Sunday, December 30, 2007

The New Year and the Lentil

The lentil is a traditional New Year's Day food in Hungary, because it's the symbolism of "Richness, Safety and Money". According to the superstition if we eat lentil on the first day of the year, then we will be nice and richer than last year.


The lentil originates from Asia, but it is used throughout South Asia, the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East. We read about the lentil also in the Bible. Anyone knows the Biblical story about Esau prophet who sold his right-of-first-born for a bowl of lentil stew.

lencse (lentil)

I believe in the superstition of the lentil, therefore I always cook lentil stew (gravy, called it in Hungarian "főzelék") for every New Year's Day :)

Oh the spoon is on the left side :) because I'm left handed. Ok I'm not the best with my hands, but don't worry, I cook well :)

Ingredients for my special lentil stew:

50 dkg lentil (soaked in cold water over night)
40 dkg smoked cooked meat
1 chopped onion
bay leaf
salt (to taste)
1 tbs sugar
half tsp vinegar
1,5 dl sour cream

Ingredients for the roux:

2-3 tbs oil
2 tbs flour
1 tbs mustard
2 clove of garlic


1. Place the chopped onion, and for the lentils pour enogh water to cover it entirely. Let it simmer until lentils are half-cooked.

2. Add the (cooked) smoked meat and marjoram, bay leaf and salt to taste (but be careful because the meat is salty) and cook longer until the lentils are tender.

3. Make a roux: sauté the flour add the press garlics and the mustard. (If necessary add more oil.)

4. Add the roux carefully to the pot and boil.

5. If necessary add more water and add the vinegar and sugar (to taste).

6. Before serving add the sour cream and mix well.

Happy New Year!

I wish you all happy and successful New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sour cherry cake with coconut and chocolate cream

Today is the name of Tamra. This name comes from Hebrew, it means date palm tree.

Happy name day to my little daughter! :)

Tamara, Happy name day to you!

I baked this sour cherry cake with sweet coconut and chocolate cream for my daughter’s nameday. It’s not a typical Hungarian food and the recipe was created by me :) I hope you also like the result :)

Kókuszos meggytorta

The recipe is very easy. Bake a (sponge) cake with sour cherry, smear with the chocolate cream, sprinkle with grained coconut and decorate with fruits.


Ingredients for the base cake:
4 egg
20 dkg flour
25 dkg sugar
4 tbs hot water
1/2 lemon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 l conserve sour cherry

(+ chocolate cream or chocolate pudding and some grained coconut)

1. Mix yolks with sugar, add the 4 tbs water and mix.
2. Add and the lemon juice, the flour and the baking powder and mix well.
3. Finally add the whipped white of eggs.
4. Then put the whole mass into the cake form and put the sour cherry in.
5. Bake at 180 Celsius, for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Old Fashioned Hungarian Parlor Candy, for Christmas

szaloncukor (Christmas fondant)

In Hungary, the custom of hanging gaily wrapped candies on the Christmas tree dates from the 19th century. The Christmas tree was usually placed in the "szalon," which is what Hungarian city families called their living room or parlor.


Szalon or parlor candies are first wrapped in white tissue paper with fringed ends, then in colored foil, and hung from the tree by a string. You can also tie a candy at each end of a string, and loop it over a tree branch. The original candies were a type of fondant that came in two basic flavors, vanilla and chocolate. Later, chocolate covered jelly type candies came into fashion, and today, there is a mind boggling variety of flavors. In Hungary, making szaloncukor at home used to be a cottage industry, a way for families to make a little extra money. Today they are made and sold commercially in Hungary, and also exported all over the world.


Most children of Hungarian background can recall the anticipation as well as frustration of having to wait for an adult family member to "cut down" a few of the candies from the tree, for immediate consumption. "Clever" children quickly learned that a little piece of crumpled paper could easily be substituted for the foil wrapped candy! Parents would feign surprise when it came time to take down the tree and found all the candy wrappers empty! (On the other hand, they probably did the same when they themselves were children - or maybe even as grown-ups!)


