Kulhay Christmas Foods

After Christmas dinner at Grandma’s house this year, I had my Grandma and Aunt Margie explain some of the traditional Christmas foods that come from their side of the family, the Kulhays. Like many of the early 20th century immigrants in the Cleveland area, the Kulhays are from Hungary.

I picked four Christmas staples: Székelygulyás, Sauerkraut Balls, Töltöttkáposzta, and Christmas Jello. After the videos, Grandma and Aunt Margie graciously opened their cookbooks and shared their recipes. Grandma’s cookbook is a treasure:

Székelygulyás

A gulyás is a stew. This one contains sauerkraut and pork. Grandma said that this is traditionally a New Year’s dish, but she makes it at Christmas since that is when we are all home. Grandma eats it by itself, but most of us grandkids prefer eating it over dumplings.

 

Here is the recipe:

 

Sauerkraut Balls

Aunt Margie said that this recipe originally came from McGarvey’s restaurant in Vermilion, OH, where one of her aunts worked. The recipe sounds like a clever chef devised it as a way to use up the weekend’s leftovers. It stuck throughout the years because it is delicious. Here is a McGarvey’s logo from the late 60s:

 

Here is the recipe:

 

Töltöttkáposzta

Töltött means stuffed and káposzta means cabbage. My family makes these in batches of 50 or 100 during the holidays and for big parties like graduations. I have lots of early memories of 4 people at a time standing at the counter rolling meat in cabbage leaves. I even rolled a few myself!

Here are the recipes for 100 and 25:

 

Christmas Jello

Every year, the first dessert we eat after dinner is Grandma’s Christmas Jello. It is an 8-layer jello cake that takes Grandma all day to make. The colorful layers are the normal jello flavors and the white layers are made out of scalded milk and sour cream set with gelatin. You have to let each layer set before pouring on the next layer.

Next year we’ll go over the baked goods!

What to Put on Grilled Peaches

Mexican peaches are starting to pop up in stores around the US and summer is coming, so now is a good time for a simple, delicious, peach-based dessert recipe: Grilled Peaches.

Grilled peaches are an incredibly simple affair:

  1. Cut the peaches in half, dust with a sugar and spice combination, and grill until carmelized.
  2. Top with a dairy

This is best done outside while sipping some cheap beer to beat the heat, but if you are like us and live in an apartment, using a grill pan works, too.

To get your ideas flowing, here are 13 combinations of thing you can put on grilled peaches:

  • Brown sugar, cinnamon, and marscapone cheese
  • Honey, balsamic vinegar, and goat cheese
  • Skip the sugar, grill the peaches with olive oil, and top with fresh basil and mozzarella
  • Demerara, balsamic vinegar, and greek yogurt whipped with vanilla
  • Honey, fresh mint, and brie
  • Vanilla sugar, roasted and chopped walnuts, and coconut cream
  • Molasses, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and thinly sliced white cheddar
  • Honey, ground cardamom, and heavy cream whipped with brandy
  • Grill plain, top with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream
  • Brown sugar, cinnamon, and brown butter
  • Skip the sugar, dust with nutmeg and allspice, and serve with thinned out cream cheese
  • Maple syrup, chopped pecans, and your favorite flavor of ice cream
  • Honey, thyme, lemon juice, and yogurt

Mango Ice Cream with Honey Mango Compote

We were at Stew Leonard’s this week and they had a few bags of ultraripe mangos on the discount rack. Perfect for summer ice cream.

Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 2 ripe mangos
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • If you want to make it extra yellow, drop in some yellow food coloring. (Completely optional)

Ice Cream Instructions

  1. Cut the mangos in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Discard the skin and pit.
  2. Puree the flesh. You want it at least the consistency of apple sauce, preferably smoother.
  3. Combine the mango puree, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream in a bowl. Mix it for 5 minutes with a hand mixer until it starts to thicken.
  4. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to its instructions, or freeze it in a covered cake pan overnight.

 

 

I like some light toppings on my ice cream, I bought A TON of mangos, and I love the combination of mango and honey. So, I made this compote and it was a winner. (By the way, a compote is fruit stewed in sugar or syrup, in case you were wondering.)

Honey Mango Compote Ingredients

  • 3 ripe mangos
  • 4 tablespoons of honey

Compote Instructions

  1. Cut the mangos in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Discard the skin and pit.
  2. Puree the flesh of two of the mangos. You want it at least the consistency of apple sauce, preferably smoother.
  3. Dice up the third mango.
  4. Combine the mango puree, diced mango, and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens into a syrupy texture.
  5. Let cool to room temperature before serving on top of the ice cream. Refrigerate what you don’t use.

 

 

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Cutting Up Watermelon

Summer is watermelon time. Since cutting up watermelons can be a pain if you don’t know what you are doing, here is how to do it:

I just tried this method and went from having a whole watermelon to cleaning the juice off the countertop in under 5 minutes.

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I prefer gorging myself with watermelon for breakfast and dessert, but if you want something different, try adding feta, mint, lemon zest, and olive oil for a fantastic salad.

Melon Granita

Granitas are a perfect way to use up ripe, in-season fruit and make a refreshing dessert.

I bought a golden honeydew at the grocery store, but didn’t get around to cutting it up and eating it until it was so ripe that it wouldn’t last long after being cut up. I settled on making a granita, an Italian ice-based flavored dessert that has varying consistencies across Italy.

golden honeydew melon

I searched through David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop (one of the best frozen dessert recipe books out there) and came across this recipe for a melon granita. Perfect.

In general, granitas are made with fruit pureed with sugar and water. You can make one with nearly any fruit. Some people even make them from strong coffee and sugar. Use this recipe as a base and generalize.

Melon Granita

  • 1 melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, or golden honeydew will work)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of salt

Cut the melon in half, remove the seeds, cut into slices, and remove the outer peel and rind. Put the melon and the rest of the ingredients in the blender until completely smooth.

Pour this mixture into a large, flat baking dish, or any large dish to maximize the surface area of the liquid, and put it in the freezer. (Make sure you have a flat space to set it!) After an hour, break up the large chunks of ice with a fork and mix it in, then put it back in the freezer. Start checking and breaking up the ice again every 30 minutes until you reach a consistency you like. If it freezes too hard, leave it out on the counter for a bit and mix it back up again.

Serve it in a glass or small bowl with whipped cream, or simply eat plain, as pictured above.

 

granita ingredients in the blender

Pouring the granita liquid into a baking dishPrecariously in the freezer
breaking up the granita with a forkbreaking up the granita with a fork

Golden Honeydew Granita

 

This was delicious and lasted us for a while. I’m going to experiment with more granitas in the future. Here are some ideas:

  • Adding alcohol
  • Watermelon and mint
  • Campari and orange
  • Champagne and some fruit (blackberries, raspberries, or, as David Lebovitz recommends, black currants?)