Monday, March 18, 2013

Weekend Recipe: Goulash of Smoke and Bone

As you know I just finished reading The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and in the novel Karou and her friends frequently visit a cafe called Poison Kitchen. I love how Taylor describes this cafe in the story and I would absolutely want to go there if it were a real place. It is located in Prague Castle and is decorated with old statues wearing gas masks. The history of Prague Castle is interesting. During WWII it was occupied by the Nazis during their invasion of Czechoslovakia and Czech soldiers rose up and attacked them. Then the Castle was home to the Czech government during the communist regime. Now, in modern day Czech Republic, the castle serves as head of state.

Prague Castle. Pretty, right? By Stefan Bauer via Wikipedia.
Anyway, Karou's favorite thing to eat at the restaurant is goulash and there are several scenes where she is partaking in this dish. I have never had goulash and wasn't quite sure what it was, but my mom described it as a stew containing mainly ground beef and tomatoes that is usually served over egg noodles. Fun fact: Goulash is one of the national dishes of Hungary. Since I have a longstanding love affair with all pasta dishes, I set out to find a highly rated vegetarian version and I was not disappointed. Happens that had such a recipe.

Vegetarian Goulash

Gather your ingredients.

1. 1 teaspoon olive oil (I used canola oil since that's what I had on hand)
2. 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
3. 1/4 cup celery, chopped
4. 1/2 cup of mushrooms, sliced (I used closer to a full cup)
5. 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
6. 1/2 cup veggie crumbles (I used closer to a cup)
7. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
8. 1 teaspoon paprika
9. 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
10. 1/2 cup red wine
11. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
12. 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
13. 1 teaspoon tomato paste
14. 1 teaspoon sugar
15. salt and pepper

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, celery, and mushrooms. Saute until just tender (5 minutes).

I know my lighting is stellar.

Add green pepper and veggie crumbles and cook another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika.

I like how the frozen veggie crumbles steam here.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Add the wine, oregano, caraway seeds, and tomato paste.
A note about caraway seeds: This is my first time using them. I opened the container and sniffed them and I was immediately in love. I imagine caraway would be a lovely scent in toothpaste, lotion, and candles. According to WebMD caraway is used medicinally for heartburn, bloating, gas, improved control of urination, killing bacteria in the body, and relieving constipation, so, bonus!

Drink some of the wine you just opened.

Please excuse my jammies and bedhead. Also, yes, I broke lent and yes, I feel bad, but I simply cannot be held to such stringent rules.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn to low and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Right before serving add the sugar (I just tossed in a sugar cube) and season with salt and pepper.
A note about sugar in tomato-based dishes: Sugar complements and tones down the acidic taste of tomatoes to make tomato-based dishes taste smoother. That's why adding coconut milk to curry dishes works so well. Plus, duh, coconut is awesome. Brown sugar also works and is super good in spaghetti sauce. Only add a smidge.

Serve over rice or noodles (I used a quinoa-based spaghetti). Enjoy!

The Verdict: Now that I have had goulash I can say that it is pretty much the bomb. I could eat this day and night. In fact, I ate it for dinner and then breakfast the next day. It's that good. Donnie, however, wouldn't even try it. He is an extremely picky eater and this recipe has ALL of his least favorite foods: peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms. When I got done cooking it I told him that I made it for him and he said, "uh...I am not eating that..." Lolz. More for me.

Have you had goulash? Do you love it as much as I do? Have you tried caraway seeds? What else should I make with them?

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