As promised, I will give you the authentic recipes of every item on the meal we had in Budapest.
I would like to go from back to front, and start with what Hungarians call Palacsinta, better known as crepes, or blintzes. It is my absolute favourite desert, probably because it reminds me of home, and if made thin, Stuffed with one’s fill of choice, then rolled up and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, it can be elegant or simple, (depending on the presentation), and is a delicious end to a meal.
2 cups of water
1-½ cups flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon Baking Powder.
Method: Beat eggs and water well. Add flour, sifted with salt and baking powder. Beat till smooth, (I prefer the less traditional method, of using an electric blender to a whisk) and when it’s smooth and you can dip a fork into the mix without bumping into any lumps the mix is ready to cook. Heat a medium frying pan well, over mid/low burner (don’t overheat though, this could cause uneven frying), and grease the bottom lightly with oil. Pour batter very thinly, to coat bottom of pan, and cook till dry, yet flexible. A little practice will make you an expert in no time. Invert pan onto brown paper or paper towel covered plate, and continue doing the same until you have at least two for each guest.
Now for the filling:
There are umpteen recipes for Parve palacsinta.
My favourite is a mixture of crushed walnuts w a tableful of sugar, sprinkled over your apricot or peach jam covered Palacsintas. Don’t over fill, and roll the crepe into a cylinder. Most Hungarians don’t tuck in the ends, and simply serve it with a delicate shaking of confectioner’s on top.
For fancier occasions, stewed apples with cinnamon, cognac and sugar, or defrosted sweet red cherry compote serve as a filling, and after dotting with Parve margarine, closely packed, can be baked at 400" till golden brown and a bit crispy. For a more showy presentation, a drizzling of chocolate sauce, with fresh raspberries placed strategically around the crepes and the chocolate, will make the most discerning very happy. For me, the simple nuts and jam version, make my heart and taste buds sing.
And now on to the Stuffed Cabbage, or Töltöt Káposzta.
A head of cabbage, with nice large leaves.
1 lb. ground beef (turkey or chicken will do too)
Half a cup of rice, uncooked
One cans tomato paste
One can Sauerkraut
One large onion finely chopped
Paprika, salt pepper
3 beef or chicken broth cubes, (I prefer the Israeli ones)
Two glasses water.
2 TB olive oil
In a large pot, boil water and place the separated cabbage leaves, stems and hard stem backs removed. Blanche for about 5 minutes to soften them, but don’t over cook. Once they’re pliable, place to cool in a bowl.
In another mixing bowl, mix chopped meat, oil, rice, onion and spices.
Take the cooled cabbage leaves, and put a tablespoon full of the meat/rice mix. Remember the rice will expand, and you don’t want them to open from being over stuffed. You roll the cabbage around the stuffing, and then tuck in both ends into the roll. They should be neat little packages, not too tightly wound to give space for the expansion of the rice.
In a large pot, place the sauerkraut and tomato paste, then pack the cabbage rolls on top. Add extra water, and after it cooks on medium flame to boiling, reduce flame, add broth cubes (melted into liquid in a bit of the boiling sauce). Cook for 90 minutes and serve.
It gets tastier the next day, and can be frozen for later if you made too much.
Sliced chicken breasts or veal, tenderized.
Several eggs, beaten together in a bowl, salted.
A plate with flour
A plate with golden bread crumbs.
Oil for quick, deep-frying.
The meat slices get dipped in the flour, covering thoroughly. Then you dip them in the eggs and finally in the breadcrumbs. No one of the layers must show, but the final layer, of the breadcrumbs.
In a skillet pour the oil, heat and place the breaded meat slices, first cooking one side then the other, until golden brown.
Serve with roasted potato quarters, which were sprayed with oil and cooked to a crisp, Delicious golden colour, tender and soft inside.
Serve w cucumber salad
Peeled and sliced cucumbers, salted. When they begin to water, squeeze and add white vinegar a touch of sugar and sliced onions are optional.
I prefer it without onions some others find the onions add a wonderful touch.
One whole chicken, cut into serving portions
Two onions sliced
Oil, paprika, pepper, and salt.
Fresh green yellow and peppers are optional.
Fry the onions till transparent and golden. Add peppers if desired. The chicken pieces have to be rubbed with the spice mix, then added to the pan. Once the heat-seals the juices, you add water, bouillon cubes, and cook till tender.
Serve with nokedli, which is a simple dumpling made of flour mixed with eggs and a touch of salt.
In a separate pot boil water, and put the flour/egg mix on a small cutting board.
With a wet knife, cut away at the mix, and as you cut, let them fall into the boiling water. Make the pieces small and delicate. They’ll soon be rising to the surface and will be fully cooked within 10 minutes.
A perfect accompaniment to the Chicken Paprikas, which ought to be done and deliciously juicy within 45 minutes.