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Get Medieval with Mushroom Pie


Mushroom Pie

Ever wonder what people ate in medieval times? You can find a few answers at MedievalCookery.com, a website that features authentic ideas modernized for today’s kitchens.

This recipe for Mushroom Pie seems almost too easy, yet it’s a rewarding meatless entree that’s perfect with a side salad. One note: When I tested the recipe, I didn’t drain the mushrooms as much as I should have. It didn’t affect the flavor or texture, but it left juices at the bottom of the pie plate.

Mushroom Pie

2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
Oil
2 cups Swiss cheese, divided use
2 teaspoons Powder Fine (recipe follows)
1 (9-inch) pie crust

Save some cheese to sprinkle over the top.

Sauté mushrooms in small amount of oil to cook the mushrooms and release their water. Drain and cool. Press the juices from the mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups of cheese and Powder Fine, and place into the pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes until done.

Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: Mushrooms of one night be the best and they be little and red within and closed at the top; and they must be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and spice powder.

Item, put them between two dishes on the coals and then add a little salt, cheese and spice powder. They be found at the end of May and June.

Makes 1 pie.

Powder Fine

Powder Fine

“Many medieval recipes call for spice mixtures without detailing the exact spices,” MedievalCookery.com says. “While it is tempting to assume that each particular spice mixture had a consistent recipe, there is evidence of substantial variation for different times, regions, budgets, and cooks. The recipe below is for one of the more commonly called-for spice mixtures. I strongly encourage altering it to suite your own tastes.”

3 tablespoons ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon grains of paradise (see note)

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

Note: According to a jar from Silver Cloud Estates, “Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melagueta), also known as Guinea Pepper, is an aromatic seed primarily used in the cooking styles of West and North Africa. It has a flavor similar to black pepper and was once used as a substitute for pepper in Europe.” It has a fruity taste with a light touch of heat and can be ordered online.

Adapted from MedievalCookery.com.

 

 

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Carla Veliz’s Mango Mint Salad


Carla Veliz’s Mango Mint Salad

San Antonio artist Carla Veliz sees a connection between her art and food.

“My art, like a crisp, flavorful salad, combines color, texture and visual delights to create a sensory experience,” she writes in “The Art Lovers’ Cookbook: San Antonio” (SRC Publishing, $24.95). “The vibrant hues presented in delicate swirls awaken the visual senses in much the same way that a refreshing, multi-textured salad arouses the palate.”

And so, this refreshing, multi-textured Mango Mint Salad is a sweet-savory reflection of her work.

Carla Veliz’s Mango Mint Salad

3 ripe mangoes
Juice of 2 limes
1 clove garlic, diced
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup shredded mint leaves

Peel and slice mangoes lengthwise.

Serve individually; plate 1/2 mango per guest.

Whisk lime juice, garlic and agave nectar in a bowl, drizzle over mango and sprinkle with shredded mist.

Makes 6 servings.

From Carla Veliz/”The Art Lovers’ Cookbook: San Antonio”

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Apple-Rutabaga Soup Offers a Taste of “Liquid Autumn”


One of the tastiest, most satisfying birthday gifts I’ve ever received was a dinner at the Inn at Little Washington, deep in the rolling hills of Virginia. The restaurant has long been considered one of the finest in the country, and its plush decor is only a prelude to the opulent flavors that lie in store from chef Patrick O’Connell’s kitchen.

One treat we sampled was this Apple-Rutabaga Soup. I admit I was never a big rutabaga fan; but softened and sweetened by the addition of apple, sweet potato and butternut squash, it came into its own, as an essential element in a sublime soup, the recipe of which is included “Patrick’s O’Connell”s Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington” (Bulfinch Press, $45).

One taste and you’ll realize why O’Connell calls it “liquid autumn.”

I loved the tiniest hint of cayenne pepper. If you have a greater heat tolerance, you may want to up the amount slightly or pass the cayenne around with each bowl to give it a sprinkle of red on top.

Plus, you can make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Apple-Rutabaga Soup

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 cup peeled, cored and roughly chopped Granny Smith apple
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped rutabaga
1 cup peeled, seeded and roughly chopped butternut squash
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped carrots
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato
1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup maple syrup
Salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, apple, rutabaga, squash, carrots and sweet potato, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are cooked through and tender.

Purée the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the same pot you used to cook the vegetables. Add the cream, maple syrup, salt and cayenne pepper.

Return the pot to the stove, bring the soup to a simmer, and serve.

Makes 2 quarts or 6-8 servings.

From “Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington”

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Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad


The fall eggplant harvest has begun, and I had two deeply purple orbs hanging from the plant, ready to pick. But what do to with them?

I found the answer in Clifford A. Wright’s exhaustive but, unfortunately out of print cookbook, “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More”. (A few used copies can be found, and if you like foods of the Mediterranean, I would recommend it highly.)

He has a number of eggplant options, but the one that appealed most to me was a salad or spread made with toasted almonds, Greek yogurt and pomegranate molasses. “This Turkish salad served as a meze is called nazuktan and is typical in central Anatolia,” he writes. “It is made in a number of different ways. Some cooks stir in pomegranate molasses, a taste I like in this recipe.”

