Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes
Chef Ilona Szabo Reveals The Secrets of Hungarian Cooking

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hungarian Retes – Strudels or Rétes Tészta (Part II)

Hungarian Retes 
(Part II)
One of the keys to light, flaky Hungarian strudel dough is the flour. In Hungary, special flour is sold specifically for strudel, but of course this isn't available everywhere. My mother recalls as a little girl having to go to the flour mill to ask for a specific grade of flour – depending on what her mother wanted to bake. For strudel – you need hard wheat flour. It has the gluten consistency necessary for the stretching that yields the thin papery pastry. As an alternative, look for flour that is finely ground and contains a high level of gluten. Bread and pastry flour work well. If you're in North America, try to get flour from Manitoba, as it tends to contains a very high gluten content. The gluten here really is essential. This cannot be stressed enough.  But, having said all that, you can use all-purpose flour with acceptable results.

If you are a pastry connoisseur, this is definitely a recipe to try from scratch. The instructions here present the ingredients in the order you'll actually use them when you put the strudel together, but it is easiest to prepare the fillings before you start the dough. That way you can fill the dough immediately after stretching it, so it won't have a chance to become dry and brittle. (Important Note to the Aspiring Chef: The traditional method of making strudel dough is a fair amount of work. If you are shy about preparing strudel from scratch, not to worry. Use a package of Phyllo dough instead. It can be readily purchased from grocer’s freezer pastry section. The end results are virtually the same. Just follow directions on package. )

Strudel Dough Ingredients
4 cups all purpose flour
(or hard wheat flour
if accessible)
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup warm water
1 lb Crisco, melted

In a large mixing bowl, blend all ingredients except the shortening.  Knead dough consistently for about ½ hour to get the gluten going.  Dough should be light and very smooth.  Cover – let rest 1 hour in a moderately warm area.

Strudel Stretching Stage:  After the dough is well-rested, prepare your work surface. Spread a clean linen table cloth evenly on a large table and dust lightly with flour.  Place the dough in the centre of table and gently starting stretching it by using the back of your hands, placing them underneath the large mass of dough.  Start working your way around the table.  Continue the even stretching until you reach a ⅛” thickness. Then, spread the melted Crisco shortening using a pasty brush over the entire surface.  Use light strokes being careful not to tear the delicate dough. Cover and let the stretched dough rest for 10 minutes.

Fillings: Place your favourite filling by dotting all over the strudel dough evenly. Hint:  Don’t be tempted to place all the filling at one end of the pastry sheet and roll up.  This will make the log lumpy and the dough will end up thick at one end. (Not a pretty sight or bite.) Then, gently roll up the strudel using the tablecloth to assist. Fit the large rolled log onto a baking sheet. If it’s too large and your cookie sheet is not of adequate size, feel free to curve the log into somewhat of a large “U”. Then, finally, brush the top with Crisco or melted butter.  Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until flakes start to separate and the strudel is shiny and golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool about 10- 15 minutes before cutting into diagonal 3” pieces using a sharp cerated knife.  Use a gentle sawing motion – without pressure so as not to disturb the fillings.  Place pastry pieces onto a plate and dust generously with icing sugar. If serving creamed custard, spoon over generous dollops and let the hot strudel melt the cream. Or, puddle the custard and set the dessert in the center – dusting with confectioner’s sugar to finish off!

Sweet Strudel Fillings:  Cherry, apple, poppy seed, walnut and cottage cheese and noodles.

Savoury Strudel Fillings: Cabbage, Mushroom or Ham Strudel (savour the possibilities – chicken, asparagus, pan fried onions, spinach, potatoes (oven roasted) ricotta or farmers cheese.

Apple Strudel
Cabbage Strudel
Cottage Cheese Noodles Phyllo Bundles
Cottage Cheese Strudel
Grape Strudel With White Wine Sauce
Ham Strudel
Poppy Seed Strudel
Potato Strudel
Rice Pudding Strudel
Sour Cherry Strudel
Varga Strudel Cake With Noodles
Walnut Strudel
Wild Mushroom Strudel

For all of the above listed recipes and fillings for the various desserts, please visit our website and own a copy of Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes today!
Jó étvágyat kívánok!

