Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

Waste Not, Want Not

March 14, 2016

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We live in a disposable society. Our landfills are overflowing with non-biodegradable materials that came from the so-called conveniences in our lives. Styrofoam cups and packing materials, bubble wrap, unbreakable plastics and cheap shopping bags. A little awareness helps us to be more conscious of our wasteful ways. Bringing our own bags to the grocery store, or recycling our glass and metals and plastics, simply doesn’t seem like enough.

Packing materials are one area that really irks me. The baked goods at Indigo Jones Eats are lovingly packaged to ensure that they arrive at their destination fresh, and without a crumb out of place. All that packaging adds up. Recycling boxes often helps, but at some point, it feels unappetizing to pack fresh foods into a box with old packing tape and stickers all over it, so a new one, albeit a recycled paper one, gets called into duty.  I have started shredding old papers to use as filler and padding, avoiding some, yet not all of the bubble wrap I used to use. I even try to re-purpose those giant padded strips that come in all of Amazon’s shipments. Noble as these practices are, there is still a box, a ton of shredded paper, and plastic bubble wrap padding my cello wrapped packages of cookies and s’mores.

According to the French Ministry of Ecology, we toss more than 14 million TONS of waste into landfills each year. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 99% of all birds on this planet will have some plastic in their guts. Something must be done to rectify this!

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Always innovative Ikea is among the first to introduce an alternative for their packing. Working with American based company Ecovative, they are using mushrooms, instead of styrofoam to protect their products.

Using mycelium, the part of the fungus that acts as roots, attaching itself to soil or whatever surface it is growing on is the base of this unique product.  Ecovative grows the mycelium around clean agricultural waste, such as corn husks, until the fibers bind together into a solid shape. They then dry the fibers to prevent further growth.  The end product is bespoke packing, formed to fit specific items.

In addition to creating packaging for Ikea and Dell Computers among others, Ecovative also offers a “grow your own” package which allows the consumer to create their own mushroom material products.

The best part? The mushroom materials decompose in the garden in just a few weeks. Genius!

To learn more, or to order some, checkout Ecovative’s website.

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Photos courtesy of Ecovative.

 

All The Rest is Gravy

November 26, 2014

A good gravy goes hand in hand with a beautiful roasted turkey. We get rave reviews for this one, made with the pan juices, and a little help from some pantry items.

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Mushroom Gravy:

Pour the pan juices from the turkey in a bowl, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain them into a glass measuring cup, and add 1/2 cup of white wine, and enough stock to measure 6 cups in total.

Sauté 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms until they are golden brown and the juice has evaporated. It will take about 15-20 minutes. Mix in reserved garlic herb paste, and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of flour. Toss to incorporate the flour, so lumps will not form when the liquid is added. Whisk in the broth/pan juices and bring to a boil. Continue whisking as it thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Oops Soup

October 17, 2014

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry . Today’s dish really is an unrecipe: in fact, not only did I use the “little of this and a bit of that” method, I didn’t even intend it to be soup!

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It all began in the vegetable market, when I had a taste for something hearty, yet vegetarian. Autumnal flavors were on my mind, and zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms sounded like a good start.

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I sautéed an onion and some garlic with the mushrooms, and added some italian herbs. Sounds good, right? Well, it all went astray from there. As I tossed chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes on top of it in the slow cooker , I had some second thoughts. I wondered if 5 hours in the slow cooker might make them soft. I wondered if they might give off too much liquid. I added a can of beans to make the stew heartier, and hopefully thicken up what I realized was going to be a pot of mushy vegetables. I turned on the cooker and went about my business. When I came back a few hours later, I had just that: a pot of bland, starting to get quite mushy vegetables. They had given off quite a bit of liquid, but not enough to make soup. I added some stock and some canned tomatoes to the pot and let it cook it’s little heart out. When it was done, I pureed it into a rich, flavorful soup. It’s sort of a riff on a classic minestrone, and a little drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese provided the perfect finishing touch. All’s well that ends well!

