MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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30.3.11

CORNER HOUSE - SAROKHÁZ


Sarokház means corner house. A corner house is shaped like a slice of cake. The most famous corner house is probably the Flatiron building in New York. The Hungarian dessert that is constructed from a slice of cake and is completely covered with whipped cream is also called sarokház i.e. corner house. Hungarian coffee houses assemble their sarokház from either chocolate, Stefánia or Dobos torts. On one of our first dates in 1967 my husband to be took me to an elegant coffee house in Budapest for espresso and sarokház. There is nothing like sarokház to put Zsuzsa into a sweet mood.

How to assemble it…well, the pictures tell the story. There are pointers though. Assemble just before serving. Use whipping cream with the highest possible fat content. Adding a bit of “whip it”, an Oatker stabilizer, helps too. There are instant whipped creams in pressurized cans on the market; some of them from real cream. But none of these products are stable enough to assemble a sarokház. I have tried, they just slip slide around and collect in a puddle around the cake within seconds.

I cover the entire cake with sweetened whipped cream and pipe more cream to reinforce the form. This is not a sophisticated, complex desert and it was clearly designed with the whipped cream fanatic in mind. And also to use up leftover cakes. Hence the generic name and the fact that no pastry chef stamped his name on it. Although I was quite amazed that there are no sarokház photos on the Internet. Sissi, you now know the rest of the story.

Start with a generous slice of cake

                         Maintaining its shape, cover the entire cake with sweetened whipped cream.

                                        Pipe along the edges to reinforce the cake wedge form.

MARJORAM RAGOUT - MAJORANNÁS TOKÁNY


This dish is strangely similar to beef stroganoff, without the mushrooms of course. It has been based on borsostokány, the only difference is the absence of tomato paste and significantly less ground pepper is added than to borsostokány. The addition of marjoram gives the tokány a very pleasant flavour, easier to digest and a great alternative to people, who are not fans of mushroom. Believe it or not, not everyone likes mushrooms, including some members of my own family.

500 g lean stir fry beef strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 tsp marjoram
water
1/8 cup flour
1/2 cup sour cream

• Place the olive oil in a fry pan.
• Add the diced onions and sauté on medium heat until transparent.
• Add the beef strips and the crushed garlic.
• Sprinkle with salt, ground pepper and 1-1/2 tsp marjoram.
• Slowly sauté the meat, turning it over until no pink shows.
• Add 1/2 cup water, cover and slowly cook until tender.
• Add more water [1/2 cup at the time] as needed; tokány should have a nice sauce.
[I had slightly less meat so I added 1/2 cup of water one more time.]
• Meanwhile combine 1/8 cup flour and 1/2 cup sour cream.
• When meat is tender stir the sour cream thickener into the tokány.
• Adjust the salt and add more water if needed.
• Nice with buttered galuska or spaghetti. Serves four
   

28.3.11

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES


**Resist the urge to bake the cookies longer than indicated; they may appear under baked at first but will firm up as they cool.**

I was tempted to call this death by chocolate cookies; I have gone to Heaven cookies; the ultimate chocolate cookies; but in the end I stayed true [at least in part] to the original name of this most delectable confectionary. Yes folks, these are no ordinary cookies, not with a pound of Callebaut chocolate plus with other chocolaty good things in them. I would warn the lickers; the temptation will be enormous to lick. Remember, not many people want to eat what you leave behind when you lick. Well all right, you will have to wash your hands a few times when you roll the cookies, because they do get sticky after rolling a dozen or so, but just lick before you wash your hands. About the hand washing, once the chocolaty bits are washed away, make sure to rinse your hands under cold water, and then dry them thoroughly. Additional heat would just make it harder to roll the remaining cookie dough. Julie has instructions to melt the chocolate in the microwave, but I rather not mess around with a pound of Callebaut. By the way, one pound of chocolate equals to 16 squares. Thank you Julie for these magnificent chocolate delights! [Julie's recipe]

2 cups flour
1/2 cup good quality, unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz semisweet bulk Callebaut or Ghirardelli chocolate
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cups demerara sugar
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups pure chocolate chips

• The night before, put the butter on the counter to soften.
• Measure 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup cocoa into a plastic container with a well fitting lid and place it in the freezer for the night.
• Next day add the chilled flour and cocoa to a larger bowl.
• Add 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt and whisk together with the chilled flour and cocoa. Then set aside.
• Place a small bowl over simmering water.
• Add the chocolate and let it melt until only small pieces remain.
• Remove from heat, stir and set aside.
• Beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy.
• Beat in the sugars until combined, the mixture will look granular.
• Reduce the speed to low and gradually [not all at once] beat in the egg mixture until just incorporated.
• Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
• Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed until just combined.
• Finally stir in the chocolate chips. Do not overbeat.
• Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Omit this step if the flour and cocoa were chilled in the freezer for a night.
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• Line 2 sheets with parchment paper [this is pretty important - if the cookies are baked on a greased baking sheet only, they will probably stick].
• Roll the dough on the palm of your hands into 1-1/2 inch balls and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart.
• Bake for 11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begins to set but the centers are still very soft.
• Remove cookies and cool on the sheets for 5 minutes.
• Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
• Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 36 good sized cookies


