Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mushroom - Arugula Salad

REVISION to 16 MARCH 2011: The second time I made this I used a flour dusting on the mushrooms and this made the mushrooms crispier and improved the salad.  On my third attempt I used a flour dusting but with baby bella/crimini mushrooms.  These mushrooms were not as crisp as the shiitake, most likely due to the higher water content.  Lessons learned are incorporated in the recipe that follows. Note: second photo down shows "first attempt salad" (mushrooms not dusted in flour); lower photos show salad with mushrooms dusted in flour.

The recipe for this salad evolved from "Funghi Fritto - Arugula, white truffle essence" that we had at  240 Union in Denver and "Crisp gnocchi salad - roasted wild mushrooms and butternut squash - truffled oregano vin" that we had at Six89  in Carbondale and later at The Pullman in Glenwood Springs.  Six89 and Phat Thai in Carbondale and The Pullman, which opened in January, are all under the same ownership and feature locally grown meats, poultry and produce.

Back to the salad.  The key ingredients here are cooked mushrooms and white truffle oil.  At 240 Union the mushrooms dominated. The salad was mostly fried mushrooms served on a small bed of arugula.  The waiter told us that the mushrooms were fried in a very light (almost imperceptible to us, probably just flour) batter then tossed while hot with grated Parmesan cheese and white truffle oil.  At Six89 the salad was tossed, not layered, and consisted of mixed baby greens (weeds), thinly sliced mushrooms and small pieces (about 1/8 - 1/4 inches square) of winter squash which had been roasted (in olive oil?) and goat cheese gnocchi about 1/4 the size of regular gnocchi that did not seem all that crisp to me either time I had it.  Working with these basic ideas, this is my recipe:



Serves 2-3

Thinly slice

~8-12 shiitake mushrooms (For 240 Union version, use more mushrooms and less arugula.)

Then place in a small paper bag (or small container with cover) along with


1-2 T flour to coat mushrooms on both sides


Shake contents of the bag gently several times over a period of 1/2 - 1 hour. Remove mushrooms from bag leaving any excess flour.  Cook about one third at a time (point of small batches is to keep water ratio low, a larger pan with more oil could accommodate a larger batch) in a small pan containing about 1/2 - 1 inch (less than 1/4 full) of

hot olive oil  (olive oil can be strained and reused).

When mushrooms are golden, remove, drain excess oil, then place on:


3 ounces of baby arugula


Sprinkle immediately with:

Parmesan cheese.

Toss with:

1 scant teaspoon white truffle oil.

Serve immediately.


May 2014 SIMPLE VARIATION:  Ed and I went to Cambridge 1 before a play and had an arugula salad  dressed with just olive oil, lemon juice and garnished with grated Parmesan. This "light Caesar" is very easy to make and is rapidly becoming one of our favorite salads.


Beef Stroganoff


Seems like some weeks we just have "the old favorites" or the newest find (currently Mushroom Arugula Salad) over and over again.  I had broken the pattern by making New England Boiled Dinner when the markets were full of corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick's Day and had sour cream left from the sauce.  It occurred to me that I had not made Beef Stroganoff in a very long time.  I remember Ed's Mom (Florence Pfalzgraf, "Grandmother Up-Down" to Alex and Chris) making this from part of the huge steaks she got from William's Market.  I looked for her recipe, which I was unable to find (still looking), so I winged it (using less beef than FPK, I'm sure):

2 Servings

Thinly slice, trimming off any fat

1/3 pound sirloin steak and dredge* in

2 T flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste

In a medium size skillet heat:

2 T olive oil (am sure FPK used butter)
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced and cut in quarters
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

and cook until onion is wilted. Then add beef and cook over medium heat until meat is browned on both sides.  Then add:

1/2 c baby bella/crimini or other mushrooms, stir gently for 2 -3 minutes, then add in this order:**

1 t Hungarian sezged paprika (not sure FPK used this, maybe tomato paste and/or mustard - see below)
2 T red wine
2/3 c beef stock
1 T parsley, chopped

Stir well with a wooden spoon incorporating any loose flour (brown bits) from pan sides and bottom until sauce is smooth and mushrooms soft;  add additional stock if sauce is too thick.  Finally, add:

1/3 c sour cream.

Mix just until smooth and warm but do not bring to boil.

Serve with noodles.  Homemade would be best; I used Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta.

* (June 2011) As I read more about "browning" I am inclined to omit the dredging next time.  Brown the raw, dried beef in the oil then blend butter with flour as in the recipe below or roll the browned beef in flour, then proceed as above.  January 2013: See Browning for discussion on whether to flour meat before browning, not at all, or as Julia Child does after initial browning.  This post also notes heating pan to 400 to 450 degrees before adding oil will minimize contents sticking to the pan.

