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Category Archives: Cook
Lentil Stew (Lencse Főzelék)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 20 January, 2017 in Cook ,

The New Year is a time rich in superstitions, wherever you are in the world, and many of those superstitions involve food. In Hungary, you’d be doing yourself a disservice for the rest of the year if you didn’t eat plenty of lentils to ring in the new year. And to increase your chances for luck and success in the coming year, you should also eat roasted pork and kocsonya (pork aspic) with your lentils. Since pigs symbolize progress, the pork will bring you luck. As in many other cultures, lentils and legumes—which are round and disk-shaped, resembling coins—will bring you wealth. Whatever you do, just don’t eat chicken (which will scratch away your luck) or fish (which will swim away with your luck). Though I’m not superstitious, I do love the comfort of food traditions (however silly they may sound). So I always look forward to the ritual of eating lentils on New Year’s day (why risk it!). Since the year is still young, and eating lentils shouldn’t be confined to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I share this recipe for lentil főzelék. This is the way my mother-in-law prepares lentil főzelék, which she usually embellishes with roasted meat or sausage. Főzelék is a classic Hungarian vegetable preparation (usually served as a main course) in which sour cream and roux (rántás) are added to thicken cooked vegetables. It can be made of practically any type of vegetable, and it’s a frequently used cooking technique in Hungarian kitchens. Whether you are superstitious or not, this dish is perfect to eat throughout the winter.

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Seven Hungarian Food and Wine Resolutions for 2017
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 04 January, 2017 in Cook ,Drink ,Eat ,Explore ,

As you might have suspected, at Taste Hungary we’re not big fans of New Year’s resolutions that focus on what we will not eat. We prefer to turn it around and focus on what we will do, rather than what we won’t do. So in 2017 I resolve to do more—more things which will expand my palate, bring joy, teach me something, and help me dig deeper into my favorite topics—Hungarian food, Hungarian wine, and travel.

I spend a lot of time thinking about Hungarian food and wine, talking about it, cooking it, eating and eating it, and writing about it. There is still so much to learn, and so much to appreciate (I’m only reminded how amazing it is that foie gras and Tokaji aszú are pretty much standard fare at any Budapest restaurant when I leave Hungary). So I’ve made some resolutions that will help me (and you!) to further appreciate and discover the rich cuisine and wine of Hungary.

If you are unfamiliar to Hungarian cuisine, I give you one more resolution to start with—make this the year that you dive in and get to know it! Start with George Láng’s Cuisine of Hungary (which is out of print, but many used copies are available), which will also introduce you to Hungary’s fascinating culinary history. Culinaria Hungary, which is full of beautiful photographs as well as recipes, is also a great place to get inspired. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the year after you master dishes like paprikás csirke, lecsó, töltött paprika (stuffed peppers), gulyás, and szilvás gombóc (plum dumplings)!

Here is what I resolve to do more of in 2017. Will you join?

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Aranygaluska Recipe (Or, Surviving the Hungarian Winter By Baking)
Posted by Gabriella Andronyi on 15 December, 2016 in Cook ,

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Hungary is famous for its decadent Austrian-style pastries served in glamorous coffeehouses that make us feel as if time stopped somewhere at the turn of the last century. Travelers are often amazed by these elegant cakes in Hungary. Who can resist beauties like the seven-layer Dobos torta with its glistening caramelized top or the Esterházy torta with its rich walnut flavors? And then there is the annual National Cake of the Year to anticipate! Visiting a Hungarian patisserie can be a battle of wills as there’s such a selection of sugar-coated temptations that making a choice is difficult.

“Are there fairies in the Hungarian kitchens using secret recipes,” people ask after realizing how complicated these cakes are to prepare (and how delicious they taste). In fact, in Hungary our home cooks are like fairies in the kitchen. But they are not usually preparing fancy cakes like Dobos and Esterházy. Rather, they have a repertoire of simple and amazing recipes, and not all of them are secrets. Most Hungarian families have their own handwritten, well-worn cookbook inherited from mothers or grandmothers. It contains a long list of sweet pastries, cakes, dumplings, strudels, and pancakes, from the most simple ones to the very difficult-to-prepare ones, all are impossible to resist.