Just out of the oven

27.3.11

BAKED BEANS


These are fairly fast to prepare and certainly an improvement over canned pork and beans. Add a bit of smoked ham and it will be even better. If you use commercial chicken stock, make sure it is of good quality. Baked beans will not soften up in the oven; they are baked only to develop and to blend flavours. Baked beans have to be cooked on the stove and cooked very soft prior to “baking”; they cannot soften up in the oven, no matter how long you bake them. I prefer the flavour of small white beans; small white beans also cook faster. The recipe calls for only 1 cup of dry beans. This amount will feed Jim and me for two days. If you need larger servings or more people to feed, the recipe can be easily doubled. When reheating the following day add 1/2 cup of chicken stock, even water, just not tomato sauce, because the beans would have soaked up some of the sauce overnight.

1 cup white beans
4 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 whole black peppercorns
1 cup tomato sauce
2 fresh sage leaves
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch of hot mustard
piece of smoked ham, optional
salt and black pepper to taste

• Cook the beans first.
• Rinse 1 cup of white beans*.
• Add 5 cups of water and bring to rapid boil.
• Boil for 5 minutes; remove from heat.
• Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
• Drain the soak water and rinse beans.
• Place the beans in a medium sized pot.
• Add 3 cups of chicken stock, 2 bay leaves, 1 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, and peppercorns.
• Cover the pot, bring to boil and gently simmer for 1 hour or until beans are very soft.
• Transfer the beans to an ovenproof casserole dish, reserving the cooking liquid.
• Preheat oven to 375F.
• Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 sage and 2 bay leaves.
• Add 1/2 Tbsp of brown sugar and a pinch of hot mustard.
• Add enough cooking liquid to just reach the top of the beans.
• Add the smoked ham, if using.
• Place in the oven uncovered and bake for 1 hour.
• Adjust the salt and the pepper.

*Brown beans should be soaked overnight.

26.3.11

COCOA CAKE


When you want your cake and it eat too nothing sings as sweetly as a good slice of homemade cake. I like mine light and soft and preferably with buttercream. A dense cake is a capital crime in my opinion.

4-5 drops of oil
4 Tbsp cake flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
8 egg yolks
8 Tbsp sugar
8 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

COCOA BUTTERCREAM

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted

• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Very lightly oil the bottom of two round spring form cake pans.
• Oiling the bottoms will keep the parchment paper in place.
• Cut two circles from parchment paper for the cake pans.
• Line the bottom of the cake pans with the parchment circles.
• Make sure no oil gets on the sides.
• Sift the cake flour, baking powder and the cocoa into a medium sized bowl and set it aside.
• Beat the egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes.
• Stir the flour mixture into the yolk mix with a wooden spoon.
• With clean beaters beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
• Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.
• Gradually fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
• Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
• Gently smooth out the top.
• Bake the cakes at 350F until the middle springs back.
• Remove cake pans from the oven.
• Gently cut along the edge and open up the springs.
• Gently remove cakes from the bottom of the cake pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
• While cakes cool, prepare the cocoa buttercream.
• Beat the butter with an electric beater until fluffy.
• Add the sifted icing sugar.
• Using a wooden spoon, combine the butter and the icing sugar.
• Then beat with an electric beater for 3 minutes.
• Add the whipping cream and beat for 2 more minutes.
• Using a wooden spoon stir the sifted cocoa into the cream.
• Then beat with an electric beater until well combined.
• When the cakes have cooled somewhat, gently pull off the parchment paper.
• Let cakes cool completely.
• Place the first layer on your board, and spread with a generous layer of cocoa buttercream.
• Top with the other cake and cover the top and the side with buttercream.

23.3.11

PILIS PORK RAGOUT - PILISI SERTÉS RAGU


This one is a one dish meal. All you need is a piece of good bread and you are set for the rest of the day. Except maybe have a slice of zserbó sometime afterwards. Cooked over an open fire the aroma and the flavour of course are superior. It is preferable to use a small slab of bacon to start the ragout when cooking out of doors, but in my kitchen, I opt for olive oil. When chopping the meat, keep in mind that larger pieces can considerably increase cooking time.

600 g pork meat, leg portion
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 + Tbsp Hungarian paprika
2 Roma tomatoes
2 carrots
3 potatoes
1 parsnip
1 small celeriac [celery root]
1 yellow pepper

• Chop the meat into cubes.
• Add the olive oil to the pot.
• Sauté the diced onions on olive oil until transparent.
• Add the crushed garlic cloves and the pork cubes.
• Sprinkle salt, ground pepper and caraway seeds.
• Slowly cook the meat, turning it over often, until no pink shows.
• Add 2 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika and stir.
• Add the tomatoes and water halfway up the meat.
• Liquid should not cover the meat, this is stew; not a soup.
• Cover the pot and slowly sauté the meat.
• Meanwhile peel and chop the vegetables.
• Cut the carrots and the parsnip in half and cut them in half lengthwise again.
• Cube the potatoes and the celeriac.
• Cut the pepper into 4 parts.
• When meat is almost tender, add the carrots and a little water if needed.
• I five minutes add the potatoes and a little water if needed.
• When the potatoes are near being done, add the parsnip, celeriac and the yellow pepper.
• At this point you will have to add water to the ragout.
• When everything is cooked, stir in more Hungarian pepper for nice red color.
• Adjust the salt and add more water if needed. Serve with good sour cream.
   

