Kachur Family Recipes


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Introduction

My Kachur (paternal) and Hitz (maternal) family trees have some solid culinary skills. Both sides have been known to make tasty food, from Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas cookies and family dinners to road trip lunches. I've long dreamt of collecting some of the recipes and knowledge into one place, so here's my latest attempt at that.

—Nicholas Kachur, 2024

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Breakfast
    1. Pancakes
  3. Lunch & Dinner
    1. Risotto
    2. Goulash
    3. Chicken Paprikas
    4. Grandma K's Mashed Potatoes
  4. Dessert
    1. Chocolate Chip Cookies
    2. Dobos Torte

Pancakes

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Let's be honest, you can make pretty decent pancakes using a boxed mix. But, there is an added sense of accomplishment in making them from scratch. It's not even that hard if you already have the ingredients.

Tips and Tricks

You can make sour milk using regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar. To make 1 cup sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into a glass measuring cup, and then add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes before using. For the purposes of this recipe, you would use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of either acid then fill up to 1 1/2 cups in your measuring glass.

Go wild with the toppings! Macerate some sliced strawberries by sprinkling a tablespoon or two of sugar over them and letting them sit for a few minutes. Pick up a fancy jam or apple butter from the farmer's market. Even spring for maple syrup—you're worth it.

Play around with the amount of baking soda and baking powder. I've reduced the amount baking powder down from 2 teaspoons in the original buttermilk recipe because I thought it made them too fluffy, but you may decide you want a little more or less.

Keep pancackes for a group warm in a low-temperature (200–250℉) oven, in a single layer on a cookie sheet, for up to 20 minutes. After that, they may start to dry out.

Pancakes Recipe

Fast Facts

Attribution

This recipe and the above tip on sour milk both come to you (very lightly edited) from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (16th Edition). It's a grand old book of many American standards.

Ingredients

For buttermilk pancakes:

For regular pancakes:

For both kinds of pancakes:

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, and salt. In another bowl use a fork to combine the egg, milk, and oil. Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened; it should remain somewhat lumpy.
  2. For standard-sized pancakes, pour out about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are golden brown; turn over when surfaces are bubbly or edges are slightly dry.
  3. Serve to happy hearts.

Risotto

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Risotto is a creamy rice dish that can be served as a main or as a complement to another dish. I learned to make it as part of a community education culinary course from Walnut Hill College here in Philly, and it's become a go-to ever since.

Risotto can be a little finicky when you're getting started, but is pretty simple once you've gotten the hang of it. The basic gist is that you will sauté some vegetables or other accoutrements, toast your rice in the same pan, and then add mostly chicken broth with a helping of white wine a little at a time to cook the rice.

You add the liquid a little at a time because you need a lot of it to cook the rice and there's only so much room in the pan. You need to prevent the rice from burning to the bottom by stirring it around and keeping it moist, but you can leave it unattended for a few minutes at a time as long as there's enough liquid.

Tips and Tricks

Stir the risotto to get a better sense of how wet it is. Looks can be deceiving when the risotto has been sitting still. You want to serve it a little moist but not soggy.

I've found I can fit a risotto for 1/2 cup of rice in an 8-inch skillet, 1 cup in a 10-inch, and 2 cups in a 12-inch.

Risotto does not hold or reheat too well, so it's best to eat it fresh and promptly.

Risotto Recipe

This recipe is a base recipe, you can adjust the proportions according to need and experiment with other ingredients. I enjoy sautéing sliced mushrooms with the onion to make a mushroom risotto and/or adding diced tomatoes with the garlic. You can even use beef stock and red wine, if you want.

Fast Facts

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Bring stock to a boil, then hold at a bare simmer to keep warm.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté onion over medium heat until soft.
  3. Add garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Add rice, and toast until grains are slightly transparent and coated with butter but not browned.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup of stock (or the wine, if you're using it), and stir until it absorbs or evaporates. Add the rest of the stock a little at a time (as your pan can handle it), stirring, until it's all absorbed or evaporated.
  6. Add the Parmesan and stir until it's been incorporated.
  7. Serve promptly, and eat with enthusiasm.

Goulash

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Goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew made with beef and paprika that'll stick to your ribs on a cold night. It does take a little planning to work around the long simmer time, but is well worth it, and doesn't need too much attention during that period. Serve with Grandma K-style mashed potatoes and a hearty vegetable for a meal that will leave everyone satisfied.

Tips and Tricks

During the long simmer period, the stew has a tendency to burn to the bottom. You can prevent this by lowering the heat and stirring the pot occasionally. Try to keep the stew on a low heat just below the point at which you notice any substantial surface activity. It's okay if some of the stew burns to the bottom, you'll just have less of it come dinnertime and a tough pot-cleaning job ahead of you.

Goulash reheats well, so if you don't have time to cook for four hours right before dinnertime, you can make it ahead of time then reheat it in ten minutes or so over low heat on the stovetop (just don't burn it!).

