Preparing a blackberry cake is nice, but using wild black blackberries is something special. I could have gone to the market to buy some fresh berries but using the wild ones is much more exciting and adventurous not to mention the difference in taste. In my family we don’t have any recipe with blackberries so I decide to take my mother’s sponge cake recipe and top it with my own fruity cream so I can be faithful to the original concept of this blog. I must say this combination doesn’t disappoint me. Quite the opposite. Continue Reading…
This blog post will be about the iconic Hungarian ratatouille, called “lecsó” (pronunciation: letch-oh)
I must say it is a really controversial speciality, even among Hungarians. It can be made in different ways and obviously everybody thinks that her/his recipe is the real one. Even in families it can be a matter of debate but we all can agree in one thing: the basic ingredients are tomato, pepper, onion and paprika. Continue Reading…
We wake up early in the morning and go for a walk with my dog, Beeper. I like these early hours, if we are lucky enough all dogs in the street are still sleeping so we have a chance to go to the forest without loud and constant barking. We pass by orchards and flower gardens and I realize that the tree which I see so often is the same race of apple tree that we have in our garden, and I can already recognize some healing plants as well. Every time we go to the forest I discover something new: this time blackberry bushes which have already a few ripe fruits. They have a wonderful sour taste which I like so much, so I memorize the place and promise myself to return. Continue Reading…
Weeks of constant heat are followed by days with rain showers and sometimes even storms. The lawn which was already burnt out greens again, I don’t need to carry canful of water to water our tomatoes and the air has a completely different scent. After a bigger storm I am bit worried so we go up to the attic and check the roof but fortunately the old little house which was built more than 80 years ago could stand the challenge of the big storm. It feels so good to widely open windows and let the fresh air inside the house, even if thanks to the stone walls our house always remained cooler even in hot summer days.
A friend comes to visit us today who I know from Spain. Raji grew up in Germany but her roots go back to India. We spent great time together sitting in Málaga next to a glass of wine and tapas, talking about dreams, cultural diversity, traveling and plans for the future. Now we will see each other again one year later and 3000 km far away.
As usually when we expect guests I start looking at our house and garden with more critical eyes. I feel it is absolutely necessary to remove weeds from the flower bed in front of the house and plant the rosemary wig I have put into a vase weeks ago. I try to staple books and magazines in a more orderly way and in the meantime I think about what to cook for lunch. Continue Reading…
Waffles were always very special treats for me. Maybe because as a child I liked its shape or the fact that it doesn’t come out from the oven, we use a special machine for that. Or maybe just because it is so tasty. I ate waffles the first time when we visited friends of my parents, aunt Zsuzsa and uncle Gyula and I immediately put them on the list of my favorites. I was 10 years old, ate one after the other one until I couldn’t eat more although my eyes were still hungry for them. Uncle Gyula suggested that I should run around the house two times and most surely I will be able to eat one more. He was joking but I took it seriously, stood up, ran two rounds around the house, set down again and had another waffle. One year after the cousin of my father visited us who was living in Western Germany. At that time it was not easy to travel especially between Western and Eastern Europe. He wanted to give us a present but didn’t know what we like so he gave us West German deutsche Mark. If you lived at that time in Europe you know very well how big treasure it was in the 1980’s! We kept it in the cupboard and were making plans with my sister what we were going to buy for this money. Actually I didn’t think a lot. I could have asked for a beautiful doll, or doll house, or for some clothes but at that time I was already interested in other things. So when friends of my parents could travel to Western Germany, we gave them my money and asked them to buy my heart’s desire: a waffle-maker. After that we were continuously making and eating waffles, spooned apricot jam or chocolate pudding and whisked cream over. But in the last years we completely forgot about waffles. In the meantime we had to replace the old waffle-maker but the “new” one is also almost 20 years old. To recall memories I borrow it from my mother and prepare the good old recipe. I make also some vanilla sauce as we had at uncle Gyula’s house long time ago. The kitchen is filled up by the scent of the baking dough and vanilla and I remember that if after the second one I cannot eat more, I can run two rounds around the house. Our garden is big enough…
Waffles with vanilla sauce
250 g butter
120 g caster sugar
3 packages of vanilla sugar
400 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
500 ml milk
To the vanilla sauce:
500 ml milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 vanilla bean
50 g sugar
1 tsp. flour
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla sugar and beat it with a hand mixer until foamy. Add eggs, mix flour and baking powder and add it to the dough alternately with the milk. Keep it refrigarated until you start baking waffles. In the meantime prepare the sauce. Mix the egg yolks, flour, sugar and 100 ml milk and set aside. Bring the rest of the milk to boil then add it to the egg mixture. Put it back to the stove and cook it slowly, stirring continuously until it thickens.
