I picked up the very imaginatively named Hungarian Cook Book by Tamás Bereznay at a souvenir shop in Budapest some years ago, as a gift to Scott who wasn’t on that trip with me (I was travelling with James, Nigel and Jacinta). I specifically chose this book because it had a decent vegetarian section which meant that I could cook for both meat eaters and vegetarians, something I appreciate in a cookbook.
Generally the recipes were not too hard to follow, the dishes were delicious, but there were some minor quirks – which are probably as a result of adapting traditional home-cooked recipes to a cookbook. When you know how to cook something because you’ve cooked it 1000 times, you are prone to leaving out steps, or not making the instructions clear – because of course you know what you mean. As I said, the food was delicious, and we muddled our way through the most complicated recipe (the pancakes) with the help of the internet to confirm a step – I’ll make that clear in the recipe. Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because of the flavours and because I am a confident enough cook to know what I’m doing. If you are new to cooking, I’d give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars and not recommend it.
Oh yeah, I forgot, the pancake/crepe recipe provided by Bereznay was a total and utter failure. The recipe I am providing to you is my own (well it belongs to the PMWU cookbook) and will work far better.
Pancakes Hortobágy Style (Hortobagy Palacsinta) (services 4 – 6)
For the filling:
- 1 whole chicken broken down (or 1.2kg chicken pieces)
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 – 2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (ground)
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 red capsicum
- 1 tbsp flour
- 200ml sour cream/creme fraiche, plus extra for serving
For the pancakes:
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- For the pancakes: sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Crack the two eggs into the milk and whisk to combine. Pour half the milk and egg mixture into the flour and stir until the mixture is a thick batter. Add the remaining milk and stir until it is incorporated. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Put a teaspoon of oil in a flat frying pan and heat over a medium to high heat. Pour a ladle of the mixture into the pan and rotate the pan so that the crepe mixture covers the entire base. After 2 minutes, turn the pancake around and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside. After each pancake, oil pan if necessary.
- For the filling: salt all the chicken pieces and set aside. Heat some oil in a pot and saute the onions, then add garlic and paprika and gently cook. Add tomatoes, capsicum, chicken pieces, and one litre of water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for an hour.
- Remove the chicken piece, let them cool, then remove all the meat and skin from the bones. Finely chop the meat and skin. Put two to three large spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the centre of the pancake and fold the pancake into a parcel. Place the pancake parcel, seam sides down, in a baking dish. Repeat until all pancakes are used (we made 9), and then set aside (probably in the fridge).
- Preheat the oven to 160C
- Strain the liquid from the stew and reserve, discarding the vegetables (yes, seriously). Pour in as much water as needed to make the total liquid 1.5 litres. Bring to a boil. Mix the sour cream/creme fraiche with the flour. Stir it into the liquid, season with salt, and boil the sauce until it is thick (about 30 minutes as it is also going to reduce). Pour the sauce over the pancakes and place them in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream/creme fraiche
Notes on this recipe:
- So much rewriting.
- We had to check on the internet that you discarded the vegetables as the recipe in the cookbook wasn’t clear. We also didn’t allow enough time for the sauce to reduce and thicken, because there is no timing in the recipe for that.
- Despite all these issues, this dish was delicious and enjoyed by all the meat eaters at the table. I would, when making this again, put some of the vegetables into the chicken pancakes just for some extra tastiness.
Dumplings with eggs (Tojásos Nokedli) (serves 4 – 6)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 500g flour, sifted
- 3 + 8 eggs
- 50ml sunflower oil
- 200ml cold water
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil (they recommend 5 litres, but we did about 2 and it was fine).
- Mix the flour, 3 eggs and a pinch of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon, adding as much cold water as necessary to produce a smooth thick batter (this video is a good demonstration).
- Using a spoon (because you probably don’t have a spaetzle plane – I don’t), cut small pieces off the dough and put in the boiling water. The dumplings are ready when they rise to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to remove, drain, and rinse in cold water. Do this in batches so you can add pieces of dough, remove those that are floating, repeat.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan and sautee the dumplings. Lightly beat the remaining eight eggs and add a bit of salt to them. Add to the dumplings in the pan and stir until the eggs are cooked.
Notes on this recipe:
- It came with a salad recipe which was lettuce that had been dunked in water, vinegar, salt and sugar and I really don’t need to share that with you. You make your own salad
- So I made my batter a bit thick and so my nokedli were a bit thick and I regret nothing. It was delicious and everyone loved this. It was the most popular dish on the table – which is pretty good for flour and eggs with some water and salt.
- You can make additional sauces for this too (I made a sour cream style one that I winged because I could). Serve it how you like.
Roast butternut pumpkin (serves 4)
- 1 butternut pumpkin, cut into quarters
- Fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Cut the pumpkin into quarters and remove the seeds. Brush with honey (as much as you like) and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh rosemary.
- Place in a roasting pan and bake for 40 minutes.
- Serve hot
Notes on this recipe:
- I don’t like pumpkin enough to have eaten this, but Nigel who loves pumpkin enjoyed this dish.
- It was probably too much pumpkin overall for one dish.
- You could flavour each of the segments with different things, like chilli, salt and olive oil, or smoked salt and olive oil.