Posts Tagged ‘shiitake’

The 73rd episode of Good Eats is all about tomatoes and different uses for them. Seeing that Ted is not a huge tomato fan, I was not sure what he would think of some of these applications, but worst case scenario would see me stocking up heavily on lycopene. Alton went over some tomato facts in the episode, stating that there are six types of tomatoes we can get commercially – globe, plum, cherry, pear, grape, and currant (in order of size from largest to smallest). A beefsteak tomato is a red globe tomato that is extra large in size. Oh, and never store tomatoes in the refrigerator, as temperatures colder than 50 degrees permanently stop a component of tomatoes that gives them flavor.

Stuffed Tomatoes

For six servings of Alton’s stuffed tomatoes, cut the tops off of six large globe tomatoes, using a serrated knife. Scrape the seeds and pulp out of the tomato, using your fingers or a grapefruit spoon.

Sprinkle the tomatoes liberally with Kosher salt and invert them on a rack for 15 minutes; this will remove excess moisture from the tomato shells.

While the tomatoes drain, combine 2 C sauvignon blanc and 1 C hot water; add 3 C dried mushrooms to the liquid mixture to rehydrate.

While Alton used a blend of chanterelles, morels, and shiitakes, I only used shiitakes. Next, heat a large skillet, adding 2 T olive oil, 1 T minced garlic, 2 T minced shallots, and 1 C finely diced onion. Cook the onion until translucent.

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Garlic, shallots, and onion, cooking in olive oil.

Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from the hydrated mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, cooking for five minutes over medium heat.

Add a cup of your reserved mushroom liquid to the pan and bring it to a simmer for five minutes. Follow this up with 1/4 t pepper and 1 chopped tomato. Finally, add 1 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs.

By this time, your tomato shells should have shed any excess moisture and you can use a measuring cup to fill the shells with the mushroom mixture.

For a final topping, combine 3 1/2 ounces of goat cheese with 1 T parsley, dividing this mixture evenly among the tomatoes. Place the stuffed tomatoes under a preheated broiler for 5-7 minutes, and enjoy!

We ate Alton’s stuffed tomatoes as a side dish to my mom’s hearty minestrone soup.

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Stuffed tomatoes alongside hearty minestrone soup.

Ted thought this recipe was just OK, as he didn’t care for the tomato shells. As a tomato fan, however, I thought Alton’s stuffed tomatoes were delicious. The tomato shells maintained their texture and were far from soggy, contributing a bright tomato flavor. The mushroom filling had a fantastic umami flavor and slightly crunchy texture, and, well, who doesn’t like goat cheese? This recipe is a great blend of textures and flavors, and could be served as a vegetable side dish or as a vegetarian entree.

Tomato Sauce

I was curious to see how this episode’s tomato sauce would compare to Alton’s canned tomato sauce that I made over two years ago when I was writing up the second season of Good Eats. This episode is all about using fresh tomatoes, and this recipe calls for 20 fresh Roma tomatoes. In addition, you’ll need olive oil, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion.

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Garlic, onion, oregano, and thyme.

Begin by halving/seeding the Roma tomatoes, placing them cut side up in two 13×9-inch glass baking dishes.

Spritz (or, in my case, drizzle) the tomatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle them evenly with 1 T each of chopped fresh thyme and oregano. Alternatively, you can use 2 t of each herb, dried.

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Tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and thyme.

Sprinkle Kosher salt and 1/2 t black pepper over the tomatoes, along with 2 t minced garlic and 1 C finely diced onion (any type will work).

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Kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and onion added to tomatoes.

Stick the tomatoes into a 325-degree oven for two hours.

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Tomatoes after roasting for two hours.

After two hours, increase the oven’s temperature to 400 degrees for an additional half hour.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and run them through a food mill (I have my mom’s ancient one that she used to use for applesauce) to get rid of their skins/seeds; you can do this directly over a medium saucepan. It will take a while to push them all through the food mill and you will get very little yield.

Add a cup of white wine (Alton used “cheap Chardonnay”) and bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, decrease the heat and simmer the sauce for five minutes.

I served this tomato sauce over pasta, along with homemade lamb/beef meatballs (made by Ted) and Parmesan.

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Alton’s completed tomato sauce. with pasta and meatballs.

Honestly, I was disappointed in this sauce. This recipe made just enough sauce for a pound of pasta, and it was nothing special. The wine flavor seemed too prominent for my taste, so I would simmer it longer, if I were to make this again… which I probably will not do. I expected to prefer this sauce over the one from season two, especially since this one uses fresh tomatoes, but I would choose Alton’s canned sauce any day.