21.3.11

CANADIAN PEA SOUP


Canadian pea soup made from dried green peas is a British thing. Quebeckers prefer the yellow variety. Made from dried yellow peas and seasoned with savory is what we call French Canadian Pea Soup. Savory is a European herb its taste is somewhere between mint and thyme. But thyme, marjoram, or sage can also be used in pea soup. I added a bit of Herbs de Provoncale. Provoncale herb is a French mixture that could include basil, fennel, lavender, marjoram or mint, rosemary, savory, sage, and thyme. So it becomes a matter of taste seasoning Canadian pea soup. What we all seem to agree on is that pea soup should always be served the day after it’s made.

1/3 cup dried green peas
100 g salt pork or meaty ham bone
5-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 medium onions
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dry savory
1 pinch of Herbs de Provencale
1 pinch of thyme
pepper

• Soak the peas overnight and drain.
• Place all ingredients into a medium sized pot.
• Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.
• Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.
• Bring to a boil again.
• Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or longer until peas are tender.
• Let the soup cool.
• Remove the ham bone and the bay leaves.
• Cut the lean bits off the bone and chop them into tiny peaces.
• With a slotted spoon remove the carrots and chop these too.
• With a potato-masher coarsely mash the peas. [Do not blend smooth]
• Test for salt. Depending on the ham bone used, you may not need to add salt.
• Add the finely chopped ham and the carrots back to the soup.
• Cover and place in the refrigerator for the night.
• Reheat the following day and serve with a crusty bun or slice of rustic bread.

20.3.11

GERBEAUD SLICES - ZSERBÓ


Café Gerbeaud, or known by Hungarians as the Zserbó is not far from the Lánchíd [Chain Bridge] and is probably the most elegant of all the historical cafes in Budapest. The name ‘gerbeaud’ or zserbó is also used for a walnut and chocolate rich layered pastry no Hungarian Christmas spread should be without. If beigli is for the adults, zserbó most certainly is for the kids. Although it contains yeast, zserbó must not be allowed to raise much before baking, or it will be doughy. And neither the walnut, nor the apricot jam should be replaced with something else, or it’s not zserbó.

PASTRY
1/8 cup water
1-1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2-1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp butter
1 egg

FILLING
apricot jam,
1 1/2 cups walnuts, ground

TOPPING
4 squares bitter chocolate
1 Tbsp butter

• In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in 1/8 cup of warm water.
• Sprinkle the yeast with 1 tsp sugar.
• In a large bowl combine the flour with 1/4 cup of sugar.
• Add the butter to the flour mixture.
• With clean hands rub the butter into the flour for fine crumbs.
• Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture.
• Break one egg into the bowl the yeast was in and lightly whisk with a fork.
• Add the whisked egg to the well and stir to combine.
• Kneed the dough until smooth, cover and set aside.
• Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, no longer.
• Meanwhile cut a sheet of parchment paper the exact same size as the rectangular* baking pan. This will be used for rolling out the dough. Set it aside.
• Next cut a larger sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the baking pan; leaving two ends hanging down the sides for easy gripping.
• Lightly spray the parchment and the unlined sides of the pan with cooking spray.
• Grind the walnuts in the food processor and set aside.
• Force a small jar of apricot jam through a sieve and set aside.
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and pat them into rectangular disks.
• Place the smaller sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface and place the first disk on it. [Do not flour the parchment paper, you want the dough to stick.
• With a minimal amount of flour, roll out the dough to fit the parchment paper. You will have to play with the dough a bit to get a perfect rectangle.
• Place the dough inside the prepared pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper.
• Spread it lightly with apricot jam and sprinkle with 1/2 ground walnuts over the top.
• Roll out the second layer on the parchment paper as before.
• Place on the first layer and again spread it lightly with apricot jam and sprinkle it with the remaining walnuts.
• Roll out the last layer and place it on the top.
• Let it rest for 1/2 hour, no longer.
• Poke the top with a fork.
• Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
• Place the pan on a rack and let it cool.
• Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler.
• Pour the melted chocolate over the cooled bar evenly.
• Place the pan in the fridge and let the chocolate set completely.
• Remove chilled bar from the fridge.
• Grab the ends of the parchment paper and move the bar onto a large cutting board.
• Cut the zserbó evenly into long bars.

 * If you find it a challenge to roll the dough so thin, I suggest you use a square pan instead of a rectangular pan. The layers will be of course thicker, but will still taste delicious.

LEMON CHICKEN



The skin cannot crisp and the meat tastes bland if the bird is baked at low temperatures. Of course baking chicken on high temperature makes a mess; the fat splatters and burning fat smokes. The solution is to start with high heat and then to reduce it to moderately high. It is a good idea to baste often, smaller birds require more basting than large ones.

