Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paprikás csirke (Chicken paprikás)

I've just eaten my usual Sunday lunch with my family. In Hungary, lunch at 12 a.m. is the main meal. Today, my mom cooked chicken paprikás, so I thought that I will share the recipe with you. It's possible that you won't be able to prepare the noodle for the chicken, because you can't find the necessary device in your country. Well, I'll give you a tip in the section "Notes from the writer" about how to solve this problem. Let's start our journey!

Ingredients for the chicken
8 pieces of chicken wings (csirkeszárny)
1 big onion (vöröshagyma)
1 tablespoon flour (liszt)
200 ml (6,76 fl oz) sour cream (tejföl)
3 tablespoon cooking oil (olaj)
1 green pepper (zöldpaprika)
1 tomato (paradicsom)
1 coffee-spoon ground red pepper (pirospaprika por)

Ingredients for the noodle
50 dkg (17,6 oz) flour (liszt)
3 eggs (tojás)
salt (só)
water (víz)
a special device which you can see on the picture

How to become master of the Hungarian kitchen #6
First, clean the chicken wings and salt them. Now, cut the onion into little pieces and fry it in the cooking oil. Add the ground red pepper to the onion, and then come the chicken wings. Put 2 dl water and a little salt in the sauce. Cut the green pepper and the tomato into pieces and add them to the chicken. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook it (stew it) for about an hour. About every five minutes stir it slowly, so the chicken wings won't fall apart. Keep adding water until the wings are covered. Without water, your chicken wings would burn. If the chicken is soft enough, put only the chicken wings in a bowl and set it aside for a while.
Mix the sour cream and the one tablespoon flour together (it mustn't be lumpy) and add the mixture to the sauce, so you get the gravy for the chicken. Boil this gravy and then put the chicken wings back to the saucepan. Cook it for a few minutes in order to mix all of the ingredients. If it's ready, put it away till you are preparing the noodles.

How to prepare the noodle
It's not as difficult as it looks like. Mix the flour with the egg and a little salt. Add water to the mixture, so it won't be either soft or hard. Put 1 liter (33,8 fl oz) of water in a pot with a little salt and now cover it with the special noodle maker (see above). Now add a little piece of the mixture to the grater and slowly move it on the noodle maker back and forth. Stir it a little once in the water, so it won't stick to the bottom. The noodle is ready when it floats on the top of the water. When you take the noodles out from the water, drain them. Here is a tip from my mom: warm a little cooking oil in a pan, and when the noodles are ready, put them into the warm oil, so they won't stick together. Now that you made your first Hungarian noodles, put them on a plate and serve it with the chicken. Jó étvágyat!

Notes from the writer
If you are in Hungary and you intend to buy a noodle grater, go to a simple supermarket. Usually they sell it, too. In the case that you don't live in Hungary and don't have an opportunity to find it, you can prepare this meal with simple pasta that consist of small pieces. You won't get the same taste, but it's good that way, too. Also, if you don't like chicken wings, you can prepare this meal with any parts of the chicken that you like. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Week of Sweetness: Túrógombóc (Curd cheese dumpling)

I received many responses in the past two weeks in connection with my recipes. I was advised to create a dictionary with the most important cooking terms, which would help you to feel in safe if you go shopping or to a restaurant. The page is under construction at the moment, but it won't take long to finish it, I promise. Some of my friends asked me where I get the recipes from. Here is the answer: as I mentioned in the 'About me' section, my mom helps me every week to make the recipes perfect. She mostly doesn't use measuring for her dishes, because she always says that she learned to cook by watching her mother preparing the food for Sunday lunch. So, the measurements are coming from a pretty old (35-years old) cookbook, which my grandmother used, but the instructions are from my mom's and my experiences. I took a picture of our old cookbook for you.
Many of my readers weren't brave enough to comment on their recipe ideas on my blog, but I received many demands from my friends that I will try to fulfill.
There was the Hortobágyi húsos palacsinta, which was very popular among suggestions. I will put that recipe on my blog, but not now. I'm in a mood at the moment where I could eat anything which is sweet at the moment, so the first recipe that I'll show you will be Túrógombóc (Curd cheese dumpling). This recipe is dedicated to one of my best friends, Orsi. She wasn't successful when she first tried to prepare it ,but, as she told me last week, she could complete the task. The mission is not impossible anymore! About túrógombóc a little bit: it is one of the sweet dishes that Hungarian children eat very often in the kindergarten very often. It is possible to say that there isn't anybody in this country who hasn't actually tasted this food at least once in his/her lifetime. Túrógombóc is used as a main dish, because it makes you full very easily. Usually after I eat one or two balls I feel like I ate a whole pig. Here is the recipe & instructions:

