No, this isn’t pizza bread. Once you flatten the dough, pizza bread is not fluffy. Besides pizza bread cannot absorb olive oil. Ah the focaccia! Drizzle it with extra virgin and dunk the last few bites into the remaining oil on your plate. With cheese and olive flavours mingling, wash it down with a glass of red wine. Livi asked me once if I could never have anything Hungarian again, what cuisine would I pick instead? I didn’t have to think long, I picked Italian. That is the beauty of living in Canada! You get exposure to all types of cuisines and cultures. Food breaks down barriers and brings people together.

The cheese must be Grana Padano, it tastes very much like Parmigiano-Reggiano, in fact they are side by side at the deli section. Padano is cheaper, but the main reason I want it here is Padano is soft and easy to slice. For focaccia, the cheese is best if sliced. You can’t have too much cheese on focaccia. As for the bread, well it is THE bread! As you can see Eva’s Egg Bread lives on in wondrous ways. 

Focaccia Bread

1 batch of Egg Bread dough
1/3 of Grana Padano [cheese] wedge
1/2 cup pitted blue olives, cut half
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion sliced
1 beaten egg for egg wash

  • Following instruction, assemble 1 batch of egg bread dough.
  • Let it rise until doubled.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Meanwhile slice the cheese, cut the olives in half, chop the red pepper and slice the onion.
  • When the dough doubles, punch down.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll up two baguettes.
  • Place both baguettes on the prepared pan.
  • Flatten down, and brush the tops with egg wash.
  • Arrange the cheese and vegetables on top.
  • Set the timer for 20 minutes.
  • Next, turn the oven to 500F and set the timer for 9 minutes.
  • Place the focaccia in the preheated oven.
  • Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 375F and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom gets a healthy brown color.
  • Remove from heat and slide the focaccias on a wire rack to cool somewhat.
  • To serve, cut and drizzle with olive oil. 



From the “Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking” [the big red book] comes this gourmet delight. Called for white grapes, I thought red grapes would compliment the carrots better and rather than the Cointreau brand, I used the homemade orange flavored liquor my darling makes from vodka. This dish is up there with the most decadent side dishes on the festive table. Never made it to a serving dish, ha, the two of us polished it off for lunch yesterday.

4 cups chopped carrots
2 cups large red grapes
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup orange liquor

  • Peel and chop the carrots and cook them in water to al denté.
  • Meanwhile wash and drain the grapes and drain the carrots.
  • Melt the butter on medium heat in a non-stick skillet.
  • Add the crispy tender carrots and grapes.
  • Pour in the orange liquor and slowly sauté, stirring often for 8-10 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.



Anytime I bought a package of pita pockets, never mind the lack of flavor, I could not use them up without some of it drying on me. These pita pockets are soft and they remain soft. They are simple to make and they taste so much better than store bought pita pockets! I froze some and kept some in the fridge.  The ones from the fridge were just as soft and enjoyable a week later. This morning I filled one up with leftover Mushroom Lecsó Spread. Fill up yours with whatever you like. There is no need to heat up the pockets. Hot fillings will heat up the pita pocket and cold fillings are best in a cold pita pocket anyway. Either way, it will be soft and delicious.

As you bake them, the pitas puff up in the oven and come out looking like round balls. Cool them between clean, damp tea towels and they will turn into soft pocket breads. Put them in heavy zyploc bags while still warm. The tricky part is the baking time. I set the oven for 4 minutes and the pitas were perfect. The next batch I baked for 5 minutes and these promptly cracked as they flattened under the damp tea towel. The recipe makes 8 large or 16 small pita pockets. 

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

1-1/4 cup lukewarm water 
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, salt and sugar.
  • Add the all-purpose flour with the yeast, and stir to combine.
  • Add whole wheat flour and knead to make soft dough.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn over.
  • Let the dough rise until doubled.  
  • Punch down onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Cut dough in 8 equal pieces.
  • Form each piece into a ball.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 7-inch circle.
  • Set them aside on a lightly floured surface.
  • Let rise for about 25 minutes, until just slightly puffy.
  • Preheat oven to 500F.
  • Place 2 rounds, side-by-side, on a wire rack.
  • Bake for 4 minutes, until puffy and barely browned. If browned, it will be dry and crack.
  • Remove rack from oven and immediately wrap the pita pockets in a damp towel, to soften. Continue baking the remaining breads, layering them between damp towels as soon as they come out of the oven.
  • Let pita pockets cool down slightly and pack them in heavy zyploc bags.
  • Before using, cut the pita pockets in half, or split the top edge, and fill as desired. 