1 small chicken fryer
1 large yellow onion, sliced
olive oil
salt
ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 Tbsp butter, melted

• Wash the chicken inside and out.
• Take the giblets out of the chicken.
• Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers.
• Salt the chicken inside and out.
• Place the chicken on a platter and let it brine in the salt for 1-2 hours.
• Discard the liquid that collects under the chicken.
• Preheat the oven to 425F.
• Place the sliced onions in a small roasting pan.
• Drizzle onions with olive oil.
• Place the chicken on top.
• Sprinkle the chicken cavity with pepper.
• Place the lemons inside.
• Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels.
• Brush the skin with the melted butter.
• Tuck the wing tips under the body.
• Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
• Roast the chicken at 425F for just 15 minutes.
• Reduce the heat to 375F and roast the chicken for 1-3/4 hours, basting often.
• When chicken has been roasting for 1-3/4 hours, insert a meat thermometer near one of the thighbones.
• When the thermometer reaches 195F, the chicken is done.
• Remove chicken from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil.
• Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Just before inserting the meat thermometer

CARROT SALAD


Carrot salad is equally good at the summer picnic or at the salad table. But this was one of those recipes I repeatedly passed over until one day I had it at a charity event. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was. I made it since for various company and they all loved it. I try to stay away from prepackaged foods, but I think it would take a fair amount of effort to reproduce a half a can of Campbell’s and then again it may not be worth your while. But what the heck it tastes good!

3 cups sliced carrots
1/4 onion, thickly sliced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 can of tomato soup
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

• Peel and slice the carrots.
• Cook the carrots in a small amount of salted boiling water until crispy tender.
• Thickly slice the onions and place in a bowl
• Drain the cooked carrots and add them to the bowl.
• Add the diced pepper to the bowl.
• In a saucepan combine the tomato soup, oil, sugar, vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire Sauce.
• On medium high heat warm up the tomato brine.
• Stir the warm brine into the carrots and let cool.
• Wrap and chill for at least 24 hours.
• Remove the onion chunks and discard.
• Adjust salt and season with pepper and serve.
  

19.3.11

BAUMKUCHEN CAKE


I made this baumkuchen cake for my oldest daughter’s wedding back in 1997. The groom’s part German heritage inspired it, plus the fact that we had to transport the cake on a very hot August weekend from Kamloops to Abbotsford and then to the reception that was held in a backyard. The kids wanted a pot luck reception and thought the whole spread will just magically appear on the tables. But just as I thought, there would not have been magic without yours truly or friend Ann Eggleton. What crazy things one is willing to do for one’s kid will never cease to amaze me.

The groom’s cake on the top was a Traditional Plum Cake [rich fruitcake], and the bride’s cake [the bottom tier], was the Baumkuchen. The recipes for the Traditional Plum Cake, the Baumkuchen, the Apricot Glaze, the Marzipan, the Sugar Paste and the sugar paste flowers that I used all came from Barbara Maher’s “Ultimate Cake” book, more specifically from the instructions to her Traditional Wedding Cake. Maher’s was a three tiered wedding cake, but I only made two tiers. Included is the recipe for a 9 inch Baumkuchen.

Working on the sugar paste




Barbara Maher's 9 inch Baumkuchen Cake

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2-1/4 cups sugar
14 eggs, separated
1-3/4 flour
1-3/4 cups potato starch

• Make the cake in two layers, using a 7-egg mixture for each layer.
• To prepare a 9 inch cake pan, butter and flour the base.
• Beat 1 cup of butter, half the vanilla, half the lemon zest, and 1-1/8 cups sugar together until pale and fluffy.
• Beat in 7 egg yolks, one at the time.
• Sift together half each of the flour and the potato starch.
• Gradually beat in until well combined.
• In another bowl whisk the egg whites into soft peaks.
• Stir in2 large spoonfuls, and then carefully fold in the rest.
• Preheat the broiler to high.
• Spread 6 Tbsp of the mixture over the base of the prepared cake pan.
• Broil for 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked through.
• Remove pan, cover with another layer of mixture.
• Broil for 2-3 minutes.
• After 3-4 layers, you will be able to spread the mixture more thinly.
• Continue using 4 Tbsp of mixture for each layer.
• Remove the cake from the pan and let cool on wire rack.
• Repeat to make the second layer.
• Baumkuchen cake can be finished with lemon or chocolate glaze.
             

17.3.11

BAKED MANICOTTI


Manicotti is nice as a meatless dish or with precooked sausage meat added to the filling. Manicotti shells are expensive and a bit fussy to fill. Using lasagne noodles instead might not be the purist’s approach, but certainly easier and more economical than filling manicotti shells. The recipe calls for commercial lasagne noodles. I make my own, so it looks a bit different in the picture.

6 lasagne noodles, cooked and rinsed in cold water
1-1/3 cups pasta sauce
1-3/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup pesto

• Prepare pasta to package directions and drain.
• Spread 3/4 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x9-inch baking dish.
• In a bowl combine the ricotta, egg, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and pesto.
• Cut each lasagne noodle in half.
• Divide the cheese mixture on every noodle.
• Fold one end over and tuck under.
• Arrange the folded pastas in the prepared baking dish.
• Pour the remaining pasta sauce on the top.
• Bake at 350F for 40 min or until heated through.


     

FRUIT DIP



With its pleasant flavour this dip complements all types of fruits without overpowering them. To avoid lumps in the dip, make sure the cream cheese is soft and is well whipped before the other ingredients are added.

