Tag Archives: thyme

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.

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.

Roasted Tomato Croques

DSC_5061I can still remember the sublime experience of eating a Croque Monsieur for the first time.  A friend and I were on holiday traveling through Europe while studying abroad in England.  We took the Chunnel from London to Paris, where we made romantic plans to meet some other friends at the top of the Eiffel Tower.  I knew nothing about serious traveling, let alone traveling with a large backpack the size of another human strapped to your back.  In my 20-year old naiveté, I had no hesitations about traveling through 6 countries in a span of 3 weeks—none of which were English-speaking countries.  I bought my Berkeley Guide Europe ’97 (which still sits proudly on my bookshelf), tightened my rose-colored glasses, and away we went.
DSC_5032I think back on my time traveling around Europe from time and time, and am astounded at how casually I approached everything.  My friend and I arrived in Paris and thought it made the most sense to try and find lodging for the night.  I can’t imagine traveling anywhere in today’s world without first researching prices, neighborhoods, etc., and then BOOKING A PLACE TO STAY.  We nonchalantly began calling hostels listed in our guide from the Paris train station, and eventually found one within our price range.  After a decent night’s sleep (with my passport tied around my neck and tucked into my pajamas), we headed out to explore the City of Lights.
DSC_5040Of course, I was a poor student back then and didn’t really care that I had very little money to spend while traveling.  The important thing was the opportunity to be able to travel to these incredible countries, and not so much what we would be able to afford and not afford to do once we arrived.  My friend and I agreed that since we were on a limited budget, we would stick to eating fruit, baguettes and jam for the majority of our meals—all of which were extremely cheap at any market—and then treat ourselves to one meal per city (roughly every 2-3 days).  Again, for my 20-year-old self, this did not feel like a huge sacrifice.  And it had a huge upside!  Every REAL meal we ate tasted like manna from heaven.  Which brings me to my meal in Paris.  We had been walking around all day, seeing the sights and taking in the sounds while a light mist engulfed the city.  By dinnertime, we were wet, tired and hungry.  We had no idea where to go for a reasonably priced dinner in Paris.  We eventually stumbled upon a brasserie that looked warm, inviting, and best of all, cheap.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur, not because I knew what it was, but because I remember the description mentioning ham and cheese, which sounded familiar to my Midwestern palate.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dish, it is essentially a ham and cheese (usually Emmental or Gruyère) sandwich on white bread.  However, what makes this dish stand out is the béchamel sauce that is added to the sandwich, as well as the extra cheese that is sprinkled on top.  The entire sandwich is then broiled for a minute or two to create a beautifully golden, crunchy crust.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.
DSC_5048I saw this recipe for Roasted Tomato Croques in a recent issue of Food & Wine and immediately tore it out to add to my recipe file.  I’m going to go ahead and call it a summer version of the original, and I really like the fact that it’s an open-face sandwich.  I think open-face sandwiches have virtue, if only because they better highlight the sandwich ingredients instead of hiding them between two pieces of bread.  The original recipe calls for straining the béchamel sauce, but I love onions, thyme, and rosemary, so I decided to leave them in for added flavor.  It also called for pickled peppers, which I did not have on hand (I’m no Peter Piper…sorry—had to), so I simply added a few splashes of balsamic vinegar to each slice of bread before roasting and it did the trick.  I took a bite of these beauties fresh out of the oven and was immediately transported back to that Paris brasserie.  Cue the Edith Piaf….
DSC_5049Roasted Tomato Croques
Adapted from Food & Wine

Yield: 15 open-face sandwiches

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 small thyme sprigs, plus 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
sea salt
black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
2 lbs. heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
15 1/2-inch thick slices of sourdough bread
1/2 lb. Gruyère cheese, shredded

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onion, thyme sprigs, rosemary, mustard and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes.
2.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden, about 3 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the milk until incorporated and bring to a boil.  Simmer the sauce over moderately low heat, stirring, until thickened and no floury taste remains, 7 to 10 minutes.
3.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown.
4.  Set a rack on another large rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange the bread in a single layer on the rack and top the slices evenly with the béchamel.  Using a spatula, lay the tomatoes on the béchamel.  Sprinkle with the Gruyère and thyme leaves.  Bake the croques for about 20 minutes, until the tops are browned and the bottoms are crisp.  Transfer to plates and serve hot.

Peas with Bacon and Thyme

DSC_3809 I had a phone date Sunday night with my dear friend Jo who lives in San Francisco.  We don’t get to see each other much, maybe once a year, so I cherish our phone calls.  We met 8 years ago while working at a non-profit.  I still remember her standing in my office doorway as someone introduced us.  She was a breath of fresh air in an often times stale work environment.  Over the years, she has been someone I look up to and lean on for support.  And oh how she makes me laugh.  She has listened to me speak about my struggles with depression and lack of self-worth.  And even though she herself does not suffer from this affliction, she always conveys a sense of empathy and compassion.  Being able to share my feelings with Jo without her becoming squeamish is a really nice feeling of validation.  It usually takes me a long time of knowing someone before I completely open up and share my inner demons.  It is getting easier to share now that I’m in my late 30’s.  I still care what other people think of me, just not as much as I used to.

DSC_3803 Seeing as that it is like Antarctica in NYC this week (not overly dramatic at all), I wanted to make a warm, comforting dish that was still healthy.  I know, I know.  Many of you are tired of seeing bacon included in almost everything these days.  I do think the line needs to be drawn somewhere.  Perhaps somewhere near bacon cupcakes.  But you know how bacon and brussels sprouts are a fantastic combo?  Well, it turns out bacon and peas are another great combo.  The bacon gives this dish a nice smoky richness, and the aromatic thyme is a perfect complement.

This recipe is inspired by a pizza I had years ago at a restaurant in the Meatpacking District.  It’s strange to think that I once ate in the Meatpacking District.  The neighborhood seems to have an imaginary red velvet rope around it now, allowing only beautiful Millennials into its vicinity.  Ah, youth.  So this pizza: it was hands-down one of the best gourmet pizzas I had ever tasted.  It had bacon, thyme, Gruyére, cipollini onions, and garlic.  I became obsessed with it for an entire year after tasting it.  I started making it anytime I had friends over.  This is a much healthier version of that pizza.  Even with no bread and cheese, it still has the flavor profile of my former obsession.  I’m sure you could swap in any other vegetable if you are not a pea fan.  Cauliflower or brussels sprouts come to mind as an easy alternative.  You could also substitute rosemary, dill or tarragon if you don’t have any thyme in your kitchen. DSC_3807

Peas With Bacon and Thyme
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Serves 4 to 6

6 thick bacon slices, cut in half lengthwise, and again crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen peas, not thawed
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Spoon off half of bacon fat, then add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add peas, water, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon thyme and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in butter and remaining tablespoon thyme.