I recently made one of my favourites, mushroom stroganoff, as part of a Russian themed evening. We have weekly flat dinners which involve us putting lots of effort into dressing up to a theme, taking on new personalities for the night (meet Svetlana) and trying to top last week’s dinner with a new three course extravaganza . People always think this sounds like a fun raucous event (which it is) but get perplexed when they find out there are only two of us plus the odd visitor. We make our own fun.
Russian night & mushroom stroganoff
I should add a disclaimer here that my definition of Russian food was pretty broad, and incorporated most of the former Soviet Union, so probably not the most authentic of meals.
This recipe is for 4 but you can increase or decrease the quantities as you wish.
700 g mushrooms. I used a mix of chestnut and button mushrooms. Any mushrooms will work but a mixture is nice.
600 ml sour cream. I used half fat and I don’t think you really taste a difference.
2 or 3 white onions (depending on how much you like onion)
1 – 2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika. Not the hot kind.
1. Slice the onions into thin slices and fry in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan at a very low heat until soft and tender. Midway through the process add around half the smoked paprika to the onions. Remove from the pan and set aside once they are tender.
2. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices and cook in the same fashion, adding the rest of the smoked paprika. You may need to do them in two batches. If it seems like there is a lot of liquid coming from the mushrooms and the pan is filling with water, drain the excess water.
3. Return the onions to the pan and mix with the mushrooms, cooking together for a minute or two.
4. Keeping the heat low, add most of the sour cream and gradually mix in.
5. Then squeeze lemon juice in – if this starts to curdle your sour cream, add the remaining sour cream.
6. Let the mixture heat up but don’t bring it to boiling.
7. Taste to season with extra smoked paprika, salt and pepper if required.
8. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Plea for help with photography: I couldn’t get a picture of the finished recipe because the lighting in my house is terrible at night and actually makes my food look bad. I’m usually at work all day so can’t really catch natural light. At the moment my main technique is desperately balance plates on the windowsill and try and catch some light before the sun sets. Does anyone have any tips for taking photos of food at night indoors under artificial light and making it actually look good?! Maybe candlelight? It’s frustrating because I couldn’t photograph a lot of the elements of this meal for this reason. I have a phone camera, and also a Fuji Finepix digital camera which I haven’t really experimented with for food photography because in general it doesn’t do well in artificial light and I don’t like using flash. Any tips or ideas welcome!
I served this with latke and braised red cabbage. My personal favourite accompaniment to stroganoff is anything potato based; very thin french fries, fried potatoes, latke, even roast potatoes. I haven’t tried mashed potatoes because I like the side dish to be crispy and have a texture that constrasts to the creamy mushrooms.
Starters were Salad Olivier, some gherkins and pickles, aubergine caviar and rye bread. Dessert was apple sharlotka, served cold with sour cream. Copious amounts of vodka and Polish beer accompanied this meal, along with an awesome Russian inspired playlist that ranged from Tatu to Gogol Bordello to Russian rap music (new fave) to folk music. I managed to evade a hangover but I can’t say the same for my dining companions.