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MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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31.7.11

HUNGARIAN CHICKEN STUFFING – MAGYAR CSIRKE TÖLTELÉK


There are many other ways to stuff poultry, but none as delicious as this one. Every time I make this I am brought back to a good day in my childhood, one or two chickens roasting in the oven and my apron clad grandmother preparing the rest of the meal for our large family. Yes the aroma that this stuffing gives to the bird is unmistakable!

For an entire chicken I would increase the eggs to six and use maybe 3-4 slices of bread. The recipe for this stuffing does not have to be exact, the amounts given are arbitrary. Sometimes I omit the mushrooms, but what I insist upon is fresh parsley and good quality European style bread. My grandmother always used zsömle, [white crusty buns], but the version of crusty bun I can get lacks the substance we need. If I end up with leftover stuffing, I form it into a log or a mound and roast it beside the chicken. I take it out earlier though, on its own the stuffing doesn’t require as long to bake as the meat. Come to think of it this stuffing would be a perfect meat substitute for a vegetarian.

1/2 small onion, diced
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
4 mushrooms, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
4 eggs
2-3 pieces of sourdough or light rye bread

• Dice the onions and chop the parsley and mushrooms.
• Soak the bread slices with water and squeeze them out as well as possible.
• Place damp bread slices in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
• Place the oil in a non stick fry pan and add the diced onions.
• Sauté the onions on medium heat until translucent, but do not brown.
• Season the onions with salt and pepper.
• Add the chopped parsley and mushrooms and sauté for half a minute.
• Now whisk the eggs together and pour them on the onion mixture.
• When the eggs are almost cooked, it will look like scrambled eggs, remove from heat.
• Add the entire contents of the fry pan to the damp bread in the mixing bowl.
• Taste it and add more salt if needed and season with ground pepper and toss.
• Stuff the chicken and bake.

bread was soaked and squeezed

onion and mushroom sauted

stuffing ready

28.7.11

HUNGARIAN POTATO SOUP - KRUMPLILEVES



This soup is basic fare, and we had it often while I was growing up in post war Budapest. The fifties qualify… I believe. I still make mine the way my grandma made it back in leaner days. Except she made it with water and I make mine with chicken stock. You can improve, just don’t change things. Incidentally I did an internet search and I was surprised to see some of the interesting things people put into their “Hungarian potato soup”; milk, celery seed … One thing though, Hungarian potato soup is not a thick soup by any stretch of the imagination. Its just some potatoes cooked in broth with a bit of onion and bay leaf. In the end you stir in a light roux and a knife edge amount of paprika and the potato soup is done. Pass that sour cream. I have to confess I have been known to put a few links of sausages into my potato soup. But not today, today I felt like a purist. Let it be known, Hungarian potato soup goes well with a chunk of rustic white bread.

4 potatoes
3-4 cups of chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 green onions with their stalks
1 cup sliced sausages optional [Hungarian or kielbassa]
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp oil and flour each
1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 sprinkling of parsley
14 % sour cream


• Peel and chop the potatoes.
• Place potatoes, broth, bay leaves, green onions in a medium soup pot.
• Slowly bring to a simmer.
• Cover pot and simmer until potatoes are tender.
• Remove green onions a bay leaf.
• This is when you add the sausage chunks if you like.
• When the sausage is done, season with salt and ground pepper.
• In a non stick fry pan make a roux from 2 Tbsp oil and flour.
• Stir in the paprika and then add this to the soup.
• Sprinkle some parsley on top and serve with sour cream.

PASTRY CREAM


There are several different types of custards, but two are used more frequently than all the others combined. These are crème anglaise and crème pâtissière. Crème Anglaise is the classic English custard, this we use to pour over desserts, like the custard in the Hungarian version of floating islands otherwise known as madártej. This custard tends to be a bit tricky to make, because the eggs can curdle if you don’t pay enough attention to tempering.

The thicker and more stable custard is crème pâtissière, this is what we call pastry cream. Pastry cream is used to fill pies, tarts, cakes, and miscellaneous desserts. Pastry cream is usually made with either flour or cornstarch. [The purist approach is to use cornstarch only.] My recipe contains both flour and cornstarch. I find custard made with only flour tends to be a bit doughy and using only cornstarch can be challenging at times; if the cornstarch overheats, the custard can remain runny. On the other hand, using both flour and cornstarch reduces the risk of not setting and at the same time it tastes better.

