I love cooking! Of course, eating too. That's why I have to go on a major diet every year to keep my weight at bay. My passion for gastronomy is something I have from my father, I think, because he is known as the best cook not only in the family, but in the whole district. I have some favourite and well working recipes, most of which are the result of my own experimenting or at least I've added something of my own ideas to them. I'd like to share these on this site, illustrated with my own photos and the short stories of their origin.
Recipes of traditional dishes of my native country, Hungary, can be found under the following links:
ATTENTION, US RESIDENTS!!! THE AMOUNTS GIVEN IN THE METRIC SYSTEM CAN BE CONVERTED INTO US WEIGHTS/MEASURES BY THE HELP OF A CONVERSION TABLE.
- Indian plate: "Aloo gobi" with rice and apple-chutney (vegetarian)
I've got this recipe from our dear friends, the family Huffman. Since then, so many guests of mine sang its praises that I have to admit at last, who the glory belongs to. Those who like exotic dishes, are going to love this.
You may face difficulties with purchasing the spices, but you only have to do it once and then you can make quite a lot of servings easily. I buy them at a so-called "Asia shop" in Budapest.
Ingedients for 4 persons:
1 big cauliflower cut into chunks
approx. 0.8 kg potatos cut into cubes (unpeeled, if possible)
4-5 tomatos, peeled, cut into cubes
juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon curcuma
2 tablespoon ground coriander
1-2 tablespoon ground chili (hot!)
2-4 tablespoon garam masala (not hot)
1/2 kg apples
12,5 dkg raisins for those who like it (I don't )
100-150 g sugar (preferably brown)
1 small dried chili pepper
1 piece of cinnamon-bark
2-3 pieces of clove
2 slices of lemon
1/2 dl lemon juice
1 teaspoon ("roman") cumin (seed)
1/2 teaspoon anis seed
1/4 teaspoon curcuma
1 teaspoon oil
Roast the cauliflower and the potatos in some oil, until it starts to stick to the pan. Then add the spices (except garam masala) and the tomatos. Cook in its own juice at low heat for aprox. 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally. When ready, add the garam masala and lemon juice.
I usually make 2 or 3 times this much, because we like it so much that we can't eat enough of it... Cut the peeled apples into cubes. Start to roast the spices in the oil in the following order: cumin, anis, chili, clove, cinnamon. (Prepare it in advance, because it burns to cinder in no time). When it starts to smoke and we can smell the spices, put in the apples, (raisins), lemon slices and lemon juice. Cook well and mix in the sugar and the curcuma at the end. Serve chilled.
- Bulghur (coarse wheat) with eggplants and tomatos (vegetarian)
Before you start to curse my ancestors, I assure you that this dish is far less complicated than it sounds, in spite of its name. The largets amount I've ever cooked of it was 16 servings and all of it was gone in no time: my guests were very pleased, as it is very yummy. Thanks for the recipe for the family Huffman, our dear frends! :o)
You can purchase bulghur (coarse) wheat in health food shops. There is a brown or white version of it, both work well.
Ingredients for 4 persons:
250 g bulghur (if you can't find any, try 150 g of wheatmeal, but it's MUCH better with bulghur!)
4 dkg butter (or ghi)
approx. 7 dl water
500 g eggplants, cut into 1-1,5 cm cubes
250 g tomatos, cut into small cubes
1 medium-sized onion, cut small
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of parsley cut small
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 dl cream
50 g course-cut nuts (for those who like it - I don't )
100 g grated Gouda cheese
sat, (Cayenne pepper)
some fresh (or dried) basil
2,5 dl yoghurt
Gently roast the bulghur on the butter, pour on water, stir and cook for 5-10 minutes, then set aside and let it cool, covered. (This can be done several hours before the rest, it does the bulghur no harm.)
Cut the basil fine, mix with yoghurt, salt and pepper. Cool it in the fridge.
Steam the onion, garlic and eggplants in the olive oil for approx. 20 minutes. Stir the bulghur, then mix it with the steamed eggplants, tomatos, parsley, cheese, cream and nuts. Add salt and spices. Put the mix into a gently buttered heat-proof bowl and put it into the (cold) oven. Bake at medium heat (180 ° Celsius) for approx. 30 minutes.
Serve the yoghurt-basil sauce separately.
