Pan Roasted Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. I will eat them in just about any form or fashion. Doesn’t matter what it is, sign me up! I know that mushrooms are either loved or hated. Believe me, I know people in both camps.  However, this recipe, will change the game even if you don’t love mushrooms. Let me tell you the story of how it all began.

Last Christmas I was visiting my brother and he was so excited to show me this new cookbook he had bought that he thought I would like. He said that it changed how he thought about food and thought it might be an interesting resource for my blog and foodie adventures. He brings this huge book! I mean it is huge! Not because it is a billion pages, no, the book itself is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’m a theatre guy, so I’ve been around some sizable books. Anyway, I start rifling through the opening and I was hooked. The book talked about loving food, being a nerd, applying science to common food questions in a way that was accessible by any home cook. I suddenly felt like the book was written for me. My brother said if I was interested he would buy it for me for Christmas.  Of course I had to have a copy and the rest, well, is the beginning of a beautiful food related courtship.

This book covers a ton of topics and it is incredibly well thought out. You can read this as casually as looking for week night dinner options or like a text book, which you could easily do as well. However, we are just focusing on one thing, pan roasted mushrooms. These aren’t your normal pan roasted mushrooms.  Oh no. These beauties have a few twists and turns along the way.

Before I go much further, the cookbook is “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, this is a worthwhile read. Oh, I should also say that this is a personal recommendation and I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for talking about his cookbook. If you want a recommendation, read the reviews, check out what Kenji has done, and then go buy this book! If you follow me on Instagram a few of my recent meals have included some of his recipes and techniques. Now that we have that out of the way, here we go!

Pan Roasted Mushrooms
Recipe is from “The Food Lab” by Kenji Lopez-Alt and is adapted by me. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings. My changes will be noted in italics.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ½ pounds button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into quarters
1 medium shallot, finely minced (about ¼ cup)

 

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated on a Microplane (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons soy sauce

 

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Here is a bonus photo of the garlic, shallot, lime juice, and soy sauce.

 Directions:
Heat the oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook.

 

Tossing and stirring frequently, until they have given up their liquid and the liquid has completely evaporated, about 8 minutes.
Continue cooking, tossing and stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are deep brown, about 10 minutes longer. 

 

Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme and toss to distribute evenly.
Cook, stirring and tossing, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the soy sauce, lemon juice, and butter, and toss until butter is melted.
  

 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
 
 These are so freaking good! For once this picture almost does these mushrooms justice, but not quite.
Here is what I love about these mushrooms. Despite the lengthy cooking time, they aren’t dried out and flavorless. In fact, quite the opposite. You have imparted such incredible flavor by allowing the mushrooms time to cook because they develop such a deep, rich color and flavor. The complexity of the acidity and soy sauce sells this! Seriously, just that is enough to make these mushrooms really special. It is truly complimented by the fresh thyme and the butter.  The butter just rounds them out and gives an amazing mouth feel. I think you could serve them with just about any main dish. Just make sure you give those mushrooms something to play off of.
Now let’s get into some of my changes that I made in the recipe.
As far as oil is concerned, I automatically reach for the olive oil. However, something like a neutral oil such a vegetable or grapeseed oil would work here as well. For two reasons, first is that these oils can tolerate higher heat a little better and you don’t have to worry about imparting any “olive” flavor to the mushrooms as they cook. At the end of the day you won’t really notice so don’t stress about it. I’ve used olive oil and the mushrooms haven’t suffered one bit, I promise.
By accident I just sliced the mushrooms when I made the recipe the first time, but didn’t break them down into quarters. Either one is perfectly acceptable. If you do slice the mushrooms then slice them a little thicker to make sure they retain some structure. Also, I prefer button (white) mushrooms because they are usually the most friendly on the wallet and readily available. Also, the more mushrooms the merrier in this case. Mushroom are comprised of a lot of water, so they will cook down more than you think. Never hurts to add a little extra in my opinion with this recipe.
The soy sauce comes down to one basic element, salt. I season these mushrooms in the beginning of the recipe and don’t adjust the seasoning until the end. In order to control the salt, I use low sodium soy sauce. The taste and flavor doesn’t suffer, but I feel better knowing that the soy sauce won’t ruin the mushrooms for me. I can always a little more at the end if I need more.
Have I mentioned mistakes in the kitchen aren’t always the worst thing? It is true. Instead of adding lemon juice, I added lime juice. You see, I…err, well, I have lime juice around because it pairs well with that faithful adult beverage, you know? Hey, I make no apologies for that. Haha! Again, it won’t change the complexity of the dish and I find that the lime is very nice with the mushrooms. Either way, you won’t go wrong.
Keep in mind that some people don’t care for the punch of the rawness of garlic or shallot. If you don’t mind, then no worries. For me, I usually add those ingredients to the party when I still have a good five minutes to go so they can cook out. This process just allows the garlic and shallot to mellow out, but not lose their place in the party. On the other hand, keep an eye on the garlic because if it gets burnt and bitter that flavor will be imparted on the dish and can’t be removed.

