MY COOKBOOK

MY COOKBOOK
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28.4.11

BRASSO FRIES - BRASSÓI APRÓPECSENYE


Named after the Hungarian city of Brassó, “Brassói Aprópecsenye” literally means “Tiny Roasts from Brassó”. The meat component being “roasts” is tongue in cheek, because brassói is just bits of lean pork fried up and served on a bed of fried potatoes. There are brassói recipes circulating that contain, among other things, bacon, but that just defeats the aim of the dish, because having both pork meat and bacon implies you are in the plenty, when in fact brassói evolved to serve something nice with limited resources.

Don’t look for the city of Brassó on the map though; they call it Brașov now. There are 42 letters in the Hungarian alphabet, but there is no ș among them. Allow me to explain. The Trianon peace treaty which officially ended the First World War for Hungary, signed in Versailles in the Trianon Castle on the 4th of June, 1920, was one of the most catastrophic events in the history of the Hungarian Nation. With this „treaty”, the Allies or more commonly the 'Entente' implemented the decision by which Historic Hungary was dismembered and huge chunks of it given to its neighbours. This is how the Hungarian city of Brassó ended up in Romania. Hungary also lost land to Austria, Czechoslovakia  and Yugoslavia reducing its size from 283,000 sq km to less than 93,000 sq km. Population was reduced from 18.2 million to 7.6 million.

150 g lean pork blade strips
1/8 cup flour
5 medium large red potatoes
oil for deep frying
salt and pepper to taste

• Pound the meat thin and cut into strips.
• Roll the trips into flour and set aside.
• Peel the potatoes and chop them into small cubes.
• Cook the potatoes in water until not quite tender.
• Drain.
• In a deep fry pan heat the oil.
• On medium heat fry the pork strips to golden brown.
• Remove strips with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towel.
• Season pork strips with salt and pepper.
• Next plunge the still hot drained potatoes into the oil and fry them to golden.
• Stir the frying potatoes a little so they brown evenly.
• Remove fried potatoes with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towel.
• Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
• Top the potatoes with the pork strips and serve with dill pickles.
  Serves 2

16.4.11

HUNGARIAN CUSTARD SLICE - KRÉMES


I have recreated the krémes of my childhood. With several years of on and off krémes experiments behind me, I am happy to announce my first batch of successful krémes! Krémes is a classic Hungarian treat. Krémes is made from real vanilla custard; predominantly eggs and milk. It is sandwiched between layers of flaky pastry and then dusted off with a layer of confectionary sugar… krémes is pure delight on all fronts.

I remember two types of krémes; homemade and cukrász. Homemade krémes was delicious, fairly flat with runny yellow cream between 2 layers of flaky pastry. The cukrász krémes was not quite as yellow; but was tall and light and most likely had some gelatine in its custard layer. I especially loved Hauer’s krémes! Hauer was the original name of the coffeehouse, but it went by a different name during the communist era. Was it Erkel? I don’t remember. Besides my family kept referring to it as Hauer, the name change [actually the coffeehouse was privatized] was just one of the many things communism was resented for.

Go back yet another twenty four years, exactly four years before I was born. The war just ended. Budapest was bombed to hell and the people were hungry, very hungry. In desperation for some cash my great aunt, Olgi néni saved her food stamps and managed to bake a tiny pan of krémes. She packed it up and took it down to the corner of Rákóczi út and Szövetség utca to sell. Along came a bedraggled Hungarian soldier, just back from the front, and grabbed the pan out of her hands. He sat down on the pavement and polished down the entire pan. He then wiped his face on his sleeves and gave the empty pan back to my weeping aunt. Of course he didn’t pay for it, how could he? When I heard this story, I didn’t know who to feel sorrier for, my aunt or that soldier. So you see krémes imbedded itself into my family history in a variety of ways.

VANILLA INFUSED MILK
2 cups milk
1 vanilla pod

FLAKY PASTRY
1-1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup chilled hard margarine
1 pinch of salt
4 Tbsp cold water
4 tsp vinegar

CUSTARD LAYER
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup + 1Tbsp flour
2 pkg. or 2 Tbsp real vanilla sugar
3 pkg. gelatine [21 g]
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
candy thermometer is essential

TOPPING
1/4 cup icing sugar

• Make the vanilla infused milk first.
• Heat the milk in a saucepan.
• Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, and add the bean pod to the milk.
• Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
• Next make the flaky pastry.

