Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mushroom Burgers

I was looking for something new to do with a whole bunch of mushrooms. A few months back we had received mushroom burgers from Irv and Shelly and I thought I would give it a go. I found this recipe on Epicurious and used it for inspiration.

Mushroom Burgers
about a pound of mushrooms
1 leek or onion, sliced
2 - 3 cloves garlic, diced
about 1/2 cup brown rice
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parm
1 egg
salt and pepper

Start by preparing the rice. I cooked it in a large pot with lots of salted water, like you would for pasta, until done about 40 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a large pan, heat oil and add the leeks and garlic, cook on medium about 5 minutes until they soften. Season with salt and pepper.

While the leeks are cooking, chop the mushrooms or place in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped but not mushy.

Add the mushrooms to the leeks and cook a few minutes until the mushrooms are cooked.

Place the mushroom mixer in a large bowl and add the cooled rice.

Add the about 1/4 cup bread crumbs and the cheese and mix. If the mixture is still wet add more bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the egg, siring until smooth.

Form the mixer into balls about 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Roll the balls in more bread crumbs and pan fry them on both sides until warm and crispy.

I served them as a sandwich with corn and black bean salad, salsa verde and grated cheddar.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cooking with Auden: Animal Crackers

Its been some time since Auden and I have made anything. He was asking to make something and I found this easy cracker recipe.

Cheesy Animal Crackers
3oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg (from 1 large)

Start by measuring out all the ingredients.

Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt, then blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients with the cheese.

Using a fork or your fingers cut the butter in to the flour.

Form a well in center of flour mixture and add milk and egg, then stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 2 minutes. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out as many crackers as possible from dough with cutters and transfer to 2 large baking sheets, arranging crackers about 1/4 inch apart. Its best not to re-roll the scraps as the crackers can be come tough. I just cut them up and cooked them as well.

Bake crackers, switching position of sheets and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until undersides are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool crackers completely on sheets on a rack, about 15 minutes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

So we can't eat pizza every dinner...

Being on quest to make great pizza means that one makes a lot of pizza, and then one eats a lot of pizza. Though there is nothing wrong with round, every once in a while a change keeps you going. Having had pizza the night before and knowing that we had two more coming , I decided to make a calzone with the dough. I know its the same but the change in form is a nice break.

Simply stretch out the dough as you normally would for a pie, but just put the filling on half, then fold over the top and pinch shut. I brushed the top with a little oil to crisp it.

This I made filled with broccoli and cheddar, with a little caramelized onion to add a touch of sweetness. This turned out great and the kids loved it.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Quicker Pies??

Kenji* over at Slice recently posted on a simple way to make a Neapolitan-esque pie without a wood oven. Basically you make the pizza in a preheated pan, toss it under the broiler then finish it on the stove. Its a great technique that does require any special equipment and can be done almost at the last minute (rather than waiting the hour it normally takes to warm the oven).

I gave it a go last night with mixed success. I think in the end the pan wasn't close enough to the burner so I didn't get enough char, and the pan may not have been hot enough to begin with so that it took too long to finish (especially dealing with two hunger kids).

I think I will try again, but move the pan closer, seen below, by removing the stone and moving the rack up or by placing some of the bricks on the stone to raise the height of the pan.

Here was the pie from last night. Good, with potential, but a little under done. Have no fear, there will be more to come.

*Kenji is awesome! He must have done much better in Chemistry than I, because he has a great ability to see the problem, work through the trial (usually means making about 100 pizzas) and coming to a great solution, all while taking great notes and pictures. All things I sucked at in high school chemistry. He was even gracious to share a judging form that I have used. Keep it up!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working toward that perfect pie...

Making the perfect pizza is becoming quite an obsession of mine. In my quest to perfect my pies, I have been on the look out for better and better ingredients. For me, I would rather get great local heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market (I am a terrible gardener) then used can ones from Italy. (Although in the middle of winter, those are tasty.)

This last week I picked up some fresh ovoline from Elko's Produce (featured here), along with some yellow tomatoes. I know that a margherita is supposed to be red, green and white, the these yellows were hard to pass on.

I have also been experimenting with my dough. I have really enjoyed this recipe from Slice, but allowing it to rest in the refrigerator at least over night. This time I experimented with a bit more complicated method. I made a round of dough and let it rest over night. Then the next day started with just the flour and water (upping it to %65) and let that rest an hour (autolyze) before adding the yeast and salt then a bit of the day old dough. Then let this rest over another night. I liked the end result. The dough had a great texture to work with and stretched out nicely. I didn't do a fair head to head with dough that did not rest, but the result was promising.

