Mushroom Stroganoff and the butterfly effect

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Heard of the butterfly effect?  (And no, I don't mean the rubbish movie with annoying Ashton Kutcher.).

It refers to a theory that a movement as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can create tiny changes in the atmosphere that could ultimately change the path of a tornado.  In other words, small changes to the initial condition of a system can cause a chain of events that can lead to large-scale changes to that system.

Take, for instance, the event that occurred two weeks ago - no boiler.  A small (but hellishly inconvenient!) change in the initial condition of a system called Cooksister's Life.  Because there was no heat, I felt bad about making the dinner guests I had invited over for dinner that week eat in their scarves and gloves, and so we postponed.  However, I had already gone shopping for the dinner, so as a result of my boiler not working, I found myself alone in the house last week with two punnets of unusual mushrooms that I'd never buy for myself.  And as a result of having the mushrooms in my fridge I tried my first raw shiitake mushroom… and fell totally in love. 

I'm officially campaigning to have them renamed as credit crunch truffles.

Also as a result of the boiler breaking, we had to remove the two wall shelves in my kitchen to give British Gas access to the boiler.  This meant removing every single thing on my shelves to my dining table, where I could suddenly take stock of what I'd been accumulating.  And in the process I rediscovered the jar of Tartuflanghe white truffle salt (made with grey Guerande sea salt) that Johanna and I purchased last summer in Vienna and divided in half.  There was my half, untouched and deliriously truffle-scented, waiting to meet Mr Shiitake.

The butterfly had flapped its wings and here I was on a Monday night in my kitchen holding some exotic mushrooms, a jar of truffle salt, and a dreamy faraway expression.  This could only mean one thing – mushroom Stroganoff. 

God bless that butterfly.

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INDULGENT MUSHROOM STROGANOFF (serves 1 greedy person or 2 restrained people)


500g assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used half oyster and half shiitake)
3-4 spring onions, chopped (green bits too)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp mild olive oil
1 small glass red wine
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
50ml double cream
50ml soured cream
salt and pepper


Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic and spring onions and sautee over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent but not caramelised.

Add the sliced mushrooms and cook just until they start to soften, then add the red wine, cream and paprika to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook until the sauce starts to thicken a little.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt if you're planning to use a truffle finishing salt!). 

Serve on a bed of brown and wild rice (I used 2/3 brown and 1/3 wild) and sprinkle liberally with white truffle salt. Pure indulgence.

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  1. says

    Hee! You do realize that you are ultimately blessing the breakdown of your boiler 😛 But yummy mushroom stroganoff would go a long way into healing those wounds!

  2. says

    Your boiler breaking down was a blooming big butterfly, I’d say! However this looks like a very agreeable result of it – hope there are many more. That truffle salt sounds divine.

  3. says

    butterfly effect! and this is the result of a boiler breakdown? i love this – such a great idea for a veg meal. and I too love shotake’s the minutes i popped them in my mouth!

  4. says

    This looks so good I will have to make it – despite having developed a vigorous dislike for most Mushroom Stroganoffs having been given so many vile ones (usually made from a base of tinned mushroom soup). It’s what you always end up with as a vegetarian – that or Vegetable Lasagne (which can be great homemade, but we’re talking prepacked and frozen.) Anyway, yours sounds really good and I like the use of the wild rice too. Haven’t bought that for a while – but love it.

  5. says

    This looks wonderful, Jeanne! I often make mushroom stroganoff–and usually quite greedily dollop it onto a steak–but never think to use shittake mushrooms in it. Great idea!

  6. says

    Well, I have never made this – or even thought about making it, but I’ll certainly try this. You’ve done incredibly well this November and I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed your month as much as you must have!

  7. says

    Oh wow! Have never seen truffle finishing salt before. Any dish with mushrooms is a fvaorite in my book.Now look at what you have put together with that past incident.

  8. says

    Helllllooooo there Jeanne.Can see you’ve been cooking up quite a storm…& a beautifully delicious one at that too. Your post made me revisit the butterfly effect I did with my daughter for a project many years ago. Fascinating effect altogether, though not necessarily with a no-boiler situation! The stroganoff looks luxuriant…& the pictures are entirely enticing!