Tag Archives: mushrooms

Lockdown Dinners

4 Apr

cooking during the pandemic

I’m lucky during the COVID 19 lockdown to live with one of my best friends, Rob. He’s been working from home since January. I’m now working from home for the duration of the pandemic. During the day, he works in the office upstairs, I work in my office downstairs (set up in the kitchen) and we come together for dinner and binging after dinner. (Binging TV! Not drinks… or, well…)

Rob says cooking is my ‘Happy Place” and I guess he’s right. Cooking stresses some people out but it de-stresses me. After a long day, to make a martini and cook a great meal relaxes me entirely. Hell, it relaxes me even without the martini! The kitchen and food were always a comfort for me growing up. A safe space, if you will, to use a modern phrase. I guess that just continued into my adult life.

I also learned to cook because I love to eat. I remember realizing in High School that when I went to college, I wouldn’t be able to keep eating all the wonderful food my mom and grandmothers prepared. So I decided to learn how to cook their food before I graduated so I could make the food in college. I’ve been cooking ever since.

Additionally, my mind is on constant overdrive, I can’t turn it off, which is one of the reasons I don’t sleep much. Cooking is one of two things I’ve found (painting is the other) that clears my head of anything but the process. When I cook, all that shit rattling around in my head goes away, for a time. It’s a balm. And so, in this incredible and difficult time, I’ve been cooking like crazy.

If you click over to the Facebook Page, I’ve been posting photos and recipes of the dinners I’ve been cooking. I’m going to continue to do more frequent posts there, particularly of other chefs’ recipes I’m trying, while I’ll also post my own inventions here.

On Food And Film FB page

In the meantime, I’ll give you a couple of recent favorites. There are also some killer recipes upcoming here as the lockdown continues! So stay tuned and if you haven’t subscribed, sign up! You will not get pelted with emails, promise.

A book I’ve been cooking through that is terrific is Alison Roman’s Nothing FancyI’ve tried a lot from this book, including a killer dip I love, and I highly recommend her book.

Here is a dinner I made from Nothing Fancy, her salmon and green beans:

Salmon Green beans

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon and Walnut Green Beans

This is the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. Made with lemon, red onion and brown butter, it is ridiculously simple and divine. I’m linking to Stacy Snacks wonderful food blog for the recipe:

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon with Lemon and Red Onion

Her green beans were also a revelation:

Alison Roman’s Mustardy Green Beans with Anchovyed Walnuts

Another dinner was my Mushroom “Farroto” (risotto made with farro), with a light salad and creamed kale:

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Mushroom “Farroto” and Creamed Kale

These are easy dishes that are fairly healthy and very comforting.

You can find the recipe for the Mushroom Farotto here:

Mushroom Farrotto

You can find the Creamed Kale recipe here:

Creamed Kale

And for the salad, simply use mixed greens and my vinaigrette, which you should be making all the time ; ) 

Perfect Vinaigrette

So! Keep in touch on the FB page for fun stuff during the week, and once or twice a week my goal is to post some new inventions and discoveries here. As always, let me know what you think… and what you are cooking!

Blessings in this unbelievable time. 

A Delightful Stir-Fry

13 Dec

This feisty and ultra-satisfying vegan dish turns carnivorous in one simple step

Winter may seem an odd time for a stir-fry. Aren’t vegetables best in the spring and summer? But most of the vegetables used in a stir-fry… onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, etc… are available year round. On a cold night, yes, a hearty stew or soup is wonderful… but so is a delicious bowl of perfectly cooked vegetables. Finished with a savory sauce and fresh herbs, this stir-fry will satisfy the hungriest soul.

StirFry ingredient line up

Stir-fry lined up and ready

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for a while, working to get it just right. I discovered there are two keys to making the best stir-fry possible:

  1. the order in which you cook the vegetables
  2. the sauce you use to bring the dish together. 

When it comes to cooking the vegetables, for ease you certainly can throw everything in a sauté pan and quick cook the vegetables all together. But different vegetables have different cooking times and if you cook everything together, you end up with a less than satisfying mush. Additionally, I like certain vegetables (onions, chili peppers, garlic) cooked down soft for flavor, while others (colored bell peppers and zucchini) I like to remain just a touch undercooked to give the stir-fry different layers of texture as well as a satisfying crunch. It takes a little more time to cook this way, but the final dish is infinitely better. Acid and fresh herbs at the end brightens the dish enormously. 

