MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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28.1.18

RUSSIAN STRUDEL - OROSZ RÉTES

Amazing...

Unlike the average strudel, more like a yeast-roll with almonds and candied fruit; it's one more recipe from Margit néni’s cookbook. It was considered old already fifty years ago, the cover and part of the index were missing. My dad had it rebound and it was one of the few things I brought with me to Canada. One day I should be buried with it; nobody will want it, certainly nobody from my immediate circle of friends and family. Every time I translate a recipe I feel like I am saving it from nothingness. The cookbook is at least a hundred and fifty. You know the saying "Entropy isn’t what it used to be." I did a search and nothing even resembling this recipe exists on line. Feeling nostalgic I wrote a rant* while the dough rose to the occasion. It's for the grandkids. 





Russian Strudel

3/8 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup slightly melted butter
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
3 tsp yeast
6 Tbsp sugar
1 + 3 cups flour
1/4 cup melted butter for greasing
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped candied or dried apricots
1 lightly beaten egg

  • Put the lukewarm milk, melted butter, eggs and egg yolks, yeast and the sugar in the mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of flour and give it a stir.
  • Let it sit until doubled.
  • Begin to add from the remaining flour gradually kneading on medium speed with a dough hook. The dough should be on the stiff side but still pliable.
  • Knead it really well to develop the gluten. If you don’t have a standing beater, knead by hand and beat the dough against the counter with force about 50 times or more.
  • Place the dough in a buttered bowl, turn it over and cover.
  • Let the dough double.
  • Punch down and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface 1 cm thick.
  • Brush lightly with melted butter and scatter a quarter of the sliced almonds and chopped dried fruit on the top.
  • Roll the dough up in jelly roll fashion and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  • Roll the dough out again in the opposite direction, brush with melted butter and top with the almonds and the apricots.
  • Repeat the resting, rolling and topping with almonds and apricots twice more. [4 times altogether]
  • The last time you roll it up, place on a parchment lined baking tray.
  • Brush the strudel with the melted butter and let it rise until doubled.
  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • Brush the top with beaten egg and place in the preheated oven for 90-100 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.
  • Rest the strudel on a wire rack.

*Budapest in the Fifties: 

