Thursday, October 28, 2010


Cause, you know, Giada says everything with an exclamation point! So I should, too! Right?

Right, but first. First I have a bit of a confession to make. Remember back in the day (way back to like, 2006)? When Facebook was still sort of like MySpace and there were all of those quizzes floating around? Quizzes that answered your most gut wrenching questions... like:

"Which Dave Matthews Band song are you?" Gray Street
"Which Sex and the City character are you?" Miranda
and "Which Food Network Star are you?" Erm. Yeah...

I got Giada. But I kind of cheated because the questions were things like, "Which ingredient do you use most?"

a. The good vanilla
b. Mozzarella
c. A stick of butter
d. A can of condensed soup

It was totally skewed, and you guys can easily identify each of the ladies they were hinting at. A monkey could. A monkey that watches lots of Food Network, that is. And I do use mozzarella more than those other things. Plus, I'd have died if I ended up being matched with Sandra the Antichrist, died.

Meanwhile, it's Chocolate week at IHCC, (how'd that for a transition, teach?) which had me hunting for recipes to satisfy my constant craving for chocolate (shit, now I'm singing K.D. Lang. WTF.)  I found this chocolate rice pudding recipe and had just enough Arborio rice left for two servings. It calls for zest of course, but something about orange and chocolate always makes me want coffee, which makes me think of Zoolander, Orange Mocha Frappucinos, and poor Rufus,  Brint, and Meekus dying in a freak gasoline fight accident. I'm sorry if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Mocha Rice Pudding for Two
adapted from this recipe on Food Network

2 1/2 c. whole milk
1/3 c. Arborio rice
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Stir milk, rice, and sugar in a heavy pot, over medium heat until combined. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture, drop in the vanilla bean, and bring  to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove vanilla bean and discard. Stir in orange zest, espresso, and cocoa powder. Cool for ten minutes. Spoon into small bowls and serve warm or refrigerate for up to a day before serving.

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Love an empty bowl.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Baking Lessons: Episode 2

Lesson of the Day: If an idea makes you feel like you've lost your mind, 
it's a really fucking good idea.

I was excited to get an email from Joanne of Eats Well with Others (don;t know her? Then get the hell over there, 'cause you should.) over a week ago, letting me know I'd been picked to participate in her Recipe Impossible challenge for Marx Foods (I know I should just move to Oregon and work for them). Then the box came. It was like opening a gift on Christmas for a minute, pulling out all of the fun mystery ingredients:

Then I realized, "Shitballs. I have to cook something with all of this. What the hell am I going to make?" I settled on two things, one sweet and one savory. Actually, that's as far as I got. One sweet and one savory. What those things would actually be, took me days  to figure out.

I stared at an acorn squash for a while. Then I stared at a butternut squash. Then I decided a butternut squash is kind of like a pumpkin, and I can definitely bake something with that. I found an old pumpkin bread recipe of my mom's, remembered a frosting recipe I'd seen, and voila. These cupcakes were born Frankenstein style. A bit of this, a bit of that, and a little faith that it would all work out in the end.

I baked the cupcakes. I cut the inverted cones from the centers. I ate the centers.

I filled them with the caramel and sprinkled them with ginger salt.

I frosted them, topped them with more ginger salt, and then on a whim, I added this.

Because bacon just makes everything better. And even though the devilish  little pumpkin wanted to eat that cupcake, I beat him to the punch. This may or may not have been my lunch today. Either way, I've decided the bacon is an essential ingredient. Hells yes. 

Butternut Cupcakes with Salted Caramel and Maple Brown Butter Icing

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Caramel Filling:
adapted from Rick Bayless's Cajeta

1 cup sugar
1 quart whole milk
1/4 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 Tbls. water.
1 Vanilla Bean
Ginger Salt and cooked, crumbled bacon for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash into four equal pieces and place in a baking dish. Top each with a pat of butter and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until very tender. Mash with a potato masher or a  fork until squash becomes like a thick puree. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Melt remaining butter and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk sugars, egg, and 1 cup of the cooled squash puree. Slowly whisk in cooled melted butter. Pour squash mixture into flour mixture and fold to combine. Using a cupcake scoop, fill lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before inverting tins.

