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A Hungarian exchange student contributes a little flavor to local food festival

TOP OF PAGE: Foreign exchange student Dori Liptai from Hungary is a student at Wyoming Seminary who made two dishes from her homeland.

Smoked sauage, diced celery and diced zucchini are some of the ingredients used in a Hunagrian dish created by Dori Liptai, an exchange student from Hungary attending school at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston.

PETE G. WILCOX photos/THE TIMES LEADER

Dollops of sour cream and cottage cheese with bacon bits give lots of flavor to this noodle dish from Hungary, which can be served with sugar if you prefer a sweeter version.

Americans eat so many meals out. They have so much fast food. And there’s so much sliced bread.

Those are just a few of the differences 18-year-old exchange student Dorottya Liptai has noticed between daily life in the United States and in her native Hungary.

“Most of the time we are eating at home,” she said last week as she began to prepare two Budapest-style dishes for International Food Night at Wyoming Seminary, where she is halfway through a one-year exchange program.

Liptai’s contributions to Wyoming Seminary’s annual food festival were both entrees. One of them, lecsó, is a dish of vegetables, rice and sausage. The other, túrós csusza, is a dish of noodles, cottage cheese and sour cream that can be served in either savory or sweet fashion.

“We eat it usually after soup,” she explained. “When my mother makes it, she makes some for herself with bacon and some for my father without bacon but with powdered sugar.”

Some people prefer their túrós csusza with both sugar and bacon, the young woman said, betraying with a shudder how she personally considers that to be overdoing it.

Her mother does most of the cooking at home, Liptai said, and usually doesn’t follow a recipe.

“She says, ‘I just know how it feels’ and ‘Isn’t it obvious, what I am doing?’ ” Liptai said.

Despite her mother’s tendency to avoid measuring, Liptai was able to devise a list of ingredients and amounts for her two dishes. With that obstacle overcome, her next hurdle was to find a kitchen in which she could cook them

Liptai, who is living in a dormitory this year, was happy to accept Wyoming Seminary staffer Gail Smallwood’s offer to use her home kitchen in the Back Moutain on Friday afternoon.

“We’re going to do so much chopping,” Smallwood said, pointing to two containers, each designed to hold several gallons of food. “We have to fill those.”

Liptai was encouraged that her sample batches turned out well – and only slightly different than they would have if they were made in Hungary.

“The peppers here are more green,” she said, looking at the lecsó. “Yellow is what we have in my country, so that is what really we use.”

For a genuine touch of home, Liptai was pleased that Wegmans had a familiar brand of paprika in stock. “It looks like it actually is from Hungary,” she said.

The lecsó deserves a hearty bread alongside it, and Liptai also was glad to find a loaf of suitable artisan bread – unsliced.

She’s not a fan of bread that comes already cut. “It tastes like plastic,” she said with a grimace, “and it gets stale fast.”

International Food Night was held last weekend at Wyoming Seminary, but if you would like to try Liptai’s dishes at home, we’re publishing the recipes today.

Lecsó

2 pounds Italian sweet green peppers or bell peppers, cut into chunks

1 pound zucchini, cut into chunks

1 pound tomatoes, blanched, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large onion, finely chopped

7 ounces smoked or regular bacon, sliced thick and cut into pieces

5 ounces paprika sausage or smoked pepperitee sausage or whole pepperoni, cut into 1/4 -inch slices

1 heaping tablespoon Hungarian paprika or sweet paprika

1 cup quick-cook brown rice

salt

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until partially cooked but not crispy. Add the chopped onion and cook until the onions are transluscent. Stir in the rice and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the cut-up peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and sausage and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add water, up to a cup, if necessary to prevent food from sticking to pan.

Add the paprika and salt to taste, cover and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Serve with slices of a hearty whole-grain bread and a dish of sliced hot peppers for those who like this dish very hot and spicy.

Túrós csusza

1 pound flat noodles, like egg noodles

6 ounces smoked or regular bacon, cut into pieces

1 cup sour cream

10 to 12 ounces cottage cheese, large curd

powdered sugar (optional)

Cook the noodles in lightly salted boiling water according to package directions and keep warm. Cook bacon in large skillet until crispy and reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the crisp bacon pieces. Gently mix noodles with the cooked bacon and bacon fat until the noodles are coated.

To serve, place noodle mixture on a plate and spoon the cottage cheese on top of the noodles. Dot with sour cream and sprinkle with reserved cooked bacon for garnish. Serve while still warm. Pass extra sour cream for people to add as desired. For those who prefer a sweet version of theis dish, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

“Yellow is what we have

in my country, so that

is what really we use.”

Dorottya Liptai
Hungarian exchange student
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