Sunday, 25 March 2012

A very Czech feast

I may have extensively discussed the restaurants we went to in the last post but I didn't have much opportunity to mention the hostel. Which is a real shame because the hostel was GOLD. Really, really cheap, really central, really clean, nicely decorated, lovely staff, free wifi, free breakfast. It was perfect. Art Hole Hostel is the name in case anyone will actually take my word for it when they visit Prague. The hostel has given me a chance to talk about it because towards the end of our holiday, the heavy food and beer and lack of sleep had started taking its toll. We were still keen to do fun things and make the most of our time but the prospect of walking and reading maps when too tired to function was less than appealing. Fortuitously, our last night presented a fun opportunity to do something fun at the hostel without killing ourselves for the journey. And since we're both planning on going to Europe this summer (oh yeah, I really like being in foreign countries so I've decided to be in them for an extended period of time over summer), I'm sure another opportunity to visit the third best venue in Europe (the Cross Club, apparently) without destroying our bodies and bank balances will arise. So what was the alternative that stopped us feeling like we're missing out? A Czech cookery class with probably the coolest couple in the world followed by lots of beer and a card game that I made up. It wasn't a very good card game. So, what did we make/learn to make? Goulash, potato pancakes, bread dumplings and carrot cake. Mmm. The goulash had quite the kick but still retained the meatiness of those we'd tried at pubs. The potato pancakes were crisp and salty. Really, really moreish. The carrot cake was dense but moist with a creamy sugary icing. The quantities below made enough to feed four very well with some left over.
Goulash
50g lard or beef dripping
3 onions, finely chopped
1kg beef or pork
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper

Melt the beef dripping and fry the onions in it on a medium heat until very soft and beginning to colour.
Add the meat, garlic and spices and season all over with salt and black pepper.
Brown the meat on a high heat.
Cover the mixture with water and lower to a simmer.
Cover and cook for around 45 minutes (or as long as you have).
At the end of the cooking time, check the consistency.
If you would like it a little thicker, grate a potato and add the grated potato to the mixture then check the seasoning.

Potato pancakes
1kg potatoes, grated
2 eggs
200g flour
Dash of milk
Oregano
Garlic
Salt and pepper

Place the grated potato in a large mixing bowl.
Crack in two eggs, add the 200g of flour and mix.
Add a little bit of milk if you think it requires it (you're looking for a pancake batter consistency).
Add the garlic, oregano and season well.
Fry as you would pancakes i.e. heat a little oil in a frying pan, add a ladleful of batter and spread to cover the pan, cook one side, flip, cook the other side.


Carrot Cake
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 cups grated carrot
A dash of vegetable oil


Beat the eggs with the sugar. 
Add the vanilla essence, cinnamon, flour and baking powder and mix.
Add the grated carrot and a touch of oil.
Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake for 30mins at 175.

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