Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

I’ve mentioned before in posts that usually, the easiest recipes are the most beloved.  And I’m not talking about the one doing the cooking.  I’m talking the peeps doing the eating!

I’ve never had a huge repertoire of appetizers, but they all tend to be easy.  Lil Smokies in “homemade” barbecue sauce, lots of dips with just a handful of ingredients, etc.  Yet, my maturing taste buds sometimes crave something a little more…fancy.  Luckily, thanks mostly to Pinterest, I’ve found some really great appetizers that only seem to have taken hours to prepare 🙂

Here we go:

1.) Stuffed Mushrooms

My friend in San Francisco found this gem to serve us as a starter to a delicious Italian dinner last summer.  They have some great heat to them thanks to the red pepper (which, obviously, is easy enough to omit).  Another great thing about this recipe – they don’t call for bread crumbs, so they are gluten-free.  They are highly requested among my friends out here 🙂

The most time consuming step in this recipe is probably washing the mushrooms and dicing up the stems.  Remember – never submerge mushrooms in water.  Don’t even spray them in a colander.  They’ll absorb the moisture and get all mushy and weird.  Just dampen a paper towel and wipe each one down!

Also – 12 mushrooms is 1) not enough to use up all the cream cheese stuffing and 2) not enough to keep your friends happy.  I can usually stuff about a pound (I like creminis) with one batch of stuffing.

2.) Marinated Mushrooms

Yep, we like mushrooms around here 🙂  Ali, Chris and I are big fans of the olive bar at Whole Foods (though we don’t really partake in any olives, the mushrooms, artichokes, mozzarella and other offerings are quite delicious).  But at something like $10/pound, it’s easy to really blow through some cash.  I tried these last night and they were delicious.  And simple.  And cheap, since all I had to buy were the mushrooms.  (We always have red wine vinegar and Worcestershire around, turns out).

I used just under 2 pounds of fresh creminis, and doubled the amount of marinade (1 cup of oil total).  I stirred them up a couple of times before I went to bed, and by noon today they looked perfect.  What I like about this recipe is that you can basically experiment with any combination of dried herbs and spices.  I added red pepper flakes and left out the fresh parsley.  They are probably not the healthiest finger food around, as they have been bathed in oil…but who am I kidding?  If I’m making an actual appetizer, I plan on eating many, MANY calories.

3.) Bacon-Wrapped Dates

I picked up this recipe from a close friend’s roommate who happens to be gluten-free.  There are a lot of foods I never ate much of (or even liked) before I moved to California.  Artichokes, avocados, quinoa….dates…I was a little skeptical the first time I tried them.  I don’t know why.  They were amazing.  AMAZING!  Slightly time-consuming, but they don’t take any real cooking skill.

Pick up some dried, pitted dates (I used about 1 1/2 small bags to one package of bacon.  Luckily, they are tasty to snack on plain, so if you have extras, it’s no big deal.)  You don’t need a really thick cut of bacon, but quality bacon is key.  Wrap a small slice of bacon around a date and secure with a toothpick.  Then roll this in a combination of brown sugar and red pepper (or, if you’re a wuss, leave out the red pepper).  Bake at about 375 until the bacon starts to crisp up.  You will probably have to drain off some bacon grease halfway through baking, or said bacon will never actually crisp.  This is one of those recipes that is difficult to screw up.  Bake them at 350 or 400.  Finish them in a frying pan.  Who cares.  The recipe involves bacon, and that automatically makes probably 90% of your guests happy!

4.) Baked Brie and Roasted Garlic

I’ve ordered this combo a few times at restaurants.  It’s pretty freaking delicious served up with some crostini or French bread slices.

Everybody should know of the glory that is roasted garlic.  Garlic gets surprisingly mellow once roasted, which means it isn’t overpowering to spread an entire clove on a slice of bread with some gooey Brie.  When I made baked Brie at home I didn’t even sprinkle it with wine, fresh ground pepper was perfect.  This is one of those things that basically involves putting a pan in the oven for an hour, but seems so sophisticated (it tastes pretty sophisticated too).

I hope these help you impress crowds this summer!

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I couldn’t tell you how long this recipe has sat neatly written in one of my recipe binders, begging to be brought to life.  Three years?  I remember sitting at my parents’ house, watching Everyday Italian and immediately logging onto the Food Network website so I could copy the recipe down.  I even read the reader comments and wrote notes on the margins such as “probably use less salt.”  🙂  However, I never found a reason to make it.  My dad, Alison and I all really enjoy mushrooms, but my mom is only a borderline fan, and has complained before when I’ve made dishes that lean too heavily on them.  So it was never really an option if she was around.  When Holly and I lived together, we were probably just too cheap to go out and buy smoked mozzarella and proscuitto (if we could find them!).  But, now I live with two brave foodie souls, and I am fully employed…no more excuses!

It seems, for now anyways, that this never-ending 2012 Los Angeles summer has come to an end.  Thus, it’s now acceptable to turn on the oven to make dinner!  We were down to one meal on our list from the most recent grocery trip; this one.  Seeing as it was a Sunday evening and I didn’t work until the following night, we went for it.