** While I successfully combined all the ingredients in one pan all at the same time, the recipes I subsequently consulted in in The New York Times Cookbook (1961edition) and The New York Times International Cookbook (1971 edition) both by Craig Clairborne cook ingredients and sauce separately.  In the former the sauce (for 1 1/2 pounds of meat "about 6 servings": 1 1/2 T butter blended with 1 T flour to which 1 c boiling consomme is added all at once followed by 1 t prepared mustard) is prepared in a separate pan, the meat, not dredged, and onions are sauteed  in butter until browned on both sides in another pan.  The meat is then removed to a hot platter, sour cream is added to the sauce and then the sauce poured over the meat.  In the recipe in the The New York Times International Cookbook, the dredged meat (1 pound, "about 6 servings") is browned in butter, then the mushrooms, onion and garlic are added and cooked for about 4 minutes then removed from the skillet and kept warm.  The sauce (2 T butter to which when melted 3 T of flour are blended then 1 T tomato paste and 1 1/4 c beef stock added) is then made in the same skillet, adding sauce ingredients to "the pan drippings". The meat is then returned to the pan containing the sauce and  1 c sour cream and 2 T dry sherry are added and the mixture heated briefly.  This latter approach might be preferable if making more than 2-3 servings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grass Fed Meat

© 2013 Edward C Kern, Jr.
It's not that I don't like hamburgers.... When I was at Harvard GSD I joined the guys in my class (and sometimes the one other gal) for lunch at Bartley's Burgers several times a month.   After Alexandra arrived, restaurant lunches were replaced by picnics in Harvard Yard, and subsequent stories of CAFO feedlots led me to choose a portobello burger over a standard hamburger when dining out.

When Ed and I skied Snowmass recently we found that Ullrhof, a restaurant at the base of the Big Burn(which we frequently choose for convenience rather than food), had been transformed to a "burger - shakes -  fries" stop.  While  portobello and mahi mahi  burgers were options so was a locally raised grass fed beef burger;  I opted for the latter and found it quite good, cooked medium rare, and served with lettuce, onions, tomato and house dressing. I could identify with Barbara Kingsolver  (Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life ) and her family ordering hamburgers at The Farmers Diner (now in Quechee Vermont):

"The Vermont-raised hamburger with a side of slaw, home fries, or a salad is $6.50. At any price, it's an unusual experience to order a diner burger that does not come with a side of feedlot remorse.  For our family this was quiet a little red-letter occasion, since we'd stopped eating CAFO-produced beef about ten years earlier..... In Lily's life, this was the first time we'd ever walked into a diner and ordered burgers.  Understandably, she kept throwing me glances - this is really okay?  It was."(1)

As part of writing this post I called Bartley's Burgers and was delighted  to discover that they are now serving grass fed beef.  It really is okay to go there now too.

Right after we arrived home this week I got an e-mail from Alexandra sharing an article on grass fed Oregon beef as well as a link to the website of the farm she and Dan were about to try (pork chops that night).  She reported that the chops were excellent but the pick-up location still problematic.

1  Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life, page 149

© 2013 Edward C Kern, Jr.
March 2013:  Riding up the Big Burn chairlift this month, I noticed a factoid: last year the restaurants at the Aspen Skiing Company's four mountains served "43,000 pounds of Milangro Ranch beef." The "classic" Ullrhof hamburger, shown at left and above, is actually two (for faster, more-even cooking) 2.5 ounce patties.



Links to Bittman

If I were to pick my 2 most used cookbooks, they would be: How to Cook Everything (I have original edition/1998) by Mark Bittman and The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins .

Rosso and Lukins's The Silver Palate Cookbook (again I have the original edition) is also one of my very favorites but is not as all emcompassing as The New Basics Cookbook.

So on one hand I was sorry to read  in The Minimalist Makes His Exit that one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mark Bittman,  would no longer be contributing recipes to the daily New York Times. On the other hand, as promised, Bittman is writing excellent op ed pieces on the food industry and has also started contributing recipes to the NY Times Sunday Magazine.

As part of this transition, along with The Minimalist Makes His Exit (the pasta link on the first page of this article leads to some amazing information and additional links), the New York Times also published The Minimalist Chooses 25 of His Favorites; this list can also be found on Bittman's blog. There are a number of recipes within these links that I plan to try in the near future.

Dark Chocolate Drizzle

Although last minute assembly is required, this dessert is so easy and if made with no-fat frozen yogurt (I use Stoneyfield Farm) or sorbet, relatively healthy. In the photo at left, I have combined  vanilla and chocolate no-fat frozen yogurt with sliced kiwi.  The topping is melted Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.  To melt the chips, place chips in a ramekin and microwave at high power for 30 seconds.  Stir the chips and repeat this process until the chips are almost completely melted.  Remove from microwave and continue stirring until all chips are melted and have a creamy consistency.

When entertaining in Colorado recently I gave guests a choice of Haagen Dazs Chocolate or Raspberry Sorbet or Boulder Ice Cream Ginger.  They all said, "all three" and ate every bite with rave reviews (photo at left).  Another night I combined Boulder Ice Cream Mexican Chocolate and Haagen Dazs Mango Sorbet with fresh sliced mango to finish a Mexican-theme dinner. This is a desert that works with infinite combinations.  For a slightly more time consuming variation see: Sort of Pears Helene. I make this so often that I just cover the ramekin containing any remaining melted chocolate and refrigerate until next use.

NOTE: The Boulder Ice Cream is awesome but unfortunately not widely distributed;  it can be shipped directly but this raises the already premium cost by over 50%.