For most vegetarians, mushrooms are a staple. Not only do they mimic the texture of meat, but they contain so many health benefits.
In addition to their health benefits they are amazingly versatile and insanely flavorful! As you likely know, fresh mushrooms have a rich, umami flavor on their own but punched up with aromatics and a de-glaze of spirits they become wonderfully savory and complex. They make a great side dish or the perfect addition to soups, pizza, stews, eggs and now so many folks are making burgers. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to eat them straight out of the skillet.
Once you assemble your ingredients for the recipe of your choice, you’re ready to cook! Here are my best tips for sautéed mushroom success:
Don’t wash them, wipe them! Generally, when I cook with fresh produce, I wash it under cold running water before I use it. But not mushrooms! They soak up moisture like a sponge, so if you wash them, they become waterlogged. This means that they won’t brown as they cook. When it comes to sautéed mushrooms, browning = flavor. So, to help the mushrooms brown, wipe them clean with a damp paper towel.
Don’t move the mushrooms for the first 2-3 minutes of cooking. Start with a pat of butter. Add the mushrooms to the hot pan being careful not to over crowd. Don’t move them for a couple of minutes. This way, they’ll get a nice golden brown sear, which will add rich flavor to the final dish
And after that, stir only occasionally. Sautéed mushrooms are best when their edges are nicely browned, which results from consistent contact with the hot pan. If you stir too much, they’ll soften before they have a chance to take on color. De-glaze once golden brown and allow the moisture to absorb then hit them with some fresh herbs off the fire. Use as a side or add to your chosen recipe.
With a little planning, this might be your best holiday yet!
Tip #1: For a successful celebration “Keep it Simple.” Here is a formula that works for appetizers: 2-2-2. I recommend six items: two store bought, two semi-homemade and two homemade. That lets you take time to focus on your signature items while keeping the other prep easy. Next you want to make sure you have something for everyone in the mix. These days that can be challenging. So many people are gluten-free, vegan or aren’t eating dairy, so make sure you have that information when crafting the menu. In a perfect world, offer vegetarian, seafood and meat options so it feels like a meal. People want the tapas experience, so the basic crudité, meat and cheese board doesn’t cut it anymore. If possible add one surprise item from the oven served mid party that can easily be added to the table or enlist a friend to pass around, so fun……
Tip #2: Focus on the Platters, Flowers and Decorations to add the “Wow” factor! Select nice napkins, small paper plates and plastic cups rather than creating extra work that comes with lots of dishes. They are perfectly fine for these holiday gatherings. You can then use your energy to put together festive platters, seasonal floral arrangements and decorations to create a lovely setting.
Tip #3: A Simple Self-Serve Bar Provide a selection of beverages that includes sparkling water, craft beer, red and white wine and maybe a signature cocktail like an Aperol Spritz.
Tip #4: Bites per Person People always ask me this and it’s the larger groups that can be challenging. The rule of thumb is 4-6 bites if a meal is being served and 10-12 bites without a meal for 2 hours. Having gourmet nuts, chips and olives and maybe a dip like pimento cheese with crackers staged in several areas will also help to fill people up!
Tip #5: Desert This is the time of year when people splurge! Either make your favorite holiday desert or this is where fruit and cheese really work well. A beautiful platter of warm brie drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pomegranates surrounded by dried and fresh fruit and artisan chocolates. It’s just enough to finish off the evening!
Tip #6: Cooks Tip: No need to feel overwhelmed this holiday season if you don’t feel like cooking. One positive from the Pandemic we now know is anything we need is just a click away. My favorite go to is Williams Sonoma. They have so many choices and excellent qualityhors doeuvres. You can also look to your local grocery store like Fresh Market or Ingles. They can make stunning holiday platters with just a few days notice.
Maybe you are not interested in doing anything but hosting. Beau & Ashley Menetre at The Nest Catering and Events are wizards at throwing amazing parties. The Nest Catering & Events – 404-319-1052
Due to where we live, I’m limited in getting good quality seafood consistently, but I can get beautiful wild caught North Carolina shrimp. The good news is shrimp and related prawns have so much versatility. They are the perfect candidate for entrees, salads, tacos, stews and soups and can be baked, boiled, fried and grilled, but my go to method is roasting! Each and every time they come out moist and juicy. So, give the recipe below a try and see what you think. Bonus I added my Green Goddess dressing recipe. It’s the perfect dip for the shrimp.
