Friday, November 13, 2009

Gomba Paprikás

This is one of our favorites! It's a mushroom stew with plenty of paprika and sour cream served over Hungarian dumplings called nokedli. Below is the recipe for chicken paprikás that is easily adapted for mushroom paprikás. Consider it a bonus post!

Chicken/Mushroom Paprikás

2 Tbs oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 1/2 t salt
2-3 Tbs paprika
½ cup water
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
2 lbs chicken pieces or mushrooms
1 banana pepper, sliced into rings
2 Tbs sour cream, plus more for garnish
1-2 Tbs flour


In a large pot sweat onions in oil with a pinch of salt. When onions are soft take the pot of the heat and add the paprika and stir around before adding water and tomatoes. Add chicken pieces and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. (If making with mushrooms add them and saute until brown then proceed with recipe.) When the chicken is cooked, add the pepper slices and simmer for another 10 minutes. Take out chicken pieces and stir together sour cream and flour adding the mixture to the sauce. Serve chicken topped with the sauce next to nokedli and plenty of sour cream to garnish


2 eggs
2 tsp salt
¾ cup water
3 cups flour


Whisk egg, salt, and water together until thin. Slowly add flour and mix until a thick batter forms. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and place nokedli maker* across the top. Push the batter through the grates and into boiling salted water. Simmer until they rise to the top. Drain and serve hot.

Makes approximately 4 servings

Cook’s Note: For two people sharing paprikás over two nights, make a half batch of nokedli the first night and another half the second night.

*This tool looks like a large holed cheese grater and is used to make nokedli or spaetzle.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Great Post!

Anyone not familiar with Anna's (and sometimes Burke's) blog Hodge Vodge/Hogy Vagy please check out their latest adventure. They just got back from a wonderful vacation to Slovenia. Most notably they experienced wonderful European hospitality and artisanal craftsmanship!

I urge you to read this!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Ravioli

We chose this as the menu because of the fall-themed party that included pumpkin carving. We didn't, however, use the jack-o-lantern scraps. We chose a variety that smells like candy and brown sugar, almost like an instant pumpkin pie upon cutting the squash open. It was a wonderful sensation. The color is much like that of the eggs we get here, a very deep yellow/orange that is truly beautiful.

Delicious fall squash.
After slicing the two halves up I placed them on my Silpat and roasted them in the oven for about an hour each (there were two batches). Though this step was not pictured and that's a shame because there were pools of caramelized juices on the Silpat that were wonderful to behold as well as taste. Then everything went into the food mill, the glorious food mill. While I was spending about five minutes to turn the squash into a tasty purée I reflected on the hour and a half or so it took me last year to use a spoon and sieve to do the same job. I relished this fact though the palm of my hand started to hurt in memory of the spoon digging into it for an hour and a half last year.

Hurrah for foodmills!

This purée was wonderfully cooked and was very complex for being squash simply roasted. Because it was quite moist and wasn't planning on roasting the slices for a long time I decided against adding even butter or oil to them. Though this would have added more flavor I was very happy with my nearly instant pumpkin pie filling. Now if I can just find a damn pie tin...

Freshly pureed pumpkin.
Once the filling was finished with some cinamon, freshly grated nutmeg, turo, brown sugar, and salt. Franny and I rolled out the pasta. Quickly dropping down tablespoons of pumpkin filling we sealed them and cut them in no time at all. We cooked them in batches of five then put them in the frying pan with browned ghee and sage. Happily the sage was from our very own plant!

Pumpkin ravioli in the brown butter bath.

To finish plating we grated some fresh Parmigiana Reggiano.

Plated ravioli


We finished dinner with a fresh dessert of Apple Crisp that Franny quickly whipped up. It was a family recipe and absolutely delicious!

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If a pumpkin grows in Hungary does anyone carve it?

Meditating over this question we invited Emily and Tomi over to take part in our fall festival. It was lots of fun and included roasting pumpkin seeds and making pumpkin ravioli (but that's another post). I think Emily and Tomi had a lot of fun; we sure did!

The three stooges.

