Food is more than just sustenance. Jon, the narrator of Dead in L.A. and Dead in the Desert, is a manly man, former construction worker. However, he also cooks and rather well. Deep down he's a nurturer and making sure loved ones eat well is one of the ways he takes care of them.
Jon does everything he can to deny and suppress his growing attraction and affection toward, his new roommate, Leander, but he gives himself away when he starts feeding the guy.
Before Jon, Leander lived on instant ramen, sandwiches, and herbal teas. The only thing he can really cook is chicken soup, but he makes it only when somebody is ill. He appreciates good food though, especially after work. Oh yeah, he's a psychic pet detective, and unofficial consulting police psychic.
I plan to publish the third and final installment of their story in February. It's tentatively titled Dead and Unfound. The story takes place in autumn when the weather might get cold even in Southern California. It might even rain. It's a perfect season for Jon to make goulash.
Many people think goulash is a stew, but they are wrong and should be ashamed of their ignorance. True goulash is a hearty soup of meet and vegetables. Add a slice of bread and it's a meal.
Goulash Soup (Gulyásleves)
· 5 slices bacon, chopped
· 3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
· 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
· 4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
· 3 garlic cloves, minced
· 3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
· 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
· 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
· 1/4 cup tomato paste
· 5 cups beef broth
· 5 cups water
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 2 red bell peppers, chopped fine
· 4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
*available at specialty foods shops and many supermarkets
In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.
Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute.
Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes.
Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add potatoes to soup and simmer, covered, occasionally until tender, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.
For more potluck entrées:
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