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MY COOKBOOK
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29.12.17

CHERRY PUNCH - CSERESZNYÉSBÓLÉ

Ah the proverbial bólé! You don’t really need a recipe for it, just throw some juice, fruit and booze together, keep tasting and adding until it tastes just right. The more you work on it the better it should get. Back in the sixties I never attended a house party in Budapest without bólé. There was food and dancing and bólé.

It would start with a large bottle of some type of canned fruit and szódavíz. Then someone would sneak a few drops of rum or pálinka into the bowl. As the evening progressed more and more stuff would be added. Keeping the tradition alive I made myself cseresznyebólé. With a mild alcohol allergy I decided to live dangerously just for the day. After all it’s almost New Years Eve! I better cook up a batch of Drunkard Soup for tomorrow. Tomorrow may not be a good day. For your Szilveszter enjoyment I have some videos. BÚÉK!

1 cup apple or pineapple juice
3/8 cup rum
3 Tbsp honey
12 frozen pitted cherries
1 navel orange, sliced
1-1/2 cup club soda, chilled
cherry pálinka to taste [optional]

  • Place first five ingredients in a bowl to soak them for about an hour.
  • Take out the orange slices and add the club soda.
  • Tease it with a bit of cherry liqueur or pálinka and serve.



17.12.17

WALNUT ORANGE PARLOR CANDY – DIÓS NARANCSOS SZALONCUKOR



The Christmas tree went up on December 24. All you needed were candles, [colour lights came a bit later] and a box of parlor candy. Shiny baubles and sliver streamers were few. Back in the fifties parlor candy was made from flavored fondant, wrapped in foil and hung on the Christmas tree. They were never meant for eating. Homes without children used to keep them for years. We found that out the hard way. [the fondant would quickly harden into rocks] They were not much better fresh; but we kept sampling them in the hope of finding one with chocolate flavoring. After Christmas Eve desecrated parlor candy began to show up in the oddest of places all the while the empty wrappers remained on the tree. We tried to disguise it by filling the wrappers with tissue, eventually giving up on that too. By the 6th of January our Christmas tree looked like a horde of locusts passed over it. 

Sometime in the late sixties chocolate covered bonbons burst on the market, promptly replacing the fondant candies. I saw such a box at the Hungarian Store in Vancouver once. The longing that seized me quickly gave way when I saw how much they wanted for it. I thought about making parlor candy over the years, but it was never a priority. By the time I made the Beigli and the Zserbó and a few Christmas Cookies, I had no desire left for novelty. Come to think of it any bonbon could have been wrapped up as parlor candy and hung on the tree... Well now, this recipe is no different.

This isn't your commercial version of parlor candy either. I wonder how long two dozen homemade parlor candies can last with a couple of senior citizens? We certainly sampled before I wrapped. It was hard to refrain from diving into them as they lay... chocolate slowly solidifying...  I am actually surprised that some made it up the tree. They are delicious! Adapted from Cookpad the recipe makes 24 standard sized parlor candies. Make fewer and they will be too large for the average sized Christmas tree. Mine? Well mine is a minimalist tree. A pair of parlor candies completes the look. Remember to leave the empty wrappers on the tree!





Walnut Orange Parlor Candy

1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup raisins
rind of 1 orange, finely grated
1 Tbsp orange flavored brandy or brandy extract
1/4 cup icing sugar
150 g fine quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp butter