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, sifted
6 Tbsp cornstarch, sifted

• In a large bowl beat the sugar and egg yolks until thick and pale yellow.
• Add a pinch of salt and gradually whisk in the sifted flour and cornstarch.
• Make a smooth paste and set aside.
• With a sharp knife split the vanilla bean lengthwise.
• Place the milk in a bowl and heat it in the microwave to the boiling.
• Transfer the hot milk to a medium sized saucepan and add the vanilla bean.
• Set to medium, heat the milk until it begins to foam up.
• Remove from heat.
• Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk.
• Reserve the vanilla bean for another use later.*
• Then by dribbles first, gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg paste.
• Place a fine sieve over the pot the milk was used to heat up.
• Now pour the hot custard to be through the fine sieve and back into the pot.
• Cook on medium heat whisking constantly until custard thickens.
• Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl.
• Cover the surface with wrap. Place the wrap right on the custard. This will prevent skin forming.
• Cool.
• If not using right away refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze.
• Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.


FISH FILLETS POACHED IN WINE


This is Julia Child’s recipe, but I didn’t do the buttered parchment thing. Ha, if you see the buttered parchment in a recipe you just know it came from Julia. Oh I cut several parchments to fit the dish alright, first it was too big then it was too small, the last one was misshapen. In the end I drizzled the fish with melted butter and covered the pot with a lid. There, this will keep the steam in. There is one thing that Julia
insisted upon and that was washing and drying the fish. Pat it dry thoroughly with paper towel she said. I fully agree with her. Nothing is worse than fishy fish. The rest of the way is pretty much Julia’s fish. She was generous with the butter in “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom”, but really went overboard in “The Way To Cook”. There just in the sauce, she had 4-8 Tbsp of butter. She called it an “easy, delicious and nicely calorific butter sauce”. To some this is fabulous, as for me, it’s just fish. Jim calls it brain food. There have been times when I actually dreaded Fridays because I had to cook him fish. But here is the recipe. I ate most of my fillet, well, left a bit of it actually.

4 white fish fillets
salt and pepper
1+2+2 Tbsp butter
4 green onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp fresh herbs [parsley, tarragon]
few drops of fresh lemon juice
extra parsley

• Preheat the oven at 350 F
• Wash the fillets and pat dry with paper towel. This is a must.
• Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
• Butter an ovenproof stainless steel dish with 1 Tbsp butter.
• Place half the chopped green onion in the dish.
• Then lay the fillets in the dish overlapping somewhat.
• Top with the remaining green onions.
• Sprinkle with herbs.
• Add the wine beside the fish. The liquid should come up to the fish 3/4 of the way.
• Place on the stove and bring it to the simmer.
• Melt 2 Tbsp butter and drizzle over the fish.
• Cover the dish and move it into the preheated oven.
• Cook in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
• The fish is ready when it’s springy to the touch and is opaque.
• It may seem like the fish is not done, but it will be done trust me. It takes very little time to cook fillets this way.
• Pour off all the liquid into a sauce pan.
• Put the fish back in the oven with the door ajar. Oh and turn off the oven.
• Very quickly, over high heat reduce the liquid until almost syrupy.
• Whisk in droplets of fresh lemon juice and minced parsley.
• Add 2 Tbsp butter.
• Spoon over the fish and serve at once.

27.7.11

CHERRY PIE SQUARES


These are amazing! Fresh cherry filling between two thin layers of flaky pie pastry and glazed with vanilla flavoured cream cheese icing. Those of you who don’t care for pie dough will like these bars. Potentially you could use canned cherry pie filling straight out of the can and just dot it with 2 Tbsp of butter when fresh cherries are not available. This will freeze well and could last well too, but I don’t think that they will. These squares are really, really yummy.

PASTRY:
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup Crisco shortening, icy cold
1/4 cup butter, icy cold
1/2 cup milk

CHERRY FILLING:
3 cups fresh cherries, pits removed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 cup water
2 Tbsp butter

ICING:
4 Tbsp cream cheese
1-1/4 cups icing sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

