Tag Archives: hungarian food

Hungarian Stuffed Paprika

If you have been reading this blog at all, you will have caught on to the fact that I am one quarter hungarian… do I speak the language? No. Hell, I haven’t even been to Hungary before (fo shame, I know). BUT, one crucial aspect of hungarian culture was transmitted to my generation, and that is hungarian cooking.

The big debate in the family? Which is your favorite “granny” recipe?? Each of us has a signature dish, the irreplaceable, unbeatable favorite of a laundry list of hungarian dishes that my grandmother used to prepare for us. The icing on the cake (so to speak) was that each year on our birthday, we got to choose that one special dish.

I must say though, there is one particularly popular dish in the family, and that is stuffed paprika (or stuffed green peppers). Though it’s never particularly been my favorite, I do love it for its warm spice, and on a Sunday winter evening, it really hits the home-cooking sweet spot! So last weekend, at the occasion of the Hungarian specialist in the family coming to visit, I got my little training on how to make stuffed paprika….. and here’s the result!

Image

So lets walk through this beauty:

Stuffed Paprika (for 8-10 people)

Ingredients:

– 12 green bell peppers

– 700g ground beef

– 700g ground pork

– 5 strips of smoked ham or bacon (minced)

– 1 cup of white rice (dry), + 50g rice per person

– 3 white onions (chopped and divided)

– 9 whole tomatoes

– 1 can whole peeled tomatoes

– 1 egg

– Tomato paste

– Paprika powder (by the bucket load)

– salt and pepper to taste

– Paprika paste and sour cream (for garnish)

Directions

1. For starters, cut off the tops of the green peppers and clean out the insides.

2. Cook the rice for the stuffing (one cup dry)

3. In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, mix ground beef and pork, smoked ham or bacon, half the onions, and about 1 tablespoon of paprika powder.

4. On the stove in a small stock pot, bring water to a boil and drop the fresh tomatoes in for about 15 seconds. Retrieve with a slotted spoon and peel off the skins.

5. In the meantime, you can also start frying up the remaining onions, just until translucent, and keeping the heat on medium to preventing them from getting burnt.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons of paprika powder, or to taste. (don’t be scared, there’s no such thing as too much paprika..!) cooking gently. Be sure not to burn the paprika as this will give the dish an unpleasant bitter taste. Then add 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste.

6. Add boiled and peeled tomatoes as well as the canned whole peeled tomatoes into the pan with the onions.

7. When the rice is done cooking, mix in as much as desired into the meat mixture.

8. Once the rice in the mixture has cooled, add the egg and mix everything together.

9. Take each of the peppers and stuff it entirely with the meat mixture.

10. In a large dutch oven (cast iron is the best), place the stuffed peppers on their sides and pour the tomato mixture over the peppers. The sauce should come up half way up the peppers.

11. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peppers are soft and the meat is cooked, turning the peppers onto their other side about half way through. Throughout the cooking, keep spooning the pool of tomato sauce over the peppers.

12. In the meantime, cook the rice so that it is ready to serve with the stuffed paprikas.

Aaaand that’s it! Serve one pepper per person with a scoop of rice and pour tomato sauce all over. Add a spoonful of sour cream and a dollop of sweet or spicy paprika paste and it just sends you to seventh heaven.

élvez! (that means enjoy – i think :p)

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Hungarian Home Cookin’: Porkolt

For years now I have told myself I would practice my grandmother’s hungarian recipes. Best I’ve been able to pull off so far is to pull out the family recipe book on very rare occasions and practice my favorite dishes: turos csusza, veal paprika, stuffed paprika, rakott krumpli…. but when I say “recipe book” I really mean “dish descriptions” – in some cases the recipes don’t even have quantities on there! (Notice any pattern with my own half-baked recipes??)

Basically, hungarian food revolves around some key ingredients: paprika, sour cream, paprika, peppers, paprika, pork, paprika, cream, paprika, pickles, paprika, beef, paprika.. get the picture?  It’s heavy, creamy but with enough sour to cut through the heaviness, spiced warmly, and therefore perfect for cold weather.

So finally, after two years of threatening my friends, I finally prepared a hungarian dinner for them. I decided on pork porkolt, a paprika-based dish, served best with spatzle, cucumber salad, and sour cream and a pickle as garnishes. You can also make it with chicken, beef, veal.. your meat of choice basically.