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup orange marmalade or apricot jam

• Whip the softened cream cheese until soft.
• Add the mayonnaise and the marmalade and combine.
• Serve with fresh fruit chunks.
  

16.3.11

PAPRIKA HUMMUS – PAPRIKÁS HUMMUS



This is a Mid Eastern hummus topped with a bit of Hungarian attitude. It’s pretty authentic until you add the paprikás onions. Now there are few items I am willing to use canned and chickpeas happen to be one of them. Chickpeas must be the only canned vegetable that have no canned taste. If we needed more I would have cooked the chickpeas myself, but since we didn’t, opening a can of chickpeas made a lot of sense. There are claims that canned chickpeas should be rinsed or they will make the hummus bitter. This is incorrect. The bitterness of hummus comes from using too much tahini and not from the chickpeas. The rinsing comes into the picture only when you cook the chickpeas yourself, but that’s a different story altogether. Use no more than 1 Tbsp of tahini for a can of chickpeas and your hummus will never taste bitter.

1 can of chick peas, drained -- not rinsed, liquid reserved
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp tahini [no more]
1/2 lemon, juice of
pinch of salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika

• Blend or process chick peas, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice.
• If the mixture is too dry and won't process, add a little chick pea liquid.
• Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice.
• Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil and blend or process until fairly smooth.
• Make the paprikás sauce.
• Dice 1/4 of a medium onion.
• Place 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a non stick fry pan.
• Add the onions; and on medium heat sauté until very soft.
• Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika.
• Make a well in the center and scatter around the paprikás onions.
• Serve hummus with soft flat breads, or with a whole wheat baguette [long skinny  
  French bread] and roasted peppers, or with a variety of vegetable crudities.

15.3.11

MACARONI AND CHEESE


KD is the epitome of artificiality. This mac and cheese is all good and tastes nothing like KD. I am a bit partial to green things, but you can omit the parsley from the top. Pure homey comfort.

1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt, pepper, cayenne
1-1/2 cups 2% evaporated milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp Parmesan, grated

• Cook the macaroni to package direction.
• Drain and set aside.
• Sauté the onions in butter; consistency should be very soft.
• Stir in the flour, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne.
• Cook and stir for 1 minute.
• Gradually whisk in milk and the cream.
• Bring to boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly.
• Remove from heat, and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.
• Stir in the cheddar until sauce is smooth.
• Stir in the macaroni and pour into a buttered 5 cups casserole.
• Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley and Parmesan.
• Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the casserole.
• Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
 

COOKING VEGETABLES


Didn’t like your overcooked vegetables when you were a kid? Well good for you, neither did I. To this day I find nothing sorrier on the plate than a clump of soggy, limp, faded vegetables. Vegetables when cooked well have even more vibrant colours than fresh. Just like pasta, cooked vegetables should have a bit of resistance or crunch when you bite into them; I call it tender-crisp. But flavour and texture is not the only things that are lost with overcooking; most of the nutrients are cooked out as well.

• Prep vegetables just before cooking
• Cut uniform size pieces.
• Do not mix different vegetables.
• Batch cook to reduce hot holding times

• Put a few inches of water in the pot.
• Place the pot on moderately-high heat and bring to full boil.
• Now add the vegetables.
• The water should not touch the vegetables.
• Cover with lid.
• Test from time to time to check whether they are done
• Give special attention to vegetables with tough and tender parts.
• Do not over cook.
• Cook for an ‘al dente’ texture (slightly firm to the bite).
• Serve immediately.

If the vegetables are soft all the way through, they are overcooked.
Boiled vegetables are often soggy, tasteless with no food value.
So don’t boil, steam! Steaming reduces nutrient leaching.
Prep and cook close to serving or use pre-cook shock with reheating later.
Use little water and minimize time in water.

TO RETAIN VEGETABLES NATURAL COLOR

White Vegetables:
Use short cooking times
Add a small amount of lemon juice

Red Vegetables:
Use as little water as necessary
Cook with a small amount of lemon juice

Green vegetables:
Cook uncovered
Cook quickly
Cook in small batches

Yellow And Orange Vegetables:
Short cooking times
   

14.3.11

PEPPER STEAK


The soya sauce marinade, even the stock will add salt to this dish so additional salt is unnecessary. Adjust the salt at the end if needed. You can always add salt to it, but you cannot remove it. Thanks Ann!

1lb round steak
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tbsp oil
1 large green pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3/8 cup of red wine
1/4 cup chicken stock as needed
pepper to taste

• Partially freeze the steak. This makes it easier to slice.
• Slice the steak into thin slices across the grain.
• Combine the soy sauce, ginger, 2 Tbsp of the oil, sugar and garlic.
• Pour over the meat and marinate overnight, or for 4 hours.
• Place the marinated beef in a large sieve and let the marinade drip into a bowl.
• Slice the green peppers, and the mushrooms.
• Place 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet.
• Add the green peppers and mushrooms.
• Sauté vegetables for 2 minutes or until green peppers are bright green and crunchy.
• With a slotted spoon remove vegetables and place them in a bowl.
• Add 1 Tbsp cornstarch to a medium sized bowl.
• Add the marinated beef and toss to coat with the flour.
• Discard marinade.
• Place 2 Tbsp oil in the skillet and sauté the beef strips 3-4 minutes or until tender.
• While the beef is cooking, add 3/8 cup of red wine in stages. [Not all at once]
• Add up to 1/4 cup chicken stock to make thin sauce.
• Add the green peppers and mushrooms and heat through.
• Season with pepper.
• Serve on rice pilaf.
   