We shopped for food every day. Few people had ice boxes; nobody had a fridge, not even the milk store. The milk was ladled into metal cans. The can had a lid and a handy carrying handle. Bread was a 2 kg loaf or cut in front of you into a half a loaf or a quarter loaf. They gave you a 3 inch piece of tissue paper for handling it. The only thing that was prepackaged was the sugar, flour, salt and grits. Everyone carried homemade grocery bags. You had to stand in line when you wanted to buy something. There was no self serve. State run sales people were snarly. Kids were ignored. They would serve the adult next in line and ignore the kid. There were frequent shortages. Sometimes you couldn’t find sour cream or batteries. You got most of your vegetables at the open air market. Drug stores only sold drugs. Meat stores sold only meat. Household stores sold the cleaning stuff. Beauty products were sold in the beauty product store. You made your pasta at home. There was no tropical fruit until 1957. Cocoa and green coffee beans appeared after the revolution. You had to roast the coffee beans and grind them to make espresso. Vegetables were available in season or canned. There were no green vegetables during winter. The first green thing that appeared in the spring was green onions. They were expensive. Nobody had central heating. We burned coal and wood. Everyone was poor in September. That is when the winter fuel was delivered. We kept it in the basement. Each apartment had a stall in the basement. If you lived on the third floor and your house had no lift, you had to haul it upstairs in metal bins. You woke in a cold room. About 10:00 AM we opened up the windows for fresh air, mom went down to the basement and brought up the daily wood and coal and started the fire. That was a happy time. Only communists had cars. We traveled on foot or by streetcar. There was a short line of metro and later buses. Most deliveries were conducted by horse drawn buggies. We had a 6 day workweek. People worked for 48 hours. We went to school on Saturday. We had one day off, Sunday. All the museums and galleries had free admission on Sunday. Movie theater was cheap. The busiest was the 2:00 PM showing. Before the movie there was a News Report. It had interesting things in it but mostly just propaganda. Sometimes in the intermission there was a magician or a couple of acrobats. I always felt sorry for them. Our tickets were numbered. Grandma and I liked the 2nd row in the middle. We only ever saw Hungarian or synchronized Russian films. The first American film I saw was the Red Shoe. There were lots of indexed books. Opera and live theater was state subsidized and cheap. You could be poor and cultured at the same time. I had one dress but I had season tickets to the opera, live theater and the Music Academy. Only communists were eligible for post secondary institutions. All public bathrooms had an attendant. You had to pay to pee. We carried tissue paper with us because all they ever gave you was a small piece of toilet paper. We used cut up newspapers at home. Magazines were shiny and not very absorbent. Newspaper worked better. Not everyone had a bathroom. We had an indoor toilet, but no bathroom. We bathed in the kitchen. Mom would heat up some water and poured it into a very large basin on a stool. You washed your hair and the upper body first. Next we would put the basin on the floor and step into it to wash the rest. The bathwater was poured down the toilet. Kids shared the bathwater. It was a treat to visit a relative with a bathtub. You got married twice if you were religious. No church could marry you unless you had a civil ceremony. That might still apply. If you practiced a religion it meant you were the enemy of the state. From grade five on you had to learn Russian. We hated everything Russian. Especially the Russian soldiers. We had to sing the the Russian anthem with the Hungarian anthem. People tended to be opportunistic. Once I got a pair of sheepskin gloves for Christmas. It was a big deal. Two days later I dropped one on the street and before I bent down to pick it up someone snatched it away from me. There were several people around but I couldn't tell who took it. I was ten years old and just stood there crying. What would half a pair of glove do for somebody? We used handkerchiefs to blow our noses. Laundering them was really gross. So were the cloth diapers. I didn’t know anyone with a washing machine. On washing day all my mother did was wash. For drying we had a large ceiling rack in the kitchen. It worked with a pulley. It would be lowered for hanging the clothes and then pulled up. We had them drying overhead for days. All the heat we had in the kitchen was from the stove. Only one room was heated. In the afternoon my grandmother's door would be opened to let in some warmth. The toilet and the entrance was always very cold. The only source of running water was an iron wall sink in the kitchen. That is where we got our drinking water, washed our hands, brushed our teeth and filled the pots for cooking and bathing. Dishes were washed on the kitchen table in a large basin. Everything had to be dried with a kitchen towel. I remember the day when a second basin was put next to the dish basin for rinsing off the soapy dishes. My family had two rooms. Grandma had the small room and we had a slightly larger one. That is where we lived, ate and slept. For meals the table was pulled out and a table cloth laid on it. There were no napkins. My dad wiped his face into the corner of the table cloth. We used spoons and forks but I don't remember using knives. We were not allowed to speak during the meal. “Magyar ember evés közben nem beszél.” There were no drinks on the table. We drank water after we finished eating. Getting ready for bed was complicated. One by one the day-night bed and the day-night armchairs were opened up and bedding laid on them. The room turned into a wall to wall bed. We had to crawl over each other's bed to get to our own. Before I left home nine people slept in the room, my parents and the seven children. The youngest slept in a cardboard box for two months. After that the state gave my parents a 4 room rental unit overlooking the Eastern Railroad Station. A month later I left for Canada. I was eighteen. I went back four times. The last time just before my mother passed away in 1990. It was the year of the first free election. Being used to Canadian elections I couldn't believe the American style electioneering on the streets of Budapest. The whole country was drunk on the belief that the thousand years of  oppression was over. I warned they were only exchanging overlords. My brothers said I didn't know what I was talking about. Twenty seven years later Hungary is a full fledged fascist dictatorship. Racism and antisemitism is as strong as ever. Freedom is imaginary.  State run propaganda strangely resembles the communist era. Only the bogeyman is different. I don't see any difference between the old left and the current right wing dictatorship. The rhetoric changed, but the method stayed the same.      

26.1.18

FRESH CRANBERRY LOAF

 Well… we made a good dent in it last night… Unable to resist, slices for breakfast.

Full of cranberries, it is a cross between a robust cake and a glorified loaf. Not a bread to be sure; this is too rich and much too refined to be a fruit bread. The almond extract plays an essential part as it pairs brilliantly with the cranberries. Making the loaf with fresh cranberries would be quite straightforward, though I found it a bit challenging with frozen berries. Once you add the frozen berries, prepare to pack the batter into the parchment lined pan right of way, as the frozen berries will quickly freeze the batter into a clump. Baking time will have to be increased substantially. I kept adding the minutes before the loaf finally baked through. You may opt to partially thaw the berries first, but I didn’t want streaks of cranberry juice in my loaf. In the end it was fine except I lost track of the time the loaf took to bake. It is a beautiful, buttery, moist loaf and requires no embellishment or butter. Just cut a slice and enjoy!


