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A Hungarian Christmas and Bear’s Boozy Cherry Chocolate Cake

I grew up celebrating a Danish Christmas, and Bear grew up celebrating an Australian one, so it was a new experience for both of us when our friend Oma invited us to celebrate a Hungarian Christmas with her, Opa, their kids, grandkids, and assorted stragglers like us.


Most people wouldn’t dream of hosting a Christmas party in a still-being-built house with no walls, windows, or doors, but Oma isn’t most people. She is hospitable to her bones and didn’t give a second thought to the construction site that is currently her home. Instead she decorated steel support beams with tinsel and set up a Christmas tree against a backdrop of sheet rock and set tables end to end so we could all sit together and enjoy the stellar views that a wall-less house provides.

With the help of her daughter and granddaughters, Oma put on a magnificent feast featuring all sorts of deliciousness. The amazing part was that all of the food was cooked in a bbq or on a fiddly camp stove because Oma doesn’t have a proper kitchen yet.

Ann and Katelyn sauteed a massive pot of cabbage until limp, then simmered it with vinegar, salt, sugar, and caraway seeds for a scrumptious cabbage dish that tasted just as good cold as hot.

The enormous ham was so delish it didn’t make it out of the kitchen without nameless grandchildren pinching pieces off when Mum wasn’t looking.

In addition to the ham there was boned and stuffed turkey, tender roasted duck, and Red Emperor fish stuffed with lemon and roasted.

Numerous salads from Hungary were perfect for the sultry Summer day we were having. Liz and I chopped up piles of veggies for a do-it-yourself salad, Jess made creamy mayonnaise for an onion-y potato salad, and I sliced Oma’s garden-fresh cucumbers for this light and garlicky cucumber salad.

There were plenty of Hungarian desserts too, none of which I can remember the names for. But they included a cream cake made with sponge fingers soaked in Oma’s home-brewed Bailey’s, and two pastries, one stuffed with poppy seeds and the other with a sweet walnut filling. (update from Hungarian friends Zita and Liz – they’re called beigli :-))

Oma kept our glasses filled with her homemade plum wine, and we ended our feasting with cuppas, Christmas crackers, and gift-giving.

It was a beautiful Christmas thanks to the generosity of these two lovely folks.

Christmas Day was spent at home, just the two of us, and it was lovely. I made cheesy biscuits and gravy for brunch, and helped Bear make his Christmas cake: a two-layer dark chocolate confection, one a round cake studded with dark chocolate pieces and raisins soaked in Oma’s homemade rum, and the other a bundt cake with fresh cherries soaked in more rum. He set the bundt cake on top of the round, then filled the center with more boozy cherries and a mix of cream cheese, sour cream, maple syrup, and vanilla. A skiff of dark chocolate icing completed the cake. Delicious!

It’s been a wonderful Christmas thus far, and, starting tonight, I’m taking a two-week holiday to rest, spend time with my hubby and good friends, and get restored and refreshed for the year to come.

Wishing you a beautiful holiday season filled with treasured moments with people you love.

See you January 9, 2015!! xoxo

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Jeanne Horak - What a fantastic feast!! That ham is gigantic and everything looks scrumptious. Bear can make that cake for me any time πŸ™‚ All the best for a happy, healthy and successful 2015 my friend!

Rachel Friesen - Next time I’m feeling self-conscious about the missing cupboard door in the kitchen or the dust on the piano, I’ll think of Oma and invite my friends in anyways. What a wonder of hospitality! Bear’s cake sounds amazing. Hope you enjoyed your break!

Anna Johnston - What a fabulous day you had. Love that, I spent Christmas in Thailand eating seafood and sipping cold beers on the beach, not really too different than I would do back home. LOL! See ya on the 9th, hope you are enjoying the break and are getting ready for a kick butt 2015. xo

Gourmet Getaways - Ohh, how lovely of Oma! And you had some great food to match her lovely heart :). I like the look of that ham!!!

Happy New Year!

Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx

Karin Stienemeier - Sounds like a lovely time Krista. Hope you are enjoying your vacation and had a great start in 2015. xox Karin

Kitchen Butterfly - Sounds delicious. What a blessing that Oma had friends she could be herself with…

Very best wishes for 2015.

My Kitchen Stories - Oma is not only a cook and host but she makes lots of alcohol to boot. She is a good friend to have. I love the sound of your Christmas Day and I love the sound of that chocolate cake. have a great holiday Krista see you in 2015

Hotly Spiced - I love the sound of your Christmas and your Oma sounds amazing. Your ham looks incredible as does the duck – what a great menu for a Christmas feast. Enjoy your break with Bear xx

Nancy - Bear’s cake sounds a-mazing! I love the sound of Oma’s feast and the fact that it was all about the food and the company. Seeing that ham brought back childhood memories when we kids would all fight over the ham rind too. Enjoy your break see you in 2015 x

Joanne (eats well with others) - Sounds like you had such an amazing Christmas! Wish you so much joy!

Maureen - I’m in love with Oma and Opa and their loving, generous spirit. I’m so happy that they have taken you on as one of their own. Their constant assurance that all is okay even if you don’t have walls is something we could all appreciate. Happy New Year!

Gorgeous cake!

Kate Bailward - Your Christmas sounds just perfect – surrounded by friends and loved ones, celebrating together. Wishing you a wonderful year to come – see you in 2015! xx

Tandy Sinclair - What a feast you enjoyed! Have a super time away from it all and see you in 2015 πŸ™‚

Krista - Aren’t they lovely, Tracy? They’ve made this Christmas so special. πŸ™‚

Krista - She really is, Joumana. πŸ™‚ Wishing you a beautiful holiday season too. πŸ™‚

Krista - The beigli were so good, @liz_posmyk:disqus No wonder you miss them! Hope you’re feeling good and strong this weekend. XO

Krista - They were delicious, @Kayrpea61:disqus πŸ™‚ Our break is wonderful so far with much-loved rain, cricket to watch, naps, and leftover ham. πŸ™‚

Tracy A. - What a generous couple! Enjoy your respite- every minute of it! Happy New Year!

www.TasteofBeirut.com - It seems Oma is quite the miracle worker! What a delicious looking feast, and even more amazing that it was all cooked outdoors! I hope you have a merry christmas and a happy new year!

Liz Posmyk - A delicious Christmas, Krista. I miss my mother’s walnut and also poppyseed beigli! Seasons eatings.

Ken Powell - What an awesome feast. Having been to Budapest, I can just imagine Oma’s creations. Have a great break, Krista and Bear.

Krista - They were both utterly delicious, Cathy. πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to this break so much. Wishing you a wonderful holiday!! XO

Cathy - I love the sound of Bear’s cake Krista. Oma’s Hungarian Christmas sounds amazing too. Enjoy your break, see you in 2015 πŸ™‚

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