TBL Panzanella

The final recipe from this episode is for a TBL (tomato/bacon/lettuce) panzanella salad. In the episode, Alton demonstrates that this panzanella is a great alternative to a BLT sandwich, and that it showcases tomatoes very well. I love a good panzanella, or a good BLT for that matter, so I was enthusiastic about this recipe. Beginning the night before you want to eat this panzanella, cut a quart of 1-inch high-quality bread cubes, placing them on a pan to dry overnight.

The following day, cook six slices of bacon, saving the drippings. I used my bacon that I made from episode 59.

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and place them into a large bowl.

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Chopped bacon.

In a separate bowl, toss the dried bread cubes with the warm bacon drippings.

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Dried bread cubes tossed with bacon drippings.

Next, sear 2 C of halved grape tomatoes in a hot pan, face down, for about five minutes. Add the seared tomatoes to the bacon bowl.

Halve 2 C of raw yellow pear tomatoes (I had to use yellow grape tomatoes), adding them to the bacon/tomato bowl. Next, add 2 C of chopped Romaine lettuce.

In a small lidded container, shake together 3 T olive oil, 1/4 C red wine vinegar, 1/4 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

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Olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper for the dressing.

Combine the bread cubes with the rest of the salad and drizzle on the dressing. Finish the salad off by adding a chiffonade of fresh basil and mint.

I thought this was a really good panzanella salad. The bread cubes stayed crunchy, the bacon added meatiness, and the tomatoes gave a super fresh flavor. I thought the vinegar-based dressing paired well also.This is also a very colorful, pretty salad. To me, this is more of a warm weather meal, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. I think this still had a few too many tomatoes for Ted’s taste, but I may make this again for myself and enjoy it on a sunny day on the deck.

When I was a kid, my family used to head out in the woods to go mushrooming. My parents had taken classes on the subject and had a variety of books. If we happened to find any questionable fungi, my parents would ask an expert before we would eat them. My parents swore that my brother and I were better at finding mushrooms than they were, which my dad attributed to us being “closer to the ground.” Who needs a mushroom-smelling hog when you’ve got little kids?

My mom once caught me eating small brown mushrooms in our front yard when I was little. Shortly after I ate the mushrooms, I became very sick. It turned out that the mushrooms were not poisonous, and I just had coincidentally contracted some sort of bug. It makes for a good story now, but it wasn’t so funny at the time.

The Fungal Saute

I really like mushrooms and we eat them fairly regularly, though we don’t tend to purchase the more exotic varieties very often. We usually stick to the creminis, portobellos, and the occasional shiitakes. A family friend taught me a recipe for sauteed mushrooms when I was a teenager, and it became one of the things I cooked regularly for our family dinners. I was curious to see how Alton’s recipe for sauteed mushrooms would compare to the one I’ve been making for nearly 20 (yikes!) years now. The first part of this recipe is actually a recipe within the recipe, as you first need to make clarified butter. I had never made clarified butter before, though I knew the basics of how to do it (it’s very simple). My dad used to make it on a regular basis. To make clarified butter, Alton explains that you simply melt your butter over low heat, continuing to cook it until it stops bubbling and the liquid is clear. This takes approximately a half hour.

Melting butter.

Melting butter.

Butter mid-way through the clarifying process.

Butter mid-way through the clarifying process.

Clarifying butter = a half hour of torture for a hound dog.

Clarifying butter = a half hour of torture for a hound dog.

Butter, still bubbling as it clarifies.

Butter, still bubbling as it clarifies.

Final clarified butter.

Final clarified butter.

Once cool, you strain the butter for immediate use. Or, to use later, you top the hot butter with a couple inches of hot water, and allow the liquid to cool in the refrigerator. The clarified butter will solidify into a solid puck. I began the butter process while I prepped my ‘shrooms.

Apparently, there actually is something a Coonhound will not eat.

Apparently, there actually is something a Coonhound will not eat.

Alton suggests cleaning your mushrooms if they have any visible dirt. To clean them, he says it is easiest and best to simply give them a good rinse in a colander, drain them, and roll them in paper towels.

Cremini mushrooms, ready to be rinsed.

Cremini mushrooms, ready to be rinsed.

Mushrooms, rinsed and drained.

Mushrooms, rinsed and drained.

Other mushroom tips from Alton:  1) Store mushrooms in a paper bag. 2) Treat mushrooms like they are meat, using hot, fast, and dry cooking methods. For this particular recipe, you use cremini mushrooms. I washed my mushrooms and sliced them into 1/4″ slices. Apparently, an egg slicer works perfectly for slicing mushrooms, but we do not have one, so I did mine with a good ol’ knife.

