Tag Archives: mushrooms

Happy New Year

PirogiDSC_7001
You will never go hungry  if you know how to make Gnocchi on the 29th in Argentina, (the day before pay-day,) or if you can make Eastern European Pirogi.
Flour, oil, salt, potatoes – both pasta dishes are easy to make and tasty soul food for a limited budget. With memories of foods in Poland, I made Pirogi, as it felt time consuming. Until I came across a copy of Terry H. Romero’s ‘Vegan eats world’. Very recommendable book indeed. The two recipes I tried were both working well and are both keepers. Following my version of pirogi and especially the awkward shaping process from an Indian Roti recipe if you have strong arms and countertop space a rolling pin may be more time saving… Get recipe here

Cowboy cookoffs…

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If you don’t care how your food looks–Chili is for you!
I find it impossible to make chili look good in a picture, it has this ‘canned dog food’ appeal. But the  soul food is popular for games, tailgating, and is perfect for cold weather. Just the amount of spice should prevent several colds.
As one of our local fire departments is participating in a cook-off for the hot Tex-Mex American Cowboy dish, my own memory of tailgating with bean chillis was rather painful, so I kept avoiding them. Today, I am convinced that the beans were not soaked long enough, not cooked right, or maybe contained too much grease in combination with spices. The official Texas State dish, by the way, does not contain beans, even though chili beans are likely named after it… 

Yesterday, I found out that there are safer, fart-free chilis, very easy, pressure cooker fast that will not give you the blows for days to come, tastes are surprisingly real as a vegan version. Sorry Texas, no cows compromised for this one. Also environmentally friendly, it uses dry beans and fresh pumpkin mash, which saves at least 3-5 cans; You can make up that extra prep-time easily in using a pressure cooker. See recipe

New Twist for a well known theme

DressDSC_5216Burgers again? The real advantage of plant based food is that there are so many different recipes to discover. Even though they might look the same as their carnivore cousins, they’re never the same old recipe. This time I tried a blend with mushrooms, walnuts and oatmeal. Mushrooms add umami and juice and the rest adds texture, if you want, you can also add some leftover black beans to the mix. See recipe
I also posted my variation of easy veg’n carrot ginger dressing that goes very well with a light garden salad, or even baby spinach. See recipe

The young princes

AuguDSC_4393Are all mushrooms with a veil poisonous? When I saw the fist sized mushrooms developing next to our compost, I thought this could not be edible. The two tops on the left side of the picture became almost 5 inches in diameter. Especially beautiful are their dropped and almost intact veils. A veil, albeit not as complete is normal for this kind of mushroom, plus a wonderful sweet scent, almost like marzipan or anise. The underside gills are pinkish or brownish, the spore print is dark and the mushroom society confirmed that it is indeed Agaricus Augustus, a relative of the champignon. Also named ‘the prince mushrooms,’ they indeed look majestic with their white culottes. Eat them for example sauteed with onions.
Mushrooms have good and bad look alikes, I recommend never to eat without consulting with a mycologist or experienced guide.

Blessed with eggplants

MoussDSC_4241It’s raining eggplants and cucumbers. While I was hoping for a green salad leaf in our last CSA delivery, I suddenly find myself loaded with eggplant bounty. Back to the Mediterranean where the nightshade recipes are a plenty. That reminded me, we never tried our own veg. moussaka, which also makes use of zucchini squash also in multiples in our fridge. Little did I know that this humble dish needs a lot of oven time. On this occasion I also learned about a nice alternative to veg. smart ground, made from scratch, however if no meat substitute is at hand, I always use some chopped mushrooms for texture and instead of bechamel, I used mashed potatoes. See recipe

The plant based traveller

PierogDSC_3873Last week I was in Poland. With mom, aunt and sister, we went as far as Gdansk in search of our family roots. I must confess, I am a miserable ambassador for vegan food when abroad. I don’t have a vegan food guide or plan ahead for 100% acceptable food. And Poland surely can be a challenge with its hearty old world fare. Noticing a vegetarian chain restaurant on the way, I also liked to discover local possibilities – for example Pirogi. In a good restaurant, there was always a meat free Pirogi version on the menu (this one here for example is with mushrooms and sauerkraut, others come with chanterelles or potatoes). Aside from the accidental bacon bit decor, eat your pirogi, dig into the surowka (raw cabbage salad,) that is complimenting many hot dishes and you have an acceptable meal, wash down with a local Vodka, repeat. Pirogi even come as dessert pastry filled with fruit blends. Definitely worth an experiment at home.

Shrooming weather

PicklesDSC_3846Monday, we had a Spring Flood.  When I went down to the train, I took an umbrella, in less than 10 minutes, the rain turned into a flood, water was shooting down Maple Avenue and left me wading to the station. I was wet up to my knees. Within 3 minutes we watched water filling the tracks, luckily it did not rise to the platform, the trains were in time. At Grand Central, people all looked dry and outside was just a little drizzle. How do you explain the wet suburbian-rat look?

