Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seared Portabello Mushroom Sandwich with Wasabi Mayo

Mushrooms have been my world lately....No particular reason, they just keep popping up on the menu (bad pun, but I couldn't resist!)

This is what I call quick, easy, and satisfying for dinner. Sear some portabellos in olive oil, swirl some wasabi in your favorite mayo (or vegan version of mayo) and top with tomato, lettuce and avocado. Yeah, it's fungi deliciousness!

It's hardly a recipe, but you'd pay good money for it if you saw it at a fancy schmancy sandwich shop so I'm claiming credit for the recipe!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lobster Mushroom Crostini with Chevre and Thyme

Mushrooms are such an enigma. So many people don't like the texture while others are gaga for them, searching out the strangest sounding named fungi and even foraging for their own. While texture used to be an issue for me, I have begun to explore the world of these non-plant/non-animal edibles and find it fascinating and intriguing each trip I venture out. Lobster mushrooms are a case in point.

Lobster mushrooms, so named for their gorgeous orange color, don't taste like seafood but they are very dense and, dare I say, meaty. They stand up to a good searing and will absorb liquid but don't release a whole lot of their own. But don't be stingy with the oil or butter your fry them in, they need it to soften up a bit.

For this delicious crostini I used basic mushroom saute ingredients - onion, marsala wine - and only a few tablespoons of cream so that the mushroom flavor wasn't overwhelmed. Serving it on some toasted aromatic bread or baguette topped with some chevre and it was divine!

I did get a bit fussy by caramelizing the onions in a separate pan. It's not necessary but it does gives a wonderful umami depth as a first layer before you add the mushrooms. You can leave it out at your own loss!

By the way, for those of you who read the whole post, that's Turdo the turtle edging in for a bite of the lobster mushroom crostini...usually his cage keeps him at bay, but he seems to have outwitted us again!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fish Tacos with Avocado and Cabbage Topping

Fish tacos can be boring, lackluster, and a waste of calories.

Or they can be like these pictured above: surprising, moan-inducing, mouth-watering morsels that make your taste buds dance ecstatically.

I've had both kinds in restaurants up and down the California coast. But I've got to say, that this version is one I have perfected, at least to my tastes (and my beau's too). We're enthralled and entranced. May they do the same for you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Makhani Paneer with Homemade Paneer

Indian food is one of those cuisines that I adore but was convinced I would never be able to create at home. It intimidated me, left me flummoxed and confused in terms of conceiving of the finished product.

Happily, this is no longer the case. No, a fairy-Indian godmother did not come along and waved her magic wand and poof! make me an expert. But as with all the cuisines that I didn't grow up with, studying the cookbooks and now blogs of people who did has led me to some masterly over a few dishes. My beau is a huge fan of anything Indian and proclaims my dishes equal (or better!) to what we can get at our local Indian restaurant. Maybe it's love talking, maybe it's really that good...

What I do know is it's not as complicated as it looks once you start to understand the process. Pureeing the curry base - tomatoes or steamed greens - with your aromatics like ginger, garlic, chiles, and then cooking them in deeply spiced oil or ghee leads to delicious meals.

One of the non-Indian things I'd highly recommend is substituting mashed potatoes for your rice. I know, total heresy but outrageously good!  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Homemade Paneer - DIY Pantry

Homemade paneer - sounds hard, complicated, right? Wrong! So simple it's crazy and mind-blowing that it's taken me so long to make it at home! Thank god my beau loves Indian food and our local stores don't carry paneer. So I simply had to make it. Dead simple, really. And impressive and delicious... So go buy some whole milk and make it!

Pictured above is some paneer that was marinated in spiced yogurt and then broiled to golden perfection. It was then tossed in some Makhani sauce and gobbled up in ecstatic delight!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lemon Tofu Squares

As longtime readers of this blog will remember, desserts are not something that tempt me. I just prefer vinegar to sweet. Yes, it's weird, but I know I'm not alone in this taste preference!

However this is a tart sweet, but not too tart, and it's got a magic ingredient. Yup, tofu is how this curd is made, no eggs here. I made it for a class I was teaching on how to cook with tofu and during a test run on the teenage daughters I naughtily forgot to mention the tofu until after they'd devoured a few squares. Total satisfaction on everyone's part!

In this version I did not let the saffron threads soak in the lemon juice prior to adding it to the tofu curd, which resulted in such a pale yellow color. If you like your lemon squares to look more lemonly, do allow the saffron to sit in the lemon juice at least 5 minutes before adding to the filling mixture.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ricotta White Pizza with Artichokes, Olives and Basil

Pizza is still my favorite comfort food, although a close second to chips and salsa. Since I could eat it every day and not tire of it, I limit myself to my homemade dough so that my addiction stays in check. Here I did a simple white pizza with lots of Mediterranean flair.

White pizzas are fun and can be made with just mozzarella and toppings or you can branch out and make it with a combination of other white cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese or a mix of the two as I did here since it's what was in the refrigerator that needed to be used up.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Classic Nicoise Salad

Nicoise salad is one of those classic dishes that I usually trust from any decent restaurant. And most of the time I don't think to make it at home since it requires quite a bit of preparation - all of those different ingredients that make it such a fun dish to have someone else prepare! But a few brunches ago the beau and I were wanting a more green meal rather than potatoes and eggs, and since I had potatoes and green beans on hand, Nicoise it was!

This prep is made quicker if you boil the potatoes first and then in the last few minutes of cooking them add the beans and voila, both are done! Be sure to drop the green beans in cold water to stop the cooking process so that they don't go limp on you.

If you can, buy the highest quality canned tuna you can afford, it makes such a difference. I happened to have some leftover aioli in the fridge and we used that to dress the lettuce. This didn't seem too far fetched since a quick internet search of Nicoise dressing turned up three different ones, all of which claiming to be authentic. So use what you like!