For the shrimp: 2 pounds large shrimp (14 to16 shrimp per pound) 1 tablespoon good olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. I often times use Old bay Seasoning it really amps up the flavor
For the Green Goddess Dressing: 1 cup good mayonnaise 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (5 to 6 scallions) 1 cup basil leaves (18 to 20 leaves) 1/2 cup parsley I prefer curly 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 cloves garlic 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. • Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on if using for shrimp cocktail. Be sure to pat them dry. Place in bowl and toss them until evenly coated. Pour on to a foil lined sheet pan and spread them in one layer. Roast for 8 -10 minutes depending on the size. Check at 8 minutes as there will be carryover cooking. If you think they are getting to done place in fridge to cool down. If not set aside to cool. • For the dressing, place herbs in food processor and coarsely chop. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings if needed. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Serve as a dip for the shrimp with the crudités or for your favorite salad.
Part of my service is to create a total experience for my clients. In doing so, I am constantly on the lookout for items that have loads of flavor and pair up with what I am featuring! These items may be store bought, semi-homemade or homemade. I spend lots of time purchasing and tasting several versions to come up with what I think are the best! Many of you ask me where I purchase some of these items, so here is the information.
Calabrian Chili Paste – I use this to amp up the flavors for any Italian Meal.
Organic Cracker Bites – actually comes in 3 flavors, but these are the best.
Nut Crumbs – it seems like the entire world is gluten free, but finding items that taste like the real thing is really a challenge! Finally, a product that just tastes so delicious you don’t even know it’s gluten free. The Italian are my favorite.
Whenever I make a Casserole I always add a Crunchy topping so here is my Recipe….
Lemon Parmesan Herb Breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs * Also available in Gluten Free
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Melt butter in microwave.
2. Combine rest of ingredients.
3. Sprinkle on top of casseroles or pan fry to top salads and vegetables.
Cooks Note: Gluten Free Option replace Panko with Italian Nut Crumbs. These breadcrumbs freeze beautifully! Make a big batch and keep them in the freezer. Use them in your meatballs or breading for chicken and fish.
Ask any professional chef if they were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one tool and they’d would probably pick a chef’s knife. I would have to agree but beyond the chef’s knife, I have just 3 other knives that complete my collection.
So many folks buy sets and I think it’s psychological as they are looking at the number of knives versus what they will really use! Often times sets can be the same price or close to the same price as the individual knives I am recommending. So, use my tips as a guide or validation for what you already own. Shop around and maybe stick with one brand or not but, at any rate, investing in good knives will change your experience in the kitchen.
Not looking to completely replace what you already own? Then consider just starting with one. Or if you are happy with what you already own, then make sure your blades are sharp, not only for crafting your meals, but for safety! A dull knife is a dangerous knife, so I am very disciplined about keeping my knives sharp. Luckily, I found a local source the Ace Hardware in Landrum. A fellow named Pete keeps my knives super sharp and does them in a flash.
With Spring in the air and the farmers markets to look forward to, my creative juices are always trying to think of ways that I can add more vegetables to your dishes! One success has been the creation of the Super Salad crafted after the beloved Buddha Bowl idea. I would best define this concept as an assortment of various vegetables both, raw and cooked, with a protein, grain or starch and sometimes fruit and seeds. The key is to balance all the flavors to ensure you get the perfect bite! The beauty of these bowls is that there are endless ways to keep them interesting, but for me, adding global themes really brings the concept together. If you need some inspiration, check this out this Pinterest board.
But the Bowls do take some work! So here are my tips to ensure your success:
Select a Bowl or Bowls recipe. Don’t forget the dressing.
Create your grocery list. Try and get as much organic produce as possible.
When you return home from shopping, use this motto – “Need it 3 times chop it once”. This sets you up for a week’s worth of bowls or salads. I use this amazing tool for the most beautiful julienne vegetables.
Storage, I prep most of my vegetables a week in advance and store them as follows: carrots, celery, radishes and potatoes in water. Peppers, loose fruit, cabbage and lettuce in damp paper towel placed inside a Ziploc bag. Avocados, apples, oranges once ripe store in vegetable drawer. Items like grains can be made and stay fresh up to five days stored in air tight containers. Dressings stored in glass jars. Proteins best made the day of use. *Protein short cut, buy a Rotisserie Chicken they add a lot of flavor and bonus use carcass to make chicken stock.
Lastly, choose a nice bowl that will highlight all your hard work!
Too much work then let me help! Pick a day where I can come and train you or you can always take the easy way out and order a Super Salad off the Weekly Menu