I am sitting in my grandmother’s living room and listening to her while she is telling stories. I love her stories. Stories about her youth and childhood. When snow crackled below their feet while they were walking to the church. She remembers the carol singers, who visited each house singing Christmas carols. The smell of traditional pig slaughters. She tells about the jumper she made for my grandfather. It was a beautiful blue wool jumper for that she span the yarn for. Unfortunately once they washed it in warm water by accident so it shrunk to a kid size.
I listen to my grandmother and I unwillingly compare her memories to today’s Christmas’s. I have such a strong desire to smuggle this feeling somehow to the present world. Continue Reading…
Have you ever read Joanne Harris’ book, the “Blackberry wine”?
In this wonderful book six bottles of fruit wines from the year 1975 – elderberry, damson, blackberry, raspberry, rose hip and jackapple- seem to come to life when Jay, the main character finds them in the cellar. They laugh, whisper, fizzle and make noise while they recall long forgotten memories as soon as he opens them one bottle after the other one. Memories from past summers when he met Jackapple Joe, the old men who created a paradise behind some brick walls in a shabby and abandoned quarter of an English small town. Kitchen garden with vegetables, greenhouses, healing plants, fruit trees and small red flannel bags filled with herbs to keep away bad energy from the garden. All these things were very far away from that life I was living at that time, when I first read this book 10 years ago. I was living in Budapest, in the centre, was working for a multinational company so in a world which is completely the opposite of all things I was reading about. I was thrilled and shaken by the story, by the idea and I still remember that feeling: an impatient craving and strong desire for a life in harmony with nature, having my own orchard, fruit trees and fruits from which I can make wine myself. Or máglyarakás, a special Hungarian dessert by using our own apples. Continue Reading…
Regular Taste of Memories readers know already, that I am big fan of yeasted doughs. It is like a passion which I try to control, but time to time I must come up with a recipe, moments when I cannot resist and I must bake! Fonott kalács, in English challah is ideal for breakfast but you can pair it very well with a liver paté, as I did a year ago, when we invited our families to a series of housewarming parties.
We moved to our house at the first weekend of October, but it was December when we finally packed out all the boxes, arranged furniture, mended heating, replaced the old, broken sink in the kitchen, so all in all we could create a comfortable and liveable home for ourselves. We wanted to celebrate this moment – which sometimes seemed to be hopelessly far away- with our families, but our living room is not big enough to have everybody at the same time at the same spot. So we organised three housewarming parties in a row within a week. The menu was the same, only guests have changed, and they were coming with lovely little presents: with a bottle of wine, a potted flower, family relics that they wanted to give us to preserve…And we were welcoming them with the scent of baking fonott kalács and the warmth of the tile stove. The house was finally filled up with life and not with boxes, and after being so much time away from my family living abroad it felt so good to be surrounded by them. These are the occasions when you feel you need nothing else just be present in the moment. When everybody talks and laughs, slice of fonott kalács are passed to each other, mugs will be filled up with hot tea and mulled wine.
The good things in fonott kalács is, that if you have some left overs- which hardly happens, but better to be prepared just in case- you can use it for many recipes and create wonderful dishes. This gives me a great idea to the next blog post, but I cannot tell you more now. Until then I hope this post will inspire you to knead and braid and bake and fill up your home with the scent of fonott kalács!
Fonott kalács (Challah or kind of brioche)
500 g flour
150 ml lukewarm milk
20 g honey
35 g caster sugar
2+1 eggs (one is for brushing the top)
60 g melted butter
2 level tsp. salt +1 pinch of salt
15 g fresh yeast
Dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in half of the milk’s quantity, cover it and let it rest for 5 minutes until rises a bit. Dissolve the rest of the sugar in the rest of the milk. Mix flour, 2 level teaspoon of salt, and honey. Add yeasted milk alongside with the rest of the milk and eggs. Knead it until it forms a soft dough, finally add melted butter, and knead it well until it takes up all the butter and the dough is flexible. Brush a big bowl with some oil, put the dough into it and cover it with a plastic foil. Let it rest for an hour. Put the dough on a wooden board, cut it into 150 g pieces and form small balls. Cover them again with a piece of foil and let them rest for another 20 minutes. Form long sausage-shape of each, then stick three sausages together on one end and braid it starting from the left. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the fonott kalács on it. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each of the fonott kalács, then cover with plastic foil and let it rest for another hour. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and brush the kalács again with eggs before baking. In case of electric oven, bake it in the bottom part of the oven, in case of gas oven it is the opposite, the upper part. Bake it for appr. 20 minutes until it is golden brown. Let it cool down on a cookie wire.
