November 22nd, 2015

What a Throwback!


Right now, I’m sure many of you are forming your Thanksgiving plans–choosing recipes, composing grocery lists, plotting your course to the Thursday feast. I am too; we’ll be driving to DC to spend the holiday with my daughter, son-in-law, and precious grandson. Plenty to be thankful for, in that one sentence alone.

We live in uneasy times. I think we always do–it’s in matters of degrees. The impact of global unrest, of violence, fear, loss and anguish has felt extreme to me of late. We all feel it, its heaviness, its power to constrict. I remind myself to keep an open mind, and even more so, an open heart. We’re all connected, part of a great family living on this planet. An open heart keeps those darker forces at bay, keeps the creative compassionate flow vital and moving between us.

Before I sign off, and wish you all love and peace, I want to share this totally retro recipe.


It’s similar to Swedish Meatballs, although there’s no nutmeg or allspice in the mix. It’s more of a Stroganoff–the meat seasoned with grainy mustard and Worcestershire. The beefy gravy is folded with sour cream. So 1960s. I can remember my mom making these, serving them in a chafer for festive gatherings with frilly toothpicks. On the flipside, I also remember the ghastly 1970s boxes of Hamburger Helper with a stroganoff version that she would simmer in a skillet for supper.


I hadn’t thought of them, these meatballs in sour cream, which, despite their “throwback” quality, are really quite delicious. I was reminded of them by a woman in a cooking class that I teach at Magdalene House. We were discussing what we could prepare for our December class, and she asked if we could make them. (potato latkes, too!)


Why not? Last week, I resurrected my recipe, jazzed the sauce with oyster mushrooms (!) and tested ’em out at our potluck. I served the stroganoff meatballs over a bed of buttered egg noodles.

Woo-hoo! Everyone went crazy, devouring every last one. “What inspired you to make them?” “My parents used to serve these at every party.” “Oh my goodness, I haven’t eaten this in years.”


The dish is hearty and potent, triggering memory, delivering comfort and taste. Well-worth bringing back—from time to time. You might like to serve a batch at a festive gathering of your own.

Here’s my wish, which is for myself, as much as for you:
As we move into the season of plenty, but also a time of rush and stress, remember to take time for yourself and your loved ones. Savor the moments together. Breathe deeply. Express gratitude. Feel joy. Be light.




The Meatballs
3 pounds ground chuck
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 eggs
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix and mash everything together until well-incorporated. The beef mixture will feel lighter and have a glossy look when that is achieved.

Form small (as in smaller than a golf ball) meatballs (again using your hands, or a small ice cream scoop) and arrange them on baking sheets.

Place into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside while you make the sauce.

(After they cool, you could place them into freezer bags and freeze for later use.)

Makes 6 dozen meatballs

Stroganoff Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
8 ounces oyster mushrooms, torn or chopped
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 quart beef stock
1+ cup sour cream
1 bunch green onions or chives, chopped

Place large pot on medium heat and melt the butter. Saute the onion until translucent, then add the mushrooms. Saute until golden. Add the cooking sherry and stir well. Let the sherry reduce, then add the flour. Stir vigorously to coat the mushrooms and onions.Let the flour gently “cook” for about a minute. Pour in the beef stock, stirring well. Season with salt, coarse ground black pepper. The brown gravy will begin to thicken.

Add the cooked meatballs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Fold in the sour cream, making sure it melds into the gravy. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with chopped green onions or chives.

Serve over a bed of egg noodles.
Serves a crowd–15 or more guests


Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Casseroles, Meats/Poultry, Pastas, Recipes | 22 Comments »

November 9th, 2009



We have a good friend, Roger, who was born in South Africa of Hungarian parents, and therefore grew up immersed in an amalgam of food heritages.

He speaks–rhapsodically–of Peri-Peri Prawns, jumbo crustaceans caught in the Indian Ocean, spiced and grilled in a sweet-hot Portuguese-Mozambique meld…
… and, in turn, of traditional Eastern European dishes: hearty gulyas, savory stews infused with true Hungarian paprika—soul-stirring fare that speaks of Franz Liszt and gypsy violins and bleak romantic countryside rolling along the Danube.

the bag of paprika

Early in the summer, Roger gave me a bag of The Real Deal, which is what you must have in order to create this rich and rustic cuisine. Most paprika that we find at the grocery is flavorless, and used only for a dash of color over deviled eggs and such. Look for Hungarian on the label.

I have been waiting for the right time to put this Paprika to good use—so that I can say Paprikash! with bravado—I love the sound and rhythm of the word. This meant waiting for Tennessee warm weather to shift.

November: The time for Chicken Paprikash! has arrived.


It gave me the chance to do a little research. I found the most intriguing information from Marc of NoRecipes .

Marc has a great foodblog, and his story about Japanese and Magyar/Hungarian languages running parallel root lines is fascinating. I also appreciated some of his recipe tips (even though it’s a “no recipe” recipe site) and adapted my recipe from his.

browned chicken sauteed veg

There are not many ingredients—it’s really how they are prepared that makes the difference. Browning the chicken well, with salt, pepper, and paprika helps to form a flavor-packed foundation for the Paprikash. Cooking the peppers and onions with the browned bits left in the pot from the chicken lends a richer, deeper note to the stew.

Chicken Paprikash

Olive Oil
2-3 Bone-in, skin-on Chicken Breasts
Salt and Black Pepper
2 large Onions, chopped
2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, diced
2 Banana Peppers or 1 Poblano Pepper, diced
1/3 cup Hungarian Paprika
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Stock (or chicken stock)
1 cup Sour Cream

In a large skillet on medium heat, slowly brown the seasoned chicken breasts (dusted with salt, pepper, paprika) in some olive oil, taking care to brown all sides.

Remove the chicken and add diced peppers and onions. Sauté until soft and somewhat caramelized, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan left from the chicken.

Pour in vegetable stock (or chicken stock, if that’s what you have.)
Add the paprika, and stir until it is well mixed. Return the chicken breasts and braise for 30 minutes or so.

Remove the breasts, discard the skin, and pull the meat off the bones. Cut into bite sized cubes and return to the skillet. Fold in the sour cream and continue simmering. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Serves 4.

Lovely over egg noodles! Paprikash!

smothered in skillet

The whole chicken breasts,smothered, simmer in the paprika-infused broth (which the paprika causes to thicken.)

off the bone with sour cream

The meat is pulled off the bone, cut into chunks, and returned to the stew. At this point, the sour cream is folded in, and gently warmed.
The chicken will continue to cook.

closeup purple hero(2)


There, I have said it enough.

Savory-sweet, with a little heat, this is comforting, cold weather food: delicious over egg noodles, garnished with fresh chives and dillweed.

Posted in Meats/Poultry, Recipes | 11 Comments »