Living in the countryside completely transformed my approach to cooking. The question is not any more “What shall I cook today?” or “What do I find today on the market?”. Cooking starts now for me first by going to the garden, looking around and thinking. Although in the first year of our countryside living we started with a small kitchen garden which limits me but still it is not impossible to cook in harmony and rhythm with nature. Cherries are gone but apricot is already ripe. András who took care of our fruit trees started pruning our apricot tree as last, so he couldn’t give it a completely new form. It is still the second highest apricot tree in our village, according to András’s estimation who knows the village’s fruit trees better than anybody else. We could be proud because of this fact, but it basically means that all fruits are on the highest branches and even with my tool which is 3 meters long is difficult to pick the fruits. Finally I succeed to pick all ten pieces of fruits that are on the tree because one really cold spring night unfortunately most of the flowers froze. I realize this won’t be enough for two people so I look around in the garden what else I could find. In the middle we have a cherry plum tree which is normally not really esteemed but I get enthusiastic about it, pick some and go directly to the kitchen with my newly found treasures.
I cook cherry plum and apricot dumplings, a Hungarian speciality which is widely known when it is made with plums but we can try something new, right? Cooking gombóc at first sight seems to be difficult to prepare but is quite easy actually. The longest part of the process is when I cook the potatoes and let them cool down. Then I can knead it, roll it out, fill it, shape it and drop it into boiling water. It only needs a bit of toasted fine breadcrumps and sugar with cinnamon.
While we are eating the dumplings I realize that this is a mutual process: we take care of the garden and the garden takes care of us. And in this context we really have nothing to complain about.
Cherry plum and apricot dumplings (in Hungarian: gombóc)
500 g potatoes
150 g flour
10 g semolina
1 egg yolk
65 g and 25 g butter at room temperature
1 pinch of salt
250 g apricot and cherry plums
250 g fine bread crumbs
Cook potatoes in salted boiled water and let it cool down. Peel it and grate it roughly. Wash fruits, cut cherry plums in half, apricots in quarter, remove seeds. Mix butter with the flour first then add semolina, salt and finally potatoes and egg yolk. Knead it to a soft dough. It will be a bit sticky but don’t worry you will need only a bit more flour when rolling out. Roll it out to half centimeter thick and cut 8 cm edged squares, I got fifteens of it. Put a bit of sugar in place of the seeds and push two pieces together. For one dumpling, use two halves from the cherry plums and two quarters of the apricots. Pinch the four corners together and form a ball in your palm. Be careful that you don’t leave any holes. Work possibly fast, because fruits will release some liquid by adding sugar and it can make it difficult to close the holes. In that case use some flour to help yourself. Melt 25 g butter in a pan and toast fine breadcrumbs. Boil water in a large pan with a teaspoon of salt and drop dumplings into it (cook them in two bunches). Wait until they come up to the surface and cook them for further two minutes. Remove them with a sieve and roll them into fine breadcrumbs carefully without breaking them. Mix some confectioner’s sugar with ground cinnamon and serve it with the dumplings.
This is how we called it when I was a child. This word in Hungarian has no meaning and I have no idea how we found out this name, but for long time that I didn’t know that I am actually eating: semolina pudding, in Hungarian “tejbegríz”.
Maybe it is very simple. Maybe it is not really trendy, even it is not the peak of gastronomy.
But still it is the simplest and fastest way to sweeten heart and soul, should we need a quick dinner, a dessert or a snack. Pepi is a meal which is widely known in Hungary, belongs to our childhood but maybe because of its simplicity it is a bit neglected and despised. I thought it really deserves an exclusive blogpost because it is so delicious and versatile and… Pepi is just good as it is. Continue Reading…
Picking fruits can be a quite dangerous process, especially without experience, knowledge and appropriate tools for that. Thanks to the lot of sunshine the sour cherries grew ripe this week so it was high time to pick them and of course to bake a wonderful sour cherry pie according to my mother’s recipe. I take the basket, our ladder which was once not created for fruit-picking and go to one tree after the other one. The low branches don’t cause any problems but even if I climb until the highest rung of the ladder I cannot reach the reddest and apparently more delicious fruits on the upper branches. I need a creative solution. Continue Reading…
Four sweet cherry, three sour cherry trees. I am grateful to have them, to be able to pick the fruits and give to others: neighbors, family and friends. In the meantime I appreciate more and more all the people who choose fruit growing as a profession. We were worried about aphids, then about too much rain, about illnesses, then about the strong wind. Then it is another challenge, when we pick them, how we store them and how to process them. But still, it is such a big pleasure when the basket is full, I grab a handful of the cherries and go to the kitchen to transform them to salad, cake or fruit soup. Continue Reading…
Do you want to see how the little calf will be born?- asks me Ani, my neighbor at the beginning of the week and I immediately say “yes” then start to hesitate whether I am really brave enough to see it. Finally my countryside living ability won’t be tested this way- the baby calf is born during the night. With its curly fell and long eyelashes he is absolutely beautiful and he is looking at me attentively when I ask him how life in this world one day after birth. Continue Reading…