• Prepare and measure out the cherries, then set them aside.
• Place the flour and salt in a large bowl.
• Cut the shortening and the butter into the flour mixture until crumbs form.
• Do not handle the dough much, keep it very cold.
• Add the milk and form the dough into a ball.
• Cut the dough in half and place one half in the fridge.
• Meanwhile lightly flour the board and roll out the remaining dough to fit your pan.
• It will be fairly thin, so gently roll it onto the rolling pin and unroll it over the pan.
• Make a small ridge along the sides.
• Place the baking pan in the freezer and turn the oven to 350F.
• Prepare the cherry filling next.
• Place all ingredients in a stainless steal fry pan.
• Cook on medium heat just so the cornstarch and sugar combines.
• Remove cherry filling from heat and spread evenly on the top of the pastry layer that has been chilling in the freezer.
• On the floured board quickly roll out the remaining pastry [that was put in the fridge].
• Once again, the dough will be thin, so roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it over the pan.
• Tuck in the ends and poke the surface with a fork so steam can escape during baking.
• Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes.
• Meanwhile make the icing. Combine ingredients in a small bowl; beat to combine.
• Remove bar from the oven when pastry is light golden color.
• Glaze the top of the bar as soon as it comes out of the oven.
• Let the glaze set before slicing. Yields 12 nice sized squares.

CHERRY BUTTER CAKE – CSERESZNYÉS VAJAS PISKÓTA


At end of the cherry season, when the cherries are dark and sweet what better way to use them than to make a cherry butter cake! Not hardening, this cake will remain buttery and tender in the cupboard or in the fridge for several days. If refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature before serving. With the aim to provide a large surface area for the cherries, I divided the batter, which would normally be baked in one cake pan, between two round spring form pans.

1-1/4 cups butter, softened
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon rinds
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh cherries

• Wash the cherries, slice them in half, remove the pits and set them aside.
• Line the bottom of two round cake pans with parchment paper.
• Preheat the oven to 375F.
• Place the butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt and the grated lemon rinds in a bowl.
• Add the vanilla and beat the yolk mixture until fluffy and light.
• In a separate bowl sift together the flour and the baking powder.
• Gradually add the flour and stir to combine.
• In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
• Gradually fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.
• Try not to crush the egg whites.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
• Arrange the cherry halves on the top and slightly press them into the better.
• Bake at 375F until cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
• Let cake cool a bit.
• Then loosen the cake by running the flat side of a knife blade around the sides before releasing the springs.
• Remove the parchment from the bottom and transfer to a platter.
• Slice and serve dusted with icing sugar.

26.7.11

PORK CRACKLING - TÖPÖRTYŰ



Töpörtyű or tepertő, begins with thick slabs of pork fat. Töpörtyű used to be the wonderful by-product of lard making in Hungary – before cooking with vegetable oil took over. Food tastes better with lard; there is no question about it. But for health reasons lard making has been relegated to "disznótor" [the slaughter of pigs]. In Hungary you can still buy töpörtyű in the grocery store or at the butcher. The thick slabs of raw fat – which makes the best töpörtyű are not readily available in Canada, so one has to be a bit inventive.

The secret of töpörtyű making is simple. Cook it real slow, start the cooking with water and add a bit of milk at the end. By the time the water evaporates, enough fat is melted down to ensure an evenly browned product. And when the töpörtyű is nice golden in color, pour in a bit of milk and cover the pot. This will ensure that the töpörtyű will be both crispy and tender. How much water or milk to add depends on the amount of pork used. I go by feeling, but eventually I will fine tune the recipe.

pork fat
water
1/8 cup milk

• Chop the pork fat into 1-inch cubes and place them in a heavy pot.
• Cover the pork fat with water and bring it to the boil.
• Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, adding water if needed.
• When the pork fat is tender; turn the heat down to a slow simmer.
• By the time the töpörtyű is tender, there should be enough melted fat to continue frying the töpörtyű.
• Let it fry to a golden color.
• When the töpörtyű is a nice golden brown color, add the milk, cover the pot and remove from heat.
• If you added too much milk just place the pot back on the heat and slowly let the milk cook away. What you want left is lard and töpörtyű only.
• When the sizzling stops remove the töpörtyű with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain.
• Sprinkle the töpörtyű with salt immediately.
• Strain the hot lard through a fine metal sieve and store it in a glass container with a well fitting lid.

22.7.11

BLUEBERRY PIE


I picked these blueberries the day before and when I had left over pie pastry from today’s strawberry rhubarb pie marathon, I thought, why not a blueberry pie? Including the ten cherry pies I made two weeks ago, sorry no photos or write up of those, and the 5 pies I made today we now should have enough frozen pies to last the longest of winters. I am not freezing this blueberry pie though it is getting eaten with vanilla ice cream at the moment. Just at the off chance that you will be using frozen berries, do rinse and dry the blueberries before they make their way into a pie.

