Bok Choy and Mushrooms over Rice

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Heat a dry cast iron pan to medium and add 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. Cook them just a bit, because that keeps them from getting mushy and deepens their flavor.

Remove from the pan and add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Slice 1/4 yellow onion and crush 1 clove of garlic and add to the pan. Add 1 tsp of fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp of dried ginger, salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are transparent, make sure the garlic does not burn. Then add back the mushrooms.

Take three stalks of bok chop and chop into inch long pieces. Cut about 6 cherry tomatoes in half, Add and cook until tender. Add salt and pepper and toss in about 2 tsp of soy sauce.

Serve over rice. Makes one generous serving. The mushroom flavor is deep and rich and they are toothsome, not mushy. The tomatoes add some sweetness, the boy chop a bit of crunch. Delicious and filling.

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Broccoli, Asparagus, and Mushroom Pilaf with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

Broccoli Asparagus Mushroom Pilaf with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

This recipe took a few extra steps to prepare some of the ingredients in advance. To be fair, the pilaf I made in advance was for a different meal. I just made extra so I could use it for another meal. However, I did roast chickpeas in the morning to use for this meal in the evening.

Pilaf:

1//2 TBSP of olive oil, salt and pepper. I heated the olive oil to a low medium heat and added 1/2 yellow onion, chopped. I let that cook until it turned translucent. I also diced up 1 clove of garlic and added that about the same time as I added 1 cup of basmati rice that I rinsed thoroughly to remove all the starch. I stirred the rice and garlic into the olive oil and let it all cook about 3 to 4 minutes. The heat was low enough the would not burn, but just toast a bit. I then added 2 cups of cold water and turned the heat up to high, bringing it to a boil. Then I put a lid on it, removed it from the heat and let it steam cook. It was done perfectly in 15 minutes.

Roasted Chickpeas.

I pre-heated the oven to 325° Fahrenheit. While it heated, I opened a can of chickpeas and rinsed them thoroughly. i spread them on paper towels and dried them before putting them in cast iron pan. I sprinkled them with some olive oil and roasted for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to let them cook evenly. When they were crispy and brown, I removed them from the oven, sprinkled them with some salt and a dash of Jamaica  Jerk seasoning. I patted them with paper towel again to remove any oil and let them cool.

Veggies:

I put 1 TBSP of olive oil in a sauté pan with about 1/3 tsp of anise seen, 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper and let it heat on a low medium burner. Meanwhile I chopped up a small yellow onion and added it to the oil and let them cook until tender. I diced 2 cloves of garlic and added to the onions when they were nearly done. (Burned garlic ruins everything it touches.)

While the onions sautéed, I cut down a small head of broccoli, separating the florets and peeling the stems. I added them to the onions and then chopped up 4 stalks of asparagus, cutting off the tops and adding them and cutting the long stems in half before cutting them into 2 inch long pieces. I added the asparagus next since they cook a little faster than broccoli. Then I cleaned and sliced 4 mushrooms and added them and let them all cook for a bit, adding about 1/4 cup of water after about 3 minutes of sautéeing. I let them cook until the broccoli was nearly tender, squeezed the juice of one large fresh lemon into the mix and let it simmer a bit so the veggies absorbed the juice. Then, I added the pilaf and stirred it in, cooking just until heated.

To serve, I put the pilaf and veggie mixture in a bowl, sprinkled some feta cheese on it and topped with a few roasted chickpeas.

The flavor blend is amazing. Anise seed really brings out the best in veggies and, of course, works beautifully with feta. The flavors of lemon, feta, anise and veggies were extraordinary and the addition of the crispy, crunchy and spice roasted chickpeas made it blissful.

For a vegan option, just don’t add the feta at the end. It is still delicious.

This made four servings. I imagine that my lunch tomorrow will be even more delicious!

Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts

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This was a quick dish I threw together for lunch. I chopped up about 2 TBSP of yellow onions and sautéed them in 1 TBSP of olive oil. I added some salt and pepper. While the sautéed, I slice 4 mushrooms and added them and let them cook while I cleaned and sliced 8 brussels sprouts. I then added them to the pan, tossed in a little more salt and pepper and one diced clove of garlic and continued to cook, tossing lightly. When the veggies were tender, I squeezed the juice of 1/3 of a fresh lemon on top, tossed again before turning them into a bowl for lunch.