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Winter Vegetable Stew Soup:

Dice one medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and sauté them in olive oil until soft. Add some sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. Add a healthy amount of dried oregano, basil and a bay leaf, and place in the slow cooker. Pile on chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. ( I used 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant and 3 large tomatoes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of beans, rinsed, ( I used chickpeas ) and set the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Check it a few hours in, give it a stir and realize this is going to be mediocre at best. Add a little vegetable stock, if necessary, and a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. Let it cook until the timer goes off.

Puree the mixture, and taste to correct seasonings. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.  To serve, place in soup bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dollop of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy, knowing that good cooks can salvage almost anything!

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Photos: Glasshouse Images

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How to Roast the Perfect Turkey

November 27, 2013

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I always hear people say they don’t like turkey. They describe it as dry, tasteless and lackluster. I always tell them they haven’t had my turkey yet!

It’s not that I am the best cook in America…nor is it due to a secret recipe. It is due to a great technique perfected over the years, and even more so to the quality of the bird itself. I get mine from DiPaola Turkey Farms, based out of Trenton, New Jersey, and sold at the Union Square Greenmarket. The turkeys are fresh, never frozen, and raised in a humane environment. Since buying from them each year, my turkey score has gone from very good, to great. The price is high, but the results are worth every penny!

Start with a cool, but not icy cold turkey. Rinse the bird, remove all of the innards ( the liver, neck and giblets are often stored in the cavity of the bird in a little bag. Be sure to remove them before cooking!!!) Pat dry and place on a rack in a heavy roasting pan. It’s easier to clean later, if you spray the pan and rack with cooking spray first.

Place a cut onion, 2 stalks of celery and 1 large carrot cut into chunks in the bottom of the pan.

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Season the turkey with salt and pepper and rub the bird all over with  roasted garlic and herb butter, being sure to loosen the skin and rub some underneath it, and inside the cavity, reserving some to use in the gravy. Stuff if desired, and stuff a little ball of foil into the edge of the cavity to keep the stuffing from falling out. Tuck the wings under the legs if you can.

Boil 1 cup of dry white wine and 1 cup of chicken broth, and pour it into the pan. Roast for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cover the breast loosely with foil so they do not brown too quickly, and roast another hour. Continue to pour 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of wine over the bird every hour until cooked through. Roast uncovered for the last hour to make sure the skin gets golden brown. The turkey should register 175 degrees when a meat thermometer is inserted in to the thickest part of the thigh. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest covered, for 30 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook slightly while resting.

The rule of thumb for turkey roasting times:

Roast for about 15 minutes per pound if it is unstuffed, and a few minutes longer per pound if it is stuffed. The internal temperature of the thigh should be 175 degrees, and the stuffing should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Our 18-19 pound bird takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes unstuffed, and about 4 hours and 45 minutes stuffed. Do not rely on the pop up times inserted in many turkeys. They often don’t pop until the turkey is already over cooked. Invest in a good digital meat thermometer for a more accurate and safe reading. A free range turkey will roast much faster than a previously frozen one, so start checking it after a few hours to make sure it is not cooking too fast.

Once the turkey is resting on the carving board under aluminum foil, its time to make the gravy. Pour any pan juices into a bowl and scrape the brown bits from the pan. Strain the juices and add 1/2 cup of wine and enough chicken broth to it, until you have about 6 cups of liquid.

Heat butter in a large skillet, and saute 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms until brown, about 18 minutes. ( You can do this earlier and just reheat them in the pan when you are ready.)

Mix in more of the garlic and herb butter. Sprinkle the mixture with 1/3 cup of flour and stir until the flour begins to brown. This will integrate it into the mushroom mixture, and avoid lumps later. Gradually whisk in the reserved liquid until it comes to a boil and thickens to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with the turkey.

Enjoy!

Photo of our Thanksgiving turkey from Spencer Jones/ Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Socca Pizza

March 25, 2013
The finished product

The finished product

I have already posted our recipe for Socca, a chickpea flour flatbread that is gluten free, high in protein and delicious. Tonight, I was looking for something low in carbs, crispy and full of vegetables. After a little thinking, I decided to use the Socca as a pizza crust, and top it with a hearty blend of tomatoes, artichokes and mushrooms. The result was a beautiful flatbread, brimming with flavor and surprisingly filling. As with any unrecipe, top it with whatever you are craving. Consider adding goat cheese, parmesan or a little shredded mozzarella. Toss on some finely sliced pepperoni or bacon if you are a meat lover. Use zucchini instead of artichokes, or even both. The possibilities are endless!

