Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meggyes Muffins

Recently I've seen a lot of fruit that had previously existed to me only as names. At our market there have been gooseberries, red currants, and the star of this post, sour cherries. I bought some of them out of curiosity and discovered that they are rather sour. As I was awash in sweet cherries, I didn't want to eat the sour ones raw. And so, I made muffins. I used my normal oatmeal muffin recipe, with one exception: I separated the eggs and beat the whites, and I think it made the muffins especially light and fluffy. This makes twelve normal-sized muffins.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 pound sour cherries
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbs.) butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a muffin tin.

Combine all the dry ingredients except for one tablespoon of sugar and mix. Mix in the butter, the milk, and the two egg yolks.

Pit the sour cherries, put them in a bowl, and combine them with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Add them to the batter.

Beat the egg whites till they hold soft peaks, and fold them into the batter. Put the batter into the muffin tin and bake until the muffins are brown on top, a bit more than 20 minutes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spinach and Inedible Mushroom Salad

Two of the first signs of spring in Hungary were wild mushrooms and spinach. And unlike the spinach I bought in September, this spinach raw didn't cause a burning sensation in my throat. I washed the spinach, cooked the mushrooms with some wine, combined them, and dressed it all with a soy sauce dressing like I'd seen my aunt use on a spinach salad. The results were excellent.

I wanted to find out what kind of mushrooms I had used before I posted this recipe. The old lady who sold me the mushrooms told me they were called szegfűgomba. I googled this to find the mushroom's latin name, marasmius wynnei. A bit more googling told me that in English it went by pearly parachute and violetter schwindling. It also informed that this mushroom is inedible. Luckily for me, the same mushroom in Hungarian is a "[j]ó ehető gomba, amelyet - bár kicsiny - érdemes gyűjteni"--a good, edible mushroom, which though small is worth collecting. The Hungarians are onto something because it was indeed good, with a deep, meaty flavor. Just to make all you people stuck in the U.S. jealous, let me mention that wild porcini--vargányagomba--are only $4.32/pound here, and chantarelles--rókagomba--are just $6.61 a pound. But then you have dryers, which starts to make up for it.

I'm giving weights for the spinach and mushrooms, but I'm not sure of them and you should just use your judgment. But take into account that mushrooms really shrink a lot when you cook them. My amounts for the dressing are also guesses because I can't remember how much of everything I ended up using. But that's probably good, since some soy sauces are stronger than others and you'd have to adjust anyway. This is for two people.

  • 1/3 pound spinach, washed
  • 1/3 pound mushrooms, cut into one-inch pieces--if the mushrooms are small, like szegfűgomba, you don't have to cut them at all
  • 2 tbs. white wine
  • 1 tbs. olive oil or butter
  • salt, pepper


  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 tbs. olive oil

In a big pan, heat the oil or butter and add the mushrooms, wine, and salt. Cook over high heat until all the liquid--the wine and the juice that the mushrooms will release after a few minutes--is gone, which will take about 15 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooking in fat, turn down the heat a bit, stir occasionally, and let the mushrooms brown. Put them over the spinach.

Mix up the dressing. I always do this in a jar. Taste, adjust, and mix it into the salad.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I'm moving to Seattle next year, where I will be attending the University of Washington in pursuit of a Ph.D. in mathematics. So, goodbye to túró, goose fat, and lard, and hello to oysters, salmon, and goat. But I'm still in Hungary now, and a year's worth of sparerib experiments have finally led me to this recipe.

Most recipes I've seen for cooking ribs in the oven tell you to cook it for about two hours at 300 degrees. I hoped that by lowering the temperature, I could make ribs that were more like barbecue. The result may not be smoky, but it is tender. This recipe makes enough for seven or eight people, and it takes about 6 hours.

  • 4 pounds spareribs

Dry rub:

  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper


  • 3/4 cup black currant jelly
  • 4 tsps. mustard
  • 1 tbs. vinegar
  • 1 tbs. ketchup

One day before you plan to cook the ribs, mix up all the ingredients for the dry rub and rub it all over the meat. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Cook the meat for five hours in a 225 degree oven. (200 degrees would probably be better, but 225 is the lowest that my oven can maintain, besides room temperature. If you do lower the temperature, cook it a little bit longer.)

After five hours, mix up the glaze and put it on the meat. Cook another 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler (or if you don't have one, like me, just turn the oven up all the way) and cook until he glaze begins to bubble. You should be paranoid about not burning it. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before you cut the ribs apart. Eat with your hands.

Other flavors of jam work fine too, especially apricot. The ribs are also good with no glaze at all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Finally, here's a Hungarian recipe, as demonstrated to us by the Fehér household. It's really easy, so long as you have an open fire and a some big hunks of smoked fat from the belly of a pig.

  • slices of bread
  • sliced tomato, cucumber, wax peppers, hot peppers, and red onions
  • smoked pork fat (füstölt szalonna)

Put the hunks of fat on skewers. Hold them over the fire till the fat begins to drip. Let it drip onto the bread. Repeat until each slice of bread is thoroughly covered with fat. Put the vegetables onto the bread; they should only overlap a little bit. Drip more fat on them. Consume.

When we were done with the fat, we watched as the Fehérs dipped it still smoldering into a bowl of water, cooking it through. We cut it up and put some of it on the bread as well. It tasted something like the fat on the side of a piece of duck breast--first you get the crunch from the toasted exterior, and then you get soft, rich fat.