Posts Tagged 'mushroom'

Meat and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

This is the best spaghetti sauce I have ever made. It is even better than the recipe I inherited from my mother. I combined several recipes, including my mother’s, to make it. What could be bad?  It’s got mushrooms:
meat sauce mushrooms
It’s got ground buffalo:
meat sauce buffalo
It’s got hot Italian chicken sausage
meat sauce sausage
Plus it’s got a bit of crushed red pepper to give it even more zing. And it’s low fat and one recipe makes a lot, so you can freeze it. (Oh, and it freezes well.)

One warning, though. I have made this numerous times. The last time was after I’d gotten rid of my slow cooker in preparation for the move that has not yet happened.  I figured that I could just make it in my giant trusty sauté pan. It was ok, but it lacked the depth and richness of the usual sauce. So you really need a slow cooker for long simmering to make this taste wonderful.

Meat and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (see note)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 chopped green pepper
½ pound button mushrooms, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces hot Italian chicken sausage
1 pound ground buffalo
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and green pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
meat sauce veggies cooking
Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Place vegetable mixture in a 6-quart slow cooker.
meat sauce veggies crockpot
Crumble sausage and buffalo into skillet; sauté 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble further. Remove meat mixture from skillet using a slotted spoon. Add meat mixture to slow cooker. Stir next 9 ingredients (through basil) into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Makes 9 servings at about 4.6 grams of fat/serving. Break out the pasta and enjoy.
meat sauce
NOTE: I chop the onion, carrot, and green pepper in the food processor so they’ll blend into the sauce.

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Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

In the bottom of my pantry I have one and a half huge Costco bags of dried shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake, native to Korea, China and Japan, have been grown in all three countries since prehistoric times. They have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. They were believed to be medicinal, a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness. Dried shiitake must be rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process brings out the umami flavor from the dried mushrooms.

History aside, I find shiitake mushrooms to be quite versatile, throwing a handful into various dishes to increase their “meatiness” without increasing fat. They have a nice, chewy texture and flavor that adds substance to a dish.  But one and a half very big bags is simply too much! I need to reduce their bulk by using a large number at once. And that’s when I discovered recipes on the back of the bags.

Beside switching from beef to buffalo to lower fat, I varied the recipe a bit to match up with things I had in the house. It was too snowy to go out to get new ingredients. So for the new potatoes, I used a pound of cut up regular potatoes, and for the recommended canned whole tomatoes I used diced, because that is what I had in the pantry.

This recipe is super easy – everything goes in the slow cooker and then you come home to a great dinner.

The flour in the recipe means you have a good, thick gravy at the end. It also reheated well, with a little water added, so it made good leftovers the next day. It was a perfect winter dish when the temperatures were hovering in the 20’s and I wanted something warm and filling.

Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

3 cups dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms
12 new potatoes cut into quarters, or 1 lb. regular potatoes cut in 2 inch chunks
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
8 oz baby carrots
14½  oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained
14½ oz can beef broth
½ cup flour
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 lb buffalo, cut in 2 inch cubes (I used buffalo chuck roast, but any roast would do)

In a medium bowl, cover the shiitake mushroom with water and soak for at least 15 minutes. Drain shiitake mushrooms. Combine mushrooms and all ingredients except buffalo in a slow-cooker. Stir a bit to mix the flour in. Add buffalo.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (mine slow-cooker runs hot, so 7 hours was enough). Makes 4 hearty servings at about 2.5 grams of fat/serving.

The True Adventures of Mock Chopped Liver

Each year my congregation has a community seder at Passover. About 80 people attend. We hire a caterer for the main course, but members are assigned traditional foods, such as the haroset or the matzoh balls to put in the soup.  This year they requested that I make my famous chopped liver, using my mother’s age-old recipe. But they also asked if I could possibly make a “mock” chopped liver for the vegetarians among us, or those who don’t like liver in any form.

Now I’m not sure why anyone would mock chopped liver. It is a high fat food of the gods, which should be treated with utmost respect.  And, I am not going to include the recipe for chopped liver as if it were healthy and low fat, although I’ll tell you the secret formula at the end of this post.  Just so you know the difference:

The chopped liver is to the left – the mock is to the right

But what would mock chopped liver consist of? I decided it should be essentially like chopped liver – braised onions lending their caramelized sweetness to the same mix of hard boiled eggs, chicken-flavor broth crystals and …what?  I decided to use mushrooms in place of the chicken livers, in the exact same proportion as the chopped liver.

