Let us see those recipes. I am betting my lovely wife can defeat your good ideas without really trying…
Asparagus With Morels and Tarragon
From NYTIMES’ Mark Bittman
Recipient of the prestigious DavidB Seal Of Yummy Approval
Time: About 45 minutes
1/4 to 1/2 ounce dried morels or porcinis, or a combination
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 pound fresh shiitake or white button mushrooms or a combination, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 -inch lengths
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Put morels, porcinis or both in a bowl with very hot water to cover; soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain morels and reserve soaking liquid. Cut morels in half; if porcinis are large, chop them roughly.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when butter is hot and foam has subsided, add shallots and reconstituted and fresh mushrooms to pan. Cook until shallots soften and fresh mushrooms have released their liquid and it has cooked off, about 10 minutes.
3. Add asparagus and 1/2 cup reserved liquid to pan. Bring liquid to a boil, cover, reduce heat so mixture simmers, and continue cooking for another 2 to 4 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add cream and tarragon or chervil and continue cooking, uncovered, until sauce thickens slightly and asparagus is tender, about 4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
The Flavor of Spring
By MARK BITTMAN
In an ideal world, here’s what a spring dish might look like: you take morels from your foraging trip, cream and butter from your cow, andasparagus, shallots and herbs from your garden. You combine them in any way that makes sense to you, and then you thank the forest, the cow and your backyard for providing you with such amazing bounty.
Sound familiar? Not to me, either. But there are ways to come close. Start with a combination of dried morels or porcini and fresh shiitakes or button mushrooms. The more morels you use, the more intense the flavor, but I’ve made this with as few as four and not been disappointed.
Get the best asparagus, not too thin; this is the right time of year for it, after all. Ditto with the butter and cream, and don’t skimp on either. Use fresh chervil (preferred, but difficult to find) or tarragon — do not settle for dried here.
The result will be a French classic, a combination of strong, uncommon flavors that could have been designed to go together.
Combining dried and fresh mushrooms is a reliable way to transfer the exotic flavor of truly wild mushrooms to tamer domesticated ones. Using the soaking liquid for the morels makes it certain that none of their essence goes to waste.
The procedure itself is straightforward, with one exception: half-cook the asparagus first, so that it finishes in the cream, therefore absorbing a bit of it and becoming tender yet not mushy.
What’s half-cooked asparagus? Just a stage or so past raw. If the cream mixture threatens to dry out before the asparagus is done, add more cream, more mushroom soaking liquid or water.
It’s worth mentioning that this mixture makes a terrific pasta sauce. But speaking of spring, that might be painting the lily.
This recipe has received the prestigious David B Award for Outstanding Light, Savory Seduction Meal
Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry
By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
You can serve this simple stir-fry with grains or noodles, rice or (my preference) use it as a filling for a whole wheat pita pocket.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound tofu, cut in small dice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Soy sauce to taste
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok, and add the tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu is lightly colored, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and stir-fry until the spinach wilts, about one minute. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
2. Using tongs, transfer the spinach and tofu mixture to a serving bowl, leaving the liquid behind in the pan or wok. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and add more soy sauce as desired. Serve with rice or other grains, or noodles. You may also use it as a filling for whole wheat pita bread.
Variation: Once cooked, finely chop the tofu and spinach and use as a filling for spring rolls or wontons.
Yield: Serves three
Advance preparation: This is a last-minute preparation, but you can have your ingredients prepared well in advance.
Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.
My cooking isn’t very sophisticated – it tends to be relatively simple and hearty – and generally cheap.
This soup is named in honor of my son, who would eat it daily if he could.
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
2 Smoked Ham Hocks
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 15oz cans of kidney beans
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5 oz cans of petite diced or stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon (or more) Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 six pack quality American beer.
Get the ingredients together, drink one can of beer.
Brown sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces.
(If you are concerned about the fat content, boil sausage first.)
