Gorgonzola and Olive Stuffed Mushroom Caps

>> Monday, November 30, 2015

Gorgonzola and Olive Stuffed Mushroom Caps


We made these stuffed mushroom caps for a meatless Monday when we wanted to use up some odds and ends from other meals. Eventually this recipe evolved into a rich, decadent appetizer. There are never any leftovers when we make these little guys.

The mushrooms make a fantastic holiday appetizer, especially if you can serve them on a warming tray. If you make them as a one-bite appetizer, choose a package of small bite-sized mushrooms. If you're making them for a meal, you might want to use 1 1/2" diameter mushrooms, like we did here.

We have stuffed mushrooms with all kinds of things, so I assure you that more recipes will be posted on this yummy fungus!

Ingredients

24 mushrooms (you can use ordinary white, baby portabellas, crimini, or any others with a large pocket under the cap)
1/4 cup white onion, minced
1 small clove garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 oz. gorgonzola cheese, finely crumbled
6 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 tbsp chives, minced
2 tbsp Italian flat-leaved parsley, minced
2 cups finely crumbled fresh bread (or 1 1/2 cups dried fine breadcrumbs)
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Stuffed mushrooms recipe

Instructions

Snap off the stems of the mushrooms, or cut them off. Coarsely chop the mushroom stems and onion.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan until melted and bubbly. Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil.

Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, parsley, chives, gorgonzola, and olives. Toss mushroom caps in 1/2 tsp olive oil.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil cookie sheet and place the mushrooms upside down on the pan. Fill the well in each mushroom with a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture. There should be enough filling to stuff each one until the mixture reaches the edges of the cap, with a big mound in the center. Sprinkle the tops with the parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked and the tops are browned.

Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a side dish.

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Replay: Apple-Cranberry-Currant relish

>> Monday, November 23, 2015


cranberry and apple sauce


We're delighted every time the family asks us to bring cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. While the can of cranberry sauce is part of our tradition - and my brother-in-law's father once carved one into the shape of a turkey - this recipe from my friend Becky is the best I've ever tasted. I know it sounds weird to add an onion and curry powder, but trust me, it is amazing once it's cooked!

We're headed to the Toledo area to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, and this aromatic relish of cranberries, apples, and dried currants is going with us.

Check out the best cranberry sauce ever: Apple-Cranberry-Currant relish

Hint: if you're looking for currants and don't find them with the other dried fruits, look for a store with a Polish/Ukrainian/Russian food section. Or a Scandinavian section. Look for an aisle for people who live in cold places, basically.

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Creamy Baked Leeks

>> Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Creamy Baked Leeks


This baked leek casserole reminds me of the creamed onions that were always on my grandma's table at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Joe is sensitive to large amounts of onions, so he enjoys the milder onion-asparagus taste of leeks much better. This is a quick and easy side dish, that comes together in about half an hour.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
Dash hot sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 medium leeks, tough green leaves removed and halved lengthwise

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with oil.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Gradually stir in the milk and then the cheese until melted. Season with garlic powder, mustard, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

trimmed leeks in casserole dish


Arrange the leeks in a single layer on the pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until leeks are tender and sauce is bubbly.

Serves 4.

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Crock Pot Carnitas

>> Friday, November 13, 2015


Crock pot carnitas


Life has changed, friends. My commute is now 40 minutes instead of 30 seconds, and both of us hungry lovers are back in graduate-level night classes. The days are gone when we could spend three hours on a recipe on a Wednesday night, then stage and photograph the leftovers on the next day between client calls. In fact, now that winter is coming, it's rarely bright enough to take a food picture for this blog when we're at home.


carnitas cooked in a crock pot
"I didn't choose the cube life, the cube life chose me."

Like most of the rest of the world, we're now on a quest for fast and cheap meals. We also want to do it with a little style, too.

But even though Joe's glorious recipe for carnitas, shredded pork simmered with full of Mexican spices, turned out to be amazing and easy in the crock pot, it didn't photograph well. So I took it for lunch and tried to set up a photo at my desk. When I sliced into an avocado to top the plate, the pit flew out and ping-ponged around my desk and I had to crawl underneath to get it out.

runaway avocado pit
Rogue avocado pit. So much for "style".

