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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lamb Stroganovski

Although I admit I'm somewhat bummed at having yet another cold, it's not all bad news as it lead to last night's meal in a couple of ways. Firstly, as I alluded to in my previous post, I've been watching a bit of Bizarre Foods lately, and saw the St Petersburg episode the other day. Apart from teaching me to never, ever consider eating pickled lamprey (I think he described it as "horrifying", which is alarming coming from a man who loves to get stuck into a nice plate of mystery meat or tuna sperm) it also inspired me to make a stroganoff sometime soon. Of course, the traditional dish is a beef stroganoff, but I tweaked the recipe to make it with lamb instead. I will certainly not be following in the footsteps of my Dad, who when in Russia a couple of years ago, accidentally ordered Liver Stroganoff.

This particular recipe comes from the much loved Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook. My Mum has had this cookbook for as long as I can remember, and although I couldn't find a year of publication, the recommended price is $3.98 which gives a hint to its age. This is my go-to cookbook for many traditional recipes, being particularly well used when I went through my pancakes-for-dessert-every-night stage when I was younger, and it also tells you things like how to joint a chicken, fillet a fish and make your own mixed peel.

My beloved personal copy of The Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook

It was a very happy day when my parents returned from a holiday in Queensland a few years ago with, amongst the usual present haul of t-shirts and fridge magnets, a very special present for me - my very own copy of the cookbook. I was ecstatic. My Dad actually spied it in a second hand stall, and funnily enough they were asking $4 for it - only 2 cents dearer than the original $3.98 asking price. I no longer had to call up my Mum to ask her to read out a recipe to me over the phone, or scan and email me a copy, although as I discovered yesterday I do still need to call her to double check all her little amendments to the recipes that she's tweaked over the years.

The second reason that this meal was assisted by my cold was the fact that in my current state I decided to give Coles Online a try. The thought of getting out of my pyjamas and facing a supermarket just seemed impossible, and although my housemate was happy to go do my bidding, I thought it was a good opportunity to test the Coles Online waters. Plus, I had quite a few things, some quite particular, that I wanted to stock up on, and didn't want to hand my housemate an essay for a shopping list.

How did I get in this aisle?

So, I spent some time on Wednesday logging on and virtually shopping. In some aspects it was a little disappointing, as the choice is much more limited than in a real Coles supermarket so only particular varieties or brands of some items are offered, and some things just aren't available at all (no fresh rhubarb! Waah!). It seems to be pretty good for staples though, and I admit that I took great delight in ordering particularly heavy things. No multiple trips with piles of bags hanging off each arm, only to drop my keys when trying to get in my front door, hooray!

So, I eagerly awaited my grocery delivery yesterday afternoon during my selected delivery window, hoping that my strawberries would not be mouldy and my tinned soup would not be on top of my eggs. Well, my delivery window that I selected was 4pm-6pm, and the delivery arrived at exactly 6pm. The delivery man was very friendly, and also seemed to be much more intelligent than the friends of my neighbours, as he managed to figure out which door bell belongs to my apartment.

Coles have some legal thing where they will not enter your residence to put your shopping down for you, so we played a little game of pass the bag as he handed me bags and I placed them down on my loungeroom floor. I then signed his form and got opening! The first thing I noticed was that the bag containing my chocolate ice creams actually smelled like chocolate. Not a good sign. Opening up one of the boxes, I discovered that they had gone very soft, which I made a note of on my little order slip and raced them into the freezer. I also noticed that a couple of the items I was unfamiliar with when purchasing were quite different to the picture on the website, so I made a couple of mistakes by buying things thinking they were something else.

I guess it could have been worse ("Hot with a Chance of a Late Storm" by The Glue Society, at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2006 (Colectiva 2006))

When you select your items, you can say whether or not you'll accept a substitution if that item is not available, and I was somewhat unhappy to see that my "extra trim stir fry lamb" that was on sale at $15/kilo had been substituted with normal stir fry lamb at $19/kilo. Better than no lamb at all, though. Oh and finally, my matches were nowhere to be found! It's a good thing I wasn't desperate to light a birthday cake last night.

I just got off the phone with the customer service line for Coles Online, and after speaking to a very friendly chap I now have a credit on my account for the ice creams and the matches. Apparently they have an issue with ice creams melting a little when they are waiting for the vans at the warehouse, and they are going to address it.