Ingredients (for about 10 dumplings)
500g (17,64 oz) curd cheese (túró)
120g (4,23 oz / 0,5 cup) grits (búzadara)
3 eggs (tojás)
a pinch salt (só)
200ml (6,76 fl oz) sour cream (tejföl)
bread crumbs 
powdered sugar

How to become master of the Hungarian kitchen #5
The first step is to put the curd cheese, the grits, the egg yolk, and a pinch of salt in a pot. Grab a wooden spoon and mix up these ingredients. Now, cover the dollop with plastic wrap, and leave it for about two hours. This step is needed in order to soften the grits. Then, while we are waiting for the grits to soften (about two hours), brown the bread crumbs in a frying-pan. Stir it quickly in order not to burn it! (This is the part where my friend first made a mistake and burned the whole thing. After it is ready, put it apart. When the grits in our dollop is soft enough, whisk the white of the egg and fold it slowly in the dollop. Now put water in a cooking pot with a pinch of salt, and wait until it starts to boil. This part is the best, even children can help. Wet your hands to shape little balls from the dollop and put them in the boiling water. (Notes for the kids: not throw, but put!) At the beginning stir them carefully so they won't stick to the bottom. When the dumplings come up to the top of the water, then they are ready. It is usually about five minutes. Cut the one of them in half, and check if it is really ready (they will be soft). If they are, put them in the toasted bread crumbs. Serve it on a plate with sour cream, and powdered sugar on the top. Enjoy!

Notes from the writer 
The only important thing to know when you are going shopping is that you can find the grits at the same place when the flour is. They are in similar packages, so check the label on it, which says 'búzadara'. One more tip to help you make your dumplings better: grate a lemon's peel into the dumping; it will be more delicious. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marvelous Hungary

Gluttonous Thursday

This week I thought that I will do something new on my blog. I gave you five recipes in the past month still my blog is alive, but now I would like to provide my personal experience for you. If somebody has a connection with Hungary, and especially with the Hungarian kitchen, then it is a must to mention Torkos Csütörtök (Gluttonous Thursday). This event is pretty popular here, because most of Hungary's restaurants and pubs offer their drinks and food for 50% of the original price. It is worth to look for a great place to eat on this day, which was on the 10th March this year. However, you need to book a place in the chosen restaurant months before the event. It is possible that you are lucky and find a good place two days before Torkos Csütörtök, but don't be naive and expect that if you go to a restaurant then you will have a perfect seat. These restaurants are always full, and sometimes you have to wait for long hours to actually sit down and get your food, but this depends on the place you go. And how do you know if your favorite restaurant is among those, which take part in this event? It is easy, because you only need to click on the event's site, and search for those restaurants, which are close to you:

Gekko Pub

Unfortunately, I made a mistake and I did not book a place in a restaurant months ago, so I could not attend this event on Thursday. However, as I'm living in Szombathely, Vas County, I came home for the weekend from Budapest to see my parents. There are many good restaurants in Szombathely, which are not expensive, but there is one place which is special for my heart because of several reasons. This place is called Gekko Pub. As its name shows, it is a pub style restaurant. So, my boyfriend Dani and I chose this place to visit as we usually do if we intend to eat out. Why do I love this place is, because of its name: Gekko (Gecko). When I first visited this place, I thought that some crazy guy gave this name to his pub, because he didn't find a better name. However, it turned out that the boss is actually fond of geckos: you can see little gecko figures on the wall, and there are many living geckos in terrariums, too. It's funny to eat your dinner while a little monster is watching you behind your shoulder. It is worth to mention that this pub is a great place if someone is searching for a romantic place for a date...really! The place is full of warm colors (brown and red), and also the waiter is coming to light the candle on your table to provide the best dating atmosphere for couples. 

This time, I chose a very simple dish from the menu. It was chicken breast with tomato and melted cheese on the top. The whole dish was prepared in a furnace, which gave a very special taste to my chicken. I loved it. It was so simple, but even the simplest dishes can provide a great experience. After all, we are in Hungary and if you put a little pepper or tomato in your food, the result will be priceless. Dani had pasta with broccoli, grilled chicken, and blue cheese on the top. As the only vegetable that I don't eat is broccoli, I only tasted the part where it was chicken and cheese. The taste was still marvelous. The food was good, the company was good, the waitress was super kind, and I could even watch the Manchester United-Arsenal soccer game on a widesreen TV, which added to the atmosphere, because I prefer Man. Utd., while Dani's favorite team is Arsenal. So, everything was in the right place to have a great Saturday afternoon. And how much did we pay at the end? Including the tip for our waitress, we paid about HUF 3800, which is not much if we consider the fact that we actually couldn't stand up after dinner for a while, because we were full. 