12.3.11

DOBOS TORTE - DOBOS TORTA



This was a humbling experience. My first mistake was using cake flour instead of all purpose. So the texture of the cake is off; it’s too soft and crumbly. Does the recipe say cake flour? No, it does not. Then why did I use cake flour? My second mistake was not lining one of my cake pans accurately so one cake was lopsided. By the time I evened it out I lost a layer. I was careless with scoring my caramel and the slices are uneven. Was this the first time I made dobos torta? NOT! Good grief.

CAKE
1 cup flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup sugar
9 eggs
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

• Line 3 round cake pans with parchment paper.
• If you don’t have 3 pans, use disposable aluminum cake pans.
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• In a bowl sift together the flour and potato starch.
• Add the grated lemon zest.
• In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar for 5 minutes.
• Gradually add the flour and potato mix to the yolk mixture.
• Wash the beaters and beat egg whites to soft peeks.
• Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat to stiff glossy peaks.
• Stir some beaten egg white into the batter.
• Gently fold in the remaining whites.
• Place the batter in three 8-inch parchment lined cake pans.
• Bake at 425F for 5-6 minutes until light golden.
• Remove from oven, loosen the edge and invert on wire racks.
• Peel off paper and let cool completely.
• Cut each cake into 2 layers.

BUTTER CREAM
5 tsp bitter cocoa
6 squares semi sweet chocolate
2 cups UNSALTED butter [minimum]
2 cups icing sugar

Hint:
if you plan to do any piping use 3 cups unsalted butter and 3 cups icing sugar.

Instead of using chocolate, you can make a simple butter cream. Just increase the cocoa to 1/3 cup and omit the chocolate. In that case beat the butter and the icing sugar for 5-8 minutes and add the bitter cocoa. Beat to incorporate and the butter cream is ready.

• Dissolve cocoa in a heatproof bowl with 2 Tbsp boiling water.
• Add the chocolate and melt over a small pot of simmering water.
• Stir occasionally.
• Let cool until thickened, but not set.
• In another bowl, beat the butter and the icing sugar for 5-8 minutes.
• Stir in the chocolate.
• Beat mixture until fluffy and thick.
• Sandwich 5 cake layers with 1/4 inch butter cream in between.
• Spread the top and sides with butter cream and chill for 1 hour.

CARAMEL TOP
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup margarine block, chilled
sharp knife

• Meanwhile, make the caramel top.
• Place a sheet of parchment paper on the board.
• Place the remaining cake layer in the middle of the paper.
• Ever so lightly glaze with apricot jam. This will give an even appearance to the caramel.
• Place a large sharp knife and the margarine near.
• Combine the sugar with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.
• In a saucepan, slowly melt the sugar mix, stirring continuously.
• Handle with care: sugar burns fast, so keep stirring.
• When the caramel is lightly browned*, remove from heat.
• Immediately pour on the cake layer.
• Melted sugar is very hot, never let it touch your skin. Keep children away!
• There is only a short time to score and to cut.
• Slice the knife through the margarine first then cut.
• Repeat until the caramel top is all sliced up.
• Let the caramel tops cool completely.
• Place cooled caramel tops on top of the cake.


* Caramel keeps darkening even after the pot is removed from heat. If you aim for a blond color, it will be just perfect at the end.

         

11.3.11

CHICKEN CHOW MEIN


Chow mein is simple to make and it has been a standard fare at our house for many years. This one is good reheated, a real comfort food. Sometimes I add roasted almond pieces along with the green onions.


This time I used broccoli, cauliflower, Savoy cabbage, mushrooms, red and green peppers and celery.


1/2 small boneless chicken breast, diced
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 garlic, minced
2 Tbsp diced onions
1-1/2 Tbsp soya sauce
2-3 cups of very finely chopped vegetables
4 cups steam fried chow mein noodles
salt and pepper to taste
4 green onions, chopped

• Cut 1/2 chicken breast into tiny pieces.
• Whisk oyster sauce into the chicken stock and set aside.
• Preheat fry pan on medium high heat.
• Add the oil, ginger and garlic and fry for 1/2 minute.
• Add the onions and fry for 1 minute.
• Add the chicken and fry until no pink shows.
• Add the soya sauce and fry for 1 more minute.
• Add the very finely chopped vegetables and cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously.
• Add the chicken stock mix to the pan.
• Keep stirring and cook for 1 minute longer.
• Remove pan from heat and set it aside.
• Place a medium sized pot of water on the stove and bring it to boil.
• Plunge the chow mein noodles into the boiling water for 1 minute.
• Remove pot from heat and pour noodles through a large sieve.
• Place noodles in a large bowl and add contents of the fry pan.*
• Stir. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper.
• Add the chopped green onions and stir.
• Pop the bowl in the microwave to heat through.
  Makes 3-4 bowls of chow mein

* If you have a deep fry pan omit this step and just add the noodles and heat through.
     

