Quick Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients for Beef StroganoffThere aren’t a lot of TV shows that Paul and I agree on. Probably because there aren’t a lot of TV shows I agree on period. But one show we both adore is The Americans on FX. From the first crazy-fast-paced episode we’ve been hooked. Set in the time of Ronald Reagan as president and at the height of the Cold War, The Americans tells the story about two Russian KGB spies living in surburban Washington D.C. with their family. Is it a real family? A real marriage? You have to watch to find out.

We binge watched – and by binge watched I mean, we were at risk of deep vein thrombosis from sitting/lying on the sofa for so long – series 1, 2 and 3 on Amazon Prime and I’ve been literally counting down the days until the start of series 4. I may have actually written “10pm! The Americans!” in my diary. Because I’m a bit sad like that sometimes.

So what to eat for dinner on such a night? I figured бефстроганов would be an appropriate Russian kind of food. That’s beef stroganoff to you and I. The first mention of “Beef a la Stronganov” was in a 1871 edition of a Russian cookbook “A Gift To Young Housewives” and involves beef, mustard and a little sour cream. Over the years, the recipe has evolved to include onions and mushrooms. A stroganoff is usually made with a cheaper cut of beef simmered until tender but I wanted a quicker cook time so came up with this version involving filet mignon. Yes, filet is a more expensive cut of meat but you can easily stretch one small filet between two people with this recipe.Beef Stroganoff with mushrooms over white rice
The quandary was that starting the recipe by searing the filet meant it was inevitably a little tough and chewy by the time the mushrooms and onions had cooked. So I tried searing the filet right at the end of the cooking process, just to the point of medium, and then finishing it off in the rich sauce. Perfect!

The whole thing takes about 20 minutes from start to finish but tastes like you’ve been toiling over the stove for hours. You’ll saute sliced onions in a little butter, add a healthy splash of brandy (skip this if you’re alcohol-free), add sliced mushrooms, stir in a little (or a lot) mustard, reduce down beef stock, add the seared filet, creme fraiche (or sour cream), and fresh parsley and serve over buttered noodles, rice or even mashed potatoes.
Step by step pictures of Beef Stroganoff Recipe

Beef Stroganoff

  • Servings: two
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
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Ingredients:

1/2 large or 1 small onion
2-3 tbsp butter
A shot glass of brandy or cognac
10-14oz mushrooms
1 tsp each Dijon & Wholegrain mustard (more if you’re a mustard fan!)
1.5 cups unsalted beef stock
1 filet mignon steak ~8oz
Pink peppercorns
1 tsp flour
2 tbsp creme fraiche (or sour cream)
Small bunch fresh parsley
1/2 a lemon

To serve: your favorite cooked rice or buttered noodles.

Directions:

1. Slice onion into thin half moon slices
2. Melt 1 tbsp of butter over low-medium heat in large pan (large enough to hold beef, onions, mushrooms and sauce by the end)
3. Add sliced onions to pan, season and cook until just starting to brown, stirring frequently (~10 minutes).
4. While onions cook, prepare the mushrooms. Brush away any dirt, trim woody stems and cut mushrooms into generous slices.
5. Turn heat up high, wait for 30 seconds for pan to get really hot and then add brandy. Everything will sizzle up and the alcohol in the brandy will cook off.
6. Add the mushrooms to the onions. If the pan looks too dry, add another 1 tbsp butter. Cook until the mushrooms are soft (~10 minutes). Add the mustard and stir into the mushrooms.
7. Add beef stock and cook until the liquid has reduced by half (if you drag a spoon across the pan you should see a clear line before the thickened stock covers the line). Lower the heat to the lowest setting and prepare the beef.
8. Slice the filet into thick strips and crush the peppercorns. Press the filet into the crushed peppercorns and add a sprinkle of salt (preferably Maldon sea salt) and the flour.
9. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp butter and a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and taking care not to crowd the pan, quickly cook the filet strips until just about medium (about 2 minutes on either side worked for me, you want to cook it to just medium with a little pink in the center so it stays tender).
10. Add the seared filet and creme fraiche to the mushroom/onion pan and stir through. Cook for another minute or so until filet is still tender and sauce is hot throughout. Sprinkle over chopped parsley, add a good squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will really brighten up the sauce) and serve.


