Tag Archives: mushrooms

Food Matters Project #4: Rigatoni with Vegetables, Figs and Blue Cheese

I’ve had Mark Bittman’s book now for over a year, and I’m very upset I had not picked it up more often to find new and fun dishes.  As each week passes, I love this project since it’s a great way to go though a book.  And I love seeing what people pick out as their dish.

We’re in week four of the Food Matters Project.  This week’s host was Marcia and she chose a delicious dish- Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese.

Remember when I made the fig flatbread this past summer?  That was the day I fell in love with figs!  Once they’re in season, I might have to remake this dish- it was absolutely delicious.

Unfortunately, figs are not in season in DC at this time of the year.  So I used dried figs which I found at Whole Foods.  Although, you can use cranberries, dried cherries or any other dried fruit in this recipe.  It’ll all work well.

When making this dish, we used more brussels sprouts, and added mushrooms and onions.  We also didn’t bake the dish, but that is all preference.  This is definitely one you can impress all of your friends with, or enjoy it as an easy weeknight meal.

Rigatoni with Vegetables, Figs and Blue Cheese
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg 221)

1 tsp + 1 tbsp salt
1 lb rigatoni
1 lb brussels sprouts, quartered
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
10 dried figs, sliced
6 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tsp salt.  Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Meanwhile, mix the brussels sprouts, garlic with the olive oil and 1 tbsp salt.  Bake this mix for 20 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are tender in the middle.

Melt butter in a skillet.  Then add the mushrooms and onions.  Sauté the vegetables until the mushrooms and onions are soft.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the pot.  Add in the figs and blue cheese, stir together so the cheese starts to melt.  Then add in the mushroom and onion mix.  Stir well before serving.

Mushroom Thai Spicy Soup

So I had actually been waiting to make this recipe before I tell everyone something really exciting!  There is a theme behind this, which is why it took some time.

Remember when we told you that we got engaged, and are planning our wedding?  Well, we finally booked our tickets for our honeymoon!  And if you look up at the blog post title:

Thai food…so if you guessed Thailand, you got it right!

Although the trip is still months away, we are very excited and cannot wait for the wonderful adventure, the beaches, the diving and the food!

So in honor of our trip, I decided on a mushroom thai soup, with a lot of spice in it.  Although, the heat can be taken out, and the soup will be just as delicious.  The original recipe called for chicken, but I wanted to make it vegetarian and opted for tofu instead.  But if you prefer beef or no protein at all- go for it!

Mushroom Thai Spicy Soup
Inspired by: Cooking Light (Jan/Feb 2012 issue)
Servings: 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 serrano peppers, chopped (optional)
2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped finely
3 cups vegetable broth
15 oz light coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)
1 package of tofu, pressed, chopped into small cubes
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp green onion, chopped

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Once the oil is warm, add the onion, mushrooms, red bell peppers, ginger, garlic, serrano peppers and lemongrass.  Allow the vegetables to cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.  Then add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, fish sauce and sriracha.  Mix all of the ingredients together, until the sriracha has mixed into the liquid.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Then simmer for about 10 minutes.

Finally, add the tofu.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and green onions.

European Food Adventures- Vienna

The second portion of our trip included Vienna (we first visited Poland).  This was the first time either of us had been there, and we really enjoyed it!

Vienna, Austria

One of the well known Viennese specialties is Sacher Torte.  It is a chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher (an Austrian-Jewish confectioner) in 1832.

Fun Fact #2: Prince Metternich wanted a special dessert from his personal chef, but the chef was sick.  Therefore, his 16-year old apprentice, Franz Sacher, took on the task.  The torte was created for a special occasion, and all of the guests enjoyed it.  Sacher ended up opening his own specialty delicatessen and winery after finishing his training.  Then his son, Eduard, continued the family legacy and perfected his father’s recipe.  The torte was first served at the Demel, and then at the Hotel Sacher, which he established in 1876.  The cake continues to be one of Vienna’s famous culinary specialties.

We might have had our dessert before dinner that day!  =)

Sam and I both really love mushrooms.  I know there are many of you out there that do not like them, but I find them delicious!  Fortunately for us, we had mushroom soup a number of times while in Europe, one of them being in Vienna.

We stumbled upon Restaurant Ferdinandt.  A section of their menu was seasonal, where I found this mushroom soup:

This tasty soup was made out of chanterelles.  Being a mushroom lover, I can only repeat- every bite was amazing!  Here, in the US, chanterelles are expensive and depending on where you live- hard to come by. But in Europe they are fairly inexpensive and many food stands and farmers markets were selling them, so we indulged!