Prepare the caramel filling by first splitting open your vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out about a 1/4 tsp. and set aside for the icing. Toss the bean along with the sugar and milk into a large heavy bottomed pot. Simmer, stirring constantly, over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda mixture. Once bubbling subsides, return to heat. Bring to a brisk simmer, but not a boil. Cook, stirring regularly, until milk begins to turn golden. This takes about an hour. Continue stirring and cooking until milk begins to brown, making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Once a soft ball begins to form, the caramel is ready. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean.

Fill cupcakes by cutting a small cone shape from the top of each. Spoon warm caramel into the hole and sprinkle with ginger salt. Top with Maple Brown Butter Icing and garnish with more ginger salt and bacon, if you dare.

Maple Brown Butter Icing
adapted from Michelle at Big Black Dogs

3 Tbls. Maple Sugar
5 Tbls. butter, divided
4 oz. cream cheese
3 Tbls. whipping cream
1/4 tsp from the remains of your  Vanilla Bean
dash of salt
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, whisk 2 Tbls. of butter and maple sugar until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Whisk in cream. Pour into a small bowl, stirring to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat remaining butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the middle. Beat in salt and vanilla. While beating, slowly pour in cooled brown butter mixture and continue mixing until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1/2 c. at a time, beating well after each addition. Chill for 20 minutes before icing cupcakes.

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This post is linked to:
Foodie Friday, Family Food Friday

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Double Take

Yeah, I know. Another tomato soup. I didn't mean it, I swear, but this one just called to me, especially since it has two of our favorite words in the title: Spicy and Calimari. E is a calimari fanatic. He'll order it anywhere, even though he is often disappointed. See, we're spoiled calimari snobs, and we like it lightly fried, crisp on the outside, served with lots of lemon, a drop of marinara, and loads of hot peppers on the side. They didn't serve it like that anywhere in Michigan, but E kept trying it anyway. We've eaten Buffalo Style Fried Calimari (blech!), Sticky Asian Style Fried Calimari (double blech!), and Cheese Stuffed Fried Calimari (you guessed it). Nothing beats the basics. So Giada's stew hit all the right notes for me: simple, quick, with the right amount of tomato and heat. The amazing thing is this dish calls for no lemon zest. I almost added it to be true to our favorite calimari flavors, but I resisted. I'm not Giada enough for that yet. And right now my nails are painted gray. She wouldn't approve, but I doubt she'd get this worked up. (Sorry G fans, but that was just necessary :) And she's growing on me slowly. At least she's not Sandra Lee.)

Spicy Calimari Stew with Parmesan Sourdough Croutons

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1 28 moz. can crushed tomatos
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds calamari (squid), bodies thinly sliced and tentacles whole
6 slices sourdough bread
parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder

For the Croutons:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bread into 1 inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a micrograter, grate parmesan cheese generously over hot croutons. Set aside. 

For the Calamari Stew: Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add the garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove the garlic. Add the tomatoes, stock, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the calamari and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture comes back up to a simmer, about 2 more minutes (Do NOT overcook the soup now! Nothing is worse than tough calimari!). Serve immediately with the croutons.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baking Lessons: Episode 1

Lesson of the day: 
You should always listen to your mother. 
Especially when she knows what she's talking about. 

My mother has been making these apple squares since she was a teenager. I'm not going to tell you how old my mom is, but trust me, it's a long ass time. She's perfected them. She's famous for them. They are requested by people she doesn't even know. So you'd think that the day, two years ago, when she finally taught me how to make them, I would pay very close attention. I did. I would take copious notes. I did. I would then follow every step to the letter. Um. About that.

Yeah. I made my mother's intoxicatingly delicious apple squares by myself for the first time yesterday. And I didn't follow the recipe. I did not admit to my mother that I used some butter. I did not admit to my mother that I used my food processor. I also did not admit to my mother that didn't really measure everything. Oops. I did however, call her while the pastry was in the oven and tell her how leaky it was, since a puddle of golden, cinnamon scented syrup was beginning to form around one edge of the Silpat. My mom, as always, was reassuring. She admitted it took her years of practice before she produced a pastry that didn't leak at all. Now she can do it in her sleep. Being the perfectionist I am, I didn't feel much better. That is, until I ate one. Then I almost cried a little. It tasted just like my mom's.