STIR FRY CHOP SUEY STYLE


When it comes to Chinese food I have two limitations. The first one is I don’t have a wok. I had a wok once, but I soon discovered it needed an open flame to work well. I have an electric stove so the wok was given away. Hello fry pan!

Number two is my limited reference to real Chinese food. Never mind that I am wok impaired, as a Hungarian Canadian, I have only Americanized Chinese cooking for reference. Last week I tried Emeril’s version at chop suey: it was so-so fresh, but by the following day the leftovers were distinctly repugnant. I should give this up I thought.

A few days passed and I decided to embrace all my limitations, my “woklessness”, my MSG free pantry, and my resolve to use peanut oil sparingly and I began to experiment with stir frying “chop suey style”. Not following any recipe, just cooking as I know how to cook. Well surprise, surprise! It turned out quite well and was enjoyed into the next day.

I made it again, gaining a few pointers. Use fresh vegetables at their optimum. In other words, don’t clean out the fridge. Use good quality chicken stock. Strong, homemade stock is preferable. Other than salt, pepper and soya sauce, the chicken stock has to provide much of the flavour. By this time I became painfully aware of the reason Chinese eateries use pork fat and MSG. I relented on the pork fat but I refuse to use MSG. Oh and boneless chicken thighs are the most flavourful part of the chicken and when cooking pork, use tenderloin; the chops are just too dry for this type of cooking.

Prepare the vegetables separately and line them up in separate little dishes in the order they will be cooked. Give this some thought; you may have slightly different vegetables at your disposal. Chop the meat paper thin, this is easiest half frozen. Cut the vegetables thin. Cook vegetables over medium high heat and no longer than 1 minute each. Cook the toughest vegetables first; start with beans then add the carrots, then the cauliflower and after that the asparagus. Add them one type of vegetable at a time and when the fat begins to sizzle add a bit of stock. When the steam rises up from the stock; add the next vegetable. Keep gently shuffling the vegetables in the fry pan for even distribution. Add some stock as soon as the oil starts to sizzle. But add no more than 1 Tbsp stock at the time – not until the end.

Cook peppers for half a minute only. Broccoli, mushrooms, celery and Savoy cabbage are fast cooking and need no individual cooking time. The heat the thickening stock will generate at the end will be sufficient to cook these vegetables through. Just add one type of vegetable at a time and stir, immediately add the next one. When all your fast cooking vegetables have been added, pour in the thickening stock. Quickly bring it all to boil and its ready to serve. Recipe is at the end.
   
    Vegetables I used

    Arranged in order

    Finished

THE RECIPE:

As in the photos, you need only small amounts from each vegetable.

1 Tbsp clear pork drippings [from a pork roast or a slab of raw pork fat]
2 Tbsp peanut oil
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Tbsp grated ginger
3 Tbsp diced onions
1/2 chicken breast, meat sliced paper thin
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp soya sauce
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 thinly sliced carrot
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 red pepper sliced,
1/2 green pepper cut in chunks
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
2 stalks of green onion, chopped [for garnish]

• Cut, peel, wash and drain all the vegetables you will be using.
• Slice or dice just what you need.
• Place sliced or diced vegetables in separate little containers.
• Place containers in the order to fry, toughest first, and fast cooking vegetables last.
• Slice the chicken paper thin.
• Place a large non stick fry pan on medium high heat.
• When fry pan truly heated, add the pork fat and the oil.
• Add the garlic and the ginger and fry continually stirring for 1 minute.
• Add the onions and fry continually stirring for 1 minute.
• Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
• Fry the chicken continually stirring until no pink meat remains.
• Stir in 1 Tbsp of soya sauce.
• Add the green beans and fry for 1 minute continually stirring.
• From this point on, each time the fat sizzles, add 1 Tbsp from the chicken stock.
• Add the carrots and fry for 1 minute continually stirring.
• When the fat sizzles, add 1 Tbsp chicken stock.
• Add the cauliflower florets and fry for 1 minute continually stirring.
• When the fat sizzles, add 1 Tbsp of chicken stock.
• Add the red and green peppers and fry for 1/2 minute stirring continuously.
• Remove pan from heat, but do not turn off heat.
• Whisk 1 Tbsp of cornstarch into the remaining chicken stock and set aside.
• Add the broccoli florets and stir.
• Add the thinly sliced celery and stir.
• Add the Savoy cabbage and stir.
• Pour the reserved stock with the cornstarch beside the vegetables and stir.
• When the stock boils up quickly remove pan from the heat.
• Place the stir fry in a serving bowl and top with chopped green onions.

    Next day reheated
    

8.3.11

COLESLAW WITH MAYONNAISE


Coleslaw with mayonnaise does not last; it goes soft very, very quickly. So add the mayonnaise in the last minute and never make more than what you can consume in one meal. My recipe called for an entire cabbage. So I reduced everything by 4. And even then I made more than enough for 4 people.