Hungarian Retes – Strudels or Rétes Tészta

Hungarian Retes – Strudels  or Rétes Tészta
(Part I)

The pride of Hungarian cooks is definitely the Strudel - Rétes Tészta  (pronounced "RAY-tesh"). The dough is folded several times, creating several layers, hence the name. Rétes is the "King" of pastries in Central Europe. Hungarian Rétes is similar to the Vienna Strudel, except it is a bit thinner. Rétes is a Hungarian peasant cake and is used to be a part of every celebration feast in the Hungarian lowlands. Today, it is prepared all over Hungary!

There is a definite family resemblance between Strudel Dough and the Greek Phyllo. The Hungarians first adopted the incredibly thin strudel dough from the Turkish pastry Baklava. This famous dessert is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Also, Greeks use spinach as well to create their Spanakopita or spinach pie is a Greek savoury pastry in the burek family with a filling of chopped spinach, feta cheese.  It is not rolled the same as the strudel - rather folded neatly into a triangular parcel, but the dough preparation is identical. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia. Phyllo of Filo actually means "leaf" in Greek, but according to the food historians, it is of Turkish origin. Countless Turkish dishes have been adopted into Hungary from these people (after all – they did rule the land for 150 years.)  The flakey, flavourful, layered sheets of tissue-thin pastry are simply delicious and can be used in countless savoury and sweet recipes alike. Thank you Turkey!

And, while the German and Austrian varieties tend to be a little heavier and sweeter, Hungarian Strudel is much lighter and flavourful without being overly sugary.  An important note to make is that the traditional Austrian Strudel pastry is different from strudels served in other parts of the world and are often made from Puff Pastry.

“Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels”...taken from the Sound of Music is a very Austrian tradition. To many people, Apple Strudel is the most famous of all strudels as well as the most famous of all Austrian pastries; it has always been closely associated with Vienna in particular. However, we must clarify an important point right from the start - it is generally accepted that the dessert did not originate in Austria at all. So, the origins mystery of this fine pastry dough remains unsolved.

The warm, sugar-dusted strudel is often associated with cafés of central Europe. But even after close examination of each of those country’s’ strudel, not one is the same nor are the names consistent. In Hungary it is known as Rétes. In Slovenia as Strudel or Zavitek. Tthe Czechs and Slovaks call it Závin or štrúdl. In Romania it is known as Strudel and finally, the Croatians use a similar name and call it štrudla or Savijača.

History differs on exactly how this Hungarian strudel arrived in Vienna, but the general theory is this: with the departure of the Ottoman invaders (the Ottoman Empire at its height included Vienna), the now unemployed Turkish and Hungarian cooks took their skills and specialties (and certainly strudel was among them) to the kitchens of the Viennese aristocrats in the new Austro-Hungarian empire.

Although the origins of strudel still seem to be fuzzy and many countries would want to lay claim on this delightfully light and versatile pastry, we cannot say with certainly that we have zeroed in on the origins. The key piece of information is that recipes for strudel differ from country to country.  Now, a little research yields the following:  the oldest recipe found dates back to the late 1600’s, a handwritten one at that – and found in Vienna at the city library – The Wiener Stadtbibliothek. From this recipe, the pastry is believed to have its origins in the Byzantine Empire or Middle Eastern pastries. Some guess that the strudel entered Austrian kitchens via Bosnia and Croatia and thus is derived from Börek.  Börek (also called Burek and other variants) is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka (or phyllo). It is often filled with assorted cheeses- feta, sirene or kaşar. Others are filled with minced meat or vegetables. Now these are thought to have been invented in Central Asia by nomadic Turks, it became a popular element of Ottoman cuisine. (Ref: Wikipedia)

We may never solve the mystery fully, but let’s put the origins issues aside and let’s focus on the actual pastry itself – the structure, the creation, the ingredients – shall we?  The traditional Strudel pastry dough is very elastic. It is prepared from flour with a relatively high gluten content, egg, water and butter. The flour is often called by the same name – Strudel Flour (or hard flour). The dough is worked quite vigorously, then rested and finally rolled out and stretched by hand so thinly over a large table covered with a crisp white tea towel, that is resembles paper. I recall reading an anecdote quoting that “...it should be so thin that a newspaper can be read through it.” Legend has it that the Austrian Emperor's perfectionist cook decreed that it should be possible to read a love letter through it. After the dough has been fully stretched, melted butter or fine oil is then brushed across the surface carefully as not to tear the oversized thin sheet. The final preparation is the filling, which can range from sweet fillings like; apples and cherries and walnuts and poppy seeds to farmer’s cottage cheese plump with raisins to the savoury versions with combinations incorporating spinach, cabbage, pumpkin, sauerkraut and meat.  The filling is evenly dotted across the top layer; the dough is then carefully rolled with the help of the tea towel, brushed with more melted butter and then finally baked in the oven to a golden light brown.

