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The Belgian endive is considered one of the most essential vegetables in the Belgian kitchen. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed with minced meat, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw for salad. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness and at cooking may be useful to add a pinch of sugar.
Since I lived 15 years in Belgium I was kind of obliged to learn how to cook the Belgian endive or in the Flemish part it was called witloof. I have to confess when first time I accidentally chose as a side dish I was very disappointed because of its bitter taste. Then for a while if I could I avoided it. But slowly I became on good term with the chicory and liked to prepare soup or salad. Since I have found an excellent endive recipe I am almost at the border of addiction.
Stuffed guinea-fowl in porto caramelized endives
Ingredients: 1 guinea-fowl, 4-6 endives, Porto wine, bay leaf, thyme, 1 chicken bouillon
For the filling: 2 slices of bread, cream cheese, such as Philadelphia or Kiri, 1 onion, chopped parsley, 150 gr chicken liver, 1 egg
- First prepare stuffing. Add egg, finely chopped onion, chicken liver, (optional) cream cheese to breadcrumbs and season with chopped parsley. Put everything in the food processor and blend well. 2. Loosen the skin of the guinea fowl and place the stuffing in the cavity. Then rub it with salt and pepper. 3. Secure fowl with kitchen string and start to sauté in the melted butter, initially over a high heat then a low one. 4. When both side of the fowl is golden brown pour over chicken boillon. After 20 minutes add the endives (previously cleaned and cut in half) and pour over Porto wine. Simmer fowl and endives together. After about 25 minutes the guinea-fowl and endives should be tender. 5. Prepare potato purée and serve with some salad.
A gratin of chicory with cheese This recipe is a Belgian classic.
Ingredients: 4 bulbs of endive, 4 slices of Parma ham, Gouda cheese, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg powder
For the white sauce: 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs flour, 150 ml milk, 100 gr grated cheese.
1. Trim the bottoms of endives so that the leaves remain 2 to 3 inches long. Cut each endive in half. 2. Wrap ham around endives and place them into a buttered oven-proof dish. 3. Make the bechamel sauce from the butter, flour, milk or water. Flavour with nutmeg. Salt softly because the parmaham is already salty enough. 4. Pour the bechamel sauce over endives, grate some cheese over the top and put into the microwave for 7 to 10 minutes. 5. Serve with fresh French bread.
Curry flavoured chicory with lambs
You need four endives, 1 bayleaf, 4-5 cloves, 1 dl chicken bouillon, 1 dl porto wine, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 pinch of sugar, 1 teaspoon curry
Clean the endives cut out stems. Melt butter in a pan and add halved endives. Sauté for 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper, flavor with bayleaf, cloves and curry. Pour over chicken bouillon and porto wine and simmer over lower heat until endives are tender.
For the lamb: 4 lamb steaks, 3 cloves garlic, thym, rosemary, butter
Prepare lamb, melt butter in a pan, add garlic. Sauté lamb, salt and pepper and flavor with rosemary and thym. Sauté until lamb is reached the required tenderness. Serve in hot with the endives.
Endive soup It is an excellent light soup.
Ingredients: 2 endives, 1 carrot, 1 l chicken bouillon, 2 cloves of garlic, butter, pepper to taste
(You can add two or three mushrooms as well)
Clean vegetables, then grate carrot. Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic, carrot and chopped endives. After 3 minutes pour over bouillon. Cook for 15 minutes under covered lid. When the soup is ready put in a food processor and mix well. Serve with sour cream and crouton.
Belgian endive is also known as French endive, or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States, chicory in the UK, as witlof in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia.
The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Since then endive has been cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. Today France is the largest producer of endive however Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries as well. In Belgium in market places it is often sold wrapped in blue paper in order to protect it from light and so that to preserve its pale color and delicate flavor.
A cabbage roll (also stuffed cabbage) is a dish consisting of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. It is common to the ethnic cuisines of Europe and Asia, and has also found popularity in areas of North America settled by Eastern Europeans. In Europe, the filling is traditionally based around meat, often beef, lamb or pork and is seasoned with garlic, onion and spices. Grains such as rice and barley, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables are often included. Pickled cabbage leaves are often used for wrapping, particularly in Southeastern Europe.