For my yellow tomato sauce, all I did was peel the tomato (drop in boiling water for about a minute, then peel the skin) then pass through a food mill. Add oregano and a touch of sea salt.

Here is my yellow margherita, with the yellow tomatoes and Elko ovoline and basil, which was also from the market.

I also made a potato and rosemary pie. I let the potatoes soak in salted water for about an hour (as recommended by Jim Lahey), this helps to draw out the moisture and make the potatoes cook quicker. I think this trick worked great, then thin slices cooked well without getting dried out or being undercooked.

The pie is topped with the potatoes, rosemary and a touch of Parmesan.

And last as always is a white with hots.

For those keeping track, I recently bought a Weber Grill with the intention of using it to make pies... I am finally going to try to modify it so that it acts more like a wood burning oven than a grill. I will keep you posted. (Thanks Andy)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

We once again picked up some awesome mushrooms from River Valley at the farmers market this weekend.

This is a simple risotto, that really lets the mushrooms stand out.

Wild Mushroom Risotto
about 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned
2 onions, diced
2 - 3 stocks celery
1 - 2 oz dried mushrooms
bouquet garni
about 1 cup arborio rice
about 1/2 cup dry white wine
cheese to taste (I used some fresh mozzarella and tomini with truffle)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Start by making a mushroom stock. In a large pot add the dried mushrooms, one onion, celery, herbs and any mushroom pieces (i used the stems from criminis), then fill with about 2 quarts of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook for about an hour and keep warm as you make the risotto.

While the stock is boiling, chop the mushrooms and dice the second onion.

In a large pot add a little butter and oil and the onions. Cook over medium until they begin to soften. Then add the mushrooms and cook another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the rice and cook a minute.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape any bits off the bottom.

Add the strained stock about a half cup at a time into the rice, and stir regularly to keep from sticking. Add the liquid gets absorbed add more until the rice is cooked and has a creamy texture. Then add the cheese and stir to combine.

You can garnish with a touch more cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

I have been on somewhat of a sandwich kick these last few weeks. They are relatively easy, have endless variety and are always tasty.

This grilled eggplant sandwich also has grilled onion and roasted tomatoes. For the bread, I had an extra pizza dough that I used to make a round focaccia, that I split to use a bread.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
3 or 4 thick slices of eggplant
1 onion, thickly sliced
1 large tomato, thickly sliced
Parmigiana to taste
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
1 pizza dough or focaccia dough
Italian Herbs

Start by salting the eggplant slices. Generously sprinkle both sides with salt and let rest at least an hour.

Meanwhile, oil a 9 in round pan and place the dough in and brush with oil. Let rise at least on hour.

Roast the tomatoes in a 450 deg oven for about 30 minutes, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper before they go in. Cook the bread at the same time as well. Sprinkle the top with the Italian herbs and salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Brush both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper and a touch of Italian herbs. Do the same with the onion. Then grill on both sides. If the eggplant needs more time to cook, place on a baking tray in the oven for a few extra minutes.

After the bread has cooled, slice in half and layer the veggies on the bottom half. Sprinkle with cheese.

Replace the top, press a little to squeeze the sandwich together and slice into quarters.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Spicy Tomato Shorba

I came across this recipe from Sunset Magazine, my AWESOME aunt (that's "au-nt" not "ant") gave me.

Its a super easy soup with tons of flavor. I tweeked the recipe a bit, but the basic idea was there.

Spicy Indian Tomato Shorba
2 large cans tomatoes
olive oil
1+ tsp garam masala
1+ tsp cumin
1/2 red onion chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic
hot sauce to taste
small piece ginger
about 1/2 cup + coconut milk
lemon juice or vinegar
salt and pepper
1 small tomato, reserved for garnish.

Warm a little oil in a pan then add the dry spices, cook a minute then add the onion. Cook for another minute to coat and just soften the onion.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Add the tomatoes in batches and blend until smooth.

After blending pour into a bowl set over an ice bath to chill.

To finish, top with a couple slices of tomato and a drizzle of coconut milk.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Broccoli Rabe with White Beans

Broccoli rabe or rapini is a cousin to broccoli with a slightly bitter, nutty flavor not unlike many wild greens.

This is a quick salad with beans, that I finished with balsamic reduction. The sweetness cuts the bitterness of the greens nicely.

Rapini with White Beans
small bunch rapini
1 to 1 1/2 cups white beans
2 - 3 cloves garlic, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
Balsamic reduction

Start by blanching the rapini in salted boiling water for a minute to soften.

Submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Saute the garlic in oil, season with salt and pepper.

Add the rapini, and saute for a few minutes.

Add the beans and season again with salt and pepper.

To finish, top with a generous amount of Parm and a drizzle of Balsamic reduction.