- Quail's egg jelly (vegetarian)
I recommend this dish for special occasions. It's a little work-consuming, but very unique. I guess you could experiment with hen's egg as well if you can't find quail's (Latin name of the animal is Cotrunix), I haven't tried, though. Ingredients for 4 persons:
20 quail's eggs,
2 dl cream,
1 onion (the purple ones are best),
20 dkg cottage cheese,
8 dkg butter,
1 handful chive,
2 tablespoon sour cream,
fresh ground nutmeg
Mix the cottage cheese with 5 dkg butter, salt and our cream. Cut the onion and the chive very small. Mix the eggs with a little salt, ground nutmeg and the cream. Make sure it doesn't get churned. Pour the mix into slightly buttered small cups. Put the cups into a pot with water 2 fingers deep in it. Cover the pot by half and simmer on very low heat for cca. 30 minutes. If it has a jelly-like substance, serve warm, garnished with toast onto which you spread the cottage cheese cream and sprinkle some onion/chive.
- Chicken (or mushrooms) with honey, bell peppers and soy sauce:
I've created this recipe after eating something very similar in a Middle Age-style restaurant in Budapest named "Sir Lancelot". By the way, I highly recommend visiting this restaurant to everyone (the address is Bp.XIII.Podmaniczky u. 12?), it's a nice place with the serving personnel dressed up in Middle Age clothes, you eat with your fingers etc. I've found this dish so delicious that I wanted to make my own at any price. The result is the recipe below, still one of my favourites and easy to prepare.
Lately, I've developed the vegetarian version of the recipe (with mushrooms) and noticed that it tastes even better with some gently roasted sesame and flax seeds.
Ingredients for 1 person:
200-300 g (cca. 1/2 lb) turkey or chicken breast filet (or mushrooms)
1 sweet bell pepper (the more courageous can use hot ones as well)
a little oil
some kind of "grill"-type spice mixture
2 tablespoons of honey
2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon of flax seeds
Cut the meat and the bell peppers into thin slices. Salt if the grill spice mix does not contain salt. Roast in a little oil until it gets nice rosy. I put the peppers a little later in than the meat so that it stays crispy. When the meat has a nice colour, pour the soy sauce and the honey on it. Add some water if necessary. Cook a little longer until the honey melts and the sauce gets a little thicker. It's best with mashed potatos, but just bread will do, too. It's a delicious, quick dinner.
- Turkey or chicken with cheese sauce and vegetables
This is my own invention. Very delicious, also good if you have vegetarian guests and don't want to cook extra for them. In this case just leave out the meat from their portion and take some more veggies. You can serve it either with mashed potatos or just with bread. Ingredients for 1 person:
200 g (cca. 1/2 lb) turkey or chicken breast filet
some kind of "grill"-type spice mixture
at least 2 (a handful each) of the following vegetables: sweet corn, asparagus spears, bamboo shoots, Brussels sprouts.
cheese sauce powder or some canned Sauce Hollandaise or mix your own from some Roquefort, some other hard cheese (like Cheddar or Emmentaler), sour cream and spices like basil or origanum and garlic.
Cut the meat either into small stripes or fillets. Roast it in a little vegetable oil and add some "grill" spice mix. Put it aside. Ready the cheese sauce either according to the description on the package/can or by mixing cheese, sour cream and spices in a pan and heating it on low heat until the cheese melts. Cook the vegetables in salty water or if they are pre-cooked and canned, just drip and rinse them and put them either straight into the cheese sauce or onto the serving plate. You can add the meat, too, but I prefer not to put it into the sauce, but serve separately. The whole thing looks quite complicated, but in fact it's easy to prepare. "Fast food" (quick meals):
- Cold cheese spread (vegetarian)
This delicacy is the queen of sandwiches. I've lerned the recipe in my teens and it's a hit ever since. On days without a date I put a whole onion in it in case I can't get chive. Another perversion of mine is to eat very hot green pepperoni (Hungarian "hell-peppers", see pic) with it. YUM! Try once and you won't forget it! Ingredients for 4 persons:
30 dkg processed (soft) cheese
1 cup sour cream
15 dkg hard cheese (Emmentaler, Edam etc.)
1 handful fresh chive or onion
Mix ingredients, spread on toast , open mouth and....YUM!
