chunky, now stir in the lime juice, cheese and cilantro.  Since I’m easing myself into eating beans (I don’t like the texture of beans, but I’m suddenly wanting to eat them…what is happening!?), I decided I wanted a pretty smooth dip so before adding in the cheese, etc., I pureed the dip with a hand blender.  Then I added in the lime and cheeses and garnished with cilantro.  Up to you if you want the dip chunky or smooth, it’ll taste great either way!  You can serve this warm or at room temperature with some tortilla chips.

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dark and sumptuous chocolate cake

nigella’s dark and sumptuous chocolate cake

This is the second cake I made for Rock’s birthday and the one he specifically requested.  Rock’s had it on his brain ever since we saw Nigella Lawson make it on an episode of her television show, Simply Nigella.  It probably has something do with how she describes it as a ‘cake and frosting of such depth and fudginess’ that it ‘confounds’ and ‘delights’ her.  This cake is actually a vegan cake, though you honestly would never know it, and it really was sooooo good.  It really is dark and fudgy and sumptuous. I don’t think I’ve ever described anything as sumptuous before but this cake totally is that.  I think this may be Rock’s favourite chocolate cake now.  Just a note, the cake is supposed to have pistachios and rose petals scattered over top, which indeed looks amazing, but I skipped this step.

frosting:  1/4 cup cold water  /  5 tbsp coconut butter (or regular unsalted dairy butter which is what I used so my cake wasn’t actually vegan but that’s OK since we’re not vegan!)  /  1/4 cup brown sugar  /  1 and 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder  /  1 and 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder  /  6 oz bittersweet chocolate (I couldn’t find any so I subbed with semi-sweet chocolate), chopped up

cake:  1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  /  1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda  /  1/2 tsp fine sea salt  /  1 and 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder  /  3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  /  1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar  /  1 and 1/2 cups boiling hot water  /  6 tbsp coconut oil  /  1 and 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar  /  1 tbsp edible rose petals (optional)  /  1 tbsp chopped pistachios (optional)

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Preheat your oven to 350F and line the bottom of a round springform cake pan with parchment paper.  The recipe calls for a 8 inch pan but I only have 9 inch ones and it worked just fine.  First is the frosting so that it has time to cool down before you frost your cake.  Put all of the ingredients for the frosting except for the chocolate into a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn off the heat and add the chopped up chocolate, letting the chocolate melt down.  Give it a bit of a whisk and then set the frosting aside to cool.  You can give it a little stir every now and again while you work on the cake.

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Now onto the cake!  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, instant espresso and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, water, vinegar and coconut oil until the coconut oil has completely melted.  Stir the wet mixture into the dry until everything is combined and then pour into your cake pan.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or when the cake is pulling away from the edges of the pan and an uncooked spaghetti noodle comes out of the centre pretty much dry.  Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire cooling rack and once it’s done cooling, you can frost it.

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Take the cake out of the pan and pour the frosting over the cake, using a spatula to spread it evenly to the sides.  If you want, sprinkle with the pistachios and rose petals or just leave it be.  Let the frosted cake stand for at least 30 minutes so that the frosting can set before serving.

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The cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  Ours was unsurprisingly all polished off in 1 day.

coconut lime tea cake

coconut lime tea cake

I threw a birthday barbecue for Rock this past weekend and made two cakes for the party.  What a lucky guy!  The first one was this tea cake made out of coconut milk, shredded coconut, lime and a hint of Malibu rum.  I guess it’s called a tea cake cus it would pair perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee, which is how Rock’s been polishing off what’s leftover.  The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, which I had read somewhere is one of the best baking cook books of all time.  I got the book for Rock last Christmas but we hadn’t baked anything from it yet and so I felt it was about time.  This cake turned out really great so I’m stoked to bake some more from this book!

2 cups all-purpose flour  /  1 tsp baking powder  /  a pinch of salt. /  1 cup coconut milk  /  4 tbsp unsalted butter  /  4 large eggs, room temperature  /  2 cups sugar  /  2 limes  /  1 tsp vanilla extract  /  2 tsp coconut rum  /  3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

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Preheat your oven to 350F and spray with a non-stick spray (we’ve been using Pam coconut oil recently) or butter a Bundt pan.  In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Then in a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk, the butter and the juice of one of the limes together until the butter is all melted.  Take off the heat but keep the coconut milk mixture warm.

Next, using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or sheer manpower, beat the eggs, sugar and the zest of the two limes together at medium-high speed for 3 minutes.  It will look quite thick and about twice the volume.  Add in the vanilla and the rum and then turn the mixer speed down to low.  Slowly add the dry ingredients until everything is just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and again, just to make sure everything is mixed well.  Then add in the shredded coconut until it is just blended and then stream in the coconut milk mixture.  When the batter is pretty smooth, it’s ready to be poured into the pan.