When choosing meat to use, many grocery stores offer a pre-cubed stewing beef that is completely serviceable. If you want to use a slightly more upscale beef, you could consider any of the following cuts that I found by just searching the web for suggestions:

Goulash Recipe

Fast Facts

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Dredge the beef chunks in flour seasoned with salt and pepper until lightly coated. Pro-tip: you can use a plastic zip bag and just shake everything together in it.
  2. Fry the chopped onions in a lightly oiled stock pot until transluscent, then remove from the pot.
  3. Sear the beef in the stock pot, adding a little more oil if necessary. You may need to sear the beef in multiple batches.
  4. Combine the wine, broth, tomato paste, onions, and beef in the stock pot. Mix well. Season with the paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Remember, you can never remove seasonings once you've added them.
  5. Gently simmer on low to medium-low heat for 3 to 4 hours until beef is tender. Taste the liquid occasionally and carefully add more of the seasonings as desired.
  6. Serve to raucous applause, or chill and refrigerate to be reheated another time.

Chicken Paprikas

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Chicken Paprikas (pronounced Paprikash) is another traditional Hungarian dish, a delectable chicken in paprika-infused sauce. It was a go-to for Grandma Kachur, and I remember having it with her many delicious times.

I haven't made this recently, so the following recipe is a hybrid of what I do remember and a recipe I've linked to in the alternate recipes section. Please feel free to experiment with it and propose improvements.

Tips and Tricks

Paprika that is too old will smell and taste dull and not season the dish adequately. Prefer to use fresher paprika if at all possible.

You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs, or even whatever parts of a whole chicken you have around depending on your preferences. Some people really like bone-in, skin-on meat for this dish, others (like me) prefer boneless. Grandma Kachur seemed to use chicken thighs, mostly.

It's best to let the dish cool a little before adding the sour cream, that way it doesn't curdle on you.

Chicken Paprikas Recipe

Fast Facts

Alternate Recipes

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Lightly salt the chicken and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  2. Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan, then brown the chicken thoroughly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan to a bowl or plate and set aside.
  3. Add the onions to the saucepan and cook them until softened, about 10 minutes. You can add a little more butter if you need more liquid, and if you have any crusty chicken residue on the bottom of the pan (called fond), scrape up that goodness to incorporate it into the onions.
  4. Add the chicken stock to the saucepan with the onions, and return the chicken to that pan as well. Bring to a bare simmer, which will probably require medium-low or low heat.
  5. In a separate, small skillet, create a roux with the flour and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. That is, melt the butter over low heat then add the flour and mix until a paste forms. Add the paprika and toast for no more than 30 seconds, being careful not to burn it.
  6. Add the roux-paprika mixture to the chicken-onion-stock pan, and mix to combine. Let the full mixture simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (safe internal temperature: ≥165℉). Season cautiously with additional paprika, salt, and pepper.
  7. Let the mixture cool briefly, then mix in the sour cream to thicken it up. Serve over a starch like mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or spaetzle.
  8. Bask in the ensuing adulation.

Grandma K's Mashed Potatoes

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Grandma K's Mashed Potatoes are not so much a recipe as a philosophy: "if you're going to have mashed potatoes, why not have them as creamy as you can?" To that end, this isn't so much "Grandma K's Recipe," as the one thing I know she did that I really like.

Sour cream. She used sour cream. Apply that to any mashed potato recipe as you see fit. I will provide a very basic recipe here, but they're mashed potatoes—you can probably figure it out.

Tips and Tricks

Apparently, Yukon Gold Potatoes are especially good for mashing, but your basic Russet Potato will do just fine too.

There are people on the internet who offer really good mashed potato recipes, but I don't know that any of them are that much better than your basic "mix things together" recipe.

I always leave the skins on because I am recovering from a childhood where I hated potato skins (don't ask me why, I don't remember), but you do you. Peel 'em if you want, it's up to you.

Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Fast Facts

Alternate Recipes

If you really want the best mashed potatoes you can get, try the excellent J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe, which does not seem like that much more work. (But is it really worth the extra effort? I don't know.)

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and salt it substantially. Add the potatoes while the water is still cool, and you won't risk burning yourself, yay! Bring the water to a rolling boil, and cook the potatoes for another 20 to 30 minutes. You'll know they're ready when a fork or knife pierces them easily.
  2. Drain the potatoes. Before returning them to the stockpot, add the butter to it and melt it under low heat. Then, you can add the potatoes.
  3. Now comes the tricky part: add milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper a little at a time while you start to mash the potatoes. Taste them as you go and adjust until you're content.
  4. You did it! You made mashed potatoes. Grandma K would be proud.

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe is based on the venerable Toll House recipe with some tweaks for our family's preferences. Using shortening and an extra quarter-cup of flour makes them fluffier, and the handful of chocolate chunks adds a little more variety to the chocolate experience.

