Sunday, October 30, 2011

Many years ago, I took up the challenge of learning how to  make the perfect bowl of German Goulash Soup. My husband had eaten it in many of the little restaurants along the Rhine River and wanted to have it at home. Today, that would not be a problem....but in 1970 there was no such thing as the internet and a visit to the library was a big disappointment....only one German cookbook and it did not include a recipe for Goulash Soup! It was described to me as "a rich beefy broth that was sort of red in color" and it had cubes of both beef and potatoes, onions, green bell peppers and sliced mushrooms in it.  The word goulash told me the "sort of red" was due to paprika, but was it sweet, hot or smoked?  We ate a lot of Goulash Soup that did not hit the mark before finally, one evening I had that "Eureka!" moment! I had conqured the recipe...... Even after all of these years, it  is still one of my favorite soups. Now that you can google the recipe and find hundreds of them....I find that recipe from 1970 is still the best. This fall weather makes me want a big pot of this soup on my stove top. There is nothing like it. Add a buttery pretzel slathered with more butter and a glass of  Somerset Ridge Ruby Red Wine and you are in for one great meal! Enjoy!

Goulash Soup...or in German,  Gulaschuppe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 bell peppers, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 pounds beef chuck, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons paprika, sweet
6 cups beef stock
1 cup Somerset Ridge Ruby Red Wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups peeled potatoes cut into 1/2"cubes
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, brown the beef cubes, then remove from skillet, set aside. Next, saute the onions until they are tranlucent. Add the minced garlic, diced bell peppers, and the tomato paste. Cook while stirring for 10 minutes.
Add the browned cubed beef and juice that has accumulated , caraway seeds, paprika, beef stock, wine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours.
Add the cubed potatoes and the sliced mushrooms and continue simmering until the meat and the potatoes are tender. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. You may also add more paprika and caraway if you wish. If liquid is evaporating too quickly, add additional beef broth and cover while simmering. Typical of most soups, it will be better the next day!
8 servings

Hot Buttered Pretzels

This is a King Arthur Flour recipe, not truly authentic German, but still very good.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons regular instant yeast               
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.
Food processor method: Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds. Place a handful of flour in a bowl, scoop the slack dough into the bowl, and shape the dough into a ball, coating it with the flour. Transfer the dough to a plastic bag, close the bag loosely, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bread machine method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for Dough or Manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
Manual/Mixer Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat till well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, till it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it'll make your pretzels splotchy.
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel, as illustrated. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave. Yield: 8 pretzels.

Grab a bowl of soup, a pretzel and butter, a glass of are in for a treat! Does it seem strange for a woman of Scottish/Italian heritage to be such a big fan of German food?

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