The papery thin strudel dough is complemented by a variety of typically Hungarian fillings:
The Hungarians fill the papery thin strudel dough with; tart green apples, tiny black poppy seeds, crunchy walnuts, bright red cherries, ride pudding, sweet noodles, cabbage or farmers cottage or curd cheese dotted with plump raisins and whatever cake or bread crumbs are on hand. The number of different strudel fillings now-a-days, is almost limitless and includes both sweet and savoury fare. The savoury varieties are especially popular among eastern Europeans and in fact were a staple food for the majority at one time in places such as Hungary, Turkey and Greece.
Stay tuned for Part II - where we reveal the real strudel recipes.

For Exciting new Hungarian cooking and recipes -visit http://www.helenshungarianrecipes.com/

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Diós és Mákos Kalács (Beigli)

This is a Christmas and Easter tradition in most Hungarian households including ours. These are the famed rich marbled Walnut and Poppy Seed Rolls.  Whether they are made of pastry or simple sweet dough, whether the filling is rich or modest, it is always the pride of the Hungarian hostess. And THIS recipe works every time – fool-proof – never fails! 

Yeast Proofing
2-3 pkgs yeast
½ cup milk, lukewarm
1 tsp sugar

Sweet Dough
8 cups flour
3 sticks sweet butter
½ cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
1 cup oil
1½ cups milk (as req)
1 egg white (for brushing)

Dissolve yeast in warm milk and sugar.  Set aside to proof.  Cut butter into flour with 2 forks or pastry blender. Add sugar, egg yolks, sour cream and yeast and work them well into a soft dough. As you are kneading the dough, drizzle in a little oil and blend it in. You might not need the whole cup, but the texture will be noticeably softer and more like croissant bread dough as it pulls away in wisps.  Once fully incorporated, wipe dough with remaining oil, cover with linen cloth and set in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours. After dough doubles in size, separate into 4 discs. This dough is now ready to roll out and fill.

Fillings:  Prepare Walnut and Poppy Seed Filling (see below).  This recipe makes 2 rolls of each so you need to double the fillings recipes. Prepare fillings and set aside ½ of each for each roll.

Diós Töltelék

This recipe for Walnut Filling is suitable for Kiflis, layered squares, and Beigli. 

2 cups walnuts, ground
2 egg whites, beaten
½ cup raisins (sultana)
½ cup sugar
1 lemon rind, grated
Pinch Salt

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in sugar. Fold in ground walnuts and lemon rind into egg white mixture. Spoon onto sweet dough or crépe or Kifli.

Mákos Töltelék

This recipe for Poppy Seed Filling is suitable for Kiflis, layered squares, and Beigli.  If you cannot find raw seeds, you can purchase canned poppy seed filling.

2 cups poppy seeds, ground
3 egg whites, beaten
½ cup raisins, sultana
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup  sugar
1 lemon rind, grated
Pinch Salt

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in sugar. Fold in poppy seeds and lemon rind into egg whites. Spoon onto sweet dough or crépe or Kifli.
Gently roll out each disc into a 12”x12” rectangle. Spoon on filling by dotting generously over entire surface. Use a rubber spatula to spread filling evenly. Roll up dough like a jelly roll and seal in ends so filling doesn't spill out. Place gently on parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with linen and let it rise again in a warm place until it doubles in size - about 1 hour. Brush with beaten egg white.

Bake in 350°F oven for 35 minutes.  Should be a light golden brown with a shiny crust. Let cool completely and cut into generous slices with a serrated knife and place them in concentric circles on a platter and dust with icing sugar. 

Storage: Wrap in plastic bread bags and store in a cool place until use. Will keep 2 weeks in refrigerator. Freezes very well – double wrap in plastic – will keep for 2 months.

For these and more time-honoured traditional Hungarian recipes - please visit.

