Tag Archives: Hungarian

Spinach sauce with savoury French Toast – a recipe

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 Offspring [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!

When science meets fiction, and they have a love-child

Vuk picMy thanks to the Passive Guy for highlighting the following article in the Guardian.


The article talks about the symbiosis that exists between hard science, and the speculative, highly imaginative and sometimes unlikely stories we weave from it.

I count myself as one of the ‘we’ even though most of my formal education was in the humanities – philosophy and languages to be precise. But before I began my arts course, my favourite subject at school was biology. Sadly I was not so fond of math, and no one told me you needed both to take biology past year one level at uni. so… -sigh-

Just because I could no longer study biology did not mean I stopped being interested in it. I continued to read layman’s articles in the area for years [thank you New Scientist!]. And that interest manifested itself in every weird and wonderful creature in Vokhtah, including the Vokh themselves.

Did you know that there is a species of worm that is essentially an hermaphrodite? When these worms mate, they literally duel with their penises to determine which becomes the sperm donor, and which the donee [?].

I swear, I did not make that up! It was one of the many, many things I researched before I created the Vokh. In fact research is the core link between scientists and writers because a world, no matter how imaginative, has to follow rules, plausible rules, otherwise it becomes fantasy not science fiction.

For example, although there are some elements of Vokhtah that are more ‘fantasy’ than anything else, [the power to heal, for example] I did spend months researching what my creatures would see when day changed to night, and one sun followed the other across the sky. I knew very little about binary star systems, and even the scientists could not tell me precisely how two suns would affect things like weather, and the day/night cycle, so the Vokh calendar is very speculative indeed. But I did try.

Other, ‘softer’ areas of knowledge informed my writing as well. Hungarian is my so-called mother tongue, and I studied French and Japanese at uni, along with a smattering of Mandarin and Spanish, so it was almost inevitable that I would get carried away with the Vokh language.

At first, I only wanted a few alien sounding names so I drew on Hungarian for the name ‘Vokh’. The word was based on ‘Vuk’, the name of a popular child’s toy in Hungary. That’s what the cute picture up the top is all about. You were wondering, weren’t you? -smirk-

Once started, however, I could not seem to stop and ended up with a Vokh to English dictionary-slash-encyclopedia.

Yet more research went into cross-over technologies such as blacksmithing and hunting. [Some of you may remember my post about the Poacher’s Knot in which I talked about hunting methods and very simple snares.]

But I digress, badly. My point in all this is that you don’t have to be a scientist to write science fiction, [although many, like Isaac Asimov were]. I believe the only necessary qualification for a science fiction writer is the need to know how things, and people tick.

-cough- Or in my case, how sociopathic, flying hermaphrodites tick. -cough-

Happy Australia Day!


P.S.!!!! I just found my 13th review of Vokhtah on Amazon. -dance-

Paprikás krumpli betataster needed!

Hi guys. I’m just about to race off to work, but I thought I’d throw this at you before I go – can someone betataste this recipe for me please!

Paprikás krumpli [Literally potatoes with paprika]

This is probably one of my favourite examples of poor man’s food because it is so tasty and satisfying – and so cheap to make.
The basic recipe requires only chopped onion, oil [or lard], sweet paprika powder and potatoes. I usually dress it up a little with either bacon or chorizo, or both, but essentially the flavour just gets better the more you add. Just do not add tomatoes. That would take this dish right over into the realms of Italian food.

Basic Ingredients

1 medium onion
1 chorizo [optional]
3 tablespoons of good quality sweet paprika powder
3 large potatoes peeled and cut in 6ths [i.e. big but not too big]
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
3-4 tablespoons of peanut oil [or oil of your choice]
3 cups COI chicken soup [optional] or water


– Chop the onions, and cut the chorizo in bite-sized chunks. Gently saute both in the oil until the onion is translucent.
– Add the paprika powder, mix in and allow to cook for about 1 minute on low heat.