For the crust:

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Whisk together 1 cup of garbanzo flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or up to a few hours.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 12″ skillet with olive oil. Add a chopped shallot, and place in the hot oven until sizzling. You can also add the herbs of your choice at this stage.

Pour the batter over the shallots, and bake until the flatbread is crisp and brown, about 40 minutes. The flatbread will easily lift out of the pan when it is fully baked.

For the topping:

The topping

The topping

Saute 1 clove of garlic and about 6-8 sliced mushrooms until brown. Add a few chopped artichoke hearts ( canned or frozen) and lightly saute them. Season with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Add 2 chopped plum tomatoes (or some crushed canned tomatoes) and cook until the tomatoes start to soften. If the mixture gets too dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil.

When the crust is done, spread the the mixture over it, leaving a rim all around. Sprinkle with chopped arugula, and enjoy!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Mushroom and Goat CheeseTart

February 26, 2013

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I love savory tarts! These mushroom tarts make a perfect light meal when paired with a salad, or served as a simple yet elegant starter.

While they are best when eaten fresh out of the oven, they are also fine at room temperature, making them a great buffet item.

Mushroom Tart and Goat Cheese Tart

Prepare dough as instructed here.

Line the tart shell with foil, and fill with either dried beans or pie weights. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the beans and foil, and place the tart back in the oven until brown, about 10-15 minutes more.

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In the meantime, saute sliced mushrooms (about a pound or so) in butter until they release their liquids and start to color slightly. Add more butter and a chopped shallot, and saute for about 5 more minutes until the shallot is transparent. Season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg, and set aside until the crusts are ready.

Crumble goat cheese into the pre-baked crust. Add mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until heated through.

Cut into wedges and enjoy!!!

photos: glasshouse images

Unrecipe of the Week: Cleaned Up Tacos

July 25, 2012

My family loves tacos. I don’t. I am not a meat eater, and Mexican spices have never been a favorite flavor of mine. The texture of refried beans, sour cream, salsa and guacamole dripping down my chin don’t hold any appeal for me either.  I won’t talk about calories here, but seriously, this isn’t usually the diet plate.

I created this super clean, simple version of a taco, which is the way I would want to eat it, IF I wanted to eat it! You can even substitute the beef for mushrooms, and have a great vegetarian version.
They seem to love them, and this unrecipe even sneaks a few vegetables into B’s diet, which is a win all the way!

 

Cleaned Up Tacos:

 

Beef Filling:

Dice 2 garlic cloves and one small shallot.

Spray a large pan with cooking spray, and sauté the garlic and shallot with 1 pound of ground beef (I buy grass fed, organic beef with the lowest available fat content, which is a much healthier alternative to basic grocery store ground chuck).

Season it with a large dollop of ground cumin, some cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Add a little Tabasco sauce if you like it hot. Cook until brown.

Sprinkle the meat mixture with a little cornstarch (a tablespoon or so) and stir to coat. Add a little water (about 1/3 cup), and return it to the stove, mixing it well to be sure that no clumps form. This should form a thick sauce.

Toppings:
Shredded lettuce: Be creative: I used arugula

Chopped avocado

Chopped tomatoes: I used assorted baby heirloom tomatoes cut up

Shredded Jack cheese

If you really love the classic fillings, feel free to add all the goopy accouterments you like. I won’t judge!

 

Assembling:

Heat a whole-wheat tortilla on the gas flame of the stove for just a couple of seconds per side.

Add the meat filling. Top with vegetables and cheese. Fold in the sides, and roll it up.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat Your Vegetables

July 20, 2012

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Union Square Greenmarket.

I tend to go on Saturday mornings, after a particularly grueling cycling class down the street, and pick up whatever strikes my fancy.

While the greenmarket goodies tend to last longer than their supermarket purchased counterparts, fresh produce only lasts so long.

I was thrilled to stumble upon some tips in the New York Times Dining section this week, on how to prolong the freshness of summer’s vegetable bounty.

