Archives for posts with tag: mushrooms

Chicken leek and mushroom 2

The last four months have just flown by in a blur of recovery and sleeplessness, but more importantly complete joy and love for my little boy. There hasn’t been a lot of time to cook although I’m starting to get in the kitchen a bit more now, and using my slow cooker for the first time (recipes to come soon). It is hard to believe my little boy is almost four months old. I have to say having my freezer stocked full of ready to eat or ready to cook meals was really handy. I ended up having to have a C-section and it took me a while to recover from that. We also moved a few weeks ago so it has been all go here. I’m much happier with the kitchen in our new place, I actually have a gas cooktop for the first time in about 8 years and a pantry! Makes things so much easier (and quicker).

This is one of the recipes I cooked for my freezer before my little boy arrived. I hadn’t cooked this for quite some time, but in the colder months it is a nice warming/filling recipe and it is one of my favourites. It is also a great recipe when you have guests over, as most of the cooking time is spent in the oven.

Leftovers are also great the next day with the chicken shredded up with pasta (which is how I froze it). Or it would make a great pie filling.

Click here for the recipe

mushroom quinotto 3

Risotto is one of my favourite dishes, especially in winter. I actually find the process of cooking a risotto (the repetitive action of adding the stock and stirring) quite relaxing, almost meditative. However, because Jerome doesn’t like risotto, I rarely cook it at home anymore and I usually only get to eat it at restaurants.

I was looking for a recipe to cook at a friend’s house this week for a cooking/DVD night when I found this recipe for mushroom quinotto. Although the method of cooking is quite different, the end result is reminiscent of a risotto, although the nutty quinoa adds a completely different flavour.

As usual, I changed the recipe quite a bit. My friend doesn’t like parmesan so we used goat’s cheese instead. I love mushrooms so I doubled the amount of mushrooms as well as adding in baby spinach for some more green. We also found we needed to add more liquid so we added some chicken stock as well.

The end result was surprising, satisfying and delicious. It was also great the next day for lunch. The creamy goat’s cheese went really well with the nutty quinoa. I will definitely be making it again.

Click here for the recipe

The books I have bought in the last 6 months

The books I have bought in the last 6 months

I have a confession to make. In April this year I set myself the challenge of not buying a new cookbook until I had cooked a recipe from five of my current cookbooks. It was going quite well for a few months and I also discovered the huge cookbook collection at the library next to my work, so I could borrow and look through as many cookbooks as I wanted, without buying them.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I went to France in June, and told myself a couple of very small regional cookbooks in French didn’t count as they were “souvenirs”. But that was only the beginning.

Then I went to the Perth Good Food and Wine Show in July, and I just couldn’t resist the chance to meet the cooks/chefs there and get a book personally signed (I owned some that I could get signed, but there were a few I didn’t have). Plus there were a few books on sale at the show (I mean, $10.00 instead of $50.00! What would you do?). And you never know what might happen, a few words with Maggie Beer about music/singing while she was signing my book (thanks Mum) and the next thing you know, she is calling up “Sarah who sings” to cook with her on-stage an hour later, and sending me home with a big box of her products!

Thanks Maggie!

Thanks Maggie!

I bought a few books over the next few months (always on sale), and then came the Margaret River Gourmet Escape a couple of weeks ago, where there was the opportunity to meet more incredibly inspiring and creative chefs, including Heston Blumenthal (who’s book I actually won in a competition a few months back, or I would have been buying one of his books too – you should have seen how excited I was when I found out I’d won a cookbook! Then actually getting it signed by Heston!!!).

So I have to admit that I failed my challenge completely. But I do now have another eleven signed cookbooks in my collection, more inspiration and hundreds of new recipes to try, as well as the memories of meeting these amazing Australian and international cooks and chefs that inspire me.

But moving on, it is time to try again. I think I have bought enough cookbooks to last me quite a while, so let’s see if I can cook through five of them before I even think about buying another cookbook. I can do this. After all, it’s almost Christmas and it doesn’t count if it’s a present…right?

So back to cooking. This is the recipe that convinced me to buy The Blue Ducks cookbook. By 5pm on the Saturday at the Gourmet Escape, I was starting to fade after a day in the sun, but looking through this book again (which was the last book signing of the day), I gave in and bought it. This recipe for Mushrooms and Pearl Barley with Macadamia Bread Sauce just jumped out at me and I had to try it. I have since found the recipe is on the SBS website here. But having discovered other recipes in the book I also want to try, I have no regrets.

