National Day of the Mushroom

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Today may be the greatest food holiday ever. I do not think I can begin to describe the love affair mushrooms and I have. We go through them crazy fast in the house because I’m constantly putting them in salads, stir-fries, sauteed veggie mixes, omelettes, etc. Hell, I will just saute them with some onion and garlic to stir into pasta, no sauce. I think my favorite recipe, though, is one I learned when I was prepping to go to Spain. A few friends and I had a party where we all brought Spain themed food, made our own sangria (white and red), and ninja chalked (definition: a group of slightly inebriated adults grab a box of chalk and draw ridiculous but imaginative narratives in the cover of darkness).

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Toasted Bread with Mushrooms and Alioli – Tostada de Setas y Alioli

This tapa recipe comes from a bar in Madrid. I used to jog around the Retiro and then eat these tostadas washed down with a nice cold caña! When I serve this recipe at a party, it is always the first to go!- Sonia Chan

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 20 min.

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp sherry wine (or a dry white wine-which is what I usually use)
Alioli (garlic mayonnaise) *recipe below
French bread, sliced into rounds

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a pan that has a cover. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, salt and sherry. Cover, and lower heat. Cook until liquid is released from the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Toast bread slightly, just to dry it out a bit. Spread with alioli and top with mushrooms. Broil for about 30 seconds or until alioli starts to bubble.

Alioli

2 garlic cloves, pressed, or garlic paste (found in a tube in the refrigerated produce section of your local supermarket)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the most part, I eyeball this. In the mayo, mix the salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour (the longer, the stronger the flavors). Consider adding pepper to taste (I don’t usually, but then I’m not a huge pepper fan).

National Eat Your Noodles Day

Another gem from Steff Dechenes’ Eat the Year is today’s holiday. When I saw this on the calendar, I knew I had to do a post about noodles. Noodles are one of my favorite foods. Mushrooms will always take the cake on that, followed closely by garlic. Noodles are up there, though. Pasta with marinara, buttered noodles, Chinese lo mein, Thai pad thai noodles, it’s all good. Also, ramen! Which brings me to what I wanted to share most for today’s holiday.

On one of my recent trips to Whole Foods, I came across Annie Chun’s Spring Vegetable Ramen. It’s a packet of soup base and soft-dry noodles that you can customize yourself with protein and veggies.

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The first time I made it, I had just made my snow pea and mushroom concoction the night before and had some left overs. I added those after I tried the ramen on its own. The ramen and broth are really flavorful. Without any veg or protein, it definitely doesn’t feel like a meal, so that’s something to consider when you make it. Adding the snow peas and mushrooms, plus the bit of their sauce/juice they created was a very nice addition.

I’ve made it a second time now and ventured to add a protein. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I hand shredded one of the legs and added it in with yet again leftover snow peas and mushrooms (they really are good!). All in all, a really good meal. I’ve seen the ramen at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger group grocery) in the natural foods section. If I remember correctly it also comes in two other flavors, but I don’t remember what they are. I’d say they’re worth a try.

BBQ in March

it may still be very much winter on the East Coast, but here in Oregon it was high 50s yesterday. So what are you going to do with weather so nice? Break out the propane grill of course!





Dad cooked up some steaks and a grill pan full of asparagus, red bell pepper, and some red onion. We also cooked up some of my favorite steak companions: mushrooms. 



It was nice out by the grill with dad.



In the end, one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while.



Mushrooms and snow peas and onion, oh my!

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This may be the best randomly whipped up side dish I’ve ever made. It was so flippin’ good.

I took:

  • snow peas, trimmed
  • mushrooms, sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • granulated garlic
  • s&p
  • soy sauce

I started by sauteing the onion in a little butter and olive oil for a few minutes on med-high heat. Then I added the snow peas and sautéed them for a couple of minutes to start softening them. I sprinkled them with the garlic and s&p to taste, then added the mushrooms. I sautéed the whole thing until the mushrooms started to brown, then I added a few splashes of soy sauce. I let it cook for another minute or so, stirring it, then served it with sticky rice and roast chicken. Delicious!

Midnight snackage

Most nights I’m up pretty late. I’m just naturally a night owl. That means I usually come up with some weird combos of food to snack on as I work, little bits from the fridge and pantry. The other night, though, I realized there was a theme to what I chose:

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Salt.