In Hungary cabbage leaves are stuffed with the minced meat filling which are then baked, simmered or steamed in a covered pot and generally eaten warm, often accompanied with a sauce. The sauce varies widely by cuisine. In Eastern Europe, tomato-based sauces or plain sour cream are typical. (In Sweden and sometimes in Finland, stuffed cabbage is served with lingonberry jam, which is both sweet and tart, the Hungarians couldn’t eat it that way). In Lebanon it is a popular plate, where the cabbage is stuffed with rice and minced meat and only rolled to the size of cigar. It is usually served with a side of yogurt and a type of lemon and olive oil vinaigrette seasoned with garlic and dried mint.
When I left my country I couldn’t find the cured cabbage so that I tried to use as a wrapping the Chinese cabbage but the flavor was not the same (pretty insipid) and to make it more sour I flavoured with dill, it was a wow effect.
The recipe: Makes about 18 Hungarian stuffed cabbages or toltott kaposzta
3.When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.
4.Place about 1/2-cup of meat on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the meat. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll. Cut any remaining cabbage leaves into fine shreds and set aside.
5.Place sauerkraut in a large casserole dish or Dutch oven (about 6 inches high, 16 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide) and pour tomato juice on top, followed by slices of pork butt and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook 5 minutes.
6.Place reserved shredded cabbage in casserole. Nestle cabbage rolls in the sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.
7. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt lard in a small skillet, and add flour and remaining chopped onion to make a roux. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes or until golden yellow. Turn off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 cup cold water until smooth.
8. Gently remove the stuffed cabbage from the casserole to a warm platter. Take a ladleful of sauerkraut broth and whip it into the roux. Return this liquid to the main casserole, stirring well. Bring to a boil. Gently replace stuffed cabbages, cover and bake 15 minutes.
9. Mix some of the pan juices with sour cream and pour over the stuffed cabbages when serving.
When I was in Hungary last year on 20 of August, the whole country was looking forward to a cake competition. It is no accident that the competition was held on that day because 20 of August is devoted to Stephen I, who was not only our first king but also the founder of the kingdom of Hungary. Since 1687 this day has been a state holiday commemorating the foundation of the nation.
The cake of the country
Each year since the cake of the country competition has been organized, there are among the conditions that the cake should contain Hungarian components such as typical fruits of the country, wheats and other ingredients. This year the winner cake was the Millet cake with peach, presented by the Krisztina pastry shop of Budapest. The confectioners weren’t the winners for the first time. I am absolutely positive in that they had won the country cake titles again because the millet and apricots represented well the Hungarian cereal and fruit. By the way the original recipe comes from Karcag, but the confectioners had made a minor amendments to the basic recipe.
After the jury had reached the decision a public ceremony was filled with ten thousands of Millet cakes with Peach slices, tasted by the lucky ones. Later the cakes were available in more than 150 pastry shops in Budapest.
The winner cakes in the last five years were
Floating Cake (2007) or Créme Anglaise Cake
Plum Cake (2008),
Pándi cherry pie (2009)
Plum dumplings Cake (2010)
Millet cake with peach (2011)
Our cake of the country
My smaller brother’s wedding party (September 3d 2011) was an excellent occasion to give a try to the cake of the country. Luckily the wife of my nephew is a confectioner and she decided to surprise the newly-weds with the Plum dumplings cake (the 2010’s winner). Even though she had been working on it for three days it worth every effort because the cake was not only spectacular but also delicious.
The plum pudding and plum dumplings are desirable to prepare the day before and better to assemble the cake the next day.
What to wear or get ready to look your best!
Whenever I open my wedding album I am still satisfied with my gown my then choise. I wore a white gown with blue flowers patterned leaves. I loved my dress very much not because I looked good in it but I think it reflected my personality.
I was very young (19 years young) in that time but I had already been aware of the fact that is really important what you wear in a big event, even if you are not the bride just a relative or guest because what will remain of the special occasion? The photographs. And you will eventually rely on them to remember the event, the people, how did they look like and later you share it with your family, friends, your children and as the years pass with the grandchildren. And people will judge you according to what they see.