• In a large bowl crumble the flour and the chilled margarine to fine crumbs.
• Mix in the salt.
• Place the cold water and the vinegar in a small dish.
• Pour the liquid over the pastry crumbs.
• Stir to combine and gradually form a rough ball.
• Generously flour a board and roll out the pastry into a thin rectangle.
• Roll up the pastry and divide into 4 parts.
• Roll each division into a thin rectangle.
• Stack the four rectangles on top of one another.
• Chill for twenty minutes.
• Divide the chilled pastry into two equal halves.
• Roll out the first pastry very thin.
• Fold it in half and place the folded edge in the middle of the 9X13 baking pan.
• Unfold and arrange the pastry with deep folds as in the photo.
• Let the dough go up the sides halfway, pastry will shrink during baking.
• Place in a preheated 400F oven for 14-18 minutes.
• Keep a watch, pastry burns easily.
• When the pastry is golden brown, remove pan from the oven.
• Immediately cut pastry into twelve squares.
• Divide the long side by 4 and the short side by 3.
• Wait a few minutes and very carefully remove the squares and set them aside in the same order as they were in the pan. These will go on the top later.
• Roll out the remaining dough and arrange it in the baking pan as before.
• Bake the second pastry sheet and set it aside. This will be the bottom of the krémes.
• Next make the custard layer.

• In a medium sized bowl beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar for 8 minutes
• In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, gelatine and the vanilla sugar.
• Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten egg yolks and beat until smooth.
• Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla infused milk.
• Gradually add the vanilla infused milk to the bowl with the eggs and the flour.
• Transfer custard to a medium sized pot.
• Attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pot so you can keep an eye on the temperature.
• Over medium heat and continually stirring heat the custard.
• Do not let custard heat beyond 80C [176F] for this recipe.
• When the custard reached 80C remove from heat.
• Stir in the butter and set aside.
• While the custard is cooling whip the egg whites.
• With clean beaters beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
• Add the lemon juice and beat until almost stiff.
• Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until very stiff and shiny.
• Very slowly and gradually, gently fold the custard into the stiff egg whites.
• Pour on top of the bottom pastry layer and place in the fridge.
• Make sure the pan is level on the shelf.
• When the gelatine is beginning to set, place the pastry squares on the top.
• Let the krémes chill thoroughly.
• Before serving generously sift icing sugar on the top.
• Cut the slices between the pastry squares.




 

BROWN EYED SUSANS


I had this “Brown Eyed Susans” recipe it seems like forever, ever since I got my first Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I don’t remember the year, and the front pages are gone now.

Using the Hershey Kisses of course altered things a bit. The original recipe called for chocolate mint candy wafers. Now anyone who knows me knows I don’t like mint, I will take it in toothpaste, but not with my food. And that’s why I never made this recipe. It also called for pressing the candy wafers into the dough prior to baking. Upon reflection I thought it would be simpler and much neater to press the Hershey Kisses into the hot cookies after baking… Well they turned out lovely, as lovely as my beautiful brown eyed daughter, Susan is. These are dedicated to her.

1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses

• Whisk together the flour, salt and the baking powder and set aside.
• Beat the butter and sugar for 4 minutes until light and fluffy.
• Add the egg and vanilla extract; beat to combine.
• Add the flour mixture to the butter and stir until flour is fully incorporated.
• Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 1/2 hour.
• Remove from fridge.
• With the plastic wrap still around it, shape the dough into a 1-1/2 inh diameter roll.
• Place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
• Remove and quickly slice the dough roll into 36 rounds.
• Place rounds on parchment lined cookie sheets.
• Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes.
• Remove from oven and press an unwrapped chocolate kiss into the center of every cookie.
• Move the cookies from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.
  Yields 3 dozen cookies, just right for a bag of Hersey’s Kisses.
   

14.4.11

NUTELLA THUMBPRINTS


We got tired of chocolate chip cookies, so it was time to expand our horizons! But when you bake to please a discerning 8 year old this is easier said than done. She loves nutella and I thought why not nutella thumbprints? They turned out positively delicious, the only problem is the nutella centers would melt in the lunchbox unless of course we topped it with roasted hazelnut bits. But the kid is not in favour of “nuttyish” cookies. So I stuck 3 chocolate chips in the middle of some of them. Fair enough but these were no longer nutella cookies. But it gave me an idea; I went and bought a bag of “Hershey’s Kisses” and tomorrow I will try to make another batch with them. I am not sure how much nutella I used in the end, but it wasn’t a lot. The recipe makes 80 cookies, which appears a bit too much, but they are quite small, pop in your mouth sized. You can halve the recipe, but then you will be sorry you didn’t make the full batch. The cookies grow just a bit during baking, so you can place them fairly close together on the cookie sheet.

