Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14th - Hungarian Style Beef with Bell Peppers and Caraway

Memories, or How I Got Obsessed with Food

So after getting up at 7:00 a.m. to make the recipe for today, I headed back to school to finish baking my bobka's (which were in the fridge over night proofing).   As I started kneading the dough, the smell of the lemon-yeasty bread totally reminded me of my grandmother's kitchen growing up.  It got me thinking about my obsession with food and how that developed. 

Growing up, both my parent's worked.  My dad worked during the day and my mom at night.  There was a gap of about 2 hours in which neither parent was home.  Luckily, my babcia (Polish for grandmother)  lived (well, still lives, she's not dead) about 5 houses down from us (we've moved away since then).  So, I would spend my afternoons at my babcia's watching her cook in her basement kitchen.   It was strange because between the ages of 5 and 10 I thought everyone had two kitchens in their house (one on the main floor and one in the basement).  

During holidays, I would "help" her cook.  (Really I was just stirring stuff and keeping her company).   My babcia always encouraged me to ask questions.  She took the time to explain what she was doing, why she did the things she did, and what all the ingredients were.  I especially liked when she baked because that meant using the big Kitchen Aid Mixer (I got turn the handle to make the bowl go up and down).  It was always an adventure and an opportunity to learn something new.

I credit her (and my mother) for making me the adventurous eater that I am.  I grew up eating blood sausages, head cheese, tripe, and all sorts of wierd things.  Of course, I didn't know any different.  Food was food (and that's why we had to shop for husky pants).

So I really have to thank my babcia for making me the chef I am today.  I suppose had I not spent all that time with her and had she not been so patient, I could have ended up a football player or a dentist.  (Probably not).

The Recipe


Sirloin Tip Steak - $4.76
Sweet Paprika - $2.99
Olive Oil - (Had)
Garlic - (Had)
Caraway Seeds - (Had)
Bell Peppers -$3.75
Beef Broth - (Had)
Tomato Paste - $0.65
Balsamic Vinegar - (Had)

Total = $12.15

Again, I had to substitute a sirloin tip steak for a rib eye roast.  The price difference was way too much and I couldn't justify spending a lot on a piece of meat for a quick recipe I wasn't too sure about.  (I'm really glad I went for the cheaper meat.)

The Results

Fast:  It was pretty quick.  It took maybe 20 minutes all together.

Easy:  It was basically just slicing up stuff and sauteing it in the pan.  So, yes, very easy.

Fresh:  Not so much.  The tomato paste made the recipe taste too heavy and cloying (for lack of better words).   The only "freshness" in the recipe were the peppers.

Overall:  I did not like the recipe.  It lacked dimension and flavor.  If I would try this recipe again, I would  add onions and red wine to it.  Also, I'd skip the tomato paste and make a fresh tomato puree and add some thyme.  The caraway seeds in this recipe got old fast.  I would probably only add half the amount or just sprinkle toasted seeds at the end as garnish. 

Sorry Bon Appetit.  This one needs to go back to the drawing board...


ஜCupcakeWhimsyஜ said...

Thanks for making me teary eyed. And all those times I was in your grandmother's house I had no clue she had 2 kitchens. Every time I make a dessert with raspberries I think of her. Too bad this recipe was a dud.

Nikki said...

That's so cute. What a lovely memory. I'll have to tell Karen about the two kitchen thing - her parents had that too!