16 March 2011

Like stepping stones across a grass of water

Due to repotting, raking, ranting about the marketing of gloves, and other such fascinating activities, I didn't do much exciting cooking this weekend.

However, I did make this mushroom stroganoff the other night and it was good.


1. Is it fair to call stroganoff a 'classic British dish' when it originated in imperial Russia and is eaten in some form around the world? (If Wikipedia is to be believed, the dish spread both westward to Europe and eastward to pre-revolutionary China, whence it was brought to the U.S. by Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as by American servicemen who had served in China).

2. Near the end of the cooking time I added some chopped cooked chicken, for the Viking does not believe that a meal is a meal without meat, and furthermore has an uncanny ability to determine when I have left the meat out of something. Because no, not even the heartiest vegetarian meal is hearty enough for him. Anyone who promotes a vegetarian recipe by saying 'they won't miss the meat' has not tried cooking for my husband.

3. Sauté the onions in a combination of 1 tbs oil and 1 tbs butter. It does make a difference.

4. It is probably OK to be generous with the garlic.

5. I used a mix of white and cremini mushrooms, because that's what I could get, and chopped them to a medium dice.

6. Nutmeg? It's not on the ingredients list but is in the directions. I added about 1/2 tsp. I think that was plenty.

7. 'White cooking wine' = ptui. Ptui! Don't cook with alcohol you wouldn't want to drink. This does not mean you have to pour a great vintage into the pot, but do use something pleasant and unremarkable. I used a California riesling that cost about $10 a bottle.

8. The recipe does not say how long to cook after adding the wine. The correct answer is 'until the wine is cooked,' which is when it is reduced by about half. That took about 20 minutes at a gentle simmer in my kitchen. I used the time to make mashed potatoes.

9. I like flatleaf parsley better than cilantro.

10. Yogurt or cream? Uh, no. This is delicate dish; yogurt is too sour. It is also a moist dish without thickeners; plain cream would make it too runny. Use sour cream, or crème fraiche, please. I like crème fraiche. If the price in the grocery stores is off-putting, you can easily make it at home by adding 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk to 1 cup cream, stirring, and leaving the mixture at room temperature (covered with a kitchen towel) until it thickens. This usually takes 24-36 hours. Leftovers can be refrigerated and used with potatoes, or sweetened fruit, or ...

Charles Tomlinson

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