I have come to the realisation during my few months in Brasilia, that things I had taken for granted as staple produce, can be really hard to get a hold of here. Everytime you move to a new country, you expect there to be differences and you may not always be able to get hold of that specific brand or that seasonal vegetable- but I naively thought when it came to fresh produce it was pretty much standard across the board in all developed society – I was wrong!
Its almost impossible to get hold of dairy products such as greek yoghurt or even just unsweetened plain yogurt, if you are looking for sour cream – forget it! But most surprisingly to me is how expensive and rare it is to find celery, leeks and fresh mushrooms! The most common type of mushroom you get here is those canned button mushrooms – you know the ones that are already pre-sliced, sitting in briny water and are just disgusting?
I was complaining to my Portuguese teacher about this (in very broken Portuguese of course) and if I understood the conversation correctly there is just no culture for mushrooms here. She didn’t even know you could eat fresh mushrooms and that there are different varieties! The only type of mushroom she had heard about, where the magic kind…..
SO – when I came across fresh button mushrooms in the supermarket last week, that looked semi-OK, I pounced on them! I had no idea what I was going to do with them then, I just knew I had to have them, and quickly before they ran out! I love mushrooms in my pasta with bacon, or even in a mushroom risotto, but as I have pretty much cut out all carbs from my diet this wasn’t an option. Then it struck me, I was going to make beef stroganoff with mushrooms!
I quickly looked up beef stroganoff on the internet – and did not like any of the recipes I found. Some of them called for long cooking times, other called for ingredients I could not get hold of (sour cream!) and then I decided to go old school, to actually look in one of my beautiful cookbooks that seem to just sit in my kitchen as a display rather than actually being used!
My favourite Swedish cookbook came to the rescue “Annas Mat, Stora Kokboken” by Anna Bergenström, a fantastic book where every recipe is solid, simple and delicious. The original recipe does not call for mushrooms, but I added them in nonetheless
Beef Stroganoff – for 4 ppl
- 4 large yellow onions (ca 750g), roughly chopped
- 2 tblsp of butter and or oil
- 200g button mushrooms, quartered (optional)
- 400g topside beef (or any lean beef that does need a long cooking time) cut into strips,
- 2 – 3 tblsp of mild paprika powder
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 2 tblsp flour
- 200 – 300 ml water
- 100 – 150 ml cream
- 3 – 4 tblsp tomato pure
- 1 tsp Italian style dried herbs (I used oregano)
- tabasco (optional)
- 1/5 lemon
- Parsley, chopped (generous portion)
In a little butter and oil fry the onions until they are cooked through, then put aside. (If you are using mushrooms do the same, and once they are cooked through, put aside.)
In batches brown the beef. Once all the beef strips are nicely browned, put the rest of the beef, onion and mushrooms back into the pan and mix them together.
Then sprinkle the powdered paprika over and let it fry for a few moments. Add the flour and mix well. Then add the water and cream and stir, making sure you scrape the surface of the pan loosening all the brown bits on the bottom and sides of the pan (that is where a lot of the flavour is!).
Plopp in the tomato pure and the beef cube and stir, once beef cube has melted add the dried herbs. Put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes (or if you have really thick strips 15-20 minutes)
Once it is ready, add a little tabasco if you like to kick it up a bit and squeeze in the juice of 1.5 a lemon. I would taste my way forward here with with the tabasco and the lemon until you get the right balance.
Turn off the heat and finally sprinkle in the parsley and mix it into the dish. Serve with white rice or pasta – however if you are looking to cut down your carb intake like me, you can eat it with fried cabbage cut into thin strips which acts like pasta (maybe doesn’t sound as appetising, but it really is very good!)
However you decide to serve it – enjoy :)