Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hungarian Goulash is not what most Americans's a SOUP

Prior to boarding our river boat for a Viking River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, we had three days in Budapest, Hungary and, as usual, my wife Dianne explored the internet for interesting things to do. We had been to Budapest before and really liked the ambiance of the city...especially on the Pest side of the Danube.

She came up with a BIG winner: an English language Hungarian cooking class! Chef Parade ( offers numerous classes and venues in Budapest and the surrounding areas (they have 4 locations).  The English language one we found was in Pest.

Getting to the venue proved to be somewhat challenging. There is no way we could ever have found it on our own...but our hosts supplied a taxi from our hotel to the cooking class site...very convenient (paid for as part of our cooking class fee!)

The taxi ride itself as a journey through the narrow back streets of Pest giving us very non-tourist view of the life styles and residences of the local population.

Typical workstation
We arrived about 10:30am with the objective of preparing a three course luncheon. Course one: Hungarian Goulash. Course two: Chicken Paprikash. Course three: a desert called Sponge Cake Somloi (Somloi Galuska in Hungarian)!

There were seven students and the teacher which was perfect for the four fully equipped workstations.

Goulash in the works
Since the desert was going to take the longest time to fully prepare (mostly oven time) we started with it (doesn't everyone? ;-) We whipped egg whites that were combined with flour and the yokes mixed with some sugar...half the batch got mixed with cocoa powder and the other half had vanilla it all together in a big pan...half chocolate, half vanilla and into the oven.

Chicken Paprikas in the works
Next we went on to the Goulash.  Most Americans think of Hungarian Goulash as a stew that is served over egg noodles.  It may be good, but not authentic.  Hungarian Goulash is a soup...a fairly thick one, but definitely not a stew.  The original recipe calls for starting with lard...but we went on a slightly lighter side and used vegetable oil...added onions...sautéed till translucent then added sweet paprica.

I learned a lot about the use of paprika in this, initially needs to be combined with an oil based solution (the sautéed onions). You use sweet paprika to cook with and spicy/hot paprika to flavor your dish at the end!

Delicious Goulash
You add cubed beef next and brown it in the onions and sweet paprika, eventually adding garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, potatoes, carrot, celery root and anything else that suites your fancy. Oh, yea...forgot about the make it a soup.  Make as thin or thick as you wish.  You let this boil for a good hour or so until all the flavors are melded and smell wonderful.

Finally, we tackled Csirkepaprikas Nokedlivel or, simply, Chicken Paprikas and Noodles! I won't go through the whole preparation here, but believe me, the end result was both tasty and fun to make.

Paprikas with noodles
To accompany the paprikas, we made the Hungarian version os spaetzle (or small dumplings).  We prepared the dough/batter, used a type of cutter to drop the dough into boiling water and let them simmer until they rose to the surface.

Chocolate and Vanilla Rum Cake
As we were preparing the three dishes, we were treated to some very good Hungarian wines that  compared well with many of the standards we have become accustomed to.  Here are the three resulting dishes...all very delicious and IMO well prepared (uhhh, I helped prepare them...duh)!

If you have some time in Budapest, we would highly recommend this foodie adventure.

After our adventue on the rivers of Europe, we did actually prepare the Chicken Paprikas at home...and found it to be almost as good as it was in Hungary...guess the atmosphere was a bit different...

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