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Wine Pairing (With a Side of Thai Massage)
Posted by Gábor Bánfalvi on 05 December, 2016 in Cook ,Drink ,

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Now that the year is almost over, I have time to reflect on some of our best food and wine moments of 2016. One of these happened when Louis Watana, the first secretary the Royal Embassy of Thailand, reached out to me with an interesting idea. He wanted to organize a few Thai dinners paired with Hungarian wine. He suspected that the two put together could lead to some great pairings. The dinners were also part of Watana’s larger project of producing a Thai e-cookbook featuring Hungarian wine pairings.

For our experimentation in finding the best pairings, we split the job: Watana was in charge of arranging the food (his area of expertise) and I chose the wine pairings (my expertise). The first dinner would be at the Thai Ambassador’s Residence, and the second would be at the Tasting Table. The guests were ambassadors and diplomats residing in Budapest, as well as a few visiting diplomats.

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Madártej (“Bird’s Milk”)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 18 March, 2015 in Cook ,

Madartej

Growing up, Sunday lunches where always the time for special desserts in my family. My mother always spent extra time making a decorative cake, trying out a new cookie recipe, or satisfying the family’s recurring request for madártej, our favorite. It may have been a frugal indulgence, but a labor-intensive one at that, as the creamy custard and light-as-air egg-white dumplings would have to be prepared a day in advance. The giant bowl of deliciousness was instantly inhaled by all.

A direct descendant of the French floating island, madártej (literally “bird’s milk”) is a deceptively simple looking dessert of fluffy meringue floating on a sea of vanilla custard that has become a staple of the Hungarian culinary lexicon.

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Q&A with Gabó Bartha, One of Our Kitchen Heroes
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 11 March, 2015 in Cook ,Explore ,

http://www.winelover.co/events/event/winelover-week-in-hungary-and-austria-september-2014/

The first time we met Gabó Bartha and Ákos Szokolai from the Budaházy Winery in Mád it was over a fabulous meal that she had prepared for us in Mád, paired with Ákos’ wines, naturally. Before meeting in person we had been corresponding by email about shared interests in food, cooking, and Tokaj for a few months. Since then we have been lucky enough to enjoy their thoughtful approach to cooking (enhanced by their lovely wines) many times, and the winery is always a favorite stop for our wine-touring guests.

It was fitting that Gabó was one of the very first people to help us break in the new kitchen at The Tasting Table in September when we hosted a #winelover BYOB dinner there, and now she is back with Ákos. Together they are busy shopping at the market, unpacking their stash of ingredients that they carted from Mád, and preparing for the dinner that they are hosting tomorrow at The Tasting Table.

We took this chance to ask Gabó a few questions about her distinctive cooking style, which has incorporated many influences starting from her childhood in Transylvania, up until the past nearly four years that she has spend living in the tiny village of Mád, in the Tokaj wine region. Read More

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A Butcher Dishes on Hungarian Meat: Q&A with David Wilkinson
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 06 February, 2015 in Cook ,

When we first met David Wilkinson a few years ago he was handing out samples of his sausage, which we could not resist going back for until we tried them all. Since then, we have become regular customers of his, and our freezer is  always well-stocked with a good supply of his sausages. David has been living in Budapest for more than ten years, and being a butcher by trade, that means he has had plenty of time to think about (and experiment with) Hungarian meat: how it is different, what works best with it, how to shop for it, and how to handle it. If there’s anyone who can share the best answers to these questions, it is him. We are happy to be teaming-up with David in March when he will be teaching his first-ever “Meat School” at The Tasting Table. The “School” will consist of four hands-on sessions with different themes. The classes will cover butchery and cooking techniques that you can use for the rest of your life, as well as Hungary-specific information which will enhance your shopping (and cooking) experiences here. Many Budapest expats are already familiar with David’s fabulous line of sausage, but he has so much knowledge and skills to share, and we are so excited to be working with him on these classes!

