Tag Archives: mushrooms

Weekly Menus: Week of 4/21/2013

Gentle Readers, spring is now officially here. Now is the exact time I start feeling guilty about not getting to the farmer’s market more often. Life has intervened, and Saturday mornings have been claimed by sports instead of bright-yellow egg yolks. I need to work on finding some balance there.

Sunflower Yellow Egg Yolk from Farm Fresh Egg

Sunflower Yellow Egg Yolk from Farm Fresh Egg

Meanwhile, I’m spending more time in the kitchen, which is a good thing. I’ve had some truly inspiring food conversations as of late. Look for more recipes in development, and more video. Still contemplating 2 posts per week instead of 3. My high-tech world keeps colliding with my food world in terms of people, topics, and time, so we shall see.

But alas, these pollen induced musings are not why you’re here (though why you are, I’m sure I don’t know). Here are this week’s menus:

Weekly Menus: 4/21/2013

Weekly Menus: 4/21/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery shopping list:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/21/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/21/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Soup and Sammie
I have some leftovers to attend to, and some pork bones in the freezer. I predict pork noodle soup in the future. With extra Sriracha, in spite of my better judgment.

Pork Noodle Soup with Mushrooms and Siracha

Pork Noodle Soup with Mushrooms and Siracha

Monday: Dal and Rice
This will be intentional leftover food. I had some amazing dal over the weekend, and was reminded how simple it was to make. Indian food at home does not have to be a 3-ring circus. I can make bread, rice, and dal, simple veggie side, in 45 or less. You can too.

Sunday Dinner: Indian Edition (Dal, Black-Eyed Peas and Corn, Rice, Buttermilk Okra)

Sunday Dinner: Indian Edition (Dal, Black-Eyed Peas and Corn, Rice, Buttermilk Okra)

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Because I am a Bacon-of-the-Month club member, that’s why.

Wednesday: Leftovers
Midweek gets tiring and hard, so time to rely on good work from earlier days.

Thursday: Portobella Caps and Salad
Working on refining this recipe. Stuffed with a warm bean filling, but I’m considering adding bacon (leftover from earlier in the week) or topping with panko and broiling for the finish.

Portobella Caps with Warm Bean Filling

Portobella Caps with Warm Bean Filling

Friday: Steak and Potatoes
We have a lot of meat to use up in the freezer, and I’m getting better about remembering to thaw it. Go team!

Saturday: Dine Out
We may venture out of town a little bit to do some food reviews. TPCs Jr grow restless.

What are you cooking for springtime? Have you transitioned to lighter fare? Post a comment, send a tweet, say Hi on Instagram. I’m out here.

Send ideas, random challenges, and food confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Food Rodeo Review, New Finds on New Turf.

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Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms Recipe

Gentle Readers, on rare occasions, everyone in the family likes the same thing. Team Practical Cook prides itself on individual palates, to the point that certain Practical Cooks regret raising Juniors with discriminating tastes. Overheard at the table: that’s not how it tastes to my mouth. Arrgghh!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Yes, the Practical Cooks Junior are seriously 2.0, with all the requisite improvements, but you try cooking for short people with very clear notions of food. Enter Trader Joe’s shelf-stable polenta. It was the featured sample a few weeks back, and it’s graced our kitchen ever since.

Trader Joe's Shelf-Stable Polenta

Trader Joe’s Shelf-Stable Polenta

This time we made it hearty. The Youngest didn’t like mushrooms much before, so we had everyone select their own type of mushroom from the bin. Naturally, she went for the shitakes, at $9.99/lb. Oh well. They were delicious.

The More Affordable Portobella Mushroom

The More Affordable Portobella Mushroom

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms Recipe

1 package Trader Joe’s shelf-stable polenta, or feel free to make it yourself, I won’t wait
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
about a pound of mushrooms, any variety, cleaned and sliced
salt
red pepper flakes
1/2 bag prewashed baby spinach
6 grape tomatoes, quartered
3 – 6 eggs
Romano cheese

1. Slice the polenta in 6 to 8 slices, and prepare according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a dollop of olive oil in a medium-high skillet and add the garlic cloves. When you can smell them, add the mushrooms. Add salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute until they lose their water and reduce.

3. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the spinach. Saute until wilted. Add the grape tomatoes and heat briefly.

4. By now the polenta should be done. Turn off the heat but leave in the pan. Meanwhile, fry as many eggs as you want, over easy or medium, at least one per serving.

5. Make a stack: polenta, mushroom mixture, egg. Top with grated Romano cheese. Enjoy.

This was a runaway hit. It was beautiful, it felt special, and with some fruit on the side, made for a very filling meal. After all, polenta is really just Italian for grits.

Polenta Frying in the Pan

Polenta Frying in the Pan

Are you a polenta fan? How do you serve it? Post a comment below, I’m listening!

