Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Tokaji (pronounced Tok-eye) is the name given to wines from the Tokaj wine region in Hungary.

Tokaji is characterised by its sweet flavour and this sweetness is all down to the the thickness of the Furmint grapes. They're traditionally grown on a small plateau, 1500ft above sea level.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Spiced Biscuits

We love these spiced biscuits which are prefect for hanging on the Christmas tree or to be nibbled at any time! Get the kids involved, too. They're ridiculously easy to make and fun to ice!

175g dark muscovado sugar
85g golden syrup
100g butter
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
To finish
100g white chocolate
edible silver balls

  1. Heat the sugar, golden syrup and butter until melted. Mix the spices and flour in a large bowl. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tsp cold water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the melted sugar mix, egg and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well. At this stage the mix will be soft but will firm up on cooling.
  2. Cover the surface of the biscuit mix with cling film and leave to cool, then put in the fridge for at least 1 hr to become firm enough to roll out.
  3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. (At this stage the dough can be put into a food bag and kept in the fridge for up to a week.) Cut the dough in half. Thinly roll out one half on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with cutters, such as gifts, trees and hearts, then transfer to baking sheets, leaving a little room for them to spread. If you plan to hang the biscuits up, make a small hole in the top of each one using a skewer. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Bake for 12-15 mins until they darken slightly. If the holes you have made have closed up, remake them while the biscuits are warm and soft using a skewer. Cool for a few mins on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool and harden up completely.
  5. Break up the chocolate and melt in the microwave on Medium for 1-2 mins, or in a small heatproof bowl over simmering water. Drizzle the chocolate over the biscuits, or pipe on shapes or names, then stick a few silver balls into the chocolate. If hung up on the tree, the biscuits will be edible for about a week, but will last a lot longer as decorations.

A Hungarian Christmas

Christmas in Hungary is celebrated with traditions similar to those found in other Central European countries  as well customs unique to the region.

The Christmas and gift-giving season starts relatively early compared to other cultures, with the Santa-like figure, or Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas, traditionally visiting the homes of Hungarian children on the 5th December, on the eve of Saint Nicholas Feast Day, 6 December.

Although the role of gift-giver on Christmas Day itself is assigned to the Christ Child, on the night before St Nicholas Day Hungarian children traditionally place a boot on their windowsill waiting for Mikulás to come by and fill it with treats.

There is no Mrs. Mikulas in Hungary. In Hungary, Mikulás often comes with an assistant: a "Krampusz", a Devil, who punishes bad children. In the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, Miklavž has another assistant, a good Angel, who gives out presents to good children.

In the traditional Nicholas-walk, on 6 December, St. Nicholas comes clothed in a bishop’s attire, a long red coat and a red cap on his head, holding a shepherd’s crook in one hand, and carrying a sack full of gifts on his back. He cannot be seen because he arrives in the middle of the night when good little children are already fast asleep, so you'd better not try to stay up so late, otherwise he won't give you any presents, only a birch stick (virgács).

Before 24 December, people decorate their houses and start to cook and bake. At Christmas, the family members come together and celebrate. On 24 December, people decorate the tree with ornaments and put the wrapped presents under it. On Christmas Eve, which is the day before Christmas Day, young children are waiting for the arrival of Jesus and especially for the presents. Gift-giving is done after the meal, and after singing carols around the tree.

On Holy Night, Hungarians listen to holiday songs such as Silent Night and sing or attend Christmas mass. They also burn candles on the Advent Wreath during the four weeks before Christmas.