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fish soup

Today is Christmas Eve and every house is filled with the traditional Christmas Dishes. In Hungary the fish soup (halászlé) is one of the most popular Christmas dishes.

Fish soup, we call it "halászlé"
originally uploaded by Norci

Fish soup (Hungarian: halászlé is hot soup prepared with mixed river fish, characteristic for cuisines of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkans, especially the wider region around the river Danube. The meal originates from Slavic cuisine.

Traditionally, fish soup is prepared in small kettles on open fire by fishermen themselves.

Fish soup in pot
originally uploaded by Norci

To be honest I've never cooked fish soup by myself, because my father and my mother-in-low prepare fish soup for Christmas every year. But I have another reason too: I never could cut a life fish, in spite of the fact that I like fish soup very much.
Every region in Hungary has its own fish soup recipe, hence when we go to restaurants in different parts of Hungary I would order it as often as possible. If you travel to Hungary try Szegedi, Bajai and Tiszai halászlé :)

Actually I like my father's fish soup the most, so now let me share with you his special recipe. He said that he has cooked the fish soup in this way for forty years. So if you would like to cook Hungarian halászlé one day and if you are brave enough to also clean the fish, then do not hesitate try out my father's recipe!

for about 6 person

a big carp (1, 5 kilo), some different types of small fishes (500 gram freshwater fish), 2 liter water, 1 big peeled tomato, 2 large chopped onion, 2 tbs Hungarian paprika powder, salt to taste, 1 green pepper, 1 dl red wine


1. Preparation: Clean the fish and remove its teeth, tail, fins and scales with a sharp knife. Cut out the eyes from the head. Wash the cleaned fish with cold water. Open up the carp at its belly and remove the chitterlings. Slice it up for 2 cm thick slices and salt the fish fillets.

2. Make a fish stock. Cook the head of carp an the small fishes in water until tender, strain and pass it through a sieve.

3. Cook the chopped onion in water and until soft and sieve and put it into the fish stock.

4. Place the salted carp slices into the fish stock. Add slices of green pepper and the peeled sliced tomato, some salt if necessary and bring it to the boil. If you find it necessary add some water.

5. Add the Hungarian red paprika powder and the wine and cook until the carp is tender.

6. Serve by carefully removing the fish fillets with a skimmer and placing them in the plates, then use a ladle to scoop some soup until its covered.

Bon Apetit!

originally uploaded by Norci

Have a great Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some traditional Hungarian Christmas main dishes

After the typical Hungarian Christmas cakes, let me share with you some traditional Hungarian Christmas main dishes too.

Hungarian fish soup, we call it "halászlé"
(originally uploaded by elorup)

(originally uploaded by Norci)

Roasted turkey stuffed with chestnut
(photo from chello forum)

Jelly ("kocosnya" in Hungarian)
(Photo from

Fried fish
(originally uploaded by Norci)

Turkey ragout soup with tarragon
(originally uploaded by Norci)

As you can see in Hungary the stuffed cabbage, the wide variation of turkey and fish are the most important foods for Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Flavors from the Budapest Christmas Fair

The Budapest Christmas Market is held to be amongst the ten best Christmas markets in Europe. The spectacular fair takes place every year from the end of November until 24th December in the heart of the city, in Vörösmarty Square.

The market also has a gastronomic side. On the event, beside the Hungarian stuffed cabbage, chimney cake and the fried dough the visitors can taste these traditional Hungarian foods and beverages:

Hungarian fried sausage, we call it sültkolbász.



Hungarian Mulled Wine, which is flavored with honey, clove, cinnamon, and brown sugar.