I’m not sure about the bread sauce, I found it a bit too heavy and if I was to make it again, I would thin it down even more. But I liked using pearl barley instead of rice or couscous for a change, it was very filling and had a nice nutty flavour. I think I’ll try using it more in salads for work lunches.

pearl barley and mushrooms

Click here for the recipe

The last book I bought before my self imposed ban on buying a new cookbook until I had cooked (and posted) something from 5 of the books I own was Rena Patten’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain. I like quinoa  but had only used it in a few dishes, so I wanted to learn more ways to use it

I liked the sound of this recipe, as it was fresh and light, used ingredients that I already had and sounded delicious and filling. I also thought it would be great the next day for lunch. It was quite time consuming grilling the vegetables, as I only have a small grill pan. I think next time I’ll cook them on the bbq. But the result was flavourful and filling, with the chilli adding a hint of heat, freshness from the basil and zucchini, saltiness from the pancetta and the wonderful earthy mushrooms and nutty quinoa. For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta. It was great the next day cold as well. Yum.

pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Book recipe number: 3

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+

New book credit: 0.6 (2 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe

I like filled pastas such as ravioli, tortellini and angolotti but I don’t like buying the pre-made versions of these as I have no control over what has gone into the filling, and I often find they are too salty for me. So I was really looking to going a class at Matters of Taste to learn how to make these types of pastas.

My first attempt at tortellini at home – Mushroom and goat’s cheese tortellini

This was another technical class where we learnt how to make the pasta and the three different filled shapes, and we each got try making each of these shapes. I was a bit nervous about trying the tortellini but found it easier than expected. As a group, we also made three different fillings and sauces (with each group of three responsible for one sauce and filling). I had a lot of fun and left filled with confidence about trying these at home.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli from the class.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli from the class.

The next night, I decided to make the mushroom and goat’s cheese tortellini that I had recently seen on Masterchef – The Professionals. I used the pasta recipe that I learnt at Matters of Taste rather than the one from the Masterchef recipe, as I am now familiar with that recipe. However, as that isn’t my recipe to share (having received it at a class) I have included the Masterchef recipe for pasta below (the only real difference was my recipe used three whole eggs only and slightly more flour).

Another dish from the class - Roasted pumpkin agnolotti

Another dish from the class – Roasted pumpkin agnolotti

Making pasta at home by yourself is quite time consuming and is definitely not for every night. I found this filling a bit difficult to use as it didn’t hold together well, but that may be because I added the goat’s cheese at the end as I’d seen on TV rather than mixing it through as the recipe stated. I was still happy with the results and loved the creamy goat’s cheese with the earthy mushrooms and silky soft pasta. I’m not a huge fan of the brown butter sauce however, so next time I think I’ll try a different sauce.

Chicken prosciutto tortellini from the class.

Chicken prosciutto tortellini from the class, my favourite of the three we made.

Click here for the recipe

After my fairly unsuccessful attempt at Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute mushroom soup, I still had some mushrooms, parsley and thyme left over in my fridge. And a desire to make something that I actually wanted to eat once it was cooked. I also had some leftover bacon as well that needed to be used up.  Not wanting to waste these ingredients I set about finding something I could cook with them.

I didn’t have to look far. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest TV cooking series from River Cottage (and associated cookbook of course) is called 3 Good Things. It is based on the premise that all you need for a great dish is three great ingredients that work well together. Each episode has Hugh competing with two other chefs to cook the best dish created out of the ingredient of the day, with each chef being able to pick the two other ingredients to go with it to make 3 Good Things. Basic seasonings, herbs etc are allowed in addition to the three main ingredients

Episode 4 was based around the theme of mushrooms and Gill Meller matched the mushrooms with pastry and pancetta to make a simple mushroom tart, with thyme and parsley used as well. I always have some puff pastry in the freezer, and pancetta can be easily replaced with bacon. Perfect, a recipe for lunch to use up my leftover ingredients was found and after picking up a few more mushrooms (I bought a tray of different gourmet mushrooms to go with the swiss brown/button mushrooms I already had) I was ready to cook.