I forgot my camera at home, so I can't show you the dishes we tasted, but I have a picture from this summer. My uncle from the U.S. was here to visit us, and we went to Gekko. I chose a dish, which was for two persons, so Dani happily shared it with me. Look at this awesome Hungarian specialty on the right side. If you don't want to eat at Gekko, you still can taste something unique here. This is the place, where a person who lives in Szombathely stops for a hot chocolate at a cold, winter night. Gekko offers around 20-25 types of hot chocolate. You can taste the simple strawberry hot chocolate, or a more special one: the hot chocolate with spearmint and dark chocolate in it. Whatever is the reason why you are in Szombathely, the place where you need to go to get something unique without going bust is Gekko Pub! Even if their site is not trasnlated to English yet, check their site to get the feeling I mentioned:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Readers' choice

Dear readers,

This week I would like YOU to tell me what our next week's recipe should be. Even if it's an appetizer, a main dish, or a dessert, I will prepare it. So, the chance is yours. Good luck!

Best wishes,

Túrós csusza (Pasta with curd cheese)

I have only posted the recipe of the famous Gulash a few minutes ago, but I though that this week I give you an extra recipe. So, I will show you something, which can be either salty or sweet. I chose 'Túrós csusza', because this meal is my mom's favourite Hungarian dish. This pasta is said to be special, because you can prepare it as a main menu, or as a dessert. In the section of 'Notes from the writer' I will explain you why it is true.

3 tablespoon cooking oil (étolaj)
1 teaspoonful salt ()
70 g (2,47 oz) smoked, raw bacon (füstölt csemegeszalonna)
250 g (8,82 oz) curd cheese (tehéntúró)
250 g (8,82 oz) dried pasta like this: 

How to become master of the Hungarian kitchen #4
Cut the bacon into little cubes and brown it in a frying pan. Put water with a little salt and cooking oil into the pot. When the water boils, add the pasta to the water and cook it for about 10-12 minutes. Then pour off the pasta. Wash it with cold water, so the pieces won't stick together. This is a very important step! After all these steps are ready, mix the pasta with a little curd cheese. Put a little pasta on a plate and add sour cream (as much as you like) and bacon on the top.

Notes from the writer
As I mentioned in the first section, this is special. There are people, who put lecsó (see a former post) on the top of the pasta. Others, like my mom, eat it as a dessert. This means that she doesn't put bacon on the top, but sugar. It is very tasty this way, too. 

Gulyás (Gulash)

As I mentioned last time, our next dish will be the famous Gulash. Even if it’s a soup, Hungarians don't eat it as an appetizer, but as a main dish.

40 dkg (14,11 oz) beef (marhahús)
one medium-sized onion
1 sweet pepper (zöld or TV paprika)
1 tomato (paradicsom)
2 tablespoon cooking oil (étolaj)
1 coffee-spoon ground red pepper (pirospaprika por)
12 dkg (4,23 oz) carrot (sárgarépa)
12 dkg (4,23 oz) chard (fehérrépa)
30 dkg (10,56 oz) potato (burgonya/krumpli)
1-2 pinch ground caraway seed

How to become master or the Hungarian kitchen #3
First, wash the meat and cut it into little pieces. Clean the onion and cut it into pieces. Then wash down the sweet pepper (take out its seeds) and the tomato (pull down the peel). And now cut them up, too. Warm up the cooking oil, and steam the onion in it. Then pull down the onion from the hot plate. Put 1 coffee-spoon ground red pepper and the beef in it. Now, please cook it on stage 9 (if you have a 9-stages hot plate). Brown it for a few minutes, but please stir it continuously in order not to burn it.  Add the sweet pepper, the tomato, and a little salt (as much as you like) to the meat. Cover the pot with a topper and steam the beef on stage 3 till it doesn't become tender. It will last for about an hour. 

During your meat is being cooked, peel the carrot, the chard, and the potato. Cut them into pieces and after the meat is almost half-cooked, add them with a little caraway seed to the beef. Fill up the pot so it covers the meat and the vegetables. Now that everything is in the pot, cook your Gulash on stage 3 for until the meat doesn't become soft. After your Gulash is ready, serve it in plates, and if you like put spicy red pepper in it. Enjoy it with a slice of white bread! 

Notes from the writer
If you are in Hungary, you can buy dried spicy red pepper at the grocery (see below). If you intend to cook a real Hungarian gulash, you need to use spicy pepper, because this is what gives a dominant taste for the whole soup.