Sauteed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Mushrooms and eggs are a classic combo, and with good reason–they compliment each other so well.  This vegetarian dinner stars beefy, juicy sautéed mushrooms along with baked eggs and toasty croutons.  If you enjoy mushrooms and eggs separately, you will certainly enjoy them when combined like this.IMG_9255

Toasted flatbreads such as pita or naan add some crunch to this dish and help round it into a full meal.  Add a green vegetable or salad, you’re ready to sit down to a meatless, but “meaty” entree.

Toasted flatbread adds crunch.

Toasted flatbread adds crunch. This is whole-wheat flour tortilla.

A variety of mushrooms may be used here.   Almost all mushrooms available at the supermarket are cultivated, not wild, and are available year round.  The most common ones are the white button, cremini, or earthy portobellos.  A combination of mushrooms adds variety and a more complex flavor, so if shiitake or oyster “shrooms” are available they can be added also.

Round out your meal with a salad.

Round out your meal with a salad.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Yield:  Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-inch whole-wheat flatbread, such as naan, pocketless pita, or whole-wheat tortilla
  • 3 Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

    Sliced mushrooms--any kind will do.

    Sliced mushrooms–any kind will do.

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 small shallot, diced fine (optional)
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • coarse salt
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Toast flatbread over the flame of a gas burner or under broiler.  Tear into 2-inch pieces; set aside.

2.  Heat oil and garlic in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute.

I added a little chopped shallot to mine.

I added a little chopped shallot to mine.

Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms to skillet.

Add mushrooms to skillet.

Season with salt and red-pepper flakes, if using.  Add wine, scraping up browned bits.  Stir in flatbread and thyme;  remove from heat.

Add flatbread and thyme.

Add flatbread and thyme.

3.  Make 4 shallow depressions in mushroom mixture and crack 1 egg into each depression.

I used only 3 eggs.

I used only 3 eggs.

Transfer to oven and cook until egg whites have just set, about 4 minutes.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.

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Note:  Try to keep the egg yolks runny.  When broken, they become an instant sauce that coats the crisp-edged flatbread and mushrooms.

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I served it with a salad consisting of romaine, avocado, and orange sections with  a ginger-sesame dressing.

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SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Living

 

 

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom-Barley Soup

Mushroom-Barley Soup

Here I am in my kitchen on the first really frigid day we’ve had.  The wind is blowing and  there’s a light cover of snow on the ground. We’re in for some bitter cold weather…..the Canadian Clipper has arrived.  (Canadian friends, thanks a bunch!).   I’m going to indulge myself today and wear my warm leggings, a sweater, heavy socks and slippers. And as you can probably guess I’m making…..soup!

This is excellent, excellent soup.  If you like mushrooms and you like barley, this combination in a soup can’t be beat. It’s very easy and economical to make and only takes about an hour.

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This is a hearty soup with rich depth of flavor.  It’s even better the next day.  If it thickens up too much you can always add a little water or more broth.  I used two kinds of mushrooms;  baby bella(s) and porcinis that I cut rather thick, so biting into them is like eating meat.  The flavor is outstanding!!

Be sure to taste before adding salt as broth will have some salt in it, even if it’s lower in sodium.  I thought that the 1/4 cup olive oil was a bit too much so only used about half that amount, and the veggies sautéd just fine.  If you use regular barley instead of pearled, it will cook quicker if you soak it overnight.  Pearled barley cooks in about an hour or a little more.  When making soup it’s always best to plan a little extra time, but keep it 98% covered so the broth doesn’t evaporate away while it simmers.

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MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

Yield:  Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:IMG_8541

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups beef broth  ( Vegetarians use vegetable broth.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (use 2-3 different kinds if possible)
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

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Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a large soup kettle over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic;  cook and stir until onions are tender and transparent.

Saute the veggies in a little olive oil.

Saute the veggies in a little olive oil.

2.  Stir in mushrooms and continue to cook for a few minutes longer.

Add in the mushrooms.

Add in the mushrooms.

Pour in the beef broth and add the barley and thyme.