Anyway, a great sale on boneless pork butt and a clean crock pot were the inspiration for this plug-in morning, eat-at-night version of his usual recipe. It's about as simple as you can get. Though the recipe looks long, a lot of the ingredients are optional toppings so that you can choose what you like.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs pork butt roast or pork shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano (we used fresh oregano from our windowsill plant)
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
12-16 tortillas

Toppings:
Sliced avocado
Shredded lettuce or cabbage
Chopped tomato
Chopped cilantro
Chopped onions
Salsa (if you were lucky enough to make jalapeno-peach salsa this summer, then by all means use it here)

Instructions

Place the meat cubes in the crock pot, then add all the rest of the main ingredients. Cover with water. We did this step on Sunday afternoon while we were working on that night's dinner, then put the slow cooker in the fridge for the next day.


pork butt in slow cooker


Cook on high heat for 8-10 hours, depending on how your cooker works. If it tends to run hot, you might want to cook this on low heat all day. When we came home that night, the meat was perfectly shredded, but we like some crispy chunks of meat, so we fried it up a bit on the stove before eating.


roasted pork carnitas


When ready to serve, heat up the tortilla on a hot griddle, then serve with your favorite toppings. 

Serves 4-6.

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Sicilian Lemon Chicken

>> Monday, November 9, 2015




We’ve made this savory lemon chicken dish for a lot of dinner parties, because it’s simple and delicious and serves a crowd well. The original recipe was from Rao’s Restaurant, a famous old Italian place in New York’s East Harlem.

Ingredients

For the Lemon Sauce

2 cups fresh lemon juice (we squeeze from 10-12 fresh lemons, but we'll look the other way if you want to use bottled lemon juice)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

2 1/2 to 3-pound broiling chickens, halved
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp cornstarch

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Preheat broiler for 15 minutes. Place chicken halves on a baking pan and broil, turning once, for about 30 minutes until chicken is browned and fully cooked.

Remove chicken and cut each half into about 6 portions. Shake the lemon sauce and pour it over the chicken. Return to the broiler and cook an additional 3 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook the other sides for 3 more minutes.

Remove from oven and place chicken pieces on a warm serving platter. Pour the lemon juice into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir in parsley and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the cornstarch into the warm water and stir into the lemon sauce. Simmer 1-2 more minutes, until slightly thickened. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and serve the rest in a bowl.

Rao's Lemon Chicken


Make sure you serve this with lots of good crusty bread for sopping up all the lemon sauce!

Serves 6-8.

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Mushroom and Caramelized Onion White Pizza (Schiacciata con Funghi)

>> Monday, November 2, 2015

Mushroom and Caramelized Onion White Pizza

Our daughter's boyfriend, affectionately known as The Boy, maintains that pizza is not pizza without the sauce. Maybe you're in the same camp. Well, call it Italian flat bread if you want, or schiacciata (SKYET-cha-ta) like Italians do. Whatever you call it, this is flat-out delicious.

We first tasted the crust for this pizza when we were in Rome. We had driven down from Tuscany that afternoon, and our travel agent arranged our reservations for dinner in a quiet restaurant where all the locals ate. We didn't order from the menu - the agent, who knew the chef, told him to show off all his specialties to us. He served us seven courses, and this dish was the first, with a glass of Prosecco. 

After dinner, one of the families at a nearby table took our photo. Wouldn't it have been great if my eyes were open?

Angela and Joe Duea in Rome

Ingredients

For the crust

1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour, plus a little more for kneading
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp coarse cornmeal

For the topping

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups white mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded mozzarella or provolone
1 tsp dry oregano, crushed

Directions

Pour the yeast into a small bowl, and slowly add the warm water, stirring constantly. Stir in the sugar. Allow the yeast to work into small bubbles for about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together half the flour and salt. Make a hollow in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir until well mixed. Stir in the cold water. Gradually add the rest of the flour while stirring constantly, until the dough forms a ball.

Sprinkle a flat surface with flour, and put flour on your hands. Knead the dough on the surface until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, about 15 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Turn the dough over and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough and place it on the floured surface. Knead it for several minutes until elastic again.  Roll it out into a circle of about 1/4 inch thickness. Grease a round pan and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Place the dough in the pan and cover it with the kitchen towel. Allow it to rise for 30 more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large frying pan, saute the mushrooms in a tbsp of oil on medium heat until browned and soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Add another tbsp of oil and saute the onions on high heat until they start to brown. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle with the sugar and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes more, until evenly browned and caramelized. Stir together the mushrooms and onion mixture.

Drizzle the dough with the last 2 tbsp of olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the mushroom mixture and then the cheese. Sprinkle the oregano over the cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the edges are browned. 

Serves 4-6.

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