Posts tagged ‘mushroom’

December 19, 2012

Recipe: Poricini and Cavolo Nero Risotto

Cavolo Nero. How I love it. There are other leaves and, maybe even elsewhere on ETP, I’ve lauded their many charms. But that was then. This is now. It’s December. Midwinter. The nights are cold and dark. Cavolo Nero, black kale, is the leaf for today.

We’ve done greens in risotto before, but I do like the look of this one from the Independent newspaper – with the addition of porcini. What a midweek wintery treat this is.

The recipe? Here.

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February 8, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Mushroom, chestnut and cavolo nero casserole

Casserole? Well, you could call it a stew. I was intending to cook this (mostly) in the oven, as you should with a casserole, but I didn’t. I was hungry. I cooked it on the hob. It was quicker. It was still good. There.

First, in a deep, wide saucepan or frying pan I fried a sliced onion in a little olive oil until it softened. I then added three sticks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces. Then I added lots of mushrooms – a supermarket tub each of button, chestnut and oyster varieties, the larger ones being halved or even quartered. Don’t try and get them all the same size however; it’s nice to have them varied. Cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for 15 minutes while they release heir juices and then soak them back up again.

As the mushrooms are cooking, boil a cupful of green lentils (not Puy) until tender in a small pan of vegetable stock, with a bay leaf. When they have finished cooking, drain, removing the bay leaf, but retaining a little of the stock.

Now, take 150g or so of vacuum-packed or tinned, cooked chestnuts and chop them coarsely. Add to the mushroom mixture. Then add the lentils. Then pour in 100ml of sour cream and stir well. If the mixture could do with a little more liquid, top up with any reserved stock.

From here you can continue to cook on the hob for another 15 minutes. While you’re doing so, blanche a few handfuls of cavolo nero or savoy cabbage in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water.

When the mushrooms finish cooking, add the cavolo nero and another 100ml of sour cream. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Before serving, add a handful of chopped chives and a handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and, if you like, an extra dollop of cream.

January 23, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Bun Xa

Ah, I see you’re looking at the bun xa! Or perhaps that’s bunh xao, ben xao, benh xa or other variations of western spelling I’ve come across.

Bun xa is Ella’s favourite Vietnamese dish. Noodles, basically. Rice noodles. And in our case with a topping of fried tofu and salad, with a chilli dressing. It’s a dish that depends on both ‘mouth-feel’ and your nostrils: by which I mean that it should provide a range of textures in your mouth – not just mush – and both a blast of chilli and some fresh, subtle fragrance up your nose! Yep, it’s all about balance.

We’ve been making this dish for a couple of years, attempting to recreate the delightful version found in a favourite Vietnamese place on Kingsland Road, East London. But we’ve never managed to get it quite right… until now.

The difference this time? Sourcing ingredients from a local Asian food store, rather than trusting our supermarket’s ubiquitous brands. D’oh. Seriously, getting better quality tofu, authentic rice noodles, plus soy and rice wine vinegar – in place of the usual Blue Dragon, Amoy and Cauldron brands – really made a difference. The noodles didn’t turn to slop, the tofu crisped up nicely and the seasoning was deeper and more rounded.

So, how do you make it?

First, chop some firm tofu into bite-sized (finger-sized) pieces and fry in a single layer in a wide pan in a couple of tablespoons of sunflower and sesame oil. Add a little soy sauce to the pan as well, but don’t overdo it. (Or marinate your tofu first, if you give yourself enough time). Cook the tofu gently, turning occasionally, until the tofu is golden on all sides. You can set this aside and reheat later if you need to.

While the tofu cooks, get that dressing done: chop a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, a couple of chillis (ahem, or more, y’know, perhaps) and add them to a small bowl. To the bowl then add a large splash of dark soy sauce and generous glug of rice wine vinegar. Next stir in a teaspoon of castor sugar until it dissolves. Taste. It should be fiery, sharp, fragrant and with a touch of sweetness. Remember, it won’t be this hot when it’s poured over your food. Make it as bold as you dare.

The rest is even easier. Plunge your fine rice noodles into a pan of boiling water, take off the heat and leave for around three minutes. Drain immediately then add a splash of soy sauce and a generous splash of rice wine vinegar to season them. Try and coat them well. Set aside with the lid covering them.

Quickly fry some button mushrooms, halved if they’re on the large side, then add them to the tofu pan. Shred some iceberg lettuce, finely slice two spring onions and coarsely chop some fresh coriander leaves.

Now assemble. In the bottom of your bowl place a portion of the noodles. On top of that comes the tofu and mushrooms. On top of that the ‘salad’ of lettuce, onion and herbs. Then, if you can get them in your Asian grocers, sprinkle some fried shallot flakes over the dish (we really find these add a savoury depth that’s very complementary – and yes, we’ve tried making the flakes at home but they tend to remain slightly greasy and wet whereas these are dry). Serve and let people pour the dressing over the top of the dish.

