Books For Cooks: Burger Stroganoff

By MaryAnn Miano

Don’t throw it out! Don’t dispose of the pint of heavy cream you used only once for a recipe. Don’t be upset at the egg yolks you’re wasting after making a merengue. Maybe you have half a can of tomato paste growing old in your refrigerator. These things have purpose and meaning in your life!

There is a cookbook to help you figure out what to do with all those partly used packaged foods that plague you. “Half a Can of Tomato Paste & Other Culinary Dilemmas” by Jean Anderson and Ruth Buchan is the cookbook that shows you what to do with what’s left over when you have to buy too much. This book resides among the Catherine Henning Cookbook collection at the Colts Neck Library.

We all have been faced with throwing out staples purchased for specific recipes, where they then sit until they have sat for so long, we throw them, and our cash, away.  In order to help you use your excess foods in easy but appealing ways, “Half a Can of Tomato Paste” discusses about 50 of the most frequently used ingredients that must be bought in larger-than-needed quantities.   It takes them up one by one, and in alphabetical order, so that if tomato paste is your troublesome leftover of the moment, you need only to look that up, dictionary style.

You’ll find not only 265 superb, practical recipes that show how to use up everything from tiny to substantial amounts, but also plenty of cents-saving shopping tips, details on how long each ingredient may safely be stored, explanations of its roles in cooking, plus clues as to where among your files and favorite cookbooks you may find additional ideas for use.

You’ll also find directions for freezing many of the recipes in portions for one, two, four, or more; a godsend if you cook for one or two.  Finally, the recipes are remarkably flexible, meaning you can safely substitute one ingredient for another, avoiding the “catch-22” of creating new leftovers while using up the old.


BURGER STROGANOFF (uses tomato paste, sour cream)

2 pounds lean ground beef chuck

2 tablespoons bacon drippings, butter, or margarine

1 large Spanish onion, peeled and moderately coarsely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed of coarse stem ends, and sliced thin

3 large, very ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped (include juice)

1 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 to 2 tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon mustard (optional)

1 tablespoons anchovy paste (optional)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1/3 to ¾ cup sour cream, at room temperature


Brown the beef lightly in the bacon drippings, breaking up large clumps, in a large, heavy skillet over moderately high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and stir-fry along with the beef for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, the mustard and/or anchovy paste, and the pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes longer, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced to a sauce-like consistency. Taste for salt and season. Smooth in the sour cream, serve over buttered noodles or fluffy rice.


Recipe from Half a Can of Tomato Paste & Other Culinary Dilemmas by Jean Anderson & Ruth Buchan, Harper & Row, NY, 1980, page 275.