Hot Hungarian Chef Clara

Saturday, October 16, 2010



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hungarian Cabbage Rolls - Töltöt Káposzta

Töltöt Káposzta

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a Classic Hungarian dish that almost everyone world-wide recognizes. No wedding celebration would be complete without large pots of these tightly rolled bundles of meat and rice held by soft wrappers of cabbage. The rolls lay in a bed of silky sauerkraut with hints of smoky bacon. The cabbage and sauerkraut combine to a most delicious and mellow dish. Once you sample this dish, you are hooked!

Growing up, we all loved Cabbage Rolls in tomato sauce, prepared just like Stuffed Hungarian Peppers. We were able to smother the bread with sour cream and mop up the juices and cabbage pieces. My dad preferred a more smokey bacon flavour. In order to please everyone, mom prepared it both ways. On one occasion, she came up with a brilliant compromise; she combined both sets of ingredients - partially tomato juice and partially smoked bacon and sauerkraut. We loved it and she continued to prepare it this way since that time.


½ lb each of ground pork, beef & veal
1 cup long grain rice
*(Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice)
1 med–lrg head green cabbage
1 large onion
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp hot paprika
1 - 28 oz jar Sauerkraut
1 - 28 oz can tomato juice
2 cups water (more if req)

2 tbsp flour
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp bacon fat
Smokey Version
½ lb piece smoked pork rib, bacon, pork hock or ham bone

1 pt sour cream
1 loaf Hungarian Crusty White Bread


Stuffing/Filling: Grate and sauté onion slightly in a small amount of bacon fat. Add paprika, stir and allow flavours to bloom. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine; onions, meat and rice and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasoning. *(Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice stays whole and just aldente -lovely. Soak in 1 cup luke-warm water and rinse, no need to cook.)

Cabbage Leaves: Core centre of cabbage in a cone shape down and into the cabbage so leaves will pull away easily.

Place in a large 6 qt boiling pot of water. Pierce centre of cabbage head with a long roasting fork and hold immersed in boiling water. As cabbage blanches, the outer leaves will start to peel away. Encourage peeling using a large wooden spoon, pushing each leaf down into the boiling water.

Keep peeling leaves until all are pulled away from the core. When complete, remove all leaves carefully into colander and drain with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Then, place all leaves on a cutting board. Sort leaves by placing all equal sized leaves together. Trim off thick, middle vein with a sharp paring knife being careful not to tear the cabbage leaf. Larger leaves can be cut into 2, right down the centre, cutting away the thick vein to create 2 smaller leaves. The smallest leaves are not used in rolling, but cut into julienne strips to line the pot.

Rolling Technique: Take 1 leaf at a time and place on a cutting board or in your left hand. (ruffled edge away from you) Place an ice-cream scoop or 2 tbsp seasoned meat/rice mixture on the centre. Roll lengthwise starting at the cored flat end ½ way and then fold left leafy side over middle (like a Burrito). Continue rolling and then when completely rolled, tuck right leafy loose end inside with index finger. (Not too much pressure, or you will tear the cabbage and then the stuffing will leak and protrude out during cooking.)

Pot Assembly: If using Smokey Version, place Pork Hock or rib on bottom of pot now. Then, start by placing reserved cabbage strips at the bottom of large pot along with 1/3 of the sauerkraut and the pieces of thick bacon including rind. Start placing Cabbage Rolls snugly in concentric circles layering the sauerkraut in between each layer. The smokey flavours will filter all the way up through the pot. Continue in this fashion until all leaves are rolled and placed into the pot. Cover with more cabbage pieces and sauerkraut if desired. Pour over the tomato juice and enough water to cover. Simmer about 1 hour on medium heat. Test 1 roll – go ahead – you know you want to! If meat is cooked and rice is al dente, then remove from heat. If not, cook for another 15-30 minutes at the most.

Roux- Rantas: Heat bacon fat and add flour and paprika. Sauté slightly then, add water and stir until you get a smooth consistency. You may have to pour off some of the liquid into a small saucepan and cream the thickener from there. Add roux back into cabbage pot. Do not stir rolls; just shake the pot so that the sauce penetrates in between the rolls. Remove from heat. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a large serving dish.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with fresh Hungarian bread and generous servings of sour cream.

Yield - 24-28 cabbage rolls.

Note: Delicious the next day as flavours meld. Freezes well for 3-6 months. Mom says that red cabbage is never used for cabbage rolls, otherwise – both are fair game in most other stir-fry type dishes.

