Recipes: Cooking for the Pope

Position the long side of the parchment lined baking sheet against the strudel -- get a helper again if you can -- and use the cloth to roll the long log over the rim, onto the pan (the ends will extend out of the pan). Roll again, if necessary, so the seam of dough is on the bottom. Gently curve the ends of the log, bringing them onto the sheet, giving the strudel a crescent or horseshoe shape.

Brush the pastry all over with the remaining butter. With a sharp thin knife, slice several short slits in the top as steam vents, cutting through all the dough layers. Sprinkle the cane sugar crystals over the top.

Put the strudel into the oven and lower the thermostat to 375 degrees F. After 30 minutes, rotate the baking sheet back to front. The pastry should be lightly colored -- if it's already getting dark, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake another 20 to 30 minutes, until the filling is cooked (the juices may bubble through the slits) and the pastry is deep golden brown and crisp.

Let the strudel cool in the pan for 30 minutes or so then lift it with two long spatulas to a wire rack or board. Serve slices of the strudel warm or at room temperature, with powdered sugar, a cream sauce, whipped cream or ice cream.

Beef Goulash

Recipe courtesy Lidia Bastianich

Serves 6-10

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 or 3 large onions (1½ pounds), peeled and cut in thick wedges
2½ pounds trimmed boneless beef chuck or round, cut for stewing (1-½ inch chunks)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 branch fresh rosemary, with lots of needles
3 cups cold water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons tomato paste

Recommended equipment:
A heavy-bottomed 9- or 10-inch saucepan, such as an enameled cast iron French oven, with a tight-fitting cover

A small saucepan, about 6-cup capacity


Pour the olive oil into the saucepan, set over medium-low heat, and drop in the onion wedges. Toss to coat in oil, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook gently for 3 or 4 minutes, until sizzling and softening.

Spread the onions out on the pan bottom and drop the beef cubes on top of the wedges, filling the pan in one layer. Sprinkle another ½ teaspoon of the salt, all the paprika and oregano over the meat and drop in the rosemary. Without stirring or turning the meat pieces, cover the pan tightly. Heat the meat -- with the seasonings on top and the onions below -- so it starts to release its juices and stew. Check once or twice to see that the pan liquid is bubbling and that the onions are melting (not burning) but don't stir.

After half an hour or so, set the cover ajar a couple of inches and adjust the heat to keep the juices bubbling and slowly reducing. As they thicken, stir up the onions so they don't burn and tumble the meat in the pan.

Continue cooking, partially covered, for another half hour or so. When the juices are concentrated and thick in the pan bottom, prepare the goulash sauce: Pour 3 cups of cold water in the small pan and whisk in the flour. Set over low heat and continue whisking until the flour is dispersed with no lumps, then whisk in the tomato paste. Heat gradually, whisking often, until the tomato-flour water just comes to a bubbling boil. Pour it into the big saucepan and stir well, turning the meat chunks over -- they should be nearly covered in sauce -- and blending in the thick pan.

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