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.

The Saga of the Seared Scallops with Dragon Fruit Salsa (Disaster)

scallops-with-dragon-fruit-salsaDragon fruit looks cool, but it’s super boring. Think of it as kiwi’s boring cousin. I wanted to see if I could figure out how to liven it up. I like a good challenge, so why not? I saw a recipe on Food Network for seared scallops with dragon fruit salsa. The first red flag should have been that the photo had the dragon fruit salsa as a pink color, despite there not being anything pink in the ingredients list (dragon fruit is white inside). And I haven’t cooked scallops in a long time. We used to have them all the time when I was a kid, so I guess I need to call Mom for a refresher course, because that didn’t go well either.

I was cutting slits into a small onion so I could dice it for the rice pilaf I was making. I decided to use my sharpest knife, which happens to be a chef’s knife with a very pointy tip. You probably see where this is headed. Instead of cutting my slit halfway through the onion, I went all the way through and into my finger. Ouch! I washed it, threw a band-aid on it, and kept going (with a new onion and clean knife). I cut myself a second time when I was dicing the dragon fruit, this time on my thumb. Thankfully I still had the other half of the fruit. Tossed what I had, band-aid, clean knife, got back to work on the other half. I very rarely cut myself while cooking. Twice in one dinner that was barely started should have been a sign to just stop and order pizza!

Knowing that dragon fruit is boring, I thought I needed to liven it up with more than just the lemon juice and chives suggested in the recipe. At that point, it might as well just be scallops with lemon juice and chives because the dragon fruit really doesn’t add much. I added some honey. I think this would have actually been good if I’d patted the dragon fruit dry first. Maybe, but that’s still probably a stretch.

So then when it came to the scallops, I’m fairly certain my pan was too hot. They stuck and were overdone (rubbery). Sad face. The rice pilaf was decent, but needed more seasoning.

And now I’m drinking wine and eating a Pop Tart.

Red Wine Onion Soup

fullsizeoutput_bd1Whenever I eat a dish I love at a restaurant, I love the challenge of trying to make it home. There’s a local restaurant near us that has this amazing red wine onion soup. This soup is so good that my wife, who used to be a french onion soup hater, orders it every time we go to this place. So naturally I needed to try to replicate it. I got close to the real deal. I want to try it with a higher ratio of wine to beef stock, but I haven’t had a chance yet.

Ingredients
1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle red wine
3 cups beef stock
4 tsp worcestershire
3 tbsp Maggi liquid seasoning (This can be hard to find. Just use a little more Worcestershire if you can’t find it.)
¾ tsp thyme, or 4 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Stale French bread
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Asiago cheese, thinly sliced

Makes 4-6+ servings, depending on the size of your soup crocks.

Instructions

Heat butter in dutch oven. Add garlic, onions, & thyme. Add some salt (cuple of pinches). Cover to cook, stir occasionally. Cook until onions are soft. When the onions are soft, uncover and cook until golden.

Deglaze with wine. After you’ve deglazed, just pour the rest in. Add beef stock, more salt, bay leaves, worcestershire, and Maggi.

Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste a few times and salt until it tates salty enough.

Preheat broiler.

Cut bread into cubes. Put 4 cubes into each bowl (or more, depending on size of soup crocks. I used Le Creuset mini cocottes. The bread in these filled about 1/2 of each.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Let the bread absorb broth for a few seconds and add more soup if needed.

Top with alternating layers of gruyere and asiago. (2 layers of each)

Place the bowls onto a sheet pan. Broil until it’s melty and a little golden.