The mushrooms add a bit of earthiness and is there anything tastier than some lemon and garlic in oil on delicious fresh vegetables?

Warm Mushroom and Kale Salad

Warm Kale Mushroom Salad

This was a fast and easy salad that I decided to have as an entree instead. It makes a single serving entree or two sides. The key to success is not overcooking the kale, letting it darken in color but not cooking until it wilts. That makes the rest seem more like a dressing for the kale and keeps it fresh in taste, texture and appearance.

Warm 1 TBSP of olive oil, add 1/4 cup of diced onions, 1/4 chopped red peppers and sauté until tender. Add salt and pepper. Meanwhile clean and slice 9 small mushrooms or whatever amount you need to make 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. Also mince one clove of garlic. Add the garlic and mushrooms and let cook until tender. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, add 2 cups of chopped, cleaned kale and 1.5 tBSP of Balsamic Vinegar and stir. Keep stirring quickly so the kale heats evenly and quickly without steaming and wilting. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It might sound crazy to add salt and pepper three times, but the secret of good seasoning is to season at each stage of cooking for the amount that you have in your pan. This will make your seasoning more effective and actually end up using less salt and pepper.

This is earthy with a bit of tanginess from the balsamic vinegar. The flavors blended beautifully and would make a great side dish for something like a pork chop or beef steak, but is capable of standing on its own.

Mushrooms and Red Chard with Barley

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I cooked up some barley for breakfast and decided to make some extra to cook up something for lunch. Of course, barley and mushrooms go together perfectly and were my first thought. I had some red chard that really needed to get used and soon, so I decided to go for it. My favorite spice with mushrooms is paprika, so I thought I would give it a whirl. This made four servings. I figure that if I am going to cook something for 45 minutes (the barley) I am going to make more than one meal out of it. When I cooked the barley, I strained it and saved all the barley water to use in this dish.

I started with eight mushrooms that I cleaned and sliced. I patted them dry with a clean towel. I heated up a sauté pan and tossed them in and let them cook on medium high for about 8 minutes. This dry sauté evaporates out a lot of the fluid and enriches the mushroom flavor. Now when I cook them with the other ingredients, they will not get mushy.

While it was sautéing, I would shake the pan every once in a while to keep them from sticking. Meanwhile I thoroughly cleaned a bunch of red chard, separating the leaves from the stems. Red chard requires several rinses and careful attention to be sure you get all the dirt off it. I hold it under the water and run my finger up and down the stem a few times to make sure all the dirt is gone. No one wants to bite down on some sand or dirt in their lunch.

I chopped the stems into 1 inch long pieces. I also chopped 1/4 of white onions. Chopping up the leaves, I kept two cups and saved the rest for a salad. I set the red chard leaves aside for later.

I added 1 tbsp of olive oil and swirled it around the pan. I added the red chard stems and onions. I added 2 tsp of paprika and salt and pepper. I sautéed everything until the onions were transparent. I then added the barley water I had saved from this morning. I added the red chard leaves and the 2 cups of cooked barley I had reserved. I let this simmer until the chard was done (3 to 5 minutes) and tasted tested it. It was good, but a bit one-dimensional – very umami, but the brightness of the chard stems was missing. So I squeezed the juice of one lemon at the end and that lifted up the chard flavor – giving a multi-layered flavor profile that begins with the heart umami of the mushrooms and barley and ending with a bright, fresh chard tartness. It was delicious.

 

 

Double Mushroom Risotto

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Although I usually prefer fast and easy recipes, some recipes deserve all the time and patience you can give them and reward you with rich, intense flavor that is so delicious you cannot imagine it until you taste it.  This double mushroom risotto is exactly that kind of recipe. I spent hours on the broth – an investment that paid of with rich flavors that infused every bite of the risotto.

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I used leg shank marrow bones – three two inch shank cuts (about 2 pounds). There is no more flavorful meat for making broth than the shanks with the rich leg bones filled with marrow. I put about 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of my stock pot and heated it up. I placed the shanks flat on the heated oil and browned them on both sides which adds to the color and the flavor of the stock. Then I added 1 cup of chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp of dried thyme and let them cook a bit until the onions turned transparent. I then added enough water to completely cover the meat and brought to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. I let it simmer with a cover on it for a few hours before adding 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms and then let it cook another half hour. I put it in the fridge overnight to cool before straining it in the morning. I ended up with 11 cups of broth which is exactly the amount I needed for this double batch of risotto.  I heated it up to a low simmer while I cooked the risotto since it needed to be the same temperature as the risotto so it could be added bit by bit at temperature for even absorption and perfect consistency.

