Tag Archives: christmas

Layered Sauerkraut in Szekler style

Layered Sauerkraut in Szekler style

Even though the above recipe might sound quite German, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with the boring Sauerkraut – Knödel combo. It is a recipe made up by my mum and inspired by a Transylvanian cabbage dish. I made it first when living in Madrid I got hold of a piece of Hungarian smoked cheese, some sour cream and Sauerkraut. It had its debut on my very first Cena a la Húngara, my friends from Spain, Venezuela, Guatemala, China and last but not least, Hungary – loved it!

This dish became so popular that I have to prepare it from time to time for my friends, and also to strengthen my Hungarian identity. :P

Hungarian Dinner in Madrid

Hungarian Dinner in Madrid

On our pre-Christmas trip to Transylvania I fell in love with the beautiful artisan clay pots we found on every market. I wanted to have them all, but as I have my dear husband, who is good at pulling me back to the earth, we just returned with two of them.

clay pots transylvania

Clay pots in Cluj

These pots, similarly to the Moroccan tagine or the Mexican olla de barro, are famous for a traditional slow way of cooking, thus preserving more aroma. If you have any clay pot’s, you probably now that it’s sensitive to sudden changes of temperature. You might also want to soak the pot into water before using, so that it doesn’t extract water from the food.



  • 1/2 kg sauerkraut (choose one without vinegar)
  • 1 cup of barley or rice
  • 300g (smoked) tofu
  • 300g (smoked) cheese (optional)
  • 3 dl of sour cream
  • 1 big onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp of powdered paprika (or 3 tbsp piros arany)
  • oil
  • salt, pepper

Preparation time: 2 hours

Secret ingredients: paprika powder from my grandmother and Hungarian smoked cheese

I will tell you the truth. I was a bit lazy to investigate how much time and water it needs to cook the above dish in a clay pot. So I cheated! (Ups). I parboiled everything and then let it wobble for another hour in the oven.

rakott_szekely (1)

This is the vegan version.


Cut the onions and saute it in oil. When it’s transparent, add the powdered paprika and some pepper. You might also use some chilli powder if you like it hot. Quickly add 1/2 cup of water as well, as the paprika turns bitter very fast. Then add the Sauerkraut and stew until it becomes soft. Watch out, as Sauerkraut is pretty salty in itself, you do not need to add a lot of salt. Add pressed garlic at the end.

Boil barley with some salt. You may also use rice. Chop or just tear tofu into smaller parts.

And now put it all together. I sometimes just mix it all and put it into a baking pan. Or one can layer it nicely: one thin layer barley, then one layer sauerkraut, and some smoked tofu, then again barley, sauerkraut… Put it into the oven and give it about an hour so that the flavours mix properly.

Finally, top it with some sour cream and/or smoked cheese and put it back to the oven for another 10 minutes, without the lid.

rakott_szekely (2)

Pleated Sauerkraut with smoked cheese.


And voilá, ready it is, the perfect comfort food for the cold months! Serve with some bread and pickles. If it’s too much, don’t worry, it’s one of those dishes that are even better the following day.




Poppy Heaven – creamy swiss roll

Poppy Heaven – creamy swiss roll

New job, new colleagues, new friends, new adventures, less time… But today the weather is so cold and ugly that I decided to write-up some of the recipes I’ve been collecting since christmas. I am almost ashamed to share this one, as it’s so seasonal…but save it for next year!

As you know, in Hungary christmas is associated with poppy-seed pastries. Still craving for some chocolate after the holidays, I came up with the following recipe – and my friend Alma’s arrival to Munich was a perfect occasion to try it out.


Poppy Mousse (filling)

  • 250 g silken tofu
  • 300 g white chocolate (I used normal white chocolate but you can buy or make vegan white chocolate)
  • 1 cup of grated poppy-seed
    + grandmother’s apricot marmalade

Preparation time: 15 minutes

“Whip” the silken tofu. Melt the white chocolate and mix it with the tofu. Add grated poppy seeds. Put it into the fridge for about 1 hour before using.

Vegan Sponge Cake

  • 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of walnut flour
  • 1 tbsp chia flour (optional)
  • 1 package (1.5 tsp) baking powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • about 1.5 cups of vegan milk
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of turmeric (optional)

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix first the dry ingredients, then add vegan milk. Finish it with adding oil and vinegar to the mix. Spread the dough in a rectangular baking pan (use paper or silicone so that it doesn’t stick). Dough should be not more than 1 cm thick. Bake it for about 12-15 minutes.
When you take it out, while it’s still hot, cut a line after 1-2 cm on one side and roll it up with the help of a rolling-pin. It’s the best to use a wet kitchen towel, otherwise it might break. Learn from my mistakes! :P

poppy swiss roll

When the filling is a bit more firm, carefully unroll the dough. Spread a thin layer of apricot marmalade first. Then put the poppy mouse on the top and roll it up again with the help of the kitchen towel. Finally, you can use the rest of the mousse as an icing and cover the cake with it.

