Monday, August 13, 2012

Birthday Dinners

When we were growing up, birthdays were family days, and the birthday child was the prince or princess. We could get away with pretty much anything on our birthdays. We got to choose what shows we watched on the television (and it was THE television, as in the one television in the whole house), what games we played (would it be "Mother May I" or "Red Light/Green Light"?), what kind of jelly went into the PBJ's we had for lunch. But most important of all the decisions we made for our day was the dinner menu. 

Mom was (and is) an amazing cook, and she would cater to our birthday whims. One brother wanted a ham dinner, another preferred ravioli, other brothers switched it up as their tastes changed. My request never changed. I loved Beef Stroganoff. I'm not sure where I first tasted it, or even how I even knew about it. I mean, where would a kid from Coatesville learn about a faux Russian entrĂ©e? However I discovered it, Beef Stroganoff it was. 

Time flies. I got married, had kids, saw the kids go off on their own. Now my husband and I go out for birthday dinners since he doesn't think it's fair for me to cook on my special day. We have had spectacular meals on these occasions, but the most important part of birthdays are not the specific food, or the chance to boss around my brothers, but the people who share the day with me, at the table, on the phone, in our shared thoughts. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that last week (after my birthday), I made Beef Stroganoff for dinner. It was easier than I remembered to make and just as delicious.

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 2 (easily doubled)
Total cooking time: 30 minutes

1 sirloin steak, about an inch thick
2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, if desired
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely sliced
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Put steak into the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to slice. Slice thinly, on the diagonal. Put flour in a medium zip-lock bag, and shake. Add steak and shake to coat. Remove steak from bag, leaving behind extra flour. 
Heat butter or oil in a skillet. Add steak slices in a single layer. If necessary, do this in two batches. Let brown on both sides. Remove steak from pan. In the same pan (without washing), add the onions and saute gently over medium heat until translucent. Remove onions from pan. Add mushrooms to pan and increase heat to medium high. If necessary, add more butter or oil. Saute until the mushrooms are golden. Return the steak and onions to the pan, lower the temperature to heat through, and add sour cream. Heat until the sour cream is hot but not boiling (it will curdle if you let it boil). Serve over buttered noodles tossed with poppy seeds.

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