Some variations could include bean sprouts or shredded carrot in the salad. The main thing is that it is light and fresh. Chopped toasted peanuts could also be sprinkled over, as well as, or in place of, the dried shallot flakes.

Get the balance right and this is as fragrant and moreish a dish as you’ll ever have. If it was music you’d be wowed by it hitting every note on the scale. If it’s greasy, heavy or bland – and if there isn’t enough chilli, then something has gone wrong.

Practise this. It’s a tool for life. Honest.

November 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Baked mushrooms with parsnip mash and onion jam

The title of this recipe almost does the job of explaining the recipe – it’s that simple.

Onion jam, or onion marmalade, or onion sauce, as you prefer – cook some thinly sliced red onions for longer than normal, say 20 minutes, with some red wine vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of caster sugar. They need to be soft, sweet, caramelised.

The parsnip mash is actually a mix of mashed potato and parsnip (ie, a slightly more interesting mash. Make it as you’d make normal mashed potato. One tip though, cut the core from the parsnips before boiling – they can be a bit stringy. No one wants stringy mash.

And the mushrooms? Make a little herb butter by mixing some chopped thyme leaves into some softish butter. Oregano or marjoram will also work. Spread the butter over the underside of some field mushrooms. Bake the mushrooms, butter side up, in the oven at 190 degrees for around 10 minutes.

Told you it was easy. Great plate of comfort food though.

October 5, 2011

Tuesday-night suppers – the stir fry

I’ve mentioned previously that many of the dishes we post in the ‘Last Night’s Dinner’ section of this blog are the interesting ones – the ones that make use of gorgeous seasonal ingredients, or that make a pretty picture on the plate, or are worked up to some extent: a weekend meal rather than a Tuesday-night supper.

But that’s only half true. Our cooking at ETP towers varies little from weekday to weekend, mainly because at the moment yours truly doesn’t quite work a standard Monday to Friday 9 to 5 week. It’s also because even after a busy day’s work we enjoy a little kitchen prep and cooking as a way to relax. Why completely give that up during the week if you can help it?

That’s a privileged position, however, and there are times of course when you don’t want to think about cooking; when easy fall-backs become a practical necessity. For some people that’s once a week, for others almost every evening.

At these times we often resort to one-pot cooking to create a big bowl of health – for example our own signature dishes of butter beans, greens and peppers in a spicy tomato sauce, or spicy ‘Spanish’ chickpeas (recipes we may reveal in the fullness of time). This is basic stuff: take a big pot, fry an onion, add in some veg, chuck in some tomatoes, add spices, top with water and leave to simmer down. A hob-cooked stew, by any other name. You hardly have to think about making these and they’re so difficult to ruin.

I’ve heard that many carnivores resort to Spaghetti Bolognese and stir fries for a quick weekday meal. Well, we don’t eat much pasta here, but a stir fry, such as the one pictured, does hit the mark. The beauty is that we don’t have to think too much about how to cook the ingredients. Simple innit? But is a good stir fry as basic as one-pot cooking?

Well, it can be: if you use straight-to-wok noodles and throw all the veg in at the same time. Typically, however, and without wishing to turn a simple stir fry into a culinary challenge, I do now think a little extra effort can help.

Take the tofu in our Stir-fried tofu with broccoli, mushrooms and rice (above). Throwing chunks of even a firm tofu straight into the wok with the other veg will cause it to break up into a mush. Much better to fry it separately first for 5 minutes each side, then add it to the wok at the last minute. And the broccoli? To avoid tough stems it’s much better to steam it for 5 minutes before it hits the wok, too. So that’s two extra pans, but not a lot of extra thought. And it really does mean your stir fry will be a much more enjoyable Tuesday-night supper.

June 26, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Fricasee of mushroom, broad bean, new potato and asparagus

Saturday 11 June

We invented this dish as a result of wanting to bring three in-season ingredients together in one dish: asparagus, broad beans and lovely baby Jersey Royal new potatoes. Simple, with the addition of some lightly cooked button mushrooms and some careful arranging on the plate. It really does look so fresh and vibrant with the joys of early summer that it deserves some TLC as you’re plating up to capture the glorious colours and make each mouthful a true representation of the dish.

You’ll no doubt know how to cook each of the ingredients here and with this dish they remain cooked separately and only brought together on the plate. So, first, get your new potatoes boiling (slice in half any that are larger than a mouthful). You’ll want about 7 or 8 small potatoes per person. Then boil a couple handfuls of podded broad beans for three minutes. Drain and slip the little green beans out of their withered outer cases. Set aside. Now steam four asparagus spears per person until they’re just about tender, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Finally, fry a few mushrooms per person in a little olive oil with a finely chopped clove of garlic. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon as they’re frying. When they’re nearly done, add a little single cream, mix in, season, mix again and take off the heat.

