Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

What’s for dinner on a weeknight? Got some hamburger in the freezer, some fresh mushrooms, sour cream and a few other additional items and you have the poor man’s version of Beef Stroganoff:

I served it with a ten-minute instant pot recipe for artichoke. They are on sale this time of year, so perfect accompaniment for a simple dinner.

The recipe can vary based on the ingredients you have on hand. I find ground beef gives the best flavor but you can certainly substitute another type of ground meat such as ground turkey or pork.  If using something other than beef, you’ll likely want to add some extra Maggi or Beef Bouillon for a richer flavor!

This easy Ground beef stroganoff recipe is made from scratch with fresh ingredients (no Cream of Mushroom soup as there is too much sodium). This way too simple to make!  You’re literally just  minutes away from getting this beef stroganoff on the table!

  1. Brown beef, onions and garlic.
  2. Add mushrooms, sauce & seasonings.  Simmer a few minutes.
  3. Start your egg noodles cooking!
  4. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles.

Sauce:

  • Sour cream may curdle if it boils so add the sour cream, after you have completed everything else.
  • You can use Greek yogurt if you do not have sour cream. I prefer “light” sour cream or non-dairy sour cream.

Add a little more flavor with any or all of the following:

  • A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
  • Add a sprig or two of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried)
  • Add a couple of slices of chopped cooked bacon with the sour cream. ( You can cook it covered with a paper towel for six minutes)
  • Add a small bit of smoked paprika and a dash of hot sauce

I like to serve over thick fresh egg noodles, but you could serve it over potatoes, rice or normal pasta.

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms sliced ( I like a variety of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (I have bone broth, which worked great)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Instructions
  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a pan until no pink remains.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 more minute. ( I cook my mushrooms separately ahead of time, so there is less liquid)
  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • Remove beef mixture from the heat, Let sit to cool a bit, stir in sour cream and parsley.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Time for Changes

This 30″ x 40″ painting was done for my now ex-husband. He insisted he have it when he moved out, but after a bit sent it back to me. I decided I must have been a little depressed when I painted it.

There are musical notes added in the background with the use of collage, which is not my normal style of artwork. I decided best to paint over it, to remove the memory of bad times.

This one makes me smile a little more. The colors are lighter and the addition of more gold leaf add a little lightness to the piece

Time for Changes

Tarte Tatin

The Tarte Tatin was created accidentally at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, 169 km (105 mi) south of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake, regardless she served her guests the unusual dish. Whatever the veracity of either story, the concept of the upside down tart was not a new one.

The tarte became a signature dish of the Hôtel Tatin. Historians and gourmets have argued whether it is a genuine creation of the Demoiselles (Misses) Tatin, or the branding of an improved version of the “tarte solognote”, a traditional dish named after the Sologne region which surrounds Lamotte-Beuvron. Research suggests that, while the tarte became a specialty of the Hôtel Tatin, the sisters did not set out to create a “signature dish”; they never wrote a cookbook or published their recipe; they never even called it tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them  after the sisters’ deaths.

Originally, the tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinete Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them. When choosing apples for a tarte Tatin, it is important to pick some that will hold their shape while cooking, and not melt into apple sauce.

So here is my story: Years ago (42) when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Chadwyck Montford Bennett Wirtz, who is now 41, I went to a cooking school in San Diego. I went once a week for a couple of years. I was working on my MA in Interior Design back in the time when everything was done on an actual drafting table, not CADD. I could no longer fit behind my drafting table to do my homework, so a I took a leave from school and needed something to do, so I went to cooking school and cooked and ate. I started my pregnancy at 110 pounds and gave birth at 185 pounds. Yes, I liked to eat what I cooked. No, I no longer weigh 185, but I still love to cook.

My middle son Kyle Michael Bennett Wirtz never loved chocolate, which seems totally foreign to me. He loved this Tarte Tatin and I would make it holidays for him, when everyone else wanted chocolate. It is still one of my favorites and Kyle is now 37, so when I made this today it made smile and think of him.

And yes it is much better with bourbon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The cooking school was in San Diego and called “The Gibson Girl”. It was a great concept as two people shared a cooking station, we all cooked part of the meal and we all shared it at the end of the evening. I have great memories of that time.

At about eight months the class was featured on TV and they loved that a “very” pregnant woman was taking the class. I continued the class well after Chadwyck, my first of three sons was born. We had a dinner where all the spouses were invited and Chadwyck’s father was thrilled to attend as he loved to eat and loved showing off his six month old son.

I will never forget, Chadwyck was sitting on Fred’s (Chadwyck’s Dad) shoulders and I looked over to see my quite cholicky son start to leave a deposit on my husband’s head. I looked over in horror to see it run off his head over his face and ears and down the sides of his custom-made suit, Fred being totally unaware. I started laughing and everyone, much to his dismay looked his way and broke out laughing. Luckily Fred was always a great spirit, so he started laughing as someone handed him a nearby towel.

This recipe was from The Cordon Bleu of Paris and to this day is one of my favorites. It is an easy recipe if you remember to cover the handle and can flip the tarte.

I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust Recipe, which I will add at the end. I change the recipe a bit and will add the changes I make to the original recipe:

TARTE TATIN

The amazing thing about Tarte Tatin is how the caramelized apples are somehow transformed into something entirely new while still retaining their distinct apple taste. It’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted it make, but a little challenging. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down, which means there is no need for special decorations or even beautiful rolling of the dough. The real challenge is finding the right balance when caramelizing the apples. Julia Child captures the essence of the dessert in this quote.

