Recipe: Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms, a la Meagan

True story: I used to hate mushrooms. Just looking at them gave me the shudders.

My hatred turned into a hesitant like, then love, a few years ago. J and I were at an Italian restaurant, and J, being a Mushroom Lover, ordered stuffed mushrooms baked in a pesto cream sauce. They arrived at the table, the steam redolent of basil, Parmesan and Italian sausage. My  mouth watered a little bit, and as I have a policy of trying foods I hate once a year, I decided this cheesy concoction was my best bet.

So I tried one. I hesitantly moved it onto my appetizer plate. Cut into it with my steak knife. Dipped the slice in the cream sauce, and haltingly (this sounds dramatic, but I kid you not—I really hated mushrooms!) moved the fork towards my mouth.

Then? Well. Earthy, herby, creamy bliss. I started to like them then—on a trial basis—but my affection has grown steadily ever since.

Now, mushrooms remind me of autumn.  They pair well with traditional autumn seasonings like sage and thyme. They’re even nicely symbolic of the dark season, since they grow without light. Since it actually feels like autumn here (I’m continually amazed!) I picked up a huge box of Baby Bellas at Costco and have been enjoying them for days.

Here’s my favorite easy mushroom recipe, which is less of a recipe and more of a…method? Enjoy.

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms, a la Meagan

Ingredients:

(This is a very elastic recipe–do with the amounts what you like)

2 tbsp butter

8 oz. (ish) Baby Bellas, de-stemmed and sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

Generous sprinkle sea salt, thyme (fresh is best, but dried is fine). Fresh parsley is a nice finishing touch if you have it.

Splash of red wine, dry white wine, or cognac

~1 tbsp Whole grain or dijon mustard

2-4 tbsp Heavy cream

Directions:

1. Melt butter in pan.

2. Add sliced mushrooms, toss in butter. Add salt and herbs.

3. Add a couple of tablespoons of wine. Be aware that mushrooms expel water as they heat, so don’t add too much liquid or it’ll get soupy. Let it cook for a few minutes.

4. Finish it off. First, stir in the mustard.  Then add 2-4 tbsp. of cream to thicken the sauce. Cook for another minute or so before taking off the heat.

—–

Note: this recipe is AWESOME when made as a topping for steak. Simply pan-sear a steak then continue this recipe in the pan with the steak drippings.

Note 2: I tried taking pictures buuuuuut….the lighting in the apartment kitchen is terrible. Plus, the mushrooms were so good that I only got two horrible photos before they were gone. Rest assured, they’re delicious.)

Note 3: The Kitchn’s What Are Cremini Mushrooms blew my mind.

Advertisements

Honey Bun Cake

On Saturday I attended the Biannual Austin Area Pagan Meetup Workshop (whew!) and Potluck. It was great! So informative and fun. The presentations were well-researched and relevant. I have to say—for all the bickering that can go on online, for all the naysaying about the Pagan community within the Pagan community…I don’t see that in the Pagans I’ve become involved with. They’re all different religions or philosophies, from eclectic to Druid to Wiccan (traditional, solitary, derivative covens) to reconstructionist to Asatru and guess what…? Everyone manages to go to the same meetup and have a damn good time.

That aside, for the potluck I made a recipe called Honey Bun Cake. I made a gluten-free version that turned out great, and as I was making it I realized it would be a perfect Imbolc dessert or to be served in the cakes and ale portion of any ritual. The cake itself is very dense, chewy and moist, while the topping is nice and crunchy. It really does remind me of those old honey bun snack-cakes.

Honey Bun Cake, Gluten Free

A lot of the proportions depend on how dry your cake mix is—gluten free mixes can vary considerably. I used King Arthur’s Yellow Cake Mix and these are the proportions I use. By the way…King Arthur gluten-free mixes are amazing. All of them.

Cake:

1 gluten-free yellow box cake mix

1 cup sour cream (maybe a little more if your box cake is very sweet)

4 eggs

1/2 c. oil

Milk to thin the batter. I think I ended up using around 2 cups.

Topping:

Up to 1/3 c. brown sugar

Up to 1/3 c. honey

1 tbsp. cinnamon

Icing:

2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 c. milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream and milk until smooth. Some lumps are fine, just not big lumps. Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon and honey on top of the batter. Swirl with a dinner knife. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes.

For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency. Pour onto the hot cake and let set for about 10 minutes.

Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Here’s a link to a non gluten-free version.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans—the stuff that dreams, Renaissance Faires and Roquefort-Pear Salad are made out of (please, try that salad–it’s absolutely divine, no matter what pantheon you worship).  Lucky for you, and your post-Renaissance Faire budget, they are very easy to make. They’re also a tasty gift, a nice touch to add to salads and sweet casseroles, and an easy, appetizing dish to include in your upcoming holiday parties from Samhain to Imbolc. Really, you can’t lose.

Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans (or any nuts)

1 pound pecans*

1 egg white, whipped till frothy

1 c. sugar, white

1 to 2 tsp. cinnamon

generous sprinkle sea salt

Directions

1. Set your oven to 200. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. In a large bowl, whip the egg white until frothy. Add the pecans, toss to coat.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and salt.

4. Add the sugar mixture to the egg whites and pecans. Toss until thoroughly coated. Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven when the pecans are very fragrant and the sugar shell is hard.