In my opinion the best dress should celebrate your individual beauty, your stature, your style. And now don’t grunt out saying that there is no dress for you (because of this and that) there is a dress for every figure but the only way to find the one for yours is trying on lots and lots of different sytles. And don’t be afraid of the experiment. I followed this rule.
I did my wedding dress search with my mom. I had prepared her well in advance that I wanted a bohemian wedding dress or Midsummer night style fairy gown, like Titania’s in Shakespeare’s famous comedy but nothing traditional. “Don’t worry! –answered my mom because she had always loved shopping (so had I, running in family) but we were not prepared for that much fuss what we would go through. Two weeks before my wedding day we were really looking forward to the day when we would hit my hometown, Budapest and would start our shopping maze. And the day sat in. When in some hours later we had already checked all wedding departments, stores and by the way my mom started to develop a hatred toward shopping but when I was about trying on the dress number 52, we both knew that that was the right dress for me. Just as I knew about the guy I wanted to marry. I looked at myself in the mirror like Charlotte in the Sex and city and it hit me. I was a bride. Everything was perfect, the silhouette, the proportion of my body and of dress. My mom heaved a sigh of relief and was ready to pay but I stopped her with an exclaimation “but mom what about my head tiara?” She sunk in herself and was close to give up. She had just realized that I did not belong to those brides who dreamed of walking down the aisle wearing a headpiece or veil. I wanted something extravagant that defines my personality with panache and just a hint of coquetry. But when I told her about my ideas such as –„only a flower wreath would do the job for me”- because it is more unconventional, and little more surprising than the typical headpieces and veils, she started to itemize many dramatic, romantic, whimsical, or traditional veils what she had seen in wedding magazins, hats such as the Duchess of Windsor wore, blue straw halo-style hat trimmed with pink and blue coq feathers, or Rita Hayworth’s enormous cartwheel, and Grace Kelly’s a Juliet cap that matched the lace of her gown. But I was a rebel and stubborn, I told her I’d rather had a Dutch bonnet or a mob cap than a ridiculous veil. -“Yes sure with the clogs!”-quirked my mom with a sarcasm.
But I really meant that. I saw in a previous shop a Dutch bonnet with the same pattern and colour such as my dress. Unfortunatelly my mom was exhausted and she didn’t feel like going back to that certain shop so finally I had to give up. And guess what I wore? A veil with white flower tiara!!! Uhh I try to forget it…but in spite of this little mishap my wedding was an incredible experience, my only regret was that (not only the bridal veil) I loved my wedding dress very much so I wanted to wear it again and again. Since my wedding many years had passed but my husband and I have been several times bride and groom in Halloween-carnival time. And I am happy because I have two daugthers and when it will be their turns I hope they can get as much enjoyment as I did from this very special dress.
Everyone loves a party-the coctail hour
The key to a perfect wedding is sharing the experience with those who close to you. Many couples today are choosing to keep their weddings small and personal. But that doesn’t mean newlyweds have lost their will to party. To satisfy both impulses, some couples opt for a quiet wedding followed by a large reception closer to their home. So that will be the case of the couple, (our friends) whose wedding will be held in Belgium on 24 of September. They will get married near Brussels before 30 guests, then later 150 people are invited to their garden party’s. I am really looking forward to the feast because they are strict vegetarians. I hope their vendor knows the guests tastes.
However my younger brother’s wedding, who is going to tie the knot in Italy (on 29th of August in Positano, Amalfi island) will be a formal traditional wedding, with the wow in the little, picturesque church of Positano followed by the dinner but he will hold a post-wedding bash in Hungary, for guests from both families. We are excited because when you have a separate party it trends to less formal.
Today when I discussed with my husband what’s for lunch he told me jockingly: I want to have the usual five stars menu! All right-I nodded with disapproval- but I still don’t know what to make? But he didn’t care he kissed me and left for work.
But 1 hour later meanwhile I was torturing my body at the gym’s (pilates) suddenly my grandma’s best potato beignet crossed my mind! When I was already about stretching I had already recalled how did they taste..so heureka! that will be for lunch today!
