Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 16 - Belarus! Mushroom Stroganoff - Click on link for full blog and recipe. Up Next, Belgium

It's a long Memorial Day weekend, so I had time to cook in a second country tonight. Once again, I knew very little about this country, much less anything about the cuisine, but boy was I pleasantly surprised. Off we go, then, beginning with a little background history!

Belarus (Minsk) (EU): Belarus is currently a nation of approximately ten and a half million people wedged into a tiny region between Russia and Poland. Formerly called Byelorussians or White Russians, the people of Belarus now call themselves Belorussian. They are members of the Eastern Slav nations which include Greater Russia and Ukraine.

Subjected to forcible Russification, the historic name of Litva was changed to White Russia and its language, traditions, and customs were suppressed. During the Russian Revolution in the 1800's, hopes to gain independence were dashed once again by the Bolsheviks, who claimed the land as a Soviet Republic in January 1919.

During Polish-Russian War of 1919-1920, about 5 million Belorussians fell to Polish rule and 4 million to Russian rule. Following the Second World War, the entire country of about 10 million again ceded to total Russian domination.Suffering devastating population losses under Soviet leader Josif Stalin and the German Nazi occupation, including mass executions of 800,000 Jews, Belarus was retaken by the Soviets in 1944. It declared its sovereignty on July 27, 1990, and independence from the Soviet Union on August 25, 1991. It has been run by authoritarian Alyaksander Lukashenka since 1994. We here in the USA absolutely have no idea how good we've got it.

Belorussian cuisine most resembles that of Lithuania but also has strong elements of Polish and Russian traditions. To that end, I looked for a recipe that would be traditional to the country, but easy to make. I picked a Mushroom Stroganoff which I made using white mushrooms, baby Bella, dried porcini and and shitake mushrooms. The result was a rich, aromatic dish that didn't miss the beef at all, so all my vegetarian friends (Gwyneth and Troy) can rock this dish!

White, Baby Bella, Porcini & Shitake Mushrooms
  After reconstituting the dried Shitake and Porcini mushrooms, strain the liquid to remove any debris

Saute mushrooms in butter and onions - oh yeah...

Pick some dill and thyme from the garden

Combine sour cream & mushroom broth and add to sauteed mushrooms along with sherry

Add poppy seeds and butter to egg noodles (bowl given to us by Betty C. as a wedding gift in 1991), top with Stroganoff  & serve with a crisp, green salad

My sous chef, Ian 

Not just ANY salad bowl - this is our  treasured "Hass Bowl", made by long time family friend, fellow Cantabridgian and Vineyarder and immensely gifted potter, Terry Hass (the date on the bottom of the bowl is 1990!)

A huge thank you to Liam for his creative photographic contribution to this project and for supporting me in this endeavor! 

Final Assessment: We loved this meal and will make it again!

Belarusian Mushroom Stroganoff

2 oz. dried dark mushrooms
1 qt. hot water
1 lb. fresh, firm mushrooms
1/2 medium-sized onion, minced
4 Tbs. butter
Pinch of thyme
fresh-ground black pepper
1 generous cup sour cream
2 Tbs. brandy
2 Tbs. dry sherry
1 lb. wide egg noodles
3 to 4 Tbs. butter, melted
2 to 3 tsp. poppy seeds

Soak the dried mushrooms in a quart of hot water for several hours. Drain them, reserving the liquid. Wash the mushrooms thoroughly under running water, one by one, and trim off the hard stems. Cut the mushrooms in wide strips. Strain the liquid through several layers of
cheesecloth or through a paper coffee filter; there should be about 2 cups of it now. Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and simmer it until it is reduced by slightly more than half.
Meanwhile, wash, trim, and thickly slice the fresh mushrooms. SautГ©´ the minced onions in the butter until they are transparent, then add the sliced fresh mushrooms and toss over high heat until they have released their excess water and it is starting to evaporate. Season with a pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Add the soaked mushroom strips and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Gradually whisk the reduced mushroom liquid into the sour cream, and add this mixture to the mushrooms. Simmer gently, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sour cream sauce is slightly thickened and the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the brandy and sherry, taste, and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Boil the noodles in a large amount of vigorously boiling salted water until they are just tender but not yet soft. Drain them immediately and toss them with the melted butter and poppy seeds in a heated bowl.
Serve with the poppy seed noodles, and follow it with a tart, crisp salad.
Serves 6.

1 comment:

renee brogan said...

This looks awesome! I have to try it...