 

3.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and keep at a low simmer until barley is tender, about 50 – 60 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

Hearty and delicious.  Full of umami flavor!

Hearty and delicious. Full of umami flavor!

 

SOURCE:   Slightly modified from Allrecipes.com

(Lighter) Spinach-Bacon Quiche

Bacon Spinach Quiche

Spinach Bacon Quiche

If brunch is in your plans in the near future, one favorite menu item is quiche.   Quiche, however, can contain lots of hidden calories and fat.  One wedge can contain in the neighborhood of 600 (or more) calories.  Yet we love it, so the dilemma is how to lighten it up, and still get all the creamy goodness that we love.

One way would be to eliminate the crust, but really, who likes a quiche with no flaky crust to support all that eggy, cheesy filling.  This recipe uses a crust made with olive oil instead of the traditional butter or shortening.  The heart healthy olive oil lends a “green”, flavor to the crust.  The filling is bulked up with mushrooms and spinach, adding few calories, but great nutritional value.  A nutty flavored cheese like Gruyère, or Swiss is the perfect compliment to the vegetables, and only 2 ounces go into this quiche.  The egg custard is made using mostly low fat milk (I used skim milk) plus a splash of half-and-half that adds richness but fewer calories and fat than heavy cream.  The quiche is finished off with a sprinkle of crisp bacon on the top, which you taste first, so you get a savory crunch in every bite.  One sixth of this quiche is a 317-calorie slice of heaven.  Vegetarians would find this quiche very satisfying even without the bacon, or could use a substitute.

I tested out this recipe earlier this week, served it for dinner with a side salad, and Mr. D.  loved it,  never suspecting it was a “lighter” version. I thought it was luscious.

This quiche with salad and bread makes a complete meal.

The quiche with salad and bread makes a complete meal.

(LIGHTER) SPINACH-BACON QUICHE

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour, about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons

    Ingredients ready to start cooking.

    Ingredients ready to start cooking.

  • 3/4 kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • cooking spray
  • 3 slices bacon, lean center cut, if possible (vegetarians can omit bacon)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup 1 % low-fat milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1/3 cup half and half, or light cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (swiss cheese, or any good melting cheese may be used instead)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  ** Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup.  Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine.  Combine oil with 3 tablespoons water.  With processor running, slowly add oil mixture through food chute; process until dough comes together.  Turn dough out onto slightly floured surface.  Knead 1 minute.  Press dough into a 5-inch disk; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 20 minutes.

3.  Roll dough into a 12-inch circle.  Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Line dough with foil;  arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil.  Bake at 425*F. for 12 minutes until edges are golden.  Remove weights and foil; bake an additional 2 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.

4.  Reduce oven temperature to 350*F.

5.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings;  crumble and set aside.  Return pan to medium-high heat.  Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes.

Bacon crisped, shallots being sautéed

Bacon crisped, shallots being sautéed

Add mushrooms and thyme; cook until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until it wilts.  Remove from heat.  Drain any excess liquid.

Mushrooms and spinach added to skillet.

Mushrooms and spinach added to skillet.

6.  Place milk, half-and-half, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender; process until smooth.

Prepare egg custard in a blender.

Prepare egg custard in a blender.

7.  Arrange half of cheese over bottom of crust; top with spinach mixture and remaining half of cheese.

Cheese goes into the crust first.

Cheese goes into the crust first.

Next goes the spinach mustard mixture.

Next goes the spinach mustard mixture.

Cover with remaining cheese.

Cover with remaining cheese.

Carefully pour milk mixture over cheese.  Sprinkle with bacon.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon over all, and pour in milk mixture.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon over all, and pour in milk mixture.

Bake at 350*F for 45 minutes or until filling is set and top begins to brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Bacon Spinach Quiche

Bacon Spinach Quiche

**As a time saving step, and if calories in the crust are not a concern, you could use a frozen pie crust.  Bake as directed in step #3, according to package directions.

Serve with salad.

Serve with salad.