Fresh Cranberry Loaf

3 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
3⁄4 cup butter, very soft
2 tsp pure almond extract
1/2 tsp baking soda.
2 cups flour
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries*

*Be sure to read the write up if using frozen berries.

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease the corners of the pan.
  • Beat the eggs and the sugar for 3-4 minutes until smooth and thickened.
  • Add the soft butter, the almond extract and the baking soda.
  • Beat until very fluffy.
  • Stir in flour and fully incorporate.
  • Stir in cranberries.
  • Quickly transfer to the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until the cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. It will take considerably longer with frozen berries.
  • Let the loaf cool to lukewarm before slicing. 

25.1.18

HONEY MUSTARD

"Well what could possibly go wrong?” You threw it together several times, you are making it for company and darn it, it’s not working! You are probably familiar with the concepts of Finagle’s or Murphy's Law. It goes like this: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Yes, this is a recipe of sorts. But that’s not the point. The title should have read testing and recording.

We, home cooks are positivist creatures; we keep inducing chemical reactions in our lab without the faintest of idea of why or how. Consequently we take endless liberties with recipes and are most surprised when things go awry. If you are like me, assuming all you have to do is throw a few things together and surprise, surprise it works and then the next time fails… that is when instead of a small dish of dipping sauce you end up with 3 cups of the stuff…Why would I bother? Well… because… the commercial stuff is not very good.

So… unless you happen to be a genius it is a good idea to measure and record every change you make to a recipe. Rate it, “too sweet” or “awful” in fact cross those out. This way you will personalize the recipe to suit your tastes and ensure that you can repeat it, or never, [whichever may be the case] and it will be the same ever after that. Most recipes are too salty for my taste, so I automatically reduce the salt and occasionally realize that the salt the recipe called for would have been perfect. So I write in “keep salt”. This may seem like the most redundant recipe ever, but if your honey mustard is a hit and miss… try to keep a record… because sometimes even the simplest of things will go wrong.

Honey Mustard

1/4 cup full fat mayonnaise
1 Tbsp liquid honey
1 Tbsp French mustard
1/4 cup 14% sour cream

  • Combine ingredients in a small dish and stir smooth.


23.1.18

CLASSIC ALMOND CRESCENTS - KLASSZIKUS MANDULÁS KIFLI

One more couldn’t hurt, I thought, even if it adds to the confusion of nutty crescent cookies. Dip them in chocolate or roll them in icing sugar or eat them with green grapes out of season. Oh yum!

Olgi néni, bless her heart, would buy a few clusters of green grapes in the fall and she hung them up in her tiny pantry. I kept checking on the grapes' progress and then sometimes in January she would take a shriveled grape cluster down and drop it in boiling water and voilà we were eating grapes in January!

There is a version of this recipe without the egg yolks in a small recipe booklet titled Bogrács és Kukta. Well let me tell you it was a pain to make. It seems the egg yolks are vital for binding together the ingredients. Otherwise the same recipe is repeated all over the place with almonds or walnuts with egg yolks and without. It begins with 28 dkg liszt or flour… For every “classic” recipe there are endless repeats and variations with a slew of claims, sometimes without claim of ownership. I wonder if ever a recipe can be branded fake, like fake news… To be honest my version is not much different from other crescent nut recipes, bar one failed attempt [without the yolks] and for the proverbial translation from weight to volume.

I am ever nostalgic toward my measuring cup, the simplifier of all things in the kitchen. I never pretended to be a chef nor was I inclined to feeding the multitudes, save for catering a couple of weddings I got lambasted into. And even though I hear it is more precise to measure in grams than with volume, the kitchen is not the place for chemical engineering. Why can't one be precise with the measuring cup? Scales are not known for precision, particularly in tiny increments. To sell anything by weight, the law requires the use of licensed scales. Those little home scales are hardly more precise than my measuring cup.  I have been approached by well meaning readers more than once that in order to stay current, I should switch to grams. One lady went as far as "I want you to rewrite all your recipes in grams" Haha, you mean all eleven hundred? Well... I never forgot what it was like starting out with meager cooking implements and looking for something, anything in my Hungarian cookbook not requiring a scale. So there is that. Despite the fact Canada is metric, the British way of measuring is so ingrained in cooking culture that the measuring cup is not going go anywhere. It also fits in with minimalist living, reducing clutter, honest and simple things. Someone told me to get a rice cooker, it makes such nice rice. Why? I make great rice in a pot. Twenty years ago everyone had to have a bread machine. Then came the no kneed bread. Nowadays it's the rustic artisan bread. The dough makes a bloody mess, it won't last either. You see... I am not into trailing the trends. Oh I understand that the metric system is essential for scientific measurements. But in the kitchen?... Would it not make more sense to use the simplest and the least expensive application instead? I don't think switching to grams is a sign of sophistication. So I will  stick to the measuring cup and haute cuisine, kale, silpat, and fat free... can be damned! 


