Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

So to the topic of the day... I promised I was going to share my recipe and love of Beef Stroganoff. I’ve been craving Beef Stroganoff. It doesn’t get very chilly in Southwest Florida very often, so when the cool weather strikes, I try to take advantage of preparing warming comfort food. On this night, the weather was a crisp so I pulled out one of my staple recipes, Beef Stroganoff. I found this recipe on many years ago. It is one of the best recipes in my repertoire. I have tweaked to my own taste, for example, they suggest using beef tenderloin, but who can afford or would want to waste such a fantastic piece of beef, and filet should be relished on its own merits. But that’s blog for another time.  (I’ll share soon.) I replaced the tenderloin with boneless sirloin, especially when it’s on sale at my local grocery store. I also substituted the crème fraiche or whipping cream with sour cream, because, I love the tanginess that it adds to the dish.

I love this dish! Did I say that? I LOVE this recipe. A classic dish my mother served to special guests, it brings back memories of her mesmerizing ability to make a fabulous dinner party. This particular recipe is the ultimate comfort food, the sauce, meat, noodles, all good things on their own, but when combined, it’s magic!

Beef Stroganoff a la
1 2 ½ lb. Boneless Sirloin Steak
6 T.        Butter
¼ C.       Finely chopped Shallots
1 lb.        Small Button Mushrooms, thickly sliced (I’ve tried both, once because I didn’t buy enough, and thick is way better!)
1 C.         Canned Beef Broth (Low sodium)
2 T.         Cognac (I actually use about 2 & ½ T.)
¾ C.        Sour Cream
1 T.         Dijon Mustard
1 T.         Fresh Dill (I tried both, prefer to leave out)

12 Oz.    Wide Egg Noodles (Tried medium, wide is better)
1 T.         Paprika (I leave this one out)

Pat meat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until very hot. Working in batches, add meat in single layer and cook just until brown on outside, about one minute per side. Transfer to plate or baking sheet.  (I use plate)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in same skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes. (Depends on your heating elements, I recommend getting to know how high or low your stove settings range – everyone is different)  Add button mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper and sauté until liquid evaporates, about 12 minutes. Add beef broth, then Cognac. Simmer until liquid thickens and coats mushrooms, about 14 minutes. Stir in sour cream and Dijon mustard. Add meat and any juices accumulated juices. Simmer over medium-low heat until meat is thoroughly heated, but still medium rare, about 2 minutes. If you want to add dill, this would be the time to do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Generally, after I add the broth and cognac, I start cooking the noodles. Boil water in large pot, add salt. Once water begins to boil, I add the noodles and cook generally about 8 minutes, but again, it all depends on the stovetop.  Sometimes it only takes 8 minutes; other times, cooking time can take 9 or 10 minutes.  It can also depend on the brand’s directions.  No matter what, once noodles are cooked, drain and toss in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Serve noodles topped with beef and sauce and sprinkle generous portion of paprika on individual dishes.

Okay, now you have the recipe... 
Here’s why I make this dish as often as I can. It’s so creamy and rich, a little decadent. The combined ingredients make for the ultimate comfort food dish. Between the beef, noodles, sauce and mushrooms it has wonderful texture!

The mushrooms add an intense earthiness. The Dijon and sour cream add a sublime richness that makes you smile with each forkful. With all the flavors working together, I can still detect the sharpness of the cognac, and it’s magical.  Even after the meal is over, pots cleaned, dishes in the dishwasher, the flavor still lingers on the palate making you crave more. Like one of my idols, Nigella, I dream of sneaking into the kitchen at night to stab a forkful. Shhh... Don’t tell!  

Cooking the meat just right makes a world of difference, seriously, I’ve reheated this dish a couple of times and even with the microwave, it is still pink in the center of the meat. Tender and juicy, that’s the only way to savor a good piece of meat. It has taken me awhile to learn to cook beef properly. I have to admit that I too, a lifetime ago, preferred my meat well done. Now, I’ve had a “Come to Jesus” moment about meat temperatures. For a good steak, the redder the better! 

My husband loves this dish; even after he admits he’s full... the fork keeps darting in and out of the serving bowl for more. I have to pick it up off the table and take it into the kitchen, reminding him that-that’s our dinner for tomorrow night too!   In his words, “I can’t stop!”

I want to thank for this fabulous recipe... I have tried others from other sites and cookbooks, and this one by far is the absolute best!  “It’s just that good” that it even calls for the good china!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do... Cheers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Living in paradise has it's perks...

So, living in Florida there's a perk when your neighbor has a very over-grown Honeybell Tangelo tree that hangs over the fence into your backyard. It's also good that you're on friendly terms with that said neighbor.

It's January, and for the Florida orange season that means Honeybell's... as I mentioned, our neighbor has a bountiful tangelo tree that is bursting with beautiful little balls of day-glow orange. Today, my husband picked a couple to check on the progress, he made just enough for his glass. Of course, my husband likes to add a little extra zing, so he also added a jig or two of rum. He offered me a sip, and sure enough, these tangelos are as they say, “Ripe for pickin’”

Since there wasn't enough for two glasses, I headed out to pick my own, as I strolled out the back door, my husband called out “The darker ones are the ripest – get more of those!”  So, the bowl I had held about ten.  From the one sip, my salivary glands were in overdrive.

Did I mention I love kitchen gadgets? Well I do. One of my smaller appliances I’ve been getting more use out of these days is my food processor. A basic simple ten year-old Kitchen-Aide. Nothing fancy, but it does have a juicer attachment and for the first time... I used it! Let me tell you, my arms are quite thankful for this attachment.

As the machine churned away, we filled a pitcher. By this posting, the pitcher is almost empty, and here’s why...

First, the visual appeal:  The color, how do I properly describe the color... it’s pretty close to the contents of a packet of powdered cheese that comes in a box of macaroni. Bright, vibrant, and it’s calling my name.

Now the taste... I mentioned that my salivary glands were stimulated, and as I took my first sip, every expectation was met. Just the right amount of tartness and sweetness combined - a true honeybell.  It was like biting into an orange, pulp and all, but without the mess! Seriously, the flavors pop in your mouth. As the color, the flavor is uber bright, sharp, but not bitter - sweet – but not sugary, just flows nicely on the palate and “It’s just that good!” 

If you can, I highly recommend picking up your own fresh honeybell's and treat yourself to this little bit of sunshine in a glass. 

Welcome to It's Just That Good...

Welcome to my blog! I hope that over time, you'll find as much great passion for everything culinary as I do. Coming soon... Beef Stroganoff. Tonight, I'll make one of our favorite dishes and tell you how it went.

Till then...

Happy Dining!