As for the sauce, most recipes I saw online were way too sweet. Experimenting with a variety of choices, over time I narrowed the sauce down to three savory ingredients with a dollop of honey. It’s killer. A lot of stores are carrying these ingredients now but you can easily order them from Amazon; just click the links in the recipe. It’s worth having these in your pantry.

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An Elevated Potato-Leek Soup

6 Dec

This revamped classic, flecked with fresh herbs, hides a delicious addition

My dentist said, “soft foods only for a couple of days.” Who was I to argue? For me that meant making both the best macaroni and cheese ever, and soup.

But which soup?

In fall and winter my mom often made a terrific and comforting potato-leek soup. Bingo: perfect for cold weather and just what the dentist ordered. But I have no recipe from mom. A wonderful cook, she rarely used recipes and when she did, she deviated every time, giving each dish her personal flair. So I had to come up with my own.

Potato leek soup

elevated potato-leek soup

Looking at various recipes online, I realized most versions of potato-leek soup are solid… and boring and a little bland. Most are also ridiculously simple, which is certainly a plus, but little time is taken at the start to prep the ingredients to insure the soup has depth of flavor. Many versions do no prep, instead throwing raw leeks, potatoes and onion in a pot with broth, boiling, then blending… easy, yes but, again, bland and a bit lifeless. I wanted to see if I could liven it up without taking the comfort out of the dish. After a little experimentation, here’s a fresh yet rich version of the classic.

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Your Perfect Thanksgiving

23 Nov

While this is an amalgam of previous Thanksgiving posts, I hone every year. I know you have your favorites! We all do. But trust me… add a few of these (the cocktail and the turkey in particular.. and the dips… and, well, you know… ) and you will have the best dinner ever. Hell, just follow it all! I won’t let you down. 

Not a lot of writing below… you can scan other Thanksgiving posts for more detail. If it’s on the list below, I’ve made it many times, it’s easy, and your friends and family will be thrilled. 

COCKTAIL

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Cranberry Daiquiri

This is my signature cocktail for people from Thanksgiving thru New Years. Not too sweet and incredibly tasty. Once you have the syrup made, you can make it fast anytime:

Cranberry Daiquiri

DIPS

Pim Cheese corn dip

Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip

The pickle dip is killer. The pimento cheese dip is now referred to as “crack” by everyone who has tried it. Both will make you supremely happy:

Dill Pickle Dip

Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip

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A Hearty Mushroom Ragout

4 Oct

A delicious Autumn meal I eat year round.

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I love fall. Hands down my favorite season. It’s not because I look my best in fall clothes… although, to be honest, that is part of it. I love everything about fall: cool crisp sweater weather, football games at twilight, County Fairs, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fall Back from Daylight Savings Time (an extra hour of sleep, yes!!), earth tones, melancholy (can’t be beat) and of course all kinds of fall food… from soups to stews to root vegetables to pie to, well, any food that warms the soul and speaks to Autumn.

I love Fall so much I even have a playlist I created that makes me feel like Fall, all year round:

To start fall off right I present to you a divine Mushroom Ragout, one you can serve in a variety of ways. Vegetarian to the max (and even Vegan if you omit the final pad of butter) you’ll never think of this as a vegetarian dish, it’s so hearty and meaty and satisfying.

A twist on a ragout by the incredible chef David Tanis (his books are wonderful) this easy ragout will satisfy your soul.

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Mushroom Ragout over polenta

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Cauliflower Steak

13 Sep

A different kind of steak, but just as wonderful.

Cauli steak dinner

pan roasted cauliflower steak

Last week, we had steak and pasta. This week, a different kind of steak… Cauliflower Steak!

Before you run screaming, these are terrific. Even the staunchest carnivore alive might be surprised to find out how much they like these steaks. And yes I’m calling them steaks because, if you slice them thick and cook them properly (easy) they are steak-y satisfying and quite hearty.

I guess in some ways this has been my year of the cauliflower on the blog. I do love cauliflower — so much — and love many preparations, from a simple oven roast to wonderful soups to, of course, my cauliflower pizza crust, my cauliflower mash (updated, btw, with an additional, killer, preparation) and even my breakfast fried rice, which you can make with cauliflower rice. 

These steaks, however, are different from the other recipes and so satisfying. They make a wonderful fall dinner.

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