Eating Goulash in Hungary and Other Stories

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It is finally Winter in Nashville. Real Hungarian Goulash is on the menu. Big chunks of beef, potatoes, parsnips and carrots in a paprika riddled broth. Hot and steaming with crusty pieces of bread for dipping.

This past summer I was traveling with friends and we spent some time in Hungary. Budapest in particular. I fell in love with the city and its food. One of my goals  was to eat real goulash soup. Bowls and bowls of it. Goulash, or Gulyas, is a cross between a soup and a stew. There are thousands of variations with everyone having their own family twist. Named for Hungarian herdsman or gulyas it is truly a dish of the people. I went…I saw….

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I ate…and ate….

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Budapest is a large, bustling city on the Danube with lots of old world charm. Like a frame from an old black and white movie taking place “behind the iron curtain”, the city seems caught between “then and now” in many ways. Haunting and beautiful, ancient and modern. A history of conflict, war, terror, lovely avenues, culinary delights and art all mish-mash together to create the whole.

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The three of us were smitten. Within weeks of our return home, the massive wave of Syrian immigrants were on the move across Europe trying to reach a safe haven in a welcoming Germany, crossing the borders of Hungary to get there. To our sadness the Hungarian government behaved very badly in this crises of humanity. Should I write about our trip..what we saw and ate? Should I share something I had so enjoyed when later disappointment clouded my outlook?

As food is a universal language with no allegiance to governments I decided that to not write this post about Budapest and Hungarian Goulash would be as silly as when people in this country refused to eat French Fries in response to France not agreeing with our invasion of Iraq.  A very silly response to a very serious situation.

So enjoy these photos and this recipe as good food is the lingua franca of people all over the world.

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Really good paprika is the key to an authentic Hungarian Goulash ,or Gulyas. It is to be found everywhere in Budapest and I stocked up on both sweet and hot. There are good paprikas from Hungary found in most large supermarkets in the USA as well as online sources.

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Hungarian Goulash

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs lean beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 2 parsnips, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, cubed

Directions:

  1. Saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent in a heavy dutch oven type pan. Stir often.
  2. Turn heat to high and add cubed beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Stir to turn meat a few times.
  3. Sprinkle paprika over meat and toss well. Add marjoram, caraway and garlic. Cook a few minutes stirring to mix.
  4. Add the carrots and parsnips to the pan with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the beef is tender for about 45 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes to the pot and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Serve bowls of hot goulash with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce.

Note: You can also serve goulash over noodles if you like.

Teresa Blackburn      http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

All scenes from Budapest in this post were shot with an iphone 6.

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Nibbling Venetian Butter Cookies while wandering Venice… August 2015

Of some places there is really nothing that needs saying. Some places you just see. You  look, absorb, ponder on and wander in. Of some places so much has already been said. Well said and beautifully said. One of these places is Venice, Italy. A city of mystery & infinite beauty. One of the world’s best cities for wandering while nibbling on Venetian Butter Cookies.

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De Chirico-like shadows, small intimate corners, reflections & slices of light on water are what grab my attention. The large, all-encompassing, well-known, travel book images do not particularly enchant me. This is probably a lacking on my part, but one I accept. I am seduced by the little moments wherever I travel. Here are some of them……

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One needs nourishment to sustain lengthy wanderings….frothy cups of cappucino and Venetian Butter Cookies help as do glasses of vino,  all which are on offer at every corner.

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All images taken with iphone 6 the summer of 2015 while wandering Venice without & with my friends Terry and Julie. Two more intrepid wanderers who shared their trip with me. Grazie.

“Venetian Butter Cookies” are ubiquitous in Venice and pretty much all over Italy. They are not too sweet and are the perfect coffee-dipping cookie.

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Venetian Butter Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp (10 Tbsps)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn mixer to low and add vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt.
  4. Turn mixer too medium and add egg yolks one at a time until well combined.
  5. Turn mixer to low and add flour 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down bowl as needed, until all flour is incorporated.
  6. LIne cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Form cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each into a “rope” about 3 inches long and then shape into an “S”. Repeat with all dough, placing “S” shapes on parchment paper lined cookie sheets as you work about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until cookies are firm and light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These cookies are found all over Italy in groceries, little markets, bakeries..fresh or in bags. They will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container and are very good dipped in your favorite Italian coffee.

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Teresa Blackburn       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

(Based on a Martha Stewart cookie recipe)