Before the liquid is added

Before the liquid is added

– Add the potatoes, stirring to coat each piece in the paprika mix. Allow to cook very gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This step is important to get the flavour into the potato before it’s diluted with the liquid.
– Sprinkle with salt and add the soup or water. The liquid should just cover the potatoes.
– Stir and bring to the boil, then cover and lower the heat.
– Simmer until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened a little, and is a rich red in colour.

Serve this dish on its own with fresh crusty bread and a simple salad [traditional], or serve as the accompaniment to a ‘dry’, fairly bland meat.

Many thanks


Hungarian rizskók [or rice pudding cake]

Courtesy bakeann.blogspot.com

Courtesy bakeann.blogspot.com

Like many traditional Hungarian recipes, this unusual cake evolved from ‘poor man’s food’. You can make it from scratch, or you can make it from leftover rice pudding.

My Mum always made it from leftovers because she made rice pudding as often as English speakers would make oat porridge. The only difference was that we would have rice pudding as a dessert, with lots of cinnamon and sugar, after a simple main course such as chicken soup.

The cake itself can be heavy or light, depending on how many eggs you use. The version I made the other night was very light, but so delicious with its slightly granular texture that The Daughter and I had it for dessert, breakfast, lunch and snacks in-between.  I know, mea culpa, but at least I didn’t make chocolate sauce to go with it. That would have been really naughty. 🙂

Few of Mum’s recipes were measured [she was a pantster before they had a name for it] but I looked online for some quantities and I will give those for the rice pudding. If you want to try this ‘porridge’ on its own first, just add a bit more of everything except the sugar.

Rice Pudding

1. Pour 1 cup of water into a medium sized pot. Add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla essence. Bring this light syrup to the boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.

[The reason I start the cooking with a water syrup instead of milk is that milk can easily boil over, and I hate having to clean up the mess].

2. Add one cup of long grain rice, stir, cover and let the rice simmer until it has absorbed most of the syrup.

3. When the rice is half cooked [and the syrup is almost gone] add one cup of milk, stir and let it continue simmering. The rice has to be fluffy and not at all crunchy so add more milk until it is the right texture, and has a nice porridgy consistency.

4. Serve with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Allow the leftovers to cool in the fridge.

Rice pudding cake

If you are making this cake all in one hit, you MUST allow the rice pudding to cool completely. Warm rice pudding will give you sweet scrambled eggs with rice.

1. Preheat oven to 180 C [or 350 F]. [If you use fan bake, lower that temperature a little].

2. Lightly grease a kuglof tin

Courtesy of thefind.com

Courtesy of thefind.com

or a ringform tin. Dust the inside of the tin with flour. Shake out the excess.

3. Separate 4 eggs into two mixing bowls.

4. Using an electric mixer, whip the whites until firm peaks have formed. Set aside in a cool place [not fridge].

5. Using the same beaters, cream the yolks with 4 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

6. Measure 3 cups of cold rice pudding into a large mixing bowl. [It’s not necessary to pack the rice in tightly].

7. Stir the creamed egg yolks into the rice pudding.

8. Gently stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the rice pudding.

9. FOLD the remaining 2/3 of the egg white into the cake batter. [Don’t be too worried by a few white lumps].

10. Pour the cake batter into whichever type of tin you are using, and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven.

Cooking time will vary but expect it to take between 45 minutes to an hour. Do not open the oven during the first 1/2 an hour of baking. The cake will rise like a souffle, and then it will slowly deflate. It will be done when :

a) It is a rich, golden brown and has pulled away slightly from the sides of the tin,

b) A skewer pushed into the centre comes out moist but not gooey. This cake will never be completely ‘dry’ so the skewer test is just for peace of mind.

Once the cake is done, leave it in the tin and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes. You should be able to touch the outside of the cake tin without going ‘ouch’.

Use a plastic spatula to completely loosen the cake from the tin. Give the tin a little shake. If the cake jumps around a bit it’s ready to be decanted.

Place a serving plate over the tin and flip the whole thing so the top of the cake ends up sitting on the plate. Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve plain or with :

– plum jam and whipped cream, [the picture shows apricot jam so suit yourself]

– a warm chocolate sauce. [And no, sorry, not giving you that recipe because you’ll get fat! I do have a conscience you know].

Enjoy. 🙂



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