Hungary Vol. 2

Hey All,

Yes, I am in The Netherlands. Yes, the best Hungarian food is probably back in Budapest. But! There are quite some of us Hungarians around here in Amsterdam too and we so miss the tastes of home that every once in a while we just must cook up some of those delicious dishes of the motherland! The chef of the night was Gellért and we made túrógombóc (cottage cheese dumplings I guess? maybe cheesecake balls?) – here we go:

1-1
All you need – cottage cheese, egg, raisin, cherry compote, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, lemon, flour, sour cream

You start the preparations for this sweet and filling meal a few hours ahead because the dollop needs a two hour nap in the fridge before the next steps. This part is crucial because unless the portions are right, your balls of cheese will fall apart easily. So, in a bowl you basically just mix cottage cheese, raisins, and breadcrumbs. You don’t want it to become too dry but also not too liquid: try 50dg cottage cheese, 3 eggs, 2dl flour, but it may vary.

Now that this is done you have some time to read upon the one and only amazing Hungarian cook featured in this post! Though Gellért is Hungarian and he couldn’t hide it with this name even if he wanted to, he is still as international as it can get – he lived abroad basically by the time he could formulate a full-length sentence and ended up spending around 13 years in Malaysia, heading occasionally over to Australia or New Zealand, later on visiting the US…I won’t even try to complete the list, but let’s just say he is heading home for Christmas to Oman this year, which is just too amazing! We are both cracking the business master’s in the heart of Holland and get into the occasional nostalgia on the little things of home, such as a delicious piece of sportszelet, swimming in Lake Balaton, or just saying egészségedre without someone thinking that we are choking.

It’s time to go on with preparing the túrógombóc! Put on a big bowl of water to boil and another small one for the compote. In the latter you boil the cherries on low heat, add cinnamon, juice of a lemon, vanilla sugar, and a pinch of flour to it and keep stirring, making it into a jam-sauce kind of mix. While that’s cooking, get out the mix from the fridge, water your hands a little bit. Then you shape handful of balls and gently drop them into the boiling water. This is also the time of justice regarding whether you managed a fine consistency, the balls should more or less keep the shape and boil as long as coming up to the surface of the water.

1-2

Watch out for the jam-sauce thingy! When it looks alright, you mash the cherry pieces with a fork or spoon a little to make it smoother, then put it away to cool down a bit. You can use this already hot spot of the stove to heat up a pan that you completely fill up with breadcrumbs to toast a bit. The ready balls will roll around in here right before going on your plate. The last touch to this tasty meal is sour cream, powder sugar, and optional mint leaves on top – the picture below explains it best! Yummmm.

1-3
Túrógombóc

Whenever someone asks me what food I miss most from home, I usually say sour cream, because it’s just not the same here. But what is even worse, there is just no túró AT ALL. And I have got to keep using the Hungarian expression, because there is no term for it in English. Because you cannot buy it anywhere abroad. Because it’s as magyar as possible. This leads to my last note on this tasty meal: if you decide to prepare it (and looking at this picture I’m pretty sure you will), try to look for a Hungarian shop and buy some of the real túró – cottage cheese or ricotta are really just fine substitutes.

Gellért and I ate a few of these balls and we could both only do one thing: smile. It wasn’t simply just delicious but became one of those great meals which reminds you of home, of the days when your mom cooks something simple but sweet on a Sunday.

1-4
The Hungarian

Köszönöm a gombócokat! And of course good appetite, aka jóétvágyat, to all the readers!

Hungary Vol.2 @Gourmet Festival

Hey All,

This week my sister opened her dress&bar place, so I flew home for a few days. The concept and the place are amazing, so whenever you’re in Budapest look SCHATZI up! It’s the real treasure in the city.

As I was around though, I realized that we had the yearly Gourmet Festival, where the best restaurants, cafés, confectioners, and wineries of the country are present. I wanted to show you guys a few tastes I have tried, so you also have a reference which places to visit if you’re in my homecountry. (Sorry for the bad quality pictures, I only had my phone with me.)

ZONA

ZONA has a contemporary bistro cuisine, and has been aiming to get a Michelin star for the past few years. Their name refers to the small portions you get there, but at the same time they aim to keep non-luxury prices – great combination, and amazing flavors each time. Although I love the atmosphere of their well-designed restaurant, finding them at an open air festival was just as great.

This little plate had just as many tastes as colors – cevapcici, roasted pepper, kaymak, and some pita bread. You may not know what half of these words mean, so just to be clear: cevapcici is basically grilled minced meat, typical in Southeastern Europe; and kaymak is a heavy, creamy dairy product, usually found in the Balkans and Central Asia. It was simply a great little dish! So, if you’re ever in Budapest, go and find a similar mix of the Hungarian, Asian, and Basque cuisines in ZONA!