A delicious bowl of Beef Stroganoff with filet mignon and mushrooms

Приятного аппетита! (Bon Appetit in Russian!)

Did you watch the series premiere of The Americans on Wednesday? What did you think? Perhaps you can make this dish for the series finale? I’ll be drowning my sorrows with White Russians when series 4 comes to an end…

Arugula and Goat Cheese Pasta Recipe

I *just* had my first recipe request! How fun! A “recipe to improve the dating life of a random college student out in Washington, DC“! I racked my brains for the perfect dish that would be affordable on a student budget, relatively easy to cook but still feel special, and of course, be super tasty.

I was reminded of a pasta dish I used to regularly make (why did I stop?!?), I originally named it “If salad and pasta got together and had a baby…” but that sounds a little weird so Arugula and Goat Cheese Pasta it is. The peppery herbaceous flavor of the arugula cuts through the slippery pasta rich with the creamy goat cheese. Fun fact – arugula is known as rocket in the UK.

A creamy pasta without the cream! Peppery arugula, rich goat cheese and crispy bacon make for a great date night pasta recipe.

This is a very flexible recipe, if your date happens to be vegetarian you can easily skip the bacon (just start cooking the onions in a little olive oil and butter) and swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock and it’s still really delicious. If you’re fond of mushrooms you can add more (I usually do the full 10 oz – half regular white mushrooms and half whatever looks good in the store – chestnut, shitake, oyster). You can kick the taste up with thyme or parsley, pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice but if you don’t have those ingredients, it won’t ruin your date night.

Ingredients for Arugula and Goat Cheese pastaNot pictured – chicken stock, butter, optional – parmesan cheese, lemon and a small onion – because they wouldn’t fit 😉 If you have a long day of classes, you can get some of the prep done in advance the night before – finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, chop the mushrooms, grate the cheese and store them all separately in the fridge (wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or baggies)

Peppery baby arugula cuts the richness of the goat cheese in this simple yet elegant pasta dish.

If you’re an experienced cook, you can chop as you go but if you’re newer to cooking I’d recommend having everything prepped (onions, garlic, mushroom chopped, cheese grated/crumbled) to remove any stress. Bonus – if you’d like to cook together, you can assign mushroom chopping or cheese grating to make it into a team-effort dinner.

Cliffnotes: cook the bacon until crispy, remove and set aside, cook the onion in the bacon fat, add the mushrooms and cook until nutty and brown with a little garlic, remove and set aside. Add chicken stock and reduce by 50%. Add mushrooms back to pan. Add freshly cooked pasta (reserve cooking water!), butter, parmesan (if using) and toss. Add arugula, crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts (if using). Salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. If dry, loosen with pasta water. Top with crumbled crispy bacon and a little more goat cheese.
How to make arugula and goat cheese pasta with bacon and pine nuts

And there are just enough breaks in the cooking for excellent conversation…

arugula and goat cheese pasta

  • Servings: two cuties on a date
  • Difficulty: easy
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Note all of the ingredients give an approximate range, if you like more bacon, use more bacon, if you’re ambivalent about mushrooms, use less 😉

Ingredients:

