Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Liptauer comes from Slovakia but I'm sure if asked, most Hungarian people would say it's a Hungarian speciality.The reason for this is because Liptau and the neighbourhood used to be a part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
My mum makes excellent Liptauer so I've never looked for a recipe in my life, just try to imitate that - sometimes with more, sometimes with less success, just as it is the case with grandma's recipes. They always taste "better" ;)


100g ewe's cheese (Bryndza)
250g curd cheese
100g soft unsalted butter (or a bit more if your cheeses are too dry)
1 tsp grated brown onion
1 clove of garlic, grated
paprika, ground pepper to taste
a hint of ground cumin
and carefully added salt (the amount depends on how salty your ewe's cheese is, you must be very careful or it turns out inedible - it has been the case with me before!)

Just beat everything thoroughly either by hand or in a KA. Serve with fresh bread and veggies if you please.

Monday, March 26, 2007

In the mood for Irish!

I blame it on Mannix. It all started with his newsletter for St.Patrick's day. I was drooling all over the keyboard by the time I'd finished reading it. So I knew that once hubby gets home, I must try something Irish.

It wasn't really difficult to justify trying any of these dishes. Even though I don't like any kind of beer, I've been toying with the idea of trying Nigella's choc-guiness cake for ages. However, Mannix's seemed equally tempting and simple and I couldn't resist - sorry Nigella :) I used a bigger tin (22cm) because I wanted a less formal-looking cake and it was fantastic! Super moist, oh-so-chocolatey, simply what many people would call moreish, I think ;) The whipping cream and the whiskey toffee sauce complemented it perfectly - to the greatest pleasure of my pregnant friend, who could justify having some booze at least in this form LOL

We love savoury bits now and then and as we had a few friends coming over for the evening, the beer and cheddar scones looked just perfect for the occasion. It was the first time I made scones so am not sure if the dough turned out too sticky and soft because I added too much beer or it was supposed to be like that. I didn't use cheddar because of its revolting price, only a similar one - I guess the taste would have been more characteristic with cheddar, but anyway, we could hardly stop eating these!

Passing Saturday in an Irish mood didn't satisfy me completely, so I planned some more Irish for Sunday as well. But this time, however inspired by Mannix's Guiness braised beef, I turned to an Irish stew recipe from the good food site, simply because I had some neck of lamb in the freezer to use up. Ok, confession time: I couldn't deny my Hungarian roots and seeing how pale the stew looked - at least for me it looked a bit sickly pale - I added some paprika paste LOL It ended up looking very-very similar to our goulash but the taste was different due to the lamb and the spices used, and refreshingly light compared to our hearty, fat stews. It felt right to eat for dinner which wouldn't be the case with our traditional stew - unless you are not concerned about your weight, of course.

I made some rye bread to go with the stew on Sunday morning. I had leftovers from different flours, so I added all and the recipe looked like this:

300g strong flour
100g rye flour
50g semolina
150g plain flour
360ml tepid water
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
20g fresh yeast or corresponding amount of instant

The dough got to be kneaded by the bread machine, then let to prove for 20 minutes, then kneaded again. I took over from here. I shaped the dough and cut it across and let it prove for about 20-30 minutes, then transferred to a hot oven (200 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Then I turned it down to 180 degrees and baked for another 20 minutes or so, brushing it with water once mid-baking time. Nice, not too crusty bread, lovely with the stew.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nigel's kitchen diary

Sorry for being absent so long, but my hubby was abroad for a while, and I didn't spend much time in the kitchen and he also took our camera with him. I did make a few things for myself, like Bill's pasta with ricotta and tomatoes, which is THE pasta dish for me, I've made it a thousand times and it's always a hit, and I made an Irish sodabread, which turned out gorgeous, so quick and tasty, I used the recipe from the good food website.

Anyway, I'm digressing, back to Nigel :) His diary arrived yesterday afternoon, kind of a late birthday present to myself LOL I leafed through it quickly and I was a tad disappointed. Not the usual layout I'm so much in love with and which inspire me, like Bill's, Tessa's, etc. It's more like a novel with pictures. So, I didn't give up hope and treated it as such: a bedtime story. The trick worked.
I really enjoyed reading about his thoughts on eating the right food at the right time. It has been on my mind for a few days, after a trip to the supermarket. I was literally horrified by what I saw: melons, grapes, plums, unappetizing, semi-green strawberries, transported from the other side of the world. What for?? Who cares about eating melons on a cold, grey day? It's something for the piping hot days, sitting in the garden, and eating up a quarter of it for quenching your thirst. Grapes are eaten while you are enjoying the last stroking rays of sunshine, watching the leaves of thousand colours falling off the trees. Has this world gone completely mad, suggesting you can have anything you want anytime you want because you "deserve" it?? Like there was nothing else to compensate for our problems.