Here are a few key tricks to preserving the produce of the season:

Greens, like lettuce, are best washed in advance, dried and stored.

Soft herbs such as basil and soft produce such as mushrooms and berries should be washed when used, as the water will speed spoilage. I find that putting basil in a glass of filtered water that comes a few inches up the stems, keeps it fresh for several days. Frequent readers will note that I am also a big proponent of making pesto, and basil oil while it’s still green and “perky”.

Anything that comes in bunches, should be released from it’s binding, as the closer the vegetables are packed, the faster they will rot.

Leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots and beets should be trimmed to 1” long to prolong freshness but prevent them from drying out.

Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as the ripening fruit emits ethylene, which damages vegetables.

Some produce will continue to ripen on the counter: stone fruits, melons, mangoes, apples, pears, tomatoes and avocados.  Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries will only deteriorate.

Bananas ripen quickly, and will speed the ripening of anything they are stored with.

If you can, cut and simply cook vegetables, as they will last longer in the refrigerator that way. Prepare them separately, to allow more flexibility in their use.

Intimidated by the skills needed to slice and dice vegetables? Have no fear.

The specialty market Eataly, just north of Union Square employs a fulltime vegetable butcher who will peel and cut your produce to order.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

The Clean 15

June 5, 2012

We have written here about the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of produce that has the highest levels of pesticides and contamination. It is recommended that these foods be organic wherever possible.

There is another list called the “Clean 15”, which have the lowest pesticide load, and can be enjoyed in the conventional varieties.

These are:

Onions

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Avocado

Sweet peas

Mangoes

Eggplant

Cantaloupe

Kiwi

Watermelon

Sweet potatoes

Grapefruit

Mushrooms

Asparagus

Other foods, such as broccoli, cabbage and tomatoes have more recently tested cleaner as well, due to less pest threats, and therefore less spraying.

Many of these fruits and vegetables have a protective outer layer that gets peeled or removed before eating. This helps eliminate the toxins, which are largely on the outside of the food.

The current list of the most harmful foods tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, and as many as 67. Buying organic insures that the fruit and vegetables are not treated with harmful pesticides.

Foods that should be organic:

Celery

Strawberries

Peaches

Apples

Blueberries

Nectarines

Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale and collard greens

Cherries

Potatoes

Grapes

Lettuce

This lists were compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which is an organization made up of scientists, researchers and policymakers. The data used was supplied by the United States Department of Agriculture’s tests for pesticide residue on fresh produce.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 

Unrecipe of the Week

March 5, 2012

This week has been a killer. With business travel and a closed airport starting things off on Monday, the weekend couldn’t come fast enough. Between the exhaustion and the damp weather, we were seeking some comfort food.
This recipe for Hunter’s Chicken appeared on Food52 and seemed to fit the bill. With a little simplification and tweaks to utilize what we had on hand, this fragrant dish with tomatoes, mushrooms and red wine was just what we were looking for.

Hunter’s Chicken

Soak ½ cup of dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water until soft.

Strain carefully to remove grit, chop and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry one small chicken, cut into pieces. Sprinkle with salt and sauté in olive oil until brown on all sides. Remove and place on a plate until needed.
Add 1-pound clean and sliced crimini mushrooms to the pan and cook until brown. Add the porcinis back to the pan and sauté briefly.

Set the mushrooms aside.     

Add one diced onion to the pan and cook until transparent. Add one small shredded carrot and mix. Add the mushrooms back to the pan, with 2 cans of drained chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and a cup of dry red wine. Add back some of the porcini liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Toss in a liberal amount of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and any other fresh herbs you have on hand. Cook until the mixture melds together, and a bit of the liquid starts to evaporate.

Spread the mixture into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Nestle the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, and cover the pan with parchment paper.

Cook in a 350-degree oven for at least 1 hour or more, until the chicken is starting to fall off the bones, and the sauce is starting to thicken.

Serve with a side of polenta, and enjoy!

Easy Polenta:

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 1-¾ cups of cornmeal (polenta) to the pan, stirring often to remove lumps.

Simmer until thickened and tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve with Hunter’s Chicken and enjoy!

Photos: Glasshouse Images


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