  • In a food processor, separately grind up the walnuts and the coconuts until very fine.
  • Transfer them to a bowl and set them aside.
  • Place the raisins in a separate bowl and cover with boiling water.
  • Let them plump up for 10 minutes.
  • Drain well and mush in the food processor.
  • Return the reserved walnuts and coconut to the food processor.
  • Add the grated orange rinds and the brandy.
  • Process.
  • Place a sheet of parchment on the counter.
  • Scoop the icing sugar on the parchment.
  • Scrape the walnut mixture over the icing sugar.
  • Form the mixture into ball and then roll it into a rope.
  • Divide into 24 parts and shape into oblongs.
  • Place the shaped bonbons on a parchment lined tray.
  • Let them dry overnight in a cool place, but do not refregirate.
  • Next day line a tray with fresh parchment paper.
  • In a small saucepan bring an inch of water to boil.
  • Place a heatproof bowl over the saucepan. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the boiling water.
  • Add the chopped chocolate to the bowl and melt it, stirring often. Do not overheat. If you want to be sure, check it with a candy thermometer, it should register no more than 40C. Without a thermometer about 90% of the chocolate should be melted.
  • Remove the melted chocolate from heat and stir in the butter.
  • Using a fork, pick up the bonbons and one by one lower them into the melted chocolate.
  • With the aid of a small spoon slide them onto the parchment lined tray.
  • Let the chocolate coating solidify for 4 hours before trimming off the pooled chocolate at the base. Take care not to touch the bonbons; the coating is still fragile.
  • Let the chocolate coating firm up overnight in a cool place, but do not refrigerate.
  • On the third day the bonbons are ready for wrapping, tying and hanging on the tree.

Budapest Circa 1969



14.12.17

RUM AND RAISIN LOAF

Jim has been eating rum and raisins under less than stellar circumstances. I couldn’t convince him to let me dump them. So when he saw there was a bowl of raisins on the counter he rightfully said “not another one!” How many of us looked at the promise of a recipe only to be disappointed? I keep marveling at the egg stingy loaves and cakes people insist on, but whatever! After several tries of promising delectable rum and raisin loaves I was beginning to think I lost my edge. So I reformulated one of my own recipes for rum and raisins. For sure we are rum and raisined out for now, but this one is a worthy addition to my loaf recipes.

And speaking of eggs… If you have time try to remember to set out the eggs on the counter along with the butter, because room temperature eggs beat up much fluffier than straight out of the fridge. The time that takes draining the plumped up raisins certainly helps. And one more thing! If you set aside 1/4 cup of sugar [from the recipe] for beating up the egg whites you can make a meringue which will be loftier than simply beating the egg whites into hard peaks. These small details will make your cakes’ texture that much lighter and more enjoyable.

Rum and Raisin Loaf

1 cup raisins
1-3/4 cups + 3 Tbsp flour 
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt

Glaze: 
1 cup icing sugar 
3-4 Tbsp rum

  • Plum the raisins first. Place them in a small bowl, pour on 1 cup of boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain for an hour.
  • Meanwhile set out the remaining ingredients, starting with the eggs.
  • Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • When the raisins are fully drained and the eggs and the butter are at room temperature, preheat the oven to 375F. 
  • Whisk the flour, cornstarch and the baking soda together and set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat the egg whites, very slowly adding 1/4 cup of sugar and beating until stiff peaks form. Set it aside.
  • Cream the butter with 3/4 cups sugar.
  • Gradually add the egg yolks beating until fluffy. 
  • Reduce the speed and gradually add the flour mixture alternately with the yoghurt and the rum.
  • With a wooden spoon fold in the drained raisins.
  • Finally, fold in the egg whites being mindful not to crush it.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the inserted cake tester comes out clean. 
  • Let the cake cool in a pan over a wire rack. 
  • For the glaze, whisk together the ingredients to the desired consistency. 
  • Spread the glaze over the cooled cake. 

6.12.17

ESZTERHAZY TORTE - ESZTERHÁZY TORTA

I am going to criticize a national treasure. Don't get me wrong, it worked out just as it should. But as far as culinary indulgences go, I rate it... maybe a four? It makes sense why there are so many versions of it. I would make the Almond Custard Cream again for a buttery cake. For the almond dacquoise, I would add toasted nuts and candied fruits and bake it as a confection. Perhaps I could try a deconstruction... Though I will not make the torte again. A thin slice is nice. But truly worthy things you want to repeat. And just because the Eszterházy Torte has an ostentatious history and requires skill to create, it doesn't make it a great torte. To read about the Eszterházys and the history behind the torte, scroll down to the end of the recipe.*

Here is a chef preparing his interpretation of the Eszterházy Torte.