Franny and I carried these pumpkins home by hand, along with our usual market list of groceries. It was hard work, but so worth it for the reward of fresh pumpkin seeds and friends wielding knives and smiling!

The three stooges when lit.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Zucchini Soup

It's really hard to figure out where to begin. I'm not even sure where the beginning is so it's hard to start there. So after some reflection I found a picture of zucchini soup that I made on a few occasions this summer and absolutely loved! It became the defining soup of the summer because of the perfectly fresh and small zucchini I could find at the farmer's market that allowed me to step back from the recipe and let the vegetable do all the work. This soup, plenty of bread, and an ice-cold glass of homemade hibiscus tea (jamaica) became one of the most comforting meals of the season. Enjoy!

Zucchini Soup

1 kilo zucchini, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper

Saute the onion and zucchini until they begin to brown. Be sure to use plenty of salt to season the vegetables during the saute. Add broth and pepper, adding more salt to taste. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes then put the stick blender to it. Serve with dumplings or simply with bread.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guest Appearance

Hey all,

I still don't have internet, but I do have my laptop back. Check out my friend's blog with my first blog post in a long time! Can't wait to get back to writing about Hungary, food, and crazy fanny packs.

Check it out here.



Monday, June 22, 2009

Watermelon Granita

Hey folks! Sorry for not writing for so long, but I assure you that as busy as things have been lately I'm just collecting stories for a backlog of posts. But until I get to them, I have to move first, here's watermelon granita. Enjoy!

Franny and I went to the market this weekend and bought a quarter of a watermelon. It's been really hot in the south of Hungary, and dry, though I was surprised to see watermelon in June. There weren't just a couple either, there were more than 5 stands dedicated to watermelons or a combination of watermelon and other melons. So we dove in and bought a quarter of one to take home. It was good too, but not amazing, so we made other plans for it. I cut chunks of it into thin slices and Franny, using a strainer and a spoon, pressed all of the juice out of the fruit. We then strained it one last time, added a pinch of salt and sugar and poured all of the collected juice into a 9x13x2 baking pan. Placing the baking dish in the freezer I checked up on it every so often and scraped the ice as it formed to create large flat watermelon crystals of goodness. Serving suggestion above.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Gooseberry Fool

This will most likely be the last post for a week or so depending on access to internet. I am in the process of moving to Kecskemét. I have already tried to get an internet connection order in the works, but nothing is simple in Hungary. Until I have a good connection or until I find a wireless connection blogging will be difficult.

Anyway, gooseberry season has come and gone in Szeged and I caught some right at the beginning. They are beautiful berries that are plump, firm, and tart.

I trimmed and cleaned the berries.

Then I added some sugar to them to cook down.

Once they were cooked I strained them into a purée.

A close-up of the purée in a jar.

Using equal amounts of gooseberry purée and whipping cream make whipped cream and then fold the two together to make a gooseberry fool. This dessert, once chilled has a smooth luxurious texture and a good balance of sweet and tart. The origin is British, hence the name... just kidding. Enjoy!

The Gooseberry Fool.
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vote Now!

I'm a finalist in a blog contest. Of course you should simply choose your favorite author.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Milk Lady

A photo of the Hungarian Red Cow: Magyar Tarka

I have what can only be explained as an Oregonian's natural love of the outdoors. Maybe that's why I never fully explored the two modern buildings that make up a part of my farmer's market in Szeged, Hungary. Keep in mind that even in the winter, the outdoor portion fills about 100 tables. You can imagine how full it is these days now that spring is yielding it's fruits (and vegetables). So it is, perhaps, forgivable to have overlooked these two extra buildings across the way. After all, when I did peak in one of them before all I saw were shoes and clothes and those are not good eats.

This particular market, Mars tér, is open every day of the week. Whenever I go there I love to browse the stalls and see what new items have arrived since the previous visit. Right now there is a lot happening: strawberries have arrived and are being sold by the tray full, green peas followed, now there are even cherries! I've spent a lot of time there learning the names of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and getting the feel for how things work. I thought I had everything figured out after getting acquainted with the two major purveyors of sauerkraut and other pickled goodies, but during this time I had been lacking something.