4-6 oz of bacon (preferably center cut which is less fatty)
1 small onion (or half a large onion)
5-10 oz of mushrooms (any combination of white, chestnut, shiitake)
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp butter (~1/4 of a stick)
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 bag of baby arugula (3-5 oz)
1 small log of plain goat cheese, usually 4oz
Your choice of dried pasta – linguine, fettucini, tagliatelle
Optional: fresh herbs (thyme or parsley), a lemon, pine nuts, small piece of parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Chop the bacon into bite size pieces (kitchen shears make this much easier)
2. Chop the onion into a fine dice and crush the garlic in a garlic crusher (or slice as finely as possible)
3. Brush any dirt from the mushrooms and chop them into slices. Remove the woody stems from shiitake mushrooms if using.
4. Grate the parmesan cheese (if using), crumble the goat cheese into little pieces like small popcorn.
5. Put a large pot of water on to boil and add a good tablespoon of salt
6. In a large pan (large enough to eventually hold all of the ingredients AND the pasta), cook the bacon over a very low heat for a few minutes. The fat will start to render out and you can turn the heat up higher until the bacon reaches the desired level of crispness. Stir regularly to stop the bacon sticking.
7. Remove the bacon and set aside. Lower the heat and add the onions, cook until they are translucent (about 3-5 minutes), stirring regularly.
8. Add the mushrooms (salt and pepper too!) to the onions and continue to stir regularly over a medium heat. If your pan seems dry, you can add a glug of olive oil. Cook until the mushrooms are just starting to turn golden and then remove the mushroom/onion mix and set aside.
9. Add the chicken stock (don’t worry if there are a few pieces of mushroom or onion left in the pan, they’ll add more flavor) and turn the heat up high, stir to loosen any tasty brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Cook until the chicken stock is reduced to about half (about 5-10 minutes). Turn the heat way down to the lowest setting and add the mushrooms/onion mix back to the pan. Taste and add salt/pepper if necessary.
10. Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain in a colander and try to save some of the cooking water (set a mug under the colander).
11. Add the pasta to the mushrooms, add a large knob of butter and parmesan (if using), toss vigorously (tongs or a couple of forks). If things seem dry, add a good glug of the reserved pasta water (the starchiness will help bind everything together).
12. Add 3/4 of the crumbled goat cheese, arugula, pine nuts (if using) and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Toss again. Add the bacon. Final toss.
13. Serve in warmed bowls/plates (from the oven on the lowest setting), with the rest of the crumbled goat cheese on top.

Excellent with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NZ

Cooking tips:

Mushrooms are tricky little fungi, they usually go through a mushy stage when they’re officially cooked but not looking too appetizing. You can stop cooking at this stage and it won’t have a major adverse effect on your dish but if you can bear it, keep the heat high and stir regularly, watch the mushrooms like a hawk and you’ll be rewarded with a just browning/nutty tasting mushroom that will be absolutely delicious.

The last few steps all happen in a matter of seconds (adding the pasta, butter, parmesan, arugula, goat cheese, pine nuts) so having everything ready and bowls/plates warmed and ready to go will make your life easier.

Mouthwatering pasta recipe with nutty pan roasted mushrooms, peppery arugula, creamy goat cheese and crispy bacon.

Do we have any other cooking suggestions or recipe ideas for our college student? Will the cooking work out? More importantly, will there be a second date? Stay tuned…

If you have your own recipe requests, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the contact form above or email mainelyeatingblog @ gmail.com (remove the spaces!)

Indulgent creamy pasta with pancetta and mushrooms

You know how some nights you’re all “Let’s go for a walk and eat a superfood salad!?” and then other nights you just want to lie on the sofa in your PJs with a blanket and shovel high carb food into your mouth? Yup? Well this is the pasta recipe for those sofa nights. A super fast, super indulgent dish with just enough time built in to get your PJs on and find your new series on Netflix. I don’t know about you, but we’re DYING for Series 4 of The Americans on FX and this will totally be what we’re eating during the series premiere.Creamy pasta with mushrooms, pancetta and marscapone

What’s not to love about a 5 ingredient dinner – pasta, eggs, mascarpone (or heavy cream), pancetta and mushrooms plus a few storecupboard staples – salt, pepper, butter, garlic, onion and parmesan. As least I count butter, garlic, onion and parmesan as “essential” items in our home 😉 and it takes maybe 15 minutes to prepare. One of the unsung hero ingredients in this dish is the leftover pasta cooking water – the starchiness brings everything together!

