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Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge

Mary and Irene are sisters who live in separate towns but have participated in the Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge as a way to maintain their connection to their Hungarian heritage and to one another!

Challenge update for 2020!

Interested in signing up for the 2020 Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge? Send an email to with your full name and mailing address and tell me you want to participate in the Challenge. I will sign you up for our e-newsletter (please check your spam or junk e-mail filter and mark as a safe sender). The free apron offer is only available to those who have not qualified for an apron in previous years and complete all 12 dishes on time. 

A little history on this project:

Each year I set out to cook several Hungarian food items just because I want to try out a new recipe or a new dish. For some of us who have lived in a Hungarian community for most of their lives, Hungarian food may not feel like much of a treat.  Maybe you have had the privilege of cooking at your nagymama’s knee since you were a tiny one. But for those of us who do not live near family or a Hungarian community, club, or restaurant, cooking Hungarian foods is the only way to access it. My goal with this project is to get more people making Hungarian food at home! It’s a great tradition!

There is never just ONE recipe for a Hungarian dish and often not even just one name a recipe goes by. Not to mention, not all ingredients are available in every area outside of Hungary so sometimes you need to adapt and make do depending on the growing season and what is available to purchase. Another difficulty involves the language barrier: you might have recipes in Hungarian from your grandmother but maybe you don’t speak Hungarian! And then there is always the fun of metric conversions, unless you have decided to buy a scale. There are a lot of reasons to be intimidated by Hungarian cooking but there is such incredible food waiting to be discovered that I hope you join in on the fun!

If you don’t regularly cook Hungarian food, I invite you to participate in our Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge! Even if you do regularly cook Hungarian food, there may be some things we will make that are things you haven’t ever tried. The “challenge” part isn’t that the recipes are difficult — if you are an accomplished cook, some of the recipes might be rather simple. The challenge is to make Hungarian cooking a regular part of your life and grow your experience with Hungarian recipes. Pass them on to the next generation! You might have some great tips and techniques to offer to others — and I would love if you shared them. I am not an expert but I know that sometimes being a part of a group commitment helps certain personalities (like mine) follow through on fun ideas. Knowing there are others out there cooking motivates me! We have a private group on Facebook for the Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge participants. If you are on Facebook and want to join, you have to friend request me on Facebook (Liz Szabó Vos) , tell me you want to be a part of the Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge closed group, and I will send you an invitation to the group.

How the Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge Works:

If you are new to the Let’s Cook Hungarian Challenge, and your goal is to qualify for one of the fun aprons pictured here, you want to complete each recipe during the month it is due. Send an email to with your full name and mailing address and tell me you want to participate in the Let’s Hungarian Cook Challenge. Each month I will email a recipe to you through our e-newsletter. You must be on our e-newsletter mailing list for this to work. Make the dish before the start of the next month and submit a photo of the finished product or of you cooking or a few sentences about the process and what you learned and we will count that as a completed challenge. There will be 12 recipes, one for each month! The free apron (and no shipping charge) part of this offer is only available in the United States to people who have not qualified for an apron in previous years. If you are outside of the U.S. and would like to participate and qualify for the free apron, you will need to agree to pay the shipping charges. But anyone can join in on the challenge just for fun!

I will supply a recipe but you are not bound to that recipe. The goal is to cook the dish and see what you think. If you have access to a family recipe that you love or have never even tried, fantastic! Use that one! Or use the recipe from a family friend or your favorite cookbook. You do not have to follow the recipe I give you.  If you need to adapt the recipe a bit due to allergies or strong food preferences, that is fine. The hope is that you will find some recipes that can work in your life. You might not love everything you make and that is ok, too.

If you can involve older or younger generations in this process, that is great. If you are a grandmother or grandfather who lives near their grandchildren and can have a Hungarian cooking day, how fun is that? Or you and a cousin may decide to cook something together once a month – it’s a great family bonding opportunity! Maybe you have a non-Hungarian friend who loves to experiment with recipes – that sounds like one of the ingredients for a perfect afternoon!

The most important thing is to not take this process so seriously that you don’t have fun. I am here to learn and stretch and grow and I hope you are too! If you have any questions, please let me know! I am definitely not an expert but I don’t mind trying to find the answer.

If you know someone who might have fun with this challenge, please invite them to participate! Below are just some the items we have tackled in the past. If you want to see the recipe, click on the dish of each month and you will be directed to the recipe. I am hoping to get all of the 2019 recipes posted in early 2020. The recipes for 2020 will be different than what we have previously done! This is just a sampling of what we have previously tackled!

January 2018 — Pogácsa 

February 2018 — Palacsinta

March 2018 — Körözött

April 2018 — Rakott Krumpli

May 2018 — Chicken Paprikás

June 2018 — Sour Cherry Soup

July 2018 — Töltött Paprikás

Extra Credit — Szalonnasütés

August 2018 — Cook’s Choice Lángos OR Krémes (or be crazy and do both!)

September 2018 — Dobos Torta or other Torta

October 2018 — Sajtos rúd (Cheese sticks)

November 2018 — Dios Beigli — Walnut Roll

December 2018 — Sour Cream Twists

Bonus — Mulled Wine — Forralt Bor

Check out just a few comments from our participants:

“This year of recipes has been wonderful as has been the entire experience! Rétes is now one of my favorite recipes. It was not as daunting as I thought it may be. The dough is beautiful to work with & kneading it was probably my favorite part; therapeutic almost.” ~ Francine

“I really enjoyed the 2019 challenge and learnt a lot – that I would not have learned if I hadn’t been part of the challenge. So sign me up again!” ~ Jane

“My daughter and I had a lot of fun trying the January recipe challenge.  Our little pogácsa turned out well, and we’ll definitely be making them again.  I think next time we may try adding a little cooked crumbled bacon to the cheese mixture!  Looking forward to the next challenge!” ~ Amy

“Hello! I finished January’s challenge and had a lot of fun!  I invited a couple relatives to join the challenge and it’s been fun to share stories and photos with them too!! I made your “Agi’s Pogácsa” recipe and it turned out very good.  My family loved them! I really appreciate this cooking challenge.  My mother is Hungarian and grew up with some of the traditions on their farm.  Her grandparents came to America in the early 1900’s.  As I was growing up we did not eat too many Hungarian dishes although I remember some of them and liked them a lot.  (tarhonya, chicken and dumplings, kifli, sauerkraut & “dumplings”, and Hungarian drop noodles.) I ordered some Hungarian foods from you for Christmas and shared them with my family.  I am hoping to try more Hungarian food this year and bring back some old recipes from my past.  Perhaps I can pass on some of this to my children.” ~ Michele

“Thank you for starting this challenge!  I love the idea that I will learn more Hungarian recipes even though my grandmother and great-grandmother are no longer here to teach me.  While I was making the pogácsa today, I was reminded of some of their cooking habits and tricks, and ended up with many fond memories of these beautiful grandmas in their kitchens.  My hand mixer was acting up, so I cut-in the butter with the flour to pea size with a fork.  I also didn’t have a small round cookie cutter, so ended up using a small juice glass, as we often do to cut the moon shapes (overlapping circles) in our family’s Hungarian Moon Cake recipe.” ~ Laura

“I want to thank you for doing this cooking challenge. This is giving my brother and I something to do together even though we live in separate states. Also, it’s finally the chance to learn more about Hungary. “ ~ Gary

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