Eszterhazy Torte

Almond Dacquoise Layers:
10 egg whites
1-1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups whole unpeeled almonds

Almond Custard Cream:
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1-3/8 cups unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup unpeeled almonds
1/8 cup rum

Decoration:
1/2 cup shaved almonds

Top:
6 oz good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream  

1/8 cup pure dark chocolate, finely chopped


  • Prepare everything you will require on the first day.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Next grind 2-1/2 cups of whole unpeeled almonds. Do not think of using almond meal.
  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Spread the ground almonds around and roast them for 6 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Remove the baking tray, turn over the almonds and bake for 5-6 minutes longer.
  • Remove and grind the toasted almonds once more. The second grinding will ensure a uniform texture, but not quite as fine as almond meal.
  • The bulk of the almonds will be used for the dacquoise.  However set aside 1/2 cup for the Almond Custard Cream. Let all the ground almonds cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile prepare the Almond Custard Cream.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar until very creamy.
  • Place the milk in a saucepan and scrape the vanilla beans on top.
  • Place on medium heat and bring to almost a boil, but don’t let it boil.
  • Stir a ladleful of hot milk into the beaten egg yolks to temper it.
  • Scoop the egg mixture into the hot milk and stirring continually cook it until the mixture is 85C or 185F, [don’t mix it up].
  • Remove the custard from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and place it in the fridge to cool.
  • Next you bake the dacquoise layers.
  • If you have 2 oven racks, select various baking trays and pans that will accommodate 5 seven inch cake layers. If you only have one oven rack, you will have to assemble and bake the dacquoise layers in two batches.
  • Line the bottoms of the baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Draw five 7 inch circles on the parchment and with the pencil. Place the marked parchment papers back in the baking trays with the markings facing downward.
  • Spray the circles with flavourless cooking spray or with butter and set aside.
  • Next beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add the sugar and the flour and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • With a wooden spoon gently stir in 2 cups from the ground toasted almonds.
  • Divide the dacquoise batter between the 5 circles, spreading it all the way to the markings.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake at 350F for 6 minutes.
  • Move the baking pans from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top and bake for 6 more minutes.
  • Remove the pans from the oven.
  • Immediately trim the dacquoise layers cutting with a 7 inch cake ring, much like you would use a cookie cutter, or cutting around a 7 inch circular object. 
  • By now the custard has cooled down enough to complete the Almond Custard Cream.
  • Transfer the custard to the bowl of a standing beater.
  • Set the speed to medium and beat the custard, gradually adding the butter and beating until fluffy.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of ground almonds and beat to combine.
  • Finally beat in the rum.
  • [You can fill the dacquoise layers inside a 7 inch cake ring or placed on a suitable plate, though the latter will be more difficult. The beauty of the cake ring is the dacquoise layers will shrink and the cream will be forced out to the space between the ring and the dacquoise layers thus evenly icing the sides of the cake.]
  • Divide the cream in four parts and spread it between 4 dacquoise layers, leaving the top layer bare.
  • Wrap the whole thing and place in the fridge for the night.
  • The following day remove the torte from the fridge and cut around the edge of the cake ring.
  • Lift off the cake ring.
  • In a nonstick fry pan toast the flaked almonds lightly. Let them cool down before using.
  • While the almond cool, the cream on the side of the tort will warm up a bit allowing the almond flakes to adhere.
  • To prepare the white chocolate ganache for the top, pour the heavy cream into a saucepan over medium heat and heat it until just boiling.
  • Remove from heat and add the chopped white chocolate.
  • Stir to blend.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour on top of cake.
  • In a small bowl lightly melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Some chocolate bits should remain.
  • Remove and stir until smooth.
  • Pour into a small zyploc bag.
  • Close the bag and push the chocolate toward one corner of the bag.
  • Clip the end and pipe strips of chocolate on the top.
  • With a sharp knife, score across the piped strips at intervals.
  • Change direction and repeat.
  • Cut thin slices, the cake is very rich. Best on the same day. 
*Many disparate claims have been made about the "true Eszterházy Torte", both by Hungarians and Austrians, but for one reason or another none are exactly like the original. One of the most common deviations is the use of walnuts instead of almonds. Joining all those who made the departure from the authentic Eszterházy, not being a fan of fondant and overly sweet things myself… I too went against the count’s vision… replacing the fondant with white chocolate ganache..