Frosted Apple Squares

2 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbls. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening
1 egg, plus enough milk to make 2/3 c. (Confused? Crack an egg into a measuring cup. Top it off with milk until you have 2/3 c. of liquid)
2/3 c. crushed cornflakes
5 c. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
2 Tbls. water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss apples, 1 cup of sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.

Sift flour, 1 Tbls. sugar, and salt into another large bowl. Using a fork, your fingers, or a pastry mixer, cut in the shortening. Add egg and milk a bit at a time, while you continue to mix. You'll end up with a sticky ball of dough. Turn dough out onto a generously floured board. Form into a ball, dusting generously with flour as you work. Cut off 1/3 of dough and set aside.

Roll remaining dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, flouring as you go. (You may want to do this directly on a piece of parchment or a nonstick baking mat as it will make transferring the dough to a baking sheet a million times easier!) Lay the dough on a rimmed baking sheet, making sure to seal any cracks, and sprinkle with cornflakes, leaving a 1 inch border. Top with apples. Roll out remaining dough to a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, again with lots of flour. Place over the top of the apples (If you have trouble with this step, try rolling the dough onto your rolling pin to transfer it). Fold bottom dough edges up over the top and pinch well to seal. (Triple check your seals!) Brush with egg white and slice vents at two inch intervals into the top of the pastry with a knife.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, lemon extract, and 1 Tbls. of water. If the icing is too thick to drizzle, add more water a drop at a time. You want a thick, opaque glaze. Drizzle over pastry and cut into squares.

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p.s. Bigger pictures = Better? Thoughts?

p.p.s Remember that Lobster Mushroom Mac N Cheese I made for the contest at Marx Foods? Well the poll is up, so please take a moment to pop over and vote for me! Love you guys!

This post is linked to:
Hearth n Soul
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tasty Tuesdays

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Me Want Cookie!

Some days a girl just needs a break. Maybe stresses from a micro-managing boss have taken their toll on her. Maybe a toxic friend has made one too many stabby stabs at her back. Maybe her man candy's sugar coating has cracked to reveal the true loser inside. Whatever it may be, sometimes it's time to call it a day, kick off her heels, and sink into the couch. Maybe if this girl is you, you need a big glass (or a bottle) of Pinot Noir to complete the picture. Me? I need a big glass of milk. And a cookie.

Today I just had to bake some cookies. The unopened bags of Halloween candy were beckoning me, but I knew the guilt of robbing trick or treaters of their due would outweigh the joy of stuffing my gob with Laffy Taffy. And alas, somehow my pantry is void of dark chocolate chips. I know, it's a tragedy! So I turned to my girlfriend best suited for times of need, my rock: Betty Crocker. Homegirl never lets me down.

Whole Grain Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. loosely packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbls. milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole grain cereal flakes (Total, bran flakes, etc.)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg, vanilla, and milk. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in cereal, oats, and raisins with a wooden spoon. Use a teaspoon or one inch cookie scoop to drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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These cookies are healthy enough to let you eat several without feeling the need to take a Hot Yoga Class, but chewy and sweet enough to be comforting. Make a double batch!

And. Random Question. Do you guys think I should make my photos bigger? I'm torn.

This post is linked to:
Simple Lives Thursday, Family Food Friday, Wholesome Whole FoodsFriday Potluck, and Vegetarian Foodie Fridays

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brown Bagging It

It's been a long time since I've had to pack myself a brown bag lunch, thanks in full to the fact that it's been a long time since I had to work during lunch hours. I'm not complaining about that! It leaves me time to actually think about making myself a nice, healthy lunch, and keeps me far, far away from the PB&J rut. Not that I have anything against PB&J, especially in cupcake form.

For most people though, including myself when I was confined to a 10 minute stuff-my-face-fest while students were knocking my door down, lunch can suck. An endless string of lunch meats, salad bars, or lukewarm leftovers (unless you are E, who not only has sushi at work, but also gets his lunch made almost daily by wifey. No one else in the office has lemon roasted chicken and garlicky green beans for lunch. Spoiled, he is.) I always try to find some way to liven up lunch, even if I am inhaling it over the sink. I do love basics, like turkey or tuna sandwiches, but lunches like that aren't exactly, well, stimulating. A million years ago, I worked at a coffee shop that served Italian Tuna Subs on huge rolls, dripping oil and vinegar. I loved the stuff, but never got to make it since the assbag brother of the owner claimed he was the "chef" and confined me to the "womanly" art of baking. All I know about him now is he still lives with his parents. Ha!

