I pawned tree decorating on Leilah for years. Then she married and had her own tree to decorate. For a short time Olivia would start it for me, but having two sets of grandparent houses to go to and with her own tree to decorate the assistance she used to give me was dwindling. Jimre was never a decorator, if something doesn’t need building or fixing he is out. Clearly I needed a less laborious Christmas tree.
I secretly desired a Tesla but I also toyed with the idea of getting a Charlie Brown.
In the end I settled for a tiny fake tree from Michaels.
It looks remarkably like a real tree. I hate those fake paper leaves – don’t you? I will decorate it in fifteen and after Christmas I will put it away for next year and next year and next year. I think I am brilliant. It cost me all of fifteen bucks. The pot was ten.
What’s with decorating for Christmas anyway? My girl’s house looks like Father Christmas threw up all over it. There is a lighted village on every table. Each generation wants something different. Well… I never put out the doilies our mothers made for us either. I do give in to nostalgia though, I will put out the small Costco nativity set I bought second hand a couple of years ago. Outside there is a single strip of lights on the house, we don’t want to alienate the neighbours… even though they more than make up for our lack of decorating fervour. There are lights on every surface, giant Mr and Mrs Claus magically inflate in the dark and deflate come morning, and there are reindeers and whatnot all around us. Really, why decorate? I would be a minimalist if I wasn’t so bloody practical. For minimalism to function you have to have nothing or dole out the money. I never had a lot of money so I under-decorate… and… bake. I baked a Snickerdoodle Cake. Happy Birthday my Love! The recipe was adapted from Foodie with Family.
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 cups soft butter
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Preheat oven to 325F.
• Line two 9-inch spring form cake pans with parchment paper.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
• Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.
• Beat the eggs in one at a time, fully incorporating each egg and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
• Beat in the vanilla.
• Add about 1/3 of the milk, beat to incorporate, then 1/3 of the flour, again beating to incorporate.
• Repeat this process, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until all of the milk and flour are added and mixed in evenly.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake in preheated oven. The recipe called for 35 minutes, it took me 10 to 15 minutes longer, I lost count, but make sure to increase the baking time by only 3 to 5 minutes at the time and watch it or use the timer.
• Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out onto the racks to finish cooling.
• Meanwhile prepare the brown sugar cinnamon buttercream.
• Place the whipping cream and the brown sugar in a small pot and heat it on low setting until the brown sugar melts. Set aside to cool completely.
• Beat the butter for 2 minutes.
• Lower the speed and began to add gradually the icing sugar and the cooled down brown sugar mixture.
• Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
• Add the cinnamon and the vanilla.
• Continue beating for 5-7 minutes until very fluffy.• After the cake cooled down completely, decorate with the buttercream.
• Cut each cake into two even layers. Be forewarned. Once cut into two layers, this is not a stable cake. Handle the layers with extreme care. My best advice for the novice baker is to partially freeze the cake before cutting and handling.
• Place one layer on a cake plate then add a layer of buttercream, spreading to the edges and evening out as you go. Repeat with the remaining layers.
• Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream.
• Place in the fridge for half an hour and then finish frosting the top and the sides.
• Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
• Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 11:07
Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, this is simple and easy to make. Two sheets of filo will make 8 sticks. Increase the amounts given as needed. As with everything, fresh is best. I buy filo in stores with a large turnover, never with ice crystals on the box and experience has thought me not to buy filo pastry on sale. If the sheets stick together or dried out and cracking, there is no saving to be had.
2 filo sheets
2 Tbsp butter, melted
cinnamon to sprinkle
sugar to sprinkle
1/4 cup pure chocolate chips
1/8 tsp shortening
• Preheat oven to 425F.
• Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
• Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a work
• Brush with the melted butter.
• Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
• Place the second sheet on the top.
• Brush with melted butter.
• Turn the filo sheets over and brush the top with the melted butter.
• Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the top.
• Cut the filo into 8 rectangles.
• Roll up the rectangles fairly tightly, but do not pinch dough.
• Place the filo sticks on the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 6-9 minutes.
• Set the timer and keep an eye on the filo sticks, they burn easily.
• Set the timer and keep an eye on the filo sticks, they burn easily.
• Remove from heat when light golden brown.
• Push the sticks together touching.
• Partially melt the chocolate chips and stir in the shortening.
• Keep stirring until all the chips melt in the residual heat.
• Drizzle the melted chocolate across the filo sticks using a zyploc bag.
• Fold the edges of a sturdy ziplock bag out and over so that the bag sits upright on the counter.
• Spoon the warm chocolate into the bag
• Zip it shut [getting out as much excess air as you can]
• Clip a tiny bit off one corner [the more you clip, the bigger your drizzle will be!
• Using a fork, separate the filo sticks about 1 inch apart. If you don’t, the filo sticks will stick together at the ends and when you try to separate them, the chocolate ends will brake off.
• Spoon the remaining chocolate on the ends.
