Not your mother’s stroganoff

This has about two cups of cream, sour cream, lots of butter, almost two pounds of top sirloin steaks and a chardonnay to deglaze, plus a heap of fresh pappardelle pasta. It’s ok though, Mom, I made a veggie dish of sautéed carrots, green beans and red kale because I thought red was healthier… It’s all about the dark colours, right? Antioxidants and whatnot… Besides, I also had some carrots – and they were cooked!

Tri-Tip Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms
1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Coarse kosher salt
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms release juices, about 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 4 minutes longer. be careful to flip all mushrooms so they brown on all sides.
Add 1/4 cup dry white vermouth, white wine or dry Sherry
Cook til almost evaporated.

Stir in 1/4 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream; remove from heat. Season to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.

1.5 lbs tri-tip sirloin, fat trimmed, meat cut against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, slices cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in another large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef slices to skillet and sauté just until brown outside but still pink in center, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer beef slices to plate; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Deglaze with vermouth/wine/sherry.

1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
Add sliced shallots to same skillet, reduce heat to medium, and sauté until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes.

1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 cup sour cream
More whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley to garnish

Add flour to broth and smooth clumps. And 1 teaspoon tomato paste, paprika and broth mixture, and whisk to blend, scraping up browned bits. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.

Add beef slices and any accumulated juices to shallot mixture in skillet; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, then stir in sour cream and any additional whipping cream to make lots of sauce. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Add mushroom mixture.

Best served with large noodles like broad egg noodles or pappardelle. Also nice on brown rice.

Modified from: Epicurious, Bon Appétit
March 2010 by Molly Stevens



Meyer lemon blueberry pancakes

My fridge is often my source of inspiration and today, it was the new lemons I picked up for a tzatziki I was going to make and haven’t yet. Meyer lemons have a beautiful aromatic savouryness, a bit like sweet lemon and fresh thyme. I zested two whole lemons for only six pancakes and it was just about right. Yum. I do recommend organic citrus though, if you are going to zest the peel.

Oh, and try adding a teaspoon of whiskey to the whipping cream when you whip it. Wow.


Basil apple crisp

Yes, sounds a little odd but a subtle savory scent to balance the sweet apple. Just add a tablespoon or two to your basic three to four apple crisp. I used juicy ambrosias. Yum.
Here’s the recipe.

Apple Pecan Crisp

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 12- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/8 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts – toasted , cooled, and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened.
Stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.

4 1/2 pounds sweet-tart apples such as Gala (or four large ambrosias)
[4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped]
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Peel and core apples and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges, then toss with lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Transfer to baking dish, spreading evenly.
Crumble oat topping evenly over apple mixture and bake until topping is golden and apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Source: Epicurious. Gourmet November 2003; originally published March 1990


Making love in a canoe…

I can happily say that today’s brewery, Canoe, doesn’t fall prey to the old joke about American beer. The lager was light but traditional, the pale ale a bit hoppy, but in the west coast style, the bitter true to it’s name – caramel notes and a sharp finish, and a nut brown rich and creamy like Howe Sound. Delicious enough to take home… And a four-pack to go is already in our clutches.

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Tasting Swans

Our latest microbrew with hotel getaway, this time to Victoria, Swans hotel. Truly an excellent combination – hotel with it’s own brew. Starting bottom right, counter-clockwise, pale ale (average), brown ale (quite sweet, unless Londoners like it that way, I suppose), bitter (that wasn’t very), stout (with a strong coffee note but light, sweet and underwhelming), IPA (fruity and sharp on first taste), and scotch ale (that also wasn’t. More of a dark Belgian, really). Overall, sweetness compromises flavour and I’m left with a sense that they are trying to appeal to the widest (read, lowest common denominator) crowd (and I didn’t even try the two lagers…).


Dijon for dessert

My first attempt at French macarons. Chocolate almond meringue with a spicy ganache of clove, cinnamon and allspice. A bit of vanilla ice cream and handmade candied orange peel. All from scratch, except the ice cream. Maybe someday I’ll have an ice cream maker and enough freezer space to make it but until then, it is what it is.

I’m not much of a dessert person and the sauce started off as part of a crusted pork loin dish but I couldn’t help but slather dessert as well, with this delicious combination. Balsamic reduction, cream, candied orange peel and Dijon. Delicious in it’s reduced and liquid state (not so highly recommended in it’s colder, thicker state on the same dessert, as the mustard is a bit strong – just recommend reheating or leaving out the Dijon to start). Will likely try making this again without the Dijon, maybe with some dried cherries, which would still be tasty with meaty dishes, and well, pretty much everything…


tarragon fields

My first blog post. It was no small task to find a name, as foodie blogs abound and finding a wordpress link that’s still available is the second feat. There are even sites that generate foodie blog names for you. Definitely a sign that the field is oversubscribed.

Whether anyone reads this or not, I needed a place to post my experiments, my achievements, and simply things I find wonderful. Why ‘tarragon fields’? Because how delicious and amazing would that be!? Imagine the fragrance! I’m sure they must exist but I’ve never seen one and isn’t everything savoury made better with a little bit of tarragon? So with wonder, the courage to experiment and time permitting, I hope to capture some distinctly great recipes and adventures that make life yummy.