Italian Tuna Salad
15 oz. cooked, flaked tuna
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbls. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
3-4 Tbls. balsamic vinegar

Whisk oil, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, garlic, and oregano in a small bowl. Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss with dressing and serve over a green salad or on a sandwich.
*Note: If you are brown bagging it, pack the tuna in a small container and your bread in another. Otherwise, you'll have a soggy mess, duh!

This post is linked to:
Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Tasty Tuesdays

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A few notes...

Hey guys, I bet you thought I was going all Forgetful Jones on you about that giveaway, huh? Well, don't you fret, because I didn't forget, I just procrastinated. It's one of my best talents. Without further ado, the winner of my Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway and the new owner of Entertaining with Booze is Janine Twomey! Janine runs Angel Art Photography, a professional photography studio based in Westborough, Massachusetts. If you live nearby and need baby, family, graduation, or any other portraits, check her out! She's incredible. 

Also, how cute are these little Apple Spice cakes all dressed up for Fall? Want the recipe? Well, you can click on over to Pink Dandy Chatter, where I am guest posting today! It's my first time posting on any blog other than this one, so please visit Janae and leave her a comment! She has a great blog and an even more amazing etsy shop full of yummy bath and body products, including vegan and organic products. I can't spend too much time looking at her store because I want it all and will go broke. Well, broker. That or I'd order a Strawberry Coconut Cream Face Mask and then eat it all.

Comfort Food

Once again the lovely folks at Marx Foods have issued a challenge to their friendly and obedient food blogging fans (I'm not sure which, if either, of those categories applies to me!). This time we don't have to work with any really unusual ingredients or anything that tastes craptastic. We just get to play with fungus, one of my very favorite ingredients! I got a fun sampling of all different dried mushrooms, some that I've never seen before. I decided to combine to prettiest with the one I was most familiar with into one of my favorite comfort foods: mac n cheese.  Nobody doesn't love mac n cheese, and if they say they do, they lie. Or they have some kind of serious mental problem. Either way, I wouldn't invite one of those people over for dinner if I were you.

I remade the mushroom puree I featured last week with a sample of porcinis because I just loved it that much. I hoped it would add some depth and real mushroom flavor to the sauce. Then I used the lobster mushrooms for the color and because E wouldn't budge on the actual lobster budget. I originally wanted to add some lobster meat to this dish, but the price tag was disturbing, especially after Lobster Fest only a month ago! So these mushrooms stood in the place of the real deal, and they look so much like chunks of lobster meat it's weird. Add to that my favorite cheese, smoked Gouda, and you've got something stupid delicious.

Lobster Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese
serves four


2 Tbls. fresh parsely, coarsely chopped
4 slices day old Italian bread, cut into cubes
2 Tbls. melted butter

1/2 lb. whole wheat penne, cooked and drained
1/2 oz. dried lobster mushrooms
1/2 c. mushroom puree
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup smoked Gouda, grated
1/2 cup sharp Cheddar, grated
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
hot sauce (we looove Frank's Red Hot!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse Italian bread and parsley until very coarse crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with melted butter and set aside.
In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add dried mushrooms and steep for 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In a large, deep sauté pan, heat a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until tender. Add mushroom puree and cook 2 minutes. Stir in cream and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook 25-30 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.
Spoon a small amount of sauce into a small bowl. Whisk in beaten egg slowly. Return egg mixture to the pot and remove from heat. Stir in lobster mushrooms, pasta and cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce if desired. Spoon into a 9x9 baking dish and cover with bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is bubbly and browned.

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This post is linked to:
Vegetarian Foodie Fridays, Friday Potluck, and Foodie Friday

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Buongiorno, Giada!

Week one of cooking with Giada De Laurentiis is here. Oh, at last at last! I'm so glad we're cooking Italian, and so happy to be working with a female, but oh Giada... what can I say?
Yup, I think that about covers it. 