We are getting ready to a one-week trip. I don’t know if there is anybody among you who can prepare a trip in a relaxed, calm state of mind, but even after so many travel challenges and adventures I had to face in my life, I still can’t. I am writing different kinds of to do lists, I think about thousand times if I had presents for everybody who we are going to visit, and check travel documents more times than needed. The funny thing is, that we are not going to a mysterious, unknown place we hardly know. Quite the opposite. We are going to a place, which has a very special place in my heart. My second home. A place where I know the baker, the sellers at the market and the paper shop owner by name, where familiar faces pass by when I walk down the streets, exactly the way as I feel in our small village. Maybe this is the reason for my excitement, it is a positive kind of, like as we were children and were waiting for Christmas Eve to come. We leave our little house, the garden, the apple trees for one week to get lost in another, very different world that we love so much. While I am packing our suitcases I decide to stop for a short time. I caramelise sugar in a saucepan and add milk. Relaxing movements which calm me down, the scent of caramel fills up the air of the kitchen and the hot drink gives me enough energy to finish preparations. It is so simple, as good things in life are, but this recipe is like these little good things in life. We easily forget about them, or just don’t take notice of them. Continue Reading…
Tepertős pogácsa is very typical and traditional Hungarian snack. It is basically a savoury scone which is made with roasted pork rind, which for some of you could sound a little bit strange. That is why I was a little bit hesitating involving this recipe on the blog. And maybe I am not objective in this case but I must say it is too good to not to write about it…and maybe you will give a try after reading my post and I am sure you won’t regret it! Continue Reading…
Halloween is celebrated in a completely different way in Hungary, than in English-speaking countries. It is about remembrance family members and friends who are gone. It is partly sad but also somehow beautiful because we go to the cemeteries together with our families and light candle for the ones who are not with us any more. The candle is the symbol of a memory and if you look around in the cemeteries you can see little candle lights everywhere. It is really beautiful and touching. After we got home we always have gesztenyepüré (chestnut cream with whipped cream) known as Mont Blanc in France. It is a family tradition which could be strange even for other Hungarians. The tradition comes from my sister, who knew very well, that having a glass of cream chestnut with cream is a perfect way to warm up your heart. Continue Reading…
Néger kocka, cocoa square is one of the real classics from our childhood in Hungary. It is an easy-to-prepare cocoa cake base with a sweet and creamy meringue and a sticky cocoa glaze on top. It is not the cake you can eat without thinking the high calorie intake, but when I am looking out of the window on this sad, rainy and cold day I am sure this is exactly what our souls need in this moment. Or definitely my boyfriend, Áron needs it, who dies for everything which contains chocolate or cocoa. In the last weeks although he liked my blog posts- and the results of them- he always made a small complaining comment that my recipes recently don’t contain any chocolate. (Fortunately! How would taste stuffed peppers in tomato sauce with chocolate? Uh! ) So this recipe is for Áron’s sake and also a little bit for mine because I love taking photos of food with cocoa and chocolate.
Before I tell you more about this cake I would like to give you a short report from our little village in the Hungarian countryside. At the weekend our so called “winter scone” apples, which supposed to get ripe at the end of October according to books and informations found on the internet, decided to fall down. We need to look for crates in a hurry, my nice friend, Kata, the owner of a grocery shop gave me a bunch of them, and I found a few old ones in the attic of our old house as well. One is lined with an old newspaper from the 50’s and I get sticked to it when I read the title: “The way to communism according to Lenin”. I keep the old newspaper, it is already a piece of history.
The rose hip wine seemed go wrong, since mold appeared on the surface, but a friend, Peti- who prepared rose hip wine many times- told me not to worry, it is just normal. Apple wine is sparkling, smells good which is a good sign so we still have a hope for tasting our very first home-made wine soon.
