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    A good ragu is always a welcome addition to anyone’s repertoire. This recipe comes from my desire to use a portion of the Maitake mushrooms that I had freeze dried from the past seasons harvest. Of course if you are fortunate enough to have a fresh supple they can be used as well, additionally a good substitute would be portabella. For purpose of this recipe I’ll use the generic term mushroom(s) instead of being specific. Make a batch and then use some and freeze the rest.

    You will need:

    Italian Sausage — 1½ lbs bulk.
    Fresh Mushrooms — ½ lb. chopped.
    Shallot — 1 medium size finely diced.
    Fresh Oregano — 2 TBSP
    Fresh Marjoram — 2 TBSP
    Olive Oil — 4 TBSP
    White Wine — ¼ cup – a good Chardonnay works well
    Heavy Cream — ¼ cup
    Tomato — 1 26oz can diced or crushed – San Marzano Plum work best.
    Sea Salt/Ground Pepper — to taste

    In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients heat two tablespoons of olive oil until it dances/shimmers. Add bulk sausage (if you can’t find bulk at your grocer purchase links and remove from casing) and using a potato masher start breaking up the meat continue sautéing until most of the pink is gone do not brown completely or the sauce will be too dry.

    Remove sausage from the pan, drain and set aside. Add 1 TBSP to the sauté pan heat to shimmer then add the mushrooms. Cook until all of the moisture exuded from them is evaporated. NB: Not all mushrooms have the same moisture content for instance Maitake and Portabella have less than Button or Crimini.

    Remove mushrooms fro the pan and set aside. Add 1 TBSP Olive oil and sauté the shallots until they are just translucent then add the sausage and mushroom to the pan stir to combine. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Turn heat to medium high and add the white wine, cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the heavy cream, stir well to combine and cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the tomatoes, stirring to combine and cook until they break apart. If you think the ragu is too dry you can add some tomato sauce but not enough to make it soupy.

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    After making a batch of pasta dough and having some left over from making linguini I decided to use a part of it to create this recipe for all to enjoy. I’ve also used my homemade Ricotta Salata and Maitake Mushrooms collected this fall. Not to worry I will also show replacement items.

    You will need:

    For the dough:
    400 g bread flour
    4 Large eggs
    Cold water
    Olive Oil.

    For the Ricotta Salata:
    One gallon whole milk.
    4 TBSP White Vinegar
    Sea Salt.

    For the filling:
    6 oz. button mushrooms
    6 oz fresh Maitake Mushrooms
    One sprig fresh thyme
    Sea Salt/Ground Pepper

    2 cups marinara sauce, either your own home made or purchased. I used my Sunday Gravy recipe.

    Prepare the Ricotta – in a stock pot large enough to hold the ingredients put the milk in and turn the burner on to low (and I do mean low) slowly incorporate the vinegar stirring as it is introduced. Place a double layer of cheese cloth in a colander or strainer and once the curds have all floated to the top of the whey scoop them out and put into the lined sieve. Drain until all of the whey has been removed and it is cool to the touch. At this stage you have fresh ricotta to turn it into salata incorporate a one tablespoon of sea salt and wrap the cheese tightly in the cloth. Place a plate on top and add some weight to further remove any excess whey.

    Prepare the Pasta – You can use either your stand mixer or food processor – Place flour, eggs and a little salt (1/2 tsp) in the machine mix well until all of the flour is absorbed and it pulls away from the sides of the machine, if all of the flour is combined and the dough does not pull from the sides add a little water mixed with olive oil. (Use just enough to get the dough to pull away). Remove dough from bowl, form into a disk, wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

    Prepare the filling – Chop mushrooms, combine with the thyme and salt/pepper to taste. Sauté the ingredients in some olive oil until all of the moisture has been removed and they are of a paste consistency.

    Form the cannelloni – Cut enough of the dough to make four, four inch square sheets, roll the dough out to between number 6 and 4 on you pasta maker anything thinner will just make the cannelloni fall apart. Dust sheets lightly with flour an set aside. In a bowl large enough to hold the mushrooms and ricotta add them along with some chopped basil and one large egg. Stir ingredients to combine. Place 1/4 of the mixture at the end of each of the pasta sheets and roll into cylinders.

    Place about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of an oven safe pan, carefully place the cannelloni, seam side down on top of the sauce, pour the remaining sauce over the cannelloni making sure to cover all of the pasta, sprinkle some additional Ricotta on top along with parmesan to taste and chiffonade of basil. Cover tightly with aluminum boil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

    If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making the cheese and pasta simply use store purchased ricotta and drain it well, purchase either no cook lasagne noodles, softened in water then rolled or large shells also softened in water for ease of handling.

    Hen of the Woods (Maitake Mushrooms)


    It’s nearing that time of year again when this delicious, little known mushroom, will be ready to be harvested. One would be surprised at the size and weight that they can reach. My largest find weighed in at a hefty 40lbs. I used some of it fresh and have dried them for future use. Also known as the Miatake they have both culinary and medicinal qualities.

    I’ve been working on a mushroom soup using this along with other fungi and will post it as soon as I create, taste and test.

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    I like a good steak occasionally and although I, at times, like it with a little steak sauce [my latest favorite is A-1 Cracked Peppercorn] I decided to do something with mushrooms, onions and Marsala wine. It is simple, quick and easy and hits the spot. I served this with Baby Brussels Sprouts.

    You will need:
    Bone-in New York Strip steak approximately 8 ounces/serving.
    Coarse Sea Salt
    Cracked Pepper
    Olive Oil
    Baby Brussels Sprouts approximately 4 ounces/serving
    Butter (unsalted) approximately two tablespoons/serving.
    Button Mushrooms, sliced, approximately 4 ounces/serving
    Sweet Onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia, sliced thin.
    Dry Marsala Wine approximately 4 TBSP/serving.
    Kosher Salt/Pepper

    Rub olive oil on both sides of steak, season with sea salt and cracked pepper then grill or pan sauté to desired doneness. While steak is cooking pour olive oil into a sauté pan large enough to hold all ingredients add butter when oil is warm, add sliced mushrooms and onions, season with salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms lose most of their moisture and onions are translucent. Add Marsala wine and continue to cook until wine is absorbed.

    While the steak and mushrooms are cooking place Brussels Sprouts in a pot of boiling water, make sure the pot is large enough to hold all the sprouts without crowding. Depending on the size of the sprouts boil, until they are fork tender then remove from pot and keep warm. In a small sauce pot melt butter until just foamy, add salt/pepper to taste, add a small amount of cornstarch or arrowroot to some water to form a smooth paste whisk into butter until slightly thickened add Brussels sprouts to coat.

    Shell Pasta with Mushroom and Onion


    This simple and fast dish is perfect for a light meal or side dish. I had some mushrooms and onions leftover from diner the other night and wanted to use them. I had a taste for a pasta dish and came up with this.

    You will need:
    Mushrooms – approximately one cup/serving
    Sweet Onion – approximately one cup/serving
    Olive Oil – approximately two tsp/serving
    Tomato Paste – approximately one tsp/serving
    Oregano Pesto or Fresh Oregano chopped with olive oil to form a paste – approximately 1 tsp/serving
    Garlic – approximately one clove/serving
    Shell Pasta

    Prepare pasta according to package directions. In the mean time medium dice mushrooms and onion and puree garlic. In a sauté pan large enough to hold mixture heat olive oil until hot, add mushroom, onion and garlic and sauté until onions become translucent. Make a small clear area in the pan and add the tomato paste and pesto/oregano and sauté a few minutes then combine all elements. Salt and pepper to taste. When pasta is cooked drain well and return to pot add mushroom mixture and heat through.

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    Making the classic Beef Wellington could be intimidating but it is a relatively easy dish to prepare and is well worth the effort. I have taken liberties with my version, actually two versions, by adding onion to one and spinach to the other. The version here uses onion but by simply replacing the onion in the recipe/technique below with spinach you get a completely different experience.

    You will need:
    Filet of beef approximately 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick 6 – 8 oz./serving.
    Puff pastry – 12″ square piece 1/serving.
    Sweet Onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia – 1/4″ slice 1/person (be careful here as you want to keep the slabs of onion intact – you can pierce each with a toothpick to insure the rings stay together).
    Shallot – diced fine approximately 1 TBS/serving.
    White button or crimini mushrooms – approximately 3 oz./serving.
    White wine, Sherry or Vermouth – approximately 1TBS/serving.
    Shallot – approximately 1 TBS/serving.
    Garlic approximately one small clove/serving.
    Egg wash (combine egg with a little water and whip until combined).
    Olive Oil/Butter – approximately 1TBS each/serving
    Butcher’s twine.

    Prepare the filets – Tie each filet, with a piece of twine placed at half the thickness of the beef, tight enough to give the filet some height and uniformity in circumference. In a sauté pan large enough to hold filets without crowding place approximately 1 TBS each of oil and butter. When oil/butter began to bubble sauté filets on both sides until a rich crust is formed. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely. All you are doing with this step is searing the meat, it will cook through when baking the Wellingtons.

    Prepare the mushrooms – (Mushroom Duxelles) – Place mushrooms, shallot and garlic in a food processor and chop until the mixture has a paste consistency. Using the same pan for the beef add more oil/butter if the pan is too dry bring up to temperature and add the mushroom mixture. Sauté mixture until it starts to dry out then add the White wine/sherry/vermouth. Continue to cook until the mixture is completely dry. Remove from pan, set aside to cool completely.

    Prepare the Onion – in the same pan used for the beef and mushroom add a little oil/butter if the pan is too dry. Season both sides of onion with salt and pepper then place in heated pan. Sauté onions on both sides until golden brown. Carefully remove onion slabs from pan, set aside to cool completely.

    Prepare the dough – It is not a difficult task to do this step. It is easier to give you a visual so I have included this visual aid.

    Assembly and cooking – Separate all of the above items into portions equal to the amount of tenderloins used. Place a portion of the mushroom mixture in the center of the dough square spread until it matches the circumference of the steak, remove twine from tenderloin and place on top of the mushrooms, place one onion plank on top of beef, follow the instructions provided to fold dough over beef to form a package. Roast individual Beef Wellington(s) until the internal temperature reaches 130° for rare, 140° for medium. Serve with a vegetable and mashed potatoes.

    If you decide to add cooked spinach instead of the onion simply replace it at the step indicated above.

    NB You must make sure that all items are completely dry otherwise the dough will become gooey and you will not get a good crisp crust.

    Chicken Marsala

    This simple yet delicious recipe will make your dinner guest crave more. As a side I serve this with angel hair pasta aglio e l’olio (garlic/olive oil).

    You will need:
    Boneless/skinless chicken breast – approximately 6 ounces/person
    Olive Oil – approx. 1 TBS/serving
    Butter – approx. 1 TBS/serving
    Mushrooms – white button or crimini (sliced)- approx. 2 oz/serving
    Chicken broth – approx. 1/4 cup/serving
    Marsala wine – good quality approx. 2 TBS/serving

    Heat oven to 350° F. Place butter and olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold breasts without crowding, heat until butter melts. Dust chicken breasts with flour, pat off excess. Place breasts in sauté pan, presentation side down, sauté until a rich brown crust develops, turn breasts over and sauté until other side develops the same crust. Move breasts to a cookie sheet or oven proof pan to finish (internal temperature should read 160° F (time will be decided by the thickness of the breast pieces).
    If there is not enough oil/butter left in the pan add another tablespoon of each. Add cut mushrooms with approximately one tablespoon of flour to skillet and cook until browned and somewhat dry. Add Marsala wine and cook until wine is reduced by at least half, add chicken broth and continue to cook until reduced by half. At this stage season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Remove chicken from oven and add to the sauce, cover and simmer for approximately five minutes. Place breast on a serving platter and cover with sauce. Garnish with some parsley.

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