I could write about these about mushrooms for days, but I think the best thing to do is let you go make them and see what all the fuss is about. As I said, this will change the way you think about mushrooms.

As always, be sure to let me know what you think of this recipe by sending me an email or posting a comment. I look forward to your feedback! Enjoy!

The Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese

There are few foods more synonymous with comfort than mac n’ cheese. I will admit it, I loved the stuff in the blue box with the dinosaur on the cover. It is okay, you can admit it too. Like all foods, mac n’ cheese has taken on a life of its own with every combination imaginable. Bacon, steak, lobster, and truffle are some of the more popular varieties these days. Let’s face it, most of those aren’t pairings that we can easily get our hands on without it costing an arm and a leg.

The good news is that you don’t have to get fancy to make mac n’ cheese delicious. In fact, this kitchen staple provides a unique and interesting twist on this classic dish. For those of us with kids or those who have trouble sneaking veggies into your meals, good news, we are about to break the mold.

Say hello to Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese. I can’t tell you how tasty and easy this version is to make. What makes this the best recipe is you don’t need to master any complicated french techniques to make your cheese sauce. Oh no. You dump everything into a pot and let the heat and cheese pull this masterpiece together. Sounds good, right? It is that simple, I promise.

Ready to do this? Lets Go!

Cauliflower Mac N’ Cheese

This recipe has been adapted by me, but here is the cauliflower mac in its entirety from Real Simple.

Ingredients


    12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni or pasta of your choice

    1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

    4 slices multigrain bread, torn

    ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

    1 tablespoons olive oil

    kosher salt and black pepper

    1 yellow or red onion, finely chopped

    1 ½ cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)

    1 ½ cups reduced-fat sour cream

    ½ cup 1 percent milk or milk of your choice

    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Turn your oven to 400 degrees. Bring your water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente or follow package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; pulse to combine.

At this point, you will should have these ingredients left to add, which include cheese, your sour cream mixture, and the onions.

 

 

Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Mix in the pasta and cauliflower and the cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.

Transfer to a shallow 9×13 baking dish and evenly spread the mixture out.

https://i1.wp.com/2.bp.blogspot.com/-spN0BX2DlRI/VsYejnhJwTI/AAAAAAAABj0/BN0blumrwyg/s1600/20160217_191121.jpg?resize=401%2C226&ssl=1

Sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

When the mac comes out of the oven, you should something that looks like this.

 

I promise you this is everything you want and more!

Alright, lets talk about some changes that I made. My changes are in italics to make it easier for you to keep track.

When I first made this recipe I followed it to the letter and had great success. However, I started to wonder what would’ve happened if I added multiple cheeses as opposed to a singular cheese. Truth is, it was good, but I didn’t feel like it gave the dish much. Therefore, I went back to one really good sharp aged cheddar. Since we are talking about cheese make sure that you get something that melts easily. If you have a grocery store with a cheese counter I would stop by and ask them about what cheese they recommend. Make sure that you tell them what you are looking for as it relates to flavor profile, easy melting, and the recipe too. This will ensure you get the best options available. Oh, be sure to ask them if you can sample the cheese. Like wine, if you like it, it will do fine. However, if you don’t find something you like don’t settle because that flavor will carry through the dish.

As luck would have it, I made the perfect mistake in the recipe this time. Normally I would use a yellow onion, but I only had a red onion on hand. Of course I was going to use it and make it work. It added a bonus that I didn’t realize until I was taking  photos near the end of the process. It gave the photo a much needed pop of color. This is probably the one thing that doesn’t make this recipe interesting is that the whole thing is pretty much white. Whether a meal at home or at a restaurant, we eat with our eyes first.  Don’t worry, we have the technology to fix this. I will get into that in a minute.

When it comes to topping the mac before it goes into the oven to finish the options are limitless. I never bothered with the breadcrumb topping simply because gluten doesn’t fare well for everyone in my house. I think it would be a great way to finish this dish, but how about some other ideas? For me, I love the idea of some dried basil, dried oregano, and fresh parmesan cheese over the top. Plus, I love watching it snow fresh parmesan. There is nothing better to me! Also, some fresh ground pepper would be a great touch as well. You could hit it with some left over shredded cheese if you haven’t eaten it all. This would work for me because I don’t end up with any leftovers. If you really want to get crazy zest some lemon with the oregano and basil. That would a killer combo! The lemon zest will provide some much needed brightness to the pasta as well.

