The Hungarian Cookbook (Anglais) Broché – 14 octobre 1987
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Descriptions du produit
Présentation de l'éditeur
Biographie de l'auteur
Susan Derecskey was born in New York City and educated at Brooklyn College and the University of Strasbourg. She worked in publishing and journalism until she met a transplanted European journalist named Charles Derecskey, by origin a Hungarian from Transylvania, and embarked on the globe-trotting uncertainties of life with a foreign correspondent. Already an accomplished cook in the French mode, she began to cook Hungarian, first as a treat for her husband, then as a parlor trick, finally as an obsession.
When the Derecskeys returned to the United States, Susan already had an extensive collection of notes and recipes she had accumulated and tested wherever they were: the Congo, Paris, Germany andas culmination -- Hungary. Here, in the fine restaurants of Budapest and the more modest establishments and homes of Transylvania, she learned how the classic dishes should be made and developed that instinct for the cuisine that separates the gifted cook from the merely skillful one.
Her husband and two young sons cheered her on through the writing of The Hungarian Cookbook. They still gather every summer in the big kitchen at Ledgewood in the Adirondack Mountains, where many of the recipes in the book were put to the test. This annual ceremony of renewal is bound to feature such enshrined favorites as kohlrabi soup and chicken paprikash and one or more of those fabulous Hungarian desserts.
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Détails sur le produit
Commentaires en ligne
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Derecskey starts the reader off with a quick explanation of the techniques and ingredients peculiar to a Hungarian meal. Equipment, she says, like pots and pans, are standard. None of the ingredients are unusual or hard to find. The Hungarians especially love to use bacon, bread crumbs, butter, caraway seeds, cooking fat, onions, sausage, sour cream and tomatoes. You already know about paprika.
There is a short introductory, but helpful chapter on wines, naming and describing ten major Hungarian wine types.
Each chapter presents the expected categories, like fish, poultry and pork. She gives us the Hungarian translation for each food type, and for each recipe as well.
The recipes themselves are nicely described. Since the book is void of pictures of prepared dishes (the only crucial drawback), she relies on a strong prose style. That is often missing from other international cookbooks filled with poetic takes on the romance of the local culture. Never self-indulgent, Derecskey is personal, comfortably providing her preferences for spicing quantity and serving styles.
This isn't a gourmet book. The recipes here produce the foods being made in modern Hungarian homes. The author refers frequently to relatives who gave her insight for some of the more difficult dishes. Clearly written for American tastes and cooking styles, it may disappoint some cooks. Those looking for a more authentic but slightly gourmet taste should look for Chef Gundel's cookbook, based on his famous restaurant menu.
She gives us enough cultural discussion to keep the book from being bland, while never losing focus for why we purchased the book -- to learn how to make specific Hungarian dishes.
Finally, right after the chapter, "Desserts and Cakes" (Édességek és Torták), there is a handy state-by-state shopping guide with 56 butchers, delicatessens and import stores.
I fully recommend "The Hungarian Cookbook."
This is also an exceptionally good evocation of a national cuisine in general, even when compared to some of the leading treatments I have seen recently of the cuisines of Turkey, Lebanon, Germany, and Armenia. It is also as good as many treatments of French and Italian regional cuisines, although it may not be quite as good as the best of these, and it is certainly not as good as Paula Wolfert's classic work on Moroccan cuisine. It is also just a bit less than the classics on national cuisines such as Diana Kochilas on Greece or Penelope Casas on Spain. But, it is exactly all you need to recreate the great Hungarian dishes I remember from my childhood.
Aside from finding recipes for my long lost chocolate nut birthday cake, the first thing which impressed me about the book was the care in which the author pointed out that some recipes were simply difficult to get right the first time. This fact is probably obvious for strudel dough, but it is less obvious with recipes for potato dumplings.
For those of you who may be totally ignorant of Hungarian cooking, its most distinctive characteristics are noodles, dumplings, and soup. Egg noodles and dumplings essentially serve for Hungarians the role of pasta and risotto has for Italians. This is really carb central in that in addition to the white flour, potatoes are also an important ingredient for many dumpling recipes. And, these dumplings are real gut grenades. They are guaranteed to spike your blood sugar in record time.
Since soup is such an important part of the Hungarian cuisine, I paid special attention to the recipes for stock in Ms. Derecskey's book and found them entirely to my liking. They are not long cooking, the vegetables are put into the simmering stock for just an hour, and the author is more careful than most in advising the cook to be very careful not to boil the stock and to skim off scum as quickly as it appears. I usually don't see as much care given to stock making in books on `minor' national cuisines.
Vegetable dishes are always a special interest of mine and this book has several especially good ones. Like most of central Europe, the king of the vegetables was the cabbage. There are several good asparagus and beet and cucumber recipes, but no sign of artichokes or rapini. This is cabbage country, partner. I was also more than modestly pleased with the recipes for salads. I never associated salads with Mitteleuropa, but there they are. Very nice vinaigrette recipes to be sure.
The only thing that puzzled me about the book and its recipes was the author's stating that Hungarians were not especially fond of mature beef. They preferred to cook veal, including braises and stews, which almost seems like a waste when you can let the cow mature a bit and get much more meat for stewing.
While Hungary does not have the great pastry tradition of its neighbor much did rub off while the two countries were joined at the hip up to 1918 under the Hapsburgs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In fact, Budapest was the empire's second city ahead of even Prague in esteem. The star of the Hungarian pastry is strudel, which has a lot of similarities with Greek filo, but it is not exactly the same. I have tried to make strudel with filo and the results are less than perfect.
If you have any Hungarian in your blood, you really need this book. If you are simply interested in reading of world cuisines, this one is a winner. The instructions on making strudel and dumplings alone are worth the price of admission.
Although some reviewers have found these recipes to be bland, that has not been the case for me. I should point out, though, that one of the keys to good flavor is to use authentic Hungarian paprika, which is simply not available in most supermarkets -- not even in large urban areas. I'm lucky, I have relatives who send me some, but I can also recommend mail order from Penzeys.com. Paprika also comes in "sweet" or "hot" flavors. I prefer the "sweet" kind, but I have known Hungarians who think that's for wussies, and who prefer the "hot" kind. At any rate, true Hungarian paprika has an overwhelming fragrance, and a little goes a long way; if you put in too much of this stuff, the dish will have a bitter taste to it. (Looking at Mr. Lang's cookbook, a book that I find to be somewhat pretentious, I can see that the quantities of paprika that he recommends are for the bland, American kind of paprika.)