Archive for the ‘mushrooms’ Category

this is a pretty basic mushroom soup, but the oven roasting of the mushrooms i think makes an extra rich, woodsy flavor.

line crimini mushrooms cap side down on a baking sheet oiled with olive oil (i also add chunks of butter), being careful to not have them touching one another. whether it’s meat or vegetables, when you are trying to brown, or create caramelization, you cannot have pieces touching one another. if they touch while cooking, food will release their moisture rather than searing it in, and the juices will have to evaporate in able to brown.

roast in a hot oven. when they have browned on the bottoms, flip them over and roast them until they are uniformly brown; they do not have to be cooked all the way through.

pour some chicken stock onto the pan, and deglaze, scraping all of the little brown bits into the liquid. set aside.

slice and caramelize one onion in a few tablespoons of butter. at this point i like to add herbs; i think they benefit from being introduced while there is heat and fat, rather added after the liquids. leave the salt until the end, however. i like fresh and a little bit of dried thyme. dried spices are more intense than fresh, but i think fresh herbs have a certain quality that dried herbs don’t, so i use both. don’t over season, you can add more later.

in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the mushrooms and onions together until a small, uniform size. do not puree. set aside.

in a large pot, make a roux from almost equal parts butter and flour. i made a big pot of soup, so i used about 6 T of butter and 7 T of flour. stir on medium- high heat until a nutty brown aroma develops. don’t burn. turn up the heat and add hot chicken stock and hot half and half. it depends on how thick you like your soup, or how mushroomy you like your soup, but for the amount of roux above, i use about 8-10 cups of liquid to start.

stir in the chopped mushrooms. taste the soup. add some sherry, salt, and pepper. depending on the thickness and mushroom flavor, you can add more half and half or chicken stock until you have a soup that you like.

if you have read my blog before, you will know that i rarely give ingredient amounts, this is for two reasons: first, i don’t cook that way. i don’t use recipes, and i think our culture has gotten too dependent on them. second, i like to encourage people to learn to cook more intuitively so they can learn how to either make things without recipes, or adjust them to make what they want. it’s also a good way to learn too expiriment.


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i made this when i was sick and the weather was cold. it warmed me up and cured me nearly instantly. perhaps it as the sugar rush from the corn, or the magical healing properties of the mushrooms, or the mold in the shropshire cheese; but i felt infinitely better within only a few hours.

the basic preparation for polenta is 1 cup of polenta to three cups of liquid and about 1t of salt. i normally substitute chicken stock for water, unless i’m serving the polenta with meat. with the mushrooms i like a bit of the chicken-y-ness.

there is a trick to cooking polenta, but it is easy to prepare properly once you have committed yourself to a couple basic principals. first, you must bring the liquid to a low boil, and sprinkle the polenta in, combining it furiously with a whisk. dumping it in all at once and using a wooden spoon will result in a lumpy consistency, a result nearly impossible to remedy. never mind the hapless, pitied stares from disappointed faces around the table. the second trick is that once the polenta and liquid are combined, you must switch to a wooden spoon and stir nearly constantly. if it sits on the bottom of a hot pan without movement you will end up with, you guessed it… chunks. cook the polenta until it is smooth and pulls away from the edges of the pan. at this point you can add some cream, butter or grated cheese.

for this dish i added a bit of cream or half and half, i do not recall which, and some butter. i rarely eat corn or butter, but when i make polenta i do not compromise. i will add a few tablespoons to a recipe of 1c polenta to 3c liquid.

put the polenta aside and slice the mushrooms. put about 2T each of butter and olive oil in a stainless skillet and heat until hot. put in the mushrooms and let them sear, stir as they brown. when they are brown and tender, add salt and pepper and some chopped italian parsley.

stir the polenta. if you need to, add a dash of milk or liquid to smooth it out, and serve it in a shallow pasta bowl. dump on the mushrooms and crumble cheese on top, i love this shropshire blue [it’s basically stilton] and it’s safron-annato color. rejoice and mend!

please excuse the poor photo quality, they were taken hastily, lazily, and in an infirmed state with my iphone…

polenta portabellas


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