Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FOOD! From the "old country."

Doing all that research on Czech, Slavic, Bohemian, and otherwise Eastern European things made me really want to go out to a restaurant specializing in that kind of fare... even though I am for the most part vegetarian. The Czechs, it seems, have little use for leafy things, preferring instead to deck their tables out with bread, beer, and lots of meat. 

(From somewhere comes a sound bite of John Rhys-Davies as Gimli the Dwarf: "Roaring fires! Malt beer! Rrrrrred meat off the bone!!")

Of course, to be fair, I once had a Czech penpal who wrote about being vegetarian and interested in studying Buddhism at uni. That was a long time before I became vegetarian or took classes like "Buddhism and Literature," but a short time before our correspondence, for whatever reason, dried up. Pity.

Anyway-- there aren't any Slavic restaurants in these parts, but that never stopped the originators of the Slavic recipes in their humble kitchens, so I was determined not to let it stop me in mine, either. I decided to make gulas (goulash) - though it was developed in Hungary, it spread through Eastern Europe - and hoska.  I was going to make knedliky (dumplings) for soaking up the gulas, but wanted to get dinner on the table before 8pm, and something in that recipe mentioned letting the yeast rise for an hour or two. Yeah, right. 

I made two braids of the hoska, but my oven is too small, so they just sort of pushed together. They separated easily enough, though, when I brought one to my event to thank the participants for signing up. I've been working on the other one since, and it's quite good, though it dries out rather quickly. 

As for the gulas, I think I used almost the entire mini-canister of paprika for it, which amounted to maybe 3 tablespoons. There's also cumin, chili pepper, coriander, pepper, and salt spicing up some beef, 3 diced onions, a can of tomatoes, a small bulb of garlic (from Aomori, no less), green peppers (piman), and potatoes. I forgot if I put anything else in there... :D


Gramma said...

JT, I love your eggs. They are totally beautiful. In regard to the Slavic food however, meat was usally reserved for feasts and other special occasions. The Czechs ate a lot of carbohydrates (bread, dumplings, etc.) saturated in gravies made with whatever was available (dill, mushrooms, horseradish, etc.) Houby (mushrooms) and zely (cabbage, sauerkraut) were also diet staples along with grains such as barley. But when they did slaughter a pig, everything was used except the oink.

Sue said...

That looks great! I know what you mean about the oven. I've come to believe that producing delicious and attractive baked goods in a Japanese oven is an art form in and of itself!

Mom said...

Speaking of which, Sue, we wondered how you made that beautiful Blarney Bread for St. Patrick's Day! Jas had wanted me to send her bread recipes during Lent, but she has that small oven... (sorry to hijack your comments, Jas - looks like you've been baking well nonetheless!)

Sue said...

Well, I use a 9" x 5" bread pan that was a hand-me-down from my mom for all of my loaf breads. It's just a regular pan that could be used for quick breads or pound cake. I have a newer oven now that cooks really evenly (one of the new steam ovens that are popular in Japan now), but with my older one I had to cover the top of the bread with foil about halfway through the baking to keep it from burning. I think you just have to work with your particular oven to get a feel for how it bakes. Hope that helps!

jasmine tea said...

I'm sorry for being misleading about the meat comment... But with all cheap meat prices these days, perhaps even the Czechs are getting it more often than they used to?

I guess I just wanted an excuse to put that awesome LOTR quote in somewhere; it cracks me up every time I hear it! :D

Love baking. One CAN survive without an oven, but it's a little sad.