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Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a cake tester or uncooked spaghetti noodle comes out of the centre clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before popping it out of the pan to continue cooling not the rack.

coconut lime tea cake

I just took another nibble from the tiny bit of cake that’s still left.  So good.  This cake should keep, wrapped in plastic, for 4 days but I find it unlikely you’ll still have any left by then.  I haven’t tried it but apparently when it’s gone a bit stale, it’s very good toasted.  Enjoy!

chicken paprikash

chicken paprikash

Although I’ve been to Hungary twice, for some inexplicable reason I never had chicken paprikash (paprikás csirke) until I made it myself.  I really don’t know why since I love paprika, chicken and sour cream so it’s kind of an obvious sell for me.  Anyway, I was inspired to try make it for the first time this past winter after seeing Lynn Crawford make it on her Food Network show.  I’ve made this a number of times now and we love it though, since I’ve only had my own chicken paprikash, I cannot say how authentic it is or how it tastes compared to chicken paprikash you’d get in Hungary.  Guess we need to go back to Hungary for a visit in the future to find out!

Anyway, I’ve scoured the internet for recipes (for more hours than I’d like to admit) and it seems like there’s a hundred variations on how to make this.  I guess it’s like spaghetti sauce; everyone thinks theirs is the best.  I adapted this recipe from Lynn Crawford’s and while I’m pretty sure wine and red peppers are traditional ingredients, I like how this turns out so I’m sticking with it.

Just a couple of things.  You must use Hungarian paprika, not the generic shit you can get at the regular supermarket.  I’ve tried it before with regular paprika, which in comparison is pretty flavourless, and it’s just not even worth your time.  We had really great hot paprika and sweet paprika that we brought back from Budapest but I used it all up so I had to hunt some down.  There’s none in Moose Jaw but I did find some at the Italian Star Deli in Regina and it shouldn’t be difficult to find in any specialty grocery shops that sell imported items.  I also like to add some tasty Hungarian paprika paste called Piros Arany (translates to Red Gold) that I picked up in Vancouver.  I’ve been told by some Hungarians here that it’s a super popular condiment back home.  If you can’t get a hold of any though, that’s totally fine.

This makes enough to serve 5 to 6 people so feel free to halve the recipe.  But this is actually great as a leftover meal and we think the paprikash sauce is possibly even better the next day.

~ 4 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks with the skin on and bone in (this was 6 thighs and 8 drumsticks which is what happened to be available at the supermarket)  /  1 tbsp olive oil  /  1 tbsp butter  /  2 red peppers /  2 small onions  /  4 cloves garlic  /  4 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika  /  3-4 tbsp Hungarian hot paprika  (use more or less depending on how much heat you want and can substitute with more sweet paprika if you’d like)  /  2 tbsp Piros Arany paste (optional)  /  4 heaped tbsp all-purpose flour  /   3 – 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock  /  1/2 cup white wine  /  2 cups full-fat sour cream  /  salt and pepper to taste

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First for your prep; dice up the red peppers and the onions and mince the garlic.  Now in a large dutch oven or pot (minimum size 5 quarts), heat up the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  In 2 separate batches, sear the chicken on both sides until the skin is starting to turn golden brown.

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After searing the chicken, take out the chicken and set aside on a plate.  You’ll be left with a sizzling hot combo of butter, olive oil and chicken fat in the dutch oven which is obviously awesome.  Throw in the red peppers, onions, garlic and sauté until the onions are turning translucent.  Next, mix in the hot and sweet paprika and the flour and let that cook for another couple minutes.

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Splash in the white wine and let it simmer off a bit and then stir in your chicken stock.  You only need as much stock as to mostly submerge the chicken pieces so you can add maybe 3 cups or so first and then see how that works out before adding more.  Season with some salt and pepper to your taste.  Then add the chicken back in and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Pop the lid on and let it simmer away for about 35 to 40 minutes.  The chicken should be cooked through by then but of course you should check.

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Take the chicken pieces out of the sauce and then for the final step, you add the sour cream.  Apparently, according to my obsessive chicken paprikash research, sour cream can curdle if you just add it straight to your hot sauce so you have to temper it first.  You can do this by gradually stirring in some of the sauce into the sour cream to bring its temperature up and then adding it to the rest of the sauce.  Stir in the sour cream and just let it cook for a couple minutes.  Add the chicken back to the sauce and you’re all done.

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You can eat this with egg noodles, spaetzle, potatoes, rice… We had it this time with a nice sliced up baguette to sop up all the yummy paprikash sauce.

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