Soured Cabbage Version: Try soured cabbage (sold fresh out of the barrel at delis or sealed in a plastic bag at the grocer). Leaves are more pliable, but you should rinse thoroughly before using and taste-test as it may be quite tangy for some palates. Also, omit the 28 oz sauerkraut from the recipe - you can cut up left over cabbage leaves to line the pot. This is a bit more pricey, but faster and very delicious!

To view the picturesque version of this procedure - follow the link below. (Photos and Demo by Evangeline Mackell of Design in Bloom) DESIGN IN BLOOM


For More Amazing Truly Authentic Hungarian Heritage recipes -visit our website. Helen' s Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Come back again soon for an update on what the Hot Hungarians are up to!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Easy as Pudding! A smooth and satisfying rich dark chocolate pudding with 5 easy variations. Or come up with more of your own! This will be a favourite stand-by for sure! You won’t find this in Gourmet or Bon Appetite! This recipe is so full-proof, your 6 year old could make it!

Plus 5 Fabulous Luscious Variations on a Theme!

Easy as Pudding! A smooth and satisfying rich dark chocolate pudding with 5 easy variations. Or come up with more of your own! This will be a favourite stand-by for sure! You won’t find this in Gourmet or Bon Appetite! This recipe is so full-proof, your 6 year old can make it! It gets a 5 ***** Rating!

Dark Chocolate Pudding
2 cups milk (any kind)
½ cup brown or white sugar
1 tbsp dark cocoa
1½ tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits
8 oz. 70% dark chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract (pure)
¼ tsp salt
2 oz dark chocolate shavings
2 oz arrowroot powder or 2 tbsp cornstarch

DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING: Pour 1½ cups milk into a medium saucepan and add sugar, cocoa, chocolate, vanilla and salt. Bring to a simmer and whisk until chocolate has melted and it's smooth. Meanwhile whisk the cornstarch into the remaining milk until it has dissolved. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the chocolate mixture whisking well. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly until the pudding has thickened. Take off heat and whisk in butter cubes until it becomes shiny. Then, pour into your choice of tall parfait glasses, ramekins or small bowls and refrigerate until set, about an hour. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or switch up with any of the variations below.

HINT – Use cornstarch or arrowroot, but there is a slight variance in the smooth glossy texture and sheen that comes with using arrowroot powder.

Serves 4! (Who are we kidding -it's only for 1!)

VARIATION # 1 WHITE CHOCOLATE CREAM (layered or topping)

1 cup 35% whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. white chocolate

Heat cream and white chocolate together in a small saucepan, just until chocolate has melted. Whisk smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and place in refrigerator until well chilled. Once cooled whip into soft peaks and dollop onto chocolate pudding and garnish with chocolate shavings. Your can layer the dark and white chocolate as shown in the photograph.

VARIATION # 2 - COCOANUT CHOCOLATE PUDDING - Use 1  14 oz Cocoanut milk + 2 oz of water instead of recipe. Toast 1/4 cup of cocaoanut flakes in a dry skillet and let cool. Garnish with flakes.

VARIATION # 3 - ALMOND CHOCOLATE PUDDING – Replace milk with  2 cups unsweetened almond milk and almond extract instead of vanilla. Top with toasted slivered almonds previously toasted in a dry skillet.

VARIATION # 4 MEXICAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING Replace dark chocolate with Mexican Chocolate (it can be used in traditional Mexican dishes like mole and it can be used in baking for an unusual flavour) Alternately, replace vanilla extract with 1/2 tsp cinnamon or cayenne. Kick it up yet another notch by adding 1 shot of Kahlúa, Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur.

VARIATION # 5 - SPIKED CHOCOLATE PUDDING -Replace vanilla extract with Chocolate liquor or Tia Maria (Jamaican coffee liqueur) or Kahlúa (Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur)

For more simple and delicious recipes for FREE! – visit http://www.helenshungarianrecipes.com/

Hot Hungarian Chef

Put a little Paprika in your Life!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

BLACK FOREST CAKE - Fekete Érdö Torta

Fekete Érdö Torta
The Black Forest is famed for its smoked hams, for bacon, and for partridges cooking in white wine, served with wine-steeped sauerkraut.  The succulent plums that ripen in orderly orchards are made into smooth brandies and compotes simmered in their own juices. 