I'll try really hard not to thrust my feelings for Giada upon all of you for the next six months, I swear. It'll be difficult, what with the plethora of fabulous posts offered up by the folks at Food Network Humor ( who are, by the way, my heroes of snark). I warn you though, if you truly heart Giada, don't even go there. It'll make you want to hurt someone with your perfectly manicured nails. Or go zest a lemon.

All jesting aside, I do own a copy of Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites. I had yet to flip through it until this week. Since our theme for IHCC is Welcome Foods, I focused on the appetizers section. Couldn't figure out what to make. See, I'm refusing to shop this week. I limited myself to the stuff in my pantry and fridge for this recipe, so I had to keep flipping. I found just the perfect thing.

Hearty Tomato Soup with Lemon and Rosemary
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz.) can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1.4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2/3 c. heavy cream
 and (wait for it!) the zest of 1 lemon

In a large soup pot, melt butter. Add onion, carrot, and garlic and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, beans, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and half of rosemary. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for 30 minutes.
Puree in batches in a food processor or blender (be careful not to fill it more than halfway, since hot liquid expands and will explode all over you and your kitchen, just FYI :)). Return to pot to keep warm and season with salt and pepper ( I doubled the salt and pepper here, it needed it!).
(Now I skipped this part since I didn't have any heavy cream, but you can use a dab of sour cream instead!) Whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold in lemon zest and rosemary. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cream.

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Just so ya know, this soup was very good. It was healthy, hearty, and comforting, a great lunch with a side of Italian bread for dipping. And there are a bunch of other recipes that look lovely in the book. Maybe I'm a Giada lover for real deep down inside my cold, black heart. I'll need to go buy some pale pink OPI polish.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Bidding Farewell with Fungus

This is it. Our last week to cook with Mark Bittman for IHCC, and our theme is appropriately Farewell Food. I have been thinking all week of impressive final recipes, and couldn't settle on anything perfect. Then I whipped up a recipe I bookmarked ages ago for a quickie dinner fix last night. And O to the M to the G, you guys. It was like a Eureka moment. It may seem lame to submit a condiment as my final farewell to Bitty, but I've decided it is perfect. This is the most simple, versatile, and minimalist recipe I've found in the books yet, and I think that pretty much sums up Mr. Mark Bittman. I used my sample of dried porcini mushrooms from MarxFoods and a handful of leftover baby bellos to make this Dried Mushroom Puree in literally 15 minutes. For dinner, I came home and tossed it into some whole wheat pasta with a bunch of leftover sauteed veggies, and a heavy grating of parmesan. Talk about easy and what a flavor! It's like a mushroom smack in the mouth. But in a good way. Of course, I had a bunch leftover, so I used it today to make this sandwich, and I had to stop myself from inhaling it. Note to self: slowly chewing and swallowing makes for happier tastebuds. Also, this is not pretty stuff, but it's incredibly tasty, so get over yourself if you think it resembles something disgusting.

Dried Mushroom Puree
adapted from Mark Bittman's The Minimalist Cooks at Home

1 oz (about 1/2 cup loosely packed) dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups of water

Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Add dried mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté baby bellos in a pat of butter in a small pan until tender. Transfer to a food processor. Once dried mushrooms are tender, transfer to food processor with a slotted spoon, reserving mushroom broth for another use (like stock!). Add garlic and thyme and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into risotto, pasta, soups, or use as a dip or spread.

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Roasted Pork and Mushroom Panini
3 lb. pork roast
2 Tbls. flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 -2 sprigs fresh rosemary
zest of one lemon
2 cups low fat milk
1 cup half and half
2 Tbls. olive oil
salt and pepper
For sandwiches: Slices of sourdough bread
Mushroom Puree
Swiss cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Season flour with salt and pepper and dredge pork in flour, coating all sides. Brush off any excess. Brown on all sides in hot oil. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add garlic to the hot pan and saute about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add to the slow cooker. Add rosemary, milk, half and half, and lemon zest. Cook on high for 7-8 hours. If you want to serve this for dinner with sauce, transfer the sauce to a saute pan and cook on medium high until thickened, about 10 minutes. Use the leftovers for this panini.

Butter two pieces of bread on one side. Spread opposite sides with a teaspoon of mushroom puree, top with slices of pork and cheese. Sandwich together and cook in a panini pan or press until warmed through and cheese is melted.
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