Friday, July 26, 2013

"Award Winning" Sweet and Spicy Pickled Mushrooms

This delightful recipe comes from an out-of-print book by the National Honey Board called Sweetened With Honey the Natural Way (1994).  A quick search of the Honey Board's website pulled up the recipe, though and here's the link:  Sweet & Hot Marinated Mushrooms.

"Best Honey Dish with Mushrooms Award"
I adapted the recipe to suit  ingredients I had on hand and entered it in the "Made With Honey" contest at the annual beekeeper picnic jointly hosted by Burgh Bees and Beaver Valley Area Beekeepers' Association. Christie and Susie did a great job organizing the contest and I'm not saying that just because I won the award for the best dish made with mushrooms (mine was, um, the ONLY entry in its category, so you can tell the competition was fierce!).  Check out my cool bee ribbon! Christie made a great rhubarb dish (fan favorite!) and Susie entered a delicious blueberry scone.  I'm hounding them for the recipes and will hope to get them up on the blog before long.

These pickled mushrooms are great as an appetizer, on an antipasti tray, or in a simple green salad.  They'll keep in the fridge for about a week.

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Mushrooms
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable broth (or dry white wine)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small green onion, sliced thin (use the green parts, too!)
1/2 teaspoon lime (or orange or lemon) zest
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1 pound fresh button mushrooms.  Leave whole if small.  If they're large, half or quarter them--but note that the mushrooms will shrink when they soak up the hot brine, so don't cut them too small.

Combine the honey, vinegar, broth, vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, green onion slices, ginger and zest in a small pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the brine just begins to simmer.  Place the mushrooms and pepper flakes in a heat proof bowl or jar and pour the hot brine over.  Let marinate for at least three hours before serving.  Makes about 4-6 servings.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blueberry Mint Honey Vinegar & Salad Dressing

That white dot in the center of the two bottles is a blurry shot of one of our colonies!

My blueberry growing friend and colleague (and blog fan!) Ruth has promised to freeze a few of her delicious berries for me for when I return to campus in the fall (thanks, Ruth!).  We're lucky that we also live by a pick-your-own blueberry farm where I send Robert to bring back some of the bounty.  You can't have too many blueberries, that's for sure!

Miriam Rubin's "Miriam's Garden" column in the food section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently included this great recipe for Blueberry-Mint Vinegar that she credits to Nancy Hanst, whose recipes often show up in Post-Gazette's food section.  The vinegar (which takes a few days to steep) makes a great base for an on-the-sweet-side salad dressing that would be lovely on a spinach or lettuce salad or used to dress some freshly roasted beets.  Instead of mint, you could use basil (which is from the mint family after all).

Blueberry-Mint-Honey Vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) blueberries
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves--I used spearmint, but peppermint would be nice, too.

Bring the vinegar and honey to a boil.  Place the berries and mint in a jar and pour the vinegar-honey over them.  Cover and let steep for about 48 hours.  Strain out the berries and mint (not pressing on the berries) and then decant the vinegar into a bottle.

Blueberry-Mint-Honey Salad Dressing
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup blueberry-mint-honey vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional but helps the dressing to stay emulsified)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a small food processor, mince the garlic clove.  Add the vinegar, honey & mayonnaise and whirl to blend. With processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and blend until fully emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Store in the refrigerator.  Makes 1 cup and keeps for about a week.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pak Choy & Mushrooms with Spicy Noodles

Thanks to Robert's green thumb and regular tending, we have a beautiful crop of pak choy this year--bok choy's miniature cousin. This is a wonderful vegetable for stir frying or sauteing.  The petioles (the stalks of the plant) are white and crunchy like celery while the top leaves are nearly like spinach. It is a member of the cabbage family, though it has a very mild flavor that lends itself well to spicy sauces.  For this recipe, I've sauteed it with mushrooms and garlic and used the veggies to top of a bowl of spicy peanut noodles.  You can eat this dish hot or cool (like a salad).  Sauteed or fried tofu would be a nice addition.

Pak choy needs to be carefully cleaned as the stalks tend to harbor a lot of dirt while the plant grows (like leeks).  For that reason, I usually cut the pak choy stalks into the size I want for the recipe and then place them in a large bowl of water, swishing them a bit to dislodge the dirt.  I then scoop up the floating stalk pieces and drain (the dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl).

Pak Choy & Mushrooms with Spicy Noodles
Serves 2 generously as a main dish and 4 as a side dish

6-8 pak choy plants
8 oz. button (or any other kind, truthfully) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/4 in slices
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil or canola oil (to coat bottom of pan)
1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb long, flat rice pasta  or use regular spaghetti or linguine

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha (or other chili sauce, or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

Cut the stalks from the leaves of the pak choy plants.  Slice the stalks into 1/2 inch slices and place in a large bowl of water to get rid of the dirt, and drain. (See directions above.)  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.  Wash leaves in a bowl of water and drain.  Chop leaves and keep separate.

While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet and coat bottom with oil.  Add the garlic to the pan, stirring to prevent browning and saute for a few minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the pak choy stalks to the pan and stir, cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes until the stalks soften a bit and stirring occasionally.  Add the mushrooms and stir, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes or so until mushrooms (and pak choy) begin to give up their juices.  Add leaves to the pan--no need to stir--and cover so that the leaves, stalks and mushrooms steam a bit.  This should take no more than 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove cover, stir around and check that the vegetables are done to your liking.  Add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle the sesame oil over the veggies.

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.  Drain the pasta (if using rice pasta, rinse with cold water and drain well again).  Return pasta to pot and stir in sauce, being sure to coat all of the noodles.  Divide the noodles among individual bowls and top each with a portion of the vegetables.  Serve with more sriracha sauce, soy sauce and/or a drizzle of sesame oil.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup

Ahh! The height of summer!  Our beet patch is coming into its own now and weather is perfect for cold soups.  This beet and buttermilk soup is simple, easy and gorgeous.  If you're a hard core beet lover, you don't even have to cook the beets--they can be peeled and blended raw right into this concoction.  I prefer a less earthy beet flavor and a smoother soup, so I boiled and peeled the beets first.  You could also roast the beets, which would make them a bit sweeter and richer.  Anyway you make 'em, this lovely soup will make a nice addition to a lazy summer lunch.

Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup
4-5 medium sized beets, boiled or roasted, peeled and cut into chunks (or, as noted above, you could peel and chunk them raw)  If you boil the beets, chill them in an ice bath before peeling; cool the roasted beets before using.
3 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
2-3 scallions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
a little more buttermilk to swirl in for garnish if you want to get fancy
Place the beets, buttermilk, honey and scallions in a blender and whirl until thoroughly pureed.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Chill for an hour before serving (or, truth be told, you could lap this soup up right away, though it won't be cold-cold).  Just before serving, drizzle a bit of buttermilk on top and swirl.  Makes about four cups.