A word of warning: Giada says this only takes 30 minutes to prepare…however, with 2-3 of us working at any given time, it was probably more like 45.  There is a lot of chopping and grating of ingredients, not to mention three pots and pans going at once before you can assemble the finished product.  So we cranked some Florence + the Machine, opened some red wine, and went to town.

Here’s the recipe.  It’s long, so I thought it was hyperlink appropriate 🙂

Remember before when I said I had written down the one comment about not using so much salt?  This version has been updated since I copied down mine; Giada now calls for 1.5 teaspoons of salt in both the sauce and the mushroom mixture versus the full tablespoon previously.  We still used only about a teaspoon in each.  8 ounces of proscuitto means A LOT of salty flavor, and I didn’t see any reason to over-do it when it would be so easy to sprinkle a little extra on if necessary.

Let’s see, what else did we change….

  • Black pepper: I love pepper, however, 2 teaspoons in each part of this dish seemed excessive.  We cut that in half, and I thought it was the perfect amount.  There’s a ton of flavor in the dish, and instead of being overpowering, the pepper was just a nice heat in the background.  So…season to taste, and work your way UP to the full amount!
  • Fresh herbs are expensive (though worthwhile, I know…), and since this was already getting to be an expensive dinner, we opted to use the dry versions we already had in the pantry.  Instead of 1.5 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme, we used 1 heaping teaspoon of the dried versions.  Again – it was just the right amount, for us at any rate.

As far as mushrooms, we used 10 oz. each of white and cremini.  Trader Joe’s sells them sliced for about $2 a bag; it’s a great deal.  I’m SURE shiitake would have been awesome, but again, the cheapskates in us reared their ugly heads to put the kibosh on that idea 🙂  Also, please don’t consider substituting regular mozzarella for the smoked stuff.  The flavor is so important to the success of this dish!  If you can’t find smoked mozzarella, try a smoked gouda.  We ended up using regular lasagna noodles, since none of the three stores we checked at carried spinach noodles.  Had we had any on hand, we decided we would have thrown some wilted spinach in with the mushrooms for a little green in the dish.  But the plain pasta was absolutely fine!

Dinner is served!

Forgive my photography skills on that picture.  I had been texting a friend all day, bragging about how good this recipe was going to be, so I snapped a pic on my phone once I sat down to eat.  In fact, forgive my slicing-and-serving skills too!  We did let the dish sit for about 5 minutes once we took it out of the oven, but the smell was driving us all insane 🙂  Obviously, it didn’t hold its form very well!

And seriously, for essentially being noodles and mushrooms, this dish was so amazing!  Each bite is full of flavors, and none overpowers any other one.  There’s the saltiness of the proscuitto (one of my favorite things, ever).  The pepper and the herbs.  The smokiness of the mozzarella.  If you need a “fancy” dish to impress guests, this would definitely be an option!  With some fresh, crusty bread to soak up all that white sauce and steamed veggies this would look like something you’d pay a lot of money for at a nice Italian place 🙂

Read Full Post »

Have I mentioned before my aversion to tomatoes?  I’ve gotten better over the years and actually eat things like marinara sauce when we make spaghetti because its a cheap and fast dinner option and chunky Italian sausage bits make it much more appealing to me.  But when it comes down to it I would much prefer just about any other sauce on my pasta or pizza.

I’m not sure about LA, but back in Wisconsin there are several places with some unique pizza options that feature non-traditional sauces.  Some of my favorites are Ian’s Mac n’ Cheese on alfredo sauce, Polito’s BBQ Steak & Fries with Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, and Glass Nickel’s Thai Pie with its spicy peanut sauce.  Unsurprisingly when a craving for homemade pizza hit I wanted to make something beyond pepperoni and cheese on a classic red sauce (oh, did I mention pepperoni is also probably my least favorite pizza topping?).

I figured since I’ve made this citrus pesto before I could easily whip up a classic pesto for the pizza sauce by omitting the fruit juices and zests.  I’ve made enough batches that I just kind of wing it, I measure out the pine nuts and use a whole package of fresh basil from Trader Joe’s then add olive oil and cheese until I reach a desired consistency.  As far as toppings go I shredded chicken, spinach (slightly wilted) and sliced mushrooms go great with the green sauce.  This week Chris took charge of cooking the chicken while I was getting the dough for the crust ready.  He seasoned it generously with garlic, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and I thought it tasted amazing and had a hard time not “testing” it all before the pizza was assembled.

As far as the crust went, I use this recipe that was printed on the packet of yeast and whole wheat flour.  I roll or shape it into a thick rectangle to bake on a cookie sheet because the short list of cooking/baking things we don’t own includes a pizza stone.  After the crust of the first couple pizzas we made turned out a bit underdone in the middle I precooked the crust a few minutes before adding sauce and toppings and baking for the last 10 minutes or so.  Then we cut it into big pieces and enjoyed!

Read Full Post »