Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lángos-Hungarian Fried Bread

Lángos literally means "flamed", originating from  láng, the Hungarian word for flame. "Lángos" is closely related to the Italian focaccia (both originating from the Roman panis focaius, which literally means, "flamed bread"). Originally, just like its other cousin, pizza,  lángos would be made from leftover bread-dough, and baked in the village's common open flame oven. Since hardly anyone makes their own bread any more, lángos is no longer baked, but almost always fried, and traditionally, it would be fried in lard. Lángos, although is available from street vendors all year long in Hungary, is basically a summer feat. As you can imagine,  lángos is not a diet food, but I can assure you, every bite is well worth the calories consumed. a gypsy kitchen, no one counts calories.

"When cooking, follow your own taste. When baking, follow directions."-Laiko Bahrs

Ingredients (roughly....)

1 pocket of instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4  cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups of warm (not hot!) water
3 cups of vegetable,canola or sunflower oil (for frying)
1/3 cup of oil in a small bowl
big pinch of salt (about a teaspoon)

Topping variations:
-grated cheese
-sour cream
-chopped onions (green onions, red onions)
-bacon bits
-chorizos sausages, chopped
-chopped dill
-crushed garlic
-anything else and everything else you would put on a pizza......


  1. Mix flour, instant yeast, salt in a big bowl. Add the milk and the water slowly to form a soft dough. Knead well, until bubbles form. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth, and let it rest for about 20 minutes (or until it doubles in volume).  
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Test the temperature by dropping a small ball of dough into it: if it fizzles up and doubles in size almost immediately, the oil is hot enough.
  3. Dip your fingers into the oil (NOT the hot one, silly, the one in the small bowl) and scoop up a handful of dough, forming it into a round ball. Flatten the ball, and work it with your fingers round and round, spreading it into a flat round, about the size of a pancake.
  4. Drop the flattened dough into the oil. It will spread and rise, so fry them one at the time. If you have enough oil in the skillet, there is no need to turn the dough: it will fry to a golden brown on both sides quickly.
  5. Remove from the oil with a tongue and let the oil drip well.
Serve piping hot, rubbed with a garlic clove, and salted to taste, with or without any or all of the toppings above.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sopapillas Chilenas-Fried/Baked Bread Chilean Style

Chilean Sopapillas are traditionally prepared and eaten on rainy winter days, and since we are likely to have a lot of those kind of days and nights, here is a recipe that will warm up a person's spirit, no matter how is the weather outside. Although Sopapillas are traditionally fried in hot oil or shortening, they are just as delicious, and healthier baked. Sopapillas can be served as bread, as a side dish, or as a pastry. If you can find "chancaca", (hard and dark cane sugar) in your local ethnic stores, your sopapilla will be even more authentic, but they also taste great dusted with brown sugar, or confectioner's sugar. I also tried confectioner's sugar mixed with ground cinnamon, and had  no complaints!
Sopapillas are distant cousins of Lángos (Hungarian Fried Bread).


1 small  pumpkin  or squash
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cup dark brown sugar, or grated chancaca
2 cinnamon sticks
3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon allspice


  1. Slice the pumpkin or squash and roast on a cooking sheet in the oven until golden brown. Scoop out the pumpkin and mash.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, the  baking powder, baking soda, 2 tablespoons of sugar (or chancaca). Add the mashed pumpkin, the butter (melted) and one or two tablespoons of warm water (one tablespoon at a time)  until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/2 centimeter thickness, and let it "sit" for about ten minutes.  Cut out with a large round cookie cutter, or a floured, tea cup, and prick each rounds with a  with a fork several times
  4. For fried sopapillas, heat oil in a deep skillet (enough to fully cover the sopapillas) and fry them in batches, until golden brown on both side. Drain on paper towels.
  5. To bake, preheat oven to 475 degrees, place sopapillas on a greased cookie sheet, brush each sopapilla with melted butter, and bake for about fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.
Syrup (For pastry style sopapillas)

Combine one cup of water with  2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar or grated chancaca, the cinnamon sticks and allspice. Stir, and simmer on medium high for about ten minutes. Strain the syrup and stir in one tablespoon of butter. Keep warm.