“To be sure, a Tarte Tatin should be brown and sweet, but it needs to be more. The apples need to be cooked in sugar and butter long enough that they are not only coated in buttery caramel but also permeated with sweetness. Like what happens in jam-making, where some of the water in the fruit is replaced by sugar.”

The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994.

Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients for Pastry Dough
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Ingredients for Tart Tatin
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved ( I use 9 to 10)
1 lemon, zested and juiced ( I just add lemon juice to apples as I peel and slice them)
1 1/2 cups sugar. ( I used 3/4 cup )
6 tablespoons unsalted butter. ( I use 8 tablespoons)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment ( I like a bit of Gran Marnier in my whipped cream.

Directions
Preparing the dough. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar. (I let the butter and sugar blend and then add in the apples)

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook. ( As you can see from my photo I do them in a circle, then add some extra in between, so it is tight.)

Preliminary stove-top cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. ( I do not press on the apples or put a lid, as the apples are up and over the rim of the pan). Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough. ( I do not let cool and have the dough ready to go)

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan. ( I roll the dough around my rolling pen and gently unroll on the top of the apples)

Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. ( I was taught to start at 475 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes or until it starts to look done and the liquid is sizzling, then turn to 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crust is a lovely medium brown)

Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Now the fun part!
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test to see whether it’s ready be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan. If a few apples stick to the pan, rearrange the slices as necessary.

(I run a knife around the pan, put a protective cover on the handle, as once I sort of forgot it was really, really hot and had a lovely burn for quite a while. Make sure you have a nice flat beautiful plate to flip the tarte on). Eat and enjoy!

Italian Joe’s Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a food processor
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and give it a few pulses until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
    (Use cold utensils if not using a food processor to not melt butter)
    3) Add egg and milk mixture to the processor while pulsing a few more times until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  4. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture
    (do not knead)
  5. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  6. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  7. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  8. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  9. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!
Tarte Tatin

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

The Air is Clearing

It is so very nice to finally awaken to fresh clean smoke free air. Another day at last in my studio enjoying putting paint on a 36″ x 36″ canvas. With time in my studio and time in my kitchen life is good. I called the “The Air is Clearing”, as I could almost see the sky become blue during the day.

When I am not painting I seem to be cooking and made this Plum, Nectarine and Blackberry Galette in the morning.

My friend Reed really liked I think, as this was what was left after breakfast…

The recipe is in one of my earlier posts, and it is so easy and so delicious, you should make one. The last one I made with peaches and blackberries. I like to add a little cinnamon on top and four or five dabs of good butter, with an egg wash and a little sugar on the crust. I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust recipe, as it is moist, flakey and goes together easily:

Italian Joes Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

I tsp salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a large bowl ( He uses a food processor, but I prefer doing by hand.
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and use cold bakers knives or your fingers until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
  4. Add egg and milk mixture mixing by hand or cold utensils until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  5. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture by hand or utensils.
    (do not knead)
  6. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  7. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  8. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  9. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  10. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!

I put the second half of the pie dough in plastic wrap, then use my Seal A Meal to seal it before I freeze it till I need it.

The Air is Clearing

Red Meets Black!

In addition to sketching and doing a relatively impressionistic type paint, I love doing big abstracts. This one did not take much time, but just made me happy painting. I usually put on some great music and just enjoy the energy. Stacey Kent is my newest artist of choice. I was introduced to her music when staying a friend’s house. With all the fires going on in Washington, Oregon and California the idea struck me that the all the fury of the fires leaves behind the sadness of the blackened trees and lost homes.

This is fairly large at 48″ wide x 24″ tall.

Red Meets Black!

Back in the Studio at last

It has taken quite a while to sort through everything and organize it, but I am there and was able to paint this week. My friend, Reed and I went on a drive last week to Brinnon where we took a very short hike to find the Rocky Brook Falls. I will admit we drove more back and forth trying to find the falls, than we did hiking, but it was worth the trip.

This is the photo that I used for the painting. As you can see I took a little “artists license” with the painting.

I’m not sure if I will attempt to paint this, but it surely was breathtaking.

Back in the Studio at last

Love sketching

I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.

I started with simple sketches around the house.

Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)

Drew the house on the corner.

And the house across the street.

Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.

Another house right across the street

And added color

Drew a tree rose in the front garden

Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.

My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.

Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!

Love sketching

Asian Pear Bundt Cake

I promised to post this a while back and quickly forgot as I had just sold my waterfront home, got a divorce and moved to my little cottage.

This recipe may be made with any variety of pear, or use apples. Sprinkle the cake with sifted confectioners’ sugar or use a simple Vanilla or Caramel Glaze.

Ingredients

  • For the Fruit Mixture:
  • 3 cups Asian Pears(diced)
  • 1 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 large eggs

Instructions

  1. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or spray generously with Baker’s Joy or other similar baking spray mixture with flour. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Combine diced pears, pecans, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar; toss. Cover and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and soda; mix to blend thoroughly.
  4. With electric mixture on low, stir in oil, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture until blended.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool completely.
  7. Transfer to a serving plate and glaze with a vanilla or caramel glaze or just dust with powdered sugar.

Caramel Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat
  2. Add the brown sugar to the butter and cook, stirring, for 1 minute
  3. Add salt and cream; bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  4. Cool for about 15 to 20 minutes and then drizzle over cake.

Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted before measuring)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear for whiter icing)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. Combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar, softened butter, vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons milk in a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir until smooth and well blended.
  3. Adjust for desired consistency as needed, adding more milk for drizzling or more confectioners’ sugar for spreading.
  4. Use immediately to top a cake, cookies, and other treats.
Asian Pear Bundt Cake