Skin ham hocks and brown, trim fat if desired.
(Skin the hocks by slicing down one side with a very sharp knife, all the way through the skin, then work your fingers under the cut edge and peel the skin off.)
(If absolutely can’t stand the thought of working with ham hocks, you can substitute cubed ham, but it’s not the same.)
Drink another can of beer.
In a large stock pot, add sausage, ham hocks, potatoes, celery, parsley, beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, salt, pepper, hot sauce, bay leaves, garlic, Worcestershire sauce.
Cover with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 3 hours.
(Make sure as it simmers that it is covered with sufficient water. Add more water if necessary)
Remove ham hocks and strip the meat from the bone, trimming fat as you go. Return meat to pot.
(You probably will need to let the hocks cool a bit before working with them. Make sure that they
are far enough back on the counter so the dog doesn’t get them. Dog’s love ham hocks.)
Drink another can of beer, give one of the ham bones to the dog, wrap and put the other bone in the fridge until tomorrow.
After returning the meat to pot, allow it to simmer for ten or fifteen minutes. Another beer is optional
at this point.
Serve with more beer and crusty dinner rolls. Garnish servings with sour cream or grated cheese if desired. If you like a little more heat, you can substitute hot Italian sausage for the sweet.
One of life’s true pleasures is a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Now getting the real thing at Pat’s or Geno’s in Philadelphia is a little pricey. Airfare for two would be nearly $1,500, then you have to rent a car, get a hotel room, etc.
I can save you a few bucks on the deal. Get in your car and drive over to your neighborhood Dillon’s and pick up the following:
A bag of about 8 crusty hoagie buns – $4.00
Thin sliced steak – $10.00
A couple packages of sliced provolone – $4.00
A couple large yellow onions – $0.99/lbs.
A couple large green peppers – $2.00
Dillon’s sells sliced steak for about $4.00 for a 12oz package or you can have the meat department slice your choice of steak. Have them cut it across the grain. Flirting with the girl behind the meat counter is optional.
You can also use Steak-umm if you are lazy. I usually buy whatever steak is on sale and have the meat department slice it for me. Round steak is usually my choice, but you could use pretty much any beef. If you are going to use fillet mignon, you must invite me over.
Stop at the liquor store on the way home a pick up a twelve pack of Rolling Rock. Make up a big batch of iced tea when you get home for the non-drinkers lurking about.
Make sure you trim the fat from the steak slices.
The way I do the sandwiches requires two pans, a wok and an electric skillet, but you can do them in just one pan if you don’t like doing dishes. You also can do it Philly-style on a griddle.
Slice the onions and peppers into long thin pieces.
In the electric skillet, dump the onions and peppers and cook until tender, but not completely sauteed. You want them to still have a little crunch.
Heat your frying pan or wok fairly high, melting a little real butter, then add the steak slices. Do not overcook. You want to cook the steak quickly so it is still tender, but completely cooked. I use a wok so that I can slide the slices that are done up the sides while the rest are cooking. Add a little salt, pepper and garlic powder if you choose.
Drain the pan and dump the steak slices in with the peppers and onions, mixing well. Cover with a layer of provolone cheese and slap the lid on. You can turn off the skillet. Let the cheese melt until it is good and gooey.
Slice hoagie buns length wise and form a bit of a hollow in each one. You can lightly toast the buns if you like them that way.
With a spatula, scoop up a batch of steak, peppers, onion and cheese and ladle onto the buns, wipe the excess cheese on the spatula off on the inside of the bun.
Crack a Rolling Rock or grab a large glass of sweetened iced tea. Serve with potato chips and large batches of napkins.
The peppers and onions are strictly optional, some do some don’t. Most do just onions, but I like the peppers, too. You can also add mushrooms or jalapenos.
Pat’s in Philly substitutes Cheez Whiz for provolone for most of their sandwiches. You can also use American cheese. Geno’s is provolone or American, but you can use any cheese that suits your fancy.