Classic Almond Crescents

1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp pure almond extract
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the extract and the egg yolks.
  • Beat to incorporate.
  • Gradually add the flour and the ground almonds.
  • Transfer to a flat surface and knead by hand until soft and pliable.
  • Take roughly a tablespoon of and lightly roll it tapered at the ends.
  • Bend the roll into a crescent shape.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 14 minutes or until the ends begin to lightly brown.
  • Cool on racks.

22.1.18

HAM STROGANOFF

Even though this is a ham dish, given the 3 cups of mushrooms, it tastes like stroganoff. Beef or pork would have taken a lot longer to cook, but the ham is tender in only a few minutes. Ham is better if paired with a mild onion. I used red onion; it is milder than yellow, but considerably less expensive than shallots.

The easiest way to thicken a sauce is with a flour slurry. Simply combine flour with COLD water and when smooth, stir it into the sauce. By mixing the flour with cold water first, it ensures the starch in the flour will not form clumps with the hot liquid. The sauce may appear a bit thin at first, but it isn't. Even while you sit down to your meal, sauce that is thickened with flour slurry keeps on thickening, so it is a good idea to let it sit for a few minutes before serving. The sauce will become more solid as it cools so a little bit of thickener goes a long way. Now if you make the sauce just the right consistency, it can become thick like a wallpaper paste. There is a fine line between stew consistency and soup, so aim for stew... but not for a type of stick to your rib kind of thickness. If you want to use whole wheat flour for the slurry, keep in mind that it has less starch than white flour so, you’ll need to add slightly more.

The other thing that just kills the sauce is rapid boiling versus slow and steady simmer or even cooking it too long. Simmer the sauce with the thickener for 5 minutes. This will cook away the raw flour taste, but longer than that and the thinner the sauce will become. Sour cream should always be full fat; it will make the sauce creamy and rich. Reduced fat sour creams are ghastly things and in sauces they invariably throw off the balance of what would have been an otherwise good sauce.

Ham Stroganoff

300 g uncooked, lean cubed ham
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup chopped red onion
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1+ 1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sour cream, 14 %

  • Since ham is salty, do not salt this dish at any point.
  • Place a large skillet on low medium heat and add the oil and the butter.
  • Add the onions and sauté until almost soft.
  • Next add the ham and sauté for a couple of minutes longer.
  • Add 1 cup of water to the skillet and bring it to a simmer.
  • Keep simmering until the ham is tender.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to simmer for a few minutes longer.
  • In a small bowl, make a slurry from the flour and the remaining cold water. The water must be cold. If lumps should form, force the paste though a fine sieve.
  • Stir the cold slurry into the simmering sauce.
  • Bring it back to a simmer and continue to simmer for 5 minutes but no longer. 
  • Finally, stir in the sour cream and heat it though, but don’t let the sauce come to boil after the sour cream is added.
  • Serve the stroganoff on pasta or rice.


18.1.18

WARM BROCCOLI SALAD

This is very fast and tasty. Serve it with a simple yogurt dressing or on its own.  I used home dried cherry tomatoes and those gave it a bit of a tang, but I think cranberries would too. Sometimes the simplest is best. Think Occam’s Razor. 

Occam's Razor is a principle from philosophy. It means the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. According to Einstein, if you cannot explain something simply, you haven’t grasped its meaning.  All right then. 


 In Green
5 minute Life Sketch
Acrylic on Paper


Then Again...

Warm Broccoli Salad

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 segment of small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cherry tomatoes or cranberries
1 tsp honey
2 cups broccoli florets

  • Place a non stick skillet on the stove.
  • Add the oil and the chopped walnuts and lightly toast them. Be sure not to char the walnuts.
  • Slice the red onion.
  • Add the honey to the dried cherry tomatoes [cranberries] and stir to coat.
  • Bring a pot of water to full boiling.
  • Add the broccoli florets for only 30 seconds.  
  • Scoop them out with a mesh strainer and transfer them to a serving bowl.
  • Add the onion slices and the cherries and toss.
  • Top with the roasted walnuts and serve immediately.
  • Yields 2 servings.
In case...

