Monday, August 8, 2011

Hungarian Goulash (Make My Day)

Not the best day.  Woke with a headache.  Ate breakfast and got craving for bananas.  Cannot afford bananas.  Bananas now categorised as wildly extravagant treat on par with truffles and rhinoceros horn and must be eaten only in the supermarket.  Before you pay.  Then you don't have to.  If you know what I mean.

Needed a coffee and a little smackerel of something. Cupboard bare.  Not so much as a broken biscuit. Decide to make scones.  I suck at scones. Wrangling tray of scones into eyeball searing hot oven and pantry door in the way (am not responsible for stupidly bad kitchen design.)  Give pantry door a hip and shoulder. Said door falls off the rails, onto Miss PMG who is minding her own business, whipping cream for potentially sucky scones and does not see very tall bi-fold wooden door heading her way.  Will have very big bruise tomorrow.  And large gash.  Thank God it didn't hit head.  

Scones actually edible.  Spread some for Miss PMG who has container of frozen chilli beans strapped to arm.  There is no ice.  Not a lot of cream to go around either.  Cream fell in sink when Miss PMG got walloped.  We saved what we could.  

Stripped my bed.  Put cosy, warm, fluffy flannelette sheets in the wash.  Went to linen cupboard for second pair of cosy, warm, fluffy, flannelette sheets only to remember that I had to wash them twice.   Bird pooped on them.  Both of them.  Twice.  What are the odds? 

Sheets still on clothes line after three days of rain.  Cannot sleep without cosy, warm, fluffy flanelette sheets.  Cry.  Throw sodden sheets in machine on spin cycle.  Back in the lounge room and I stub my toe on very tall bi-fold wooden door which is now lying on floor after wood glue surgery.  Curse and cry.  

Go shopping.  Dodgiest, noisiest trolley ever manufactured.  Have list of seven items when I need everything.  Circle supermarket several times whilst trying to remember everything in my head.  Now have mantra of peas, filo, paprika, fetta on continuous loop.  Stop and write myself list before I go insane.  Lady runs into me,  gives me dirty look like it was my fault.  Hey lady, I was the stationary one.  

Stand and gaze at canned tomatoes deciding whether diced or whole suit my needs more.  Apologise to man for blocking aisle.  He scowls at me.  Want to slap him but I don't and in the meantime could somebody please tell me where they hide the wonton wrappers cause I have looked in all the logical places.  To no avail. 

At the checkout, Mitchell is so excited to be knocking off that his mind wanders and he puts all of the canned goods in one bag.  My back does something that it shouldn't as I'm heaving them into the trolley and the bread gets squashed in the process.  Start to feel sorry for myself.

Back home,  I drag the sheets out of the machine, drape them over two drying racks and put the racks over the heating vents.  Turn heater on high.  Start dinner.  Boys are making quesadillas cause it's at least two hours to dinner and they might starve before then.  Big mess.  Steal a quesadilla and start to clean up.  NO HOT WATER.   Hope I have made a mistake and get son to check, just in case I have lost all feeling and can't tell hot from cold - it can happen.  No such luck.  There's NO HOT WATER.

Mr PMG and I fight our way through the very tall weeds and I make mental note to buy whipper snapper snipper.  Locate the hot water service and find the pilot light is out.  
Neither Mr PMG or I are very at all mechanically minded so we first pray we don't blow ourselves up then take turns pushing random buttons in the hope that something will happen.  It's the equivalent of opening the bonnet and staring at the engine when your car breaks down.  It does nothing.

Mr PMG falls backwards into the weeds when I accidentally blind him with the torch and we curse our dual ineptitude.  And the fact we don't know any plumbers.  Decide against buying whipper snipper  as it would only end in tears.  House is now stifling hot and I complain about the heater being up so high.  Forget all about cosy, warm, fluffy, WET flannelette sheets and turn heater off.

Get angry at Masterchef for splitting final show in two.  And that stupid dumb snowman.  Vegetables in desserts are just confusing.  Decide Masterchef is rigged anyway and I'm never watching it again.  Time to put an end to this day and snuggle up in my cosy, warm, fluffy flannelette sheets.  "What eejit turned the heater off?"  Ah yes it was me I forgot.  Sheets damp and cold.   Frabjous end to a frabjous day.  At least there was Goulash for dinner.  No substitute for the sheets but warm and cosy nonetheless.  Just to top off the day I forget to take a photo.  Ahh, I've got the leftovers methinks.  Uh Uh.  Boys demolish leftovers.   Just not my day.

Hungarian Goulash
There are thousands of recipes for Goulash.  After making it several times, I have taken the parts that I like from several of them, added my own bits and put them all together.  It contains no cayenne pepper, worcestershire sauce, macaroni, for crying out loud or green capsicum.  Green capsicum is just wrong in anything.  
Here is my goulash recipe.  A guaranteed highlight when your day is out of kilter.

1 kilo of gravy beef or chuck steak cut in 2-3cm dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium brown onions, sliced
Three tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (use less if you don't like a lot of garlic but then I don't know if we could be friends).
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (you can leave these out if you like, that won't upset me but they do taste good)
Finely grated peel of one lemon
1 heaped teaspoon of dried marjoram (you can use oregano but the marjoram is sweeter)
One quarter cup of tomato paste
Three cups of beef stock (stock cube is fine)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
teaspoon of sugar
6-7 medium potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornflour mixed with enough water to make a paste
Sour cream and small pickled cucumbers to serve

Heat oven to 180 degrees.
Heat butter and olive oil together in large pan and saute the onion until it is soft.  Add all other ingredients except the beef and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes stirring all the time until it is well blended.  Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.  
Add beef and mix well with other ingredients.  Cook until the meat is well coated and begins to turn brown.  Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Transfer everything to a large casserole and place a layer of baking paper over the top and then the lid.  (This keeps the steam in and helps to make the meat tender).  Place in the preheated oven for 90 minutes.  Add the potatoes after 90 minutes and stir them in well, making sure they are submerged in the liquid.  Return to the oven for 30 minutes.  Test to see if potatoes are cooked.
If you wish to thicken the sauce, add a couple of tablespoons of the hot sauce to the cornflour or arrowroot mixture and stir well.  Return this back to the casserole and stir well.  Replace the lid for a minute or two to allow sauce to thicken.
Serve in a bowl with sour cream and sliced small pickled cucumbers (they're optional but delicious.
This recipe will easily feed 6-8