And she cooked Hungarian food.
My favorite dish of hers was always her goulash. My parents had to be married 25 years before she gave my mother the recipe, and my mom could never make it exactly like my grandmother could, so she must have left off an ingredient or 2, and she never told my mom what it was, either. My mom died before she could pass the recipe down to me. She had a smattering of notes in her recipe card file box, but no details, like how many tomatoes and what cut of meat. I asked a lot of little old ladies how they made goulash - it helped that I worked in a nursing home at the time - and each one had her own cut of beef she preferred using, and no two recipes were ever the same. My dad and his 2 wives afterwards did the same, always seeking the goulash his mom used to make. None of them got it right, either.
Since I went McDougall decades ago, I stopped the quest, because I knew there was no way to reproduce my grandmother's goulash without using meat. But I still collected goulash recipes. Here are 2 of them, both from heart-healthy doctors' books.
Prep time: 15 minutes (using cooked pasta)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1/2 cup water
1 large onion
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
4 cups cooked elbow macaroni
Place the water in a large pot and add the onion, bell peppers and garlic and cook & stir several minutes until all the vegetables are softened.
Add the seasonings and continue to cook over low heat for several more minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cooked macaroni and mix well. Heat over low heat for another 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
The McDougall Program for A Healthy Heart
John McDougall, M.D. and Mary McDougall
(1996), ISBN: 0-452-27266-1
This is the recipe I use when I don't feel like eating beans for any reason. My husband has a cardiologist appointment tomorrow and he requested a bean-free dinner, and he approved having this one.
For the onion and green peppers I use a bag of frozen diced onion/green pepper mix. For the red pepper I use a pepper from a jar of water-packed roasted red peppers.
I like this better with whole wheat pasta, either the elbows or ribbon noodles, but forgot to buy some, so Tinkayada elbows will do. I'll make up the whole bag and use the excess for either the leftover Kanieski sauce or Speedy International Stew leftovers that are in the refrigerator. The heaviness of the whole wheat pasta makes up for the lack of meat or beans and makes for a heartier dish than with the rice pasta.
A nice light, but filling, meal that will offer no surprises when the doc palpates my husband's abdomen tomorrow.
The next recipe comes from Dr. Neal Pinckeny as is a little more traditional than the McDougall recipe. You can see why hubby didn't want this one tonight, between the beans and all that garlic!
A hearty but delicate main course
2 cans beans (white, pinto, garbanzo, black, etc)
1½ lb potatoes scrubbed but unpeeled, diced ¾"
2 large onions, chopped
2 sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced
10 cloves garlic. minced
1 T caraway seeds
1 T honey or other sweetener
1 large tomato, sliced
5 T Hungarian paprika, sweet or hot (or ½ each)
2 T vinegar
In a large pot, saute onions and garlic, caraway seeds and bell pepper in a small amount of veggie broth, wine or water until the onions begin to become translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes.
Serve as a stew or over noodles or rice.
4 servings, each 471 calories: 4% from fat (2.4 g), 80% from carbohydrates (98.4 g), 16% from protein (19.4 g). Sodium 30.3 mg, Fiber 16.5 g.
Healing Heart Hint
This dish will be a success only if fresh Hungarian paprika is used. The usual small-jar supermarket spice-rack paprika will not work well. You can find imported Hungarian paprika in many larger markets in the gourmet section, often cheaper than the spice-rack jars.
Hungarian paprika comes in two versions, sweet and hot. Although the hot paprika is not as spicy as many peppers, such as cayenne, it does have a bite. If you prefer dishes that are not very hot, use the sweet paprika or use a blend of both.
Many other vegetables can be added to this dish. Try broccoli, celery, zucchini, cabbage, sweet potato, carrots or your favorite veggie.
Neal Pinckney, MD
Healing Heart Handbook
I usually use white or cannelini beans.
Yukon Gold or red potatoes go well with this, but my grandmother always used plain old Russets. so when I'm feeling traditional (and have some on hand), russets is what I use.
Regular onions, not the sweet or Vidalias that I usually have around the house.
The instructions say to thinly slice the green pepper, but my grandmother never did - she just chunked them up, about an eighth of a pepper per chunk, so that's how I usually do it.
Yes, 10 cloves of garlic, and many times I use even more. The taste does fade a bit in the cooking.
My grandmother used fresh tomatoes from her garden, but I have no garden and the fresh tomatoes nowadays taste nothing like those grown in the 1950's, so I use a can of diced (no-salt added, of course), whole, or just dump in a box of Pomi chopped. The more the better when it comes to tomatoes and goulash.
Hungarian paprika is the only kind I have in this house. My grandmother never measured how much she would use. She always gave a very liberal shake of the stuff to her pot and that's what I do. Sometimes I go overboard and make it a bit too spicy for my own taste, but my husband loves it better that way.
Nobody ever cooked goulash in his Polish family and he really loves this dish. He was blessed with having my grandmother's goulash only a few times in his life before we got married, and with my mother's sudden death just six weeks after our wedding, he was as sad as my father that she never wrote the complete recipe down, but from what he remembered, he said this dish is pretty close to it. My dad didn't even want to try it, being the devoted carnivore he was. To him, if it didn't have meat in it, it wasn't worth eating. Is it any wonder he suffered from 5 different forms of cancer for the last 17 years of his life?
When I make this dish during the winter I'll try remember taking a photo of it to post,