The recipe is:

For each pound of mushrooms, sliced (I used ordinary button mushrooms) use
1 hard boiled egg
1 fairly large onion, sliced vertically
1 Tablespoon canola oil
Chicken-style (vegetarian) soup mix or bullion cubes (crushed) to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until golden brown and somewhat caramelized.  Remove to a bowl. Add mushrooms to the same pan. Sauté  until soft and somewhat browned. Put onions, mushrooms, and egg through a food grinder. If you use a food processor instead of a grinder, pulse so that the mixture is coarse. Add soup mix to taste, mixing it in thoroughly. Makes 6 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.  I actually thought the mock chopped liver, which is actually a mushroom pate, tasted better than the real thing – oh sacrilege! And I plan to make it again just to eat with crackers.

I actually think I could make this without any oil – just sauté the ingredients in a non-stick pan coated with cooking spray, adding hot water periodically to “steam fry” the onions and mushrooms. This is how I usually cook onions – without oil. You get the same rich caramelized taste. Then the mock chopped liver would only be about 1 gram of fat/serving.

But wait, I said there was an adventure. I made the mock chopped liver the day of the seder (the chopped liver had been made 2 days before). This meant I got up early and sautéed 6 onions and six pounds of mushrooms. This took several hours, because while I have a very large sauté pan, I still had to cook them in several batches. I confess I was working with some haste, so that I would have time to take a nice hot shower before driving to the seder location. I ground the mushrooms, eggs, and onions into the large metal bowl of my mixer. The bowl was very full. I then set the bowl aside while removing the grinder from the mixer so I could use it to mix the seasoning into the mock chopped liver. In my haste, I bumped the full bowl and it crashed to the hard kitchen floor. Miraculously, it landed upright, with most of the food in it. But the impact shot some of the contents out of the bowl …

Onto the floor
(I had already cleaned it off the wall, which was coated)

Onto the ceiling

On the wall above the refrigerator, which was across the room.

There was mushroom mix on cabinets, walls, random dishes, and other locations that reveal themselves daily. I hastily cleaned and headed for the hot shower.  I still haven’t figured out how to get it off the wall above the refrigerator.

So what am I – chopped liver?

There is no way you can make chopped liver low fat (I’ve tried), so you should make it once a year, eat it and enjoy, and give the leftovers to deserving people so it doesn’t tempt you from the refrigerator.

The reason it isn’t low fat is not only because it is made with chicken livers and eggs, but because the onions and livers are cooked in Chicken Fat! I render my own chicken fat. To render chicken fat (an ancient art practiced by my mother and grandmother) remove all the skin and fat from a large raw chicken. (Use the naked chicken for something else.) The skin and fat from one chicken makes enough fat for about 3-4 pounds of liver. Place the skin and fat into a large sauté pan, and cook slowly over a medium low heat for several hours until there is golden liquid fat in the pan, and crisp bits of skin, known as gribenes. Wikipedia says that gribenes are crisp chicken or goose skin cracklings somewhat similar to pork rinds. Gribenes are a byproduct of schmaltz (the Yiddish term for chicken fat) preparation.

When I was young, my mother would fish these bits of skin out of the pan onto a paper towel to drain, and then sprinkle the hot gribenes with salt for anxious children to grab as snacks. My advice is to nibble one…and then speedily put them in the garbage or feed them to your dogs, or whatever it takes to get the addictive little bits out of the house. I rendered enough chicken fat to freeze some for next year.

Once you have the chicken fat, follow the same proportions and procedure as for the mock chopped liver, substituting the liver for the mushrooms. I usually use the same pan I rendered the fat in, and cook it all in one day.

Wild Rice Pilaf

Before I totally forget to post it, here is the recipe for Wild Rice Pilaf that I served with the Moroccan Braised Veal Shanks. It is a fine side dish, and also was good to eat plain for lunch the next day. The original recipe was from Cooking Light.  My only caution is to make sure that the wild rice cooks until tender. It may take longer than you think – so leave plenty of time and check it periodically after an hour.

Wild Rice Pilaf

1  1/4 cups water
2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1  1/2  cups uncooked wild rice
1 Tablespoon butter
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

Bring water and broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add wild rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Drain.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; sauté 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, pecans, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Combine rice and mushroom mixture in a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 325° for 25 minutes.  Makes 8 servings at about 5.4 grams of fat/serving.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I woke up the other day expecting a much-hyped snow storm, and it was bright and sunny outside. Nary a flake of snow graced the weeds outside my window. It was, however, only 6 degrees F.  This is entirely unreasonable.

Time to make more soup. It warms the kitchen when cooking and warms you when you eat it. This mushroom soup, originally from Eating Well, is nice and thick. I used a mix of mushrooms: cremini (which now seem to be called “baby bellas”), a portabella, and some button mushrooms.