Send your confessions, questions, and bacon to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, on video: Booberry vs Frakenberry: The Ultimate FauxBerry Taste Challenge

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Weekly Menus: Week of 10/14/2012

Gentle Readers, what a whirlwind it has been. Hard to believe that it’s time to carve pumpkins, plan costumes, and eat a lot of deep-fried food. Well, the latter may be a unique Team Practical Cook tradition, but still. Full write-up of our visit is coming on Wednesday, but here’s a preview.

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

As we also weighed in at the standards and measures center, you may notice that this is a bit of a detox week on the menu. The last few weeks of travel and the upcoming cholesterol check necessitate some communing with carrots.

Enough chatter, here are this week’s weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 10/14/2012

Weekly Menus: 10/14/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/14/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/14/2012

Which all adds up to:

Sunday: Salad and pasta
This will probably be a walnut/tomato/goat cheese fest. I’ll imitate the salad in the pasta.

Monday: Breakfast for dinner
Served with a big fruit salad, this is a guaranteed winner. Good opportunity to push eggs and feed the Youngest grits, her favorite. Trying to balance her favorites with a need for vegetarian meals (which she does not always love).

Tuesday: Leftovers
It’s turned a little cold, so I may thaw some stock, add the leftovers, and call it soup.

Wednesday: Polenta with mushrooms and spinach
One of my new favorite quick meals from Trader Joe’s, the sliced polenta serves as an interesting based for a lot of nutritious toppings.

Thursday: Salmon cakes
This is a vegetarian compromise. The Eldest probably won’t eat them, but I can serve her a faux chicken patty instead.

Friday: Beans and rice
A family favorite, I plan on making Cuban-style black beans and rice, freezing the leftovers.

Saturday: Dine out!
Perhaps it is tapas time?

What is your favorite fall meal? Pumpkin based? Post a comment below! The crickets won’t mind.

Send deep fried items, menu ideas, and cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Wednesday: The Deep-Fried Review of the N.C. State Fair or I Can’t Believe I Ate That.

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Barcelona in Review: Food Travels

Gentle Readers, what a week it has been. Exploring the food and culture of Barcelona for a few days, I want to go back for another round, with the Practical Cooks Junior in tow. They have seen the pictures and already volunteered. The cafe culture, the pace, the attention to service in detail, wow, just wow.

I love the tapas concept. Many little plates, ideal for sharing.

I love the tapas concept. Many little plates, ideal for sharing.

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

Though I’m not a huge potato person, I could easily eat patatas braves every day for quite a long time. If I lived in Barcelona, I would quest endlessly to find the best of the best. I ordered potatoes and padron peppers every time we had tapas.

Patates braves are a staple of Barcelona.Try them all.

Patates braves are a staple of Barcelona.Try them all.

One of many plates of patates braves.

One of many plates of patates braves.

Ironically, some of the other winning meals were Italian. I had two amazing mushroom based dishes, one paparadelle and one risotto.

Risotto with mushrooms in a parmesan bowl. Yes, please.

Risotto with mushrooms in a parmesan bowl. Yes, please.

And of course there was pig. In all its forms. You call it jamon, I call it delicious. More than one dispute broke out around the International Bacon Line, with British folks being the most outspoken American Bacon dissers. To them I say, I’m sorry you lost. 🙂

Pure jamon goodness.

Pure jamon goodness.

Another pleasant surprise, and a lingering favorite, street food. This take on tomato bread, with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins, was off the charts good. Portable and with a vegetable, brilliant.

Tomato bread with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. One of my favorite things from Barcelona.

Tomato bread with spinach, pine nuts, and golden raisins. One of my favorite things from Barcelona.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Overall, my only regret is not having more time or more stomachs. I will return to Barcelona, and encourage you to add it t your bucket list if you haven’t already been.

Down every narrow street in Barcelona, great food awaits.

Down every narrow street in Barcelona, great food awaits.

What’s your favorite non-US food city? Post a comment below, or Tweet!

Send your questions, lucrative deals, and extra coffee to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus!

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Portobella Mushroom Caps with Warm Bean Filling Recipe

Gentle Readers, there is nothing like a dinner guest, particularly a cranky one, to inspire the home cook to new heights. A trip through the grocery store is also most useful. The combination led to rediscovering a recipe I worked with long long ago.

Portobella Caps with Warm Bean Filling

Portobella Caps with Warm Bean Filling

One cool project from my publishing past: I proofread The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook. When you spend that much time with a book, you retain large sections of it, and this recipe is an adaptation from the book. Great niche cookbook–I recommend it if you’re a fungus fan.

Portobella Mushroom Caps with Warm Bean Filling Recipe

4 large portabella mushroom caps, gills scraped and tossed (they make food black!)
olive oil
salt and pepper

The Filling:

6-8 cremini or button mushrooms, diced small
1 can white beans (your choice), rinsed and drained
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup mushroom stock or water
Balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with foil, place the portobella caps face down on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil (on both sides), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn over and repeat.

Meanwhile, saute the diced creminis in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. When almost all of the water is gone, add the white beans, garlic, and rosemary, lowering the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to let flavors meld. Add stock or water as needed to prevent drying out.