- Fish pasta a la college dorm (with Greek salad)
Well, this is a real invention of mine. During my university years, we often cooked canned, powdered, dried etc. food. One of my favourites was fish soup from "fish soup cubes". To make it more filling, I added some noodles. Then some more noodles. Yet more noodles... At the end, a new noodle dish was created, which, after adding some canned tuna fish filet, turned out to be the simplest, less work-consuming, yet super tasting meal. I recommend it for camping as well! Ingredients for 1 person:
1 fish soup cube (anything instant with fish flavor and some red pepper in it will do)
2 handfuls of dry noodles (shell-, square or other small shapes are best)
1 can of tuna fish in salt water (not in oil! John West works best for me)
hot chili if you like
Put the noodles into a pot. Pour water on it until it's covered, plus a little more. Dissolve the fish soup cube (instant thing) in it. Cook until the noodles are soft and take up most of the water (in the microwave, I cook it 500W x 2 min then 350 W x 13 mins, take care, it always boils over a little) If it lacks water, fill after. When it's ready, mix the fish in. If you like hot pepper like I do, don't forget to add it. It's only 15 minutes, you don't have to watch it all the time and it's quite delicious. Like with every fish dish, Greek salads go very well with it, like the classic "Greek salad" or "Tzatziki". The first one is made of cubed tomatos, cucumbers, onions, some bell peppers, olives and Feta cheese (see picture), the second one consists of small-cut cucumbers with yoghurt, garlic and Tzatziki spice (any spice mix used for mediterranean dishes will do). These salads will make a royal meal from your primitive deed, but it's just as good without them. Garnishes: (vegetarian)
- Mashed potatos
- Multi-coloured rice
- I make mashed potatos the classical way: I mash the potatos, add some butter and as many milk as it takes up, mix it until creamy. If you don't have anything else at home to go with it, roast some onions in oil with a little chili on top. (my Mom's idea).
- The secret of nice rice (not sticky) is to roast it for 1-2 minutes on a little oil before adding water. I use 2 units of water for 1 unit of rice and flavour it with a salt-dried vegetable mix. If you add some curry powder and/or a little saffron crocus (Latin: crocus salivus), it will get a nice yellow colour. I usually use brown rice (it needs a little more water and longer cooking time than white rice) and mix it with a tablespoon of "wild rice" (the black ones). You can invent variations adding white rice and other grains.
- Strawberry pancake tower
I found the recipe of this cake when I was about 13, in a book called "Book of Pancakes" and there is not any dish that I made more often than this ever since. I think the latter fact makes it a kind of my own speciality, praised and asked for by most of my friends. Ingredients (1 cake):
200 g butter (=cca. 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
200 g flour (= cca. 1 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp)
100 g sugar (= cca. 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
1l milk (=cca. 1 quart milk, maybe a little less)
oil for frying
1 package of strawberry-flavoured pudding powder
1/2 kg strawberries (the more the better) (= cca. 2 pounds)
1 package (red) jelly-powder (may be left out)
whipped cream for decoration (may be left out)
Separate the egg-whites from the yellow. Add the butter to the yellow (melted if possible), then the sugar, flour and half of the milk. Prepare the pudding with the rest of the milk according to the instructions on the package. In case it's a pudding that needs heating, wait until it cools. Put the most beautiful strawberries aside for decoration. Whip the egg-whites into a hard mass. Stir it carefully into the rest of the dough. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and start baking the pancakes. Make nice thick pancakes, but bake only one side. The top has to become solid, but the bottom must not get burned. Put the pancakes one on the other and smear some pudding on each layer, cutting little slices of the remaining strawberries inbetween. Don't be too generous with the pudding or else the layers will not stick together. Build it carefully into a symmetric pancake tower. There will be about 13-19 pancakes at the end. Put the last pancake bottom side up on the tower. If you put the whole into the fridge now, it will be fine, but you can decorate it for a real feast like this: wrap a strip of paper covered in plastic around the whole cake so that it holds it together. Put the nice strawberries on top, if you don't have many, cut each in half. Prepare the jelly from the powder according to the intructions on the package and wait until it's half solid, then put it carefully on top. If you timed it badly and the jelly is too hard, reheat and try again, it works in most cases. Put the cake into the fridge. Unwrap after it's cooled and serve decorated with whipped cream. I love about it the most that it's a light thing, not too sweet and you can eat a lot of it without getting too full. It's much more delicious than most confectioneries from the shop!
Out of strawberry season you can experiment with chocolate pudding and toppings, I find vanilla even better, and of course any other creams and fruits are great.
