Eggs à la Chrissy & a Controversial Question, Answered

Ok so before everyone’s imaginary BFF Chrissy Teigen and her cookbook, let me address a question I am asked frequently, sometimes with thinly veiled hostility by fellow Hungarians – family, friends and strangers alike:

But why do you write in English?

The language of my blog was an intentional decision, reach being quite high on the list obviously. How about this as a demonstrative example: more people follow Chrissy’s Insta (which is required reading BTW!) than there are Hungarians in the whole wide world (duh!)

And then there’s this: I like writing in English (and hereby apologise for any grammar mistakes, typos and idioms used incorrectly). My language choice has had a most heartening effect on me – through food and the personal stories I post along the recipes, I am able to give a glimpse to non-Hungarians into our culture, the way of life here in the heart of Europe.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, moving on to today’s topic.

Chrissy is one of the most relatable celebrities out there. I absolutely adore her for a list of reasons: she’s got tons of personality – a supermodel with a refreshingly frank tone, being freaking hilarious and with an attitude towards food I can so relate to.

Her first cookbook Cravings – Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat was #1 best pre-seller on Amazon, an instant success. ICYMI, here’s my short review:

Yes, there is no shortage of celebrity cookbooks, so is it worth all the hype seems to be a valid question. Spoiler alert: it absolutely does! Cravings is lively and fun just like her, filled with enthusiasm and happiness.

It’s broken up into sections with witty titles and it’s studded with Aubrie Prick’s really pretty pictures. There are Thai recipes inspired by her mom, there’s a chapter on breakfast and a chapter on carbs and a chapter on toasts as well. No dish is too difficult; her recipes are accessible and un-fussy, in the realm of hearty comfort food.

I wanted to be honest in this book about the kinds of food I love, the kinds of food I crave she claims. Dear Chrissy, my husband says hi and thank you. Also thanks for liking my post on insta. It made my day, I really appreciate it!

Thumbs up for my brother-in-law as well for squeezing Cravings in the tiny carry-on allowed on board London-Budapest flights and hauling it all the way here as it wasn’t available in Hungary at the time.

I’m not really accustomed to feeding on crumbs from others’ tables, but this brunch recipe is perfect. I can hear you rolling eyes like those are just eggs but believe me when I say this is downright awesome. For me Cheesy Cheeseless Eggs justifies the purchase of the book by itself.

Although it’s supposed to be cheeseless, I still give them a good sprinkling of grated parmesan before serving and I have a strong feeling she wouldn’t find this move in poor taste. 🙂

As for the burst tomatoes, I make them in the oven, not in a skillet. While the temperature is rising to 200°C, I arrange the tomatoes with the stalks on in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then roast until tomatoes are blistered and a little shriveled.

I always did the bacon as Chrissy does: roasting in the oven too, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. No skillet means no oil splatters and undercooked parts. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and crushed garlic, it’s crisp and wonderful in under 15 min.

Make this meal for a lazy weekend breakfast and watch with undisguised satisfaction as your loved ones gulp it down!

Cheesy Cheeseless Scrambled Eggs

  • Difficulty: easy
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A breakfast feast from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook. Serves 4.

Ingredients

12 eggs

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper until homogeneous.
  2. Heat oil and butter over low heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet until butter is melted.
  3. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring slowly but constantly until curds form and eggs start to thicken, 10+ min. Remove from heat.

Good news: I hear a highly anticipated Cravings Part 2 is coming!

Love,

Fruzsi

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link; I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!

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On Decluttering, Hygge and Happiness

cup with hearts

It may sound strange, but I feel like the new year has just begun. To me, it’s not NYE that really marks the end of last year and the start of a new one: I wake up on January 1st and tend to be quite melancholic. Everything looks and feels the same as it did the day before, it’s still winter and it would be for at least a good two months longer.

(Not that I have anything particular against winter; every season could and should be enjoyed no matter which climate zone the place you call home happens to be in.)

But only around this time of the year do I actually start feeling resurrection: when the sun begins to set a little later, its rays are slowly gaining back their strength, birds are singing again and nature is awakening. Everything is fresh and new, a carte blanche.

I hope I’m making some sense here! 🙂

Spring has finally begun showing her lovely face to us here in Central Europe and on this much-anticipated occasion, I’ve decided no recipes today. Here’s what I have in store for you instead: elements of happiness. Oh, yeah!

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the international bestsellers The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. These books are definitely the talk of the town these days.

I think we’ll all agree I’ve picked some pretty hot topics to discuss in today’s post as those catchphrases in the title are #trending like crazy for some time now. Everyone’s sharing an opinion on these two subjects, so I had to see for myself what the buzz was all about.

