Sunday 30 November 2008

Leftover Cream and Paprikash

I felt like the cat that got the cream. Literally. I had bought a tub of cream which was not used for cakes as I had intended. Instead it sat in the fridge for weeks until I looked at the best by date and found I only had a few days to use it.

I almost dislike using cream as much as I hate throwing out food. It just seems all fat and no taste to me. A little on a rich cake is understandable but a tub of it just overwhelms me. It’s not that I don’t like dairy but I prefer it with a bit of culture – cheese, yoghurt, sour cream all seem far more interesting.

But needs must and I was determined to find a use for the cream. After all, it is not as though I never cook with cream. It can be used in a pasta sauce, a soup, a curry or toffee sauce, but I fancied trying something else. I am sure I have seen those intense potatoes baked in a cream sauce dishes but couldn’t think of where. Finally I found a recipe in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Dishes from Around the World for Potato and Mushroom Stew with Sour Cream. I checked on the web and worked out that if I put about 2 tsp of lemon juice in half a cup of cream, it would be an approximate substitute for sour cream.

Rose says that this is a Hungarian dish usually called a Paprikash. I thought it looked quite like a mushroom stroganoff. Then I saw Lysy making a pumpkin goulash which looked quite similar to this recipe (except mine didn’t have pumpkin in it). I also remembered another stew with sauerkraut called Szekely Gulyas which I had made last year which was also similar. So I turned to Wikipedia which described a goulash as a soup thickened by stewing meat and potatoes. The paprikash seems to be a variation on this with a thick and creamy paprika sauce.

Checking the internet there are a few other tasty looking paprikashes. Many used more paprika than me. Where’s the Beef’s deeply coloured mushroom paprikash, which Cindy and Michael serve with potato pancakes still makes my mouth water. I also liked the look of Ommnomnom’s Cauliflower and Chickpea Paprikash, Fat Free Vegan’s Eggplant Paprikash with an interesting vegan sour cream, and centrepullball’s Paprikash with Dumplings.

I’d like to try some other paprikash recipes but was happy with the one I made. It was was very tasty. I used a mixture of mild paprika, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper which worked well. I put in some tofu because it was in the fridge. In future I would be tempted to have more tofu and less potato. It was terribly rich with the cream and I would prefer a lighter yoghurt in it. We also added grated cheese which added to the intensity of the dairy ingredients.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I delight in colourful food and understand my disappointment at the lack of colour. The first night I served it with some steamed broccoli and pasta. E told me that pasta, potato and tofu is an odd combination. When I served the leftover stew the second night I served it with rice and a salad – the latter made up of vegetables in the fridge which needed usng: corn, cucumber, tomato, spring onion and some lemon juice. Both of us much preferred it this way, though I am sure it is not at all traditional.

Potato, Mushroom and Tofu Paprikash
(adapted from Rose Elliot)
Serves 4

2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
850g potatoes, diced*
150g tofu, diced*
2 tsp mild paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch salt (or to taste)
4 tbsp plain flour
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
200g button mushrooms, quartered
½ cup sour cream or yoghurt (or cream plus 2 tsp lemon juice)
Black pepper
Few handfuls of grated tasty cheese (optional)

(* Or you could use more tofu and less potatoes)

Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry onions for 5 minutes or til soft and golden (I think it took me a bit longer than this on a lowish heat).

Stir in garlic, potatoes, tofu and spices til well combined. Then add flour and stir a minute. Add stock and mix well. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or til potatoes are just cooked. The liquid will thicken and you need to stir the stew frequently to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add mushrooms and cook another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix a spoonful or two of the sauce into the sour cream or yoghurt. Add creamy mixture to the stew gradually. Heat gently if it need it (mine didn’t). Serve hot with a handful of cheese, a dusting of paprika, plus rice or pasta and side vegetables.

On the stereo:
Loony Runes: Current 93


  1. Sounds delicious to me (of course, unlike you I DO enjoy cream--unfortunately!) I suppose you could sub tempeh for the tofu for a more "meaty" taste. Or even leave out the tofu entirely. But the salad version does look yummy, too :)

  2. Thank you for looking up those facts about goulash and its variants - I was quite confused too! Your dish looks very good - I particularly like the idea of combining several paprikas and cayenne - and I never knew that you could turn cream into sour cream so easily (it's the same principle as making buttermilk I suppose, but I'd never thought to transfer it to other sorts of dairy). I will remember this the next time I have cream to use up!

  3. thanks Ricki - I think tempeh would be interesting for a more meaty taste but I did like the lightness of the tofu because it was quite a heavy dish.

    Thanks Lysy - I think I combined the paprikas because now I have realised there are several different ones I get confused when I see a recipe that just says paprika - but now have realised I can adjust it to my taste with a mix. The cream and lemon juice is a good way of using up too things in the kitchen - will try and remember it.

  4. Yum I've never had or heard of paprikash but it certainly sounds good!! I think the combination of potato, pasta and tofu is not weird per se but would definitely result in a very full stomach!

  5. That sounds really lovely and I don't think I would have thought of trying it the way you did the second time. But now I have seen the photo, I am thinking I would enjoy it that way too!

  6. thanks Ashley - yes a very filling meal

    thanks Holler - the second night I just served it with what was in the fridge - you might say it tasted accidentally good


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