To assemble, take one roasted mushroom cap, fill with 1/4 of the bean filling, and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top. Eat warm!

Platter of stuffed mushrooms: filling and healthy!

Platter of stuffed mushrooms: filling and healthy!

Are you a mushroom fan? Post your comments below!

Send your queries, conundrums, and kitchen minions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday, Spa Time for the C0ok.

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Beef, It’s What’s in the Freezer

How did a former vegetarian come to be the proud owner of 1/4 of a cow? Well, it’s a long story that involves familial bovines. I hail from a farming family, and when the opportunity to buy humanely raised meat came up, I took it. But how do you eat that much cow? Slowly, very slowly.

Beef, It's Part of What's for Dinner

Beef, It's Part of What's for Dinner

You see, Team Practical Cook is not a huge meat-eating family. But the individual packaging gives us the opportunity to make more than one meal out of the beef filet, accompanied by a variety of veggies.

A Wee Bit of Beef Filet

A Wee Bit of Beef Filet

The advantages of high-quality beef? You don’t have to do much. This was salt, pepper, and a fairly quick medium-high heat sear in a cast iron skillet, in bacon fat. Yes, when in doubt, use bacon fat.

Beef Filet Charring in Bacon Fat

Beef Filet Charring in Bacon Fat

And of course, like all the books tell you, because in this case they’re right, let it rest. Don’t steam it, tent it with foil.

Peek-a-Boo, The Filet Is Resting

Peek-a-Boo, The Filet Is Resting

Then slice and serve. Beef can be very quick and easy. Of course, if you’re a fan of all things bovine, as Miss Clairol is, go for a big roast. It’s a great option when you’re feeding a crowd, love beef, and don’t have a ton of time. The leftovers are great, and a roast is less fussy than endless single dishes.

Roast Beef, Courtesy of Miss Clairol

Roast Beef, Courtesy of Miss Clairol

But for me on a weeknight, it’s sides and a steak. More plant than cow.

Marsala Mushrooms, Roasted Baconflower with Carrots, Peas with Sea Salt, and Beef Filet

Marsala Mushrooms, Roasted Baconflower with Carrots, Peas with Sea Salt, and Beef Filet

Are you a fan of beef? Is it what’s for dinner? Post a comment below, even the vegetarians can pipe up, or Tweet.

Send your beef queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Stay tuned tomorrow for Marsala Mushrooms Recipe.

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Mushroom Stock Recipe

Would you like a taste of the forest floor in your soup? Neither would I. For whatever reason, the Practical Cook has never loved some of the more high-flying descriptions of the flavor of mushrooms, even though she adores the mushrooms themselves. Mushroom stock is full of umami, complex and interesting, and this version is made from scraps.

Mushrooms in the Stockpot

Mushrooms in the Stockpot

How to Make Mushroom Stock

Step 1. When you use mushrooms (and I do a lot of that), break off the woody stems, put them in the freezer, and stockpile until you amass a quantity. (If you are in a hurry, or a low-volume user, feel free to buy some supplemental button mushrooms.)

Variety is not important here, button mushrooms, creminis, whatever you have will work.

Step 2. Once you’ve collected a fairly good amount (I’ve seen 2 pounds as the suggested amount, I used around 8 to 10 cups of stems), take a large stockpot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat, and brown the stems a bit (throw them in frozen, it’s all good), adding 1 peeled carrot that’s been sliced in 1-inch pieces.

Step 3. Add 14 to 16 cups of water, or enough to cover the stems and pieces by at least an inch. (You’re going to reduce the liquid by nearly half, so don’t be stingy.) For a flavor boost, add a small package of dried porcini mushrooms. Bring to a boil, skim any scum, reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced, at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time and want more concentration.

Step 4. Strain the stock through a sieve, pressing the solids to extract maximum fungal flavor. Cool and separate into a few sizes of containers for freezer storage: The Practical Cook recommends 2-, 4-, and 1/2- cup measures.

Bubble, Bubble Mushroom Stock

Bubble, Bubble Mushroom Stock

5 Ways to Use Mushroom Stock

  • Add 1 cup per jar of red pasta sauce (in this case, it was tomato basil). Wow, seriously wow. The stock balanced out the sweetness of the jarred sauce, and turned the Punt! that was cheese tortellini into awesome.
  • Substitute into any beef-broth based soup.
  • Heat and pour over cooked tortellini or potstickers for quick soup. Top with nicely sliced scallions and you’ve gone white tablecloth.
  • Pan-sear a steak (or a portobella) deglaze with mushroom stock for a quick pan sauce.
  • Risotto!

For my mushroom-hating friends who may be reading this, yes, I’m likely to slip some of this into your food. You are welcome in advance.

Coming up tomorrow, Can this supper be saved? The Whole Wheat Waffles are being tested, and the batter is too thick. What to do? Tune in to find out.

If you’ve got a kitchen problem, question, or success story, send it to practical cook at gmail dot com.

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