- Lemon & chocolate bread
This sweet is also quite popular in my family. The exemplar on the pic was made of white flour and wit lemon only, but it's yummier with chocolate and healthier with whole wheat flour. I love the way it peeks out of the baking pan! You have to be careful not to let it reach the top of the oven or come entirely out of the pan. Ingredients (for a bread cca. the size of the one in the picture) :
50 dkg flour,
10 dkg powdered sugar,
2 ,5 dkg yeast,
3-5 dl milk (as much as it takes in),
4 egg yellows,
10 dkg butter or margarine,
1 package vanillin sugar (optional),
1 lemon's ground peel,
3 tablespoons lemon juice,
20 dkg chocolate (optional)
Raise the yeast with 2 dl lukewarm milk and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Mix the eggs, butter, the rest of the sugar, salt, vanillin sugar, lemon's peel and juice. Add the yeast milk. Knead the flour into the mix thoroughly with as much milk as it takes in to make a soft, but kneadable dough. Knead a lot! Try to knead little bubbles of air into it. At last, add chocolate (small pieces or chips). Some people commit the crime of adding raisins - YUCK! -, but since I hate raisins, I'd never do such a thing. If you prepare the baking pan with some butter, you can raise the dough in it. Cover with a cloth, leave in lukewarm room and let it rise until it has doubled its size. Now you put it into the hot oven. Decrease the heat after 5 minutes to low heat and bake 30-40 minutes until ready. If a needle stuck into the middle doesn't get sticky and the top has a nice reddish colour, it's ready. Let it cool a bit, then take it out of the pan and cut in slices. It's yummiest when hot!
- Christmas honeycakes
I can't decide what I like about theese cakes better: that sweet spicy christmas smell, the brown, fibrous, honeyed dough of the cakes or the opportunity of self-expression given by the icing. One thing is sure: since I keep my own household, no Christmas has gone without it, what's more, I have to confess I sometimes consume a sheetful or two even in summer! Ingredients (2 large sheets):
25-50 dkg honey (the more, the better),
2 eggs and 2 egg yellows,
5 dkg sugar,
50 dkg flour, whole wheat if possible (maybe a little more if needed),
1 teaspoon baking soda,
1 package honeycake spice mix (contains cinnamon, lemon's peel, aniseed etc.)
powdered sugar, egg's white, maybe food colourant (or coffee, raspberry sirup, other natural colourants) for the icing
Mix the ingredients, knead with as much flour as it takes to make a dough that does not stick to your hands. Roll it out (not too thinly!), cut various shapes with a cake-tin or a knife, spread some egg yellow on top. Line a big baking sheet with baking paper (or butter). Bake at medium heat until it gets a nice reddish colour on top. Caution! It's very easy to burn! Check frequently, whether it's ready. If it's cooled down, decorate it by the help of a plastic sac, one tail cut off to make a small hole, with icings made of a thick mix of powdered sugar and egg-white, eventually coloured. You can also use the cake to decorate the Christmas tree.
- "Yugoslawian chocolate"
!'ve learned tis recipe around 1988 when "Great" Yugoslawia still existed. However, I have no clue why this interesting, tasty and not very widely known homemade chocolate is called like that. Maybe there was no other choclate available there, then... I recommend trying this, because it's easy, quick, filling and very delicious! Ingredients (1 big sheet):
40 dkg sugar,
25 dkg margarine,
30 dkg milk powder,
10 dkg cocoa powder,
10 dkg rice flakes (looks like popcorn made of rice),
Boil 1,5 dl water with the sugar for 2 minutes, melt the butter in it. Add the milk powder, cocoa powder and rice flakes. Spread the mix onto a buttered (or baking paper-lined) baking sheet and let it jellyfy (it's quicker in the fridge, but room temperature will do if you have no room in your fridge). When it's solid, cut 2 fingers wide stripes of it. Another idea: you can create various patterns by mixing cocoa powder only to half of the whole mix, and spread it on the sheet in stripes.
- Cocoa / cinnamon rolls
The recipe originates from one of my high school classmates, whose rolls I used to be envious for in lunch breaks. It's a sympathetic recipe: the result ist quite spectatcular! Ingredients (1 big sheet):
1/2 kg flour (make sure you have a little more, it usually takes it up),
25 dkg margarine,
5 dkg sugar,
2 dkg yeast,
2 dl milk,
for the filling: cocoa powder or ground cinnamon mixed with powdered sugar
Raise the yeast with the milk and a little sugar, then knead it together with the other ingredients. Let it rise for cca. 2 hours. Roll it out reatively thinly (it will rise more sideways in the oven), spread the cocoa/cinnamon filling on it, roll it up and cut it into thumb-broad slices. Place the slices cca. 1,5 cm from each other on a buttered baking sheet. Preheat the oven and bake at medium heat. If you have a gas oven, put it onto the highest shelf, because it's rather the bottom that tends to get burned. If you make it right, the edges rise together nicely. Ideal for breakfast or lunch!