Simply cook the mushrooms and a little garlic in butter until brown and nutty, remove and cook pancetta, add onions, add back cooked mushrooms. Mix eggs and mascarpone. Grate cheese. Cook pasta (reserve cooking water!!!!) and add to pan (off heat), throw in a handful of cheese (channel Mickey Mouse size hands for this), a big splash of the starchy cooking water and then add the mixture of eggs and mascarpone cheese. Toss vigorously and serve in warmed bowls.
How to make pasta with mushrooms and bacon

Actually, you could probably make this in 10 minutes if it wasn’t for my insistence that mushrooms should be cooked separately. I love my mushroom friends but they tend to color everything else…well, mushroom color. If you’re happy eating grey food, then by all means cook the mushrooms at the same time as the onion and skip step 1.

At best this is a VERY incorrect carbonara (the pancetta should be replaced with guanciale, mushrooms are uninvited imposters, onions and garlic are as welcome as a coven of vampires in your home, mascarpone or heavy cream is all kind of sacrilegious and WHERE IS THE SPAGHETTI?!?!?), but here’s the thing, it tastes pretty great. And the addition of the mascarpone or heavy cream reduces the risk of your eggs scrambling in the pan. You’re welcome.

Indulgent creamy pasta with pancetta and mushrooms

  • Servings: two greedy people
  • Difficulty: easy except for the mixing of the eggs when you can end up with scrambled egg pasta which will absolutely ruin your night
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Ingredients:

8 oz mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms but baby bella or regular white mushrooms work too!), if you have a sprig of fresh thyme or some fresh parsley, throw it in.
2 cloves fresh garlic – crushed or finely sliced
Large knob of butter
6 oz pancetta (or bacon)
1 small onion – finely diced
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp marscapone cheese (or 3 tbsp heavy cream if you can’t find mascarpone)
6 oz parmegiano regiano (you can also do a 50:50 mix of parmesan and pecorino)

4-6 oz of dried pasta. I have a fondness of De Cecco egg fettucine (it comes in nice little nests, 1 nest per person is perfect) – you’ll see it in the step-by-step picture or a nice ruffled pasta as in the top picture.

Directions:

  1. Saute sliced mushrooms in a large pan (you need to have room for everything in this pan later) with a little butter over a medium heat until golden brown and just starting to smell nutty. Add garlic for the last minute of cooking. Remove to a plate/bowl.
  2. Put a large pot of water on to boil, salt generously.
  3. In the same pan that you cooked the mushrooms in, add the diced pancetta and cook over a medium heat (stirring regularly) until the fat has started to render out and the pancetta is getting crispy.
  4. Add diced onions and stir vigorously so the moisture in the onions loosens up the browned crispy bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan. When the onion is lovely and soft and just on the verge of turning golden, add the mushrooms back to pan and reduce the heat to the very lowest setting just to keep everything warm.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the required time
  6. While the pasta cooks, mix the whole egg, egg yolks and mascarpone in a small bowl. It won’t really mix and you’ll have weird lumps. Don’t worry about it. Add some salt and pepper (and have a sip of wine!)
  7. Grate the cheese with a microplane grater.
  8. Put serving bowls or plates into oven on low or fill with boiling water (tip water out just before serving)
  9. Drain the pasta making sure to save some pasta water (I usually stick a large coffee mug under my colander to catch the water)
  10. With the pan OFF the heat, add the drained pasta to the mushroom/pancetta mix.
  11. Add the grated cheese and a good glug of the pasta water (1/4-1/2 cup to start)
  12. Add the lumpy egg/mascarpone mixture and toss like crazy. You don’t want scrambled eggs! More of a silky, creamy, rich sauce. Add more pasta water if things look dry.
  13. Serve on warmed plates/bowls and add a final shaving of fresh parmigiano regiano.

Creamy mushroom and pancetta pasta showered with parmesan cheese

What’s your must-watch TV series at the moment? What should we watch next? We’re all caught up on Making of a Murderer, House of Cards, The Americans, True Detective….

Oh, and if you don’t have a microplane grater (love mine for cheese, ginger, garlic, chocolate, nutmeg and more), check this one out: