Nathan and I are in a sort of informal book club of eight random friends that has morphed into a “food club” where every meeting is a potluck and people usually bring dishes based on the book. People love getting together to eat and drink, but I don’t think we’ve had a meeting yet where everyone’s read the book. Oh well. =).
It was my turn to pick the book for last night’s meeting and I chose A Student’s Diary: Budapest, October 16 – November 1, 1956. This is the sort of historical memoir stuff I LOVE. (If you have any recommendations of similar books, please let me know!) The book is just one student’s account of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he was one of the students involved in organizing the protests that started the revolution.
The book is especially fascinating to me because I studied in Budapest in 2002 at the same university the author went to, so a lot of the places he mentions when he describes the battles all over the city are familiar to me. I found the book years after I returned by accident in a used bookstore. The irony is, when I was studying there, I had no interest in this stuff at all.
I spent most of my semester abroad having fun and taking advantage of the relaxed school schedule to travel to more western cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, Munich, Venice…). Budapest was a really awesome city too, but I didn’t do much to get “immersed in the culture” or whatever someone more mature might’ve done. No regrets though, I did exactly what I wanted and enjoyed myself, even if it’s probably not the same things I would choose at this point in my life.
Anyway, the dish most commonly associated with Hungary is Goulash, here’s the recipe for what I made last night:
Vegetarian Hungarian Goulash Serves 8
-2 1/2 cups onion
-a lot of olive oil (6 T?)
-2 1/2 cups (1 pkg) white button mushrooms, diced
-1/2 cup red cooking wine
-4 large garlic cloves, minced
-3 medium sized potatoes
-2 green bell peppers
-2 large cans diced tomatoes
-5 t. paprika
-3 t. marjoram
-3 t. caraway seeds
-2 cups water
-4 T butter (I used Earth Balance)
-4 T flour
1. In a big soup pot, sautee onion in olive oil (the amount is approximate because I just poured enough in to liberally cover the bottom of the pot, then added more over the mushrooms.)
2. While onion is cooking, chop mushrooms and throw in with onions. Add red wine and garlic and let cook down for about ten minutes while you’re chopping other veggies.
3. Chop potatoes and peppers, add to pot along with tomatoes, spices, and water. 2 cups of water should be enough to just cover everything with liquid, this goulash turns out thick, not watery like soup. Let everything simmer for about 40 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
4. While soup is cooking, make a roux by melting butter in small pot, then adding flour 1 T at a time until dissolved. Cook for a minute until thick, then add to goulash about 15 minutes before it’s done cooking.
5. Eat plain, with bread, or serve over wide, flat noodles.
-All ingredient amounts can be approximated to your taste. I took a few different recipes which all had different veggies (carrots, cabbage, peas, etc.) and different spice amounts and just threw in what I thought would be good.
-The spices in the final dish are pretty mild. It has enough flavor, but if you especially like any of these spices, add a teaspoon or two more. Season with salt & pepper to taste after serving.
-To save money on spices, buy in bulk. Bulk not meaning “buy a huge container”! Most co-ops have plastic baggies and big jars of spices so you can scoop out only how much you need instead of buying a whole container of the spice. I had never used caraway and have no regular use for paprika, so just bought a little. Saved at least a few dollars and now I don’t have unneeded extra spice jars taking up room in my pantry.
-Chickpeas work great as an addition for extra protein. We had some leftover from our falafel making last week so I added them to the goulash leftovers to take to work today.
Oddly enough, I’m eating this whole concoction over toast for breakfast here in my cubicle. It’s delicious, but I NEVER eat savory food for breakfast. Anything even remotely heavy usually sounds gross to me until hours after I wake up. I always eat some fruit, and then awhile later some oatmeal, toast, or yogurt w/granola.
Just blame it on pregnancy I guess!