Eszterházy was an aristocratic Magyar family that produced scores of diplomats, army officers, and patrons of the arts. By the 18th century the Eszterházys were the largest landowners in Hungary with a private fortune excelling the Habsburg emperors. The family continued to hold important governmental, ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and military positions well into the 20th century. The Eszterházys were fierce patrons of the arts, the composer Joseph Haydn lived with them. The seat of power was in Kismarton, presently in Eisenstaedt, Austria. This wasn’t the only fabulous castle the family kept in Hungary. Just how far the Eszterházy influence reached, there is a town in Saskatchewan bearing the name of its founder Count Paul Otto Esterhazy. He must have been an illegitimate or renegade member of the family. His claim to nobility never received official recognition, though he possessed both the talent and the means to establish a thriving Hungarian farming colony in Canada.

One of the Esterházys was Paul, a gastronomer with a score of chefs and kitchen aids at his disposal. The two dishes attributed to him are the Eszterházy Steak and the Torte. The most controversial of course is the torte. According to the Eszterházy letters in Eisenstaedt, the Eszterházy Torte had five layers of almond meringue filled with a combination of vanilla bean infused custard, sweet butter and rum and then finished with a poured fondant and thinly piped chocolate design on the top. I would think you couldn’t possibly have a more authentic source than what remains in the Eszterházy archives.

2.12.17

TRADITIONAL FRIED CHICKEN – HAGYOMÁNYOS RÁNTOTT CSIRKE

Grandma went to the Garai and bought home two struggling chickens. Their neck was cut and we had fried chicken for dinner. It was delicious.

Nowadays I have to look for happy chickens that ran freely and grew up without growth hormones and antibiotics. Most supermarket chickens come from factory farms and make poor friers. Check out Deboned Breaded Chicken. Numerous recipes advise soaking the chicken in ice water. It’s a bad idea. The meat will constrict and will be tough. Brining tenderizes the meat, cuts down on cooking time and makes the meat succulent. But it will not stop underdeveloped bones from bleeding. Brine if you like; just make sure the meat is brought to room temperature before cooking.

Traditional Fried Chicken 

organic, free range chicken breasts and legs with the bone in
oil for frying

Breading:
1-1/2 cups flour
2 eggs, well beaten with a fork
2 cups breadcrumbs

  • Cut both halves of the breast meat into three parts.
  • Divide the legs at the joint.
  • Remove all the skin and all the fatty bits.
  • Rinse the meat and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Sprinkle with salt and set aside on the counter for 2-3 hours. Don’t chill.
  • For breading set out 3 plates, one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with fine breadcrumbs.
  • Roll one piece of chicken into the flour coating well.
  • Next, dip it into the well beaten eggs, coating well.
  • Finally, roll it in the breadcrumbs.
  • Press the crumbs onto the chicken to assure even coverage.
  • Repeat until every piece of chicken is coated with the breading.
  • Place 2-3 inches of oil in a heavy fry pan.
  • Heat up the oil slowly over medium heat. Wait it out, be patient, but don’t leave the heating oil unattended. The girls and I once danced our way to a kitchen fire. Long story.
  • When the oil is ready slide in one piece of chicken. It should start frying immediately.
  • From here on strive to maintain a steady frying temperature. If the oil is too hot, the crust will burn and the meat will remain uncooked. If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken will soak up the oil instead of frying. So the challenge is to get the oil to the right temperature and maintain it in an even, steady pace.
  • Wait a little before adding the next piece.
  • Leave lots of room for turning and not touching. It isn’t a time saver if you crowd the pan. A crowded pan in fact takes longer to fry.
  • Use two forks to flip over the meat. Avoid piercing it. At this stage the breading is too fragile for the kitchen thongs.
  • Never put a lid over frying chicken, it makes the breading soggy. Maintaining a steady heat fry up all of the pieces to golden brown.
  • By the time chicken fries to uniform golden brown crispness, it is done.
  • Transfer the pieces to a wire rack to drain. Don’t put hot breaded chicken on paper towels; this makes the breading soggy.  
  • Serve it immediately.
  • Reheating alters the flavour. Do not reheat. But do enjoy it cold, it will be delicious.


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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!