Mushroom Risotto

Life has been really hectic lately. I’m working on a second Pantry Magic cookbook, expanding my line of fruit and vegetable powders on Etsy, and it feels like forever since I’ve posted anything. But honestly, I’m having one of those days when I just want something simple and warm and nourishing. Creamy mushroom risotto is the perfect answer. I know, you’re thinking that’s too much work, all that stirring. But there’s nothing complicated about risotto, and as a matter of fact, I find the stirring kind of soothing. Besides, it doesn’t really take that long, so let’s get started.

Here is what we’ll need:

  • 1 cup of arborio rice (you could also use a short grain brown rice)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, any kind, sliced and quartered, plus 1 tablespoon of my Gourmet Mushroom Powder (you can find it for sale at ElaineintheKitchen on Etsy)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 have onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour the rice into a heavy bottom sauce pan with no oil or water.

Let the rice toast lightly, stirring to keep it from burning. When the rice becomes slightly fragrant, pour in the wine.  Let the wine cook down and then add 1 cup of vegetable broth.

Let the rice simmer on a medium low heat, stirring frequently. When the broth has been mostly absorbed, add another cup of broth. Continue slowly adding the broth until it has been absorbed.

In the meantime, in a preheated sauce pan, add the onions and garlic along with two tablespoons of broth.

Season with the thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the mushrooms. Sauté,stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are cooked (10-20 minutes). Remove from the heat and cover.

When the rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the broth, add in the mushrooms and onions, along with the parsley. Stir to blend completely.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Cover, and let rest.

 

Served with a simple side dish of steamed carrots, tossed with maple syrup and dill.

A Plate of Creamy Goodness

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Rainy Day Mushroom Soup and Vegan Welsh Rarebit

It’s the first week in April and it’s snowing outside, not a lot, just enough to let you know you shouldn’t put your heavy coat away.  So, I’m going to make some warm, silky, autumn tasting cream of mushroom soup.  Mushroom anything is delicious, and a big pot of soup is just the beginning.  After today, I’ll make some of the leftover soup into a sauce for pasta, and the day after that I’ll smother a baked potato with it, and if anything is left just throw it in the freezer for your next casserole.  I guarantee that once you make this at home, you’ll never buy that disgusting canned stuff again.

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Creamy Mushroom Soup

  • 3 cups fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
  • 1 cup reconstituted shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of stock, vegetable (mushroom is best)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom powder*
  • Add salt and pepper later to taste
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, or Braggs aminos (Worchestershire works too)
  • 3/4 cup cashew or coconut cream (use any milk or cream you prefer).
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream

You’ll need:

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Directions:

In a soup pot, gently sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms until they are soft.  Add the parsley, thyme and paprika. *I also add a blend of dried mushroom powder that I make.  It just adds some extra depth and yumminess but it’s not necessary.

Now add the stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

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Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the cream or milk and stir until thoroughly combined.  Heat through.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Quick Vegan Coconut Cheese

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I’ve tried a fair number of vegan cheeses with varying success.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the process.  This isn’t exactly cheese as I think of it and I wouldn’t recommend it for a sandwich, but it’s delicious and definitely meltable.  It’s the perfect topping for vegan Welsh rarebit to accompany my big bowl of Creamy Mushroom Soup.

  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • juice of ½ lime or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 can coconut cream (I think Savoy is best, no added ingredients)
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch mixed in ¼ cup water to form slurry

Pour coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in agar agar.  Add salt, turmeric, paprika and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Add lime juice or vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.  Stir in the tapioca starch slurry and stir vigorously until silky smooth and thickened.  Pour into molds (I’ve found plastic works really well).  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

*Fermented Coconut Cheese:  Follow the directions above.  Let cook slightly and stir in the contents of 1-2 probiotic capsules.  Pour into molds and let ferment on the counter top for about 6 hours.  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

Vegan Welsh Rarebit

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and late night snacks.  It’s a great accompaniment for soup or salad.

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Take one slice of Ezekiel bread (or some other hearty grain bread).  Spread some coconut oil on one side.  Put in a cast iron fry pan with the oil side down.  Put two 1/2 inch thick slices of vegan coconut cheese on the top and put under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese turns a nice dark brown on top.

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This made my gloomy day all better.  Try it and enjoy.