I’ll be frank with you, I did feel the need for regular wardrobe purges before I was advised to do so and I’m beginning to think I should’ve been born in Denmark, as I was always naturally drawn towards things with a high hygge-factor (is there anyone not obsessed with cinnamon buns and throw blankets anyway?).

Finding nothing really groundbreaking in either one of these books, I still enjoyed reading and will probably refer back to them multiple times. Like anything else in life, you have to pick and choose the elements that work for you and your situation.

Admittedly though, my longing for a fireplace reached all-new levels and I also have a newfound sense of minimalism concerning my whole life, not just the underwear drawer.

Because even if you already know/do/have experienced some (or most) things listed in these volumes, it’s nice to put a name to a feeling that’s hard to describe (that would be hygge) and to have a system handy for keeping your spaces tidy (the KonMari Method).

As an introvert, the idea of a well-organized home, coziness and slow living is very appealing to me anyway. But could saying goodbye to pilling sweaters and lighting a bunch of candles really be the key to happiness (in the including but not limited to sense)? I kinda think so!

Let me elaborate.

As Benjamin Franklin put it: ‘Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life’.

In my mind, his words translate to appreciating the now, savoring the moment and being grateful for simple pleasures as key factors in the pursuit of overall wellbeing. And you can only do so when you have order and predictability in your life.

So here we are at my bottom line: it’s important to dream big, have focus and work towards your goals, wether it’s having more time, money or whatever it is you think would make you a happier person.

But the content you feel in those silent moments when you are snuggled up cozy in your favorite spot at an orderly, functional home with a good book and a steaming cup of hot chocolate is what real happiness looks like on an everyday basis.

It’s in the small things. Remind yourself of that!

Love,

Fruzsi

Have you read these cult books, or are you familiar with their concept? How do you feel about them? Are you planning to incorporate some aspects to your lives on any level? I’d love to know!

 *Disclaimer: Reviews or any other refernce made to publications on My Chest of Wonders represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

“Cup with hearts inside” photo by valeria_aksakova / Freepik

Risk it for the Biscuit: Danish Vaniljekranse

danish vaniljekranse bisuits

You guys have to see this! Long story short, it was time for another of the necessary culls at my parents’s house last fall, targeting the kitchen and pantry this time. Chipped mugs, gift-pack whiskey glasses, you know, the stuff that keeps culminating over the years.

And so, I see my mom putting this in the toss section:

universal dough press

This memento cannot go was my reaction. Never been big on baking, you take it then, she shrugged. So here we are, an iconic article and me in my kitchen: I give you the glorious Universal Dough Press biscuit maker!

Produced in the ’80s by the booming centrally planned socialist command industry of Czechoslovakia, no less! This is serious retro alert for me, regardless of the fact that my Birth Certificate was issued with the red star still in it.

Hell-bent on using the device ever since I took it in, biscuits were on the proverbial chopping block. And then February, well, being February with gloomy, rainy, dull end-of-winter days finally made me go for it.

So next, a review of a kitchen gadget showcasing that Eastern Bloc zeitgeist nostalgia, plus a yummy Scandinavian-inspired recipe (for maximum geopolitical contrast, if you know what I mean).

Because who doesn’t love Danish butter cookies? I know I do, but I find shaping Vaniljekranse the traditional way with a piping bag quite the workout. Will it be easier with my newly acquired biscuit maker? We’re about to see!

vanilla pod and seeds

First, I made a batch of the simple dough (keep reading for the recipe). So far so good. It was time to assemble the dough press. Good thing I haven’t turned the oven on right away!

There’s a users manual included in the box written in Czech. The text wasn’t impossible to understand as I speak some Russian, but to actually get the concept? I eventually got so confused and fed up that I just tried figuring it out on my own.

Fast forward to choosing a disc attachment and filling the cylinder with dough. Let the fun begin! When I say fun, I mean I made a total mess of my kitchen – only started to get the hang of it somewhere between the 15th and 20th cookie. The predecessors were so distorted I had to mix them back in the batch.

biscuits on baking tray

They baked fine, taste great and in the end, after some considerable amount of practice most of them turned out looking acceptable.

dough press attachments

I have a few observations though:

You have to have a really soft, soggy dough, otherwise you’ll need the power of a soviet nuclear reactor to press it through the tiny slits on the discs.

Forget recipes calling for anything not in powdery consistency: oatmeal, crushed walnuts and the like will plug up the device in the blink of an eye.

Also, the aluminum it’s made of is not dishwasher safe: good luck with all those small, crooked particles…

Bottom line? I totally don’t need this dough press in my life. Mom, if you’re reading this: you were wise not to ever use it!

By the way, I’ve found one of these on Etsy for $110. Give me half of that and this piece of crap history is yours!

vaniljekranse-closeup

Danish Vaniljekranse

  • Difficulty: easy
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Danish butter biscuits with almonds and vanilla.