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SOURCE:     Cooking Light Magazine

 

Brown Rice Pilaf

Brown Rice Pilaf

Brown Rice Pilaf

In my attempts to add more fibre and whole grains to our diet, I’ve turned to brown rice.  Brown rice is unpolished rice, with only the husk removed.  Up until fairly recent I did not cook brown rice because it seemed to take a long while to cook.   Now, however, there are several ways to get this wholesome grain into your diet without the time involved in cooking it.  It is available in a package as pre-cooked and only involves heating it up in the microwave (such as Uncle Ben’s).  This same company also makes a boil-in-the-bag brown rice that only takes 10 minutes to cook.  With this kind of convenience, there is no reason to avoid brown rice any longer.

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This recipe for rice pilaf using brown rice included two additional ingredients that I particularly love:  mushrooms and leeks.  Nuts may also be added such as almonds or pecans, providing a little additional crunch.  Rice pilaf is a great go-with served with just about any kind of meat or fish, or as a side dish in a meatless meal.  Using the rice as a base you can add whatever additional ingredients suit your fancy and turn out a dish that is nutritious and enjoyable all rolled into one.

BROWN RICE PILAF WITH ALMONDS

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8.8 oz.) package pre-cooked whole-grain brown rice, or a bag of boil-in-the-bag brown rice
  • 2 tsp. olive oilIMG_0142
  • 1 medium size leek, sliced white and light green parts
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  Add the thinly sliced leek and the mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

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Add 1/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Stir in the almonds, salt and pepper.

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Stir in the cooked rice, and stir to blend.

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Transfer to serving dish.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Not Your Mother’s Green Bean Casserole

Green Beans and Mushrooms with Fried Onions

Green Beans and Mushrooms with Fried Onions

One side dish that my family loves is Green Bean Casserole.  Over the holidays I made it ” from scratch”, and lightened it up by making a thinner mushroom sauce.   I have been meaning to tell you about it, but there has been so much to cover I    never got around to it.  So while it’s fresh in my mind, let me share with you how I made it.  It definitely does NOT contain canned or frozen green beans, or canned condensed cream of mushroom soup.  What it does contain is fresh green beans, fresh mushrooms, cream sauce made with real cream and crisp fried onions. The fresh mushrooms give this dish a deep meaty flavor that just doesn’t compare with the canned soup version.   We all thought it was wonderful, and maybe you will, too.

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NOT THE CLASSIC (YOUR MOTHER’S) GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Yield:   Serves 6, or more if  a) you have lots of sides on the table or b) use the higher amount (1.5 – 2 pounds) of green beans.

Fried Onions:IMG_5761

  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. panko or plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • canola, safflower, or other high-heat oil, for frying

Mushroom Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 12 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped

    What you need for the mushroom sauce.

    What you need for the mushroom sauce.

  • few gratings fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1  1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Assembly:

1.  1 to 2  pounds green beans, washed well, tips and tails removed.  You may leave them whole or cut to desired length.

2.  Make crispy onions:   Toss onions with flour, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.  Heat 1/2-inch or so of oil in a 12-inch skillet until a drop of water flicked into it will hiss and sputter.  Add onions, just a handful at a time in something close to a single layer, and fry until a light golden brown (they’ll get more color in the oven).

Fry onions in a single layer.  Don't crowd the pan.

Fry onions in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan.

Remove with a large slotted spoon, letting oil drip off, back into the skillet.  Spread onions out on paper towels to drain.  Repeat with remaining onions.  Set aside until needed;  this makes a lot.

Spread on paper towels to drain.

Spread on paper towels to drain.

More onions.....

More onions…..

3.  Prepare the beans:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil beans for 5 minutes, till crisp tender.  Drain beans, and rinse until cold water to stop the cooking action.  Drain again, and set aside.

Cooking the green beans.

Cooking the green beans.

Preheat the oven to 400*F   Spray or lightly grease a large baking dish.

4.  Make the mushroom sauce:  Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a 12-inch skillet.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté them until they start releasing their liquid,  about 3 – 5 minutes, depending on how you cut them.  Add the garlic and sauté one minute more.  Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms.  Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time.

Mushrooms simmering in the broth.

Mushrooms simmering in the broth.

Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

With cream added.

With cream added.

5.  Assemble and bake:  Add cooked green beans to sauce and stir until they are coated.  Transfer to prepared baking dish.

Green beans coated with sauce.

Green beans coated with sauce.

Sprinkle crispy onions over the top.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker.

Sprinkle fried onions over the top and bake till bubbly and browned.

Sprinkle fried onions over the top and bake till bubbly and browned.

A few notes:

1.  This makes a LOT of crispy onions.  I didn’t mind, but you could probably make half the amount and stretch it over the whole casserole.  If you make the full amount, you could save some of the excess for snacking or to put on those leftover turkey sandwiches.

2.  The sauce is somewhat thin even though it does coat the beans.   If you want it thicker so it coats and clings well to the beans, you can make it thicker by using 1 extra tablespoon butter and 1 extra tablespoon flour in the sauce–i.e. more roux makes thicker sauce.  Also be sure to drain the beans well, and even perhaps pat them dry with paper towels, so they don’t liquify the sauce.

3.  There is enough sauce in the recipe to adequately coat up to 2-pounds of beans, so if you like a more vegetable-heavy dish use the larger quantity of beans.

SOURCE:    Adapted from Alton Brown,  Food Network

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff in its rich gravy over wide egg noodles.

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff in its rich gravy over wide egg noodles.

If I were to ask my husband what he would to like to have for dinner he will say “Beef Stroganoff”,  guaranteed.  He has had a strange fascination for this dish for as long as I have known him.  I know it stems from his boyhood when his Mom made Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff and that is his idea of what it should be and what he wants me to make.  But I don’t, because for the most part I don’t use packaged mixes, and I know that is not what Beef Stroganoff really is.

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I have wanted to learn to make the real thing since soon after we were married when we spent a weekend in Boston and had dinner at a well-known Hungarian restaurant.  On the menu was Beef Stroganoff, and of course my husband ordered it.  It was served as slices of tender beef in a sour cream gravy over egg noodles.  He loved it.  Ever since, I have felt intimidated and afraid that what I might make would never live up to that perfection so I have never made it.  The biggest question for me has been what cut of beef to use to get that wonderful tenderness.

A recent issue of Cooking Light gave me some  answers to  that question and also this recipe for Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff.    The recipe seemed pretty simple to make with readily available ingredients.  The beef suggested in the recipe was for beef tenderloin, cut into small pieces, but another suggestion was to use skirt or “apron” steak, which is another very tender cut of beef that does not require long cooking.  It was available at the market, so that is what I used for this recipe.

This is skirt ( or apron) steak.

This is skirt ( or apron) steak.

I was  pleased beyond my expectations at the way this meal turned out.  The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the sauce nicely seasoned and balanced. One of the keys to achieving depth of flavor is to have a really hot skillet to brown the meat on all sides, and the other is the addition of mushrooms that contribute to the umami flavor of this dish.   My husband thought it was wonderful.  So the next time he says “make Beef Stroganoff”, I know that I can and this is what I will make.

BEEF AND MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

Yield:    4 servings

Ingredients:

Not too many ingredients.

Not too many ingredients.

  • 5 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces. ( you may substitute any other suitably tender cut of beef )
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek  ( I used onion)

    Fresh thyme really adds a depth of flavor here.

    Fresh thyme really adds a depth of flavor here.

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 (6-oz) pkg. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. hot paprika
  • 1 cup unsalted beef stock
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1.  Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

2.  Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; swirl to coat.  Add beef; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook 4 minutes or until browned, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove beef from pan.

Cut steak into small pieces and brown well in a hot skillet.

Cut steak into small pieces and brown well in a hot skillet.

3.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Add leek, thyme, garlic, and mushrooms;  sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Brown up mushrooms and onions. (or leeks)

Brown up mushrooms and onions. (or leeks)

Sprinkle mushroom mixture with flour and paprika; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add stock, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently.

Traditionally paprika is used and flour to thicken the sauce.

Paprika is used to achieve the traditional flavor and flour to thicken the sauce.