This French Toast Casserole turned out unbelievably tasty and satisfying. Took a bite and decided we didn’t even need maple syrup. Made it for supper last night, since our main meals were moved to noon or as close to noon as we can manage. By suppertime, we are ready to bite into a little something. I found the recipe in a Cook’s Country magazine. It was supposed to be the perfect well-tested recipe, but alas, I changed the amounts considerably. The recipe called for sliced potato bread.  I agreed that French bread or challah would make it pudding consistency and with crusty bread it would be a sloppy mess. I bought a loaf of country style, potato sandwich bread and whole milk. Do not be tempted to use less than whole milk! To tell you the truth I replaced some of the whole milk with half-and-half. It puffed up, but it did not have pudding consistency, it really tasted like French toast. In fact it was the best French toast we ever had. 

French Toast Casserole

butter for buttering the dish
6 Tbsp butter, soft
8 slices of potato sandwich bread [do not substitute]
6 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
sprinkling of salt
5 eggs
2 cups whole milk [I substituted 1/2 cup of milk with half-and-half]
handful of sliced almonds

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Generously butter a 9X13 inch baking pan.
  • Butter the bread slices and set aside.
  • Make the brown sugar mix next. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  • In a separate bowl beat the eggs and add the whole milk. Stir to combine.
  • Lay half of the buttered bread slices in the prepared baking pan. [If your butter is hard, melt it and brush it on.]
  • Sprinkle the top with 3 Tbsp of brown sugar mix.
  • Cover with the remaining buttered bread and sprinkle on the remaining brown sugar mix.
  • Top with sliced almonds.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove pan from the oven and slice.
  • Leftovers are delicious reheated or cold.



Trust to make a culinary invention good; one has to wait for the Easter European bakers to interpret it. First I made a “one egg wonder”. The recipe of course called for special baking pans, but see I was smart, I didn’t buy the pans. The doughnuts looked fantastic, but first I wanted to see how they tasted. Disappointing to say the least. I almost gave up on baked donuts when the thought occurred; I wonder how the Hungarians are making it? One search and there it was. I lined up several recipes. I made one test batch and promptly found the perfect jam filled baked doughnut.

Every nation has its version of donut, so who invented the donut is anyone's guess. One thing is for sure, there are more doughnut shops per capita in Canada than anywhere else on the planet. Canada eats more donuts than any other country. There are all sorts of meeting places, but none as popular as the donut shop. All the old guys go there for their coffee meetings, in the afternoon the cops come in for coffee and donut. Kids, well kids will always be happy with a donut. Americans took over Tim Horton’s, but unless donut is taken off the menu, Tim’s will remain a Canadian icon. Our grandchildren's first stop is always a Tim Horton’s when they come up from California.

Fried foods have a bad reputation, but a lot of it is just hoo-ha. A “healthy” bagel or a miserable bran muffin is more laden with calories than a fried donut. The only advantage I see is you won't be eating seconds. The bagel ends up like a brick in your tummy and the bran muffin is just plain revolting. Food should be a sensual experience. Here have a donut! 

From the Canadian Air Farce here is a clip, the Donut Police

The single most important part in making donuts: be it fried or baked, is to make the dough truly elastic. Punch it, beat it, or kneed it, the dough must be elastic! 

