Friday, October 21, 2011

Snow and comfort food

The Beet

Express Staff Writer

When I was little, my idea of heaven was arriving home from school in the dead of winter to find my mother making spaghetti.

Walking from the bus stop meant tromping through a foot of snow in neon snow boots, fur-edged hood pulled up around my face and a scarf wrapped three times around my 5-year-old face. By the time I reached my porch, I was frozen to the core, a frostbitten victim of another Buffalo winter.

The sight of my mother standing at the stove, sauce simmering away and rapidly boiling water sending up steam, was the most comforting thing imaginable.

It didn't matter that the sauce was canned and the pasta was dried; all that mattered was that my mother knew that spaghetti was the absolute perfect winter meal. It's no wonder my dad called grated Parmesan cheese "snow" as he shook an enormous amount over the top of a mountain of pasta.

At the moment, it's pouring down rain and the first (real) snow has fallen on the mountains around Ketchum. The temperatures at night are starting to dip below freezing—to the consternation of the tomato plant that lives on my deck, which has protested this change in weather by wilting dramatically.

I don't blame it. I'm less than perky too, even as I gird my loins for another Idaho winter. What I really need is a plate of Mom's spaghetti to make me feel a little bit better about the next six months of snow.

There are only two things standing in the way of me telling you to dump a jar of Prego over a pound of pasta and cover the whole thing with a thick layer of Parmesan: first, that's not a recipe, and second, I wrote about spaghetti last month.

Anyway, my tastes have matured over the past 20 years. Spaghetti was a mainstay of my college diet—as I imagine it was for most people—and since then I've never been able to look at it the same.

These days I prefer something just as likely to fill the kitchen with amazing smells, but that also is simple and sophisticated. This basic beef bourguignonne is not exactly a recipe from Julia Child, but it's warm, hearty and comforting enough to get you through all the snowy, cold weather Mother Nature can throw at you.

And though it might not have the nostalgia factor of Mom's spaghetti, when you start to simmer the wine with the mushrooms and steak, you really will think you're in heaven.


Quick Beef Bourguignonne

Adapted from Real Simple magazine

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1¼ pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

¾ pound sliced mushrooms

1 pound pearl onions (frozen, if you like)

2 cups red wine

1 10.75-ounce can Campbell's golden mushroom soup (I know, I know)

½ cup parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Season the steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the soup and ¼ cup water and bring to a boil.

Add the steak and the juices from the bowl and simmer 2 minutes. Divide into individual bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. You can also serve this over noodles or mashed potatoes to four very happy guests.

Katherine Wutz is a reporter for the Idaho Mountain Express.

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.