When I was living in big cities, the first cold days in September always brought me into melancholy. Autumn seemed like nothing more but the end of the apparently best part of the year and the sign for that it is time to get prepared for winter. Slightly unnoticed my attitude to this season definitely changed after we moved to the countryside one year ago, and started our life in our little house close to the nature. I realized that I like autumn, or more than that: I love it! I like the autumn lights, which projects the shadows of our cherry tree on our house in the morning.
In the early hours the hill opposite our house is covered by fog and dotted by the yellow and brown spots of the autumn leaves. Cicadas, that served us relaxing music in summer nights, don’t play any more, and yesterday we started to think about that slowly it is time to heat up our tile stove the first time this season. At the evenings it feels so good having a cup of tea, wrapping myself in a warm blanket and reading a good book. Nature and maybe the whole world around us is slowing down, life has changed but it feels good to live this part of the year as well, not only the never-sleeping, vibrant and exciting summer.
Autumn inspires me to cook in a different way. I am happy about a long cooking process or to switch on the oven, because of the warmth it brings to the house these days without heating yet. Originally I wanted to bake a cake for this blogpost, but when I saw the ripe peppers in our kitchen garden, I quickly changed my mind and decided to cook stuffed peppers with tomato sauce. You can cook the meat balls stuffed into peppers or without, as you want, but peppers give a wonderful flavor to it. It is a perfect dish for cool autumn days: it still reminds you about summer at the same time it warms up your body and soul. I cook it in the way my mother does it, with lots of vegetables- so the sauce will be made not only by using our own peppers but tomatoes and onions from our kitchen garden as well.
Sun hides itself behind grey clouds sometimes, I feel cold even in a thick sweatshirt because of chilly wind, days are shorter and slowly but surely we are getting closer to the colder part of the year. However, now sitting at the table at a bowl of stuffed peppers with tomato sauce, smelling and tasting the essence of our garden, this fact doesn’t seem to be a big drama. Quite the opposite, actually.
Hungarian stuffed peppers/ meat balls with tomato sauce
500 g minced meat (preferably turkey or pork)
3-4 small peppers
1 garlic clove
150 g rice
300 ml tomato passata (liquid tomato puree)
1 celery leaf
1/4 tsp of paprika
salt and ground pepper
a pinch of marjory
4 tbsp oil (sunflower or olive oil)+ some more for the onion
4 tsp flour and some more to roll the meat balls
1 tbsp sugar
Soak the rice in cold water. In a larger pan bring 2 liters of water to boil. Add salt, half of the onion, celery leaf and tomatoes halved. Chop the other half of the onion, heat some oil in a pan and sauté onion until light brown, finally add garlic, cook for further minute then let it cool down. Mix minced meat with paprika, salt, pepper, marjory, add strained rice, the egg and the sautéd onion. Knead it well. Core the peppers and fill them with the mixture. Push your finger into it to leave space for the rice to grow. Make meat balls from the rest of the meat and roll them into flour. When water is boling, drop meat balls and peppers into the water and cook them for an hour and 15 minutes or one and a half hour. To check the meat take a ball out, cut into half to see whether rice is fully cooked. Remove the balls and peppers from the water and keep them hot. Strain the water and press through the cooked tomatoes as well. In a pan heat the 4 tablespoons of oil and add flour and sugar. Quickly, stirring continuously add water and passata. Bring it to boil and cook it until it thickens a bit, finally add meat balls and stuffed peppers. Serve it with white bread.