Baked Jam Donuts

3 cups flour
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp sugar
2 pkg. instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk,
2 eggs
thick apricot jam
1 Tbsp melted butter
icing sugar

  • Rub the butter into the flour by hand or pulse it in the food processor.
  • Add sugar, instant yeast, lukewarm milk and the eggs and combine to form dough.
  • Kneed, using the dough hook of a standing beater, for at least 10 minutes. Dough must become very elastic.
  • Alternatively kneed the dough by hand for 10 minutes and then beat it down on the counter 100 times until very elastic.
  • Place in a greased bowl, turn over and let it rise in a warm place until double.
  • Punch down and divide the dough. Avoid too much rolling.
  • Roll each part into a log and cut into slices.
  • Turn the slices on their sides and flatten them out.
  • Place a tsp of thick jam in the middle.
  • Pull the sides up and pinch the ends together to form a ball with the jam inside.
  • Arrange the balls, with the pinched side down, in the prepared pan, leaving space between for rising.
  • Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
  • Place the pan in a cold oven and turn the oven to 375F.
  • Set the timer for 20 minutes. [I have an electric stove]
  • When timer goes off remove pan from the oven and quickly brush with the melted butter. This is important. The butter layer will keep the icing sugar from melting into the hot bun.
  • Sprinkle the top with icing sugar.
  • Recipe make 16 donuts, but easy to make half a recipe.



I love the buttery, mild-onion flavour of leeks. Leeks are great substitutes for onions in all kinds of dishes. If you grow leeks or buy it from a producer, leeks are either abundance or famine. We often had leeks during the summer, but a couple of weeks ago, Jim asked me if I wanted to do something with the remaining young plants before the frost hit the garden. “Or ashes to ashes I throw them in the composter.” Don’t you dare, I said, I want them all. 

What part to use? Many people throw away the green sections so depending on how mature the leeks are, more than half of this delicious plant is wasted. Much like with asparagus, you can tell where the tough section start. Chop off a segment from the green end. When the knife goes through without resistance, you have arrived at the palatable portion of the leek. In case of young plants, most of the green leaves are edible.

 The bulk of the work consists of rinsing out the dirt trapped between the layers. 
I rinsed mine about half a dozen times.



Freezing Leeks

  • Group the leeks according to diameter.
  • Wash and trim off the ends.
  • Chop the leeks uniform. Include the green parts and discard only the tough sections. If the knife slices through without resistance, that part is worth keeping.
  • Place the chopped leeks in a large bowl of cold water.
  • Rinse thoroughly several times until the soaking water is pristine clear.
  • Drain and lay the leeks on paper towel lined trays.
  • When the leeks are no longer damp, spread them out on parchment-lined trays.
  • Freeze overnight.
  • Next day transfer the leeks to freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 to 8 months, or until ice crystals form.
  • Add the frozen leeks to dishes without thawing.
Tender Leek Greens ready for Soup



This was among the first recipes I tried from Margit néni’s cookbook. Aside from guessing the amount of dry yeast to replace cake yeast, what attracted me to the recipe was the fact that the few ingredients it required weighed the same.  I had a new imperial scale and I weighed a tub of cottage cheese and adjusted the other ingredients to it. No calculations were required! What I didn’t know at the time was that cottage cheese was not túró. The recipe still worked for some inexplicable reason and cottage cheese sticks remained one of Jim’s favourites. This must have given hope that the young girl he married from Hungary will make good food one day. All I brought with me to the new world were memories of food. I knew nothing about cooking; I was such a novice I looked for a recipe making tea... in a Hungarian cookbook ha! I sent frantic letters home how to make rántás [roux]. All my cookbook would say, “make a good roux...”.
Only love kept us alive during the first few months until one day Ann Eggleton came over and we started having daily chats on the phone. How we did it, I am not quite sure anymore... I didn’t speak English and she spoke no Hungarian. But there we were talking. Ann thought me English and a few tricks in the kitchen. In order to eat I gave up on my Hungarian palate for decades. I ordered a Purity cookbook from the Vancouver Province’s Weekend Magazine. I could use the Purity cookbook without calculations and I didn’t have to hunt for ingredients, everything was available at the Prince Rupert Co-Op. Aside from a few Hungarian dishes, my children grew up with Canadian fare. Many dishes I make now they never tasted and in all fairness would not even like... As time went on I tried a few recipes from Margit néni’s old cookbook and these cottage cheese sticks are among the few I still make to this day.

