Saturday, July 06, 2013

Experimental Cookery 2013: Hungarian Goulash

My not-quite-newest toy is a slow cooker. Today was the first time I got a chance to actually use it, using the recipe for Hungarian Goulash that was found in the leaflet that came with the cooker.

Apparently, a lot of people consider the best feature of a slow cooker that many of the recipes consist of "put everything in the pot; switch on; leave for 5 hours; eat". That is not the case here. Instead, there was a certain amount of chopping of veg, then softening these in the pot, searing the meat, and only then adding the liquid and leaving it for 6 hours.

Still, I managed to perform all of the preparation tasks while my soup was roasting, so it wasn't exactly tough!

When the cooking was done, I must confess to being somewhat dubious at first. It definitely looked like there was a bit of a skin on the meal, and it didn't look too appetising. However, this proved to be a false impression - what had appeared to be a skin was in fact just a consequence of the condensation on the underside of the glass lid. A quick stir showed that this was actually a very well-cooked meal.

And it tasted good too - the beef was cooked perfectly, the veg were soft without being slimy, and the sauce was tasty without being overpowering. Success!

The one change I would probably make for next time is to switch the wine for something a bit less fruity. I had selected a Garnacha from Tesco's "Simply" range, and the flavour came through really quite strongly in the end meal. (On the other hand, I now suspect that this wine may be rather better to drink than previous "Simply" wines, so I might just have hit on something. Or perhaps not... (Edit: Nope.))

I don't doubt that I'll be making this again. And I'll no doubt be making some use of this toy again, too. Though I'll need to get some good recipes to use with it too.

Experimental Cookery 2013: Slow Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

This recipe came from "A Soup For Every Day", by the New Covent Garden Food Company. It's the soup for the 7th of July, so I was at least somewhat close this time.

This soup required a bit of cooking time, what with the whole slow-roast part of the task, but required only a small amount of hands-on time: the tomatoes and other veg need sliced and arranged, and then roasted, and then the whole thing needs put in a blender for a little while. Then there's a reheat step, and that's it. So, it was pretty easy.

In hindsight, two things are clear to me. Firstly, it was a really good idea to make sure I used a variety of tomatoes in the cooking - this led to a more varied flavour which helped the resulting soup. However, and secondly, it was not such a good idea to include cherry tomatoes amoungst the selection - they just don't roast very well!

Still, the soup was easy to prepare, it was flavourful, and I'd certainly have it again. It's also the first soup I've made from this book that I've felt 100% happy with, so that's good.

And that was lunch...

#25: "The Far Side of the World", by Patrick O'Brian
#26: "1356", by Bernard Cornwell (For 200 pages or so, this looked like a new candidate for "book of the year". Alas, it's a bit rushed towards the end. Still excellent, as always from BC, but not quite good enough to topple the current leader.)