Add paprika and flour to mushrooms and onions.

Add paprika and flour to mushrooms and onions.

Add beef broth and then sour cream to create the sauce.

Add beef broth and then sour cream to create the sauce.

4.  Stir in beef, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and sour cream.  Serve over noodles; sprinkle with parsley.

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff in its rich gravy over wide egg noodles.

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff in its rich gravy over wide egg noodles.

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SOURCE:  Cooking Light

Spice-Rubbed Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms

Spice-rubbed steak with sauteed mushrooms.

Spice-rubbed steak with sauteed mushrooms.

What a good spice rub will do for an ordinary cut of meat is amazing.  In this case I use a flank steak, mainly because there is no fat or waste to it, and a 1-pound steak can feed four people, or two with a good amount left over for a salad or lunch.  The spice rub uses readily available seasonings, ones you probably have in your pantry.  That plus the mushrooms elevates this dish to fabulous.

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When I make the spice rub, I like to mix up a double or triple (or quadruple) batch to keep on hand because it is good with chicken and firm fish, too. It calls for ancho chile powder, made from poblano peppers, that have a mild, sweet spicy flavor.  This chile powder can be found in the spice section of most large supermarkets.  Other mildly spicy chile powder can be used in its place if you prefer.   Store the mix in a jar or zip-lock baggie in your spice cabinet for an instant dinner solution.

Any type of mushrooms can be used in this recipe, but a combination with some wild mushrooms in the mix really improves the flavor. Also, if cooking with wine is not an option for you, then substitute beef broth for the Madeira in the recipe.

SPICE-RUBBED STEAK WITH SAUTEED MUSHROOMS

SERVINGS:   about 4

INGREDIENTS

For the rub:

Sliced mushrooms. shallots, and beef broth.

Sliced mushrooms. shallots, garlic and beef broth.

  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix together all the above in a small bowl.

Remaining ingredients

  • 1 pound flank steak, trimmed
  • 5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/3 cup Madeira or dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1.  Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.   Rub the spice mixture evenly over both sides of steak and place on the prepared pan;  let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Apply spice rub to both sides of steak.

Apply spice rub to both sides of steak.

2.  Meanwhile, position oven rack 3 – 4 inches below broiler, preheat broiler to high.     Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 1 minute.  Stir in mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown,  8 – 10 minutes.  Pour in Madeira ( or sherry) and cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.  Add broth and cook until almost absorbed 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in parsley and 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper;  cover and keep warm.

3.  Broil the steak 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium.***  Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.  Thinly slice the steak against the grain and serve with the mushrooms.

Slice steak and serve with mushrooms.

Slice steak and serve with mushrooms.

***An alternate cooking method is on an outdoor grill.  Cook to your desired level of doneness.  If you have a side burner, you can cook the mushrooms on the grill also.   YUM!   We love it this way.

A green vegetable rounds out this meal nicely.

A green vegetable rounds out this meal nicely.

SOURCE:   Eating Well Magazine,  February, 2013

Mushroom, Leek, and Cheese Frittata

Mushroom, eggs and fontina cheese frittata.

Mushroom, leeks, and fontina cheese go into this frittata

Throughout this Lenten season I’ve been trying to cut back on the amount of meat we consume, incorporating more fish and other seafood, or going completely meatless.  Today’s recipe features a one-pan entree where eggs and cheese provide the main protein, and meaty mushrooms and leeks provide the vegetables.

A frittata is is an egg based dish, somewhat like a quiche without a crust, a little like an omelet only baked.  Hard to describe, but if you like eggs in any form you can’t miss with this dish.   Frittatas are eggs-cellent served hot or at room temperature, which means you can do it ahead.  It would be a great addition to brunch, make a light lunch, or a meatless main meal served with another vegetable and a salad as I did.

In the version you see pictured here I made only half the recipe for two of us, and we had about half of it left for another time.  Also the recipe calls for Baby Bella mushrooms, but I used Shitaki mushrooms.  I would not do that again as they do not have enough natural moisture for this kind of recipe.  Shitakis need to be cooked in a liquid in order to become tender, so I found that in this recipe they were a little tough.  Fontina is the suggested cheese to use here because it has a mild flavor and excellent melting properties.  A good substitute would be muenster or edam cheeses.

