Baked Egg & Portobello Mushroom

Scrambled Egg Portobello

While pulling some broccoli out of the crisper to roast for my supper, I accidentally knocked an edge of this gorgeous portobello mushroom I was planning to stuff and cook on Sunday. Deciding to cook it before I added more injury, I had to think a bit about what to stuff it with. Al the meat I had was frozen, so I knew it had to be meatless. I decided to try scrambling a couple eggs and baking it in the mushroom. It worked beautifully and was delicious.

First, I heated my oven to 400°.

Then, of course, I removed the stem and scooped out the black gills underneath the mushroom cap, making plenty of room for my eggs. I reserved it all for another meal, perhaps a mushroom gravy.

In a bowl, I cracked two eggs, added 2 TBSP of finely diced scallions, the leaves from one sprig of fresh tarragon and 6 San Marzano tomatoes cut in half and then in thirds. You could use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, too. You want tomatoes that are small so they have more flesh and less water in their substance. I used a fork to stir it all up.

I put a small amount of oil on the top of the mushroom and laid it in my roasting pan and poured it into the bowl of the mushroom. I sprinkled pepper and salt on top. I did not mix them into the eggs because salt will make a scrambled egg tough. I added a bit of broccoli on the other side of the pan with some olive oil and garlic and roasted about 20-25 minutes, until a lovely brown. The broccoli was also done and you can see they were served on the side.

I had thought about adding cheese, but felt that the tarragon had more than enough flavor to carry the dish and the cheese would only distract from it. I think I was right and it is better without cheese.  It was nice and meaty, though still tender. Eggs and mushrooms are always a good match and the tarragon added such a bright flavor profile that I could easily make this again and again.

Couscous with Carrot, Red Chard, Scallion, Dried Apricots, Almonds and Feta

Couscous almosds chard carrots scalions dried apricots feta

This is an easy salad. I knew when I was making coffee this morning that I would make a couscous salad this afternoon, so after I heated my water to press some coffee, I put 1/3 cup of couscous in a container, added 2/3rds cup of my hot water and put a lid on it and let it sit. In 15 minutes, I stuck it in the fridge so it would be cold when I made the salad later in the day.

I put about 10 almonds in a dry pan on the stove o medium high heat and let them toast while I was prepping the salad. As son as they were toasted, I removed them from the heat.

I sliced and diced 1 TBSP of fresh scallions and diced on small clove of garlic and put them in a bowl with 2 tsps of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of buckwheat honey, 1/2 tsp of mustard and the juice of 1 small fresh lemon. I mixed this all up. Buckwheat honey is thick so it takes a lot of stirring to mix it all in.

I removed the stem from 1 stalk of red chard and put it back in the crisper to use in another meal. I chopped the red chard up finely and mixed it into the dressing. There is just enough dressing to coat all the chard. Then I stirred in the couscous and mixed it thoroughly.

Next I peeled and cut up one small carrot into small matchstick. I also cut up 3 dried apricots, slicing them as thin as matchsticks and then slicing them in the other direction so they were diced small. I tired in the apricots and carrots and shock a couple tablespoons of feta on top. I chopped up the almonds and tossed them in and then put a lid on the container and shook the ingredients together, mixing them up well.

I put it in the fridge for a few hours, letting the dressing flavor everything. It is important to let it rest because when it is first made, the mustard flavor is a bit strong, but it mellows as it merges with the sweetness of the dried apricots and the richness of the feta. I made only a small amount of dressing, so it did not soften the feta, but its flavors still came through. This is a delicious salad and actual prep time was very short. It made one pint, two small servings or one large one.

Couscous almosds chard carrots scalions dried apricots feta

Mushroom & Kale Rice

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I usually prepare rice in advance. I like to cook two cups of rice at a time and keep it in the fridge to add to bacon and eggs for breakfast or to mix into a burrito or to add to some veggies. To make rice, I thoroughly rinse two cups of rice. I put the rice in a strainer and run water through it in the sink until the water runs clear. I put it in a kettle with a tight fitting lid. I add 1 tsp of salt and 3 cups of water. I learned to like firmer rice from my Malay friends in college. Most Americans like a softer rice and should use 4 cups of water. Depending on your preference, anywhere from 3 to 4 cups of rice will work. Put on the stove on high and bring to a rolling boil. put the lid on solidly and remove from the heat and let it rest 15 minutes or more. When you remove the lid, it will be done. It will not overcook if you leave the lid on too long because there’s no more water for it to absorb. Stir it to loft the individual pieces of rice before storing in a covered container.