PORK PORKOLT

Ingredients for 4: 800g of pork (thinly sliced like an émincé) –  one or two chopped onions – 1/2 or 1 whole green pepper (optional, to taste) – about a table spoon of tomato paste – tons and tons and tons of paprika – bouillon – a touch of heavy cream

The step by step:

As usual I failed to take pictures, but here’s how it went down:

1. brown the meat in a little oil

2. add chopped onions and peppers

3. cover it generously with paprika – I didn’t measure, but don’t be shy with this.

4. add in the tomato paste and stir

5. reduce heat and let it simmer until the meat’s juices run out

6. Let up with bouillon little by little, letting the sauce attach each time.

7. You can continue adding paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste to taste until you get it to your liking.

8. Remove from heat and add a touch of heavy cream to desired creaminess.

9. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a pickle, along with cucumber salad and spatzle.

As you can see, it is very simple, and like any other recipe, it has its variations, probably at least one variation per family.

In fact, I am positive my own family has much more to say about this recipe than I do – did I miss anything? Do anything wrong? Any one care to share tips? Variations? Faux pas?

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A food blog for Geneva

First thing’s first. By now I hope you have read the About page, in which case you would know what this particular food blog is all about. But as a first posting, I thought I’d clarify exactly where this whole initative comes from.

Chances are, most of you who will read this blog (all 3.5 of you) are not really from Geneva. I’ve heard the story too many times now: most of us landed here unintentionally, sometimes having lived in bigger and more exciting places, and it seems like the city is boring. And dull. Right?

But let me stop you right there. The Geneva I grew up in and later came back to after 8 years in New York is neither bland nor dull. You do however need a little local help to break through that surface Calvinism that seems to be doing a great job at keeping the city quiet.

That’s where I hope to come in, to take you along to all the restaurants and bars worth a visit, and guide you through the mess of information, usually provided only in French, that makes it so difficult to access the sweet center of Geneva.

While growing up here, I was surrounded by delicious, decadent food. At the crossroads between France, Italy and Germany, Geneva and its surroundings have a lot to offer to those of us who spend our days dreaming about what we’ll be eating next. What’s more, my grandparents were trained and talented chefs, and every sunday we indulged in my hungarian grandmother’s paprika-based cooking and my grandfather’s state of the art pastries and desserts. Every season seemed to have its treats: the filets de perche du lac in the summer, the tender roasted game and mushrooms of the fall, winter’s raclette and fondue coupled with hot mulled wine, and salade de chevre in the spring.

After 8 years spent in New York as an adult, I moved back to Geneva to find the flavors and dishes hadn’t really changed, but more and more good restaurants had popped up. And so the great dinner marathon began, testing out restaurants of all sorts across the city.

Though surrounded by good food and prone to indulgence from the start, it was not until one day in 2011, when I was about to go on a hike in the pouring rain, that I paused to think about the concept of the produits du terroir, and my interest in food took a turn for the serious.

You have certainly seen the produit du terroir in the Coop and Migros. When you buy your “Vacherin Fribourgeois” cheese, its name indicates that the product is only authentic if it was made in Fribourg, according to centuries old cheese-making traditions. The “cardon épineux genevois” grows a bit like lettuce-heads and is now the first protected grown-product of Geneva. And the Valais has protected its way of baking pain de seigle.

All of a sudden I was engulfed in the world of food products. Tequila, I remembered, is a regional brand. And Buffala is known for its Mozarrella. Is it a coincidence that these are some of the most adored products in the world? Or is the local production, based on traditional methods, really a way of ensuring the taste quality of a product?

I started hitting the markets, mostly in Carouge, and instead of shyly asking the vendors to suggest whatever they felt like, I started picking up products and asking questions about them. Where was this grown/made? Who makes it? How?

Before I knew it, I had collected stacks of information on local products, which all stood the taste test when used in recipes back at home. It didn’t take too much longer to discover that some restaurants in the city have decided to support local farmers and producers. Which led to MORE eating out in restaurants…

But this time, dining out had gained a new purpose. Rather than just test and compare the quality of the melted chocolate sauce on a coupe danemark, or of the sauce that came with the steak, dining out now meant asking about the source of the products… and testing to see if they really did taste better.

So what’s the moral to this long, complicated story?  The food here is great, and the city and countryside are teaming with restaurants, shops, markets and farms that will satisfy even the pickiest of the foodies. All that’s left is to use the info provided on this blog to figure out where to start.

Bon app’!

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