After reading through a few weeks in the diary, I can now say that I'm glad to have this book. I'm glad I can turn to it for real seasonal food and good, cosy food without much fuss. Or just a good read at night. Or just learning. To use up what's at your disposal in the best way you can. 'Cos that's what it's all about.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The big 3-0!

No, I didn't get 3 years older all of a sudden LOL It is my husband who did. So, as a good wife, I had to make him a cake - preferably one that he likes. And preferably one that I enjoy fiddling with as once in a while I start itching to try something "grand", something challenging. I had mentioned hubby's obsession with cakes and curd cheese it was obvious which direction I should be heading. Criterion No. 1 met. I must admit I cheated with No. 2, though. I used the recipe for raspberry spiral cake which I made for my brother's birthday a year or two ago, and since it was a success I thought of reworking it a bit and adding a twist here and there.
Firstly, I substituted raspberry jam for home-made apricot jam. Secondly, I added two layers of sponge to hold the spiral. And thirdly I fiddled around with the ratio of cream and curd cheese as experience showed the recipe was too generous with it and it had turned out to be overwhelming.

So here's the result of the playing around:

Apricot-curd cheese spiral cake

For the sponge, 2x:
4 eggs, divided
a pinch of salt
4 tbsp cold water
100 g sugar
100 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
70-80 g corn starch

Whisk the four egg whites with a pinch of salt and four tbsp cold water until peaks form. In the meantime add the sugar. Add the egg yolks one by one (use a wooden spoon only), then sift in the flour-baking powder-starch mixture.

Divide the batter in two 26cm springform tins (lined with baking parchment)and bake in preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes (until golden).
Repeat the steps above and line a 35x35 cm baking tray with baking parchment, spread the batter on it and bake in preheated oven at 200C for 10-15 minutes. Turn out on a damp cloth and spread the jam over immediately. Leave to cool completely.

For the filling:

400 g apricot jam (and about 200g for decoration)
18 g gelatine powder (colourless)
500 g curd cheese/ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
120-150g sugar
800 ml double cream

Add the gelatine to cold water and leave to rest.
Mix the curd cheese with the zest the lemon and the sugar. Melt the gelatine, leave it to cool a bit, add 3 tbsp of ricotta mixture, then add it to the rest of the mixture. Beat 400 ml cream and add. Spread this mixture on the square sponge and put it in the fridge for an hour or so until the spread sets.

To assemble the cake spread jam on one of the round sponges thinly and place it on a nice tray. Divide the square sponge in five identical stripes, wind up one stripe and put it on the round sponge. Wind the rest of the stripes around it.

Spread jam on the bottom of the other round sponge and place it on top of the spiral with jammed side down. Put a rim around the cake so that it hold its shape better, and put it in the fridge for at least 7 hours (or overnight).

To decorate the cake beat the rest of the cream with a little icing sugar (to taste)and spread it on the top and side of the cake. Spread the cream in several layers (I did in 3), putting the cake in the fridge in the meantime, this will make sure you get a perfectly smooth, crumbless decoration. I went a bit mad and decorated the top of the cake with cream circles and jam (that is why I needed so much jam) but you can choose any decoration you like :)

The cake went down a treat and the birthday boy was contented. And so much for birthdays until summer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The birthday girl's menu

Oh well, so I turned 27. Not a tragedy - after all LOL
So, on my birthday I certainly need some spoiling, right? And that I got from this menu.
Birthday celebrations are tricky in my family. Our flat is too small to invite over family (even such a small one, as mine), so the celebration takes place at my parents' house. That's where I take the cake which I usually bake for myself - I don't mind ;). But hubby and I have our own celebration together for which I intended to make something I never made before: lamb! I'm not sure why I'm so hooked on lamb, I haven't tasted so many versions before because it's not too available here. It is kind of exotic for me - maybe that's why?
My dearest was attentive enough to get me a whole lamb - in pieces, of course - not too long ago, which had sat in the freezer waiting for me to find out which of the numerous lamb recipes I have I was going to try first. The choice is great - think of Nigella, Bill, Tessa and many more! - and I'm not too good at making decisions LOL But the evening before the dinner the great decision was made: Tessa's leg of lamb with lemon and oregano from Falling Cloudberries.
The recipe - if it can be called a recipe at all - is simplicity itself. Get a leg of lamb, rub in the juice of 2 lemons (since hubby's not too keen on lemon and meat and I'm a chicken, too, when it comes to citrus fruits with meat, I only used 1 lemon), salt and pepper, sprinkle with oregano generously(I used the one I brought from Corfu - after all this is a Greek dish), add dots of butter and some olive oil, and it can go in a hot oven, with some water. After browning both sides, you add some diced potato, cover the whole dish with foil and turn down the heat to moderate and forget about it for a good 2 and a half hours or so, except that you need to turn it over once or twice in the meantime. Remove the foil for the last half an hour and you get a melt-in-the-mouth meat with a crispy outside, mmmm! I found that I should have used 2 lemons as the recipe suggested and even more oregano. However, I must say that both the lemon and the oregano flavour were absorbed amazingly in the potato, which was the best I have ever tasted, I'm sure!
A dish highly recommended for all!