* You can definitely size this recipe for whatever amount you need. I’ve quartered it, halved it, etc. and it’s always turned out great.  Just remove the amount of egg white or add an egg white per pound.

*Also, you can apply it to different nuts, but be aware that because of varying fat content some nuts (like cashews) might burn easier, so check more often.

Enjoy! I know that I’ll be giving these to friends as gifts around Yule and Christmas and adding them to any dish that I can possibly get away with!

Recipe: Smothered Braised Pork Ribs

I made this recipe on Saturday night during one of the many rain showers that rolled through. I wish I could add a picture–I have several–but they all look terrible! The lighting in our house is not conducive to taking nighttime photos of food. Still, trust me, if you l like pork and you like sauerkraut, this is a super easy autumn meal. It would also be great for a Mabon or Samhain potluck, as it feeds six, easy.

Smothered Braised Pork Ribs

Adapted from this recipe.

Time: 30 minutes active, 2-3 hours inactive

Ingredients

2-3 pounds country style pork ribs

1-2 tbsp ghee or cooking oil of choice

2 leeks, white and light green area, sliced thin

1 lb. sauerkraut, preferably from the cold case

1 – 2 c. liquid, choose between chicken or beef broth, dry white wine, beer

Seasonings: salt, black pepper, nutmeg

Hardware

1 dutch oven

Tongs/metal spatula

Spare plate

——–

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.

1.  Generously season the ribs with salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle nutmeg.

2.  Heat oil in the dutch oven. When hot, sear the ribs on one side.

3.  Once the ribs are seared a nice golden brown, remove them from the dutch oven onto a plate. Add more oil if the pan is dry, then add the leeks. Sauté until soft. If the pan dries, or a thicker crust is forming, deglaze the pan with a small amount (less than a 1/4 cup) of liquid.

4.  After the leeks are soft, place the ribs back in the dutch oven, uncooked side down.

5. Cover with sauerkraut. Add 1 c. of liquid of choice. Cover with lid, and put in the oven for 2-3 hours, checking every hour. If the pot dries out, simply add another 1/2 c. to 1 c. liquid.

6. Ribs are done when they fall apart due to gentle prodding with a fork, about 2 hours.

——–

Serve with:

German potato salad, sautéed red cabbage, sauerkraut, buttered carrots

Dry Riesling

Sometimes You Just Need to Bake

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t eat a lot of “carbs”. Rather, I don’t eat a lot of grains or refined sugar. Though I love them, they don’t love me back.

However, I do love to bake. And sometimes, when life becomes joyful or, conversely, really confusing I just…my fingers twitch with the craving to preheat ovens (all ovens!) and line muffin tins. Usually, to avoid looking like an utter lunatic, I follow that desire to its conclusion and fill the tins with batter. And bake it. Yum.

Today is a joyful day–J and my third anniversary (!)–but we’re also in the midst of an uncertain, liminal time when our family (might, maybe, possibly) has some big changes coming up.

So, I baked. I couldn’t help it. I chalk it up to my specific biological imperatives.

Low (or No) Sugar Banana Chocolate-Chip Muffins

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run (a blog)

2 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper the better)

4 tbsp. butter, melted

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

up to 1/2 c. sugar, depending on personal preference

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1.5 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or AP white flour)

3/4 c. unsweetened or bittersweet morsels

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mash bananas. Add melted butter, vanilla, egg, stirring after each addition. Add sugar, stir well. Mix in baking soda, salt, flour and morsels. Do not over mix. Stir until just combined.

Spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Notes

I didn’t have morsels/chips on hand so I just chopped up a four ounce bittersweet chocolate baking bar.

Adjust the sugar proportional to the ripeness of the bananas. My bananas were on their way to overripe, so I added only 2 tbsps. of sugar. The muffins were just sweet enough to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and banana. The less ripe the bananas the more sugar you may want to add. Or not.

Enjoy!

Muffins with Anniversary Flowers...Awww.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

[First, I have to say, my kitchen is a terrible place to take pictures. The people who redesigned it installed lighting that throws shadows everywhere. Obviously not food bloggers. 🙂 When I went to preview this post the pictures just looked terrible, so I decided to leave them out.]

Moving on!

Saturday morning we made our way to the mall for mine and J’s optometrist appointments. As we pulled into the parking lot we happened upon a happy surprise–a farmer’s market! I thought I knew about all of the markets in town, but apparently not. It was nice sized, not very large, but big enough to have some meat, crafts and a few veggie vendors. When we entered the market a lady shoved a $3 coupon in my hand. Sweet.

The market stalls were picked over by the time we got there, but my roving eye spotted a display of winter squash.

Winter squash = winter is coming…hahah. No. Sorry. I mean, yes, winter is coming, but we don’t live in Westeros…okay, forget it.

It does mean that autumn is on its way, and to celebrate these happy little finds I fixed up the squash in my favorite way.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, quartered and seeded

1 tbsp. olive oil

1-2 tbsp. butter (depending on the size of the squash)

2 tbsp. maple syrup (the real deal, please)

sea salt, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400*

2. Rub/sprinkle/spray the acorn quarters with olive oil. Then, chunk up the butter and put it in the little cavities of the squash. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with salt.

3. Bake at 400*, from 25-35 minutes

4. Eat with gusto.

Notes

I prefer Grade B maple syrup for all syrupy applications. It has a much stronger flavor that really holds up to high heat cooking.