For slightly more than $20.00 you can whip up eight sandwiches that would make your cardiologist cringe and make you friends and family think that you are a master chef.
Hard boiled eggs. Boil water. Let dozen eggs warm up for time to drink 3 beers. Challenge beer drinkers to see who has strongest egg. 2 guys with egg in hand smack eggs end to end in contest to see who has strongest eggs for free beers. Salt the busted eggs, and eat with beer! Repeat as often as necessary. Stand clear of this crew after a few hours of beer and eggs.
Hot Spiced Portobello Grill with Fresh Arugula and Parmigiano Shavings
Copyright © 2009 Lynne Rossetto Kasper
1/2 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tight-packed cup fresh baby arugula leaves
2 to 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon
1. In a blender, puree together the olive oil, garlic, pepper and oregano. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with the oil blend. Set the rest of the oil aside to finish the dish.
2. Prepare the grill for medium-high heat (on a charcoal grill coals will be orange and starting to ash over and you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grate for 4 to 5 seconds; on a gas grill set burners at medium-high and heat until temperature reaches 400ºF).
3. Grill the mushroom caps on both sides until tender all the way through and slightly crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Immediately remove the mushrooms to a serving platter. Top the caps with the arugula, then the cheese shavings, sprinkle with the reserved oil, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve right away to get the impact of hot mushrooms and fresh greens.
The mushrooms can also be prepared on a stove top grill or large skillet over medium-high heat. If using a skillet, film the bottom with a little oil.
If by some gift of the gods fresh porcini (Boletus Edulis) mushrooms come into your life, do use them instead of Portobellos. They were the original mushrooms intended for this dish.
If arugula isn’t available substitute another tart, peppery green such as escarole, mustard greens, curly endive or mizuna.
THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE
Most vegetables can be cooked on a grill, with the general rule of thumb being to grill them quickly and over direct medium to medium-high heat. Marinate or toss vegetables with seasonings and oil before cooking to boost flavor and prevent sticking to the grill grate.
Some larger vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and summer squash, large carrots, and sweet and white potatoes can be cut into uniform lengthwise slices about 1/16– to 1/8-inch thick to increase the surface area exposed to the grill. Cut onions and bell peppers into wedges and place directly on the grate or thread onto skewers.
1 4lb pork shoulder
1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon pineapple juice (not authentic, but it balances out the saltiness quite nicely)
Poke holes in fat side of shoulder and rub in salt. Place fat side up in slowcooker and pour on liquid smoke and juice. Cook on LOW for 20 hours (yes, 20 hours!) until it’s falling-apart tender.
Shred and use in everything! The hubby and I really love it in quesadillas–pork, red onion and monterey jack in flour tortillas.
This sounds scrumptious! I wish I had skills as a cook, but I don’t. I can do simple and for cooks it’s difficult for me to explain just how basic the skills the word simple encompasses. 🙂
Pork Chops and Mushrooms
4 pork chops (3/4″ to 1″ thick)
4.5 oz can of mushrooms drained
2 medium onions
10.75 oz can Golden Mushroom Soup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
.25 cup water
Grease slow cooker; put pork chops in bottom.
Place mushrooms on top of chops.
Slice onions, place slices on top of mushrooms.
Combine remaining ingredients, pour over chops/mushrooms/onions.
Cook on low for 6-8 hrs until done.
A good starting point for a low maintenance dinner. Leftovers, if any, taste even better when warmed up later.
This is one of my favorite dishes. There are usually no leftovers in my house – but these pork chops make an excellent sandwich the next day for lunch!
This is also good with meatballs – again, an excellent sandwich the next day.
I don’t use a slow cooker, I just brown them first and then bake for an hour at 350.
Layer thinly sliced vidalia onions, when in season, on top of the dish prior to baking. They come out slightly crisp, with the inside melt in your mouth.
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