Despite my fresh eggs, duck, vegetables, fruits, handmade pastas, and garlands of paprika and garlic, I was missing cheese, a lot. A couple of months ago I was craving some sharp Tillamook cheddar, and I couldn't find a good source of cheese anywhere. I did eventually find a cheese shop that imports Dutch cheeses that also has a small selection of French and Italian cheeses, but I was left wondering how this was enough for Szeged. All I could ever find in the super and hyper markets were mass-produced, imported cheeses. Where were the good imports? And where was Hungary's contribution? "There are great hand-made cheeses," one of my Hungarian colleagues told me, "you simply have to go out to the countryside and get them from the dairy farms." Well, that was a good tip, but it still didn't solve the mystery of what the 170,000+ people in the city of Szeged did to find good cheese. Did they really all head out to the country?

It wasn't until I was recently invited to lunch at another colleagues home that the subject of cheese came up and I got my answer. She told me that I could buy it from the cheese lady in the Mars tér farmer's market. It was under my nose the whole time?! "You can find her in one of the modern buildings that are a part of the market," she said. Was the cheese lady tucked away behind some shoes?! Clearly, it was time to take another look at those buildings.

Well, suffice to say, finding the cheese lady was this week's all-important mission. And find her I did. Of the two brick buildings, only one is filled with clothes and shoes, the other has stalls for baked goods, various other food stalls, and the Tejpiac, the milk market. She was all alone the first day, last Wednesday, dressed in a white apron embroidered with colorful tulips in the Kalocsai motif, her eyes wrinkled and happy, and her hands showing the signs of years of hard work. I knew I was in the right place. Before her were displayed various hand-made cheeses that I tasted: two kinds of sheep's milk túró, cow's milk túró, and a soft-rind cow's milk cheese that was lightly smoked and similar to Gouda. ("Túró," Hungarian for "curd," is a fresh cheese that is a kind of quark, similar to fromage frais.) I also wanted butter but she had already sold out. So I left with a wedge of the Gouda-like cheese, and was told to return the next day.

I arrived earlier the next day to the milk market and saw that there were five other women working there too. But even amongst other choises I felt a loyalty to the woman I had met the day before. Maybe it was because she reminds me of my grandmother, or because she ends each transaction with, "Minden jót!" a wish for everything to be good for you, or maybe it was the trust I had in her from seeing her knowledge and experience reflected in her eyes and her hands. I decided to buy some of the sheep's milk túró and noticed that she was selling milk by the liter. I was interested in learning more. I began to ask questions such as, "Where is the milk from?", "What kind of cow", "Is it pasteurized?", and "How long is it good for?" She proudly told me that the milk comes from a village about 15 kilometers outside Szeged called Forraskut, that the milk is raw and comes from a Hungarian breed, and that it would stay fresh for about three days. I decided to buy a liter even though I was still a little hesitant about it being raw milk. On top of that while I've come to expect surprises here, I was still a bit shocked at the sight sight of a used water bottle becoming my fresh milk container. I was also struck at the price! A liter of milk from her costs 120 HUF/liter whereas it costs closer to 200 HUF from the grocery store.

Walking home from the milk market I basked both in the sunshine of the warm afternoon and in my pride of having successfully obtained new products and new information using only Hungarian, at least pseudo Hungarian anyway. At that moment I realized that although I had sought her out for some fresh homemade cheese, she was a source of all kinds of fresh dairy products. She wasn't simply a cheese lady, she worked with real, fresh milk and used her skill to create many different products. I returned again on Friday to have another crack at getting some butter. She had some, and it was formed in a little wheel! Naturally when Franny was in town on Saturday, I had to take her to see the cheese lady and share in the glorious discovery of the milk market. We left with more butter, some cream and another liter of milk. This time, though, I brought a Nalgene bottle to tote the milk home.

The taste of the milk is difficult to describe. It has a smell that tells you that it came from a cow, and the feel of it on the tongue is heavy. It has a natural sweetness that's different than the pasteurized milk that most of us are used to. The butter is unbelievably sweet and creamy tasting more like whipped cream than butter. The túró has a taste similar to that of feta, but is spreadable. I'm very happy to have finally found this source of good dairy and am excited to put it to good use.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Limoncello update!

