Friday, February 14, 2014

Mushroom Paprikash (with Grain-Free Dumplings)

During my undergraduate degree, I spent a semester in Budapest, Hungary. It was my first time away from home. I lived in a little apartment that had an adjoining door to a mirror-image little apartment next door, where my landlady lived. She was a single lady, exactly double my age (and I was exactly twenty years old). We became good friends, not least because I used the washing machine at the back of her kitchen. And because she welcomed me into her church, family, and kitchen.

Each of our apartments was very small, about three hundred square feet. I had my cheery yellow kitchen, a small bathroom, and a bed-sitting room with a single bed and a desk. Her apartment was identical, except that her kitchen was red and her main room was set up as a sitting room with a monstrously large (considering the size of the room) L-shaped sofa and dark wood wall-to-wall cabinets. She used to convert part of the sofa into her bed every night and then put it away again in the morning.

She taught me to make mushroom paprikash. She also taught me how to answer the phone in Hungarian, and how to ask for half a kilo of tomatoes at the little shop nearby. She helped me translate my gas bill. I got to know her father, who would come to visit her from the country. The one time I had to answer her telephone I was so relieved that it was him and he knew me. Although he spoke no English, he knew I would perhaps understand him if he spoke slowly enough.

She discovered that I was learning to cook, and enjoying every minute. So she taught me to make a few traditional Hungarian dishes, paprikash being her favourite. Now it's a favourite in my kitchen, too. Every time I make it I think of those days when I first lived away from home.

My landlady's original recipe had traditional flour-based dumplings. I have switched them for grain-free dumplings. I discovered that paprikash tastes great regardless.

Mushroom Paprikash
serves 3

for the stew:
1/2 c sour cream
2 t tapioca flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t salt
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
300 g mushrooms
2 T mild olive oil
1 1/2 T sweet Hungarian paprika
1 c vegetable (or chicken) stock

for the dumplings:
1 c (100 g) almond flour
1 egg
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 baking powder
salt and pepper
1 t milk

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, tapioca flour, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Chop the onion finely and mince the garlic. Quarter the mushrooms.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan or pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and the paprika and stir. Allow the mushrooms to cook for 5 minutes.
Add the stock. Let the stew bubble gently for 20 minutes.

Mix all the dumpling ingredients in a bowl.
Bring a pot of water to a roiling boil.
Roll the dumplings by hand using a tablespoon of the mixture for each one.
Drop some of them into the boiling water and let cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue until all the dumplings are cooked.

When the stew is cooked, add the sour cream mixture and the dumplings.
Stir and remove from the heat.

With this recipe I am participating in No Croutons Required, hosted by Jac from Tinned Tomatoes. Have a look at the other vegetarian soups and salads made by the participants.

Do you have foods that remind you of your first time away from home?

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