You can find pomegranate molasses in specialty markets and Middle Eastern grocers, such as Ali Baba, Salaam International Food Market and Central Market.

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

1 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup labna or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant in a baking dish with a little water or on a rack and roast until the skin blisters black, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven an , when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and stem and remove as many seeds as you can.

While the eggplant is roasting, place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Set aside 6 or 7 almonds and grind the rest coarsely in a food processor.

Chop the eggplant and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, and season with salt.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the mint and garnish with the whole almonds.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More” by Clifford A. Wright

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Tomato Salsa Salad with Capers and Mint


Tomatoes are starting to come into season, and this salad — or salsa — is a great way to showcase the brightest summer flavors.

“What’s the different between a fresh tomato salsa and a tomato salad?”  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes in “River Cottage Every Day” (Ten Speed Press, $32.50). “Not much really, but for me, a tomato salsa should always include some kind of raw allium — shallot, onion, green onion — to give it an edge. And if you chopped the tomatoes more finely for this recipe, you’d have a definite salsa, I’d say — perfect for eating with burgers or spicy chicken.”

Tomato Salsa Salad with Capers and Mint

1 pound ripe tomatoes
1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons tiny capers, rinsed
A small squeeze of lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A tiny pinch of sugar
A few torn fresh mint leaves

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then halve each quarter crosswise. place in a bowl and lightly stir in the shallot or onion and caper.

Put the lemon juice and oil in a small pitcher, season well, and add the sugar. Whisk together, then drizzle over the tomatoes. Scatter the torn mint leaves over the top and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “River Cottage Every Day” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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Tequila Seduces Guacamole


Use Hass avocados in this guacamole.

Even vegans like to drink. And cook. And sometimes mix the two together. That’s the message of John Schlimm’s funny yet flavorful cookbook, “The Tipsy Vegan: 75 Boozy Recipes to Turn Every Bite into Happy Hour” (Da Capo, $17). And what better way to test that theory during Fiesta than with a bowl of tequila-spiked guacamole?

“What would guacamole be without a tequila chaser?” Schlimm writes. “Luckily for us, with this recipe we’ll never again have to ponder that terrifying question. Share the love and mix a few tablespoons of the lively spirit directly into this classic south-of-the-border dip. Just beware the fire hazard: When adding the jalapeños, carefully taste a slice for determining the sizzle factor, which can vary widely. As for the limes, usually the smoother the skin, the juicier the lime.”

Tequila Seduces Guacamole

3 ripe Hass avocados
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 to 3 jalapeños (depending on your heat preference), stemmed, seeded and finely diced
Juice of 1 lime, about 3 tablespoons
2 to 3 tablespoons good tequila
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Lightly  warmed tortilla chips, for serving

Halve the avocados and remove the pits by whacking them with a knife blade and twisting them out. Use a spoon to scrape out the avocado flesh into a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork just until chunky. Add the cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, lime juice, tequila, salt and pepper and combine with the fork. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more tequila. Serve at room temperature with plenty of warm tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

From “The Tipsy Vegan” by John Schlimm

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Asparagus Is Perfect for the Grill


Asparagus on the grill.

Easter may be over, but my hunger for asparagus isn’t.

Here are two recipes that are great for the grill.

The first is from Simon Hopkinson’s “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” (Hyperion, $24.95), which is a great resource for those looking for solid recipes that are often easy to put together. He reminds us of just how versatile these spears are and how well they go with certain foods.

“Asparagus lends itself to the simplest of preparations,” he writes. “Most obvious is to serve with with melted butter, or just hollandaise on its own. i have come to the conclusion that, in fact, eggs are its favorite companion: buttery scrambled eggs, soft-boiled or poached eggs using asparagus spears as ‘soldiers,’ or eggs baked en cocotte with cream and tarragon.”

The other is a simple grilled asparagus dish I threw together with items out of the fridge and freezer.

Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan

24 large asparagus spears
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
3 to 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, in a piece
Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat a ribbed cast-iron grill or skillet. Brush the asparagus spears with some of the oil, and cook until nicely charred on all sides. Transfer to a large white dish, season lightly with salt and plenty of pepper, and sprinkle with the chopped egg. Using a potato peeler, shave slivers of Parmesan over the surface, drizzle with more olive oil, and serve with the lemon wedges.

From “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham

Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnuts

Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnuts

Asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Hazelnut oil
Toasted hazelnuts, broken
1 egg, sunny-side up (optional)

Prepare the grill. Drizzle how much asparagus you want to eat with a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus until charred on all sides. Place on a platter and drizzle with a light amount of hazelnut oil. Sprinkle toasted hazelnut pieces. Top with an egg if desired.

From John Griffin

 

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Radish and Cucumber Salad


Radish and Cucumber Salad

Sometimes, the simplest combinations shine more brightly than complex creations. This salad features only three ingredients outside of the dressing — radishes, cucumbers and either arugula or spinach. And the dressing isn’t that complicated either. But put them together and a rewarding salad results.

