Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why I Cook at the Crack of Dawn, and Hungarian Style Stews

Until recently I hadn't been cooking nearly as much as I once had, and I explained in an earlier blogpost that I had started to turn snacks into meals. It may have had something to do with traveling so much the last part of last year....packing nuts, dried fruits, veggie sticks/pnb, cheese, crackers, and other things that I could carry on a plane, or onto the field at Certs. But I was still cooking and preping all meals and snacks. The only time I purchase food is when I'm out of town, or when I eat cookies, and/or candy...I don't make those!

My favorite time to cook is first thing in the morning. For me, that means between 5:00am and 6:30am, Mon., Wed. or Fri., as I ususally attend yoga at 7:15am on those days. I'm never hungry that early so I'm never tempted to "taste" too know how "tasting" can turn into a meal sometimes, especially when it's hot, fresh and smells so good! And the last thing I want to do is put a lingering savory taste in my mouth, like garlic, or have any bulk or fiber from veggies in my stomach minutes before practicing yoga!

The biggest challenge is not getting the capsaican oils from any jalapenos on my hands because it reactivates in the heat of Bikram's, or getting the smell of garlic and onions out from under my hands are in front of my nose in "eagle pose"!


"Hungarian Style"

I have this thing about using canned tomatoes during the winter months so I try and make soups and stews without tomatoes instead using basic veggies and different spices. For the past two weeks I've been making a super quick and chunky "Hungarian style" stew. What makes it Hungarian style? Paprika of course! I also included two other veggies I rarely use for stews and those are red bell, and cauliflower.

The first time I made it with pork, and the second time I used chicken...I liked the pork more, but you can use beef also. If you use a pressure cooker it can be done in less than 30-40 minutes total! (chicken cooks faster than pork shoulder). I have to confess that I added garbanzo beans to the first batch...I don't think garbanzos are Hungarian!


I kept these big and chunky

roasted red bell pepper, diced small

2 tbl smoked paprika
2 tbl sweet paprika
2 tsp red pepper flakes



I cut the protein in small chunks and browned them in the pan first with a small amount of olive oil. I then sauteed the onion and celery for a few minutes before adding the paprikas and red pepper flakes directly to the hot pan of veggies to cook for a few seconds. I then added the carrot, red bell and stock, along with the meat and that's it. (If using any kind of bean or grain, add them at this time...pre soaked beans of course)

....whoops, I lie! If you want to add cauliflower florets, then add them at the end if using a PC, to cook in the residual heat, or about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time if using a traditional pot. (same for cabbage)

I used my PC, so it took about 10 minutes to come to high pressure. The pork took about 20 minutes, and the chicken about 12 min at high pressure. If you are using a traditional pot, then the cooking time will be longer, 1 - 1 1/2 hour for pork shoulder, but only 30 minutes for chicken thighs (chicken breast meat takes even less time...but the veggies take longer, so I would never use chicken breast meat in a soup, or stew).

I did not use garlic! For some reason it just did not appeal to me for this recipe. Oh, and you desreve better than some of those old stale spices you've had in your cabinet for years now. Treat yourself to some high quality fresh spices.

Picture at top you can see the time on the clock! This was taken after I added my stock, but before I put the lid on to cook. Second picture is after I added the spices to the onion and celery, before the stock and rest of the ingredients. Last picture is the chunky veggies. Not having to dice the veggies smaller cut my prep time to less than 5 minutes!


guy said...

Sweet! That looks really good Ma'am, I'm gonna have to try that one.

elle pee said...

Another great recipe!! I never thought about cooking first-thing in the morning. It's a great way to have everything ready during the day!

Since I have small children I use my plastic dishwashing gloves for cutting hot peppers - though beause of forementioned kids... I can rearely use them in my cooking. I have one child who says his mouth burns if there is ONE GRAIN of black pepper in the whole meal! Very sensative.

Happy New Year!


hip pressure cooking
making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

Tracy Reifkind said...

elle pee,

I've got a 4 qt PC in the stove right now with a batch of lentils cooking in homemade chicken's 4:27am!

I didn't learn to cook until my youngest was a teenager, but I've got a 15 month old granddaughter that seems to love every veggie you put in front of her...she must be her grandmas granddaughter, lol!

Tracy Reifkind said...


you can even spoon it over spaghetti squash, lol!

Roland said...

I use a slow cooker a lot, so I cook just before bed and at the crack of dawn!

Your stew looks amazing!


Tracy Reifkind said...


I know alot more people use a slow cooker than a PC, and the idea of setting it up at bed time and cooking through the night is a great one!

When I used to make stock the old fashioned way, on the stove top, in a 12qt stockpot for 8 hours, I used to leave it on all night. Sometimes the smell of chicken soup would wake me in the night!

Maribel said...

I have to try cooking in the AM. I'm always scurrying when I get home from work trying to get dinner ready.

by the way, I ordered a PC today!