We love to take cooking classes when we travel, it is a wonderful cultural experience, and also provides a way for us to take our trip home to family & friends. In Budapest we are at Chef Parade Cooking School, which gets excellent reviews for a reason. We started with breakfast at the market ~ but that's a whole story of it's own. Our guide for the day, Anita, was very knowledgeable and made us feel at home both in the market and in the kitchen.
Our menu was a traditional 3 course meal consisting of Creamy Potato Soup with Sausage ( Krumplileves), Chicken Paprika with dumplings (Csirkepaprika's Nokedlivel), and Strudel (of course!)
One of the "secrets" of this tasty, hearty cuisine is fresh ingredients. There is no substitute for the flavor that comes straight from garden-to-table.
The real flavor "punch", though comes from their famous paprika.
We see these beautiful dried peppers everywhere.
Once they are ground into paprika powder, you have the base for flavor-packed dishes of every sort.
We start by cooking the onions in a little oil (they use Sunflower oil there), and when they are soft, you pull them off the heat and (here's another secret) wait till the bubbles stop. Then add the paprika powder (they use a lot of it!).
But here's the real secret I learned about making those deep, rich Hungarian sauces ~ it's almost like a gravy. Here's what makes that flavor come alive. They rehydrate the dried paprika with a bit of water. And now it's a rich sauce instead of some ingredients flavored with paprika.
Honestly, you can immediately smell the difference ~
the flavor just explodes!
And the other little secret was the dumpling maker we used. I found one back home at Bed Bath & Beyond ~ they called it a spatzle maker. It's a lot of fun, and our guests get to help with this part when we do Hungarian night.
One last tip. They finish off nearly every sauce with some sour cream. This adds richness and balances out the spice of the paprika very nicely, and gives it a velvety smoothness.
So here's the finished product: Potato & Sausage Soup (This is actually quite elegant, it should have a fancier name, in my opinion).
Chicken Paprikash with dumplings ~ somehow those little dumplings just soak up that yummy sauce, and the chicken, which has simmered in that same sauce for an hour, just falls off the bone......
And apple strudel for dessert. Light and flaky, easy on the waistline.
Oh wait! Don't forget the dill pickle stuffed with sauerkraut. It's a requirement at every Hungarian meal!
I will post these recipes for you later in my recipe section. They are easy to replicate at home. I would recommend authentic Hungarian paprika, though ~ 'cause there really is a difference.
So until next cooking class, bon appetite'!