So, I think that Coles Online is definitely worth using if you can't get yourself to the supermarket, but it seems a good idea to stick to items that you're familiar with (in case the picture is misleading) and order easily meltable items with caution. At least the customer service seems top notch, and I have some free refrozen oddly shaped ice creams for my trouble.

Lamb Stroganoff with fettuccine and little white and green trees

Now, onto last night's dinner! My Mum has been using her own version of the Women's Weekly Beef Stroganoff recipe for years and years, and it is often requested at bring-a-dish family dos. I've taken her version of the recipe and tweaked it some more to make it a lamb stroganoff instead, and I guess there are a number of other meats you could also use. Just not lamprey.

Lamb Stroganoff
Adapted from my Mum's version of The Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook beef stroganoff recipe

750 g trim lamb, cut into strips across the grain
Butter/olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
600 g button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup stock (I used chicken, I wished for homemade lamb stock!)
250 g (half a tin) condensed tomato soup
300 mL light sour cream
1 Tb cornflour

1. In a hot pan**, sear the meat very quickly, in batches, using butter or olive oil. Set aside.
2. Add more butter/oil to pan and add the onion, sautéing until lightly brown. Add the mushrooms and more butter, gently sautéing until they are tender.

It will look like a ridiculous amount of mushrooms, but they reduce down a lot.

3. Return the meat to the pan, also adding the stock/water and tomato soup, stirring until combined. Season. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
4. Mix the sour cream and cornflour together in a bowl, stirring until well combined. Gradually add this mixture to the pot, stirring until meat mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Serve with pasta and vegetables. I chose to serve with fettuccine, cauliflower and brocolli.

This version of the recipe is admittedly lacking in the real meaty taste of the beef version, as that uses beef and beef stock. So, if you're a beef lover I'd recommend you go that route instead. I really think this recipe could be improved with the use of some lamb stock instead of chicken, to bring out a more lamby taste. Having said this however, it is still a very tasty dish and my housemate happily took leftovers off to work with her today.

Oh and speaking of leftovers - the original recipe states that it serves four people. Well, we both managed to get a good feed out of it last night, and also made up five extra meals for the fridge/freezer with the leftovers. So, I'd say it serves more like six people.

** Just like my Mum, I always make dishes like this using my Breville "Country Kitchen" cast iron electric frying pan. This thing makes EVERYTHING taste better, and is totally worth the grunting effort required to lug it out of the cupboard. I just tried to find a link to it on the Breville website though, and it seems to not be made anymore? Good god, I had better not break mine.


Iron Chef Shellie September 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM  

I'm still trying to process the thought of tuna sperm...

oooo vintage cookbook!!

Lamb strogg... I like the sound of that!

Panamahat September 25, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

Do hope you get to feel better soon. Um, do Coles deliver to Devil's Hollow, do you think??? I'm really running low on a few items since our local supermarket went out of business...

On another note - you better be healthy and have a sunday morning free for Dim sum when I come up. Sunday 25th. PLEASE say you can!

Kel September 25, 2009 at 7:50 PM  

I can almost taste the lamby goodness, when I get back from holidays, I may request the mothers beef version, guess I better pick up some magnets on holidays to compensate ;)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 26, 2009 at 6:52 PM  

Iron Chef Shellie - I know! It was massive! I think they called it a sack of sperm....ewwwww.

Panamahat - thanks, glad to read your drugs seem to be knocking your particular brand of germs on the head. I am very happy to say that I am totally free to have dim sum with you on the 25th!!! Yay! So looking forward to seeing you :D

Kel - I think it has been hardwired into us to seek out magnets for mother. Ooh you should be (hopefully) on the plane by now! Dave is probably already snoring away, hehe.

eatlivetravelwrite September 26, 2009 at 8:13 PM  

Thanks for the review of Coles online. Neil and I use Grocery Gateway here in Toronto and love it. It's gotten better each year in terms of selection - we've been using it for nearly 10 years! Love the recipe but have to admit that I cannot get past the WW Cooking Class book which I used to own but didn't follow me to France and certainly didn't make its way to Canada. I want my WW!!! (Ebay, here I come!)

Cheap Ethnic Eatz September 27, 2009 at 12:06 AM  

Your dish looks great. And loved reading about your online grocery shopping experince. I have yet to test it here.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 28, 2009 at 11:29 AM  

Thanks for sharing your experience with Coles Online :) I've tried a few of them and we never really went with any long term as the missing ingredients would entail having to go to the shops again thus defeating the purpose! :P

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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