Don’t you worry, we still got our Vitamin C when we ate some fruit.  A fruit that my Mom loves, and we haven’t been able to find in the US, are red currants.  They are native to Europe and have a great mix of tartness and sweetness.

When I was little, my Mom and I used to pick red currants every single year.  Some ended up in the baskets to take home, others in our tummies!

Of course, while Sam and I were in Vienna, we tried a lot of beers.  Here’s a picture to prove it.

Every beer needed a tasty European dish!

While we meandered the street of Vienna, we ended up trying two different establishments, turns out they had the same owner.  It was only after we left the second place, we found out they were extremely close together (around the block!).  How I love winding European streets, it can be fun to get lost!

The establishment(s) that deserved two visits in one day were Bierhof and Hopferl!  Apparently there is a third restaurant, but we didn’t not find it.

Sam had the rostbratwürste (grilled sausage) with bratensaft (gravy) and braterdäpfel (fried potatoes).  The potatoes had the perfect crisp to them!

Meanwhile, I tried out the wiener saftgulasch (Viennese goulash) with spätzle (egg noodles).  I ate my plate clean!  Goulash is a Hungarian soup, but it’s a very popular soup in East and Southern European countries.  Spätzle is a popular egg noodle in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary.  The gravy was perfect with it.

Of course, brats and beer are not the only thing that Austria specializes in.  They also have wine.  While wandering the streets, we found a wine bar!

One evening we found was a specialty grocery store.  Below it was Meinl’s Wine Bar.

The store had a number of European wines: French, German, Italian and Spanish (plus more!).  But we wanted to try some Austrian wines.

I’m not sure if either of these can be found in the U.S.- but in case they can, our recommendations are: Helmunt Bruckner and Umathum.  Both of these had a deep juicy quality, reminiscent of dark red cherry quality.  While we tried out these wines, we also indulged in:

Sam thought that this beef tartar looked like a muppet.  Which muppet do you think it was?

As you can tell, we ate very well while we were Vienna!  Up next: Munich, Germany.

Hurricane Irene Frittata

Hurricane Irene’s rains are creeping into DC, so today is gloomy and dreary.  The kind of morning that makes you want to stay in bed and read a good book (or browse food blogs for new recipes!).

We braved the grocery store yesterday (against Sam’s better judgement) after work since we had nothing in our fridge.  I know, it sounds crazy, but I didn’t want to live the weekend eating plain rice.  So as many people were picking up toilet paper and batteries, we got eggs, veggies and Corona’s.  Clearly, we didn’t have the same priorities.  (But don’t worry, we do have flashlights, toilet paper, water, etc just in case.)  Safeway was packed, and the lines were long (about 30 minutes) but we came out alive.

This morning we decide to make a frittata with some mushrooms, shallots and Gruyère.  If you’ve never tried a frittata, you should give it a chance.  It’s the lighter, fluffier version of a quiche.  And it’s very simple.  So if you’re stuck at home due to the hurricane, and your power isn’t out, enjoy a new breakfast dish.

Mushroom Shallot Frittata
Serves: 4-6 portions

8 eggs
2 shallots, diced
1 cup crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded (goat cheese would also be delicious!)
¼ cup half-and-half
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Sauté mushrooms and shallots in butter on medium heat until soft.

Once those are cooked, add all of ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Coat a 9-inch, stainless steel pan (do not use a nonstick pan!) in butter or cooking spray, then pour in the mixture.

Add the pan to a preheated, 375° oven for 30 minutes, until the frittata has risen and has taken on a nice golden color.

Roasted Mushrooms with Parsley

I know there are many of you out there that do not like mushrooms.  I think all of you will change your minds…once you eat this!

This appetizer can withstand the test of time, and will always be there in your back pocket when you have last minute visitors.  It’s not the trendiest appetizer (like cupcakes are for dessert), but it’s ridiculously easy to make!  It provides a great foundation for the other appetizers which you will leave out for your guests.  It’s the one appetizer than can be served warm or if it’s a little cooler it will still taste great.  It’s easy to prep ahead of time (wait to add the oil right before putting it into the over).  Good and simple is what sustains you when you have a million things to cook (or just 3!).

I tried out these mushrooms a couple of months ago- and they were a hit.  I made them again when we had friends over for dinner this past Saturday.  Both times they had disappeared!  And all of the thanks goes to Smitten Kitchen.

Roasted Mushrooms with Parsley
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

1 lbs crimini mushrooms (halved if they are big)
4 tbsp capers
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
5 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Preheat over to 450°F.  Toss the mushrooms, capers, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Pour into a oven-proof dish, or a baking sheet (that has edges).  Sprinkle butter on top.  Roast for about 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

Once you take them out, toss in the lemon juice and parsley.  Set it out with some toothpicks, so it’s easier to eat!