It’s All About That Base – Sofrito

 

Every cuisine starts with a base of seasonings, and in Latin cooking, from Puerto Rico to Mexico to Spain, it all starts with sofrito.  Forget mire poix or New Orleans trinity (it’s just a stripped down version of sofrito anyway).   Sofrito 001AI’ve found more and more ways to use this great flavor base and I try to always have a big batch in my freezer.  Being able to throw a disk of frozen sofrito into the pan is a great way to bypass all the chopping for a sauce, a fast supper or an eat-it-when-you-get-home crockpot meal.  I’ve used it as a base in dishes like chicken and yellow rice, and in homemade enchilada sauce, chili and black bean soup.  I’ve even put it in pasta sauce and split pea soup; anywhere you want to make an ordinary dish something special.  The great thing about sofrito is that it is so easy to make.

Every one’s mom or grandma has her own authentic sofrito recipe, but this is my version.  You’ll need a blender or food processor and a frying pan (cast iron is the best), and some basic ingredients.

Basic Sofrito

Ingredients

2 red bell peppers (you can also use the sweet red and yellow minis that come in a bag)

1 green bell pepper

2 poblano peppers

1 big sweet onion

8 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 bunches of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 bunch of culantro*

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno powder (also called Texas gunpowder – I make my own)

Directions

Rough chop the vegetables and place in the blender or food processor.

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Process the mixture until it’s somewhat smooth but still has some chunkiness.  Sofrito 007AHeat your skillet and add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Pour the mixture into the skillet, add the cumin and jalapeno powder.  Notice I did not add any salt or pepper.  I add those seasonings when I use them to prepare a dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just let the mixture simmer until most of the moisture has cooked down (about 10 minutes).

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Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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What I like to do is pour 1/2 cup portions into my big muffin tin and freeze them.  Once frozen I put the disks in a zip lock and they’re ready to use when I need them.

Explore some new flavors.  Enjoy.

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Okay, so in honor of the promise of spring and St. Patrick’s Day I made a special dinner for the Irish-at-heart.  Since I’m not eating red meat, I decided to go with the next most Irish protein, salmon.  Perhaps it will make me wise and I’m certain it will be tasty.  The menu is simple and economical: salmon croquettes, (basically canned salmon with onion, red sweet pepper and dill).  If you’re offended by the can, just remember it’s wild caught, canned fresh and it’s cheap, Irish mothers rejoice.  It’s served alongside a big bowl of colcannon, with Irish soda bread, and for dessert I’ve got bread pudding slathered in Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce, so let’s get to it.

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (or other herb of choice)
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Grease an 8-inch pie plate or baking sheet and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and finely chopped rosemary.

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Make a little well in the center and add the buttermilk.   Stir until a dough forms (feel free to use your fingers if you want).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

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Place the dough on the greased pie plate and cut a half inch deep X across the top of the dough.

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Bake for 50 minutes or until a dark golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

Irish Rosemary Soda Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do not slice until the bread has cooled.  Wrap in a moist towel until ready to serve.  I usually bake the bread the day before and store in a bread bag until the next day before slicing.

Creamy Colcannon

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My version of colcannon has a couple of extra ingredients but I think you’ll like it, unless of course you hate peas in which case just leave them out.

Ingredients

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  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 small or half of a large cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large leek (white part only) sliced into rings
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup of fat free milk
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (use black if you don’t have white pepper)

In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes until tender (about 20-25 minutes).

Steam the cabbage for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain, cover and set aside.

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In a small saucepan, simmer the leeks in milk just until soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Then remove the leeks with a slotted spoon, set aside, and reserve the milk.

021Drain the potatoes and add about half the milk used to simmer the leeks.  Mash the potatoes to desired consistency (I like mine a little lumpy).   Add the cream cheese and pepper and mash until blended.  Use the remaining milk if needed.  Stir in the cabbage, leeks and peas.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat in the microwave for serving later.

 Salmon Croquettes (Patties)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can wild caught salmon
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper

Salmon Patties

 

 

 

Combine all ingredients and form into patties.  In a skillet, sauté the patties until crisp and browned.

Really Easy Bailey’s Irish Cream Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1-lb loaf cinnamon raisin bread
  • 3 cups half and half or whole milk
  • 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream (Brady’s also works)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bailey's Bread Pudding

 

 

 

 

Tear bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add the milk and Bailey’s and let soak for about 10 minutes.  Work the mixture in with your hands until the milk is absorbed.

In another bowl combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, spice and butter.  Add to the bread mixture and pour into buttered baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let rest on cooling rack until fully set.  The smell was making me irrational and I forgot to take pictures.

To create a quick sauce, combine 1 can of sweetened condensed milk with 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Warm in the microwave (very carefully).  Pour over the bread pudding and serve.

So there it is.  My culinary homage to St. Patrick’s Day and if you want green beer you’ll have supply your own.  Enjoy!

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