Category: Pasta or Noodles

Count Stroganoff’s Chicken

I love beef stroganoff. I loved it 20 years ago made with a can of mushroom soup, I loved it a couple years ago when I started making a “deconstructed” version with beautiful rare steak set upon a golden mushrooms and cream, and I loved it last night when I decided to try it with tender chicken thighs and a deeply flavoured mushroom sauce amped up with marsala, Dijon mustard, and tomato paste.

In doing my research for this recipe I found out that Stroganoff was a real guy! A Russian noble, Count Stroganoff was born into a wealthy family in the late 1700’s and was a General in the Napoleonic Wars. The original recipe was named after him by a French cook who, trying to combine his traditional cooking with a taste of Stroganoff’s homeland, invented the dish using French mustard to season beef and adding a dollop of Russian sour cream. Voila! (or вуаля! in Russian).

And, I mean, what doesn’t taste better with a bit of sour cream?!?! Can you imagine eating a perogie without it? Or borscht? (Wow, it really is an Eastern European thing, isn’t it?!) I even add it to my favourite savoury pie crust here!

The best tip I can offer, don’t rush frying the chicken or the mushrooms. Make sure the chicken has a golden crust on both sides and the mushrooms have a nice sear. I did my mushrooms in two batches and each batch took 7-8 minutes. Crowding the mushrooms in the pan just steams them and the golden browning on the mushrooms really adds to the flavour of the dish.

Prijatnogo appetita!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 2-3 large chunks

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (I used brown)

1/2 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 TBS flour

1/4 cup marsala or dry vermouth (or white wine, or extra chicken stock)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp worcestershire
1/2 tsp mild paprika
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp sea salt) and pepper to taste
couple sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)

1/2 cup sour cream
fresh chopped parsley or other fresh herb for garnish, I used basil because it’s what I had (optional)

Mix chicken stock with mustard, worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat large saute pan with a glug of oil or some sort of fat (I used schmaltz) over medium high. Salt and pepper chicken thighs and fry 4-5 minutes per side until they have a nice golden brown crust. Don’t worry if they are not cooked through, they will cook more later. Remove to side plate.

Add another glug of oil if necessary and fry mushrooms until they lose their liquid and turn a lovely golden brown. This will take 7-8 minutes. Remove to the same side plate as the chicken.

Add another glug of oil if necessary and add onions, fry for a couple minutes then add garlic (garlic tends to burn so I give the onions a head start). Fry until just starting to brown. Stir in tomato paste for 1 minute and then sprinkle flour over mixture and stir for another minute.

Deglaze with marsala until the alcohol is almost gone. Then add chicken stock spice mixture and fresh thyme. Tip in the chicken thighs, mushrooms, and any liquid that has collected. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Taste and re-season. We enjoyed this over pasta but it would be delicious over white or wild rice.

Spaghetti with Ricotta Herb Meatballs

ricotta-meatballs-4I love any pasta you put in front of me but rarely eat it because, carbs (insert sad face here). However, we have had an unusual amount of snow in the past couple days and I still went for a pretty lengthy walk, slipping and stumbling over the icy, uneven ground, and that deserves a treat. And if I’m going to indulge, this is great way to do it. It is delicious and not too unhealthy (no cream!). Adding ricotta to the meat helps keep it tender and the copious amount of herbs give a flavour and freshness that you don’t usually find in a meatball. I used my lovely frozen confit tomatoes but good quality canned tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find them) work just as well. Don’t use ones that are pre-diced. They contain an additive to help them keep their shape and who wants to eat that?!

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Asian Noodles with Pork and Prawns

asian noodle final2I LOVE noodles. Husband does not. He has been gone for almost a week on a business trip so it has been a regular noodle-fest around these parts. Spaghetti with bolognese, udon with stir fry veggies, and now… TA DA!

These noodles are based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver except I switched out a couple ingredients and have given more exact measurements and cooking instructions. It is not a quick “throw-together” recipe; there is a lot of washing and chopping. It’s best to prep everything before you begin to cook as it goes very quickly once you start… like 5 minutes quick! The vermicelli noodles can be prepared ahead of time and I like to
cut them in half or thirds just to make it easier to toss and eat.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side. The recipe is easily halved or doubled but if you are going to double, you will need to cook half at a time as there are too many ingredients to properly cook in a regular frying pan.

4 ounces (100 grams) vermicelli noodles

A good glug olive oil
1/2 pound (8 oz) lean ground pork
2 TBS Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 pound (8 oz) shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined, cut in half or thirds if large
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced with seeds (taste for heat and adjust to your liking)
1 TBS fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plain skinned peanuts, roughly chopped or crushed
pinch of salt

4 green onions, very thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 sweet red pepper, finely diced

1 large bunch (2 cups) cilantro, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 small bunch (1 cup) mint, leaves removed and roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 TBS soy sauce

asian noodle prep

Cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. This usually means soak in very hot water for 3 minutes, rinse with cool water, drain and set aside. This can be done ahead of time.

Heat oil in large frying pan and add pork, breaking up with spatula until almost cooked through. Sprinkle over five-spice powder and stir to coat. Add prawns and toss for a minute to start cooking. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, sugar, peanuts, and a pinch of salt. Continue to toss and stir for another minute until prawns are almost cooked through.

asian noodle 1

Add vermicelli noodles, green onion, and sweet pepper to the pan. Continue to toss and stir for another minute or two until prawns are completely cooked and the noodles are warm. Remove from heat and add herbs, lime juice and soy sauce, stirring until herbs just start to wilt.

asian noodle 2
asian noodle 3

Pile all that beautiful spicy, fresh goodness into a bowl and enjoy.

That’s how it’s done when the cat’s away. :)

Anatomy of a Recipe and Mushroom Kale Lasagna 1.0

IMG_0927This was my first try at a white mushroom lasagna, using Sam Sifton’s New York Times recipe as a base. I replaced the bitter note (radicchio) with healthier kale, cut back on the truffle oil significantly (I wanted it to play a bit in the background rather than have it smack you in the face), and fooled around with the cheeses. As well as adding a few touches of my own (love those chilli flakes!).

The flavour was very good, but for me, I want it a little less dense and a bit more… ummm, “full”. I’m thinking about adding a ricotta layer.  Perhaps flavoured with something herby to accentuate the mushrooms, like thyme or sage? Or maybe something unexpected and light, like mint? Perhaps something more traditional, like basil? Or even something other than a fresh herb… something crazy, like za’atar, for example? (Yup, that’s me… craaaazy town ;) ).

I didn’t notice the kale at all. I think I could bump that up another 50% without negatively affecting the texture or taste. I’m not sold on the non-cook lasagna noodles, though. If I use them again, I might add an additional cup of milk to the bechamel and then set aside part of it as a coating for the top layer before the final layer of cheese. Or perhaps par-boil those “no-boil” noodles (just until they’re bendy) to give them a bit of a head start.

For finishing, I’m thinking about adding some lemon zest to the final layer of cheese, just to add a clean fresh note.

Anyhooooo, this is how it starts. A decent attempt at a recipe with a few ideas on how to make it great. Stay tuned… (but in the meantime, I encourage you to try my first go below, which was delicious, and then give it your own twist).

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