But the crowning culinary achievement of the region is the Schwarzwaelder Kirshtorte. The literal translation is Black Forest Kirsch Torte.   In many villages, the famed Black Forest Cake was originally made with pumpernickel crumbs and fresh sour cherries. It is a decadent multi-layered dark chocolate cake, drizzled with the luscious Kirsch liqueur, filled with tangy cherries and slathered with mounds of sweet whipping cream. What makes a Black Forest Cake special is the sour cherry liqueur called Kirsch. We include it in our recipe. It is a traditional Oktoberfest Dessert.

Cake Batter
6 eggs, separated
¾ tsp cream of tartar
1½ cups sugar, divided
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange peel, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract OR
1 tsp rum extract or Rum
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup dark cocoa or
4 oz chocolate squares, semi-sweet

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 round cake pans (4 layers) or 3 cake pans (6 layers). Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat at high speed until foamy.  Gradually add ¾ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Beat remainder of sugar with egg yolks. 

Dry Ingredients – Sift flour and baking powder, then add to egg yolk mixture alternately with liquid, orange peel and vanilla extract.  Mix until well-blended, about 1 minute.  Batter will seem a bit stiff. Not to worry.  Fold in egg whites gently so as not to deflate.  Spoon batter into layer cake pans and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in the pans, and then turn out and slice to make desired number of layers.

Cherry Filling
1- 28 oz jar sour cherries
3½ cups icing sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp almond extract
1 stick sweet butter
½ cup cherry liqueur
2 tsp strong coffee

Combine reserved juice, cherries, granulated sugar and cornstarch in saucepan.  Cook and stir over low heat until thickened.  Remove from heat; add almond extract, strong coffee and liqueur. Set aside to cool.

Butter Cream Filling
½ cup sweet butter
3½ cups icing sugar

Blend softened butter and icing sugar until creamy. Set aside. 

Whipped Topping
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chill medium bowl and beat cold whipping cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract with electric mixer set at high speed - until stiff peaks form.  Reserve ¼ of whipped cream for decorative piping. Keep cool until needed.

Kirsch Syrup
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 oz Kirsch liqueur

Kirsch Syrup: Make simple syrup by bringing sugar and water to a boil, ensuring all sugar is dissolved.  Cool completely, add Kirsch Liqueur.  Cut cake into layers – drizzle or brush each layer of cake with syrup.

Shaved Chocolate Curls: by using a potato peeler – Place the 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar into the freezer to cool.  Take the cooled chocolate slab and peel curls onto a platter.

Cake Assembly:  On a large fancy pedastalled cake plate, take small sheets of waxed paper and place in a circle. Place a layer of cake onto waxed sheets.    Sprinkle each layer of chocolate sponge cake with cherry liqueur. Spread each cake layer with butter cream and then spoon on cherries, pressing into this filling.   Place another cake layer on top and repeat.  Continue in this manner until all cream and cherries are used.  Finally, slather whipped cream on top and sides of cake.  Decorate with few cherries and chocolate shavings or curls on top and sides.

Decorating Variations

Step #1: Pipe remainder of whipped cream along top and bottom edges of cake with star tip.
Step #2: Spoon remaining cherry filling over top of cake. 
Step #3: Keep top smooth with whipping cream and decorate with maraschino cherries (stems on) and chocolate curls. Now, get your cup of tea or coffee, and Guten Appetit!

Helen’s Secret:  To form stiff peaks quickly with whipping cream, chill the mixing bowl and the beaters before beating the cream.  Also, to ensure whipping cream stays stiff, use Dr. Oetker’s Whip-It Stabilizer Whipping Cream. For best results, make cake layers 1 day a head and refrigerate. (Or if you just can't wait - at least chill it for 1 hour)  PS - You don't need a piping bag or a cake decorating degree.  Just be free and slather on the rich whipped cream.

For more amazing recipes - visit http://www.helenshungarianrecipes.com/ 

Clara Czegeny AKA Hot Hungarian Chef

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Csöröge ( forgács ) fánk - ANGELS' WINGS - CRISPY DONUTS


Hungarian Csöröge (Angels' Wings) are those wonderful light as air, crispy, fried dough cookies traditionally prepared for Weddings. Beautifully piled high in pyramid style on cut crystal platters, they are lovely to behold and even most delightful to indulge.  A popular dessert for Sunday dinner and served with coffee after a meal of Beef Gulyas or Chicken Paprikas. It tends to leave powdery traces of sugar on your upper lip, your chin and your nose. The secret is now out!

