Beef Stroganoff

beef-stroganoff

My wife’s birthday was yesterday and she requested beef stroganoff. She couldn’t have just any beef stroganoff. She wanted the one just like her dad used to make. Yeah, the one with no recipe written down. She helped me recreate it, and now hopefully I have a recipe I can follow next time.

Ingredients

1¼ lbs beef (sirloin, we bought sirloin strips from Wegmans)
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves garlic
12oz pack of white mushrooms
3 cups beef stock
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ cup sour cream
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
Olive oil
White pepper
1½ packages egg noodles
Red wine (optional – set aside another ¼ cup beef stock if you aren’t using wine)

Instructions

Dice onions, mince garlic, & slice mushrooms.

Cut beef into thin strips. If you bought sirloin strips, go through the pieces and cut them so they’re all approximately the same size. Put the pieces in a bowl, season with salt & pepper, and coat in approx. 2 tbsp flour.

Heat olive oil (enough to coat the bottom) in one large skillet and one dutch oven over medium heat. If you don’t have a dutch oven, use two skillets instead. Put the beef in the skillet and onions + garlic in the dutch oven. Brown the beef. (Continue to the next step while the beef continues to brown)

Once the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms. Stir. Add beef stock, stir. Slowly add heavy cream, stirring the whole time. Add sour cream, also stirring the whole time. Stir until it’s well-mixed.

By now, the beef should be browned. Now is a good time to start the pasta water. Salt your pasta water!

Remove beef to a plate. Deglaze the pan with some red wine, or ¼ cup beef stock if you don’t have wine. Because of he flour coating on the beef, it will be pastier than a typical deglazed pan. Add beef to the dutch oven (or pan #2).

Melt the 3 tbsp butter in the pan. Add 2 tbsp flour and stir to make a roux. Normally I would use a 1:1 ratio of butter:flour, but

Once you roux is roux-tastic, ladle some of your liquid from the dutch oven (or pan #2) into the roux. Stir while you’re adding. It’s ok if beef and mushrooms come over in the liquid. It should thicken nicely. I think we did 3 ladles of liquid in total.

Add the liquid with the roux into the other pan and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer. Taste it. It’s going to need more seasoning. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Continue to let it simmer while you make the egg noodles.

Hopefully by now your pasta water is boiling. Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles. Don’t rinse them! Transfer the noodles to the dutch oven and stir. Let them cook together (on low) for a couple of minutes. If you used a pan instead of a dutch oven, put your noodles back in the pasta pot and transfer everything else to the noodles.

Nana’s Carrot Cake

nanas

I can’t take credit for this gorgeous carrot cake that occasionally appears on my header image. My wife made that using her grandmother’s recipe. This recipe is on the thinnest piece of paper ever. It was clearly typed on a typewriter, but I have no idea how the paper didn’t disintegrate when moving through the typewriter! I always handle it like I’m handling something from a museum archive. I have no idea why I’ve never imported it into Paprika.

You can do this recipe in a tube pan or two 9-inch rounds. We do the rounds.

Ingredients (Cake)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 4 eggs

Ingredients (Frosting)

  • 2½ sticks butter*
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese*
  • 1 box powdered sugar (if you make your own like I do, use 16 oz by weight or about 3½ cups measured)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

* The wife and I are having a debate on these two ingredients. It doesn’t say softened on Nana’s typed recipe, and my wife says don’t soften it because the recipe doesn’t say so. I say that won’t work and you need to soften it. Use my wife’s approach at your own risk.

Instructions (Cake)

Preheat oven to 350° if using a tube pan or 325° if using rounds.

Grate carrots, and let them drain.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. (You can sift directly into your mixer bowl) Set aside.

Combine oil and sugar. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

Add the carrots and nuts.

Pour batter into greased pans. Nana’s tip: Don’t grease the sides! How would you like to climb a greased pole?

Bake for 55-60 minutes (tube pan) or 40 minutes (9-inch rounds).

Instructions (Frosting)

Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy.

Gradually add the powdered sugar while beating.

Add vanilla and the nuts. Nana’s recipe says to add the nuts into the frosting, but we prefer to cover the icing with the nuts.

Baking 101: Let the cake cool before you frost it, or your frosting will melt and you’ll be sad!

Frost the cake and sprinkle the reserved nuts on top.

Nana’s tip: Use a wet knife to cut a fresh cake.

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Cooking as a Couple (without killing each other)

My wife and I both like to cook. A lot. Her strengths are meat, grilling, and sauces. Mine are soups and baking. We’re a great combination in the kitchen, but sometimes things just go wrong. (Remember the “occasional disasters” in my tagline?) Like, stabbing with a knife wrong (before anyone gets concerned about domestic violence, keep reading).

We moved to Philadelphia when I graduated from college because that’s where I had the best job offer. We wanted to live in the city, and on an entry level salary it meant living in a shoebox. Our apartment was probably the size of the living room in our current house. Our kitchen was small and awkward, but we made the best of it. One of these days I’ll do a post on making the most of a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. Anyway, the kitchen was square shaped, and it was just big enough for us to both stand in it and rotate in place. So what does this have to do with stabbings? Well, we didn’t have a dishwasher, so we had to hand wash everything. One night I was washing the dishes, she was standing behind me drying. I handed her a paring knife (which wouldn’t go in the dishwasher anyway) to dry. Yeah, you see where this is going. For whatever reason, I took a step backward. Why would I do that in such a tiny kitchen?! Where did I think I was going?! “Aaahhhhooowwww! You stabbed me!” “You backed into it!” “Ok, yeah, I did, but I still got stabbed!” I was fine and we laugh about it now, but you will still hear us yell “knife!!!” when one of us is in motion with a knife, even in our much larger kitchen. “Hot,” “behind,” or any combination hot-knife-behind are also pretty common around here. Lesson: Warn your spouse so you don’t stab each other!

Here are some other rules from our kitchen, in no particular order. Ok, some of them are just my rules, but whatever.

  • If you’re not doing the dishes, don’t criticize the person loading the dishwasher (I’ll admit this is my rule because I’m normally the one receiving the criticism, usually for not rinsing or scrubbing dishes enough. Sorry honey. Not sorry. You still love me.)
  • It’s better to give feedback when it’s been solicited if a dish is still in process. (Duh that needs more seasoning, I’m still adjusting! Did I ask you to taste it yet??)
  • Feedback when the food is done is fair game.
  • Sometimes we will need to be rescued. Ask for help! And give help.
  • Dont’t scrape knife blade across the cutting board to move ingredients. FFS flip it over and scrape with the dull side! Knives are sacred around here.
  • Disasters happen. As long as we’re ok, laugh and move on. And then laugh about it more later. (Uhhh… like the caramel I caught on fire or milk I burned. Oops.)
  • Can we please not argue about whether convection is appropriate for this situation?
  • You can’t be perfect all the time. Don’t have a meltdown if something isn’t working. (Refer to the point on asking for help. This is mostly my wife’s rule for me.)

If you’re reading this, honey, I love you. 💕