I expect it would be just as good with only one kind of mushroom – whatever is economical to buy. When I first tasted the soup it seemed like it was too dilly, but the next day it was great.  The flavors were complex and satisfying. It pays to use Hungarian paprika (not the hot kind) because it delivers a fuller, richer flavor than regular paprika.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian
2 Tablespoons dried dill
4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth (I used mushroom broth)
2 cups non-fat milk
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup non-fat sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
I halved the larger mushrooms before I sliced them.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium-high heat. (I make everything in my big flat-bottomed wok.) Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 minutes more. Add flour, paprika and dill and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk and potatoes; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and salt. Makes 6 servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Garlicky Edamame and Mushrooms

I love edamame. They are crunchy and have a nut-like flavor, but they have far fewer fat grams than nuts. Edamame are baby soybeans in the pod. The Japanese name literally means “twig bean” and is a reference to the short stem attached to the pod. The green soybeans in the pod are picked before they ripen and the pods are then boiled in water or steamed – typically with salt.  I first encountered them as a snack served in the pod prepared with salt and spices. You use your teeth to strip them out of the pod and eat them. (It is funny to watch people who don’t realize that they shouldn’t try to eat the pod after they get a mouthful of pod. It’s polite to warn them before they take that unfortunate step.)

I buy bags of frozen edamame beans out of the pod. They have been pre-boiled, and if you want to use them out of the bag, they only need a few minutes in the microwave. They can be tossed into salads, or eaten as a snack.

I made this edamame dish when I was craving some crunch. It is good hot or cold, although I preferred hot. I ate it for dinner, but it would be a nice first course. It has enough garlic to stop several vampires, so I don’t recommend taking it to work for lunch unless you don’t have to talk to anyone that afternoon.

Garlicky Edamame and Mushrooms

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup mushrooms (button or cremini), thinly sliced
1 cup shelled edamame beans
1 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
sea salt

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden.  Don’t let it burn or it will be bitter.  Add mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until all of their liquid cooks off.  Add edamame (you can add them frozen), and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add balsamic vinegar and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Makes 2 servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

Mushroom and Caramelized Shallot Strudel

This delicious, flaky pastry was originally described in Cooking Light as a main dish, perhaps a vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving.  I have been making it for years, taking it to friends’ houses as a Thanksgiving appetizer. It was always popular, and every year my friends would ask “you’re going to bring the mushroom thing, aren’t you?” Now the friends go south every year before Thanksgiving, and I fly across country to my daughter’s home for the annual feast. But the grocery had packaged mushrooms on sale for an unbelievable price, and I thought this would be a good main dish for a wintry day.  Whether you slice it thin for an appetizer or thick for a main dish, this is one of the best vegetarian low-fat dishes I have ever made. It requires just a little fussing, but it never fails.  It also has a pretty decent “wow” factor to bring to a potluck or a friend’s dinner table.

Mushroom and Caramelized Shallot Strudel

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2  cups thinly sliced shallots (about 8 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon water
4 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms (or you could thinly slice  2 pounds of mushrooms)
2  Tablespoons Marsala or Madeira wine
2/3 cup non-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8  sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs, divided
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sugar; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

cut shallot

Thinly sliced shallots.

Sprinkle with water; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until shallots are soft.

sauteed shallot

Caramelized shallots

Add mushrooms; cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat 20 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Add Marsala; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and cool. Stir in sour cream, parsley, salt, thyme, and pepper.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), and lightly coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons breadcrumbs. Repeat the layers with 3 phyllo sheets, cooking spray, and breadcrumbs, ending with the phyllo. Spoon 1 3/4 cups mushroom mixture along 1 long edge of phyllo, leaving a 1-inch border.
filling on phyllo

Starting at the long edge with the 1-inch border, roll up jelly roll fashion. Place strudel, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Tuck ends under. Repeat the procedure with the remaining phyllo sheets, cooking spray, breadcrumbs, and mushroom mixture. Brush strudels with butter. Bake strudels at 400° for 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes.
phyllo log

Cut each strudel into 4 slices. This makes 8 main dish servings at 5 grams of fat/serving.  When I used this as an appetizer I cut each strudel into 6-8 pieces, so the appetizer was a little over 2 grams of fat/serving – which was light enough to precede a Thanksgiving meal.

phyllo slice

One main dish serving

I actually halved the recipe and made one strudel. I find that food made with phyllo doesn’t keep several days without getting soggy – and it doesn’t always reheat well.

Hint: I often have a problem finding the time to fuss over food preparation when I get home. This is one of those dishes where you can make the filling ahead and then fill and bake the strudel when you want to eat it.


ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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