Cottage Cheese Sticks

1 cup 2% cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar

  • Drain the cottage cheese for a good hour.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour.
  • Add the yeast, sugar and salt and whisk to combine.
  • Stir the drained cottage cheese into the flour mixture to form dough.
  • Roll the dough on floured surface to 1/2 inch thick.
  • Brush the top with the egg wash and spread the grated cheddar on top.
  • Cut into 3-4 inch sticks.
  • Place the sticks on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until golden.



Roasted or simmered, traditional sausage ragu is made with raw Italian sausage and ground beef. My version is a cross between Italian ragu and Hungarian lecsó. I find raw Italian sausage a bit coarse and beef of course is heavy. I substituted the Italian sausage with two smokies and omitted the beef. Simplified, the ragu only took an hour to prepare. It turned out to be a refined version of an otherwise robust dish. If you use dry herbs instead of fresh ones, a few sprinkles of basil and oregano will suffice. The carrots are essential to counteract the tomatoes' acidity. I didn't skin the tomatoes, the skin adds fiber and we don't mind it. Don’t omit the wine if you don’t have to, it really adds to the enjoyment of the dish.

Sausage Ragu 

1/8 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 smokies, sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 fresh tomatoes, chopped
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 yellow or red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of fresh basil
couple of sprigs of oregano
1/4 cup medium dry red wine

• Sauté the onions in olive oil until transparent.
• Gradually add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed, except the wine.
• Gently simmer on low medium heat.
• Give the ragu an occasional stir and don’t let it come to rapid boil.
• When the carrots are tender and the tomatoes break down add the wine.
• Slowly simmer for 3-4 minutes.
• Serve the ragu over your favorite pasta.



This delicious take on rice and the chance to reinvent a constant leftover around the house opened up a brand new possibility. I cook rice often, Olivia has it with her crispies and sautéed carrots, so we always have leftover rice in the fridge and frankly, Jimre and I got tired of fried rice and rizskóh. In the case of rizskóh I just add whipping cream] But for any other rice dish, I would need more rice.

Serve Italian rice balls as a side or as a snack. They are great with or without sauce. I didn’t quite figure out if Italian rice balls were made with a stickier [cheaper] rice or that my rice making skills were the culprit, but I found these were not so easy to make. Plus the rice was a leftover, perhaps freshly cooked, warm rice would stick together more willingly, but boy I am glad I tried this recipe, because it was delicious, especially the following day. This just moved into my comfort food category and I will be looking forward to making it again. “Don’t crowd the fry pan”, no kidding, I had several balls fall apart on me. 

Italian Rice Balls

2 cup cooked rice
2 eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
finely chopped parsley
Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
oil for frying

  • Place the fine breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.
  • Combine the rice, eggs, cheese, parsley, seasoning and salt.
  • With wet hands scoop up a heaping Tbsp of rice and press it into a ball.
  • Place it in the breadcrumbs.
  • Roll two more balls and place it in the breadcrumbs.
  • At this point you will have to wash your hands.
  • Coat the 3 rice balls with breadcrumbs and set it aside.
  • Wash the hands again and make 3 more rice balls.
  • Continue the process until all the rice used up.
  • In a large non-stick skillet heat up the oil on medium heat.
  • Fry the rice balls 4-5 at a time. Do not crowd the pan, or the rice balls will fall apart.
  • Gently turn rice balls with a fork for even browning.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

You don't need a lot of oil to fry these. But most definitely, don't crowd the pan like this. From this batch I had 4 rice balls fall apart.



Olivia asked me why I make hamburger buns when I never make hamburgers? Because I like them for sandwiches. Then you should call them sandwich buns. Well all right, here they are sandwich buns. But you can stick a hamburger in it if you want to.