Angel wings are traditional in several other European cuisines and have been incorporated into other regional cuisines (such as the United States) by immigrant populations. They are most commonly eaten in the period just before Lent, often during Carnival and on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Lent – not to be confused with "Fat Tuesday" (Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. There is a tradition in some countries for husbands to give them to their wives on Friday the 13th in order to avoid bad luck.

Forgács Fánk or Csöröge

10 large egg yolks
4-5 cups sifted flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 oz cognac brandy (or rum)

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, cream egg yolks until thick and lemon coloured. Add all ingredients except flour and beat a little more until well blended. Add flour gradually; beat to a smooth batter then as you add rest of the flour you begin to knead with your hands until dough is smooth as silk, soft and very elastic. Add more flour as needed.

Separate dough into balls and let rest on your noodle board (covered with a bowl). Roll out very thin on a slightly floured pastry board. Cut with zigzag pizza wheel into one inch wide diagonal strips. Take one long strip at a time, cut a slit and take one corner and loop it through the slip to form a flying angel. (See diagram below).

When the oil is hot, place about 10 pieces of dough into the deep fryer or pan at a time. Turn Csöröge after ½-1 minute and fry on other side until light golden (about 1/2 min). Remove onto tray lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

(Smaller recipe)
Forgács Fánk or Csöröge

Here’s another variation on the theme. This one has sour cream in it. Try them both.


1 cup sour cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt

2¼ cups flour
1 oz cognac brandy (or rum)
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup icing sugar (for dusting)
1 pkg vanilla sugar
Oil/shortening (for frying)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Form into a soft dough. Roll out and cut as directed in previous recipe (See Diagram- above). Fry quickly in hot Crisco shortening until light brown. Dust with vanilla icing sugar.

Chef’s Hint: All donut recipes should contain 1 shot of rum - it gives it a pleasant taste and during frying - the dough will absorb less oil. (I would suggest 1 shot for the cook - this will give her a bit of courage for the task!)

For more of these amazing recipes - visit http://www.helenshungarianrecipes.com/
Clara Czegeny
Dream Machine Publications
Paris, Ontario, Canada
The "Hot Hungarian Chef"

Monday, February 8, 2010


Kolozsvári Rakott Káposzta (also known as)

Erdélyi Rakott Káposzta

Making sauerkraut was a time honoured tradition in our home, on the farm as well as in the city. My father enjoyed making his own! Deli-quality sauerkraut is very delicious, but if you have access to fresh produce – why not use it for many varied dishes. Many Hungarian recipes call for sauerkraut. Canned or jarred should be rinsed and drained as it is a bit sour. Deli-style or farmer’s market fresh kraut might not need excessive rinsing. Soured cabbage is available in delis and supermarkets.

One evening, several of my friends gathered for a meal. It was my turn to bring the main coarse. The guests were Welsh, Ukranian, Scottish and of course, me – the Hot Hungarian. The girls were not quite sure what to make of this layered dish, but as soon as they tasted their first bite – they were in sauerkraut, pork and sour cream heaven. We managed to polish off the entire dish, 1 loaf of bread and 2 bottles of wine. Needless to say – the fact that it was Hungarian – just made the evening a truly memorable event.

This wonderfully delicious layered cabbage dish comes from the Transylvania region of Hungary called Erdelyi, or sometimes called Kolozsvár which is present day Romania- thus the name; Erdélyi Rakott Káposzta. It is actually three separate recipes which can be used alongside other dishes. But, because everything is layered in one dish, the flavours of all three, meld and marry and become even more delicious. And, tell me, who can resist pork, sour cream, sauerkraut and rice?

2 cups water
½ tsp salt
1 cup white long grain rice
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup milk
1 recipe Pork Pörkölt (see recipe below)
1 recipe Hungarian Sauerkraut (see recipe below)

Boil rice in salted water until rice is fluffy (20 minutes) and set aside. Prepare 1 Recipe Dinsztelt Savanyú Káposzta and set aside. Prepare 1 recipe Pork Stew -Diszno Pörkölt and set aside. When all 3 recipes are cooled to room temperature, you can prepare the layers ready for the oven.

In a large roasting pan or open baking dish, spread ½ the cooled stir-fried cabbage evenly on the bottom. Next, spread all of the cooked rice over the cabbage. Next, spoon over all of the pork stew and the yummy juices over the rice. Spread the remaining ½ of cabbage on the top – sealing in the edges.