Now you have rice, you can cook the mushroom – kale concoction.

Heat 1/2 TBSP olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add 1 small scallion bulb (about 1 TBSP) and let soften. While the scallions cook, clean and chop three mushrooms and 1 clove of garlic. Add them and let them cook until tender. Add salt and pepper and 1 tsp of caraway seed. Stir and allow the heat to infuse them before adding the juice of one fresh lemon. Then add 1 cup of chopped kale and 1/4 cup of cooked rice and stir. Cook about 3 minutes or so until the kale is tender but not mushy.

I served with a pork loin chop and pickled parsnips. I am a Swede and have a culturally acquired love of caraway. If you don’t like it, you can substitute almost any aromatic and flavorful spice, from cardamom to nutmeg to cumin to wherever your imagination takes you. You just want to add another note to the flavors so that the earthy kale and mushrooms and the zesty lemon can play off something sharper.

 

Hungarian Mushroom Omelette

Hungarian Mushroom Omelette

This may look a bit fancy with the multiple layers of thin omelette with mushroom sauce rolled up inside, but it only takes 15 minutes from fridge to feast.

I started with the mushroom sauce. On medium heat, I melted 1/2 TBSP of butter and added 1 TBSP of diced scallions. I then washed and sliced 4 mushrooms and added them. Adding a bit of salt, pepper and about 1/2 tsp of paprika, I let them all sauté.

Meanwhile, I heated a griddle to 250° F to cook my omelette. I use a lefse griddle because I have one, but any large, flat nonreactive surface will do. That means no cast iron griddles. It’s essential that the temperature be relatively low so the eggs cook through without browning or crisping since only one side touches the griddle.

I whisked together 3 eggs, a large pinch of flour and just enough water to mix thoroughly. I also added salt and pepper and whisked it in. I took a dollop of butter and spread it over the surface of the griddle so all of the surface was covered and poured the omelette mixture in the middle and then tilted the griddle in different directions to make it spread out as thin as possible. I then left it to cook until it was done.

Going back to the sauce, I added about 1 tsp of lemon juice and stirred that in. I chopped up some fresh parsley, about 2 TBSP, and added most, but not all, to the sauce. I kept a few pieces back to sprinkle on top at the end. I then added a heaping spoonful of sour cream to the sauce and mixed it in and removed the sauce from the heat.

I waited until the omelette was cooked through before rolling it up. I have a lefse turner, but you can use a soft-edged spatula. Transferring to the plate, I unrolled it just a bit to add the sauce and rolled it back up, sprinkling just a bit of parsley on top for a bit of bright color.

Frankly, sour cream, mushrooms, paprika and lemon is one of the most delicious flavor combinations known to man. You can’t go wrong with it and adding it to an omelette is just taking it up a notch.

Aromatic Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad

Aromatic Brussels Sprouts Salad

This salad is an explosion of flavor and texture. It takes a bit of preparation but if you can multi-task it takes about 25 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a salad that not only looks amazing, but is layered with so many flavors that it tastes like you spent hours on it.

First you need to roast the parsnips because they will be the last thing to finish cooking. Preheat your oven to 420° F and using a vegetable peeler, shave off about 1/4 cup of parsnip shavings. Put them in an oven-safe dish or pan and sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and paprika. Use your fingers and mix it together so they are coated and put them in the oven to roast – about 20 minutes or so. You will finish the rest of the salad by the time they are done. They will be nice and brown but not blackened and will be slightly crispy.

Put a sautee pan on the stove with 1 TBSP of olive oil on medium heat. Chop up about 1/4 cup of scallions and 2 cloves of garlic and toss in. Cook until the scallions begin to caramelize. While that’s cooking, clean and quarter 1 cup of brussels sprouts (about a dozen if they are small).

Put about 12 pistachios in a dry fry pan and toast lightly while you cook the scallions and brussels sprouts. Shake the pan to keep them from burning and remove from the heat as soon as they begin to brown.

When the scallions are caramelized, toss in 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1/4 tsp of cardamom. Let it cook, toasting the seeds. The perfume will be pretty heady and give you an idea of how tasty this salad will be. Add the brussels sprouts and let cook until they begin to toast/brown.

Meanwhile, cut about 10/12 grapes in half. The pistachios should be done, so you can remove them and cut them in half or thirds.

By now the brussels sprouts are done. Remove from the heat and toss in the grapes and pistachios. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top. Put in a bowl and remove the parsnips crisps on sprinkle on top.

