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Archive for the ‘Mushrooms’ Category

I know what you’re thinking–mushrooms can be neither fine nor sexy.  But oh.

Oh!

OH!

They can.  And they are.  In this recipe in particular.  Now, these are pretty boss straight out the jar or with a sandwich or on a hamburger, but your Bad Mama Genny likes to push the envelope.  Put a few in a martini and watch people gasp at your fearlessness in the face of fungi!  Better yet, offer a whole bottle as a gift alongside a bottle of nice gin or vodka. (Or perhaps some cheap vodka that you’ve turned into gin, using my instructions.  Or hell, you could just buy a bottle of gin named after me.)

Because nothing says “Happy Birthday” like good old-fashioned enabling.

Now, the other nice thing about this recipe is that you trim the mushrooms before pickling, so you end up with lots of little mushroom bits and bobs.  And what a coincidence, I LOVE little mushroom bits and bobs!

Aww, look at all those misfit mushroom pieces just waiting to make you feel like the lady you aren’t.

They’re perfect for frying up in pan drippings with a little wine for a burger topping.  Or throw them into a veggie burger mix.  How about soup?  A vegetable stir fry?  See, I just KNEW you’d come around to little mushroom bits and bobs!

(Psst, remember when we talked about growing your own mushrooms?  Oh, right, here.  And here.  And here.  And here, too.  Surely it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll pass those chilly winter nights without a homesteading project!  What’s that?…you’re planning on drinking?  Well, gosh…that’s a solid plan.  Carry on!)

Fine and Sexy Pickled Mushrooms
Makes 6 pints

Go Get:
5 1/2 lbs.small, white button mushrooms
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons pickling/canning salt
4 cups white wine vinegar
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs rosemary
3 teaspoons black peppercorns

Go Do:
Start with sterilized canning jars and lids and get a boiling water bath canner going.  Now divide the peppercorns, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and smashed garlic cloves evenly amongst the jars.

Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and trim the stems super short.  Save the trimmings for another use.

Slice large mushrooms in halves or quarters to maintain some kind of size uniformity.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, stir in the lemon juice, and add the mushrooms.  Cook until they’re tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Now.  Embrace the slotted spoon.  The slotted spoon is your friend.  Transfer the mushrooms from the pot to two tea towel-lined cookie sheets to drain.  Take care not to ignite your favorite new tea towel while doing this.

Not that I’d know.

Or anything.

Then divide the mushrooms evenly among the jars.

In a pot, combine the vinegar with 1 cup water and the salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Cook until salt is dissolved, then use a canning funnel to pour the brine in each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Wipe the jar rims, position the lids and rings, screw them on only a wittle bit tight, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Line a cookie sheet with a towel and use a canning jar lifter to transfer the jars from the bath onto the cookie sheet.  Let them sit by themselves (aww, poor mushrooms) for a day, at which point you can check the seals.

Note: Jars didn’t seal?  Don’t feel like canning?  No problem–just move unsealed jars into the fridge, where they’ll last for several months.

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Folks, I’m going to be brutally honest with you.  Your Bad Mama Genny just hasn’t had the time or the inclination to impress anyone lately.

Firstly because I’ve been really busy, what with deadlines and watering the jungle and attending the National Homebrewer’s Conference with The Boy.  But also because impressing people can be problematic.  It can raise expectations.  It can set the bar too high.

It can result in people expecting you to be decent.

And who wants that?  Then when you decide to be indecent, people are all shocked and all offended and all put your pants back on and oh think of the children and whatnot.

See what I mean?  Totally not cool.

That’s why you need a good Antipasti Platter like this one in your arsenal.  Because if you’re anything like me, which for your sake I hope you’re not but let’s pretend, you’ve already been invited to at least fifty barbecues this summer and half of them fall on the same weekend.

That’s not good.  That’s not good for anyone.

Least of all people of the pale persuasion, like myself.  But the point is, you’re usually expected to bring something to said barbecue, and not having enough time to make something from scratch can render one sad, depressed, listless, and prone to alternating crying jags and fits of mania.

This just in: The Boy has informed me that neither fits of mania nor crying jags are verifiable symptoms of being invited to barbecues.  Thanks, The Boy.  I so appreciate your contribution to this blog post.  I hope that knowledge gives you peace as you sleep on the couch tonight.

Anyway, Antipasti platters, in case you haven’t noticed, are gorgeous.  They can also theoretically be constructed from all store-bought ingredients.  Granted, I threw a loaf of from-scratch baked artisan bread in with mine, but bread-baking is like breathing to me now, and WHAT NOW YOU DON’T WANT ME TO BREATHE I DO SO MUCH FOR YOU AND SLAVE AWAY AT THIS KEYBOARD AND NOW YOU CRITICIZE MY BREAD-BAKING ADDICTION HOW ABOUT I CRITICIZE YOUR ADDICTIONS HUH HOW ABOUT I MENTION THE LITTLE DEBBIES HIDDEN IN YOUR JUNK DRAWER OH WHAT’S THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO CRITICIZE ME ANYMORE THAT’S NICE I THOUGHT SO.