Yogurt Dressing

1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Combine ingredients.

17.1.18

SMARTIES COOKIES

These are more than smart but you can always use M&Ms, since Smarties [along with Coffee Crisp, Ketchup Chips and Pilot Cookies] are only available in Canada. We learned those sad facts when half of our family moved from the Great White North to California. There are oodles of M&M cookie recipes, but guaranteed none as good as this one. I am not a candy fan, but I found these cookies truly amazing. I knew I would eventually find a way to use up them Halloween candies! Much of it has to do with the technique of scooping up the dough and plunking it down on the baking sheet. Never roll it into a ball! Plus it has something to do with the size, as the size of the cookies make a huge difference in the resulting texture and flavour. So if these are too large for you, cut them in half after the fact, rather than before. There is a reason why those large gourmet cookies from the bakery taste better than the small ones.

Speaking of the Great White North, the snow almost melted here in the West, while our Eastern friends and most of Central Canada is still in the grip of winter. One more month, I keep telling myself, one more month and its spring, my favorite time of the year!



Smarties Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2+1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup light brown sugar 
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp soda [no more]
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Smarties or M&Ms

  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a large bowl beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and the egg until fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine.
  • With a light hand, yes hand, stir in the Smarties.
  • Loosely scoop up a chunk of dough , still using the hand, and plunk it down on the prepared cookie sheet at 2 -3 inch intervals. It is crucial not to squeeze the dough at any time. Don’t shape it at all. It will settle into a lovely round shape as long as you leave space between the cookies to grow.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge.
  • Allow the cookies to solidify before moving them onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Makes 1 dozen. 


16.1.18

BREADED HAM

I am sure you could bread leftover cooked ham, but I don’t think much of the quality you will end up with. Breading ham isn’t for using up leftover scraps from the holiday ham. Make croquettes instead. To be sure breaded ham tastes like ham. The point of breading is that it’s the most pleasant way to prepare a few slices of fresh tender ham in the shortest possible time. The ham slices I bread come from the leanest part of a large uncooked ham.  I never buy ham steaks; by far the cheapest way to enjoy ham is getting a large specimen before the holidays at a reduced price and then portioning and assigning it to various uses. Some of the ham I slice; the rest is cubed or ground up for a wide assortment of dishes. Ham is salty; don’t let salt touch any part of it. I bread the Hungarian way, it always yields tasty, tender, stable, no mess, and most importantly crispy breaded food. Read about breading here





Breaded Ham

4-5 slices of fresh ham
1/4 cup flour
1 beaten egg
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
oil for deep frying

• Place the flour, the egg, and the breadcrumbs on 3 separate plates.
• Beat the egg with a fork until slightly frothy.
• One by one dip the ham slices into the flour, coating well.
• Next dip them into the beaten eggs, coating well.
• Finally place them in the breadcrumbs, coating well.
• In a large heavy skillet, place enough oil for frying.
• Heat the oil to medium hot.
• One by one gently slide the cutlets into the hot oil.
• Fry on both sides to golden crisp. Do not cover the pot.
• To minimize oil absorption, flip cutlets only once.
• Drain cutlets on wire rack.
• Leftover cutlets maybe heated in the oven at 320F or in a lightly oiled, barely heated non stick fry pan, turning over once. Don’t reheat in the microwave, the breading will get soggy. Enjoy it cold.


11.1.18

WHITE SANDWICH BREAD

The flavour is great and the texture is not too fluffy, not too dense; just right. A very nice sandwich bread, though I wasn’t impressed with it fresh out of the oven. But by the next day it was perfect. I had to knead it in three batches, it was way too much dough for my Kitchenaid, but I like the fact the recipe makes three good sized loaves. With eight cups of flour it is important to measure with accuracy. Employ the half cup scoop and sweep method. Make sure the gluten is fully developed, beat the hell out of it, and then give it time to rise. The first rising should double the dough and the second rising must complete it. Just as I thought it would be, at 350F the bread is not going to rise significantly. So don’t be in a hurry and don’t count on the oven raising the dough. The recipe is well… a fusion of several recipes, but mostly mine.   