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup + 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Nutella

• Preheat the oven to 350F and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
• To make your life easier put a bit of butter in the corners of the cookie sheets, it will act as glue and the parchment paper will not slip slide around. These cookies are not substantial enough to stay put otherwise.
• Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
• Beat the butter and sugar for 4 minutes.
• Add the vanilla extract.
• Add the flour and stir it into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon.
• With your hands gather the dough together until soft dough forms.
• Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into little balls by rolling them between the palms.
• Press a deep indentation into the center of each cookie with something. I used the tip of a large wooden spoon.
• Bake in preheated 350F oven for 12 minutes.
• Remove cookie sheet and quickly reinforce the indentation in the middle of each cookie.
• Return to the oven and bake 6-8 minutes longer.
• Remove from oven and spoon 1/4 tsp of Nutella into the center of each cookie.
  Another variation would be to melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to fill the centers with.

13.4.11

BEAN SOUP – BABLEVES


For two generations Hungary’s national and cultural identity was overshadowed by everything Russian and communist. When Hungary finally emerged from under the Russian yoke, Hungarians began to celebrate their national identity and culture. So it’s no surprise that ancient recipes and dishes associated with famous Hungarian people resurfaced, pushing aside all that is ordinary. 

Smoked pork hocks must be spectacular in Hungary. Either that or the cooking blogs are caught up in the same national identity search, because all everyone puts out these days is "Jókai Bean Soup". My grandmother or mother never made bean soup with smoked pork hocks, but I had to try what they call Jókai Bableves.

Jókai Mór was the most important Hungarian novelist of the 19th century. But the soup named after him I found disappointingly ordinary. It also proved  somewhat labour intensive and I couldn't help thinking that my old bean soup made from rich pork stock is considerably better. After all it is the recipe of famous Hungarian chef, Rákóczi János. Here it is:

1 cup white beans
6 cups of homemade pork soup stock
ham pieces
2 carrots,
1 parsnip
small wedge of celery root
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp onions, finely diced
1 garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp Hungarian paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley
handful of fresh csipetke
sour cream

• Soak the beans overnight.
• The following day discard the soaking water and rinse the beans thoroughly.
• Place the soup stock in a medium sized pot.
• Add the beans and the ham pieces.
• Bring to boil, reduce heat to slow simmer and place a lid on the pot.
• Cook until beans are soft.
• Add a handful of csipetke and continue to simmer.
• Peel and slice the carrots, parsnip and celery root wedge.
• Add vegetables to the pot.
• Slowly simmer until vegetables and csipetke are all soft.
• Place 2 Tbsp olive oil in a non stick fry pan.
• Ass the diced onions and crushed garlic slowly cook until soft.
• Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, continually stirring.
• Remove from heat and stir in the Hungarian paprika.
• Add the paprika sauce to the soup, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
• Serve bean soup with sour cream.
 

11.4.11

CRAZY COOKIES


Nothing like a batch of fresh cookies just out of the oven! My inventive daughter makes these for her daughter. One lucky kid my granddaughter is. These cookies are pure fun!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp soda [no more]
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup M&M's
1/4 cup of Reese's Pieces
1/4 cup Smarties
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate bar, cut up

• In a large bowl beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and egg light and fluffy.
• In a separate bowl sift together the flour, soda and salt.
• Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine.
• Stir in the candies and chocolate bar pieces.
• Chill for 1 hour.
• Drop 2 inches apart with heaping tablespoon, on ungreased baking sheets.
• Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
• Allow cookies to solidify before moving them to a wire rack.
  Makes 20

 

6.4.11

OVERNIGHT VANILLA ICE CREAM


You need no ice cream maker for this ice cream. Combine three ingredients, pop it in the freezer for the night and the next day you have creamy, velvet smooth vanilla ice cream. You won’t have to fight with ice crystals; in fact there won’t be any ice crystals. It’s the simplest ice cream to make and it’s delicious! Now for the bad news… it’s awfully rich. Serve just a scoop and don’t serve it often. LOL

1 can of Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
500 ml whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

• In a bowl combine the three ingredients.
• Beat with an electric mixer on high until the mixture looks like sour cream.
• Pour it into a freezer container with a well fitting lid.
• Place the container in the freezer for the night.
• Your ice cream will be ready next morning.
• To serve, place on the counter for 5-8 minutes and the scooper will easily glide through the velvety decadence.
 

DUBARRY PORK CUTLETS


This is a magnificent dish and is well worth serving it to company. The recipe comes from my sister in law Ili. Ili is a great cook, her breads, cakes and confectionery is nothing short of exceptional. Ili made this for a large family gathering a couple of decades ago following the baptism of her youngest child, Kati. Embarrassingly I had several rather large helpings and decided then that this has to be among the best things I have ever eaten. I made it several times since and every time I marvel at the complex flavours and textures of this wonderful dish. Some people sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top, but I prefer mine without them. I like to use marble cheddar. It gives the sauce a nice colour, but the flavour is milder than with true cheddar cheese. Any mild semi hard cheese would work, except of course mozzarella. Never add mozzarella.

