...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Off to DC

Radiosilence commences: we are off this morning to spend Christmas with The Husband's family. I just got off the phone with my folks back in Hungary. Judging by the accounts of my sister and stepmom, my dad is in his usual Christmas spirits...which means that he complains that the Christmas tree he's currently busy inserting into its tree stand is NOT STRAIGHT; that there's not enough little metal hanger thingies to hang Christmas candy (szaloncukor-a traditional Hungarian sweet candy and tree decoration) and it's awfully hard to get some at Lake Velence at two pm Christmas eve (shops close at noon today over there); that the fish soup is not hot/salty/fishy/paprika-full enough; that my sister showed up late/came too early...I would honestly not get into the Christmas spirit if I hadn't heard him grumbling about something today. It's traditional in our family...my sis was giggling over the phone because I quoted Dad to her point blank without even knowing he already said all those things.

Anyhoo: Merry Christmas everyone and see you soon!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hungarian Kifli Cookies

OK, folks...inevitable Christmas cookie recipe follows; this is very easy and very good.

Kifli (pronounced kee-flee)
2 8 oz. package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2 sticks (1 cup) of butter, cut up and softened
2 cups of unbleached flour

  • Blend all ingredients together in a bowl with standing mixer or by hand (using pastry blender). I wimped out and used my Bosch kitchen machine on the highest setting to blend: it will take a while but it will stick together in the end.
  • Roll it out on floured pastry board; you might want to cut it in half first and roll out one half after the other if you do not have a gigantic board worthy of your grandmother's legacy (like the one I had to leave in Hungary ::sniff, sniff::).
  • Cut into 2x2 inch squares.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Put a dab of apricot or other not too sweet fruit jam in middle of each square. I used 100% apricot and blackberry fruit jam, but it's really up to you. Other alternative filling is the mix of 1 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
  • Now the hard part: pull up the two opposite sides of the rectangle and pinch them tightly together. Squeeze it over the filling. Bend the little things into a crescent shape. Put them on the cookie sheet, and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Check so they do not overbrown. The jam filling WILL bubble out a bit, it's inevitable. Do not panic. There's nothing you can do, but squeeze the next batch harder.
  • While still warm, dust with powdered sugar.
  • A fair warning: you might want to make a double batch next time: if you have a significant other they WILL eat these while still warm.
Have fun!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Had an almost-bronchitis, caught just in time, as the nurse in the doctor's office told me. Got antibiotics (which ate my stomach something fierce), and decongestants for a week. Yum-yum.

Baked more Christmas cookies, and almost finished giftshopping...actually, we have to do the Gift-Wrapping Extravaganza today; I am thinking doing it while I watch Bones and House tonight (yes, I am watching TV shows...the horror of slowly turning into an American housewife looms on my horizon...) :-)

We will be leaving for DC Saturday morning to spend Christmas with The Husband's family over there, and to see some museums I really want to spend quality time in. Also will have lunch with The Lizard Queen who'll be there to atend a conference...this shall be fun, especially because we live next door to each other...

Monday, December 12, 2005


Am sick; again...to the doctor's with me in a couple of minutes. Fever not getting better, now chest pain, dry cough, hate it. Agh.
Saw ''Narnia'' Friday--go see it...I was totally captured by the things on screen. Granted, they left out one of (if not the) most important scene in the book, but even without that, it SHINES. Lovely, and especially well done is the very beginning, when they flesh out how the children actually get to the professor's house. A longer review here, maybe, if I survive today and tomorrow (I intend to stay home under blankies tomorrow, with blessings from everyone at work and home)...:-)
Started Christmas baking over the wekeend: clearly did not make enough, as most of the kifli were gone by 600pm Sunday. Gotta make more, apparently this one sohuld stay as a staple. recipe, again, will follow if I feel better.

Now, off to the doctor's with me...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Hungarian Delicacies...

And this is Oscar, my stuffed owl and traveling companion (according to my sister, who is expert in the field of stuffed animals, the ugliest beast she'd ever seen...and she's right...that's why I like Oscar so much)-with a piece of Turo Rudi, the Hungarian national sweet thing. The Rudi is hard to explain to a non-Hungarian. I mean: if I tell you that it has a core of sweetened curd cheese covered in dark chocolate with occassionally added fruit jam inner layer (shown with apricot to match Oscar's plumage in this case)...I strongly suspect that a large percentage of my Dear Readers will go :Ewww!- and never even think about trying. The trick is NOT to tell the poor sod who is unfortunate enough not being born in my home country what the Rudi contains, and just mysteriously alluding to a 'Hungarian delicacy'.
One of my best memories from my childhood is walking on the main street of the small village with my granddad who was the village's (pop.: 1500) Calvinist minister, saying hello to the old ladies sitting on the benches by their wide gates, slowly reaching the crossroad where the only general store of the village was, and getting, besides the usual bread-butter-planting seeds-matches run, my regular two Rudis, bright polka-dots and all, and eating it while walking back to the house, because they melt if you wait in the summer for too long.

UPDATE: Upon more careful observation, the Rudi in question turns out to be with raisins, not with apricot jelly. It is, however, matching Oscar's plumage still. The apricot jelly ones, if I remember correctly, were GONE at this point from the fridge. And my Dad bought these in sixpacks like beer. Granted, he also nibbed some.


Just for fun...

...and for your culinary delight, here is a picture from Budapest's Central Market Hall, from the row of butchers... Right now between pigging out at Thanksgiving and pigging out at Christmas this should be about perfect.

The Lizard Queen wept, almost, when she'd seen this... Each of those stacks is a differently cured meat on top, by the way...::sigh:; Lord, I miss them.