Sunday, July 15, 2012

Canadian-Style Goulash

Let me start by saying that I would really appreciate it if you could help me figure out why this dish is ‘Canadian-Style’. Being a Canadian… well I don’t see any cheese curds and gravy… or peameal bacon (or as American’s call it ‘Canadian bacon’).

This recipe is from a new cookbook. When I last visited home my mom gave me the rest of my Grandma G’s handwritten cookbooks as well as three printed cookbooks that were hers. All three printed books are collections of recipes and this is the one I am cooking from today.

As you can see this book is a collection of recipes for casseroles from the ladies of Beta Sigma Phi (oooh… are these secret sorority recipes?). Just look at the inspirational cover casserole! Those are surely canned mushrooms. I also learned the secret ingredient in the cover recipe is a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee Ravioli.

You may not be able to see that the cover boasts 1,000 casserole recipes. I can tell you that if they edited out all the ones that contained some kind of canned soup – the number would probably drop to about 150.

I decided to make the ‘Canadian-Style Goulash’. I chose this recipe for the following reasons: 1) Grandma had put a check next to it so I gather she made it at some point; 2) there was no canned soup in it; 3) I’m attempting to eat less meat and I can sub the ground beef for tvp; and 4) I need cheap lunches for the week and this would seem to do the trick.

The assembled ingredients are pretty straightforward. The recipe calls for margarine but I have chosen to use butter instead. I’m also using that bag of tvp (textured vegetable protein) instead of ground beef and I’m going to use some fresh garlic instead of the optional pinch of garlic salt.

As I have everything cooking up you can see my biggest casserole dish in the background, then my pot of boiling water for the pasta and then the tvp cooking with the chopped veggies and grated cheese in the foreground.

The most interesting thing about the recipe for you, the reader, may be the prep of the tvp. I decided to use the recipe here.

I doubled the recipe and in the picture above it is simmering with water and three tbsp. of soy sauce. After all the water was absorbed I put in some olive oil, a splash of worcestershire sauce, a few drops of liquid smoke and some oregano and cumin. I think it looks pretty close to ground beef in the end and had a nice flavour. Also this amount of tvp cost about $0.60 at my bulk store.

When the pasta was done I mixed it with half the grated sharp cheddar cheese.

I then added the tvp mixture, a can of crushed tomatoes, and I can of tomato paste. I also added the chopped onion, green pepper and garlic that I had sautéed for five minutes in some butter and olive oil. The recipe called for a half cup each of the green pepper and onion but I just used the whole pepper and whole onion as well as three cloves of garlic.

Here it is with the cheese sprinkled on top ready for the oven for… what the hell! TWO HOURS!

Everything in this is cooked already… why does it need to...? Oh okay. Two hours. I guess the ‘flavours merge’ during that time or something. It’s a good thing I started this a long time before dinner!

While this cooks I’m curious why this is called a goulash. What is a goulash?

Let’s compare what I’m making to the Wikipedia definition: Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás) is a soup or stew [not really] of meat [okay], noodles [yes] and vegetables [a few] (especially potato [nope]), seasoned with paprika [definitely not] and other spices [garlic salt?].
So we seem to have a loose interpretation of a ‘goulash’ and I still don’t know what makes it ‘Canadian-style’.

Well it did smell good while cooking. I should mention that I added pepper but with all the soy sauce I put in the tvp I didn’t add any other salt to the dish.

Coming out of the oven… it looks like it could feed a crowd.

This is a dish that is hard to make look pretty!

You know what? It tasted pretty good. It tasted exactly as you might expect. Kind of like lasagna made with more of a pizza sauce (probably because of the tomato paste). I enjoyed it and I think it will do well for lunches for work. It was also very inexpensive to make. My favourite part about this recipe was learning how to use the tvp. With all the ground beef recipes that I have in these cookbooks I think I just found a way to make them a touch healthier.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thimble Cookies

I decided today to try a classic looking jam-filled cookie that seemed like it would be pretty tasty and easy to make.

It was once again from one of the clipped recipes in the book and you can see this was submitted by Jean Soluk from Beausejour. I also find the other recipes kind of amusing – like the ‘oriental’ chicken 'plaff' (pilaf?) and the sweet and sour sauce that they make sure to point out is Chinese. Ah small town life in the 70s.

Let me also show you my favourite thing about this recipe – the back. Check out how much house you can get in Thunder Bay for $26,900 at that time! Also I like the little bit at the bottom about someone looking for a player piano.


So let’s get started on the cookies. Here are the ingredients. All nice normal baking ingredients… no gelatine in this one! In any form!

I start with creaming the butter and sugar. I love the pale colour of creamed butter. Then I add the egg yolks and it is such a beautiful bright yellow colour.

Adding the dry ingredients the dough comes together – super simple.

I use the nuts that I have on hand which are walnuts. They are left over from some apple walnut muffins. I decided to break them down in my Magic Bullet blender (which I love – great for small blending and for smoothies!). I almost went too far and made walnut butter – but I stopped just in time.


So I’ve got my assembly line set up. Once again, please feel free to note the horridness of my kitchen. Although it does put me in the ‘cooking from the 70’s’ frame of mind. And I’m kind of becoming fond of the ugliness of it. So I’m rolling into balls, dipping in egg white, rolling in nuts then making a dip in the middle with a wooden spoon.

Here they are all set for the oven. This was when I noticed it didn’t actually say how long to bake them for. You would never see that in a published recipe now – but I guess you just knew to bake them until they were golden – which I did.

When they came out I spooned some jam in each one and here are the finished cookies.

They were good. It’s a good thing they have jam in them because the cookie itself was pretty crumbly and dry but the jam made it moist and sweet. I’m planning on making my dad (a person notoriously hard to shop for) a basket of homemade goodies for as a present and I think I’ll include some of these.