All of the ingredients for the saute.

All of the ingredients for the saute.

Once your butter is clarified and strained, you heat some of the butter in a pan over high heat. The high heat is why it is necessary to clarify the butter in the first place, as clarified butter has a higher smoke point than standard butter. To your butter, you want to add your sliced mushrooms, handful by handful.

First handful of mushrooms in the hot pan.

First handful of mushrooms in the hot pan.

As each handful of mushrooms browns, you move them to the outside of the pan while adding new mushrooms to the center of the pan.

Adding mushrooms, handful by handful.

Adding mushrooms, handful by handful.

Once all of the mushrooms are in the pan, you add Kosher salt and shallots. You continue to cook the mushrooms until they are all a rich brown color and a crust has formed on the pan. At this point, it is necessary to deglaze the pan, and Cognac is the liquid of choice.

Mushrooms with shallots and Cognac.

Mushrooms with shallots and Cognac.

You add some chopped chives to your mushrooms, along with some pepper, and you are ready to go.

Final sauteed mushrooms with chives.

Final sauteed mushrooms with chives.

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We ate our mushrooms as a side to our entree. The nice thing about this sauteed mushroom recipe is that it really allows the meaty flavor of the mushrooms themselves to shine. While I still like my old sauteed mushroom recipe too, I do think that the old recipe had some strong flavors (garlic, lemon, etc.) that overpowered the mushrooms. This recipe didn’t wow me, but it was good, and the predominant flavor was definitely that of the mushrooms.

That Ol’ Cap Magic

The second recipe in this episode of Good Eats is for stuffed mushroom caps. The online recipe is a bit vague with its ingredients, as it calls for a batch of sauteed mushrooms. After watching the episode, I got a bit more clarification. Alton tells you to prepare a batch of sauteed mushrooms, using the same method as used in the previous recipe. This time, however, he recommends that you use shiitake mushrooms. My grocery store only had one package of shiitakes, so I used those plus a portobello mushroom cap.

Shiitakes and portobellos.

Shiitakes and portobellos.

To the sauteed mushrooms, as prepped previously, you add heavy cream, shredded parmesan, and dried tarragon.

Melting clarified butter.

Melting clarified butter.

Sauteeing the mushrooms.

Sauteeing the mushrooms.

Addition of cream, parmesan, and tarragon.

Addition of cream, parmesan, and tarragon.

At this point, you remove your pan from the heat and add some breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs nicely bind the sauce. This mushroom mixture will be the filling for white mushroom caps.

Breadcrumbs added off heat to tighten the sauce.

Breadcrumbs added off heat to tighten the sauce.

After destemming the mushroom caps, you sprinkle them with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic, tossing to coat them well.

Mushrooms to be stuffed.

Mushrooms to be stuffed.

Mushroom caps after destemming.

Mushroom caps after destemming.

Garlic, rosemary, and thyme.

Garlic, rosemary, and thyme.

Mushroom caps tossed with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

Mushroom caps tossed with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

These caps go into a hot oven until they are tender. It is best to cook them upside down on a cooling rack that is placed on a baking sheet, as this allows all of the juices to drain. I actually forgot to bake my caps upside down, so their cavities were filled with liquid that I had to drain out.

Mushrooms ready to go in the oven.

Mushrooms ready to go in the oven.

Mushrooms after baking. I forgot to turn mine upside down before I baked them, so they filled with fluid.

Mushrooms after baking. I forgot to turn mine upside down before I baked them, so they filled with fluid.

The sauteed mushroom filling is spooned into the seasoned caps, and Alton stresses not to overstuff them.

Mushrooms stuffed with mushrooms.

Mushrooms stuffed with mushrooms.

The filling is topped with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, and they go under the broiler on the highest rack.

Some breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

Some breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

The mushrooms will not need to be under the broiler long – mine took only about two minutes until the filling began to bubble.

I guess the mushrooms smelled good when they came out of the oven.

I guess the mushrooms smelled good when they came out of the oven.

A perfect appetizer plate of stuffed mushroom caps.

A perfect appetizer plate of stuffed mushroom caps.

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We ate these mushroom caps as an appetizer, and we both really liked them. They were quite juicy and the filling had rich, creamy flavors and textures that paired well with the meatiness of the mushroom caps. The flavors of the different mushroom types all came through too, as did the herbs. I preferred this recipe to the sauteed mushroom recipe, and I could see making these again as an appetizer.