Finally, in a large 2 cup measuring cup, combine sour cream and milk until smooth. Pour over the entire surface of the cabbage and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes until cream is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestion: Fresh crusty bread and extra sour cream and a bold bottle of Hungarian Red Wine.

The recipes below are part of the complete layered dish. Follow directions as per instructions.

Dinstelt Savanyú Káposzta

Sauerkraut is not only affordable and plentiful, but it is full of healthy goodness - rich in antioxidants, vitamins that ward off illness. It was a mainstay of Austrian-Hungarian winter cuisine. In my humble opinion, this is comfort food at its best. The fairly simple method delivers serious amounts of flavour. The sauerkraut, gives a great tang and texture to the dish. I always add sour cream to everything, so go ahead - the sour cream mixture added at the end turns it into something truly heavenly!

1 28 oz jar/can sauerkraut
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp bacon grease
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp sweet paprika

Rinse and drain sauerkraut thoroughly. Set aside. In a large pot, heat bacon grease and sauté onion just until starts to sweat. Add paprika and cook until onions are translucent. Add sauerkraut; cook 10-20 minutes, stirring constantly (in stir-fry method with a large wooden paddle spoon).

Serving Suggestion: As a vegetable side-dish, serve with hamburgers, fried pork butts, sausage or fried pork chops.

PORK STEW-Diszno Pörkölt

Yet another variation on the Pörkölt theme. Tender chunks of pork – is the start of some amazing layered meals such as Rakott Kaposzta, or Paradicsomos Kaposzta and many more.

1 lb pork shoulder, 2” cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp shortening
1 tsp sweet paprika
⅛ tsp hot paprika
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic
hot red peppers (opt)
1 green pepper (opt)

In a large saute pan, heat the lard and fry the onions and garlic until they are just lightly browned. Add the paprika. Add the pork and stir until partially coated with the paprika and onion mixture. Add water to just cover the pork. Add pepper and hot red pepper. Cover and stew until tender, approximately 30-45 minutes.

Serving Suggestion: If using this as a main coarse, serve immediately with Fried Egg Dumplings - Pirított Tarhonya, rice or cubed potatoes or with Cabbage Dishes.

An Excerpt from the 440+ Hungarian Classic Recipes in the book called
Helen’s Hungarian Heritage Recipes – by Clara M. Czegeny

For more great recipes and to purchase this amazing cookbook - visit

Monday, January 18, 2010

CHALLAH- JEWISH BREAD - Fonot Zsido Kalács

Fonot Zsido Kalács
Challah is  traditional egg bread prepared for the Jewish Sabbath and festivals.  They are often braided in complex ways, but a simple 3-stranded braid is used here. Large Challahs shaped with several braids of different sizes are prepared for weddings, bar mitzvahs, or other celebrations. 

Similar rich brioche-like often braided breads, are also traditional in many other countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic among non-Jewish peasant populations.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup warm water
3 cups flour
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
¼ cup luke-warm water
2 eggs
1 egg, beaten with
1 tbsp water
4 tbsp poppy seed or
4 tbsp sesame seeds
¾ cup sultana raisins
3 tbsp honey

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and ½ cup water. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm place until well-risen, about 15-20 minutes.

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a warmed bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the proofed yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the liquid into the flour. Gradually add 2 beaten eggs and oil until combined and forms sticky dough. Turn the dough onto floured board and knead for about 2-5 minutes until smooth and elastic and it doesn't stick to your hands. Add flour is required so dough is no longer sticky.  Put dough in a warmed, greased bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in volume: about 2 hours.

Punch down dough and let rise 2nd time. If time is of the essence, divide into six balls after 1st punch down.  Roll balls between your palms into long ropes; about 1" wide. Braid three strips together and place on greased cookie sheet. Wrap ends neatly underneath loaf. Repeat with the remaining three strips to make another loaf. Cover loaves with a linen tea towel and leave rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Alternate shapes:  Take entire dough and roll between your hands into a long thick rope and coil up like a snail starting at centre and working outwardly.  Tuck end under and cover with linen towel and let rise until double in volume.  Brush with egg yolks and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Brush loaves with egg/water mix and sprinkle with seeds. Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F until golden brown. Let cool on rack.

Raisin Challah: Follow instructions using 3 tbsp honey and add ¾ cup sultana raisins to dough about 20 seconds after it comes together after adding liquid ingredients.  Do not braid.

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