Monday, August 11, 2008

Recipes from the Land of the Magyars

Leora "nudged" me to submit a post for the Kosher Cooking Carnival which she will be hosting this Wednesday. I'm really not much of a cook and I tend to rely on quick, easy recipes that don't make too much of a mess. My kids have grown accustomed to my cooking, which is healthy, simple and not too spicy (they think it's "the best"- aahh, love really is blind). So Leora's request left me a bit stumped. What could I, a mediocre cook at best, contribute that all the food-loving Jews of the blogosphere would deem worthy?

And then the proverbial light bulb went off. I may be an uninspired cook, but I come from a long line of Hungarian women who could (presumably) feed a family of 12 with a pound of meat, some root vegetables, and a cup of chicken fat. My grandmother a"h was a traditional Hungarian cook. Every dish she prepared contained some form of fat and was large enough to feed a platoon. In retrospect, I realize how caloric and unhealthy her food must have been, but as children we loved it. Unfortunately, my grandmother never (as far as I know) wrote down her recipes. The best I can do today is to offer you a generic version of some of the dishes that she used to prepare for us (I got these by Googling, then tweaked them a bit). If you want them to taste more like my grandmother's did, then make a big mess while you cook, forget the pot on the stove a bit too long while you chat on the phone, and include a lot of love and a lot of oil.

Nokedli (dumplings, similar to German spaetzle)- pareve
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large pot filled with salted water

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2) Whisk together eggs, salt and water
3) Add flour, a bit at a time, until you have a soft, sticky dough
4) Let dough rest for about 10 minutes
5) Beat dough again, and roll it into a long thin snake shape
6) With a very sharp nice, cut off 1 inch pieces and drop them into the boiling water.
7) The pieces are done when they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander.

Nokedli can be served as a side dish to roast meats or paprikash, or in chicken soup with a bit of chopped dill. I seem to remember my grandmother adding oil to the recipe as some point. I'm pretty sure she oiled up her hands before rolling out the dough.

Rakott Krumpli (layered potato casserole) dairy

Ingredients: 4-5 potatoes; 2 hard boiled eggs; 1 cup butter, softened; 1 pint sour cream

1) Boil potatoes in salted water. Allow to cool, then peel and slice into thin round slices. 2) Slice eggs into thin round slices. 3) In a casserole dish, layer butter, sour cream, potatoes and eggs until used up. The top layer should be sour cream. 4) Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for about an hour, or until the top is lightly browned.

The fat and calories in rakott krumpli will kill you, but you'll be so happy that you won't mind to go.

Other dishes that I remember: poached white fish, veal schnitzel, potatoes paprikash, and a chestnut cake which I couldn't find a recipe for, but that's OK, because it was pretty gross and we ate it just to avoid hurting her feelings.


Anonymous said...

Yummy. The potato dish sounds great for a winter evening dish with salad. Thanks for sharing.

ProfK said...


The chestnut cake recipe, called "Kastienen Torte," can be found here

although my mom makes hers pareve and leaves out the cream.

Just a teeny little correction--it's spelled "nockerli." And the rakodt krumpli can be made with thinly sliced raw potatoes as well. Saves a little work that way. And oh yes, Hungarian women can cook!

mother in israel said...

I was going to say that ProfK was raving about Hungarian cooking a while back. . . you've presented us with the other side of the coin LOL.

SuperRaizy said...

If you're serving the potato dish with a salad, then you've kind of missed the point.
As I remember it, the chestnut cake was seriously unappetizing, so I'm not sure that we're helping anyone by publicizing the recipe (-:
And I found it spelled nokedli on a number of sites, and I definitely remember it being pronounced with a "d" sound
Don't get me wrong, I loved my grandmother very much. But I remember having stomachaches pretty often after eating her dinners!

ProfK said...

Sorry Raizy but a check in a Hungarian dictionary brings up "nockerli" not nockedli. Probably a mispronounciation by a non-Hungarian speaker that got entrenched somewhere--and yes, I'm a native Hungarian speaker.

And yup, I'm kind of ethnocentric when it comes to Hungarian cuisine--as MII pointed out I fully agree that there are no cooks as good as those who cook authentic Hungarian style.

Leora said...

I'm glad the "nudge" worked. Thanks for recipes from the Magyars and the tales of your grandmother. Fun to read the discussions about Hungarian cooking.

Lion of Zion said...

are you pure hungarian or carpathian-hungarian?

SuperRaizy said...

I think we're "pure" Hungarian.

Anonymous said...

Paprikash Crumpli.....YUM!!!!!!!!
My Paternal Grandmother, A"H, was Hungarian, and a fabulous cook.
I've introduced certain staples of my childhood to my third generation American hubby.

Robin said...

We always called it nockerli too (my father's entire family is Hungarian - he's 1st gen American). My grandmother always used to make incredible stuffed cabbage too, which to this day I haven't successfully replicated. (Why oh why didn't we write her recipes down?).

It wasn't until I visited Hungary that I finally realized that my own penchant for high fat foods, preferably with amazingly rich creamy sauces wasn't my fault - it was genetic LOL!

SuperRaizy said...

Wow- lots of Hungarian commenters!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking my Paprikash dish. I also have a few other Hungarian recipes on my blog. I hope that the gross chestnut cake you are referring to is not Gesztenyetorte (Chestnut Torte). This was my wedding cake and it is delicious. Here is the recipe:

aka Baroness Tapuzina

Anonymous said...

Dear SuperRaizy, your spelling was good "nokedli" is correct, or we can call it "galuska".