1/2 recipe of pie pastry
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
sprinkling of salt
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water

• Line a 9 inch pie plate with pie pastry.
• Place the blueberries in a bowl.
• Add the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon.
• Gently toss with hands as not to crush the berries.
• Pour the fruit mixture into the pie shell.
• Sprinkle the lemon juice.
• Dot the top with butter.
• Cut the remaining dough into 3/4” strips.
• Lay the strips down in a weave fashion
• Crimp the edges of the pie.
• Glaze the pastry with the egg yolk wash.
• Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes.
• Reduce heat to 350F and bake for 25 minutes longer.

21.7.11

FREE FORM PUFF PASTRY TART


According to Julia Child, though this one is not her recipe, “a tart made with puff pastry is particularly succulent, buttery, and elegant in the mouth. “ Makes you want to have some, right? The rectangular tart shell is simple to make and the scraps are minimal. In fact there were no scraps.

1/3 of quick puff pastry
2 cups pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice

• Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the cutting board.
• Roll out 1/3 of the puff pastry on the parchment into a 16X12 inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick.
• Cut 1 inch of strip around the rectangle.
• Grasp the ends of the parchment and transfer the pastry rectangle to a baking sheet.
• Paint an inch border of cold water around the rectangle. [Without this step the tart will not hold together when you start slicing it.]
• Then lay the pastry strips all around the edge.
• Press the strips in place, slightly overlapping at the corners.
• Prick the entire surface of the rectangle with a fork
• Cover the shell and chill for 30 minutes.
• Meanwhile prepare the cherry tart filling
• Combine the pitted cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.
• You do not need to add water; the cherries will react with the sugar and release liquid.
• Cook on very low heat, stirring continuously, but be careful not to crush the fruit.
• When filling is sufficiently thickened, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and let cool to lukewarm.
• Preheat your oven at 425 F
• Remove the tart shell from the fridge and pour in the filling.
• The rapid puff of the strips will hold in the filling.
• Place the tart in the oven and bake until the dough has a nice golden colour. Serves 4







20.7.11

QUICK PUFF PASTRY



Puff pastry is used in many sweet and savoury recipes. This one is a quick version of puff pastry, because it is ready to use in roughly 3 hours and most of that time the dough just sits in the fridge chilling. Not at all difficult to make and the result is a lovely 2-1/2 lbs block of puff pastry. The dough can last up to a week in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer. Follow the recipe faithfully and resist the urge to add more water. A pastry scraper is the best tool bringing the dough together, but a chef’s knife will work too. It is important to keep the dough as cold as possible. I measured out the flours needed and placed them in the freezer the night before. The next morning all my ingredients were very cold. Hands should not touch the dough much; the dough must be worked together with the pastry scraper. Unlike commercial puff pastry, quick puff pastry does not shrink, in fact it grows and puffs up wonderfully. And like any puff pastry, this too is best eaten fresh.

2-1/2 cups white flour, chilled
1 cup cake flour, chilled
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups very cold butter
1 cup ice cold water

• Place the chilled flours on a clean working surface.
• Add the salt.
• Add the block of chilled butter and begin to chop away at it with the scraper, meanwhile mixing it into the dry ingredients.
• When the butter is all chopped down to pea size chunks and is well distributed in the flour, make a well in the center and gradually add the ice water.
• Keep mixing with the pastry scraper as a rough dough forms.
• Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for twenty minutes.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 12X30 inch rectangle.
• You will have to rub the roller with flour often, at first the dough will stick a little.
• Fold the dough in thirds like a letter.
• Now turn dough 90 degrees.
• Roll dough out again to a rectangle and fold in thirds again.
• Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
• Remove dough from refrigerator and roll and fold the dough as before.
• Chill for 30 minutes and then repeat rolling and folding for the third time.
• After the last fold, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 whole hour before using.

The Story
Butter is chopped and mixed into the flours

Ice water has been added and rough dough begins to form

The dough is coming together

The rough dough

The butter is clearly visible

Wrap it up and chill

Roll out
Fold

Turn 90 degrees

Roll out again

Fold again

Wrap and chill. Repeat roll and fold one more time

Quick Puff Pastry is ready. Chill for 1 whole hour before using.
  