MUSHROOM, LEEK, AND CHEESE FRITTATAIMG_3465

SERVINGS      About 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, whites and light green parts only, chopped
  • 8 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.    Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a 10 – inch heavy weight oven proof skillet such as cast iron.

2.  Add leeks to the hot oil and cook over medium heat, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8 – 10 minutes.

Sautee the  leeks and mushrooms.

Sautee the leeks and mushrooms.

3.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs, creme fraiche or sour cream, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

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4.  Increase heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet.  Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute the mixture.  Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.

Cook until the edges just begin to set.

Cook until the edges just begin to set.

5.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven.  Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set,  25 – 30 minutes.

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SOURCE:   BONAPPETIT.COM

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

One time when we were at Outback Steakhouse, I ordered Alice Springs Chicken.  The name of the dish, first of all, made me curious, but the description said it was boneless chicken breast in a honey-mustard marinade with bacon, mushrooms and melted cheese on it.  Well, with all those good things on one piece of chicken how could it not be good?  So, I ordered it;  and I was not disappointed in the least.  It was moist, a complex blend of flavors, crispy around the edges, and gooey with melted cheese.

I’ve thought about that chicken often and wished I could have it again.  And although I kinda remembered all the ingredients and how it tasted I didn’t know the proportions, or exactly how it was prepared.  Then just last week I saw a recipe for it on Zip List.  It claimed to taste just like the version served at Outback Steakhouse.  You know I had to try it!

People, you will love it.  It looks a little messy, but believe me, it is fantastic.  It tastes just like the one I remember having at OBSH.

Bacon, Mushrooms, Melted Cheese.  What's not to love?

Bacon, Mushrooms, Melted Cheese. What’s not to love?

ALICE SPRINGS CHICKEN

SERVES   4

INGREDIENTS

Honey Mustard Marinade:

A simple marinade locks in the flavor.

A simple marinade locks in the flavor.

  • 1 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Chicken:

  • 4  skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked (I used precooked bacon)
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Combine the mustard, honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Whisk for about 30 seconds.  Pour half of the mixture into a zip-top bag.  Add the chicken breasts and marinate them in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  My pieces of chicken were very thick, so I cut them in half lengthwise.

2.  Chill and save the remainder of the marinade for later.

3.  When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375*F.   Using an ovenproof frying pan large enough to hold all the chicken, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat.  If you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, you will transfer the chicken to a baking dish.

4.  Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from the heat, but keep in the pan.  (Here’s where you may need to transfer to a baking dish.)

Browned chicken in a baking dish.

Browned chicken in a baking dish.

5.  In another smaller frying pan, melt the butter and saute the mushrooms just till they start to give up some of their liquid.  Remove from the heat.

Sauteing the mushrooms.

Sauteing the mushrooms.

6.  Brush the seared chicken breasts with a little of the reserved honey-mustard marinade.  (Not the portion the chicken soaked in.) Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Lay two strips of bacon crisscross on top of each piece of chicken.  Spoon the mushrooms onto the bacon, being sure to distribute them evenly over all the chicken.

Bacon and mushrooms on top of the chicken.

Bacon and mushrooms on top of the chicken.

Sprinkle the Monterey Jack cheese evenly onto each chicken breast followed by the cheddar cheese.

7.  Bake for 7 – 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Sprinkle each piece with the chopped parsley before serving.  Put extra honey mustard marinade into a small bowl to serve on the side.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Served with herbed rice pilaf and a salad, this was a great dinner.

Served with herbed rice pilaf and a salad, this was a great dinner.

An idea for leftover chicken .  The next day, I made a sandwich from one of the pieces of chicken:  on a “sub” roll, spread both cut sides of the roll with Honey Mustard Mayonnaise,  lay a chicken piece on the bottom half of the roll, top with sliced tomatoes and lettuce.  This made a “man-sized” sandwich that my husband raved about..