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Welcome back

OysterDSC_3517Spoonsense is back from a creative break. While involved in a business program plus some family visiting, we did not have much time left for testing new recipes. However, Spoonsense will go on and I’ll try posting at least once weekly while hopefully managing to redo the design. 
Our first gardening attempt in May after a stretch of rain, greeted us with a fine, 600 gram oyster growing on a poplar stump. What a treat! Truly something for my gratitude jar after last year’s home farming efforts. Try in a rice and mushroom sauce either in a blend of mushrooms or just pure fresh oysters. See recipe

Alternative grains

Another wheat alternative is Buckwheat, also called Kashi. The name comes from its resemblance to the triangular, but bigger beechnuts. A short growing season makes buckwheat perfect for colder climates or as a second crop. Historically, with increased output of wheat and other grains in colder climates, buckwheat has lost its importance over time, but has become recently more popular  as they offer an alternative to a gluten free diet. In general, it is a good idea to include buckwheat in our diet. Recipes I have seen use buckwheat pasta together with vegetables as a salad. To avoid eating the dish cold in this season, I lightly sauteed the vegetables and topped everything with marinated, fried tofu. See recipe

Winter ‘shrooms

New York got hit again.  Just one week after Hurricane Sandy, we were hit by a snowstorm; we were lucky this time. With leaves still on the trees, this early snow could break trees when combined with strong winds. Cleaning up after the hurricane, we found small mushroom buttons sticking out of last year’s leaf mulch. I was delighted to have them confirmed as Blewits (Clitocybe or Lepista Nuda). Continue reading

Giganteas

Giant puffballs have been mistaken with sheeps in a meadow. On our morning run, we found this little ‘giant’. Giant puffballs (Calvatia Gigantea) are safer to identify. Smaller puffballs under 10 cm size, may be mistaken for other mushrooms, such as juvenile versions of the destroying angels or stinkhorns. Therefore, determine the species of the mushroom by cutting it in half. Continue reading

Poor man’s Caviar

Oh my; Liverwurst… from early teething, little children in Europe are reared on liverwurst, just the way U.S. children eat peanut butter. There are fine ground, and coarse country styles, some with herbs, onions, even burdock. Call it paté if you want to be more sophisticated or ‘foie gras’, use upscale packaging and maybe rare ingredients, such as truffles… However, it will always be a variation of a childhood memory just as the Ratatouille of Mr. Anton Ego. I was surprised how easy it is to make real good tasting paté without meat. So last week, I made my first coarse country style paté, D’Artagnan’s favorite! Oh, and did I mention the cinnabar chanterelles I put in there? See recipe

Loaded with bitter greens?

Bitter greens have a healthy reputation… Low in calories and high in nutrients! Again this week, our CSA load of mustard greens and Bok Choi, was grimly sitting in the fridge and next day would bring another load. Asian stir fry again? Meh! Whenever in doubt, make empanadas! These tasty Latin bites work also with bitter greens instead of spinach – actually quite nice! Cool down and eat after baking or even cold the day after… It is always good to keep some empanada shells in the freezer… See recipe here

Shroomsday

2012 is the year of the mushroom. The unusual wet Spring and early Summer supports my theory. While I always liked odd shaped fungi, edible mushrooms are my newest pastime. With this year’s 50th anniversary of NYMS, Eugenia Bone published her hunting experiences with ‘Mycophilia’. The easy ‘who is who’ in mushrooming all over the country, including descriptions of mushroom walks, culture and cultivation methods, including her own short experience in ‘home mushroom farming’. Continue reading

Gnocchi Time

Last time I made Gnocchi, I was still in college… I remember the sticky mess. To get a more manageable dough, we had added more and more flour, to almost double amount, but the easy to handle dough produced very heavy lumpy gnocchi. Plus the whole kitchen was dusted with flour… Continue reading

Better Burgers

A good veggie burger – juicy with great taste! Alternative burgers are either hard, crumbly and dry or have no flavor. Especially Chickpea Burgers from vegan recipe books, mostly simple Felafel recipes, seem to lack taste. Veggie and mushroom burgers lack the stickyness and fall apart with cooking. Commercial grain ‘ground meat’ is sticky but can have an artificial taste…  I usually prefer natural recipes without  pre-processed ingredients, so this one is an exception (until I have a natural solution). A quick mix that does not need resting time, cooks fast and is very juicy and tasty.  My better burger recipe!

Tuscan Styles

Tuscan Food –  Simple dishes made into delicacies with natural ingredients and good wines. Light, landscape, the food of Tuscany, the dream of a rich and simple life… Marketing has been using ‘Tuscany’ to stimulate our ‘Back to Basics’ instinct. Even a line of cat food has been named Tuscan style… Tuscan foods are rich in olive oil, tomatoes, zucchini and cheese. Tuscan favorites are Bruschetta; a tomato toast appetizer or Ribolleta, a vegetable bean soup. Following is a ‘Tuscan’ Salad with tomatoes, sauteed vegetables and basil; it contains orzo pasta and can be served warm. Get the recipe

Crossing the river

This weekend we crossed over to Nyack. True Foods, a campus style restaurant which makes very nice curries. I was inspired to do my own version of a mixed vegetable curry with coconut milk. Very comforting. See recipe

Square meal

Polenta can be eaten as pasta. Even though Wikipedia describes the polenta cooking process as long with high maintenance in stirring, my coarse style farmer variety cooks relatively fast. Early prepared, the polenta has time to settle in the refrigerator and can be used instead of pasta with quite sophisticated sauces. I used a mushroom sauce, inspired by reading the Engine 2 cookbook. If you have leftover wine, it gives nice flavor to the sauce. However you can also just add more vegetable broth. See recipe

Polenta – new and improved


Polenta is traditional Italian peasant food. Before maize was discovered in the new world, any grain was used in the mush, closely related to porridge. Today, modern polenta is made from fine or coarse ground corn and featured in gourmet recipes and restaurants. Polenta is also used as gluten free alternative to pasta or pizza dough. Continue reading