1/4 head green cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 small carrot, grated
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 Tbsp sugar

• After removing the bitter core very thinly slice the cabbage.
• Peel the carrot and grate it.
• Combine cabbage with the grated carrot in a large bowl.
• Transfer to a large colander and rinse well under cold running water.
• Let slaw drip dry.
• Roll out a section of [3 large sheets] of paper towel on the counter.
• Scatter the slaw on the top and roll up paper towel.
• Let is rest inside the paper towel for 5 minutes.
• Transfer slaw back into the bowl.
• Sprinkle with cider vinegar and toss.
• Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.
• In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup mayonnaise with 1/2 Tbsp of sugar.
• Add mayonnaise mixture to the bowl and toss.
• Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings
   

BACON WRAPPED WATER CHESTNUTS


This is one of the simplest of the simple “horse devours” or “horses ovaries” that I know. And it’s always a hit. Without fail every bit of it is gone from the tray.

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dry sherry
250 g sliced bacon
1 can of water chestnuts
toothpicks

• Combine the soy sauce with the sherry.
• Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each water chestnut.
• Fasten them with a toothpick.
• Brush with the soy mixture.
• Place in an ovenproof dish.
• Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, or until crispy brown.
   

5.3.11

LINZER COOKIES - LINZER


Ah linzer! Linzer is a traditional Hungarian Christmas cookie. My grandma used to put walnuts and sugar sprinkles on the top, sometimes she glazed them with a beaten egg. Linzer lends itself to fabulous decorating; you can spread them with icing, dip them into chocolate and top them with candy. Linzer also makes a great base for a variety of desserts whenever a cookie base is called for. Linzer is buttery and delicious plain, but the best part is it can be rolled out over and over again without having to flour the board. You can cut the linzer into fancy shapes, it puffs up just enough to give the cookies an overall good appearance, but they will not spread or loose their shapes. Linzer cookies can be packed fairly close together on the cookie sheet; they have minimal expansion. Hungarian linzer is definitely the easiest and most versatile cookies that I know.

2 cups flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 pinch of salt

• Place the ingredients into a large bowl.
• With clean hands truly blend into a smooth dough.
• Let dough rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour.
• Meanwhile line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Then lay a sheet of wax paper [or parchment] on the board.
• Place the dough on the wax paper.
• Roll the dough into 2 mm thickness.
• With cookie cutters cut into desired shapes.
• Place the cut outs on the prepared cookie sheet.
• Gather up the remnants and keep rerolling until no dough is left.
• Bake cookies in preheated 350F oven for 7 minutes.
• Remove from oven and let cookies settle for 5 minutes.


   

VANILLA CHIFFON CUPCAKES


The texture of these cupcakes is magnificent. They are light and not too sweet. This recipe makes 12 large cupcakes in large muffin tins with extra large cupcake liners. I will make this again.

1-1/3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar [no replacement]

• Preheat oven to 350 F.
• Place cupcake liners inside the muffin tin and set aside.
• In a medium size bowl sift together the flour, and salt. Set aside.
• Reserve 1/8 cup of the sugar.
• Place the remaining sugar and the egg yolks into a large bowl.
• Beat on high until the mixture grows in volume and becomes pale yellow.
• Add the water, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk to combine.
• Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture and whisk just to combine.
• Place the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a clean bowl.
• Beat on high with clean beaters until soft peaks form.
• Gradually add the 1/8 cup sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
• Gently and gradually fold the stiff egg whites into the batter.
• Transfer batter into prepared muffin tins evenly dividing the batter between the cups.
• Bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
• Remove from the oven to a cooling rack.
• Cool completely before frosting.

COLD PLATE PAPRIKA BACON - ABÁLT SZALONNA

 abált bacon

bacon before

I could find no true translation for the word "abált" in my dictionary. The word describes how the bacon is prepared, similar to boiled or simmered, yet that would  explain only part of the "abáló" process. As you know there are mysterious and untranslatable facets of the Hungarian cuisine. Now weather the bacon is "abált" or has been prepared in a number of different ways, the one thing that remains that it is fully cooked and eaten cold with a thick slice of rustic bread. This is the quintessential food you take on a trip or put in front of the guest who drops by. Canadians are horrified that we are eating fat and then consume copious amounts of fried foods and snack time treats and all these are soaked with, what else, fat. But Hungarian szalonna is not fat, it’s bacon. And weather you fry it or "abál" it, in the end, makes no difference, except maybe to Hungarians. Hungarians LOVE abált szalonna!

1 lb slab of smoked bacon (not sliced)
3 + 1 cloves of garlic
3 tsp Salt
water
Hungarian Paprika

• Place the bacon, 3 cloves of garlic and 3 tsp of salt in a saucepan.
• Cover with cold water and place on the stove.
• Bring it to simmer and gently cook for 30 minutes.
• Remove from heat and place the bacon on a platter.
• Reserve the broth.
• Mince the remaining garlic and add to a small bowl.
• Stir in 1 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika.
• Add a tiny bit from the reserved broth to make a paste.
• Spread the top of the bacon with the paprika paste.
• Discard the broth.
• Let the bacon cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
• Chill thoroughly before serving.

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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. This is to my old on-line friends and visitors: policing the comment section for spam and answering questions has become a chore. Good wishes to you all, happy cooking and keep on feeding your people with good food.

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