Ingredients

1 vanilla bean

175 g (6 oz) sugar

200 g (7 oz) butter, room temperature

2 eggs

250 g (9 oz) all-purpose flour

75 g (3 oz) almond meal

pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Scrape out seeds from the vanilla pod.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients to make a soft dough.
  4. Shape cookies: either fill dough into piping bag with the star nozzle attached and extrude into circles of 4 cm (1.5 inch) in diameter, or use a dough press with the disc of your choosing.
  5. Place cookies on baking tray about 3 cm (1 inch) apart.
  6. Bake for 8 min, until light golden around bottom.

Batch yields about 40 traditional ring-shaped cookies, or around 100 bite-size tea biscuits.

Love,

Fruzsi

Yeast Dough & The Book That Made Me Do It

yeast dough title image

Earlier this year in the post on baking challah I’ve told you about my weird fear of yeast dough. That was the very first recipe I tried and to my geniune surprise, I was successful right away. Looking back at it now, I just can’t comprehend what I was so anxious about.

If you follow my Facebook page you have seen how since then I started conquering the once-dreaded yeast dough kingdom one pastry at a time, and I’m proud to say not one batch ended up in the bin so far. This makes it even harder for me to understand my former concerns.

Playing my own therapist, I’ve come to the realization that the core problem was both my grandmothers being famously good at baking. Just bear with me, I’ll explain!

I think it’s that they made it look so simple. Effortless. Like adding yeast to flour and a few other simple ingredients to make a living, breathing dough was something so basic no explanation whatsoever is needed.

Also when I was inquiring about a recipe, they usually said there is not really a recipe. My child, this is but the simplest thing. When asked how much of this or that, the answer either was some, you’ll feel it or a few spoonfuls (but with that specific spoon inherited from this great-grandmother or the other).

I don’t remember them measuring ingredients by the gram, and the dough wonderfully came together and has risen perfectly anyway, every single time. Decades of practice and experience was on their side, something I lacked. So I just gave up on yeast. Funny how I made soufflés, crème brûlées or pâte à choux over the years without ever doubting myself, but a dough that needs rising? Not me.

Besides something snapping around Easter, there was also an impulse purchase that gave me a push in the right direction by insisting yeast dough is not rocket science (news flash: it really isn’t), and that was the cookbook Limara Péksége (Limara’s Bakery) by Tóthné Libor Mária.

limara peksege cookbook cover

Public Service Announcement: Although it is not available in English, I believe non-Hungarian readers would also enjoy the review of this book.

Marcsi is a wife and mother of two who „… was an average housewife with an average kitchen” until her mother gave her a bread machine one Christmas. She says she’s obsessed with homemade breads and pastries ever since, and that was when she found her real passion.

Starting her blog in 2008, she simply wanted to create a platform for her recipes and was shocked to see it become so widely popular in such short time. And while Limara Péksége might not be the shiniest blog out there design and visuals-wise, each and every recipe is guaranteed to work.

With her immense knowledge acquired over the years, Limara is creating genuine content for us time after time. She gets loads of feedback in her comments, is invited to every major gastro-themed event in the country, does tons of interviews and workshops and is a judge for numerous baking contests.

The idea of a book was originally suggested by her readers. Her first volume, published in 2014, (2 more came out since) is a collection of her best, foolproof bread and pastry recipes she has perfected over time, a compilation of her favorites.

In the beautifully styled and photographed hardcover (credit to Réka Kövesdi), you’ll learn about ingredients, the 12-steps of bread baking, and get a guide of the essential equipment along the recipes. Marcsi also included her tips, plus detailed photos and graphics to help you with the trickier parts of the process.

limara peksege cookbook quickview

After you’ve learnt the basics, it’s time to start baking. You’ll find Marcsi’s mouthwatering, tried and true recipes for breads, challahs and doughnuts, crescents and buns, sweet and savory fortified doughs, puff pastry with yeast and last but not least, scones and pretzels.

I love how straightforward the book’s style is, encouraging you to forget your reservations and just do it. It’s all about showing you how simple baking really is, without unnecessarily overcomplicating anything. When I make something from Limara’s Bakery, I feel like Marcsi is reassuringly holding my hand along the steps.

You can get a sneak peek of the book on the publisher’s website here.

My copy has become the Nr. 1 on my shelf for home baking and is now full of post-its with my notes. Watching dough come to life is magic in itself, and when the smell from the oven makes the fam gather in the kitchen, well that is true bliss.

Looks like I needed to turn 30 to fall head over heals for yeast dough, but it was well worth the wait. No stopping me now.

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: The aforementioned publication was featured on My Chest Of Wonders with the author’s permission. The review of the book represents my genuine and unbiased opinion, I do not earn a commission after purchases, nor am I being compensated in any other way.*

“Making dessert dough” photo featured in title image © freepik