Fearless Females Challenge: March 7 – Favorite Recipe

The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.

Prompt for March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

My family has a number of recipes that have been handed down from mother to daughter over the generations, particularly on my mother’s side of the family. One of my all-time favorites has to be my great grandmother Irene’s Hungarian raisin, walnut, and cinnamon filled crescent cookies, or Kifli as they are known in Hungary. The following (left) is an Internet image of these tasty Hungarian treats. For those familiar with it, they are similar in appearance to rugelach pastry (right).


The following is the recipe for my great grandmother Irene’s Hungarian cookies, as she made them for as long as I can remember, and how my Mom makes them now. This is from her handwritten directions on how to make them.

The recipe is for approximately 2 dozen cookies.

The Raisin-Nut Filling:

  • 4-6 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 large box of raisins
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of Honey
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

The Sweet Dough:

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks of real butter + 3 tablespoons for brushing tops of cookies
  • 1/2 cup warm water (may need to add a little more)
  • 3 packages Fleischmann’s Dry Yeast
  • 1 Egg white
  • 2 Eggs
  • 6 cups unsifted flour (sift flour after)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar

Directions: In a large bowl put flour. In small bowl mix warm water and yeast–set aside. In a sauce-pan heat milk just until bubbles form. Add sugar, salt and butter; stir until dissolved. Cool to lukewarm. Now add yeast. To flour add milk mixture and eggs, mix well until smooth. Dough will come away from sides of bowl Turn into large greased bowl, brush with butter or oil, cover with foil and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Dough will rise to top. Knead dough. Roll out dough into circle and cut like a pizza. Butter each piece before adding nut mixture at the largest end. Make sure to let dough rise again after filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Butter and sugar as soon as they are taken out of the oven.

In my family, the tradition was to always make this around New Years, along with my great grandmother’s stuffed cabbage. On one occasion that I observed her making these traditional Hungarian cookies, she told me that she made them the way her mother, Julia (Molnar) Balla, taught her to make them (with few substitutions), and that she must have learned how from her mother. My grandmother, Alberta (Sebok) Hamilton, makes them, as does my Mom. So, it is not only a family favorite, it is a family tradition. One day, I want to try my hand at making them.

A photo of Julia (Molnar) Balla with two of her daughters, Esther and Julia (aka Judy), in the Kitchen
A photo of Julia (Molnar) Balla with two of her daughters, Esther and Julia (aka Judy), in the Kitchen

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