White Sandwich Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2-1/2 Tbsp instant dry yeast
2-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
8 cups bread flour [16 half cup scoop and sweep]
more oil for greasing

  • In a very large mixing bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar, and 4 cups flour.
  • Mix it thoroughly, and let the sponge rise until it doubles in size.
  • Gradually add the rest of the flour kneading it thoroughly.
  • Divide the dough in three batches and one batch at a time kneed it in a standing mixer with a dough hook until very elastic.
  • Move the dough to a clean flat surface and pound it, beating it down against the surface. This will further develop the gluten and make the dough very elastic.
  • Combine the three batches kneading them together by hand.
  • Place them in a clean well oiled bowl and turn it over.
  • Cover with a clean dishtowel and let it rise until doubled.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Punch down the risen dough and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide dough into three equal parts and shape them into loaves.
  • Oil three bread pans and place the loaves inside, oiling the tops.
  • Let the loaves rise until the desired height.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 39 minutes.
  • Let the loaves cool completely before slicing. 

10.1.18

FROZEN CHOCOLATE PARFAIT

Ah… this brings back memories of the Erkel. Frozen parfait was always very expensive and not something you just walked in for and ate on the way home. You sat inside the coffee house and luxuriated with every spoonful of heaven. I had a liter of whipping cream to use up. The plans for a fruity pavlova for Christmas ended with a last minute bakery run. I am feeling a little better now, but the whipping cream expired as of yesterday. Now we know that nothing really expires on said date, but you don’t want the stuff kicking around too long either. This was the second recipe with whipping cream and as of now we are officially out of pre Christmas whipping cream. I tweaked the recipe and replaced the chocolate chips with Callebaut, the finest Belgian chocolate and wow it’s almost as good as it was fifty years ago at the Erkel.  It was adapted from Always Good Recipes


Frozen Chocolate Parfait

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup fine dark chocolate, finely chopped
5 egg yolks*
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
3 egg whites
4 tsp. sugar

* When separating the yolks from the whites: retain 3 of the whites for the parfait and set aside 2 egg whites in a small lidded container, label and freeze for a later use.


  • Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and place in the fridge. Do not over whip.
  • You will need a couple of heatproof bowls to fit over a saucepan of simmering water.
  • Make sure the bottom of the bowls will not touch the hot water.
  • Place the chocolate in the first bowl and place it over the simmering water and melt it.
  • Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and set it aside.
  • Next place the egg yolks, 3 Tbsp of sugar and the milk in the second bowl. Place it over the simmering water and whisk it vigorously until pale in color and thickened. 
  • Remove the bowl from heat and fold it into the melted chocolate and set it aside.
  • Next whip the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy and one by one add 4 Tbsp of sugar.
  • Continue whipping until the whites are stiff.
    Finally fold in the chocolate mixture.
  • Transfer the parfait to a freezable container, cover and freeze for 4 hours.
  • An hour before serving put the parfait in the fridge to soften it up. No, freezing it instead for 3 hours will not work. :-)
  • Using a large serving spoon, place a scoop of parfait in bowls and serve.
  • Return unused portion to the freezer.


9.1.18

THE NAKED CAKE

There is no need to ice it, the Naked Cake is rich and decadent.  A delightful cake from Divas Can Cook.  Considering all the sugar I opted for salted butter. With the added lemon juice the flavour is perfectly balanced. The recipe yields a substantial amount of cake, but since it isn't a complex recipe it is easy to divide the ingredients. For a festive presentation serve it with fresh fruit. 

The Naked Cake

3 cups cake flour
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups soft butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • Line a 9X13 inch or two round cake pans with parchment paper. Any corner not covered with parchment spray with cooking spray. If using a 9.5 bundt pan, butter and flour the pan. Set aside. 
  • Sift the cake flour into a very large mixing bowl and set it aside.
  • Next whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a different bowl, cover and place it in the fridge.
  • In the same bowl you whipped the heavy cream, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • One by one add the eggs, beating after each addition.
  • Add the extracts and the fresh lemon juice and continue beating for 4 more minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the butter mixture into the sifted flour. 
  • Add the whipped cream and gently fold that in too.
  • Be mindful not to deflate the cake batter with vigorous stirring.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking pan[s].
  • Place in a cold oven and turn the oven on to 325F.
  • If you used the rectangular cake pan, bake the cake for 80 minutes or until the cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If using round cake pans it will take a considerably shorter time, so keep an eye on it. 