This recipe uses ingredients that you can reasonably keep on hand most times of the year, so it makes an excellent companion for quickly satisfying baked good urges.

Tips and Tricks

While most of these ingredients are easy to keep on hand, my old roommate Aaron introduced me to the wonder of keeping a box of brownie mix on hand. That has even fewer required ingredients (usually just oil and an egg), and is even easier to put together on a whim. Thanks Aaron!

If you don't have an electric mixer, I've used the trick of melting the butter in a saucepan to make it easier to work with. You would need to ensure the mixture isn't too hot before adding your eggs so they don't scramble.

You don't have to bake these right after making the dough. It may even be better to chill them in the refrigerator or freezer, after which they form easier for baking.

The dough can be kept covered in the fridge for several days, or in the freezer for about a month, if you don't want to bake them all at once.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Fast Facts

Ingredients

IngredientFull BatchHalf Batch
All-purpose flour2½ cups1¼ cups
Baking soda1 teaspoon½ teaspoon
Salt1 teaspoon½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter or shortening1 cup (2 sticks)½ cup (1 stick)
Granulated sugar¾ cup⅜ cup
Brown sugar, packed¾ cup⅜ cup
Vanilla extract, optional1 teaspoon½ teaspoon
Eggs, large21
Chocolate chips12 ounces (1 bag)6 ounces (½ bag)
Chocolate chunksA handful / to tasteA handful / to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually beat flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in chocolate. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.
  6. Enjoy fresh cookies that you've baked yourself! That wasn't so hard, was it?

Dobos Torte

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Here is the recipe that you asked for.… I hope Nicholas really appreciates all the work this entails.

Dobos Torte—from the Hungarian last name, pronounced similarly to doe-bish—is a family favorite. I was introduced to it by way of Grandma Kachur, who pulled it out for special occasions.

In her preparation, there were six, thin layers of vanilla cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting that is just sublime. Additionally, the top layer of cake is covered with a caramel topping that is poured on and then allowed to harden.

Dobos Torte Recipe

Alternate Recipes

The Spruce Eats has a thorough recipe with photos for each step that may be useful to you. It's a little different from the recipe I have from Grandma, namely making more buttercream, and using the eggs differently. Whichever you use, I'm happy to hear your feedback.

Bea's Bites has a handy step-by-step YouTube video with a cool presentation of the caramel layer that might be helpful as well. Again, it's a similar, though slightly different recipe than presented here.

Fast Facts

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

Chocolate Buttercream Preparation

  1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double-boiler. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  3. In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and boil syrup gently for 5 minutes to help wash down any crystals that have formed on the sides of the pan. Uncover and continue cooking the syrup until it reaches the "thread" stage, about 230–234℉, where the syrup spins a 2-inch thread when allowed to drip from a fork. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Beating constantly, pour the hot syrup very gradually into the egg yolks. Be careful not to scramble the eggs by pouring too quickly. Do not scrape syrup from the bottom and sides of the pan. Beat mixture until it has the consistency of creamed butter. Cool completely, then beat the mixture, about 2 tablespoons at a time into the butter, until just blended. Gradually blend in the chocolate.
  5. Set the completed frosting in the refrigerator to chill.

Torte Ingredients

Torte Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350℉.
  2. Prepare 6 round cake pans to bake the layers. You can buy disposable aluminum pans to bake more at a time, or use your own stock of pans. Either way, grease the bottoms and line with wax paper.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Set aside.
  4. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until frothy, gradually adding the other 1/3 cup of sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently spread egg yolk mixture over the egg whites. Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and gently fold into the egg mixture until just blended.
  6. Divide the batter into equal parts and bake in the cake pans at 350℉ for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove from the pans, peel off wax paper, and cool on racks.
  7. Let cakes cool until prepared to assemble.

Caramel Topping & Assembly Ingredients

Caramel Topping & Assembly Preparation

  1. Beat the chilled frosting until fluffy. Frost and stack four of the cake layers. Add the fifth layer but do not frost. Return the five layers of cake to the refrigerator, along with the remaining frosting.
  2. Place the sixth layer of cake on a sheet of wax paper, substantially larger than the cake. This will collect caramel overflow. With a knife, make shallow indents to guide where the cake will be sliced for serving. These will be used when adding the caramel.
  3. Cook the confectioner's sugar in a heavy skillet over low heat, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon or spatula. Press out lumps and cook until a smooth, liquid caramel forms. This will happen very slowly then all at once, at which point you won't have much time before it burns.
  4. Pour the caramel over top of the sixth layer of cake and spread evenly. Working quickly before it hardens, cut the cake all the way through on the guidelines you made earlier using a knife dipped in hot water or butter. Pull apart the slices, and let the caramel harden.
  5. Pull the other five layers from the refigerator and frost the fifth layer. Arrange the caramel-topped sixth layer on top of it. Frost as desired with any remaining buttercream.
  6. Chill, then serve to thunderous applause and heartfelt appreciation.