After having a shower I ran immediately to my bookshelf and searched for my grandma’s 100 years old recipe book (she passed me over and I have just spruced up the cook book recently). I have found it!
the recipe follows
Tuna steak with caper and potato beignet with crunchy vegetables
Ingredients for the beignets: 2-4 potatoes ( 4 potatoes for four persons) cooked, 1 egg, 100 or more grs flour, 100 ml milk, 2 grs yeast, pinch of sugar, salt, oil for frying
for the tuna: 4 steaks of tuna fish, 3 tbs oil or butter, salt, pepper, mustard, capers (8-10) 1 dl cream, 1 tbs of soy sauce
1. Cook potatoes. When they are well cooked peel them.
2.In a bowl, stir together the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand in a warm place until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
3. In an other bowl toss the flour with the salt and stir well. Add the egg and yeast mixture to the well. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the flour into the liquid ingredients.
4. Smash potatoes and add into flour-yeast mixture. Work everything together one more time until dough is smooth.
5. Heat oil and add dough one by one with a help of a soup spoon and fry them until golden brown.
The tuna steak (my own recipe)
1. Salt and pepper fish. Heat butter, add fish. Cook for 3 minutes on each sides. Put aside.
2. Add mustard, capers. Cook for 2 minutes. Set back fish steaks and pour over cream.
3. Add soy sauce. Serve in hot with the beignets and the fried or cooked vegetables.
Ingredients: 250 gr sugar, 250 gr flour, 250 gr butter or margarin, 5 eggs, baking powder, one pinch of salt, lemon zest, juice of a half lemon and 1 tbs of rum, jam or marmalade or fresh fruit purée as you wish
on the top: 150 gr grated walnuts and bitter chocolate fondant or flakes
1. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and preheat oven to 350° F /200 Celsius
In a medium sized bowl, mix the cake flour, salt, and baking powder together with a fork.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each one.
3. Put dry ingredients in a sifter and sift approximately 1/3 into the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest and fold the flour and lemon zest into the mixture. Add lemon juice and rum. Continue with remaining 1/2 of flour until all of the ingredients have been blended together. Pour into prepared cake pans.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until cakes are set; they will have pulled away from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool.
5. When the cake is cool, cut into half and spread marmalade on top of one cake, reserving a spoonful for the top of the cake if desired. Place the second cake on top of that and place the reserved marmalade in the center of the top layer. Grate fondant choco on top and toss grated walnut. Serve with cream.
Not only easy but also delicious!
We took over from the Turks but since centuries the recipe had been varied and became a classic dish. Today the usual procedure is: meat, ground beef or pork and beef (in Croatia and Slovenia) is mixed with rice, diced red onion, egg, salt, herbs and spices, like garlic, ground black pepper, ground paprika and parsley. However it is easy to make but extremely delicious. In Hungary the paprika is served with tomato sauce and sour cream.
Ingredients: half kilo minced meat, 2 tbs oil, 4 bell peppers, 1 clove garlic, 150 gr rice, 1 onion (chopped), salt, pepper, paprika powder, 1 tomato sauce (can), 1 or two tbs of sugar, sour cream to serve
1. Cut tops off peppers; remove seeds and membranes. Rinse peppers under cold water and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté garlic, chopped onion and rice together over medium heat, add some water to rice. Finish cooking after five minutes.
3. Combine minced meat with the pre-cooked rice, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, paprika powder and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well ingredients and stuff paprikas with the meat and laid out in a large pot (tops facing up). Add enough water to completely cover the peppers.
4. Boil the stew until the peppers become visibly soft on the outside and the water reduces down to half.
5. The thickening agent for the gravy is browned roux or flour and water. Reduce heat and add tomato paste (or even pasta sauce can be added) mix well into the gravy. Flavor it with 1 or two tablespoons of sugar.
6. Serve dish with sour cream and fresh bread (in certain region it can be served with mashed potatoes).
The dish is called punjena paprika in Serbo-Croatian, Polneti Piperki in Macedonian, Plnená Paprika in Slovak, and Töltött paprikain Hungarian, meaning “stuffed peppers”. The dish is popular in Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. There are also many variations of the dish across the Balkans.