food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms

vegetarian moussaka

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This classic Greek dish is usually made with layers of eggplant and minced lamb, topped with a bechamel sauce. In this version mushrooms take the place of meat. It’s both satisfying and delicious.

Slice 1.5kg (3.3 lbs) of eggplants (aubergines) into 1cm (less than ½”) slices. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and cook on a griddle or bbq until soft and a little charred. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 finely sliced large onion and 1 cup each of finely diced carrots and celery. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. Add 4 minced cloves of garlic and 340g (12 oz) of chopped portobello mushrooms. Sauté until the juices evaporate then add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1 can of diced tomatoes and ¼ of a cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley. Cook for at least 10 minutes until the mixture thickens a little. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. To assemble, oil a lasagna baking dish and arrange half of the eggplant slices in a single layer. Spoon half of the tomato mixture over the eggplant. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, tomato mixture and more cheese. In a heavy saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in 7 tablespoons of all purpose flour. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 3½ cups of whole milk. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Whisk in ½ a cup of grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk 4 large egg yolks in a bowl and then gradually whisk them into the hot sauce. Finally, pour the sauce over the moussaka and sprinkle with another ¼ of a cup of cheese. Bake the moussaka for approximately 45 minutes or until heated through and golden brown on top. Cool 15 minutes before serving. .

*Adapted from this recipe.

Written by michelle picker

February 5, 2020 at 12:07 am

ribeye with mushroom sauce

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For you meat-lovers out there.

We brined this steak with leftover dill pickle brine. This can be from store-bought pickles or home-made. The pickle brine not only salts the meat but imparts some delicious flavour. Marinate for at least a few hours. Brush the steak with oil and cook it on the barbecue, not directly on the heat, until it’s done to your liking – you can do this by feel or with a thermometer. Rest the steak before cutting across the grain to serve.

To make the mushroom sauce use tasty mushrooms such as Swiss Browns. Finely dice a brown shallot and fry in some butter and oil until translucent. Add sliced mushrooms (more than you think you need), a sprig or 2 of fresh thyme, a sprinkling of porcini powder (an invaluable pantry ingredient to boost mushroom flavour and add umami) and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook slowly until the mushrooms are quite reduced in size then add red wine and rich beef stock. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the the sauce is reduced by up to half. Adjust the seasoning, add some butter and add cream or sour cream to taste.


Written by michelle picker

July 18, 2018 at 12:16 am

Posted in meat

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stuffed mushrooms

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Whoever said life was too short to stuff a mushroom was wrong. I love mushrooms and this recipe uses 3 types of mushrooms to make a most delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal.

For this recipe use portobello mushrooms (these are large, mature button mushrooms) with a good edge to hold the filling. For the filling finely dice some brown shallots, the stems of the portobello mushrooms and some Swiss Brown mushrooms (these are more flavoursome than button mushrooms – they look similar with a darker and slightly mottled cap). Heat some oil in a pan and fry the shallots until just wilting. Add the mushrooms and some fresh thyme leaves as well as some porcini mushroom powder for extra mushroom flavour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until the mushrooms are softening then remove them to a bowl to cool. Add 1 egg and a generous amount of soft goat’s cheese to the mushrooms. When you’re happy with the flavour spoon the mixture into the mushrooms and place them into an oiled baking dish. Top with some finely grated parmesan or pecorino and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven (along with some roasted vegetables for accompaniment) until nicely browned and well cooked.

Written by michelle picker

May 2, 2018 at 12:17 am

mushroom, walnut and lentil loaf

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Not in the mood for meat? Here’s a high protein, gluten free loaf that everyone will enjoy.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with baking paper. Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan and add a mirepoix of finely diced onion, celery and carrot in roughly equal portions. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Add 240g (8½ oz) of finely chopped mushrooms. I used Swiss brown mushrooms and added a sprinkling of powdered porcini mushroom for added flavour. Cook until the mushrooms are soft then add 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Continue to cook for a few minutes more before adding ½ a cup of red lentils and 1¼ cups of vegetable stock. Cook over low heat until the lentils are soft and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to col a little. Finally add 150g (5 oz) of crushed walnuts, 100g (3½ oz) of finely ground (instant) oats, 100g (3½ oz) of grated sharp cheddar cheese, 3 lightly beaten eggs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and press it down. Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes until quite firm. Serve with tomato sauce and a fresh green salad.

Written by michelle picker

August 25, 2017 at 5:48 am

barley, lentils and mushrooms with fried onions

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Once again Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe imparts amazing flavours to a vegetarian meal.


In a small bowl cover 20g (¾ oz) of dried porcini with 1¾ cups of boiling water and leave to stand for an hour. After an hour, remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any grit, then return the mushrooms to their liquid. Place 120g (4¼ oz) of barley (pre-soaked) and 170g (6 oz) of brown lentils in a large saucepan. Add 4 times the volume of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down. Cut an onion into thin slices lengthways and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in a medium saucepan (enough to cover the onion slices in batches) to high heat and fry the onion in batches for three to four minutes, until golden-brown. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside to cool. Slice a second onion into wider wedges. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and fry the onion wedges for five minutes until charred and soft. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoons of ground allspice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Next add 4 sliced large mushrooms, the finely sliced rind of 1 lemon and ½ a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Fry until the mushrooms start to soften then add the porcini and all their soaking liquid. Boil rapidly for five minutes, reducing the liquid to approximately ½ a cup. Reduce the heat and add the lentils and barley plus 1 tablespoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of dried dill leaves, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute more then remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve garnished with the fried onion and chopped parsley with sour cream on the side.

Written by michelle picker

May 5, 2017 at 6:05 am

lentils with mushrooms, bacon and sage

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This hearty lentil dish makes a satisfying meal.


Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and fry some chopped bacon, onion and celery, some chunky pieces of carrot and some finely diced garlic. When the onion is soft add a little red wine vinegar to deglaze. Add the lentils (I used du Puy lentils) and hot water or stock to cover. Cook until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, adding more liquid if necessary. Meanwhile, in a separate frypan, cook a few pieces of bacon until quite crisp. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool. In the remaining bacon fat fry a generous handful of fresh sage leaves until crisp and set aside. When the lentils are nearly soft add some roughly chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more, seasoning to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crumble the bacon and sage over the top. I served these lentils with Cheesy Leeks à la Oliver and silverbeet (chard) cooked with lemon and walnuts.


Written by michelle picker

November 30, 2016 at 5:41 am

enoki mushroom and bean thread soup

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This quick Asian style soup makes a deliciously satisfying meal.


Nothing in this soup takes very long to cook. Prepare a light chicken or vegetable stock and add some finely shredded cabbage, enoki mushrooms and julienned carrots. After a couple of minutes add some bean thread noodles (mung bean vermicelli) broken into 10cm (4″ ) lengths, some sliced fried tofu (beancurd) and some raw prawns (shrimp). Allow to simmer until the prawns and vermicelli are cooked. Add some garlic chives, also cut into 10cm (4″) lengths and flavour the soup to taste with Vietnamese fish sauce (milder than Thai fish sauce), Sriracha chilli sauce and white pepper.

Written by michelle picker

July 27, 2016 at 5:45 am