Hungarian Strudel, Budapest Christmas Fair


Related links:
Budapest Christmas Fair (on my photoblog)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas gingerbreads

My this week's post on the Hungary starts here blog:
originally uploaded by molamoni

Even in early December the whole city is decorated for Christmas, the Xmas lights are up, the first Advent candles are lit in homes and in churches, the Christmas Market starts, the malls are also filled with Christmases trees and of course with shoppers. In spite of everything show that Xmas season is here and all the decorations look very attractive, to me the Xmas season just starts really when I bake the first tin gingerbread together with my children and my flat filled with the sweet smell of ginger, cinnamon, honey and clove :)

my ginger breads before baking
originally uploaded by Nóra

I bake gingerbreads every year, circa a week before Xmas. I usually bake more portions, one of them to decorate the Xmas tree, one of them to eat ( this portion I put in a metal box, that they soften for Xmas eve), and nowadays I bake one more portion to the kindergarten too :)

250 gram honey
100 gram butter
500 gram flour
100 gram sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 yolk
1 tbs mixed ginger, cinnamon and clave (mix them to taste)
1 white of egg and icing sugar for the glaze decorating

Warm up the butter with the honey and sugar.
Add flour, baking soda, beaten egg and the spices. Knead well and let rise the dough for 4-5 hour.
Roll out thin the dough and cut cake forms, if you like that the cake will be bright then smear with yolk.
Decorate before baking with hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins and drageé.
Bake at 220 Celsius, for 5-6 minutes.
After baking decorate with icing glaze, if you desire.

originally uploaded by Nóra

Some another typical Hungarian Christmas cakes you can see here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Some typical Hungarian Christmas cakes

Beigli is the most popular Hungarian Xmas cake, which is a traditional holiday roll filled with poppy seeds or walnut.

originally uploaded kis.fadi

Mákos guba (Hungarian poppy seed bread pudding)

Poppy seed flan for Xmas

Kossuth kenyér, sponge cake baked with walnut, cinnamon and cocoa.

We call it Kossuth kifli, it is a butter sponge cake with walnut on the top

As you can see, mostly the poppy seed and walnut play the main role in our traditional Xmas cakes. I promise that I'm going to share with you my Xmas cake recipes, too.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Apple in coat (alma bundában)

We call it apple in coat, the recipe is very simple. Make a pancake dough , put the apple slices in the pancake dough, fry in deep oil until golden brown and serve with cinnamon icing sugar.

Maybe it's a little bit heavy food, but very delicious.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hungarian Apple Pie

almáspite (Hungarian apple pie)

We call this cake "almás pite" in Hungarian, what means apple pie, altough our apple pie is not quit similar to American version, but it's also very delicious. Try it!

The recipe is here:

(video: becakpilot)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Téliszalámi (Pick winter szalámi)

Pork and spices, but without paprika, give this mould-matured salami its exceptional and harmonious flavor. Though the salami's recipe is some 150 years old, it has managed to maintain its popularity even in our times of rapidly changing culinary trends.

The ability to keep fresh for a long time - at least 3 months - has made winter salami the perfect companion of trippers and a popular decoration of elegant cold buffets.

The development of the flavors starts even before the salami is stuffed, since the spices used to make the salami are mixed to a paste and left to mature several days. After the salami has been stuffed it is smoked over the cooled smoke of hardwood and then left to mature for 100 days.

Pick winter salami is covered with a layer of grayish-white noble mould. The matured salami is dense, flexible, and easy to slice. When cut, it displays a shiny surface of uniformly chopped, brownish-red meat mixed with light colored pieces of bacon.

100 grams of salami provides an adult's daily supply of proteins and fats. The nutritional value of 1 kilogram salami is equal to 5 kilograms of lean beef.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Too much sweets

Santa Claus

Santa Claus has arrived and he has brought lot of chocolates, hence today is the only day in Hungary, when the much sweet eating is legal:) and children also may eat too much sweets :)

Santa chocolate

Santa Marzipan

For more information about the Hungarian Santa traditions have a look at Zsolt's last year's post.

Here you can see the moment when my children recognized the gifts, which were brought by Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hen soup

The meat soup is a very important dish in Hungary, you can always find the wide choice of the meat soups in most of the Hungarian restaurants' menus. Commonly this is the first dish in the most Hungarian wedding receptions, but certainly just after the aperitif :)

The meat soup in a Hungarian wedding reception :)
originally uploaded by zsoltika

Among the meat soups I like hen soup the most. We have a popular hen soup with a special name, called Újházy hen soup, you can find it in the menu of most of the Hungarian restaurants too.

Read more