So, my BFF is a fellow vegetarian, and she and I like to trade recipes and food suggestions (conversations which provided the impetus for this blog actually). A couple months ago she told me about making stuffed portabella mushroom caps with onions, goat cheese, and a number of other tasty things. She based it off of one of Molle Katzen’s recipes. It sounded so tasty that I decided to make a version myself, even though I’m not a huge mushroom fan. I finally got around to buying the mushrooms, and already had blue cheese, but not goat cheese, in my apartment, so I decided to roll with that. This is what I came up with:
2 large portabella mushrooms
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Wash the mushrooms, remove the stems, and scoop out the gills on the inside. Mix together some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Soak (ok “marinate”) the mushrooms in that mixture. One thing that helps is pouring some of the liquid on the inside of the mushrooms while the outside sits in the liquid. Let them soak for at least a half an hour. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions and garlic until they have softened. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid, and fill the caps with the onion and garlic. Then add a layer of blue cheese. Sprinkle some pine nuts on the very top. Then stick in the oven and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so. Warning, the mushrooms will produce a lot of juice that will be all over the bottom of your pan.
These turned out really well. I had no real idea what I was doing, cause I’ve never actually cooked with portabella mushrooms before. It’s more of a fall dish than a summer dish though. And while I served it with a savignon blanc, I think it would go better with a full-bodied red, probably a pinot noir. One was also nicely filling all by itself, which makes it a good meal for two, or a good meal for one with leftovers. Song of the Week: Who Loves You? by the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons are usually considered a 60s group, but this is an awesome song by them from the mid-70s (and it sounds very 70s). It’s cute and fun.
It finally happened – this week, with a massive storm on the East Coast and actual snow and sleet in DC, I could not longer pretend it wasn’t winter. Unfortunately, most warming winter meals are very heavy, and I was not in the mood for anything along those lines. So what is light but winter-y? Souffle! Despite my slight mishaps with the sweet potato souffle over Thanksgiving, it seemed like a good time to try again. And ok, so asparagus is a more spring vegetable, but oh well.
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup and a bit of milk
1 egg yolk
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once its melted add the flour and mix it in. Pour in the milk and whisk continuously – making sure the butter-flour mixture melts completely into the milk. Its important to stir constantly, to prevent any sticking on the bottom, or lumps. Once the sauce has thickened, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg – a pinch or two of each, according to your taste. Set it aside to cool for a while. Once cool, add the egg yolk
1/2 lb of asparagus, cut into chunks
4 egg whites
3-4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
While the sauce is cooling, steam the asparagus until tender. Make sure not to overcook it, because it will still go into the oven, but you should be able to pierce it with a fork. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and beat on high with an electric beater for several minutes, until soft peaks form. Put about 1/2 the asparagus and cheese into the sauce and mix them in. Then add about 1/2 the egg whites and fold them in, gently. Add the remaining Asparagus, cheese, and egg whites and fold them all in, gently. Don’t stir. Fold. Carefully. Pour into buttered ramekins (3 or 4 depending on the size) and fill about 3/4 full. Put in the oven and bake at 375 for 2 minutes, or until puffy and getting golden brown on top.
It rose!! It actually rose this time – I was so excited. I’m not quite sure what made it different this time, but there you go – souffles are mysterious like that. It was also light, fluffy, and tasty, exactly how I wanted it to be. I do wish I had put more asparagus in there though. Maybe next time. The blue cheese was perfect. Baking mellows cheese a lot, so the blue worked really well – not overpowering at all. Serve with a red wine. Nothing too complex, maybe a good Shiraz or Malbec. Song of the week: Happier by Guster. This song always hits a chord within me for some reason – it’s hard to describe why, so just listen to it.
So this is one of those recipes that turned out yummy, but it was not actually what I expected it to be. I wanted to do something different with eggplant this week, and I did not want to do a bake or lasagna or something on that end. Then, I found this recipe for eggplant risotto, which was great because I had been thinking it had been a long time since I made risotto. However, I wanted to add cheese. Normally I’d use fontina, but Whole Foods didn’t have any and I didn’t feel like making a second trip to Trader Joes. So after a brief consultation with my parents, we decided that gorgonzola would be an acceptable but risky choice and so I ran with it. After all, what’s the point of new-recipe day if I don’t try risky or surprising food combos?
1/2 a large eggplant
2/3 arborio rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-3 ounces gorgonzola cheese
Start by cutting the eggplant in half, a lightly coating one of the halves in olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 until the eggplant is soft – aka when you press the skin of the eggplant and the indent remains. Scoop out the inner-flesh of the eggplant and chop it up (or puree it) so its all soft and mushy, not fibrous. Set aside
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and onions and saute them for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and saute that as well for a minute or two. Slowly add the broth, one 1/2 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb each 1/2 cup before adding more. When the rice are close to done, but not there yet, add the white wine, then add more broth if/when needed. Once the rice are done (no hard, crunchy bits in the center but still on the firmer side of things) mix in the eggplant, parsley and cheese. The cheese should melt into the risotto. Serve while still warm.
Result: super creamy and quite good. The only downside (if you can call it a downside) is that the gorgonzola overpowered everything. I like blue cheese,so that wasn’t a bad thing per se, but it might have been nice to taste the eggplant. That said, given that the eggplant just sorta blended in with the rice, the flavor might not have been there regardless, in which case, the blue cheese is a welcome addition. I served this with a white wine, a South African Chenin Blanc specifically. It worked well, but I think a red would be better – gorgonzola always pairs better with reds. Also, for the record, I don’t really like South African wines, even though I’ve tried a number of them in an effort to give them a fair chance. Maybe 1 in 5 is actually decent in my opinion (this one was good though). Not good enough odds to be worth it in my opinion, when most other regions 3-4 out of every 5 wines are good. Finally – the song of the week is Rocky Mountain High, by John Denver, because I just visited my sister in Boulder and its a great song (I may have been singing it to myself while hiking in the mountains …)
This is another one of those “I impulsively buy things at the grocery store and then have to find uses for them” weeks. This week’s ingredient: blue cheese. Originally I was going to stick it in a crepe with some sort of green vegetable, because everything tastes good in a crepe (incidentally, the first time I liked blue cheese was eating it in a crepe in France). However, its been a difficult weekend, so I switched to one of my ultimate comfort foods: mac and cheese.
Cook the macaroni before you start on the sauce. Make however much you like, but I’ve found that 3/4 cup dry macaroni is perfect for 2 servings.
I adapted the sauce from this recipe.
1/4 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large kale leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp flour
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, and saute the veggies in there. Once the kale is cooked, add the blue cheese, milk, a little black pepper, and flour. Turn the heat up so that the milk begins to simmer, and stir frequently until the sauce has thickened. The sauce won’t become particularly thick, but it will be thicker than milk. Once the sauce is done, toss with the macaroni until all the pasta is thoroughly coated, and serve. If you want, you can also add parmesan cheese on top of the dish when you serve it.
Such a good dish. Exactly what my frustrated soul needed. My only issue with it was that it tasted a little on the salty side. Which is strange because I didn’t add any salt. Well, to the water for the pasta but that hardly counts. I think it was the addition of the parmesan on top of the blue cheese that caused that problem. I didn’t have any wine or beer with this, but it would probably pair well with a solid red wine. Also, if there is any meal designed to give you stinky breath (onions, garlic, and blue cheese) it’s this one. However, comfort food is usually a solo dinner, so you should be totally fine. Song of the week: not actually a song, but rather Mozart’s Requiem. Its my ultimate in “dark music for when I’m sad/depressed/unhappy.”