What flavors are there in this salad? Sweet grapes, tart cranberries, smoky paprika parsnip crisps, bright scallions, the umami of pistachios, the fresh earthy sprouts and the rich, heady perfume flavors of anise, nutmeg and cardamom. Then there are the textures, the soft grapes, the dry raisons, the al dente sprouts, the crunch nuts, the crispy parsnip. It’s a small banquet all in one.

Makes just one serving. But you might want to double because you may want seconds.

 

Charred Tomato Salad with Chicken and Broccoli

Charred Tomato, Broccoli and Chicken Salad

I served this salad two ways, with and without the chicken breast.  I had it without the chicken as a side dish for my Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and then ate the other half for dinner with a braised chicken breast cut up and added to it. Both ways were delicious.

First I put my cast iron skillet on the stove and heated it to medium high. While it heated, I cut a large heirloom tomato (it happened to be about half yellow and half red)  in half and gave it a soft squeeze to get some of the wateriest tomato juice out. I rubbed a bit of olive oil on all sides and put the two pieces of tomato cut side down into the skillet and let it cook until it charred before turning it over and charring it on the other side.

Meanwhile, I took a stalk of broccoli and trimmed the stem away, leaving about 2 cups of broccoli florets. I heated water to a boil with a tsp of salt and added the broccoli cooking about 3 to 4 minutes until just tender. I removed from heat and cooled.

After removing the tomatoes from the skillet, I added the juice of one lemon and 1/4 cup of vinegar to the skillet and deglazed the skillet, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Removing from the heat, I added 2 chopped scallions and 1 clove of minced garlic. This is the vinaigrette, using the oil and tomato char from cooking to add a bit of smokey flavor.

I chopped up the cooked tomato, added it to the cooked broccoli and dressed with the tomato vinaigrette and let cool in the fridge while the flavors married. This made a tasty side salad. This made enough for two salads. The first was a delicious vegan salad and the second a salad entree.

For dinner I wanted to add some protein, so I braised a chicken breast  and cut it up and tossed it in with the salad.

Tomato Salad with Lebanon Bologna

Tomato - Lebanon Bologna Salad

I picked up some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at New Seasons this week as they were just $2.49 a pound. I had a yen for an Italian sub and was picking up some dry salami at the deli and saw some Lebanon Bologna and had to try it out. It had such a tangy flavor and it’s semi-dry texture was so perfect, that I picked up a quarter pound for sandwiches. But after making four sandwiches, I still had a few slices left so I thought I might try it out in a salad. IF you don’t have it, I would suggest a nice Genoa salami.

I cut  3 slices of tomato (about 1/4 inch thick or so) and diced them up. Then I sliced 2 scallions and chopped up the Lebanon bologna. I added about 1/2 ounce of crumbled feta and 3 pepperoncini. The tomato was so juicy, I did not add any oil, but did squeeze some lemon to help break down the tomato proteins a bit. I added a bit of chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. Next time, I think I will try basil. I served it on three leaves of lettuce that I had nuked in the microwave about 10 seconds – just enough to make them fold without cracking but not enough to wilt them. I used the salad leaves like a sandwich wrap. It was delicious but very, very messy. In the end, I took a knife and sliced up the lettuce and just ate it like a normal salad.

Grape & Tarragon Salad

Grape Tarragon Salad

This delicious salad will make you drunk with it rich aroma of fresh tarragon. It’s shockingly easy to make and such a treat for your taste buds. So this is it:

Rinse about 1.5 pounds of small Red Flame seedless grapes. Don’t get the big ones at the supermarker as they are too watery, their flesh is more green than the deep purplish red of the small Red Flames that you can get from an organic market. Rinse and remove from the stems and cut them in half.

Take about 1 oz or so of fresh tarragon and pick the leaves of the stems. Don’t cut the leaves, put just pull them.

Dice two fresh or one dry shallot into small pieces (about 1/2 cm square)

Mix in a bowl. Crumble about 1 inch by 1 inch of a creamy feta. Add 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, but fill the TBSP over the bowl so you can be messy and end up with about 3.5 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt (or less) and toss lightly and set in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors marry. It’s insanely delicious with the sweet grapes and the creamy feta challenged by the mellow scallions and the tangy tarragon. It smells so amazing and looks beautiful on a plate.

I served it with a cold meats sandwich made with a baguette, a slice of heirloom tomatoes, provolone, sweet-pickled pimento, pepperoncini, Lebanon Bologna, Genoa Salami and Black Forest Hame. The olives on the side are Castelvetranos.