Saturday, May 16, 2009

Beef Goulash

Beef goulash is one of my all time favourite winter foods. Not that I've had it all my life. My mother is the reason I learned to cook (that is, she can't cook...). So, this recipe is allegedly a traditional Hungarian goulash. I can't remember where I got the recipe from, but it's so damned easy that you don't even really need a recipe for it.

1 tablespoon canola or other flavourless oil
3 large onions, finely diced
2-3 heaped tablespoons paprika (smoked is the one to use in this recipe... its also knows as Hungarian paprika)
1 kg round steak (that's 3 generous steaks)
1 good, home grown, sun ripened tomato (I don't grow my own. I refuse to add a watery tomato to this recipe. So, I substitute a tablespoon of tomato paste)

  • Heat up a heavy based saucepan. Add the oil when the saucepan is hot. Add the onions, and gently saute until transparent. Take the saucepan off the heat.
  • This is very important. If the saucepan is left on the heat, this next step will make the goulash bitter
  • Add the paprika, and stir through. Add the meat, and coat it well with the paprika and onion mix. Put the saucepan back on the heat, and cover the meat with boiling water. Do not over cover it. The meat should be only just covered
  • Bring the meat to a simmer, add the tomato (or tomato paste). Simmer this away for a few hours, until the meat falls apart, and the water has almost evaporated.
  • Serve with buttered noodles, or creamy mash.

Note: I'm making the goulash in a slow cooker right now... I'll tell you how it turns out, 'kay?

Edit: It worked, thou it was slightly wetter than I like.
Next time, oven top+patience

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Breakfast

This mornings breakfast was a Mother's Day breakfast.
Unfortunately, I had to cook it :/

We had French toast (also known as pain perdu or eggy bread), and bacon.
Of course, Miss Fussy (Katharine) decided she didn't like French toast, so she had egg and bacon sandwiches.

So, here's what you do. You need to grill (as in, broil) the bacon. When you're about half way through, you need to mix together 2 eggs per person, with a good dollop of cream, a dash of milk, and salt and pepper to taste.
Dip in a slice of bread. Good bread is best for this, but any bread will do - as long as it isn't starting to grow. By the French name for it, I'd say stale bread works well, though I wouldn't know, because bread never gets a chance to go stale in our house :/
Fry the bread in a lightly greased frying pan, over a low heat, until golden.

Katherine's breakfast, btw, was boiled eggs, mashed with a little cheese, and some cream. This, with bacon on a sandwich, was as close as she gets to French toast.

And voila! A meal fit for Mum!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Salmon, risotto, and snow peas

We'll start with preparing the salmon, shall we?

  • Finely slice a fennel bulb. Fennel has a slightly aniseed-y flavour, which complements fish very well.
  • Julienne a 1 inch (2.5 cm) long piece of ginger. Fresh really is best here.
  • Also, slice a lemon. This doesn't need to be finely sliced. Thick slices are probably better.
  • Place a decent piece of aluminium foil on the bench. Line it with baking paper. Place a thin layer of fennel on the baking paper, cover with 3 slices of lemon. Evenly divide the ginger in half. Place the salmon on the lemon slices, and sprinkle the ginger over the salmon.
  • Wrap the baking paper around the salmon, and then wrap that parcel in the foil, making sure its sealed well.
  • Place in an oven proof tray, and into a preheated, moderate oven. Ignore the oven for now.

Next is the risotto. Risotto is easy to make. It's just time consuming.

  • Finely dice an onion. If you're not going to cheat like I did tonight (I used a carton of creamy mushroom soup instead of actual mushrooms and cream), finely dice the dried mushrooms, and soak in boiling water. Also finely dice some normal mushrooms. This will bring your price down considerably.
  • Now, start with a good tablespoon of olive oil. Add around a tablespoon of butter. ** Melt these together, then add the onion. When that is transparent, add around half a cup of arborio rice. Stir this around until the rice is covered with the oil/butter mixture, and cook it for a bit longer. While its cooking off, add a tea spoon of minced garlic. If you add it when you're cooking off just the onions, it will burn, and make it taste bitter.
  • Now, add a cup of dry sherry, or vermouth. If you don't drink, or have neither, a cup of boiling water will have to do.
  • Once that is almost absorbed (you need to stir it constantly), you add the stock from the mushrooms, or half the carton of soup, which ever way you went. Keep stirring and absorbing until the rice is cooked. If you run out of stock or the soup carton before the rice is done, top it up with boiling water.
  • If you're using mushrooms instead of packet soup, add half a cup of cream, and a good grating of parmesan cheese at the end.

  • While you're doing all of that, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. When its boiling, add a good pinch (okay, several pinches) of salt. Now add the snow peas (also known as mange tout, and bring back up to the boil.
  • Drain it. Do this right before the risotto is almost done.

When the risotto is ready, the salmon will be ready. Plate up the salmon, with the fennel, lemon and ginger, a good dollop of risotto, and a handful of blanched snow peas.

This meal is tasty enough that even my kids eat it, but fancy enough that you can also serve it for a dinner party.
Oh, and the risotto will freeze well if you happen to have any left overs ;)

** Yes, it must be butter. You want it for the taste.