SOURCE:   Family Favorite Recipes

A Blizzard and a Bowl of Soup

Charlotte, not-so-sweet Charlotte!  She’s been here and gone, but not without leaving her mark. I saw a cartoon that was a map of the state of Ct. with these words written across it:  “CLOSED,  come back later.”  Many roads are still not plowed, businesses that are open have only a few people who can get in, the rest are still snowbound.  Thousands of people have no power.  Thankfully we are not one of them.

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We are homebound, snowbound, and almost but not quite bored.  There are tons of things I could do, but somehow nothing I can think of appeals to me. Mr. D. is home because his office is closed, and of course we need to eat.  So in spite of having a “bucket of books” to read and many issues of magazines to catch up on, knitting and other projects to work on, the one thing I can really get in to is to cook something.

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This is a picture of our deck.  The snow is at least 3 feet deep.  We cannot open the back door out onto the deck.

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This is our lower patio.  What looks like a giant marshmallow is a table with that much snow on it.

Storms days usually make me think of soup and today is no exception.  Today’s soup is a beef and barley combination.

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

Hearty Beef Barley Soup

It is only in recent years that I have begun to use barley.  I don’t recall ever having it in my growing up years, and so when I began to cook for my family it is not one of the ingredients I used.  Then one day a soup recipe caught my eye but it contained barley.  I purchased some knowing it is a good source of fiber and low on the glycemic scale, so I gave it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised by its nutty flavor and how much it thickened the soup.  Now I would not make a beef soup without it, and sometimes I include mushrooms with it.  Not today, though, since I didn’t have any on hand, and I couldn’t go out to get some  if I wanted to.

As I assembled all the ingredients and began to prep the vegetables, and brown the meat, it occurred to me that I was following the very same steps you take when you make a braise.  Braising is a technique that is used on tougher cuts of meat to produce great flavor and tenderness.  Its a cook’s secret weapon and one that I use frequently to prepare the basic ingredients for soup, or to slow cook a piece of meat that will become fork tender and falling off the bone.  It is very easy to do if you remember four simple steps that I describe in the recipe below.

If you’re looking for a way to dial up your cooking skills, braising is a secret you need to be in on.  In my opinion there is no other technique that requires so little of you and yet gives so much back.  Just don’t tell everyone, OK?

BEEF and BARLEY SOUP

SERVINGS:    About 8

Assemble and prep the meat and vegetables in advance.

Assemble and prep the meat and vegetables in advance.

  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 – 3 carrots
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms, optional

1. Sear the meat: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Season the meat  with salt and pepper and brown the beef, in batches if necessary. Don’t crowd the pan, take the time to get good browning all over. Transfer to a large soup kettle.

Sear the meat in small batches.  That's where the good flavor comes from.


Sear the meat in small batches. That’s where the good flavor comes from.

2. Saute the mirepoix.  This is a French term meaning the classic onion, carrots, and celery combo.   Add chopped onions and celery to drippings left in the skillet, and brown them, aiming for a caramel-y brown color.

Add onion and celery and get everything browned.

Add onion and celery and get everything browned.

Add in the minced garlic, and the flour.  Cook for 1 minute, then transfer to the soup kettle. In this recipe the carrots are added later as they are part of the main ingredients of the soup.

3. Deglaze the pan. Pour a small amount of the beef broth into the skillet to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned bits. These bits are flavor bombs. When they dissolve in the cooking liquid, they enrich the whole dish.

Deglaze the pan with some of the beef broth.

Deglaze the pan with some of the beef broth.

Add this to the soup kettle with the remaining beef broth, the 5 cups of water, salt, thyme and pepper.

4. Braise it. Bring to a boil.  Meanwhile peel and slice the carrots.  Add them to the soup kettle with the barley.

Add carrots and barley.

Add carrots and barley.

When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with tipped cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

5.  In the last half hour of cooking, I like to add some fresh mushrooms.  They seem to add to the deep beefy flavor of this hearty soup.

A warming bowl of soup.  So Good!

A warming bowl of soup. So Good!

SOURCE:  Cook’s Illustrated