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The next step was dry sautéing 4 cups of sliced button or crimini mushrooms. To do this, I put them in my pan and turned the heat up and stirred for about 6 minutes while they cooked without any oil or water. I then added 4 TBSP of butter and 2/3rds cup of chopped yellow onions and 1 tsp of  dried thyme. (I would have used a sprig of fresh thyme if I had it.)  I cooked until the onions became tender.

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Then I added good quality red wine – 1 1/3 cup and set it simmer until it was cooked down by half. When it was done, I added 3 1/2 cups of arborio rice and stirred it in and cooked for a couple minutes before adding 1 cup of the broth and stirring while it was absorbed.

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I then continued to add 1 cup of broth at a time – until all 11 cups were absorbed. The rice was still a bit toothsome and the liquid was still not completely absorbed when I removed from the heat and added 1/2 cup of grated parmesan to melt into the risotto. With the lid on it, the rest of the liquid was completely absorbed without any risk of the risotto getting mushy which would be criminal.

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The result is a perfect creamy risotto with intense mushroom and beef flavor. It’s addictive, so be sure you make it for an event where other people will help eat it all.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

You can easily make a vegetarian or vegan version of this soup and it will still be delicious. Simply substitute olive oil for butter and vegetable broth for chicken broth. Mushrooms make a flavorful broth on their own and believe me, when you are cooking barley you will cook everything long enough to get the flavor from the mushrooms to infuse the broth.

Most people soak barley overnight before cooking, but my mom never did and neither do I. It cooks up to a nice toothsome tenderness just fine in about 2 hours or so.

So, making this I first sliced up 10 small crimini mushrooms and dry sautéed them. Dry sauté is the best way to cook mushrooms as it draws moisture out which will make their flavor richer and help them keep not get too mushy while cooking. Once you try it you will never go back to just tossing the mushrooms in. All you do is heat the pan to a medium, medium-low and toss the mushrooms in to cook for about 10 minutes. Stir frequently so they don’t stick to the pan.

In the interim, dice one small yellow onion. When the mushrooms are done (10 minutes) add 2 TBSP of butter (or olive oil if you want a vegan version) and add the onions as soon as its melted. Sauté until they are turn transparent. Add some salt and pepper and 2 tsp of dried thyme. You want to add salt and pepper in layers – as you add ingredients. You actually will probably use less because the flavor is integrated throughout.

Meanwhile, peel and chop two carrots and two stalks of celery. Add them to the pot and cook for another five minutes or so, just enough to potentiate their flavor before adding the broth. This will make the broth richer and more flavorful. Add some salt and pepper.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegan version) and  1.5 cups of pearl barley. Stir, put the lid on and let cook, on a low boil, stirring every 10 minutes or so for the next hour and half or so. Keep checking to see if the barley is tender after 1.5 hours and remove when you get the right texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is flavorful, rich and very hearty. it is comfort food for me. I love barley with its slight nuttiness and barley and mushrooms are made for each other.  This makes four large servings of soup.

Sausage, Mushroom and Chard Omelet with Dill/Garlic Cream Cheese

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Every once in a while I just have to make myself a decadent, delicious omelet full of good stuff. This was a new one for me as I have never used chard before in an omelet, but it works well. It is slightly bitter so so I added some flavored cream cheese to add a bit of sweetness to balance its bitterness. It was absolutely delicious.

First I sliced up 4 small Crimini mushrooms into thin vertical slices. I heated a small non-reactive pan to low-medium  and tossed the mushrooms in the pan without any oil or water. I stirred them to keep them from sticking or burning. Dry heating the mushrooms for 5 minutes or so will suck out some of the excess moisture so your omelet stuffing won’t be too full of liquid and get all messy. The mushrooms will have a deeper, richer flavor if you dry cook them first and will retain a firmer texture. It’s a win all the way round and anytime mushrooms are featured in your dish, you should just dry cook them before you start cooking your recipe. You can read more about the dry sauté method here, though I think low-medium gives me better results, but then I did not want them browned and caramelized.