• Chill and serve.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 16:55
Holy Smoke these are tasty! I am not a fish eater, but I concede that the Fall 2013 smoked sockeye turned out perfect! I can’t take the credit for it, except perhaps for the nagging over the years, “too salty” and “cut down the salt”. Well he did. My handy husband made the loveliest smoked salmon at the end of the summer. It was the last hot day, because had we warm days left I would have insisted that he smokes another salmon. But that is all the good weather that we had left and the following day we had seasonal temperatures and smoking was over.
One more pretty left from our glorious fall, two weeks ago our granddaughter brought in a mum twig. I was reluctant to put it in a vase and then one by one the flowers popped open. It’s still lovely, but soon it will be replaced by a tiny Christmas tree! How time flies.
Using Little Chief Home Electric Smokehouse Ingredients Needed:
About 5 lbs whole frozen salmon
Brine ingredients as follows; adapted from RLROUSE recipe:
4 quarts [16 cups] of cold water
1 cup of non iodinated salt
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lemons concentrate
1 cup of brown sugar
• Outside temperature has to be high twenties/ low thirties [in Celsius].
• Thaw the salmon overnight.
• Fillet and cut the salmon into twelve pieces.
• Combine brine ingredients in a large bowl.
• Place the fish pieces in the brine and cover.
• Soak the fish in the brine for 3-1/2 hours [could be up to four hours].
• Rinse the fish very lightly and let it drain on wire racks for about half an hour.
• Spray the racks with PAM to prevent the fish from sticking.
• Fill the smoker bowel to the brim with large hickory chips.
• Smoke for seven hours.
• Ready when the fish flakes.
• Let it cool, vacuum pack and freeze.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 17:10
This is a perfect way to use up those stale cookies you have been saving in the freezer. Grind them up in the food processor or put them into a freezer bag and pound them apart with a hammer. Or just simply use graham cracker crumbs. My homemade cookie crumbs had all sorts of nuts and candy bits in it, adding to the deliciousness of this lovely cheese pie.
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup nutella
5 Tbsp melted butter
250g [8oz] cream cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
• Add the sugar, nutella and melted butter to the graham crumbs and blend it into a coarse crumble.
• Line the bottom of an 8 inch spring form cake pan with parchment paper.
• Press the mixture into the pan.
• Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
• In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake filling.
• With a beater combine the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and milk.
• Fold in the strawberries.
• Remove the crust from the freezer then add the cheese mixture on top.
• Put back into the freezer for at least 4 hours.
• Remove the pie from the freezer and immediately peel off the parchment paper.
• Let the pie sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to thaw enough to slice through.
• Cut the pie into slices and serve.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 20:57
Just look at that shine, it's all candy! Adapted from Cook's.com Honey Roasted Almonds, candied almonds are fabulously tasty things. I couldn't stop eating them so I ended up giving them away. A while back I started to carry a snack bag of plain raw almonds in my purse and since then I have not had to make an emergency stop at Tim Horton’s. I wanted a change, but you know the saying, if something tastes too good it probably is.
2 cups whole raw almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp light olive oil
• Spread the almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan and place in a cold oven.
• Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375F, stirring occasionally, until the internal colour of nuts is tan.
• Remove from oven and set aside.
• Turn the oven down to 250F.
• Thoroughly combine sugar and salt. Set aside.
• Stir together the honey, water and oil in a medium size pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
• Stir in the roasted almonds and continue to cook and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts.
• Meanwhile line the rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
• Next, transfer the nuts onto the parchment lined baking pan.
• Separate the clumps and continue to roast at 250F until the nuts are glassy and are no longer sticky to the touch.
• These could last well.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 17:45
Isler is the chocolate covered jam-filled version of two linzer cookies that used to be popular in pastry shops throughout Budapest. Hungarian isler is a large cookie, sometimes the top and sometimes only half of the top is dipped into chocolate. The fully covered islers were generally not as good, because a cheaper chocolate or cocoa based glaze was used to cover them. I glazed my islers with real chocolate and I thought surely it would have been too rich to cover the entire cookie with it.
The old Hauer on Rákóczi út was a favourite coffee house
Take a look at the islers on the bottom, only the tops are chocolate glazed
2 cups flour
1 cup almond meal
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup butter
4 squares of bittersweet chocolate, chopped jam [I used apricot]
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Combine ingredients, roll into two disks and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
• Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut rounds.
• Slide onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until just barely golden.
• Transform to racks to cool.
• Transform to racks to cool.
• Pick a microwave safe bowl that can accommodate the cookies.
• Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl and melt it at 10 second intervals, stirring in between. Do not melt the chocolate fully. You just want to soften it a little.
• Remove from the microwave and stir smooth.
• Dip the top of half of the cookies into the melted chocolate.
• Spread the other half of the cookies with jam.
• When the chocolate hardens, press the two sides together.
• Islers keep well at room temperature.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 13:43
I was at a reasonably good restaurant recently and I thought I treat myself to chicken fingers. It was dreadful. That's when I decided I have to write it down for the beginner cooks in my family. They range from 74 to 10. The younger ones already made palacsinta and with minimal supervision one of them managed an entire meal last year.