What in the hell was I saying?

Oh, yeah.  So you could throw in a loaf of fancy schmancy bread and some dipping oil with this here Antipasti Platter, but some nice skinny breadsticks from the grocery store would do just as well.  I also included some homemade arugula pesto butter, fresh apricot preserves, and some homemade ricotta, which is always inexplicably appearing at the back of my refrigerator (I said, INEXPLICABLY, and I meant, INEXPLICABLY).

But let’s get down to business, shall we?  Here are my suggestions for an appetizer that will have everyone stuffing their faces while simultaneously not raising their expectations of you.  Wanna send them over the moon?  Bring a nice, juicy, full-bodied red wine to serve with this.

But they might start expecting things.  I’m just warning you.

Antipasti Platter

Go Get:
Pepperoncini
Fresh Mozzarella Balls (either marinated or not, up to you)
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Marinated and quartered artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers, marinated or not
Mixed marinated olives (I like to use kalamatas and stuffed green Spanish olives, but you feel free to go nuts)
Thinly sliced salami
Cubed provolone
Other options not pictured here:
Additional hams and sausages such as serrano, chorizo, etc.
Pickled cornichons
Sundried tomatoes
Infused olive oils
Roasted and mashed garlic cloves
Some nice pesto
Those apricot preserves I talked about
That fresh, homemade ricotta cheese I mentioned
Those delicious breadsticks, or that crusty home-baked artisan bread I noted
Some thin shavings of aged parmesan
Small cubes of a sweet melon, such as cantaloupe
Your firstborn child (Just kidding.  Mostly.)

Go Do:
Arrange this bad boy however you like.  As you can see, I used a decorative 13 x 9 dish with the ingredients arranged in rows, but a large, round serving platter with ingredients lined up in concentric circles or pie wedges would be striking as well.  Butters, oils, and soft cheeses can take up residence in ramekins that you smush onto the plate.  Breadsticks look striking in a tall glass, and a fresh loaf of bread would be just dandy in a kitchen towel set in a basket.

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God, the Swedish Chef can be the biggest pain  sometimes.  For example, the other day I was riding the subway and he happened to get on next to me, and he would NOT stop nagging me to make meatballs!  In Swedish!

If I don’t want the litigious ghost of Jim Henson getting all spooky on my as, I’d best explain.  The Boy was the Swedish Chef for Halloween.  And we rode the New York City subway together.  In costume.

We have fun, The Boy and I.

Needless to say, it’s been a while since Halloween.  You can imagine, then, what it must have been like for Bad Mama Genny to have a Swedish Meatball craving since then!  Truly excruciating.   Anyhow, the Swedish Chef just wouldn’t give in–

“Spernda…schweedish meatbalshe…spernda spunda…bork bork BORK!”

–so I finally relented and Holy Meatballs, The Boy, what a great idea!  You can bork bork BORK me anytime!

Yeah, I said it.

Ultimate Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream and Mushroom Sauce

Makes about 6 servings

Go Get:
1 lb. ground beef (Grass-fed, but of course!  Why not grind your own for the most flavorful blend?)
2 thick slices sourdough bread
3 1/2 cups unflavored almond milk, divided
8 oz. plain whole milk yogurt (if you can tolerate it) or soy sour cream like Tofutti (if you can’t)
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 Tablespoons, divided, of butter (if you can tolerate it) or Earth Balance (if you can’t)
2 small onions, finely chopped, divided
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
3/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
3 Tablespoons flour
12 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
1 lb. egg noodles

Go Do:
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Set the bread in a shallow bowl and pour 1/2 cup of the almond milk over it. Allow it to sit and saturate for 5 minutes or so. In a food processor, combine the meat, bread and milk mixture, half the chopped onions, the egg, nutmeg, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow the mixture to process for two minutes. When this is done, you should have a thick, pate-like paste. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dip your hands in cold water. Form small balls with the meat mixture, about an inch in diameter, re-dipping your hands in the cold water as necessary to keep the meat from sticking. Bake the meatballs for approximately 25 minutes, or just until done (do not let the bottoms get dark).

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While the meatballs are cooking, heat 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and the other half of the onions.  Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms render most of their liquid and the onions are tender. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter and heat until melted. Stir in the flour, being sure to break up any lumps. Stir constantly, allowing the flour-y mixture to cook for about 3 minutes (do not let it get dark). When this is done, slowly add the remaining 3 cups of almond milk, stirring while you add so as to avoid lumps.

Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened some, and then add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the dried parsley.  Stir in the yogurt or soy sour cream.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. When the sauce is almost as thick as you like it, gently drop the meatballs in, pushing them under the surface of the sauce.  At this point, cook the egg noodles according to package directions.  Allow the sauce mixture to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through and the thickness is where you like it.  Sometimes non-dairy milk can be a bitch to thicken–if this is the case for you, and heating the sauce uncovered doesn’t seem to be getting the mixture thick enough, whisk 1 Tablespoon cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons COLD water.  Then add it to the sauce while stirring.  Cook it for a few minutes longer–it should do the trick.

Serve on top of pasta.  Bork bork bork!

 

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