While I was hesitating so much over the main meal, the cake didn't require plenty to think about. I'd been looking forward to making Mannix's Diablo once again ever since I first tasted it, about one year ago - I'm still ashamed of waiting that long to have this cake again! To be honest, though, I came up with a tamed Diablo after all. The reason is very simple: my red food colouring was past its best before date and I couldn't be bothered to make a trip to Tesco's, the only place where it's available, on an early Sunday morning.
Somehow this birthday seemed to be about simplicity, for this cake doesn't require much effort either (not more than a cupcake) - however, the effort to stop eating it is not something most people can easily make! It is moist, chewy, extremely chocolatey, combined with the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting (note: I used cca 100g less icing sugar than the recipe suggested, so you'd better be careful if you don't like too sweet either) and the freshness (and appetizing sight) of the luscious red raspberries... It went down a treat, so much so, that my hubby, who mostly says "perhaps later" when it comes to dessert after a meal - which in his dictionary means "I don't want any at all" - asked for a second slice! Oh well, do I need to waste another word on how gorgeous this cake is? Perhaps two more: Mannix rules!!
The tamed beast in close-up:

And a not too well-composed flower and cake piece :) Tulips are my other weakness, you know...

So before giving you the link to this pure indulgence, let me give you a word of warning: I know many people who are victims of Mannix's delirious creations, so if you're not one of them yet, I beg you to click at your own risk only. And remember: I told you...

Saturday, March 3, 2007


I don't think there are many people who don't like chocolate and I'm certainly not one of them. I adore chocolate. I didn't like bitter or dark chocolate as a child but through the recent years I've grown to like them. In fact, I hardly eat milk chocolate any more since I discovered what good quality dark chocolate can give you: real flavour which takes you back to the roots of chocolate, cocoa beans and the hard work of those who grow it.
So, I have become a "the more bitter the better" person. However, I don't find good chocolate with more than 70% cocoa solids bitter at all (unlike semi-sweet chocolate which I can only use for baking if ever), I only feel the depth and many layers of flavour hidden in a single bar.
Living in a small town in the not too modern part of Hungary, I don't have much opportunity to buy real good quality chocolate. So I've become a chocolate collector. There is a specialist chocolate shop I love to visit once in a while, not too far from where I live, which stocks some of the best chocolate available.
So let's take a look at some of my treasures, for indeed I treasure them, sometimes for months (or a whole year!) without opening them, fearing I don't get the chance to restock the collection LOL But when I do open them, I savour them slowly and keenly like it was the last thing I could taste.

There you go: chocolate with 85% cocoa solids (my ever-lasting love), chocolate with 71% cocoa solids (this particular bar rivals the 85% chocolates in smoothness and richness in flavour, I was quite surprised), 75% bar with passion fruit, and a sexy combination of chocolate with mango and chilli.

I don't think Lindt's chocolate needs any enthusiastic reviews in general, but let me tell you that the sour guave filling makes a perfect combination with this well-known quality of Swiss chocolate, and the other version filled with a gentle cream and cocoa bean pieces would convert a milk-chocolate-eater-only as well!

And here are my latest babies, Belgian chocolate with 88% cocoa solids, another version of the Grand'or, this time with lime flavour (I really should try either of them now LOL) and a dark chocolate bar with Rooibos tea filling (should be devoured soon, as winter's coming to a rapid end here LOL).

And this little gem from Café Tasse deserves a picture of its own: OH HOLY COW! Coffee beans hidden in the best white chocolate I've ever tasted. It reminds me so much of my childhood favourite chocolate, a cappuccino flavoured one. Enchanting...