Saturday, 6 February 2010

Marha Gulyas with Csipetke (no, I don't know how to pronounce this either)

I spent a year in Athens as part of the Erasmus programme. This basically involved me lying around getting drunk and sunburnt and not doing a lot of work. It was a lot of fun and my friends had an idea for something to do for Christmas.

I had met friends from all over Europe, so my Hungarian friends Kinga, Zsofi and Klari thought it would be fun to have a party where we could all bring or make some food from our home countries. My friends hosted the event and made this AWESOME gulyas (you know it as goulash), which was good because the Hungarian boys brought pizza. It's basically a spicy beef stew and it's perfect for a cold winter's day; I just hope it's up to their standards!


For the gulyas:

  • About 750g braising steak or stewing beef, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika (the stuff that really blows your balls off)
  • 1 large onion
  • About 3 tbsps plain flour
  • 2 big garlic cloves
  • 4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Jug of good quality beef stock (I'm not sure of the exact amount but you need enough to almost cover the meat and vegetables)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 tins of Italian plum tomatoes, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley
For the csipetke (potato dumplings):
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsps plain flour
  1. Heat some vegetable oil in a large casserole to a high temperature (if you like heart attacks you can use lard, which is the traditional Hungarian way).
  2. Put some plain flour in a bowl and season it well with salt and pepper. Toss the beef in it, making sure it's well covered. When the oil is hot, brown the beef for a few minutes on all sides and remove to a plate when this is done. The beef should sizzle vigorously on contact with the oil - if it doesn't, take it out quickly and let the oil heat up more, otherwise your beef will just leak its juices into the pan; the idea is to seal all of those juices in. You may have to do this in batches. Use tongs to make sure the beef is properly browned with a nice little crust before you turn it over.
  3. While the beef is browning, peel and chop the onion into half moons. When the beef is all browned and removed to a plate, put your onions into the pan with the peeled garlic gloves and bay leaves. Fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant, then reduce the heat and put the lid on the casserole. Let the onions caramelise slowly and stir them every now and then.
  4. Meanwhile, chop your green pepper into strips.
  5. After 30 minutes of caramelisation (you love it!) add the paprika. When the paprika is fragrant, raise the heat, add the potatoes and green peppers and fry for a few minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and fry them off for about 10 minutes to get rid of that acidic flavour they can have, then add the beef back in. Cover with the stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Let it cook slowly on a low heat for about 1 and a half hours, skimming fat from the surface every now and then, until your meat and vegetables are tender enough to be cut easily with a spoon.
  7. While the gulyas is cooking through, make the csipetke. Mix the egg, water and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and knead until you have a stiff dough. NOTE: the quantity of flour I've given here is only a rough estimate; the original recipe I used suggested using 6 tablespoons, which was nowhere near enough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it in a warm place for 30 minutes, then make little balls with your hands. Put these balls in the gulyas for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  8. Garnish the gulyas with some roughly chopped parsley and serve it with some nice crusty bread to mop up the residual sauce.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

All That Remains (Irish haddock fish cakes with lemon mayonnaise)

So you've made some awesome Tim-style mashed potato but you've got a load of it left over. You can't justify throwing it away because it's winter and you're so poor that you're already reduced to burning your mum's Chris de Burgh CD collection for warmth (actually, you should be doing that anyway). So what can you do with it?

On a slightly more serious note, you do find yourself eating a lot of the same stuff all the time when you're cooking on a budget (like me), and the price of fish can be a bit of a barrier to trying out some really nice (and easy) recipes. Haddock costs about as much as salmon these days, but because you bulk this dish out with potato you can make a little bit go a long way. As I say, it's also a nice way to use up leftover mash - for me, this recipe is a lot of messing around if you just start it all from scratch. The lemon mayonnaise compliments the fish cakes very nicely in my opinion - fish and lemon are just made for each other after all. One fish cake is a nice starter, but two are substantial enough for a main course.


For the fish cakes:
  • 450g skinned smoked haddock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml milk
  • 350g leftover buttered mash
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1-2 tbsps of plain flour
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A slice or two of stale white bread, crusts trimmed
For the lemon mayonnaise:
  • Yolk of one large egg
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Break the haddock up into bite-size pieces and put it in a saucepan with the milk and bay leaves. Season and bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer and poach for about 5 minutes until the haddock is cooked through, then drain using a colander. NOTE: the recipe I based this one on suggested taking the haddock off the heat and leaving it in the warm milk to continue poaching for 10 minutes before draining it. You can try this if you want but I really didn't see the point - fish doesn't take long to cook, it overcooks easily and you're going to fry the fish cake in the pan for about 10 minutes anyway.
  2. While your haddock is cooking, make the lemon mayonnaise. Beat the egg yolk and slowly trickle the olive oil in, whisking thoroughly throughout and slowly increasing the speed at which you pour it in; you should have a nice thick mayonnaise. Season to taste and mix in the lemon juice.
  3. Using a fork, break the haddock up into flakes, then mix it with the mashed potato in a bowl. Grate the bread into the bowl. Season to taste and add the parsley, flour and grated lemon zest.
  4. Heat some olive oil in a pan on a medium-hot temperature. Use your hands to make 4 "burgers" with the fish/potato mixture. When the oil is hot, fry the fish cakes for about 5 minutes on each side until they're golden brown.
  5. Serve with the lemon mayonnaise and a leafy green salad (yes I know there's no salad in the picture, fuck off clever dick).
Some people prefer to make these fish cakes with salmon, or a 50/50 mix. I've done a basic, homely version here but if you make them with salmon they can be a bit more exciting, as the stronger flavour of salmon can lend itself to more vibrant ingredients like ginger, chilli, lime and coriander (instead of parsley). Spring onions also work well in this recipe.