To serve as pastry, dip each fried or baked sopapilla in the syrup, and serve syrup on the side. Alternatively, dust with brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, or powdered brown sugar mixed with powdered cinnamon. They also taste great with maple syrup or pancake syrup.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Gypsy Kitchen

About My Gypsy Kitchen

Isabella Allende, one of my favourite authors (she is Chilean, but I SWEAR she must have gypsy blood!) gives this advice:  " always approach cooking and love with reckless abandon".  The only thing I would like to add as a gypsy, that EVERYTHING in life, from the mundane to the exotic should be approached with the same reckless abandon.

Being a gypsy (Rom, Rroma, Romany) is an ethnicity, not a nationality. My ancestors are Hungarian and Romanian Gypsies, Armenian, Austrian, Italian and for the last thirty years, I am Canadian.  There are gypsies in virtually every corner of the world, there is not one culture, language, but many. "Gypsy culture" is inevitably both influential as is being influenced by the local culture, customs, cuisine, and  climate. Gypsies are masters of finding what is available, what is customary and turning it into something different, something exotic, something that you will not find or taste anywhere else again.

"Traveller, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking"  Rroma proverb. 

"My friend, there are no recipes. Recipes are made by cooking." -Yours Truly

One of the best things of living in a multicultural country like Canada, and especially in British Colombia,  I have the luxury of experiencing  food  of almost culture, any time, any day.Within a few blocks, one might find  luxury  restaurants right next to a greasy spoon-whole-in-the-wall-take-out.  At the markets I can find spices and ingredients to cook anything my heart and taste buds desire.I learned new recipes  and skills from friends and foes, from co-workers at company pot locks. I used to work with a multicultural clientèle as a family counsellor, and whenever my visits would be around meal time (or any other time, if I think about it), there was always something cooking, baking, marinating, ready to taste, ready to share in their homes. Like with my food and dancing, I prefer variety in my choice of relationships, and all of men were great cooks. When I'd left Europe, I was already skilled in Mediterranean, Austrian and Hungarian cooking.  By , living, eating, working, dancing,  praying, meditating, travelling loving my way through life and four continents, I was introduced to and learned Latin and South American, Caribbean, African, Indian and Asian recipes to my growing recipe collection and culinary skills.  I've learned them, then, I turned them into my own. With reckless abandon, no less.  I encourage you too, to do the same.

Rules, recipes and norms and beaten paths  are for the "regular folks", not for us, reckless, passionate, artistic, creative and exotic people.  yeah, accidents happen, stuff does not always turn out how we intended it to be, but hardly any mistake in the kitchen is "unfixable", it is not a life and death situation, relax!  If everything else fails scrape the bowl, and start over again.

One of the hardest thing to do for the purpose of this blog was to "translate" the recklessness, spontaneity, freedom and passion that goes into my (and gypsy) cooking into recipes that are followable and reproducible. My measurements are  not exact, and most of the recipes that follow can be done real gypsy style: adding your own twist, your ingredients, and making it your way. Please, let me know your trials and tribulations, the variations and yes, the improvements you came up with to my recipes!

Some of the recipes -usually those with the exact measurements and strict instructions- are not mine: I've picked them up in my travels around the city and the world in restaurants, or found them on other sites or blogs. In these cases, whenever it is possible, I give full credit to the cooks, chiefs, mommas and sources. 

Like the life and travels of my gypsy ancestors, my recipes are influenced by many cultures, climates, cooks, and yes, they are almost inevitably influenced by love, friendship and passion.  I hope to share the same with you. 

The food, recipes, stories, images you read on my pages are not intended to represent "Authentic Gypsy Cuisine" and the title My Gypsy Kitchen is more metaphorical than could be considered ethnically and politically correct.