Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mushrooms in Cream with BEER!

Thank you to everyone who messaged me on Facebook or Twitter giving me feed back about the blog! Your comments really do keep me going.

Last night after packing up the left over soup in a tupperware I decided that I was still hungry, and potato and leeks just were not hitting the spot (however, it was a fantastic lucnh today) I had the creative juices flowing and decided to try my hand at another first, Mushrooms in Cream.

I guess mushrooms in cream is really more of a sauce then a actual dish, but the possibility's are endless. You can pair it with chicken breast, pork loin (as I did), pour it over rice, pasta or risotto, hell, I would even try it over spaghetti squash! (Ooooo! That's going in the list!)

I have to admit, I'm not overly adventurous in the mushroom department. I opted to go with your everyday, run of the mill white mushroom, but I strongly encourage you to branch out and try a wide variety. Baby portabello's or chanterells would be great with this recipe.

Start with 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 of butter in a medium pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, toss in your sliced mushrooms. In the words of Julie Powell " Don't crowd the mushrooms or they won't brown"

The light in my kitchen makes baby kittens cry

The browning process takes about 12 - 15 min. They should be tender and filling your kitchen with a wonderful aroma. Now add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/3 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, stems removed and finely chopped. Saute that for about 2-3 min.

Now, if you have decided to make a meat with this, I strongly recommend you cook it in the mushroom mixture from the very beginning, because now we are going to deglaze the pan.

Our good friend Wikipeda says ;
Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing and dissolving caramelized bits of food from a pan to make a pan sauce
It sounds super scary, but I promise its not. Really all it is is adding liquid to get all the last bits of flavor off of the pan. You can use anything you like, wine, brandy, broth, water, but in this case, I used beer! Fremont Brewery's Abominable winter ale to be exact.

A great tip my mother gave me a few years ago after a terrible experience with a wine and cheese sauce is "Don't cook with booze you wouldn't drink." Balance that out with not drinking it all before it makes it into the pot and you're set.

Back to our mushrooms, taking them off the heat and removing any meats you may have been cooking in them, add 1/4 cup of whatever liquid you have decided to use. Place the pan back on high heat to evaporate off the liquid, should be about 2 min. Continuously stir and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, we want all that deliciousness in the sauce. Once the liquid has mostly cooked off, add 2/3 cup of heavy cream and reduce heat to simmer for 2 min. Remove from heat and pour over what ever you have decided to serve it with.

Why yes, I am using inside my cupboard as a back drop
 The mushrooms and herbs ad a lot of flavor, but what ever you choose to deglaze with will really define your sauce. So choose carefully depending on what you are pairing it with.

2 Tb oil
2 Tb butter
1 lb mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb fresh thyme
1/3 tea salt
Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup deglazing liquid of your choice
2/3 cup heavy cream

This recipe was influenced greatly by a entry from blog called An Edible Mosaic which features beautiful food porn. Her photography is truly amazing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A few Starting Notes

Wither you are are experienced culinary wiz or a fumbling noobie there are a few things to remember.

Master Chef
  1. Read the Directions.  All of them. From start to finish BEFORE you start. I can't stress this enough. With every recipe you use. I have personally forgotten many a step or to purchace an ingredent because I didn't read everything before I started. So just do it. Moving on
  2. Conversions.Measurements are a funny thing. Unfortunately, the world has been unable to whole-heartedly agree on one standard of measurement (I'm lookin' at you, America!) Just be aware as to what your recipe calls for and what units are printed on your measuring utensil. Something to remember for baking especially, don't round your conversion. Baking is one of my favorite forms of science, the chemical reactions happening are very important to things tasting right.
  3. Get Fresh. Seriously. I know I know, every one always says that fresh ingredients taste better but its true. And its the little things that matter. I recently went to a spice shop and got fresh ground black pepper and it honestly made a WORLD of difference. And buying by weight was way cheaper then at the grocery store. So think about that.

Potage Parmentier

Ah yes, Potage Parmentier, or if you prefer in English, Potato and Leek soup.

Yes, I know in my post yesterday I promised another really impressive french sounding dish, but I decided to change things up for 2 reasons.

1. Of the comments I received yesterday about the resurrection of the blog was from my friend Sam in Victoria. He said that he was interested in the blog as he is just learning to cook. So rather then scaring him off with something I myself am slightly on edge about making, I thought I should start of with something much more simple, while still providing the fancy french name. (Because lets be honest here, Potage Parmentier sounds WAY more impressive)

2. It would be a shame to make this fancy french thing for just myself, and have no one to Ooooo and Ahhhh at how impressive it is (unless I fuck it up, which is a very real possibility). So guys, if you're in Seattle on Thursday, I have space for two at dinner. Hit me up.

I am a huge fan of soups, and this one is in the top three. It requires few ingredients, has a short prep time and its really hard to screw up.

Usually I would use your standard Russet potato, but this time I decided to use sweet potato. (Note: Sweet Potato and Yams are in fact different, be sure you are using the right one)

Sweet potato's are larger then Russet potato's, they tend to be more firm, and are much lower in starch. 

Begin by peeling the potato and dicing it into small chunks. Were going to use about 2 cups. 

Next prepare the leeks. If you have never used leeks before here's come tips. These are big stalky things, and are usually sold by weight...... and you're going to throw most of it away.

Cut off the end with the roots and the end with the leafs about where the stock has turned completely green. Using a knife, cut the stalk in half lengthwise. Under cool water, wash the inside of the stalk, fanning out the layers, but keeping them together. Dirt loves to hide in these little folds.
Next, chop the leeks. You need about a cup and a half worth. Place everything in a pot with 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 4 cups of water. Bring that to a boil, partially covered and then reduce heat to a simmer for 45 min.

Once the vegetables are tender remove from heat and mash them up with a fork until creamy. Taste the soup now and adjust the seasoning. Add pepper to taste. Off the heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream or 1.5-2 tablespoons of butter. (This is one of those situations where you shouldn't substitute margarine over butter, its the dairy we are looking for, not oil) Garnish with a large pinch of minced parsley or chopped chives.

2 cups potato - diced
1.5 cups leeks - washed and sliced
4 cups water
1/2 Tb salt
Simmer for 45 min

2-3 Tb heavy cream OR 1.5-2 Tb Butter
Minced parsley or chopped chives

Potage Parmentier

Monday, January 23, 2012

Version 2.0

Ive decided to re-boot my blog because, well.... its the grown up thing to do.... or something.

Recently I have been re inspired to cook. Hurray!

This time I will be doing it solo, for the most part and  hope to post several times a month. To many that may not seem like very much, but lets be real. Living alone, working full time, traveling and a busy roller derby schedule, Im lucky to make a meal at home not consisting of something out of a box more then a few times a week. It can't all be gold.

As with the previous format, I will be posting photos, recipes, resources, tips, tricks and how to's. I will also try to offer both herba and carnivore alternatives as often as possible.

I hope to get to a point of having guest contributors, for your reading and eating pleasure.

My motivation? To write more, eat better (better tasting.... not always better for you, a girls gotta have priority's) and stretch both my imagination and skills in the kitchen.

My inspiration? My very culinary skilled parents, the Julie/ Julia project (and movie, and book), the stack of cook books that showed up on the free table of my building and the various tasty foods who's vast potential has yet to be unlocked!

I have bought most of the ingredients for Oeufs a la Bourguignonne, and plan to be making that some time this week, so have that to look forward too.