I mentioned the dish is pretty much white earlier, so how do you combat this? I would say the time right before the mixture goes into your baking dish is the perfect moment to remedy this. Heck, you could do anything here! How about add some spinach? Not only for more vegetables, but a great color option. Have some left over mushrooms? Saute those bad boys and mix them in to help give the pasta some body. Also, left over meats would be great here as well. Chop it up into bite sized pieces and mix it in before you put the dish in the oven. You can easily use chicken, pork or beef here. You could really use any vegetables you wanted here. Some bell peppers or carrots would be great, too!

One last note that I wanted to talk about for this dish. Besides the color, my other issue has been the lack of seasoning. Now, that could be because I wasn’t using the bread crumb topping, however, I’m not sure that is the only problem. So, how do we deal with this? I think the seasoning needs to be checked right before you load the mix into the baking dish. So, taste it. I would be sure that a little more salt and pepper would be needed. Keep in mind, besides the pasta water, the only place you are adding salt and pepper is when you cook the onions down. To me, that isn’t enough to make sure the dish is seasoned properly. Make sure you season! Okay, I’m done now.

Just kidding!  I have one final thought I must share. The most surprising thing about this pasta is that it gets better in the fridge. It is good on day one, but day two and three take the prize! Seriously, eat your left overs because it is worth ever morsel!

As always, be sure to let me know what you think about this! You can email me or comment below. Can’t wait to hear from you! Enjoy!

Super Wing: The Party Awakens

Okay, fair warning that is a post related to the big sporting event this weekend. However, this is an appetizer that ultimately will please any palate, I promise. If sports isn’t your thing, no problem. Do yourself a favor, give this recipe a chance because we are talking about wings!! Oh yeah! This is one of the most recognizable foods you can find anywhere. Happy hour, hour of the big game or just snack hour, these little beauties will fit the bill. To prove my point, here is the finished photo of what you could be enjoying.

The best thing about these wings is the flavor profile is rather unique and can really deliver that wow factor. They are tangy, sweet, citrusy, and a balanced punch of salt. In addition, making these wings is so, so simple. Marinate and cook. Done. That is it, for real. Ready? Let’s get it!

This is a recipe that I have adapted. So, if you want to see the recipe in all of it’s glory, here is the original.

Super Party Wings
Ingredients:
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice 
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce 
1-2 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
20 wings, cut in half at joints, without wingtips
fresh ground pepper

 Directions:
In a bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
Add the wings into a resealable plastic bag and pour in the mixture, make sure the bag is sealed, and toss the wings until they are all coated. Let the wings marinate for as little as two hours or let them go overnight.
Fire up your favorite grill and cook. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes or until the wings are cooked through. Be sure to turn these wings frequently because the sugars will carmelize and you can burn these wings easily. 
 If you prefer to cook these in your oven, place the wings on a foil covered baking sheet and set your oven to 400 degrees. This will take between 45 minutes to 60 minutes depending on your oven. Again, same rule applies, check on these frequently so your wings don’t get too dark. If you are worried they are getting dark just throw another sheet of foil over the wings. This will keep them from burning, but still allow them to cook through. Trust me, it works really well as I have been there.
After that, well, serve with your favorite condiment and enjoy! May I suggest some homemade barbecue sauce. If you are more classic and would like a homemade ranch dressing, then you can find that too.
I have made a few changes relating to the ingredients on this list. First, I use a little less soy sauce because of the amount of salt in it. Even if you use the low sodium soy sauce the salt can add up quickly. I normally start with 2 tablespoons and then I adjust accordingly. Also, I start with less sugar to keep the wings from getting burnt and I really love the punch of the lemon juice and find I don’t miss the sugar. You can always add, but it doesn’t work so well to take stuff out of the mix. If you want a little spice add a little chili powder or chili flake to give these some heat. You can always taste the marinade before you add the chicken and I highly recommend it! The other option is to make a tester wing if you want to see how they are seasoned as well.

 

 

If you find that you have finished your wings before you are ready to serve and want to keep them warm, put them in the oven at 200 degrees until you are ready to serve. Go ahead and cover them with foil to keep the steam and moisture in the wings as well.
 

You might find that this becomes one of your go to dishes for entertaining anytime of the year. You won’t need to even mention sporting to score with these! Can’t wait for you to give these a try!
As usual, feel free to email me or comment on the post and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy!