Tag Archives: garlic cloves

Portobellos Stuffed with Corn and Mushrooms

DSC_6104It’s been a while since I posted here.  I recently got a promotion at work, and am now managing a bakery.  I’m very excited about the opportunity, but it will be a lot of work.  This is our busiest time of year, but I don’t want to neglect this blog.  It is important for me to have a creative outlet on the weekends.  I love cooking and baking so much, especially this time of year!  I hope to have some seasonal food posts in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
DSC_6090I made this dish a few months back–towards the end of summer–when corn was in its prime.  It was really delicious; creamy with a nice bite from the vinegar and garlic.  It would be a nice way to break up all of the heavy Thanksgiving leftovers I am sure you are all enjoying right now.
DSC_6099Portobellos Stuffed with Corn and Mushrooms
Adapted from Bon Appétit

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
8 5-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms
1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as oyster and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup crumbled Cotija or feta cheese

  1. Whisk 1 cup oil, garlic, vinegar, 3 teaspoons thyme, and 2 teaspoons oregano in medium bowl to blend. Season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/3 cup garlic-herb oil to small bowl; reserve.
  2. Trim and thinly slice portobello stems; set aside. Brush both sides of portobello caps with remaining garlic-herb oil; place caps, rounded side down, on large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Preheat broiler. Broil portobello caps until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from broiler. Turn caps rounded side down.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add assorted mushrooms and portobello stems; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in reserved 1/3 cup garlic-herb oil; sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add cream; simmer until almost absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among portobello caps, mounding in center. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
  5. Preheat broiler. Broil portobellos until heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons each thyme and oregano.

Roasted Red Peppers with Garlicky Breadcrumbs

DSC_6016I’ve been thinking lately about what constitutes a good day.  After coming home from work, my husband and I will typically ask each other the common question.  I usually know, for the most part, how my day went by the time I get home.  But the other day, I found myself hesitating with my response:  “It was…hm.  I think it was good?  Yeah, I guess it was good.”  I realized that I rarely truly check in with myself when I reflect on my day – did I have a good day because good things happened, or did I have a good day because shitty things happened, as they do, but I handled them well?  I have found I need to remind myself that, although I can’t control what happens throughout any given day, I can decide how I am going to respond to things, and what meaning I will assign to behaviors, actions, and words.
DSC_5998I had dinner with an old friend from graduate school last week, and he told me about an old flame who reentered his life in a very dramatic way recently.  After he told me the story, he said, “I wonder why this happened now, and what this means.”  I don’t remember if I said this to my friend, but I used to be someone who believed that everything  happens for a reason.  I don’t believe that anymore.  I think things happen outside of us, completely randomly, and we have to decide how we are going to respond.  I think how we respond conveys our values.  And that is the human struggle – learning to navigate the good and the bad things that happen in life.
DSC_6002I love roasted red peppers, and I will often times pair them with tangy goat cheese.  I wanted to change it up, so I found this recipe that paired them with garlic bread crumbs.  You can definitely add goat cheese (or any other cheese) to the mix here, but it’s not necessary.  It’s a nice side dish, or eat a larger serving as a main dish.
DSC_6003Roasted Red Peppers with Garlicky Breadcrumbs
Adapted from Food & Wine

8 red bell peppers (3 1/2 lbs.)
3 oz. day-old country bread, crusts cut off and bread cubed
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

1.  Roast the peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes.
2.  Transfer the peppers to a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the bread until it is finely chopped.  Add the garlic and pulse until breadcrumbs form; you should have about 1 1/2 cups.
4.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Add the breadcrumbs and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the breadcrumbs to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.  Wipe out the skillet.
5.  Peel and seed the peppers, then cut them into 1/2-inch strips.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.  Add the peppers and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
6.  Transfer the peppers to a large bowl or platter.  Serve the breadcrumb topping on the side, for sprinkling.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

DSC_5826I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before how I used to despise brussels sprouts when I was a kid.  My mom would simply boil them and serve them to us, as though they were supposed to be edible.  Since then, I have come to love brussels sprouts.  In fact, they are one of my top 5 favorite veggies of all time.   I love their bitter earthiness, and they are so versatile – you can pair them with sweet, sour, spicy, umami, whichever flavor profile you want!  They won’t let you down.  One of my 2015 goals was to make more Asian dishes, because, well, why not, really.  I came across this recipe in a recent Bon Appétit issue, and ripped it out immediately to add to my recipe folder.   Taking a look at my folder reminded me that I need to post on this blog more frequently, lest I want to end up being a recipe hoarder and die by having a box of recipes fall on my head.

This recipe is for all of the brussels sprouts lovers out there, as well as the Asian food lovers.  Enjoy!

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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped, peeled ginger
2 Tbsp. hot chili paste
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.  Toss brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2.  Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20-25 minutes.  Set aside.
3.  Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.
4.  Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
5.  Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes.  Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry.
6.  Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Toss brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.

Mushrooms with Chestnuts and Thyme

DSC_5299I went to a book reading in my neighborhood the other night.  It was one of those bracingly cold evenings where you find yourself walking faster simply to seek warmth indoors.  The author was talking about identity and how we all have different personas that we wear depending on our surroundings.  He told the story of going off to college and wanting to hide his Queens accent because he desperately wanted to fit in with his more well-off peers.  Similarly, once he returned home from college he discovered that he was attempting to mask his “uppity” college vocabulary and newfangled accent so as to not feel like a fraud amongst his family and high school friends.