It's finished! After a long wait the limoncello is finished and has been bottled under a very handsome label and bottle design by Franny. Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Such an odd playground...

Forever ago, back in the Spring when the weather was cooler and I still lived in Szeged one of my friends (hi Briggi!!!) came to visit Franny and myself for a weekend of shopping, eating, and walking (a lot!). We did really awesome things like go to the Pick Szeged factory museum, go to the Mars tér market, and make amazing meals (duck confit over a spinach salad with a glorious bottle of Kohari Cuvee anyone?). This playground that very well may have been designed by Tim Burton was a definite highlight as well.

The playground equipment was installed on the bias, an odd angle so the "scary-go-round" was tilted sideways. Now that I think of it though, the swings were level and pretty normal. Please enjoy the picture and video of children using this equipment. One of the kids actually uses it in a hamster-like fashion which I find entertaining. Maybe the U.S needs more of these things.

I love that the kid is flying off of this thing!

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Pita and Hummus

My apologies for falling behind in my blogging. I have some catching up to do. A couple of weeks ago, the end of April, Franny and I couldn't live without pita anymore so we made it ourselves. I searched for some recipes and took a little from different ones to create the one that we used.

The dough after the first rise.

After letting the dough (flour, salt, yeast and sugar, and water) rise Franny made 8 or 9 piles of dough so that they could rest and rise a little longer before rolling them out.

Has anyone ever left you a pile of dough?

Franny skillfully rolled the little dough balls out, without a rolling pin no less.

How does she do that without a rolling pin?

Then we baked them in a very hot oven to near perfection. Note: it's not a great oven.

Yum! Warm pita!

We also made a fresh batch of hummus from scratch to go with our warm pita bread! We served our homemade food with a nice veggie platter and made some delicious sandwiches.

Is it just me or are those vegetables happy?
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ramsons + Mayonnaise + Tuna

I decided to whip up a fresh batch of mayonnaise tonight and am supremely happy I did! Earlier tonight I cut a few slices of Erdélyi Szalonna and toasted some thin slices of bread in the remaining fat because it was so clear and pure I had to do something with it. With the last little bit of the melted fat and the waning bit of heat in the pan I added the last of my fresh ramsons, chopped, and tossed to coat. I then added this to some mayonnaise, tuna, cayenne pepper, and some black pepper. The tang of the fresh mayonnaise with a little extra lemon juice with the garlic-onion taste of the ramsons with the fresh tasting tuna this is a very light and flavorful treat. A very happy meal indeed!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Bear onions? Why would these be called bear onions? I turned to my usual methods for sleuthing items from the farmer's market that I don't recognize. I start with the Hungarian name and try to find a reference on the internet with a scientific name; then I use that scientific name to search for the English handle. In this instance medvehagyma, a word I can translate with my very limited Hungarian to "bear onions," turned into allium ursinum. This translates to ramsons, or wild garlic, or bear's garlic. According to Wikipedia, it is a close relative of the chive, and I can smell the resemblance! So what do bears have to do with these leaves that look like they were stripped from a Lilly of the valley? Again according to Wikipedia, brown bears love to dig up the bulbs in the spring when both the plant and animal come out of hibernation.

The bulbs spring forth with the water and sunshine and so do the bears in need of some good fresh nutrients, and what easier plant to find than one that you just need to follow your nose to! And why not? We all know garlic is good for us, and there are studies and articles (here and here) to back this up. Bear's garlic, like most or all varieties, contains sulfur compounds (divinyl sulfide, dimethyl thiosulfonate, methyl cystein sulfoxide and the latter’s degradation products: methyl allyl thiosulfonate and methanethiol). It was only upon looking up these compounds that I learned what the plant really does for our health. All of those sulfur compounds relax blood vessels and may fight chances of developing various cancers. When preparing garlic and garlic varieties be sure to chop, mince, or crush your garlic at least 10 minutes before cooking it. According to said studies and articles that time is needed to produce the enzymes to do all of this good work. And it's yet another reason to complete your mise en place!