Kristen making palacsinta
Olivia making nokedli
Now everyone loves chicken fingers, but the way the world is going you will not be able to get good chicken fingers anymore. The few restaurants that continue to serve real food are snobbish and will not stoop to make chicken fingers. As for the rest... well forget the rest! This recipe is for keeping the chicken fingers culture alive.
1 pkg. stir fry chicken strips
1/4 cup flour
2 well-beaten eggs
1 cup fine unseasoned breadcrumbs
light olive oil for frying [not extra virgin, it will burn]
• Wash the chicken strips with cold water and dry them with paper towels. You don’t have to touch the meat, wear a pair of thin plastic gloves.
• Lightly sprinkle each peace with salt.
• Place a cutting board on the counter and cover it with plastic wrap.
• Next to the cutting board line up 3 dinner plates.
• Place the flour on the first plate.
• Crack the eggs onto the second plate.
• Beat the eggs with a fork until slightly frothy.
• Place the breadcrumbs on the third plate.
• With a fork dip a chicken strip into the flour and coat it well.
• Next dip it into the beaten eggs and coat well.
• Finally dip it into the breadcrumbs and coat it well.
• Repeat until all the chicken strips are coated.
• To avoid cutlets from sticking, place them on plastic wrap making sure they don’t touch.
• In a large heavy pot, place about 1 inch of vegetable oil for frying.
• This is the point when you need adult help.
• Heat up the oil on medium heat and drop in one or two strips.
• Fry the strips two or 3 at a time.
• The oil is hot enough when bubbles form around the strips.
• Fry the strips to golden crisp. Do not cover the pot.
• To minimize oil absorption, flip the strips with a kitchen thong. Do not stick a fork into the meat.
• Remove the strips when lightly golden and drain on paper towels.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 11:34
Made from a particularly tender beet, it was easy to slice and delicious raw.
Jimre grew a variety pack of beets last summer and this was just one of them. We had a great and varied crop of beets this year; my only complaint was that the beets finished much earlier than usual and it caught me unprepared, because for the first time we ended up with a large amount of woody beets. “Earth to earth” as the man says. No matter how many signs are cropping up, there are still people denying there is a climate change.
I have no idea where this clipping came from.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 09:44
The most important components of Hungarian rizottó are rice, peas and mushrooms. We never put cheese onto a hot dish. I don’t think Grandma liked it. But we only ate rizottó with fresh peas. Frozen fruit and vegetables started in Hungary about the time I was a teenager. I remember picking up odds and ends from the közért [grocery store] that used to be on the corner of Dohány and Szövetség utca.
Across the corner where the store used to be
Sometimes I picked up more than I was asked, such as a small frozen packet of red currants. I loved those red currants! I would put it on top of the warm coal stove and I watched it as it sizzled while I kept picking at it. I think I ate most of it still frozen. So the peas were welcome after a long winter. They were still pricey to make a soup or főzelék so Grandma made us rizottó. It used to be a slushy mess, I don’t think Hungarians are good with rice, but I revised it. Instead of water, the rice could be cooked in homemade chicken stock. Either way this makes a nice side dish.
1 batch of cooked rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp grated parmesan [optional]
• Cook the rice to directions [click on the link], set it aside and keep it warm.
• In a non stick skillet sauté the onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent.
• Add the frozen peas and continue to sauté for a minute.
• Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until the liquid is reabsorbed by the mushrooms.• Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
• Add the sautéed vegetables to the rice.
• With two forks gently toss to combine.
• Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 09:06
The combination of billowy whipped cream and deep dark chocolate always reminds me of the Saturday nights in our first flat in Prince Rupert. Back in the days before our first baby was born, Jim would take me to the Italian deli. There we would get some Genoa salami, it was the closest to Hungarian; we would get a small whipping cream and then head for home. We made cocoa, whipped up the cream and then we would settle down for a night of talking. Not very exciting I know, but we were pregnant. We would talk and plan until two in the morning. To this day I cannot eat chocolate and whipped cream without thinking back to those Saturdays. The comfort of food seems to return to the times we once loved.
Prince Rupert, January 1968
1 batch of Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes
6 squares [6 oz] bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp liqueur
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
pure sweetened chocolate chips for decoration
• Make a batch of Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes
• While the cupcake cool make the chocolate ganache.
• Place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl.
• Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.
• Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy.
• Add 1 Tbsp liqueur.
• Yields 3/4 cup
• Add 1 Tbsp liqueur.
• Yields 3/4 cup
• Allow the ganache to cool. The longer you let the ganache cool, the thicker it will set.
• Next whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form.
• Add the icing sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
• To assemble the cupcakes, glaze the tops with chocolate ganache, pipe the sweetened whipped cream on the top and decorate with pure chocolate chips.
Posted by Zsuzsa at 21:35
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- I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has close to 800 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. They are organized into a cookbook format in "zsuzsa's cookbook". My new venture is "rethink the food". My food blog is evolving and so am I. You are never too old to learn or to make changes to what you eat or enjoy.