You hear so much chatter these days around being “authentic”, but what does that mean?  I think we carry all of our experiences with us, and that all of our identities, or personas, are equally authentic.  Indeed, they enrich our lives if we allow them to.  Of course, we give different weight to different experiences we’ve had, but they all matter.  I love the idea that human beings are constantly changing and evolving.  That depending on how curious you are and open to new thoughts and ideas, you can truly expand your world.  Now that I’ve lived in NYC for almost 12 years, I am a very different person from when I first moved here.  Back then, I wanted to hide my “Minnesotan-ness” and put on airs that made me appear more sophisticated.  Living in New York has seeped into my bones and transformed my sense of self.  Now I find myself thinking nostalgically about my time in Minnesota and some of the aspects of my personality that I was so quick to shed.
DSC_5272Twelve years ago, I was ashamed of not being as smart as the people around me.  I thought I should be more worldly and culturally astute.  I was only in my late 20’s and yet I felt like I had wasted time during my youth and needed to catch up on so many things.  Instead of accepting myself for where/who I was, I berated myself and frequently felt like an outsider amongst my New York friends and co-workers.  If I could do it all over again, I would be kinder to myself and allow the vulnerability and curiosity that is inevitable at such a young age.  I would embrace what I did not, could not know and be open to asking questions without embarrassment.  It is an identity that I should not have been ashamed of.
DSC_5285Now, when I return to Minnesota I often times feel the need to suppress aspects of myself that certain family members might not understand.  I know this is universal, but I sometimes revert back to the person I was growing up under my parent’s roof.  Although I feel somewhat like an outsider there, I’m more accepting of who I’ve become and try to allow the discomfort that lies in the space between who I was then and who I am now.
DSC_5289I had a few bags of chestnuts left over from Thanksgiving that I wanted to use up, and this recipe was exactly what I was looking for.  It’s hearty enough to stand alone as a vegetarian meal, or can also be a delicious side dish.  I love mushrooms, and the earthiness of the mushrooms pairs really well with the sweetness of the chestnuts.  The marcona almonds sprinkled on top is completely optional, but I like the crunch it adds.
DSC_5293Mushrooms with Chestnuts and  Thyme
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield:  10 servings

6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter
8 large shallots, sliced (about 2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. assorted wild mushrooms (such as stemmed shiitake, crimini and oyster), sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup Madeira (or substitute a full-bodied red wine)
1 7.25-ounce jar roasted peeled whole chestnuts, halved (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup whipping cream
Chopped fresh chives
Marcona almonds, roughly chopped

1.  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large, deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
2.  Add shallots and sauté until tender and golden, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.
3.  Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter and stir until melted.  Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sauté until tender and brown, about 10 minutes.
4.  Add thyme and stir 1 minute.  Add Madeira and simmer until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.
5.  Add chestnuts and whipping cream and simmer until cream thickens and coats mushroom mixture, about 1 minute.
6.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with chives.

Squash with Raisins and Thyme

DSC_5186Every winter when the colder weather moves in I become anti-social.  It’s one of those things I know will happen every year– like when you first notice the guys selling Christmas trees on the corner the weekend after Thanksgiving­– and yet I always seem to think, “I will manage better this year.”  I have been feeling so good for so long, that my reclusive behavior has crept up albeit very slowly over the last month.  It really became apparent when my husband was away on a business trip last month.  Usually when he goes away for several weeks at a time, I have a strategy in place to ward off the loneliness.  I try and fill my social calendar and make a long list of things to do to keep myself occupied.  Although I braced myself with my usual approach before his most recent trip, rather than going to a book reading or a movie, I found myself coming home after work most nights just to hunker down in front of the television to watch Jeopardy and Gilmore Girls.  Endless episodes.  But the strange thing was:  I didn’t feel lonely.  Or sad.  I was actually in pretty good spirits.  However, that was over a month ago.  Eventually, my unsociable behavior catches up with me, and coupled with the cold weather and shorter days, it usually ignites the winter blues at the very least.  Sometimes it can lead to a full-on depressive episode.

I am determined to manage my depression this winter.  That is, after all, the best anyone with this illness can do.  It’s like the required radios in North Korean homes:  they can never be turned completely off, only turned down, so as to ensure that the propaganda is heard.  I can’t get rid of my depression, but I can manage it by doing what I know works for me.  I have to force myself out of the apartment at least a few nights during the week, as well as on the weekends.  My brain needs external stimulation to counter the incessant internal messages.  And it becomes really hard to do in the winter when all I want to do after work is go home, put on my pajamas, and curl up on the couch.  The impulse is so strong– it almost feels like a biological instinct.
DSC_5188Maybe it just boils down to finding something every day to ensure a moment of quiet contentment.  My husband and I discovered a great coffee shop that opened in our neighborhood recently.  We’ve started going for afternoon coffee every Sunday to make certain that we get out of the apartment and check in with each other before the day is over.  Today we decided to also purchase our first Christmas tree.  Carrying it home, I had a big, stupid grin on my face.  Of course, I suggested we put on Christmas music while decorating the tree.  Seeing our little, lopsided tree all lit up made me very happy.

This is one of the easiest things you could possibly make.  And dare I say one of the most delicious.  I pack it up for my weekday lunches, but it could also be a vegetable side if you feel the need to have something heartier during the day.  The original recipe called for dates, but I’m not a huge date fan.  You could also substitute currants, golden raisins, or most likely any other dried fruit you are fond of.
DSC_5193Squash with Raisins and Thyme
Adapted from Bon Appétit

3 small acorn squash, scrubbed, cut into 1/2″ wedges
1/2 bunch thyme
4 garlic gloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup raisins
Flaky sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2.  Toss squash, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and butter in a large baking dish; season with sea salt and pepper.
3.  Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 40-45 minutes.  Add raisins;  toss to coat.
4.  Roast until squash are very tender and raisins plump up a bit, 12-15 minutes.
5.  Arrange squash, raisins, garlic, and thyme on a platter, spoon any oil in dish over squash, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.