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Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad

Here’s a great way to refresh your day with a very nice shrimp and rice noodle salad. It takes only a little time to make and it has just about everything you can ask for — shrimp, asparagus, some carrots and some mushrooms, all done over the fantastic rice noodles. You really can’t beat this dish.

I believe the original for this came probably from the food channel, but for a number of reasons, I really didn’t have a grill handy, so I just simply gave the shrimp its bit of marinade and finished it in a very nice hot saute pan. Worked just as well as the grill, and unless you’re really into that smoked taste, I’d say they’re about equal. Like the man sometimes says: Use what you’ve got.

The rest of the salad is pretty easy.

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Lucious Beef Stroganoff and Noodles

beef stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is one of those dishes that seldom comes up very often on restaurant menus, but when it’s done right, it’s about as luscious a beef dish as your likely to find, just about anywhere. Fortunately, if you like a really good portion of beef with onions and mushrooms, you can easily make a nice Stroganoff, even if your local restaurants aren’t likely to be serving it.

The trick, if you want to call it that, is to make the beef as rare as you can. That means a good top sirloin steak cut into nice thin slices, a really hot skillet, and paying very close attention to the beef while you’re searing it. That also means taking your time and using two or three sessions to get the meat done without overcrowding it in the skillet. The rest, is to season the meat very lightly — the sour cream, onions and mushrooms do most of the work — with maybe just a little thyme.

Lay the Stroganoff on noodles and you’re all set.

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Classic Beef Bourguignon

beef bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon is one of those dishes that everyone who aspires to be a great cook should have to master. One the surface, its beef stew. And yet, calling beef Bourguignon a beef stew is like calling Beethoven’s Fifth a song. Technically accurate, to be sure, but nowhere near to conveying the subtle beauty of the dish. The great thing is that this dish is easy to make, but still requires the kind of attention and care that defines good cooking.

There are many versions of this dish around, and there is a great deal of variation from one version of beef Bourguignon to the next. The classic preparation uses whole small white onions, carrots and mushrooms in addition to the beef, some thyme and a red burgundy wine, which is 100% pinot noir. (I have this on the authority of no less than Julia Child, and that’s enough for me.)

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Swedish Meatballs, Perfect for Christmas

swedish meatballs

Meatballs are one of those things I really love (as you can see by the many posts I’ve pout here) and these Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites. They’ve got an interesting texture, unlike meatballs of any other kind I’ve had. The sauce, however, is the winner here. There are a couple of ways you can make it, assuming you have some really good mushroom soup handy, but you can also make it with just good old mushroom soup from the can. 

If you have good creamy mushroom sauce, skip the milk in the recipe below and just add some sour cream to give it that nice body. If you have mushroom soup, add the milk and you’re fine. You can also add pre-cooked shredded mushrooms to the mix, if you like.

I’m guessing the soft texture that comes with the meatballs is from 3/4 cup of milk that’s added to the meatball mix, because there doesn’t seem to be anything else different. In fact, as far as I know, I don’t remember seeing milk in any other meatball mix, come to think of it. Whatever the cause, the meatballs come out fresh and will definitely win your heart. Promise.

The Swedish meatballs are great for Christmas and also can make a delicious appetizer, if you wish.

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Balsamic Chicken Thighs

balsamic chicken thighs

Balsamic chicken thighs are one of those little twists that can make an ordinary meal into something special. They’re relatively cheap, but the balsamic vinegar and the mushrooms turns them into a feast for anyone looking to put a nice fancy dinner on a plate. They’re perfect if company shows up without notice (the sauce and other ingredients can be added to for increased sizes) and they take so little time to make, you can take a few minutes to visit while they’re cooking.

The thighs are browned  and then put aside  while the onions and mushrooms cook, then returned and cooked with a simple balsamic vinegar  sauce that’s easy but adds a flavorful sauce that’s really to die for. This is one of our favorites at Discovery Cooking.

And best of all, they leave plenty of time to get some great side dishes to go with them.

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