- Biscuit roll
Around our high school final exams, we often made such rolls for various parties. If you suddenly have to appear somewhere with a panful of homemade cookies, this could be a good choice, because it's not too complicated to prepare and looks quite good, though. Ingredients (1 big roll):
1 kg plain sweet biscuits (you can buy ground biscuits in bigger supermarkts),
35 dkg powdered suar,
2 dl apricot jam (jelly),
5 dkg cocoa powder,
15 dkg butter,
0,5 dl rum (or flavor),
1 csésze coffee (not instant and not too strong)
10-15 dkg ground walnuts and/or coconut flakes for those who like it
(I don't )
Mix the ground biscuits with 15 dkg sugar, apricot jam, cocoa powder (walnuts) and as much coffee as it takes to make a kneadable, but not too soft mass. Mix the filling from butter, rum and 20 dkg sugar in a separate pan. Stir until creamy. Divde the biscuit mass into 2-4 parts, roll out each, spread the filling on it and roll it up (shadow-souled coconut lovers tend to blow it now by rolling it into coconut flakes...). Chill it in the fridge. Cut it into nice thin slices and serve.
- Chocolate icing
We often miss a good chocolate icing recipe for our homemade cakes. Well, this one worked best for me so far. It's a little softer than the ones in the confectionary, but it's easier to spread and has a nice shiny texture. Ingredients (for 1 cake):
1 package of vanilla or chocolate pudding powder that needs cooking,
2,5 dl milk,
20 dkg margarine,
20 dkg powdered ugar,
2 big tablespoon cocoa powder,
some rum flavor (optional)
Mix the pudding powder with the milk, cook it without adding sugar, let it cool while stirring so that it doesn't develop a "skin" on top. Mix the margarine thoroughly with sugar, rum flavor and cocoa powder. When the pudding has cooled, mix both together and spread on the cake.
- Yoghurt cake
I owe thanks to a colleague of mine for this fine thing, whom I visited once and met this cake there the first time. I liked it so much that I had to lay hands on the recipe immediately! Here you go. Ingredients (for 1 cake):
1 liter (fruit)yoghurt,
cca. 15 dkg sugar,
25 dkg mashed cottage cheese,
2 package gelatine powder (I use Oetker)
2 dl cream, whipped
ladyfingers/sponge biscuits (optional)
Mix 1/4 l yoghurtot and 15 dkg sugar with the gelatine powder and heat, but don't boil. Add cottage cheese, the rest of the yoghurt and the whipped cream. Line a bowl with fruits and pour the mix on it. Let it congeal in the fridge. When it's solid, dump it on a plate lined with ladyfingers (sponge-biscuits). Slice and serve. Homemade ladyfingers recipe (no exact amounts are known to me, sorry):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line 2 baking sheets w/ parchment paper. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in granulated sugar until stiff peaks form again. Lightly beat egg yolks and fold into mixture. Sift flour over mixture and fold in gently. Using a pastry bag, pipe mixture onto baking sheet lined with butter and parchment paper. Sprinkle lightly with confectioner's sugar. Wait five minutes, then sprinkle the other half. Bake 10 minutes, rotate, cook approximately 5 more minutes. Remove from baking sheet while still hot and cool on rack.
Rice-"vlaai" (pronounced like 'fly') The original specialists of "vlaai" are the Belgian, hence the strange spelling. It means yummy goods on sponge-cake basis, like pizza for the Italian in a sweet variation. My favourite was rice-vlaai when I had the opportunity to taste it in Belgium, so I improvised something similar here at home, adding some fruits as well. Ingredients (for one cake):
1 cup rice
4,5 cups milk
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoured sugar (optional)
1 package vanilla pudding powder
1 package jelly powder (optional)
30-60 dkg (1 pound +/-) fruits of the season (in the picture: raspberries)
sponge-cake basis (purchased or homemade)
Cook the rice with 3 cups of milk and 1 cup of water above low heat and in a good quality pan. Stir and cook until the rice is soft and the milk gets thick. Be very careful, as it burns down very easily. Add sugar and vanilla flavoured sugar toward the end. Prepare the vanilla pudding with the remaining milk and add it to the rice when it is ready and cooled down some. Cool it, then put it on top of the sponge-cake basis in a thick layer. Decorate the top with fruit and jelly.