A Russian Rendezvous

So Friday was not the best day for myself nor Sam. We both had to call in the office sick – him because he has caught a particularly bad ‘man flu’ on his Mexican adventures ( despite me feeding us some seriously spicy immune fighting stews of late ); myself because somewhere along the line last week I have eaten something that very much does not agree with my delicate colon. Truth be told, I highly suspect the beautiful box of  handmade chocolates that my clients gifted me with – and I suddenly pretended ( too myself ) I could eat without consequence . I am still very much learning a moment of pleasure is not worth hours/days of subsequent pain.

Often when things become so painful and uncomfortable, food feels like the enemy and I don’t want to put much effort in to creating kitchen masterpieces …

Last Friday evening however I decided that I was not  going to fall back on my “lets have some homemade soup from the freezer” mode and created what I think ( and hope you do too !) is a delicious and nutritious version of a creamy Russian stroganoff. Given the baltic weather we are experiencing in Adelaide it seemed more than appropriate ! The recipe I used is an adaption of several recipes I have eaten over the years but Teresa Cutter’s Lean Beef Stroganoff provided much inspiration – that women is a genius!

Subsequently I felt much happier accomplishing something. Sometimes doing the opposite of how you feel is the key to feeling at least mentally better ! And when one feels mentally better those physical hurdles seem far less impossible to overcome.

So without further adieu I give you the blog’s first recipe …


I promise you if you give the heroes ( mushrooms, garlic, thyme and onions)  time to really ‘meld’ ( for lack of a better term ! )  in this dish you will think it is incredibly decadent – and most importantly – SERIOUS comfort food !! I do not claim it is authentically Russian (at all  ) .. but I do claim that body, mind and soul will adore this on a blustery day … as will the masculine counter part ! I served it with steamed brown rice – but think it would be lovely with a sweet potato or cauliflower mash – YUM.

INGREDIENTS – Serves 2-3

1 large halved and thinly sliced brown onion
3 cloves crushed garlic + 1/2 glove finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh thyme – chopped
Pinch each  dried oregano/rosemary
280 gms of earthy mushrooms (Portobello, Swiss or you  favourite )
1 Large Zucchini thinly sliced
370gms ( approx ) Organic chicken breast cut in thin strips and seasoned with pepper and squeeze of lemon juice.
1 cup of chicken stock ( homemade or best you can afford )
3 tbsp of non fat natural yogurt ( I love Tamar Valley )
1/2 – 1 tsp of arrowroot
1/2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
Two large handfuls of baby spinach
Zest of 1 Lemon plus tbsp of juice
1/2 cup tightly packed parsley – chopped


Combine chopped parley, lemon rind, chopped garlic and lemon juice. Season and lay ‘gremolata’ aside for serving.

Heat 1bsp of olive oil in a large covered pan/shallow pot.

Add onion, crushed garlic and thyme, allow to sizzle, reduce heat and cook until softened and caramel colour.

Add zucchini, mushroom and a pinch ( each )  of dried oregano and rosemary ( you may need to add a little more olive oil ).

Once all vegetables are beautifully cooked remove and cover .

Deglaze pan with 1sp of aged balsamic (or red wine).

Brown seasoned chicken and add stock.

Allow to simmer for a minute or two, then add back onion and vegetable mixture.

Add arrowroot to thicken sauce 1/2 tsp at a time.

Once all well combined and chicken cooked  add spinach ( allow to wilt ), then yoghurt – turn heat down to low to avoid curdling

Season with lots of pepper – and salt if necessary ( some stocks are salty enough! )

Serve with gremolata and steamed brown rice…  Приятного аппетита  !!

Incidentally I have dreamed of travelling the Trans-Mongolian to Russia for years ( I blame Kate Furnivall’s stunning novels )….