As I’ve mentioned before, my grandpa and grandma are the ones to blame for my passion for food. Along with food, they have also given me a passion for my family’s history and our Hungarian ancestry. Ever since I was a little boy my grandpa has been making family recipes, passed down by generations, which have become some of my favorite comfort foods. These recipes all stem from Hungary and are far from your ordinary “goulash” recipes (something that we have never made). Instead, they are simple, fresh, elegant and packed with the bright red flavors of Hungarian paprika and love.
Although there is no reason for the pairings I will be sharing with you today, my grandpa is a creature of habit and for some reason, wherever and whenever there is Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian Chicken Stew) in the kitchen, there is also cucumber salad, Kiffles (Hungarian cookies) and perhaps even Kocsonyas (pronounced kuch-nya), which are jellied pig’s feet. Now I must say, the Kocsonyas is not something that I find to be appetizing, although it does surround itself with nostalgia for me. So, although it reminds me of my grandpa on Easter day, it will not be making an appearance on the blog today, or more likely ever. I will however be sharing the other aforementioned dishes, which are simply a few of my favorite things.
My grandpa is a man of tradition and habit and rarely wanders from a written recipe, especially when his mother wrote it. I however, enjoy a challenge and remaking some of his specialties to bring them into the modern world. This cucumber salad for example, is traditionally just that; cucumbers. However, with the dead of winter at our heals, I felt it would be fun to add a bit more spring color and taste to the dish, and so you have my Grandpa’s Cucumber Salad with a Vintage Ladle twist.
You will need:
2 large English cucumbers (the seedless kind)
16 oz fresh cherry tomatoes (though any tomatoes will work), quartered.
1 tablespoonful + 1 teaspoonful chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoonful chopped onion or shallot
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoonful black pepper
Start by cutting off the ends of the cucumbers. Next slice the cucumbers thinly with a sharp chef’s knife or on a mandolin
Place the sliced cucumbers into a medium-sized mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt. Mix to combine and set aside for 1 hour.
In a separate bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon tarragon with the vinegar and onions. Set aside.
After the cucumbers have sat for an hour (you will notice that they have given up all of their water content), fill the bowl half way with cold water. With your hands or a clean kitchen towel, squeeze as much water out of the cucumbers as you can. Place the drained cucumbers into a clean work bowl.
Add the vinegar and onion mixture to the cucumbers along with the water, olive oil, pepper and tomatoes. Mix to combine and transfer to a serving dish.
Finish with the remaining teaspoonful of chopped tarragon. Refrigerate until serving.
Serves 4 to 6 people.
Hope you enjoy!