David Wilkinson's Meat School

In advance of the classes, we asked David a few questions about meat, art, and cooking. Read More

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Birsalma Sajt (Quince Jelly)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 23 January, 2015 in Cook ,

Birsalmasajt (quince paste)

The knobby quince has never been one of the most popular fruits. But come autumn, even the humble quince turns into a riot of taste and texture when cooked into a firm jelly. With a consistent bumper harvest of fruits throughout the autumn, Hungarians have grown used to utilizing the season’s bounty in a myriad of ways—fresh, fermented, dried, cooked, and preserved. Even quince (birsalma or birskorte), a rather unattractive and under-appreciated fruit due to its bracingly bitter flavor, becomes a seasonal delicacy when stewed in sugar and water.

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Hungarian Paprika—The Essential Red Spice
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 21 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,Shop ,

Hungarian paprika

If there is one ingredient that Hungary is undeniably associated with, it is, of course, paprika. Though peppers were not introduced to Hungary until the 16th century, the spice symbolizes Hungarian cuisine and is an essential component of some of the best-known Hungarian dishes, including gulyás, pörkölt (stew), chicken paprikás, and halászlé (fisherman’s soup). Paprika gives these dishes their brilliant orange color, and the intense peppery flavor and aroma so characteristic of Hungarian cuisine. “There is something about paprika itself that makes it synonymous with ‘Hungarian.’ ‘Fiery,’ ‘spicy,’ ‘temperamental’—all these adjectives suggest both paprika and the national character,” writes George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary. “Paprika is to the Hungarian cuisine as wit is to its conversation—not just a superficial garnish, but an integral element, a very special and unique flavor instantly recognizable.” 

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Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 19 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,

Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)

Paprikás csirke (pronounced paprikash cheerke) is one of the most classic of Hungarian dishes. Named for the large amount of paprika that goes into the sauce, the paprikás method can also be applied to veal, mushrooms, or fish. In fact, according to George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary, it is one of the four pillars of Hungarian cooking (the others are gulyás, pörkölt, and tokány). “The chief difference between pörkölt and paprikás is that paprikás is usually finished with sweet or sour cream, sometimes mixed with a little flour, but always stirred in just before serving,” writes Lang. “You may never use cream of any kind for gulyás or pörkölt! Also, beef, mutton, game, goose, duck, and pork are most popular for pörkölt; veal and chicken for paprikás.”

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The Hungarian Cold Plate (Hidegtál)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 10 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,Eat ,

Hungarian Hidegtal (Cold Plate

A Hungarian cold plate (“hidegtál”) is a classic way to showcase the wide variety of charcuterie which butcher shops, market stalls, and kitchen pantries are brimming with. When a cold plate is offered on restaurant menus, fancy restaurants will dress it up with slices of foie gras or smoked goose breast. At home it can be as simple as an old wooden cutting board piled with rustic sausages, home-grown vegetables, pickles, or whatever else is on hand. The components are always different, depending on who prepares it, and it can serve as anything from breakfast to a light meal or an appetizer to nibble on while the main meal is being prepared.

No matter where it is served, the hidegtál is a celebration of pork, which is the meat of choice in Hungary. “Perhaps the extraordinary quality of pork in Hungary contributed to the popularity of dishes made with pork, or perhaps it was the other way around,” writes George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary. “The fact is that what beef is to Argentina and veal to Italy, pork is to Hungary.”

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Kakashere Pörkölt (Rooster Testicle Stew)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 11 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,

Rooster Testicle Stew

Horse sausage. Kocsonya (pork jelly). Disznósajt (head cheese). Sound like an episode of Bizarre Food? Maybe. But these are also regular, if slightly unusual, Hungarian food staples which locals love eat. The Hungarian kitchen has plenty of unusual uses of well-known ingredients—poppy seeds on pasta (mákos tészta) anyone? But moist, spongy rooster testicles cooked into a paprika-spiked stew—kakashere pörkölt— is perhaps as offbeat as it gets.

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