Friday, September 19, 2008

Stuffed Mushrooms

As I've mentioned before, I'm now in possession of two awesome grilling cookbooks, so this past summer I began experimenting with slapping whatever I could find down on the grill (ie-here and here).  And to mostly good results, I mean, this is how we've been cooking things for thousands of years, right?  How hard can it be?  (I'm resisting a Geico caveman joke here, you're welcome).

I was feeling particularly adventurous one day, and I came across this recipe for stuffed mushrooms and zucchini.  Basically you take the mushrooms stems and the scooped out insides of the zucchini, chop them up with some other things and make a stuffing.  Once their insides are back in them, throw them on the grill.  I found, however, that the zucchini didn't work so well on the grill.  Their skins got tough and difficult to chew, while the insides were undercooked.  So I simplified and decided to throw everything in the mushrooms, including entire zucchinis.  The one downside is you tend to end up with an abundance of stuffing, but there are worse things.

I also learned that these can be roasted.  The reason I know this is that one day, after preparing these tasty treats for the grill, well...let's just say there was some serious rain.  I heard that roasting something at 400 is approximately the same (at least temperature-wise) as grilling it.  So I gave it a shot and yay!  It worked.

12-15 large white mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 zucchini, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1/4 c heavy cream
salt and pepper

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely. Heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the mushroom stems, zucchini, onion and garlic until tender and any liquid released from the mushrooms is evaporated. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the oregano, bread crumbs, and heavy cream. Add the bread crumbs and cream gradually, so as not to get too much of one or the other. The mixture should be moist, but stick together a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Brush the tops of the mushroom caps with olive oil and then fill them with the bread crumb mixture. The stuffing should form a heaping mound on top of the mushroom.

Roast (at 400) or grill mushrooms for approx 15 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with knife. If you are roasting them, sprinkle some more bread crumbs over the top before placing them in the oven. This should give them a slightly crispy top.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Poached Chicken Soup

I'm definitely not ready to let the summer go, but this weekend I actually made the first soup of the season.  I couldn't help myself, it poured all day (thanks Gustav)!  I managed to make it to the store, getting soaking wet in the short walk from door to car, and all I wanted at that point was soup....and not just any soup, Chicken Soup!  I mean, there's nothing more comforting on a dreary day that some chicken soup, am I right or am I right people.  I mean, there's a reason that Campbell's turns the profit it does.

But there was no way I was going to crack open a can of soup and call it a day.  I remembered a poached chicken soup I made from this book (which is awesome btw).  This recipe is great because it's an upscale version of your standard chicken soup, that doesn't lose the heartiness and comfort food-iness of it all.  Whole pieces of chicken are added, I prefer to use dark meat, though the poaching actually keeps the white meat pretty moist as well.  I, however, am unashamedly biased toward dark meat, so sue me.  The parsley added at the very end gives it a fresh taste and the simple broth holds it all together.  I recommend serving in wide shallow bowls.  Place a piece of chicken in the bowl and spoon the broth and vegetables over the top.  Serve with garlic bread.

Poached Chicken Soup (adapted from Quick from Scratch Soups & Salad Cookbook)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 red potatoes, cubed
6 chicken pieces (of your choosing, though I don't think wings would really work), skin removed
2 pints + 1 c water
1 bullion cube
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 c parsley, chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot and celery.  Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, chicken, water, bullion, bay leaf, and thyme.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done and potatoes are tender (20-40 minutes, depending on size of chicken pieces).  Add the parsley and serve.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

um...definitely nommable

I've noticed on this here blog that I've kinda been slacking in general, but more specifically slacking in the meat department. Considering I call myself a rabid carnivore, this really won't do. I tend to go more simple on the meat and more creative on the veggies and other sides. My reasoning behind this is simple, if it came from a quadriped it's probably naturally tasty. I'm speaking mostly of the cow, pig, sheep family, my knowledge doesn't go much farther than that. I don't have a damn clue what I would do with bison or venison for example. But back to my point, meat is good to begin with, it doesn't need much to make it awesome. That doesn't mean, however, that a well-placed marinade or glaze can't do wonders. And since I am now in possession of not one, but two Williams Sonoma Grilling Cookbooks, each entirely unique and full of all sorts of tasty treats, I have been experimenting. So I'm here to share the wealth.

To put this in context, Mama Muffin and I were taking a little trip to the supermarket to prepare for some gigantic meal we were about to embark on. We entered the meat aisle and immediately saw the ribs....on sale. Even though a 3 1/2 lb slab of ribs would be nowhere near enough to feed the masses, we bought them anyway and into the freezer they went. Now, I've never cooked ribs before so I decided to go with a relatively simple recipe. Less is more, right? I tweaked the recipe only the tiniest bit, my changes are below. And 3 1/2 lbs is the perfect amount for four people (remember, most of it is bone).

Mustard Glazed Ribs (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook)

3 1/2 lb slab of pork spareribs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c honey
1/2 c dijon mustard
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cloves

For the sauce: heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add the honey, mustard vinegar, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the ribs: Prepare the grill. Salt and pepper both sides of the slab of ribs. Grill covered for 20 minutes on each side. Brush the sauce over one side and cook for 10 minutes. Turn and brush the sauce on the other side, cook for a final 10 minutes. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.