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I love the Olympics! LOVE! Ever since I was a young child, I remember thinking how special they were. Was it because they only happened every four years? Or was it because it seemed like the whole wide world had their eye on this one special event, together, united. Wasn’t it the Beijing Olympics whose theme was “One World, One Dream”? Perhaps this is why I always seem to shed a few tears as I watch the Olympics. Including the Opening Ceremony! It never fails. For this one moment, the world comes together as one, ignoring all boundaries, regardless of race, religion, social class or political stance. Yes, we support our country, but we also unite, in search of that one outstanding performance. We’re all waiting with baited breath for that elite athlete to do the unthinkable, no matter what country they represent. I remember during the Summer Olympics two years ago, my cousins were visiting from Italy. They knew the exact day of the men’s 100 and 200 metre race. That day, everyone was running in and out of the cottage, glancing at the TV screen, making sure not to miss the event. We all wanted to see that one man, just as the entire world did as well, Usain Bolt. Oh, and what a day that was! And of course, I cried. My girls don’t get it. “But mama, they won! Why are you crying?” So in honour of the Opening Ceremony this Friday of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, how about a classic Russian dish to celebrate the occasion.

Seeing as I have quite the stash of dried porcini mushrooms, I thought I’d add some to this dish, along with its soaking liquid. An extra depth of flavour wouldn’t hurt this one bit. If you haven’t got them on-hand, no worries. You can do without.

Instead of using just cream and making it super rich, I lightened it up a tad with some thick yogurt. The egg noodles could be any variety. Egg tagliatelle or linguine would work beautifully. I chose what I knew my girls would like best.

Beef Stroganoff 

large handful of dried porcini mushrooms, about 1 oz.

2 lb. of stewing beef

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of butter

salt & pepper

1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Hungarian Paprika

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

2 or 3 Bay leaves

3 cups of beef stock, or 4 if not using dried Porcini mushrooms

Porcini liquid, about 1 cup

½ cup of red wine

½ lb. of button mushrooms, cut in ½

½ cup of thick yogurt

½ cup of 35% cream

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 lb. of egg noodles

sour cream for serving, optional

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Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for about 15 minutes. Chop the porcini and reserve the liquid.

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The stewing beef usually comes in pieces that are way too big, and not always evenly cut. Cut them in half, perhaps even more, so that you have pieces that are more or less 1 to 1½ inches all around. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large casserole over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. When hot, brown the meat in 2 batches, for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate.

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Reduce heat to medium and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the porcini and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the beef pieces and any juices in the plate. Add the paprika and stir.

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Add the porcini liquid, beef stock, wine, tomato paste, dijon and bay leaves. Give it a good stir, bring to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 2½ to 3 hours, until the beef pieces are nice and tender. Mine was ready after 2½ hours. At that point, add the button mushrooms and allow them to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and yogurt. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.

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Cook the egg noodles. When ready, strain and return to its cooking pot. Add some butter to the noodles, stir, and set aside until ready to serve.

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When ready to serve, add some noodles to a dish or bowl and ladle the beef stroganoff over the top. If you like, you can add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with additional fresh parsley. Priyatnogo appetite! That’s Bon Appetit in Russian. I think! Go Team Canada!

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