Now that the days are turning colder here in the Northeast, I enjoy cooking meals that will warm my soul.
That said, on a recent evening I took my husband on a simple culinary journey. The menu took shape with what was in the house.
As the sun was setting, we enjoyed a glass of full-bodied wine with a crispbread appetizer. Crispbread is one of the most essential types of bread in Scandinavia. It is the Nordic version of crostini. I happened to have a package of crispbread authentically made in Sweden. It’s versatile for use in appetizers or to accompany an entrée. They are also delicious with just a simple smear of butter!
Afterwards, we enjoyed Hungarian chicken paprikash. Once this hearty, tender, chicken dish was paired with egg noodles, it became a complete meal.
The night ended sweetly with a Swedish apple pie and cup of coffee. Perfection!
Crispbread, sometimes referred to as Swedish crispbread, is essentially a type of bread or cracker that is dry and flat. Traditionally they are made with rye flour but can be made of all types of grains, nuts, spices and other ingredients. They deliver crunch and flavor and are the perfect base for a wealth of sweet or savory toppings. For my appetizer, I used a sourdough crispbread made in Sweden.
Package of crispbread
Cheese of your choice, either hard or soft (sliced or smeared)
Savory toppings can include roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, salmon, avocado or your favorite. Sweet toppings can include apple butter, sliced banana, chocolate mousse, strawberries or your favorite.
Couldn’t be any easier: For our appetizer, I had Champagne Cheddar cheese available. Once sliced, it was topped with roasted peppers and toasted pine nuts. A drizzle of EVOO finished it off.
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish made from succulent pieces of chicken that are simmered in a creamy flavorful sauce, using the best Hungarian Paprika. I went out of the box a little by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika (Spanish style), which added a deep flavor and aroma to this dish.
1 (12-ounce) package of extra-wide (broad) egg noodles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped.
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated.
2 ½ pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of flour, plus 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoons quality, genuine imported sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (Spanish style), optional.
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup sour cream
Parsley, chopped for garnish.
Cut the thighs into bite-size chunks. Set aside.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl toss the diced chicken pieces with about two tablespoons of flour. Add the coated chicken to the pan, and brown on all sides. Once the chicken is browned, add the paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir well.
Slowly add the chicken broth to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape and deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Cover and simmer on low for 25 minutes. While the chicken is simmering, prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package.
Remove the chicken to a plate. Whisk about one tablespoon of flour into the drippings left in the skillet to thicken. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Add the chicken back to the sauce and stir to coat.
Season to taste with additional salt and serve immediately over noodles. Garnish with parsley, if using.
Swedish Apple Pie
Swedish apple pie or äppelsmulpaj, which translates to "apple crumble pie." is an American-style version of a popular Swedish dessert known as smulpaj, or crumble pie. The smulpaj is a fruit pie, usually made from berries, that comes without a pie shell. Alternatively, Swedish apple pie is also a crustless pie, but made exclusively with apples and sugar. Peeled and sliced apples are tossed with sugar and spices and topped with a buttery batter that creates a cake-like crust over the top when baked. It’s a warm and aromatic dessert.
7 Medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (I used an apple corer, so all slices were equal)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¾ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill pie pan with apples. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon together. Sprinkle over apples.
In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour, egg, nuts and salt. Mix well.
Spread over the apples to cover.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the top is golden.