6 slices of lean pork chops, de-boned
1 large cauliflower
salt
flour
1/2 cup oil for frying

BÉCHAMEL
8 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
3 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups Canadian marble cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground

• Trim off the fat and pound the pork chops thin with a meat tenderizer.
• Sprinkle the chops with salt and drench them with flour.
• Fry the chops in 1/2 cup of oil until golden. Place chops on a plate and set it aside.
• To make the béchamel, melt the butter on low heat.
• Stir in the flour.
• Add the milk gradually before the flour begins to brown.
• Keep stirring until the béchamel thickens.
• Sieve the béchamel into a pot.
• Stir in most of the grated cheese, reserving 3 Tbsp for the top.
• In a small bowl combine the whipping cream, sour cream and egg yolks.
• Add the whipping cream mixture to the béchamel.
• Season béchamel with salt and pepper and add the ground nutmeg.
• Spread out 1/4 cup of the sauce in the baking dish.
• Arrange cutlets on the top and set aside.
• Separate the cauliflower into large florets.
• Bring a medium large pot of water to boil.
• Drop the cauliflower florets with the stems down into the boiling water.
• Cook the florets until almost tender.
• Remove the cauliflower florets with a slotted spoon.
• Arrange florets on top of the chops.
• Pour the remaining sauce over the cauliflower.
• Sprinkle the top with the reserved grated cheese.
• Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
• Serve with mashed potatoes.

     

5.4.11

CASHEW CURRIED CHICKEN


Like any other ethnic dish, curry needs authentic ingredients. North American grocery stores do not carry the spices for good curry. With a few exceptions, the spices should come from an Indian speciality store or spice outlet. Buying premixed garam masala is much like buying several days’ old bread. As for the curry powder, it cannot come from a small bottle or a tin. The heat of curry can vary, add hot chilli or not. Add a little or a lot, it’s up to you.

I learned to make Indian curry for the sake of a catholic priest who came here from India. Between my curry and Jim’s sour cherry wine, Fr Tom used to be a frequent visitor. Then when he was transferred out of town to a small parish with no cook or housekeeper, Jim and I went to see him and I thought him how to cook curry. A Hungarian born Canadian woman teaching an Indian priest how to cook curry... admittedly it was kind of funny. The sour cherry tree is gone now and so is Fr Tom. He went back to India. He would have a houseboy cooking his curry and pouring his drinks. Last Sunday we had good friends over; we ate curry, drank Jim’s grape wine and remembered Fr Tom.

1 chicken
1/3 cup ghee
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp Madras curry powder
3 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika*
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp Garam Masala, freshly roasted and ground
1/4 cup cashews, ground [but not too finely]

• Cut up chicken into small pieces, removing all the skin and the fat.
• Place the ghee in a fry pan.
• Slowly fry the onion, garlic, and ginger in the ghee, until soft and golden.
• Stir in the curry powder and the Hungarian paprika.
• Add the salt and tomatoes and slowly cook to pulp.
• Add the chicken 2-3 pieces at the time and turn to coat with the spice mixture.
• Transfer chicken pieces to a large roasting pan
• Top with the remaining spice mixture and add 1 cup of water to the pan.
• Cover the roasting pan and place in a preheated 320F oven.
• Bake until the meat is tender.
• Stir in the garam masala and bake uncovered for 5 minutes.
• Stir in the ground cashews.
• Serve with Basmati rice.

*You can use chilli powder, but Hungarian paprika gives better color and milder flavour to curry.

GHEE


All you need to make ghee is unsalted butter. Ghee looks like golden oil. Ghee is an ingredient of many Middle Eastern dishes. Ghee is also called clarified butter. In the sixties the “galloping gourmet” AKA Graham Kerr used clarified butter in just about everything he made. Making ghee is easy and inexpensive. There is a funny video on YouTube of a half naked Indian guru making copious amounts of ghee. He does a good job, but making ghee from a pound of butter is a lot simpler and you don’t need to strip for it. Ghee keeps rather well and as long as you use a clean dry spoon and the ghee is not contaminated with food particles, it will keep in a covered jar for several months inside the cupboard.

1 lb butter

• Place 1 lb of unsalted butter in a large, heavy pot.
• A heat slowly until butter melts; turn the heat up to medium.
• When the butter starts boiling turn it down to a low heat again.
• Let it simmer ever so slowly. It will foam and splutter.
• Do not cover the pot and stir from time to time.
• After 10 to15 minutes the ghee will smell like popcorn.
• Skim the foam off the top.
• Let it cool and strain ghee through a very fine strainer into jar.
• Discard the solids that remain in the pot.
• Put a lid on the jar and store on shelf.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!

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