These buns are soft and delicious buttered or with something in between even if they are whole-wheat. It begins with stiff dough, you beat it up and it responds with soft deliciousness. I always had an aversion to whole-wheat baked products, anytime Jimre brought one home he had to eat it. But these ones are different. We both like these.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns

1 cup 3.25% milk
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1-1/2 cups white flour 
3 tsp instant yeast

  • Place ingredients in a bowl and stir to form a dough.
  • Transfer to a standing mixer and using a dough hook pound the heavy dough for a few minutes or at least until you figure the dough is fully formed and will not soften anymore.
  • Take it out and throw it down on a clean countertop.
  • Lift the dough up high and slam it down with all your might. Repeat 100 times. Halfway through you will feel the dough relaxing and getting pliable. Think of the frustrating things in your life and take it out on the dough. As you release your tension, the dough develops the gluten.  By the time you are finished, the dough is pliable.
  • Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning it over.
  • Let the dough double.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Divide the dough into 12 parts and form them into disks.
  • Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2-inch space between them.
  • Set the buns to rise. [I left them for 2 hours and they didn’t over rise]
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Place buns in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Once cool, slice the buns horizontally and store in freezer bags until use. 
  • Recipe makes 12 sandwich/hamburger buns.



Fancy cupcake places are on the rise. The cupcakes are gorgeously decorated, sold by the piece and are very expensive. But no matter how fantastic they look, they will never taste as good as mine. The crumb of these cupcakes is nothing short of amazing. The vanilla flavour is only the beginning. These cupcakes can be easily transformed with fruits, nuts and different flavourings. Which is the reason I didn’t include the icing I used, because really... any icing would be delicious with these cupcakes. They look ordinary but just wait until you bite into one.  

Buttermilk Cupcakes

3/8 cup butter, room temperature
scant 1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup of 3.25% buttermilk
cooking spray

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Beat the butter and brown sugar until well blended.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla and beat on high speed until well blended.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternatively.
  • Beat mixture on medium speed just until well blended.
  • Spray the cupcake holders with cooking spray.
  • Divide the batter in the pan. Recipe makes 10 good sized or 12 medium cupcakes.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until tops spring back when lightly touched in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove pan from oven and immediately tilt the cupcakes.
  • When the cupcakes are lukewarm, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.



Csalamádé is as varied as people are. My grandmother made fermented csalamádé, but then she treated it with borkénpor, stuff I don’t have access to. Other cooks pack csalamádé in jars and refrigerate them. They are probably good for many months, but I don’t have that kind of space in my fridge.

In this method, the hot water bath kills off the yeast that would ferment the vegetables and substitutes the yeast action with a brine. Whatever is your preference, the brine can be mildly sour or stronger. It is important to process the bottles for 30 minutes in a hot water bath to kill off all the yeast. My large dutch oven takes 3 bottles at a time. If you have canning jars that have been around for a few years, start the processing in cold water and wait for 15 minutes before removing the bottles from the hot bath. Sudden temperature change can break older bottles. 

Vegetable Mix:
1 large green cabbage, sliced
4 cups of sliced pickling cucumbers
4 bell peppers, any colour, chopped
4 very large carrots, sliced
8 green tomatoes, sliced
2 medium sized onions, sliced
2 tsp pickling salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 Tbsp peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds

vegetable juice [from salting the vegetables]
4 cups water
1-1/2 cups vinegar
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp pickling salt

  • Wash the vegetables thoroughly and slice.
  • Place in a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle with pickling salt, caraway seeds, peppercorns and the mustard seed. 
  • Toss and let stand for 1 hour.
  • Squeeze the juice out of the vegetables, reserving the juice and the spices.
  • Pack the sterilized bottles with the vegetables 3/4 way up.
  • To make the brine, place the reserved vegetable juice in a pot. 
  • Add the water, vinegar and the seasonings.
  • Taste the brine; it should be pleasantly sour. This is a personal taste. You increase the water or vinegar or add more salt or sugar to suit personal preference.
  • Bring the brine to the boil.
  • Boil for 3 minutes.
  • Pour the hot brine in the bottles, leaving a generous head space.
  • Wipe the rims and place the softened lids on top.
  • Cap the bottles and place them in a canner or a large pot.
  • Fill the canner with cold water, and bring to a boil.
  • Process the jars for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the canner from the heat.
  • Wait for 15 minutes before removing the bottles from the hot bath. Sudden temperature change can break older bottles. 

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!