It’s Halloween, one of my favourite nights of the year, and there is a vast amount of Vincent Price Goulish Goulash in the slow cooker.  My CHARGE is coming for dinner tomorrow evening, and like some Aunt in a PG Wodehouse novel I want to make sure he is fully fed.  He’s here from New Zealand studying at Kings and my friends – his parents – have asked me to look out for him.  It’s probably the most responsibility I have ever had in my entire life.

It’s ironic that when I was hanging out with his parents it was the most debauched and outrageous time of my life (so far!) without doubt.  I was living in Sydney and it was party central.  Now, I am missing a Halloween party at Moors Bar because I want to tidy up, clean the bath, hoover, get dinner organised a day in advance and generally make a good impression.  Isaac is 20, and doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would be at all worried about whether my flat was clean or not but no matter, I do want everything to be tickety-bo for some reason.  I’ve turned into a 1950s housewife.

While I was cooking I listened to a couple of Vincent Price’s cooking lessons from the Beverly Hills Cookbook and started pondering what to do for my birthday – it’s coming up soon.  It’s a while since I did a whole Vincent extravaganza but maybe I will do one on the Sunday.  It’s a toss up between “Dinner at the Casbah” (Moroccan Cuisine) – or “Exotic Delights from the Far East” (Foods of India).    I could show Casablanca if I did the former, and maybe something featuring Anna Kashfi for the latter – ha ha!

Vincent Price Goulash

900g (2 lb) steak

450g  (1 lb)  onions, sliced

85g  (3 oz) lard (yes lard!)

30g (1 oz) paprika

2 tbsp flour mixed with 1 tsp salt

450g (1 lb) chopped tomatoes

Glass of red wine (I’m sure Vincent would have made it a large one)

265-570 ml stock (½-1 pint)

1 clove garlic (to ward off the vampires)

bouquet garni (sprig of parsley and thyme and a bay leaf)

300g (11 oz)  potatoes

Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes (smallish bite sized morsels).   Roll them first in paprika and then in flour.  Brown onions in the fat, and then brown meat on all sides.  Add tomatoes, and wine and cook fiercely for a few minutes.  Add any remaining flour and paprika.  Pour over enough stock to cover, add the garlic and the bouquet garni.  Cover and cook very slowly on top of the stove or in the oven for about 2 hours.  Parboil the potatoes, add them to the goulash and cook for a further 20 minutes to ½ hour.

For this version I was a bit drunk and put two tins of tomatoes in, I didn’t add any stock.  I also forgot about the bouquet garni.  Goulash is brilliant though – you can muck about with it a bit and it always turns out grand.

I’m listening to Barbara Windsor on R2 who is presenting a show about Kathy Kirby.  It’s fascinating – she just said that there was 40 years between Kathy Kirby and her first lover I think.  40 years?  Maybe she said 14.  I’m a bit distracted, are they talking about Ambrose, THE Ambrose, MY Ambrose, as in Ambrose and His Orchestra?  My favourite?  From the 1930s?  I’m gong to have to listen to this again.  Was HE her lover, 40 years older?  Holy Hannah.

Thank God for Vincent, bringing a bit of sanity to proceedings.  Happy Halloween…


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