When I began this blog back in January – wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year already – my husband wasn’t too keen on the idea. He’s not a social media type of guy. He has Facebook but logs on once a month to see if some long-lost friend inboxed him, and then logs right off again. He doesn’t use Twitter, doesn’t have the slightest interest in Pinterest and even resisted text messaging at first. His rationale, “If someone wants to talk to me they can call me.” He’s right in a way, especially with how impersonal social media has made communication, but I find it a necessary evil. So my husband, the antisocial media butterfly he is, thought of all the downsides that blogging can bring; namely a lack of privacy, wasted time and a lack of privacy, and came to the conclusion that blogging is a bad idea.
His prejudice against blogging increased twofold when I told him about what I wanted to blog about. My initial idea for this blog was a weekly dinner menu. I am one of those anal people who sits down every Saturday morning before heading off to the grocery store, and not only writes up the standard grocery list, but I also make up a menu for the entire week. After figuring out what I am going to cook Sunday through Friday (Saturday is always up in the air) I then make a list of what I need for those meals, lunches, snacks, etc. I find this a huge help throughout the week. Nothing is worse than sitting at work and worrying about what you’re going to make for dinner, worrying if you have enough eggs in the fridge to make that recipe,or cursing yourself when you realize you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw. I thought I had a great idea, not only could I share great recipes but I can help people plan their meals and maybe even make their lives a little bit easier! When I told my husband my grand idea he shot me down with, “I don’t want all of my friends to know what I am eating everyday!” You’re probably thinking, really Ana? Is this really why you gave up on that idea? Well, yes and no. Yes, because he made me reconsider my idea and no because I found out some weaknesses in it; like the fact that it would be a lot of work to post a recipe for each meal I prepared for almost every day of the year!
Another skeptic of my blogging is my dad, and I say is, not was because he still is pretty suspicious of the whole thing. To my dad my blogging is on par with American traitors sharing top-secret documents with the Soviets – yes that serious! I should add a clause to that statement: He only feels that way about Croatian recipes. He could care less about the “English” recipes I post – that’s what he calls the non-Croatian dishes I share. My dad thinks I am doing a total disservice to my family and Croatian cooking by sharing “our” secrets. That’s what he says, “Ana, you sharing our secrets!” It’s like my mom has a copyright on Croatian recipes and by me posting them I am infringing on her ingenuity. My rationale, these are recipes that everyone knows, but people of my generation who don’t have someone to show them, who may not have the time to learn, or who cannot read Croatian just don’t have the access to. He, on the other hand thinks I am a family recipe traitor.
As a result, there have been a few blog worthy occasions I could not capture for you because my dad said it was a “family secret” that I couldn’t share. One, was my husband and dad making sausages – I think he thought my “high-tech” lens could focus in on all of the spices he flavours his sausages with and in turn, spill the beans on his secret blend. The second time was during family pig roast my parents hosted a couple of months ago, where he flipped his lid when I tried to take a picture of our lunch turning on the spit. He told me I couldn’t take a picture in case he burned the house down while roasting the pig and could not collect house insurance with pictures of a pig turning on a make-shift rotisserie on the internet! If my dad’s thinking holds any truth, then all you avid grillers out there better be careful when firing up your next steak because you never know when the thing will catch on fire and set your house aflame! Really, Tata?
But let me tell you something, even the most cynical of cynics can eventually change their ways. My husband jumped on the blogging band wagon a while ago when he realized how much I enjoy it and how much others enjoy it too. I am happy to say he is quite proud of me; sharing my blog with his buddies and encouraging me to pursue a new endeavour to coincide with blogging – catering. My dad still thinks I am a traitor but there are promising signs that are leading me to believe that a thaw is on the horizon in our Cold War. Last week, when my family was visiting and we came together for dinner with my in-laws and birthday cake for Nick’s mom. My dad, impressed with my baking abilities, told me I should put up a picture of my cake on the blog! That came as a big shock to me. My dad condoning my blogging – who would’ve thought!
This recipe came with my husband’s endorsement. When he first tried this dish he instantly said, “You gotta put this on the blog!” If Nick says something like that, then you know it’s got to be good! Another promising comment was, “It’s like chicken goulash!” And you know what? It is! It’s so tasty, satisfying and comforting, like a goulash. It also has great flavour from the mushrooms and roasted red peppers and a lovely tangy finish from the sour cream. This recipe is a crowd pleaser and one that can be whipped up in a jiffy.
When browning the mushrooms, don’t stir them for a few minutes. Let them develop some colour by leaving them alone. After 3 or 4 minutes, give them a stir and you’ll notice how nicely golden they’ve become. Another good tip for helping to brown mushrooms is keep the heat up on medium-high and don’t salt until after they have browned. Cooking over higher heat (especially if your pan is full) and not salting until the end, prevents the mushrooms from releasing all that moisture and stewing, rather than browning.
Recipe from Fine Cooking, Chicken Stroganoff with Mushrooms, Sherry and Sage
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 8-oz. (250 g) package sliced cremini mushrooms
2 shallots, finely chopped and divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces
2 large cloves finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 whole jarred roasted red pepper, drained and cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 plum tomato, cut into medium dice
Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, set aside. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and a glug of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook undisturbed until well browned on one side, 1 to 3 minutes. Add one of the shallots and 1/2 tablespoon of the sage to the pan and continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are well browned all over, another 3 to 5 minutes. Season generously with black pepper and transfer to a bowl.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and another glug of olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken and cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Add clove of the minced garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of the sage, and the remaining shallot and continue to cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, wine, and red pepper and cook to reduce the wine slightly, about 2 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and stir in the sour cream, tomato, and the remaining garlic. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. If the sauce seems overly thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining sage.