Tag Archives: Hungarian-cooking

Sight, sound, taste and reading treats for the weekend

It’s Friday morning in lovely, changeable Melbourne so I thought I’d pile up a few goodies for you to try over the weekend.

First and foremost, a feast for the eyes and ears. Thank you Bluebird Blvd for introducing me to this utterly, completely, totally glorious few minutes of BEAUTY!

Never doubt that there is wonder in the world.

Next, something for the taste buds – spinach sauce and french toast. This is a very Hungarian meal and may not be to everyone’s liking but Mum made it for me all through my childhood and I still make it for The Daughter [and myself].

Spinach sauce

1 large bunch of English spinach

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of plain [all purpose?] flour

2 tablespoon of Peanut or olive oil



Begin by stripping the spinach leaves off the stalks and washing them AT LEAST 3 times. This is the part I dislike because it takes time and patience but if you don’t get all the minute bits of grit or sand or whatever it is off the spinach leaves your sauce will crunch between your teeth – most unpleasant!

Once the spinach is clean put a small amount of water to boil in the bottom of a pot large enough to hold all the spinach. When the water is boiling throw the spinach into the pot, cover and let the spinach wilt for no more than 1 minute. As soon as the spinach collapses into a green ball remove from heat, strain through a colander and refresh with a quick rinse under cold water. Let it drain.

While the spinach is draining peel the garlic and mash it with a heavy knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the back of the knife to scrape away at the cloves until they break down into a paste. Garlic presses are no good because you end up with small bits of garlic that can be rather overpowering when you bite on them.

Once the garlic is mashed make a white roux with the oil and flour in a pot large enough to hold the finished spinach sauce.  To make the roux stir the flour and oil together over a gentle heat and keep stirring for about 2 minutes until the flour cooks. Do NOT let it go brown!

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mashed garlic. The roux can now sit for a little while.

Put the strained spinach onto a wooden chopping board and chop until very fine.

Add the chopped spinach to the roux and combine well until there are no lumps of white showing.

The next bit is a little hard to quantify but pour in at least 1 cup of cold milk and immediately stir into the spinach mixture. At this stage the sauce should be quite ‘wet’. If it looks too thick add a little more milk then return the pot to the heat and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. You must keep stirring [with a wooden spoon] until the sauce is completely cooked. Depending on quantities this could take ten minutes.

As the sauce simmers it will start to thicken and the spinach will ‘bleed’ that lovely green colour into the milk. The sauce is done when it has a nice overall green colour and has thickened to the point where you could almost eat it with a fork – so not runny but not like porridge either. Set aside while you make the french toast.

French Toast

The Hungarian version of french toast is called ‘Bundás kenyér’ and translates as ‘fur coated bread’ [bunda means fur coat. Don’t ask]. Each slice should be golden brown, slightly crunchy and sprinkled with salt, not sugar!

4 whole eggs

6 slices of bread – stale or fresh. [I allow roughly 1 egg to 1.5 slices of bread, depending on the size of the slices]

peanut oil for frying – should cover the bottom of the frying pan with a bit to spare but remember, you are not deep frying here.


I use a heavy cast iron frying pan so it needs to be heated ahead of time while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. Adjust to suit your own pan.

While the oil and pan are heating, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork – just enough to mix the white and the yolk.

Cut each slice of bread in half and arrange bread and egg mix near the frying pan. Place a serving plate within reach of the pan.

Once the oil is hot [it should be radiating heat but not quite smoking] dip a piece of bread into the egg, flip it with a fork and immediately lift out of the egg. Let the excess egg drip back into the bowl and then gently place the bread into the hot oil.

[Note : you have to be quick getting the bread into and out of the egg because you don’t want it to get soggy. If it gets soggy it will not fry to a crisp finish.]

Fry the bread in batches until the bottoms go a nice golden colour. Turn, fry the other side and then place onto the serving plate. You can drain the bread on kitchen towel if you want but I rarely bother.