8.1.18

TURKEY LIVER PATE - PULYKAMÁJ PÁSTÉTOM

A happy turkey [free range] is going to have, amongst other innards tucked inside, a liver. Freeze it separately and turn it into a pate. Most pate recipes are designed for half a kilo of liver. This one is just for that one liver you saved from the Christmas turkey. I consulted several recipes from my Hungarian cookbooks and came up with this bit of pate that should provide sufficient topping for about a dozen or more crackers. It’s a rich pate and the recipe can be doubled or tripled if need be. Almost all the recipes called for a layer of duck fat to cover the pate to prevent oxidation. I had no duck fat, besides I didn’t think it will be necessary for such a small amount. It may seem like a big bother to make a bit of pate, but if you like the taste of liver, it will be worth it. Beware, the pate contains Scotch Whiskey. 

1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
meaty bacon equal volume to liver, diced
1 turkey liver, diced
2 Tbsp very finely chopped fresh or crushed dried basil
red pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/8 cup whipping cream
1/8 cup of good scotch whiskey

  • On medium heat melt the butter.
  • Add the oil and the meaty bacon.
  • Sauté the bacon until fully cooked.
  • Add the liver, basil and the red pepper.
  • Continue to sauté until the liver is cooked through. It takes very short time. Don’t overcook it.
  • Remove from heat and add salt to taste.
  • Let it cool down somewhat and add the whipping cream.
  • Transfer to the blander or the food processor and pure.
  • Add the scotch and pulse.
  • Place a fine sieve over a bowl and force the liver mixture through.
  • About half of the pate will remain as fiber. Discard it. I would feed it to a dog if there was no alcohol in it.
  • Scoop the fine pate onto a small dish, cover and place in the refrigerator.
  • Serve it fully chilled.

7.1.18

HAM N CHEESE BITES

We had a few leftover ham cubes and rather than throwing them back into the bag, I fried them up with white cheddar and we had them with green grapes for supper. We were getting a bit too old for a full supper and a while back we took to light eating with the evening news or watching a lecture on ethics or philosophy. It’s starting to look a bit futile, but I am still trying to figure out the world. Anyway our sit down meal is between noon and 2PM. … But back to supper! The ham should be fully cooked; these yummy ham n cheese bites fry up super fast. Good hot or cold, they make the perfect hot appies for any get together. 

Ham N Cheese Bites

lean cooked ham piece
piece of white hard cheese, I used aged white cheddar

1 cup flour
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
oil for deep frying

  • Cut the ham into small uniform cubes. Avoid fat and connecting tissues.
  • Cut the cheese into slightly smaller cubes than the ham.
  • Pair them up and pierce through with a toothpick.
  • Place the flour and the bread crumbs separately in two shallow bowls.
  • Place the beaten egg in a cup for easy dipping.
  • One by one gently roll the ham n cheese bites into flour to fully coat.
  • Dip into in the beaten egg to fully coat.
  • Finally dip into the breadcrumbs to fully coat.
  • Set them on a plate and heat up the oil on medium.
  • Deep fry bites until golden brown. It will only take a minute or two.
  • If you fry the bites in a small amount of oil, turn them until each side is golden brown. Do not leave them, these will brown very quickly.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. These will be good cold too.


4.1.18

CELERIAC, CAULIFLOWER AND PARSNIP PURÉE

It was delicious, simply delicious. But my love is a meat and potato man. However he will eat whatever I put in front of him, sometimes grudgingly, but he will eat it. Catchphrase “beggars can’t be choosers” He is a Renaissance man with scores of talents but there are two things he cannot do; carry a tune and cook. Potatoes or not, he promptly ate it up with roasted pork slices and a generous serving of pan drippings. He never said a thing and when I asked how was the vegetable puree he only stopped to grunt. Aren’t you lucky I can cook?

Celeriac, Cauliflower and Parsnip Purée

1 celery root
3 parsnips
1/3 cauliflower
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp butter
salt to taste
sprinkling of white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

  • Peel and chop the celery root and the parsnips and chop the cauliflower segment. Include the core and the leaves.
  • Wash the chopped vegetables under running water and drain.
  • Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the vegetables.
  • Slip in the bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • Drain and transfer vegetables to a food processor. You can puree the vegetables manually, but you won’t get the same smooth consistency.
  • Scoop the pureed vegetables back to the pot.
  • Add the butter, season with salt, white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and give it a good stir.
  • Serve the puree piping hot.


3.1.18

CHEESE BISCUITS - SAJTOS POGÁCSA

These are the perfect vendégváró, [visitor waiting] little biscuits for formal and informal occasions both. Our girl dropped in after work to spend time with her folks, even though we text and talk every day, this was the first time since Christmas Eve that she had time to sit down with us for the afternoon. Pogácsa seemed like the right choice after all the chocolaty decadence we consumed during the holidays. This recipe is from the brilliant young chef, Farkas Vilmos.

About the yeast:
A 0.6 oz. cake yeast is equivalent to one packet or 2-1/4 tsp dry yeast. [I use instant dry yeast, because it can be mixed into the ingredients without proofing.] Both the cake and the dry yeast will rise up to 4 cups of flour. In this case, the 4 tsp of dry instant yeast will seem like an overkill, however it is necessary to rise the still chilled dough in half an hour. Increasing the time would of course alter the biscuits' texture and appearance. The yeast content combined with the burst of high oven temperature is what makes the biscuits rise to perfection. No, they didn't taste yeasty, they were perfectly delicious!


Cheese Biscuits

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks 
4 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp salt 
1/2 cup full fat [14%] sour cream
2 cups grated hard white cheese [I used Monterey Jack]
1-3/4 cup flour
1 whole egg for egg wash
1/4 cup grated white cheese for topping

  • Cream the butter and the egg yolks until fluffy.
  • Add the dry yeast, salt and the sour cream and stir to combine.
  • Stir in 2 cups of the grated cheese.
  • Finally add the flour.
  • Change to a dough hook and kneed the dough on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • The dough will be quite shaggy at this point.
  • Line a plate with parchment [so the dough won’t stick to the plate]
  • Scoop the dough out of the bowl and transfer it to the parchment lined plate.
  • Press the dough flat onto the plate, wrap it and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours or even for the night.
  • Place the chilled dough on a floured surface. The dough will be hard but in fifteen minutes it will be soft enough to knead.
  • Meanwhile line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, lightly beat the whole egg.
  • Grate 1/4 cup of hard cheese.
  • Knead the dough until it softens for rolling.
  • Roll the dough out evenly and with a very tiny biscuit cutter cut 50 rounds, re-rolling the scraps until all the dough is used up. If you end up with less than 50 biscuits, your biscuits will be larger so you will have to adjust the baking time. Dip the cutter into flour before every second cut and firmly press down the dough for neat, sharp edges.
  • Arrange the biscuits into a tight group and sweep the brush with egg wash across the tops. Avoid egg drippings down the sides.
  • Arrange the biscuits on the prepared baking tray close but not touching. [The biscuits will rise up but will not spread much.]
  • Top the biscuits with the grated cheese.
  • Place the biscuits in a warm humid spot for exactly 30 minutes, not longer.
  • Meanwhile set the oven to 400F.
  • Place the biscuits in the preheated oven for approximately 15-18 minutes or until golden.
  • The biscuits will be delicious hot or cold. I knew it will go fast, so I set aside one biscuit for the next day. It sat on the counter uncovered all night, but didn’t harden or dry out. It was perfect.




1.1.18

FRUIT SCONES

So simple and satisfying! For some inexplicable reason scones held no appeal for me, well that’s not quite true, once I made a batch from a recipe and they turned out like hockey pucks. But I so wanted something homey and simple after Christmas. I picked out a recipe from a ragged little publication I had since... forever. I cannot recall what flour company put it out as the cover and the back are long gone. They turned out rather well, requiring nothing else, not even butter. They were still perfectly soft the following day. It has been 3 days since and this morning I finally heated one up and spread a bit of butter on it. Still good, every crumb. Indeed this is a keeper. The notations are new, yes I desecrate cookbooks! They are works in progress; I rate and mark them. As an avid reader of fiction with a penchant for hard cover publications, I treat every book with holy reverence, mindful of the next reader. But cookbooks are different. Cookbooks are fluid; worthy of my experience, remaining open for future interpretations.

Am I the only one who mentally still starts out with 19 something and then having to make a conscious switch to 20 something? Well it's 20 something all-right, eighteen years later. May 2018 be a good year... starting with scones! And speaking of interpretations I give you the flour dance... from the poetry of the great Leonard Cohen.


Fruit Scones

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, soft
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup 3.25% buttermilk
3/4 cup dried fruit [I used dried cherries]

  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Rub in the soft butter.
  • In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs.
  • Stir in the heavy cream and the buttermilk.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just to combine.
  • Add the dried fruit. [Any dried fruit chucks may be used, cherries, raisins, currents, strawberries blueberries, apricots etc. Fresh or frozen or canned fruit is not suitable for this recipe.]
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut 14 rounds.
  • Place on prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the top and sides begin to turn golden. Do not over bake. Check the bottom, it should be lightly browned. 



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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!