The recipe, although taking longer to cook than the 15 minute meal mushroom soup, needed a lot less of my time and energy to make. A few minutes chopping and frying and then it was all in the oven. Easy. Which was just as well as I was starting to get a migraine. The end result tasted great (although I couldn’t eat it until later in the day once my migraine was gone), and I felt redeemed after the mushroom soup disaster.  I didn’t feel like eating much that night after my migraine, so it was a perfect light dinner, while Jerome had it earlier in the day as his lunch.

Mushroom Tart

Click here for the recipe

Work has been very busy since I got back from my holidays, and as a result  I’ve been looking for quick meal ideas for dinner.

Jamie Oliver’s previous book and TV series, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (published as Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
in America) received a lot of bad press after its release, with people complaining that it was impossible to cook the dishes within 30 minutes. I know the one meal I tried, with the help of two friends, took over an hour to cook. However, the recipe itself was a success flavour wise and I have cooked components of it again.

It has been reported that a lot more recipe testing went into the 15 minute meals recipes, including testing by home cooks. So I thought I’d give Jamie another chance. Plus the book was 40% off the day I was looking at it, and I can’t resist a cookbook on sale. With Perth receiving winter like weather conditions (at the start of summer) recently, the mushroom soup with stilton, apple and walnut croȗtes seemed like a good place to start. Although I replaced the stilton with goat cheese, as I don’t like blue cheese.

The catch with both the 30 and 15 minute meals “mindset” is that before you can start the timer, you have to have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready, kettle boiled and pans and oven ready and hot. But that’s okay; you can do other things while the pans warm up, like read the recipe again, check your emails…

After about 10 minutes everything was ready and I started the timer on my phone. The next 25 minutes of cooking were not very enjoyable. That’s right; it took me 25 minutes even though I thought I’d picked one of the easier recipes, read it quite a few times and know my way around the kitchen. The whole time I felt like I was sprinting in a race, and losing…and I don’t like to run. The experience was not enjoyable and I have to say that the end result was only partially a success. The soup was way too thick and I had to water it down a lot and add extra cream (photo taken before the soup was watered down). The croȗtes however were a success (and could certainly be done in 15 minutes) and I will be making them again.

All up though, I don’t think this style of cooking is for me. I would rather cook something that takes longer but can be cooked in a much more relaxed manner. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with a recipe that takes 30 minutes on the stove or in the oven, especially if you only have to spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning doing the prep and then stir it occasionally. I personally find that much more enjoyable and relaxing. I do however applaud Jamie for his ongoing efforts to get people cooking more nutritious food at home and I’m sure I will try another recipe from the book at some point in the future. Mushroom soup Click here for the recipe

The last week has been a very busy one, with lunch and dinner out for my birthday, a cooking class (Yule log), two cake decorating classes (which I will post about when I get back from my holiday) and all day Sunday baking for work morning tea (cupcake recipes to come soon). And now I am in the middle of packing for a few nights away. As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of extra time for actual home cooking or writing about it.

However, I did manage to try two new recipes this week. Jerome asked for Tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes), but with rice in the filling. Normally when trying a new recipe for something specific (rather than a recipe that I see and want to cook), I do some research and look at a number of recipes before I cook, using what I like from each or taking the general “rules” and making up my own. Not having much time, I used the first recipe that I found which was in Manu Feildel’s Manu’s French Kitchen. I was lucky enough to have the book signed by Manu last year. Also in the book was a recipe for baked witlof,  so I decided to try both for dinner. I couldn’t get hold of any minced pork at my local shop, so I used the filling of some pork sausages instead. And instead of breadcrumbs and egg I used a cup of rice (as this was what Jerome asked for). I also replaced half of the tomatoes with mushroom cups for a bit of variety. The filling ended up a bit heavier/denser than I would have liked but they still tasted nice – I’m not sure if that is because of the sausage, lack of breadcrumbs/eggs or just me packing it in too tight.

My witlof was very bitter and I really needed to keep tasting the sauce as I went to adjust the seasoning and sugar. Don’t put extra in though until after you have reduced the cooking liquid, or it will end up too sweet. The end result was quite nice and Jerome liked it. It didn’t look very pretty in its baking dish though and I’m afraid I don’t have a photo, however I will try it again and update the post with a photo when I have one… After my upcoming trip that is.

Click here for the recipe

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