Still on the subject of great produce from the NSW Southern Highlands, I'm sharing my recipe for this rib-sticker of a soup, created last week using a smoked pork hock from the good folks at Maugers Premium Quality Meats in Burrawang and Moss Vale.
'I am a little prone to romantic illusions and imagine our pheasants wandering around a quince orchard, but Colin advised me that the pheasants would peck at the fruit as it ripened, so there had to be a little adjustment to my dream' writes Maggie Beer in her book, Maggie's Farm. 'They inspire me so! Their look as a fruit, the beauty of the blossom and the diversity of uses of this often ignored fruit seem to me to be the essence of the country.'
According to my numerous cookery books, 'osso buco' or 'ossi buchi' translated from the Italian to English means 'bones with holes'. However, esteemed food writer, Elizabeth David, wrote in Italian Food: 'Incidentally, I have seen it asserted that ossi buchi means drunken bones.' Either way, this classic Milanese dish is mouth-watering and bone-sucking good.
It would be little wonder if Hungarian goulash had complained of an identity crisis over the years. Recognised internationally as a stew (and frequently bastardised in various ways), the famous icon of Hungary is a thick and wholesome soup named after the nomadic Magyar herdsmen or gulyás of the Great Plain.
In The Cuisine of Hungary (Penguin), George Laing explains that goulash is [one of] 'the four pillars of Hungarian cooking' and the origins can be traced back to the ninth century, when 'the ancient Magyars dipped into the gulyás with their wooden spoons'. Yeah, those guys knew how to eat with gusto!
At its best, goulash is cooked outdoors in an iron kettle or bogrács suspended over an open fire (per my cousin György's method in the photograph above). Add a generous blob of pork lard during the cooking (if you dare) and make sure you have large chunks of home-baked bread sliced and ready. Then invite a loud and ravenous family over, and finish off with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody belting out from the ipod dock.
If you don't happen have a bogrács, which Hungarians transport to picnics much like other nationalities might do with a picnic basket or an esky, then cook your goulash in a soup pot indoors. Jó étvágyat kívánok! Enjoy.
GOULASH THE WAY MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME
1-2 tablespoons oil
2 brown onions, chopped
1kg beef shin (or stewing steak), cubed and trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon Noble Sweet Hungarian paprika
2 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
1 green capsicum, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
up to 2 litres water
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
a few sprigs of parsley
a few caraway seeds (entirely optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot and saute the onions until they are just golden. Add the beef and cook it until it is well browned. Stir in the paprika, carrot, capsicum, tomato, salt and one litre of water.
Bring the soup to the boil, the lower the heat, cover the pot and cook the goulash gently for up to two hours. At this stage, add the potatoes and parsley, and up to an additional litre or so of water (less if you prefer a less liquid Goulash). Then simmer until the potatoes are tender. Serves 6.
11/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 free range egg
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Knead to a firm, dry consistency. Grate directly into simmering soup or pinch off 1 cm pieces and drop into the soup. The noodles are ready when they rise to the top. Serves 6.
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Once the first frost hits during winter in Canberra, it's time to reach for the long johns and snuggly blankets, and hibernate. Steaming hot soups are back on the menu, offering fuel and comfort food. So let's gather a few of my favourite ingredients, combine them with some hand-picked herbs and home-made stock, and let them simmer away until a delicious aroma fills the kitchen.
The days are flying past so quickly of late that I can barely catch my breath. It's Friday afternoon already and, as the sun begins to set over the distant Brindabella Ranges, I thought I'd drop you a short note to wish you all a happy weekend!
Goat curry made its way into my life sometime in 2005, together with a completely new lifestyle following the breakdown of my 27-year marriage. I was living on my own for the first time ever and an entirely different (and delicious) world had opened up to me.
That kind of change is somewhat curious. At first, it's daunting, as you've become so accustomed to living (or not) your life in a certain way, and old habits really do die hard. First and foremost, you have to get used to your own company, and that can be a mixture of feeling ever so lonely, yet knowing you're embarking on an awesome adventure. And then after a while you start to find your way, settling in to fresh routines, making new friends and trying new things. It's like dipping your toes into an icy-cold ocean, then gradually immersing your body in the cold water a little at a time, and finally plunging confidently into the briny deep — relishing the invigorating refreshment that it offers.
Slow Cooked Pears with Cinnamon, Bay & Vanilla
'Would you like some fresh bay leaves?' a work colleague asked. 'Yes please, gladly!', I replied. I was looking forward to having access to some fresh bay leaves, but must admit to being amazed and in awe when the kind lady in question presented me with a metre-long branch from her Bay tree!
Recipe for Slow Cooked Beef with Vanilla and Capsicum
[Noun and adjective, informal] a sublime food or brilliant recipe that finds it way into your heart and onto your repertoire for life.
Sometimes when you read a new recipe, you just know it's going to be a 'Keeper'. This week's snippet on Slow Cooked Beef with Vanilla and Capsicum is one such recipe and I am dellghted to share my adaptation with you.
Veal Shank and Vegetable Broth
This weekend's snippet is a rustic, nourishing broth that my mother and father cooked for us kids, sometimes with a whole chicken and the giblets, instead of veal shanks. Their own parents, my grandparents on both sides, most probably cooked it for their children too. And their parents before them most likely taught the recipe to them. My son and daughter, and my sister's three children (and their children), and our partners, all refer to it as 'Nanna Soup'. Comfort food at its simplest.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.