This went well with ham and seafood both on Easter and would work with just about anything else you were serving. It is yet another winning surprise from Suzanne Somers’ “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” (Three Rivers Press, $21.99).

Radish and Cucumber Salad

1 bunch radishes, sliced into quarters
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into half-moons
1 bunch arugula or spinach
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine the radishes, cucumber and arugula. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss until well coated.

Place the salad on individual plates and top sliced chicken, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

 

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Two Salads, One Dressing


Crunchy Cabbage Salad uses both red and green cabbage.

OK, I have to admit that I laughed when I first saw Suzanne Somers’ “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” (Three Rivers Press, $21.99). Who would want to cook their way through any of the 400 or so recipes that Somers has supposedly compiled? This is another one of those celebrity cookbooks ghost written by who knows who, right?

Then I opened the book and was pleasantly surprised by how many recipes I wanted to make: Pork Paillards with Caper Butter Sauce, Braised Pork Chops with Purple Cabbage, Pan-fried New York Steaks with Fried Elephant Garlic, Crispy Mesquite Salmon, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, to name a few. All used only a few ingredients, most easily found, and came with easy-to-follow instructions that emphasized the freshness of the dish.

But it was the salad section that really scored. Ingredients like baby artichokes, hearts of palm, fennel, warm goat cheese and more are all included in this robust selection, accompanied by a series of lively dressings. These include the recipes below for Crunchy Cabbage Salad and Green Beans and Hearts of Palm, both of which use her Red Wine Vinaigrette.

If you take the time time to read the front of the book, you’ll also learn that each of the recipes is coded so you can find out if the dish is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian or vegan. All of the recipes are sugar-free, though some sweeteners are used, and Somers offers substitutes for her all-natural SomerSweet.

That care mixed with some really good-looking recipes make realize that the last laugh is with Somers. By the way, “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” is Somers’ 21st book, so she must be doing something right.

Green Bean Salad and Hearts of Palm

Sea salt
1 pound green beans
1 (14-ounce) can or jar hearts of palm, drained
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and boil 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. the beans will change from light to dark green. Drain and plunge the beans into a bowl of ice water; the ice bath stops the cooking process, sets the flavor, and helps the beans retain their dark green color. Slice the blanched green beans on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

Slice the hearts of palm on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Add the hearts of palm, tomatoes, onions, parsley and feta to the bowl. toss with the vinaigrette and season with additional salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

Crunchy Cabbage Salad

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine cabbage, parsley, onion, and vinaigrette in a large salad bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Combine the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the oil is emulsified.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Makes about 1 cup.

From “The Sexy Forever Recipe Bible” by Suzanne Somers

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How to Peel a Celery Root


An unpeeled celeriac, also known as a celery root.

A recent recipe that called for celeriac, also known as celery root, prompted a question from a reader: What do you do with it?

Start by cutting off the bottom.

It’s very simple, and it’s a tasty alternative to potatoes, especially if you are looking to cut back on carbohydrates in your diet. The root has between 7 and 9 grams of carbs per cup, depending on which nutritional guide you pay attention to.

It’s also low in calories and a good source of both vitamin C and phosphorus, according to nutritiondata.self.com. Magnesium, manganese and potassium are other pluses you get from this root vegetable.

Let’s start at the supermarket, where the roots are usually stores in the produce section near other exotics. At my H-E-B, it can generally be found near the daikon, when it’s available, and the bok choy.

Peel off the sides, as you would a pineapple.

Choose one that is hard. It could be gnarled or knobby. Some stores sell them in various sizes and by the pound; others offer larger versions that given a per-root price.

You don’t need to wash it. Just set it on its side and cut the bottom off of it.

Then set the cut side down on your board and proceed to peel it with a sharp knife the way you would a pineapple until all sides are cleaned.

Then you can cut it into slices and finally into cubes. Or you can cut it into larger chunks in order to grate it. Slice into wedges and prepare it as you would steak fries. Use a mandolin and cut thin slices to be fried up as chips.

That’s about all it takes.

Then, it’s time to start cooking.

You can use celeriac in this parsley soup. Or try this recipe for celeriac gratin from Martha Stewart that bubbles up with flavor from two cheeses, cream, nutmeg and Dijon mustard in addition to the celeriac.

Martha Stewart’s Celeriac Gratin

Unsalted butter, for the dish
4 shallots, thinly sliced
3 medium bulbs celeriac
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You can cut celeriac in different ways, depending on how you're going to use it.

Butter a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish. Scatter shallots over bottom of dish. Peel celeriac and cut into 1/4-inch slices, and then julienne. Arrange evenly in gratin dish. Sprinkle thyme leaves over celeriac.

In a small bowl, whisk together cream, mustard, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Pour over celeriac, and sprinkle with cheeses. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil, and continue baking until top is brown and bubbly and cream is thickened and reduced, about 20 more minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

From Martha Stewart/Martha Stewart Living

 

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