19.7.11

POTATO AND SAUSAGES


At least that is what Julia Child called it. The other day I watched Julia make 4 potato dishes in the “French Chef”. [The TV program she used to host once upon a time.] Julia used a pie plate to show how to prepare the dish, but I don’t believe she called it a pie. Still it explains why people are calling it her potato and sausage pie. When Julia pulled out the finished product, it was not in a pie plate, she had it in a deep tin fry pan with 2 short handles. I remember my mother used to have one like that. I looked for the recipe on the Internet, but the stuff I found was nothing like the dish Julia made. So I watched the video again and today I made Julia’s Potato and Sausages. It was easy to make and turned out very good. I didn’t have Polish sausage at home so I used a pair of raw Italian sausage links; I slow cooked them in a bit of olive oil first. They were the mild variety, yet they had a bit of spicy kick, so in hindsight Polish sausage would have been better. [Julia made it with Polish sausage.] I used a rectangular casserole, but a deep quiche plate would have worked just as well. Julia wasn’t concerned about how many layers of potatoes or sausages to put in the dish. Plus she kept adding cream for good measure and explained that the eggs and the light cream work in a 2 to 1 ratio; for every two eggs, add 1 cup of light cream. But be sure to use real butter!

4 medium large red potatoes*, sliced
1 ring of Polish sausage, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1+ 2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup Swiss cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

• Peel and slice the potatoes.
• Cook potatoes in salted water until just tender.
• Meanwhile dice half an onion.
• Add onions to a non stick skillet and slowly cook in 1Tbsp butter until very soft.
• Preheat oven to 375F.
• Lightly butter a casserole dish.
• Layer it with potatoes, sausage slices, potatoes. Be sure to sprinkle each potato layer with salt and pepper.
• The sautéed onions come next and end the layering with potatoes.
• Whisk 2 eggs, half and half and pour over the dish.
• Top with the grated Swiss cheese and dot with the remaining butter.
• Bake for 45 minutes covered or until the cheese turns golden brown.

* Don’t use baking potatoes

18.7.11

WHIPPED CREAM MOUSSE CAKE - RIGÓ JANCSI


I remember Rigó Jancsi as an intensely chocolaty confection. There are endless versions of Rigó Jancsi on the Internet so I was delighted to find that my favourite chef, Gyarmati Ferenc had a video making this Hungarian classic. He started with an egg rich foam cake, which is a good thing. Adding water to the cake batter as some of the recipes suggested would have made it less stable and slicing a crumbly cake into two layers is not an easy task. The ingredients were adjusted to fit a 9X13 inch pan.

CAKE:
1/2 cup cake flour
3 Tbsp cacao
6 egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
6 egg whites
6 squares of semi sweet baking chocolate [total 6oz or 170g]
2 Tbsp butter

FILLING:
2 Tbsp gelatine
1+3 cups heavy whipping cream [exactly 1liter]
8 Tbsp cocoa, sifted
8 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted

• Preheat oven at 350F and line a rectangular pan with parchment paper.
• Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon coloured.
• Sift the cake flour and the cocoa into the egg yolks gradually and whisk to combine.
• Wash the beaters and beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
• Gently incorporate the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth out the top.
• Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until the middle springs back.
• Place a sheet of wax paper over the cake.
• Place a tray on the top and invert cake.
• Remove the pan and peel away the base paper.
• Let the cake cool and then cut into two layers.
• Return one layer [with the cut side up] back into the baking pan.
• Flip the remaining layer back on the tray [with the cut side down].
• Partially melt 6 squares of chocolate with 2 Tbsp of butter.
• Remove pot from heat and stir chocolate until completely melted.
• Pour the melted chocolate over the cake layer you have on the tray.
• Put the chocolate glazed cake layer in the fridge to set.
• Meanwhile make the whipped mousse layer.
• Place 1 cup of whipping cream on the stove and bring to almost simmer.
• Sprinkle the gelatine over the hot cream and stir until all the gelatine dissolves.
• Remove from heat and let cream and gelatine cool a bit.
• Next beat the remaining 3 cups of whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
• Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa and beat into the cream.
• Finally add the lukewarm cream and gelatine mix and beat to combine.
• Evenly spread the whipped mousse on top of the cake in the pan.
• Remove the chocolate glazed cake layer from the fridge.
• Dip a sharp knife into very hot water and cut the glazed cake layer into squares. [I had 15 squares]
• Dip the knife into hot water before each and every cut.
• Arrange the squares on top of the mousse layer and place the pan in the fridge to set.

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