On that plate is some pastrami, avocado (lightly salted), hard-boiled egg (also lightly salted), raw mushrooms sprinkled with Lawry’s season salt, and in the bowl are some of my grandma’s refrigerator pickles (pickled cucumber and onion; I’ll share the recipe in another post).

They say you can tell what your body really needs based on the foods you crave. For instance, when you crave red meat, you may need more iron. With salt, it usually means you need more water. Evidently I was thirsty that night.

What foods do you crave late at night? Do you give in?

I don’t eat pasta sauce from a jar anymore

Because my home-made is waaaay better. There is a key ingredient in mine that is not in store-bought sauce that shames them into the shadows. It’s…well, I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s not a secret or anything.

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My sauce recipe is as follows:

  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can petite diced tomato
  • 2 jars sliced mushrooms, rinsed well of brine
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • spices: Italian herb seasoning, granulated garlic (I also add garlic paste at the beginning sometimes, then scale back the powder), sea salt, and pepper.
  • butter and olive oil (for sauteing the onions and mushrooms)
  • Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon

That last ingredient is what I think sets mine apart, and makes the most heavenly aroma I think there is on this earth. I start by melting some butter at med-high to high heat in a medium sauce pan with a dash of oil. I got this tip from a cooking show that the butter gives it flavor, and the oil raises the smoke point, which allows for higher heat cooking. Once the butter is melted, I add the onion with a little s&p, sauteing until lightly browned and starting to turn translucent. Then I add the mushrooms and some more spices, and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. I then add roughly a quarter–a third of a cup of the wine. I let this simmer for a few minutes, stirring until the wine has been mostly absorbed by the mushrooms and onion. I tell you, if a man walked by me smelling like the aroma created at that moment….well, I probably can’t tell you! Ha!

After the wine’s been absorbed, I add the can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. I stir that for a minute or two, then add the two other cans of sauce. I then season liberally (really, you think you’re adding too much, but you’re not) with the spices. I’m guessing I add about two tablespoons of the spices, all together. I stir the mixture together and bring it to a low boil. Turn the heat down to medium or med-low, and let it go for at least 20 minutes, the longer the better, but no more than 40-45 minutes. Stirring throughout, of course.

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When it’s done, I usually add it to browned ground beef, meatballs, or sliced sausage. It is excellent with Caramelized Onion flavor chicken sausage meatballs. Pour it over pasta, or use it to top sliced and toasted bread.  Happy eating!

Good Mexican food is hard to find

Growing up in Southern California, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of Mexican food. I’m used to authentic, hearty dishes. I’m used to hand-pressed corn tortillas, perfectly seasoned meat with just the right kick, and fresh-cut salsa. Since moving to Oregon, that’s been a hard find. Granted, I live in a fairly Hispanic town, there just aren’t a lot of places that meet my standards.

One place I have been and loved is La Estrella in Forest Grove. They make wonderful tacos and have a killer salsa bar. Because of my lactose intolerance I haven’t been able to try other dishes, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. What I also love about the restaurant is how “hole-in-the-wall” it feels. It’s not a big place, and every time I’ve been there, there haven’t been many other patrons (but I also tend to go in sort of off times and it’s in a small town). In California, I never went to places that had this feel. Most places were part of chains or still done up like a chain restaurant. The notable exceptions were Harbor House in Seal Beach and a place friends took me to in San Clemente when I visited in March. Both were great places with good food.

Last night, I once again got to have some great, authentic Mexican food. My alma mater hosts a Visiting Writers Series where authors come to campus and give readings. Beforehand, a dinner for the author is held with some students and faculty. Last night was one such dinner, this time catered by a small family company called La Surianita out of Forest Grove. It was delicious. I wish I could have snapped some photos of my plate to share with you all, but I was hungry and I had been in the amazing smelling room for probably 20 minutes already. There were the standard rice and beans, and there was also a choice between chicken, fish, steak, and the veggie option of mushrooms. I had the chicken and the mushrooms. Both were good, but the mushrooms…oh man. So, so good. Really, I love a good mushroom more than most any other foods. In fact, I’ll likely devote an entire post to them soon. I like love them that much.

Anyways, the dinner was fab and I would definitely recommend them if you’re in the market for some good catering. (The number on their card is 503-357-2664.) I’ve also heard that they have a booth at the Forest Grove Farmer’s Market. I will have to confirm this for myself next week. I really hope they have mushrooms.