Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hungarian Food, Gastronomy And Cuisine (What You Didn't Know And Were Afraid To Ask)

By far, the simplest way to learn about a nation is through its cuisine. In Budapest, patriotism is kept alive through the old dishes and traditions. Desserts are named for composers, operas, emperors and counts.

Hungarians are thought to only consume fatty, heavy cream-laden dishes. Another misconception is that the key ingredient to all dishes is the throat-burning hot red paprika. Sorry to have to disappoint you, but the sweet red paprika is used to enhance the flavour and the colour of the dishes whereas the hot red paprika adds the burn that some crave. Bacon grease can be substituted with vegetable or grape seed oils. But a friendly reminder about ingredient judgments, the amount of bacon grease Hungarian's use in meat dishes, is equivalent to what you will find on a Harvey's Bacon Cheeseburger.

History tells us that the first people to live in present-day Hungary were called Magyars, who arrived in around A.D. 800. Hungary's National Dish, a meat stew called gulyás (goulash) can be traced to the Magyars' eating habits. They traveled with the dried cubes of meat cooked with onions. Water was easily added to make a stew. So the story is told; the Gulyás (herdsmen) made Gulyás (shepherd's stew). The soup is called Gulyás Leves. And although the connection to Hungarian food and goulash is famous throughout the world, there is so very much more to Hungarian's delicious and flavourful cuisine than this renowned soup.

15th Century

The reign of King Matthias (1458-1490) is recorded to be a high point in Hungarian history, for both food and culture alike. King Matthias brought Italian cooking to Hungary through his Italian wife, Queen Beatrice and during this period, cooking was raised to a fine art.

16th Century

In the sixteenth century, when the Turks invaded Hungary, they brought their unique cooking customs along with them. Some of their foods were: paprika and a thin, flaky pastry called Filo (or phyllo) dough. Recorded history goes on to share that some new cooking traditions were started as the Turks taught the Hungarians how to cook. They shared their methods of stuffing peppers and eggplants. Coffee was also introduced to Hungary by the Turks.

17th -20th Century.

From the seventeenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century was labeled as the period of Austrian Rule where Austria's Hapsburg Monarchy (1526-1867): gained total control over Hungary. During this time, the prevalent German and Austrian cooking styles influenced the Hungarians' eating habits. It was believed that during this period that Hungary became famous for its cakes and pastries. Officially, from 1867-1918, the Hapsburgs ruled & Austria-Hungary.

Hungarian food is often chastised as too greasy or too fatty; however, this classic old world cuisine has more flavour and appeal than most people think.

Probably the best known ingredient in Hungarian food is paprika, the red powdered spice. Its flavour and colour is prominent in countless Hungarian dishes. Other everyday staples of Hungarian cooking include: onions, cabbage, potatoes, noodles and caraway seeds. Both cream and sour cream are used rather heavily in the Hungarian kitchen to soften flavours, add creamy texture and a subtle tang.

Dumplings (Nokedli) of all sorts, shapes and sizes are very popular. Other popular staples like cabbages and green peppers are used in countless ways. The most popular and well-known method is stuffed cabbage rolls. Peppers are also stuffed; with various ground meats, spices and rice. Another favourite is the French version of pancake/crepes called Palacsinta. It is popularly prepared as an appetizer, meal and dessert and is often rolled around apples, cottage cheese, noodles and shredded ham.

Hungarians are well-known to consume a tremendous amount of meat; mostly pork or beef. Chicken is a close second after red meats as a popular poultry staple. Many meat dishes are dredged in flour, egg and coated with bread crumbs and then fried or baked.

A vast array of sausages is produced in Hungary. The two most popular smoked sausages are Csabai Kolbász and Gyulai Kolbász. Hungary's different regions all have their own sausage recipes and tastes - all delicious.

seems to rank high on the votes as Hungary's National dish. It is slowly braised stew which uses onions and paprika to create the delicious saucy gravy. The dish they call goulash, or Gulyás, is actually a soup made with meat and paprika. Paprika is also a key ingredient in another national dish; a fish soup called Halászlé.

Throughout the world, the Hungarians are well-known for their elegant tortes, pastries and squares. The Turks brought the beautifully flaky pastry dough called Filo or phyllo to Hungary in the seventeenth century. The Hungarians fill the phyllo dough with their own ingredients to make a dessert known as Rétes or strudel. Rétes fillings include apples, cherries, and poppy seeds.

Hungary is also very well known for its wines, especially the Tokaji Aszú, a sweet dessert wine grown in the region of Tokay.

Don't be shy - give Hungarian Food a try - you will be so happy you did!

You will find all the original Hungarian Recipes from European old world cookery in Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes TM. Over 440 recipes that will be sure to bring back memories of your grandmother in the kitchen. These classic recipes have been 70 years in the making. All the aromas and flavours that just make for warm and comforting meals.

Treat yourself to a new style of eating. Simple, flavourful, fresh ingredients and absolutely delightful.

Clara M. Czegeny is self-proclaimed Hot Hungarian Chef and Author of Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes TM Cookbook. For free Recipes and more on Hungarian Food, visit http://www.helenshungarianrecipes.com/