In the coming months I will definitely prepare a lot of things with apples since the ingredient is waiting for me in big bulks. But this néger kocka is something different. It is a sweet indulgence which is impossible to resist. I make my mother’s recipe more exact for you since I don’t want to worry you with instructions like “add as much milk you get a consistency easy to pour” The cocoa glaze gets solid quite quickly so I can already start slicing the cake into small squares by using a knife, dipped into hot water. Then I am going to give a try and eat a piece without getting my fingers and mouth full with meringue and cocoa cream. I tell you it is impossible.
Néger kocka (cocoa square)
4 egg yolks
200 g caster sugar
120 g butter
200 ml milk
30 g Duch cocoa powder
200 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
For the meringue
4 egg whites
200 g confectioner’s sugar
For the cocoa glaze
5 tbsp milk
200 g confectioner’s sugar
20 g Duch cocoa powder
100 g butter
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Beat sugar with butter until foamy, then add egg yolks and cocoa powder. Mix flour and baking powder and alternately add flour and milk to the dough in small portions. I use a 22 x 35 cm large baking pan. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan, and put a piece of baking paper on the bottom just to be sure the cake doesn’t stick to it. Pour the dough into the baking pan, and bake it until a pin comes out clean if you pick the cake. Put the cake on a board or wire and let it cool down. In the meantime bring some water to boil in a pan and take a metal (preferably copper) bowl which fits to the pan. Be careful that the bowl’s bottom doesn’t reach the water. Reduce heat and start beating the egg whites, add sugar and beat it until it forms stiff peaks. Using a spatula spread the egg whites evenly on top of the cake. To make the cocoa glaze bring the milk to boil, add sugar and cocoa powder and cook it for a few minutes until thickens. Let it cool for 5 minutes and stir in the butter. Pour it over the meringue and spread it by using a spatula.
It is raining, it is cold and windy which gives me the sense that I cannot dress myself warm enough. Streets are empty, once in a while someones passes by in hurry while trying to fight with the umbrella and puddles. Although these are not the days when it is easy to find something that brights up my day, but still it can happen that small miracles come surprisingly.
For example when I discover, that Virág is not only a wonderful yoga teacher with whom we have weekly yoga sessions in our village, but also an amazing goat cheese-maker, who knows her goats by name. Tasting her goat milk I discover that it can be delicious without any strong, not appealing flavor- the secret lies within the way animals will be treated. We are standing in the cold wind on her little farm and talking about how significant is that goats can run around freely, eating for whatever they have appetite ranging from nettles to elderberries and other healing plants.
When I arrive home, carrying three different kind of cheese in my bag, I find a bowl of grapes next to our front door, without any message. I will need to find out who was that kind neighbor who surprised us in such a lovely way. In the house our tile stove, which was rebuilt after 40 years this summer is slowly warming up, and it is beautiful to see the flames through the new glass door. Sometimes it stops raining so I can go out and collect walnuts, that started to fall from the tree.
After all,when I find some day-old kifli in our breadbox, I know that this rainy day will end up really being heart-warming and sunny. This is a Hungarian dish, which has many recipes- this is one of them, the way my grandmother prepares it. It is quick, easy and delicious, it is like a bread pudding, but you don’t need to put it into the oven. If you don’t have kifli, you can use brioche as well. In Hungary we often sprinkle it with poppy-seed but I prefer walnuts, especially because I can use ours from our orchard. It is warming up my soul maybe because it remind me my grandmother, whose kitchen was filled up by the scent of vanilla when she was preparing it. We sit down at our dining table next to the tile stove and we agree that life – with rain, coldness, wind but with diós guba is simply beautiful. Continue Reading…
Beetroot is a vegetable which has the ability to awake strong emotions in highly positive or negative way. People normally like it or hate it. As for me, you could have driven me out of the world with beetroot until the moment I tasted my grandmother’s beetroot salad. Once I visited her, she was preparing the salad. “Come on, taste it”- she said and since I love my grandma very much- and since that was about beetroot, it was really the only reason- I tasted it. It was a moment like the one Mr. Ego was going through when he tasted the first bite of ratatouille in the cartoon Ratatouille.
“This is good”- I said to her in amazement. My grandmother was smiling knowing very well that she would never give me anything bad. Quite the opposite in fact. This salad is a vitamin bomb, it strengthens the immune system in the most natural way. This is exactly what I needed now, and it fell into my lap literally, and figuratively speaking.