After I got them home and washed them I noticed the smell had dissipated. If one is worried he or she might be eating a Lilly of the valley instead of ramsons, don't panic; simply rub the leaf. If you smell garlic, you're at the right plant! According to a few sources, including Spice Pages, there are no other species that look like allium ursinum that have any hint of garlic as part of their profile, but always be careful when foraging. For my North American readers there are many celebrated relatives of ramsons (including ramps!), but I have found no evidence that ramsons grow in your backyard, unless of course they hitched a ride as good plant species often find ways of doing.

When I first tasted it by itself I was welcomed with a fresh garlic taste and a crisp texture similar to fresh romaine lettuce. Ramsons can be eaten as part of a salad or make up an entire salad on its own; the flowers and bulb may be eaten as well. I found the flavor of flowers to be even stronger than the leaves. As I continued my research on this plant I found numerous allusions to eating the plant leaves as fresh as possible because the perfume will fill the kitchen and not the food when cooked too much. Think about stirring some chopped leaves into a just finished potato cream soup and letting the heat soften them. As a pesto it has a dominant "green" flavor with only a little bit of a spicy edge. Yum!

Happy "bear" hunting!
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Tri-color Fettucine

What's in pasta that's so magical? I find myself making so much of it these days, and not apologetically I might add. Like most dishes I make these days I have some sort of spark, some inspiration brought about by research or craving, lead the way; this was no different. I set out to make a no fuss dinner, but left to my own devices I do a little more without making things too difficult (I think).

This bowl was full of greens that were cooked down to the size of a golf ball.

It all started with some sorrel greens from the farmer's market. It was being held for salads, which is what I think I was going to make when the spark hit me. I had filled the salad spinner up with luscious greens but after rinsing them I decided to plunge them into boiling salted water instead of dressing them. I made a simple pasta dough and I was off. I strained, shocked, spun, and squeezed the sorrel until it was the size of a golf-ball. I then minced it and kneaded it into one-third of the pasta dough I had whipped up.

But making some green pasta wasn't good enough, I had done it once before and now I had white and green pasta. So I had to go for the "red gold" and knead some paprika into the last third leaving me with three colors!

This is when I recruited Franny for our rolling and cutting routine:

Once the sorrel pasta was rolled out we knew we had something great.

After the paprika pasta was rolled out we knew we had hit a home run!


I've really been happy with all of the fresh pasta made with fresh market eggs, Kalocsai flour, and some sea salt, but the colors blew me away! It was absolutely delicious and a marvel to look at, it almost made the dish difficult to eat, but then again it took me less time than the average bowl of pasta....go figure!
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Share our Strength

Michael Ruhlman has just published a new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking! If you are interested in not simply purchasing cookbooks but investing in a little more knowledge it looks like this book is for you. Ratio can simply be purchased on, but if you want a chance to donate to a good cause, Share Our Strength to fight children's hunger, and in the process earn a chance at winning a personalized and signed copy of Mr. Ruhlman's new book along with a brand new scale to put those ratios to use, well you'd not only be doing yourself a solid, but starving children as well! Good Luck!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Panna Cotta

This devine dessert has in the back of my mind since I lived in Rome.

Caramel Panna Cotta.
With Spring finally sprung I have been craving so many things light and fresh as well as being able to fully enjoy something best served cold. That's why I made three variations of this classic dessert. The above was made with a simple caramel that I whipped up and put in the bottoms of some tea cups. (It's funny what you do when you need to improvise just about your entire kitchen whenever you want to make something new.)

Blueberry Panna Cotta.

I worked for about an hour working some frozen blueberries into a syrup, then cooking it further into a reduction, and finally straining out the pure blueberry essence that eventually crowned the tops of the blueberry panna cotta. The color contrast was as beautiful as the taste. Just as an aside: there was a little bit of the blueberry reduction sauce left that perfectly topped a creamy batch of tejbegriz. I love making variations on a theme, something I've really enjoyed experimenting with here.

I also made an espresso batch of panna cotta, it was beautiful too, but alas, it was all gone before I could snap any pictures of it. I guess I'll just have to make it again.
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