Chill it for another 2 hours before serving. For decoration I used some physalis, very popular in Germany – I think they look beautiful!!!

poppy swiss roll

Transylvania Calling

Transylvania Calling

All started with a cheap ticket. 13 euros to Timisoara is quite okay, I think. And it is close to Szeged, where we were going to spend Christmas. The only problem: the discount price was for the 13th of december. Thus, we decided to use this chance to travel a bit Transylvania, where Abel had never been before and I’d been about 20 years ago.

Our first destination was, due to the plane, Timisoara. We spent here 3 days, way too much for this town. The Christmas market was charming and I really enjoyed the Hungarian theatre (an ensemble I am fan of). Abel is a hero in my eyes, he survived the 3-hours-show without a bad word. It was amazing!

Temesvár Csiky Futotuz

We watched Incendies.

Being a Hungarian, for me it is always an interesting cultural experience travelling to Transylvania.

A nearby market in Timisoara.

A nearby market in Timisoara.

We also went to the local market for some Zakuszka. Mmmm. However, the streets were all under construction and it was hard to get around. There were no street lights, which can be disturbing if you can expect huge holes every few meters. And the first night we went out we had our worst culture shock: all cafés, bars and even restaurants were smoking!!! Non-smoking areas are pretty much non-existent or not separated. Thus our social life during this trip was rather limited.

Food stand at the Christmas market of Timisoara

Food stand at the Christmas market of Timisoara

Abel: "Happiness is when you find your Kürtöskalács!"

Abel: “Happiness is when you find your Kürtöskalács!”

Basically we spent these three days with hunting some veggie food, visiting the christmas market every day and organising our trip to the next destination. We needed a lot of time and energy for that, as you might have gotten a glimpse in a previous post.

But finally we made it: we got on a train and made it to Sibiu. Also known as Hermannstadt.

Mountain view from our window :)

Mountain view from our window :)

As much as Hungarian language helped us out in Timisoara or in Cluj Napoca, in Sibiu it was German that many people spoke, at least to some extent. It used to be a German settlement, however, the owner of our accommodation happened to be of Hungarian origin. (We also realized at this point that German is simply not a language that you can be nice in. A strict and arrogant old lady turned into a nice and sympathetic person when talking in Hungarian).

Sibiu Astra

Sibiu was a relief in our trip. It is pretty much a German city with some exotic flare. Meaning it had a good public transport, quite clean streets and vending machines for tickets that were even working. After our first few days in the region we were quite happy to take a rest and just enjoy everything: we had lovely studio flat with a view on the snowy Fogarasi mountains (if I am not mistaken), we discovered a Romanian cabbage pancake, where the owner invited us to try other traditional pancakes as well. We need to figure out the recipe, as they were delicious. And we found a wine shop where we also got invited to try some local wines.

The best place to fill your dummy in Sibiu!!!

The best place to fill your tummy in Sibiu!!! (Placintaria “Deo Gratias”)

Placinta de varză

Placinta de varză

A quiz for a wine :)

A quiz for a wine :)

As we went in december, the town also offered a nice Christmas market. The emphasis here was not so much on selling things, but on getting together and having fun. Or so it seemed. And the festive lights were something gorgeous!

Festive mood in Sibiu

Festive mood in Sibiu

What I liked most about Sibiu was its houses. Most of the rooftops there have “eyes”, which gives you a quite paranoid feeling. Let me show you what I mean:

Eyes of Sibiu

Eyes of Sibiu

As much as we enjoyed it, we planned only 2 days for Sibiu and to tell you the truth, by the end we also got a bit bored, as it was just organized. We continued our trip to Cluj Napoca.

Due to the bad public transport, buses and trains being cancelled, bus stops that are nowhere marked and our disgusting accommodation (I still don’t understand how we could book such a place, as I always check the recommendations first)…we decided to leave a day earlier. So we had only a bit more than a day in Cluj Napoca.

We took our chance to go to Turda as well. Being winter we were not so much into the gorge, we preferred to visit the Salina / Salt mines. A crazy piece of architecture, very special indeed.

Salt Mine in Turda

Salt Mine in Turda



My opinion about Cluj is rather vague and probably greatly influenced by the bad accommodation. And again, we spent most of the time organizing our way back to Hungary. To any point of Hungary. With any type of transportation. Although it’s not far away, it’s not as easy as we thought. Cluj is somewhere between Timisoara and Sibiu, at least from the point of view of organizedness. To keep it short: it had a nice christmas market with an ice rink for skating, right on the main square. Also you could find little artisan markets in the surrounding little streets. In general there are many shops with handmade things, it’s worth to check them out. The city seems to have a cool nightlife, we saw a lot of pubs that we would have loved to enter. There was only one constraint: the terrible amount of smoke!

Skating at Cluj’s Christmas Market

It’s a pity we did not go in the summer, some things might have turned out differently. And it’s a pity we did not rent a car to get around, some things might have turned out differently. Even though it was not  a travel of 100% pleasure, we are grateful for the experience. And we’re also determined to go back sometime in the future.

Un abrazo navideño a todos

Un abrazo navideño a todos