Now that the mushrooms are ready to cook, I put a tbsp of butter in the pan with the mushrooms. I also added small pieces of breakfast sausage that I cut into pieces about 1/3rd of an inch long. I let the mushrooms and sausage cook together while I chopped up the leaf from one stalk of chard (about 1 cup of chopped chard) that I had cleaned and removed from the stem earlier (I used the stems in a salad.) I layered the chard on top so and put a lid on and let it all cook together.

While that cooked, I flavored 1/3 cup of cream cheese by adding 1 tsp of dried dill weed and 1 tsp of garlic powder and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring until the cream cheese was softened and it was all mixed together. I added some salt to bring up the flavor a bit and cut the sweetness.

Checking back on the mixture of sausage, mushrooms and chard, I stirred a few times, mixing them together and added a touch of salt and pepper. The idea is to season the components of your dish so that when they come together the dish is well-seasoned. If you wait to season at the end, it will probably be under-seasoned and bland and then when you sit down to eat you will put too much salt and pepper on to compensate.

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When the sausage was done and the chard was tender, it was time to make the omelet. I used a lefse griddle, but you can use a pancake griddle or other large flat cooking surface. I heated the griddle to 250° F while the sausage mixture was cooking. I also mixed up 3 eggs, beating them until smooth and adding about 2 TBSP of water. I also added some pepper. Now, you don’t salt scrambled eggs because you want them to be light, tender and fluffy. If you are cooking eggs over easy or sunny side up, you can salt them, but not for scrambled eggs or omelets.

I took ! TBSP of butter on the end of a fork and spread it all over the griddle, letting it melt and cover the entire surface with a thin layer of butter. Then I poured the beaten eggs onto the center of the griddle, taking the handles on the side of the griddle and tipping it forward and backward, left and right to make the eggs spread out into as large and thin a surface as possible. Then I let it cook. The heat is low so it will cook in about 3 minutes or so, ample time to fork small dollops of the flavored cream cheese all over the center area of the omelet. After that, I spread the sausage, mushroom and chard over the center, spreading it thinly and leaving about 2 inches on all sides uncovered.

When the eggs were done, I used a lefse turner, but you can use a thin spatula, to turn that two inch edge inward over the omelet stuffing and then began rolling the omelet over and over sort of like a burrito. As you can see, I folded it over four times, making several layers of egg and stuffing. I slid it onto a plate and cut it in half before serving.

So, the flavored cream cheese was decadent as all get out and melted into the sausage, mushrooms and chard it was amazing. The omelet filing was delicious, rich and hearty with just enough spiciness from the sausage and the garlic in the cream cheese. The eggs were tender and lightly done. The real secret to delicious eggs is low heat.

 

 

Chicken Vegetable Soup

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I saved the bones from the roast chicken and used them to make a rich chicken broth. I have a pasta cooking kettle, one of those huge kettles with an insert full of holes for straining water. I never make enough pasta to use it, but I do like it for making soup and in particular, for making broth. I just put all the bones, herb and mire poix i there and when the broth is done, I can lift it out and have beautifully clear broth. Since I have explained how to make broth before, I will go forward from there.

I put about 1 TBSP olive oil in the bottom of a sauce pan. I added 1/2 of a leek (chopped), 4 mushrooms (cleaned and chopped), 1 stalk of celery (chopped), some celery seed, thyme, salt and pepper and sautéed until done. Then I added 3 cups of broth, 1 chopped carrot. After 10 minutes, I added 1 chopped yellow squash, 10 brussels sprouts cleaned and cut in quarters. After about 5 minutes I added about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley.

This was a rich flavorful soup with a lot of chicken flavor. Very hearty and thick with vegetables in every spoonful. It made 4 large bowls of soup – each one delicious.

 

 

 

 

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

 

This was a simple sauté made to go with a small pork loin chop. I put a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and heated to medium. I then added just a pinch of anise seed and let it heat until the perfume filled the air. I added 1/2 of a small leek, sliced thinly and chopped in half. I sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 a jalapeño and 1/4 of a red pepper and also added them. Lastly I added about 6 brussels sprouts sliced and chopped. I stirred the veggies together and when it was nearly done squeezed half a lemon on top. I served with a 2 oz piece of pork loin fried in another pan.  The veggie sauté  would work well with anything or on its own for a vegan meal.

This made one serving. It’s very flavorful with heat from the chili pepper, sweetness from the red pepper, umami from the mushrooms and tang from the lemon. The anise seed give it a rich aromatic flavor and the brussels sprouts add their hearty magic. If you don’t have leeks, just use onions.