MALACKRUMPLI

If I want to translate the name of this place literally, it means ‘pigpotato’ – sounds just as good as originally. They have a place in Budapest and one at Lake Balaton, and are well known for only using bio products. You always find something different on their menu, depending on what fresh ingredients they could get in the morning.

The type of bread was a little disappointing here, but  the filling so much better! Typical Hungarian ‘mangalica’ sausage, with lettuce, and horseradish-apple sauce. Ouh,even writing about this makes me hungry again.

PARIS BUDAPEST 

To be honest, I have never heard about this place before the festival, but they they were pretty impressive here, so I will visit them the next time I’m home for sure. They say they provide an “international culinary experience” – well, I don’t know about that yet, but their rather simple but tasty dish proved for sure that they are good.

The piece of focaccia bread had roasted asparagus, truffle oil, parmesan and tartine on it. This is something that we can all also just put together at home in a few minutes, so this one was also a rather practical experience!

BORKONYHA

This last place got its Michelin star last year and ever since has been of course getting a lot of attention. I definitely wanted to look their booth up. Fortunately the crowd was already gone, I got the chance to talk a little to the chef about their meals for a few seconds – and realized how much more I need to learn about food, because him telling me about all the ingredients was like listening to a new language.

Their pretty linzer was filled with goose liver paté, spiced up with some sauces (?), and eatable flowers. This one is rather a dessert, but there was no order of meals here for me. However, this second tiny one was my favorite – a ball of cottage cheese rolled in seeds, with horseradish juice. The serving is completely inexplicable with the mouse trap and the test tube, but the combination of tastes was marvellous! MARVELLOUS!

Last but not least we had a piece of chicken paprikash with eel on the top. Sounds weird? It really isn’t. I need to find them, steal the recipe, and eat this a lot. And also the cottage cheese ball… especially that. Well deserved Michelin star for the guys for sure!

All together I had a great time, so I really recommend all of you to find any sort of foodie festival around yourselves, and go there with a full wallet and an empty belly! And, of course, visit all these great places once you’re in Hungary!

Hungary

Hey All,

I always wanted to save the Hungarian dish for a point when I run out of other flags as I could just do it myself, but I came home for a week now and just figured that I have the best Hungarian cook right here: MY MOM!

A few things you need to know about the Hungarian kitchen: it’s basically all made of a lot of meat, fat, potato and most importantly sour cream. The one dish we prepared today pretty much sums all this up, although it’s very important for you to remember that sour cream is crucial for preparing anything Hungarian – also, it is the best and most delicious ingredient on our planet Earth! Please start putting it on everything from now on.

All you need - sour cream, sausage, potato, eggs, grained cheese
All you need – sour cream, sausage, potato, egg, grained cheese

Start by putting a big bunch of potatoes in a pot – try to choose pieces of the same size so it’s all done at the same time. Very important: don’t peal it! Boil some eggs separately as well. This will take some time, so slice your sausage and wait. Maybe eat a few pieces of the sausage as an appetizer – this is what I always do. Once everything in your pots is ready, you could just put your potatoes outside to cool it down – one advantage of this early wintery weather. Tip for the eggs: put in under cold water for a couple of minutes, then you can get the eggshell of very quickly. If the chilly wind outside got your potato to a temperature that it doesn’t burn you anymore, slice that too, and also your eggs. Now you have everything ready, only one step left! Coat the inside of your frying pen with butter, very thinly. Then there goes a layer of potato, mixed with egg and sausage pieces. Cover it with A LOT of sour cream, some salt and pepper. You repeat this one or two more times and at the end you also sprinkle grained cheese on it – this will give it a nice golden-brown look at the end. Heat your oven to approximately 200 degrees and bake it for 30-40 minutes – basically until the cheese on the top looks sort of crunchy.

Maybe you realized and you already wonder why I haven’t mentioned the name of this dish even once so far? Well, because just as for many Hungarian words, there is just no right translation. We call it rakott krumpli, which literally would mean ‘put potato’, but I guess we could say layered potato or potato casserole – or potato with sour cream? Nevertheless, when eating it, a nice piece of pickle is a great companion! If you visit Hungary, also ask for our national drink, pálinka, either before or after. As far as my own experience shows, foreigners either hate or love it, there is just no in-between, but it’ll definitely get you hungry or in the mood to dance around!

Rakott krumpli
Rakott krumpli

Whenever I make this meal on my own in Groningen, it’s just not the same. Could be because the sausage and the sour cream are not Hungarian, but most likely because noone can cook as good as moms – we can probably all agree on this. Maybe I should make a separate blog on Cooking Mothers, I’d get completely fat in no time. Anyone in favor of the idea?

The Hungarian
The Hungarian

I hope you’ll try to make this one piece of my home-cuisine and will get completely filled up. Or just ask your mom to make it, she’d possibly do a better job than any of us as non-moms!

Thanks for cooking, Mom! Köszi Anya!