Have I loved you? Have I fed you? My love language has always been the same, since I was old enough to share my cookies on the playground; I have shown people through food, how much I love them.
Here is my attempt at a ‘list’ entry. Blogging and lists come hand in hand, and some pretty amazing, creative, and crazy lists from fellow bloggers are out there!
Lists are the best way to take a bunch of accumulated information and organize them a catchy way, to stir some interest on one of my loves in life, food. Gluttony is by far my favorite sin, and if I didn’t watch it I would fall victim to obesity and I’d enjoy ruining myself along the way! My first ‘list’ attempt is on none other topic but food!
I wanted a ‘Top Ten’ list but stopped at 6, because writing down recipes is a whole lot of work. I will continue this series of Hungarian delights in the near future. And once in Germany, will add some of their food, and then France and so on. But each I have to make, so obviously it takes a while.
One thing I love about Hungarian food is the simple ingredient, combined with a little love; you can quickly have a flavorful meal that tickles your pallet. Rich red Hungarian Paprika, garlic, onions, sweet or hot Hungarian yellow wax peppers are among the staples in my fridge. Here goes!
#1 Lecsó said Letcho is a well-known simple dish, takes minutes to make, and happens to be very good for you too. That is why it made first place on my list of favorite Hungarian food.
The ratio I learned as a child, (it various from household to household, and everyone thinks theirs is the sacred way to cook it), is 1-2 tomato to Hungarian sweet pepper. To clarify 1 tomato to every 2 Hungarian yellow wax sweet peppers. Every 5 peppers also gets one onion.
Ingredients- 2 large diced onions, 10 Hungarian sweet yellow peppers cored and sliced into rings, 5 tomatoes diced, (garlic optional, not traditional, 2 huge cloves) Hungarian paprika 1 – 1&1/2tablespoon) 1/2 teaspoon salt (more if you like)
In a large deep frying pan, fry the onions with a little olive oil on medium-low. (If you are in Hungary they make this with lard. I do not and cannot let my vegetarian friends miss out on this, because it is superb!)
Once the onions are translucent, throw in your garlic, peppers, tomatoes, paprika and cover and turn up to Medium.
The water will start to steam off during the process and mixing will be easier. After about 15 min it is done! Serve with bread or buns dipping in the juice, with a spoonful of sour cream. Some people serve over pasta or nokedli.
For my meat eating friends, add 2 large smoked sausages, sliced fine to the onions or serve with cooked European Wieners
For my veggie friends, scramble eggs in a new pan and add two ladles full of prepared Letcho during your eggs fry time. Simple, delicious and full of love!
#2 Stuffed Hungarian Peppers Alfonz loves these!
Top and core a pepper, stuff full of ground pork and rice mixture and bake for 1 hour in sweet tomato sauce and serve with bread and a little sour cream. It is that easy! (I am giving my Canadian friends all my secrets now that I ‘m gone!)
Recipe- 1X 500 gram package of ground pork, mix with 1 cup rice, season with salt, pepper, minced garlic and 1 tablespoon Hungarian Paprika, add 1 very finely diced onion and pepper tops you took from the peppers. Optional hot paprika instead of mild Paprika is among my favorite options.
The tomato sauce, my grandma used to cheat and use Campbell’s tomato soup; it is almost exactly the right sweetness and consistency. I have done it both ways and if you want to save a step go with the Campbell’s. Or a can of tomato sauce with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar mixed in poured over the stuffed peppers and placed in oven around 350 for 1 hour works fine too. Virtually identical taste and consistency with the exception of the salt content in the Campbell’s, it is much higher. The choice is yours.
1 boiled potato mashed, (kept warm), 2&1/2 teaspoons yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar 1&3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup milk and a garlic clove cut in half
Mix everything but the garlic in a Kitchen aid mixer, and then switch to the bread hook and put on ‘knead’ for 7 min or if you don’t have one, on a floured flat surface knead until bread consistency. It usually takes my Nagymama 15 minutes.
Divide into 4 pieces and cover and let stand 20 min. depending on the strength of your yeast you may have to wait for it to raise.
In a large frying pan, heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Flatten and stretch dough to about 8 inches in diameter and place one at a time into your pan, browning each side until golden brown, approximately 2 min each side, take out and paper towel dry.
Run garlic along the hot surface and serve with salt. I love the crunchy thin parts more than the thicker parts of the uneven bread. Extra garlic on mine please, and it is the one thing other than egg and cucumber sandwiches I love loads of salt on! It might be the perfect food!
Variations include cheese as a topping, sour cream, and any pizza topping you can imagine.
#4 Paprika Chicken with homemade nokedli (Dumplings).