Once the bread is all done, sprinkle with a little salt and it is ready to serve. Reheat the spinach just a little bit and stir the slight ‘crust’ on top until it reintegrates with the sauce.

To serve

Arrange slices of golden bread in a fan shape on a plate and pour half a ladle of spinach sauce next to the bread. It should look rather pretty. Then spoon some of the sauce onto the bread and eat the two together to get the combination of smooth, garlicky sauce and crisp, eggy bread. Enjoy!

And last but not least a little something for the mind. I’ve spoken before about Candy Korman’s book called  ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet’. Well today I just want to let you know that you can read about it on Indies Unlimited. You can also get it from Amazon for a bit of compelling, weekend reading!

Ok, that’s it. Enjoy the weekend and I’ll see you all on Monday. 🙂


Hungary at last!

A few days ago I looked at my wordpress stats page and noticed that someone from the Czech Republic had visited my blog. That lead to a draft blog post where I wondered why no-one from Hungary had ever visited me. I never did complete that post and now I never will because…. ta dah! Hungary has arrived at last. 😀

If you look very, very closely you may see a tiny dot on the eastern end of Europe. That is Hungary.

I was born there a very, very long time ago and I still have some first cousins living there – hi Kati and Zoli!

To be honest I feel far more Aussie than Hungarian but like most other New Australians in this multi-cultural society of ours there are aspects of my ‘roots’ that I still cling to – such as food.

I cook in a variety of styles and flavours including French, Italian, Anglo-Indian and Asian, however when I cook comfort foods they are almost always recipes from my childhood.

For those who have never had traditional Hungarian food the mix of flavours may be a little surprising. We love strong, rich flavours and ‘dry’ meat dishes such as schnitzel or pork chops will often be accompanied by a hot fruit sauce such as apple or morello cherry. However we don’t just dab a spoonful of sauce on the plate as a kind of condiment, we ladle it on and eat it as a major component of the dish. Usually with a spoon!

One of my favourite dishes is pork braised with garlic and served with morello cherry sauce. Nothing else. No potatoes, no rice, no pasta. Just those two strong, competing flavours. Both my mother and my grandmother made the same dish in much the same way so I know the following recipe is pretty authentic.

Pork braised with garlic.

Lightly brown 4 thick slices of pork neck [may be called pork scotch fillet by some butchers] in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. [Lard would be more authentic but not so good for your heart].

Reduce the heat to low, add 3 large cloves of garlic [crushed] and just enough water to stop the meat from burning. Cover with a lid and cook gently, topping up the water as necessary until the meat it tender. Do not add salt!

Morello cherry sauce.

Morello cherries are sour and come preserved in a sweetened syrup. Here in Australia you can find glass jars of Morello cherries in the preserved fruit aisle of most supermarkets next to tinned peaches and pears. If you’ve seen them and wondered what they were, now you know.

While the meat is braising pour one jar of Morello cherries into a small saucepan, syrup and all. Add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and bring to the boil. [The juice surrounding the cherries is a little bit sweet already but you will need the extra sugar to stop the cream from curdling at the end!]

Mix about 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with 3-4 tablespoons of cold water and stir until the cornstarch mix becomes a thin paste.

When the cherries have come to the boil add the cornstarch and stir energetically so you don’t get lumps. Then keep on stirring until the liquid clears and the sauce starts to thicken. Take the pot off the heat and add just enough fresh cream to make the sauce change to a creamy burgundy colour.

To plate up simply arrange two slices of meat on the side of each plate and then ladle the sauce onto the opposite side of the plate. The sauce will flow around the meat so don’t expect to ever see this dish on Masterchef! This is homecooking where flavour is everything and aesthetics don’t count!

Eat the meat and the sauce together because the flavours are meant to combine. Jó étvágyat kívánok! Bon Appetit! Enjoy!



%d bloggers like this: