Tag Archives: Mushroom

Scrapbook: Anthony’s Nap

20 Aug

Anthony had a late night one weekend.

Anthony: What are you doing?

Me: I’m putting this mushroom next to you and taking your picture.

Anthony: Why?

Me: Because you’re adorable when you’re sleepies! Also you remind me of my garden gnome.

Anthony: …

Me: *click click click*

Anthony: …

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Asparagus Shiitake Risotto

9 Jun

Recently I made some exceptionally delicious asparagus risotto after reading about E making it. It was creamy and unctuous, but the perky hit of the lemon kept it from being too rich. The asparagus was perfect and gave the whole dish the herbal hit that made me want to eat whole bowlfuls of it at a sitting. It wasn’t side dish risotto. It was main dish risotto.

I’ve been looking for more dishes that feature asparagus since its still in season, and while at the store I noticed some reasonably-priced sliced shiitake mushrooms. Now, shiitake mushrooms might be one of my favorite foods ever, but I usually only buy them dried. It’s much more economical that way (until I grow them myself), but since they were on sale I splurged and brought a container home. I’d seen mention of asparagus shiitake risotto before, so I pulled up a recipe and got to work. I made some changes as I always do.

I also decided the one photo of me wearing my onion goggles wasn’t enough, so here’s another. I’m making duckface because that’s the only way these goggles can get any sexier.

Again, I had me some medicinal wine.

And here’s a tip for amateur food photographers: don’t have access to even a cheap, DIY lightbox? (Let’s face it, if I left mine up the kid or the cats would destroy it.) A brightly lit clean white sink works well, especially if you can edit out any scratches or water droplets in post.

I had extremely high hopes for this risotto. Back when Anthony and I lived in a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen the size of a coach airline seat and a counter barely deep enough to rest a blender on, I used to cook constantly. Before I developed crohn’s I spent whole days cooking. One of the best things I ever made was a wild mushroom risotto, and the memory of that meal is indelibly burned into my palette. I’ve been aching to recreate the amazing flavor of that meal, and since this dish used shiitake I felt sure I’d taste the echos of it in the bowl.

I hate to say this recipe disappoints, but it does.  Asparagus and shiitake are two of my favorite things, and they taste wonderfully together, but, I couldn’t help but compare it to the asparagus risotto and the wild mushroom risotto of the past. The asparagus in this dish just wasn’t as good as the asparagus in the other, and same for the mushrooms.

It looked beautiful, and I don’t deny it was absolutely delicious. It just didn’t compete with the memory of the other two dishes. I kept expecting to taste that bright hit of the lemon, or that deep flavor of the dried shiitake.

Anthony and Isobel loved it, however, and although I made a ton it only lasted into the next day. It made me realize, however, that I’m going to have to try a bit harder to recreate the wild mushroom risotto I made a few years ago.

Anthony has been making this salad a lot lately, inspired by one we get at our favorite Greek place, and fortunately, it was even better than I remembered it.

Bacon & Mushroom Chicken Pot Pie

5 Jul

I love chicken pot pie. I have since I was a kid. The only kind I’ve ever really had was the American kind, which is to say a frozen, personal pie from a package with a name like Grandma Marge’s Chicken Pot Pie, Tastes Just Like Homemade. We have a lot of things in America that claim to taste just like homemade, and I suppose it’s true since most things growing up in my home came from the freezer. Frozen food—a taste of home!

Isobel loved this. She loves chicken and bacon and didn’t hesitate to scarf down the mushrooms or carrots, for that matter. (Ignore the giant starwberry stain on the floor. She’s been very into strawberries lately and we have sticky red bits all over the kitchen floor and on select surfaces where her little hands like to go. Also, her face might be permanently stained red. She kind of looks bloodthirsty.)

It took a Brit to introduce me to an “American” chicken pot pie that actually was homemade. Traditionally English pot pies are filled with lamb and vegetables in a savory sauce and coated with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. I’ve never seen a lamb pot pie in an American store before, but I have fond memories of the chicken kind baked in a pastry. The dough itself is always salty and some part of it nearly burns before the whole thing is cooked through. In reality they taste pretty terrible but I always enjoyed it because I love the idea of a pot pie more than the actual pie itself.

When I found this pot pie recipe in Nigella’s Express cookbook, I felt that this is what I should have been eating all those years. While I do agree that for under an hour this pie is express for a pie, I really don’t think it’s the kind of thing I could throw together at the last minute. I need time to get this together, especially since my version of this dish includes more vegetables than the Sainted Domestic Goddess’ version.

I’m not going to write this whole recipe out since it can be found in its entirety here, but American readers will need to preheat the oven to 425 F, use a regular package of mushrooms (8 oz, I think?), cut up about 12 chicken breast tenders, 1 ½ cups stock and 2 tablespoons Marsala. I also cut up a couple of carrots and some celery and added it when I added the chicken. At the last minute before I filled the pastry I added some frozen peas.

Since we had pastry left over and nothing else to use it up with I used a star-shaped cookie cutter to make little star puffs to serve with. I just popped those in the oven for about five minutes while I saw to the sauce and they came out beautifully puffed and golden.

Star taste test:

APPROVED!

I love how the top of the pie puffed up like a glorious hat. The best part is cracking down the center of the pie with your spoon and scooping up the creamy chicken and mushroom filling. I nearly died of happiness just smelling it cook and I burned myself repeatedly trying to eat it before it had properly cooled. Anthony loves this also and was the guinea pig for the star puffs. Fortunately they were delicious and not poisoned.

This is perfect for a weekend meal when you have a bit more time and want to make something extra yummy.

It looks so fancy I couldn’t help but be proud of myself.

I’d love to make this for friends sometime, if any of you would like to come over for dinner.

I promise my toddler won’t eat you.