With the potatoes done, plate up quickly. Start with the largest items (potatoes) and leave the smallest (broad beans) to last, making sure to intersperse each item attractively around the plate. And there, you’re done.

One last tip – it’s really important not to overcook a thing on this plate. A plate of grey slop just won’t cut it.

Eat and enjoy. We did!

June 16, 2011

Last night’s dinner: Shiitake mushroom and Chinese leaf broth

Sunday 5 June

This broth is all about the stock that gives it its depth of flavour. The essential ingredient is dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for an hour to leach out their earthy flavour before making the soup/stew. The rest of the method is mainly about adding spice – and greens. We got the basic recipe from a Japanese friend, who passed it on from a Korean friend. I’m not sure where it originates.

So, first, soak a small pack of dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for an hour or so until they are soft and you have a litre or so of earthy brown stock. Next, in a large soup pan, fry a medium onion in a little oil (a mix of sunflower and sesame oil works well). Then add fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms (oyster or chestnut will also be fine) – about 10 of them, or a typical supermarket tray of them. Fry for 5 minutes. Next, add a 2-inch piece of grated fresh ginger, a finely chopped clove of garlic and some chopped fresh chilli (as much as you can take – it should be hot!). Then add half a head of roughly chopped chinese leaf, followed by the dried shiitake mushrooms and their stock. Add around 750ml of boiling water and then simmer down for around 40 mins until the dish is somewhere between a thin broth and a hearty stew. When just about done, add a handful of rice noodles and heat through for an extra 5 minutes until they’re cooked through. Serve immediately with a garnish of coriander leaves. To reiterate, the soup should be as spicy as you can take it! Serves 2.

May 12, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Puy and Portobello

Monday 9 May

Here at ETP Towers we have a standard lentil dish that we serve with feta cheese. I wanted to do something slightly different this time, however, and found a lentils with mushrooms recipe in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Supercook from which this is adapted.

I started by getting the Puy lentils onto the hob to cook. While they were simmering away I fried a chopped onion in olive oil in our big, quite deep, frying pan. After 5 minutes I added three cloves of garlic, the Portobello mushrooms (three per person) and a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes. Add the lentils when they’re cooked (about 25 minutes?) and a glass of red wine. Cover, lower the heat and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Lastly, thin two teaspoons of Dijon mustard with a little water and stir into the stew. Serve with mashed potato or, as we did, some steamed kale.

The lentils would actually make a great base for a Shepherdess Pie.

March 17, 2011

Denis Cotter vegetarian recipes for St Patrick’s Day

It was a Denis Cotter veg-fest in the Guardian today, as the vegetarian chef from Cork City delivered three recipes for St Patrick’s Day. Each is a vegetarian dish using some classic Irish ingredients. First up is a braised turnip galette of mushrooms and chestnuts (here), then there is a cabbage timbale with tomato sauce and parsnip gnocchi (here) and finally, and the one I think I’ll make first out of the three, blue cheese potato cakes with bean and cider stew (here).

There’s always a fair amount of work to do in Cotter’s recipes – he’s not a one-pot cook – but it’s the combination of elements in his cooking that sets him apart. So you know that with the potato cakes it won’t just be the way the blue cheese and cider hang together well, it will be the addition of the rosemary aioli that lifts it to unexpected places. With the galette it will be the red wine sauce that does the trick and with the cabbage timbale it will be the tomato and thyme sauce – or perhaps the fact that the gnocchi is made with parsnip, not potato. It’s the addition of third element on the plate that makes the difference.

Happy cooking!

March 9, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Shiitake Mushrooms in a Ginger Broth

Wednesday 8 March

The main reason I made this was to use up some of the week’s remnants of veg by making a stock for a soup or broth. Plus, the star of this week’s veg box was some fine purple sprouting broccoli.

So I made a quick stock with an onion, a couple of carrots, a leek and a tomato from the bottom of the fridge. For an Asian-influenced stock I add to this general base garlic, a chilli, some Szechuan pepper corns, stalks from a bunch of fresh coriander and lots of fresh ginger. After simmering for 20 minutes I strain it through a sieve and then add a fair bit of soy sauce and a good dessert spoon of tamarind paste (one of our new ‘secret’ ingredients). Anyway, this stock recipe always varies slightly but never too much. If it’s too bitter add a teaspoon of sugar.

That’s the bulk of it done. Reheat the stock, add the sliced shiitake mushrooms, then the broccoli a minute later and wait until the broccoli is just tender. Leave to simmer for 4 minutes. To serve, I add some chopped red chilli and some coriander leaves.