I make this all the time, and was the first thing I cooked for my Alfonz.
1 chicken cut up into pieces, 1-2 large onions, 1-2 garlic cloves, 2 tomatoes, 1 pepper (Hungarian or green bell), 1-1&1/2 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika, 1 tables salt, pepper to taste, 250 grams sour cream
Dice onions and brown in a large pan until translucent; add in garlic, paprika, salt, diced tomatoes and quartered pepper chicken and stir. Cover and let simmer, occasionally stirring for 1 hour. Once the chicken is cooked through, put heat on high, and once it starts to boil, quickly add in sour cream, stirring the whole time and turn off. Let stand 5 min.
Serve over rice, or noodles if you don’t feel like making home made Nokedli.
To make Nokedli you need a Nokedli or a Spaetzle maker
1-cup flour – 1 egg ratio and a pinch of salt, mix with water with a fork until a little thicker than pancake mix.
Place device over a pot of salted boiling water, and ladle in your mixture, and start moving the top back and forth so the mixture cuts the dough as it falls into the boiling water below. Keep doing in until the mixture is done, with a wooden spoon I stir the nokedli so it doesn’t stick. Once they are floating it is done drain like pasta.
Cucumber salad is served along side. Slice 1-2 cucumbers very slim, add teaspoon salt, let stand 1/2 hour in fridge. Squeeze out excess water, and in bowl mix with 3 cloves crushed garlic, vinegar-water 1-2 ratio with a tablespoon sugar and cucumbers. A little sour cream and sprinkle with paprika.
Paprikas can also be made with other types of meat. Try beef without the sour cream over rice, or pork with peas added in the end and no sour cream. I like mushrooms added in the last 5 min in all the above versions.
#5 Breaded Fish/Chicken/Veal/Pork
Alfonz asked why in the world is this on the list with so may other amazing Hungarian foods out there? Answer: because whenever none Hungarians are asked what should I bring, 90% of the time they ask for my mom’s breaded chicken! It might be a Hungarian staple but most people don’t take the time to make this. If you do, cook beware, it’s a good one and likely you will be asked to make it again and again.
You can see breaded fish, chicken breast, turkey breast, veal, and pork in many food vendor displays. Similar to the Schnitzel, we plate in buns, along side of vegetable stews, mashed potatoes, French fries and rice. This tastes great with a pickled assorted salad.
The breading is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! Season your meat (or Vegetables! cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant) with a little salt or seasoning salt.
You will need flour, egg (with a little milk) and then breadcrumbs. Dip your item in that order, and place into 350 degree oil, turn down once in the pan to medium and fill the pan so there is no space or it will spark or pop oil out of the pan. Flip after it becomes golden – deep brown and do the other side. After cooked through (you can check like a knife, meat juice must be clear) place on a paper towel to soak up extra oil.
And that is it; soon you will be serving up a yummy traditional fry.
A paprika stew with added water is really what this is, and the recipe is identical to the Chicken Paprika’s, except this is made with veal or beef. But pork or pork and beef are good too. 500 gram – 1 kilogram of meat makes a nice family portion with leftovers.
A little tip- Choose fatty meat makes for a better soup.
Brown your 2 onions, add meat and spices; paprika, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper to taste and garlic, then your tomato, 1-2 yellow Hungarian peppers, cored and diced, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
The raise the water, covering the stew by about an inch, a little more for more soup consistency and cook until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Then add 4 potatoes cut into medium cubes, 1 white carrot or 2 parsley root cut into round slices, 4 medium carrots cut into the same slices, add more salt and pepper to taste. You may need more water if it evaporated off while simmering for so long. Cook until the veggies are tender. Do not overcook the vegetables.
My family makes Homemade Dumplings with this. 1 cup flour, 1 scrambled egg, a pinch – 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and add water 2-4 tablespoons of water or until almost bread dough, stiff but still workable dough. Pinch off little bits into a bowl, about 1/2 smarty sized and add flour so it is covered and not sticking. The smaller the bits are the better. Once the Goulash is completely cooked, bring it back to a boil, and throw your ‘Csipetke’ (translation –little pinches) in. Once it floats it is down.
Serve with thick hearty bread of your choice. I love rye or potato bread, and a dollop of sour cream on top if you wish or a sprinkle of hot ‘Eros Pista’ or hot sauce, gives it a nice bite!
When the ancient Hungarian roamed the lands, they would cook Goulash dangling over open fires in cast iron pots. Again with the same simple ingredients, you can make beautiful, tasty and healthy meals.
I hope you like my list, I could really go on but this is a long post. I will promise to do another post with 6 recipes next week if this is a hit!