Tag Archives: mushrooms

What I Ate On My Summer Vacation

4 Sep

by Marsha Taichman

Everyone I know seems to be holidaying in Maine this year. I was tired of hearing about the ocean and eating lobster, so I decided it was time I went somewhere and did something before I got perceptibly jealous. I ended up in Toronto. I wanted to go to the Toronto Islands, dine at good restaurants and go to museums. After getting too much sun on my second day away, which resulted in an afternoon on the couch with a fan and the Food Network, I decided that the beach was a bad idea. You can’t do it all. I ate, I went to museums, and had a good time without the thrill of sun-stroke.

In Toronto, I stayed with my oldest friend Annie, who I have been lucky to have in my life for the past twenty-five years. The two of us have shared many culinary adventures, perhaps the most memorable culminating in potatoes prepared in every way we could imagine sometime during middle school. As we have matured, so have our palates and our cooking skills. Annie has a pretty incredible food blog called The Egyptian Kitchen, which can be found at http://abissadacooks.blogspot.com/ . I hope that a publisher realizes how great it is and offers her a cookbook deal stat.

Since Annie and I don’t live in the same city anymore, we rarely cook together these days, and cooking seemed like the perfect thing to do on my last night in Toronto. With the house to ourselves, we made a feast of mushroom ravioli with pesto with a side of roasted yellow peppers.

Annie and her partner Dave have a beautiful garden, and we picked piles of basil for our pesto.

basil

I wish you could smell the sheer amazingness of this basil.

We ground pine nuts with grated parmesan in a small food processor and added the fresh basil a few leaves at a time. Then we added oil to bind the mixture, and seasoned the pesto with sea salt and cracked black pepper. We put that sauce aside to finish the pasta.

pesto

Presto pesto!

I got the easy job and worked on the ravioli filling. We bought a medley of mushrooms at the Saint Lawrence Market, which included mostly creminis, but also oysters and a few beautiful chanterelles. I chopped them up finely and sautéed them with butter and nutmeg (Annie’s great idea).

mushrooms

The mushrooms were magnificent.

They cooked down into a meaty, satisfying paste that I kept eating while Annie slaved away on the pasta.

filling

The filling, which looks deceptively like ground beef.

I don’t know what recipe she used for the dough, but a recipe I have always wanted to try can be found here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/02/seven-yolk-pasta-dough/.

dough

Annie makes the dough. Note the gorgeous beet greens in the sink, which were also from her garden.

The next time Annie makes ravioli will be easier because she’s going to buy an attachment for her pasta machine that will produce an assembly line of little pouches, but we ended up rolling the dough thinly, dabbing some mushroom filling on it, folding another sheet of dough over, and then cutting out the ravioli one by one with a postage stamp-shaped cutter, which simultaneously sealed them.

rolling dough

Rolling the dough out into even sheets.

Voila! I slid the ravioli into some boiling salted water, and they cooked up like champions. We gently tossed the ravioli with pesto and proceeded to eat way too much.

ravioli

The tasty results of our labour.

It was a delicious way to end an urban getaway.

Check out Marsha’s bio on the Contributors page.

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Tofu with shōjin ryōri mushroom sauce

11 Aug

by Megan Fitzgibbons

I am a very lucky woman. My husband cooks for me nearly every day, and we usually eat dishes drawn from “homestyle” Japanese cuisine.

This is the first recipe that my husband tried from a beautiful shōjin ryōri cookbook called The Enlightened Kitchen by Mari Fujii (limited preview on Amazon). Shojin ryori is the traditional cuisine of Japanese Buddhist monks and does not include any animal products (although this book calls for yogurt in one dish). The diet has been explained with the principle that the monks do not eat anything “that flees when chased.” The food is based on seasonal vegetables and spices that nourish the body in accordance with the season: to warm, cool, or fortify against the cold.

The author’s expertise in temple cuisine is due to being married to a Buddhist monk (convenient!) in Kamakura, an ancient city that we visited during a trip to Japan in 2008. For a  lovely review of the book, visit Maki at the Just Hungry blog.

I was surprised that many of the recipes involve frying food and frequently call for copious amounts of sesame oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter. In other words, the dishes are not all necessarily low-calorie. Other staples include miso (soybean paste), kombu (a type of seaweed), and kanten (agar-agar powder).

We cheated a little on the concept of shojin cuisine by eating a dish intended for another season. According to the book, this “nutritious tofu is served with a sauce of fall mushrooms, a dish to warm the body as the days grow cooler.” Oh, well, it was delicious in summer as well.

As the name suggests, this dish is simply boiled tofu topped with a mushroom sauce. Simple instructions follow.

tofu with mushroom sauce

tofu with mushroom sauce

The base for the sauce is kombu. My husband made a special trip to get Japanese kombu at Miyamoto Foods in Westmount, a place off our usual path. A single strip of dried kombu was needed for this recipe, and it was soaked in water for a few hours beforehand to make the stock.

Ingredients:
1 block silken tofu (400 grams)
50 g mushrooms, assorted types (e.g., shitake, button, shimeji) (1 3/4 ounces)
40 g carrots (julienned) (1 1/4 ounces)
400 ml konbu stock (1 2/3 cups)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
Chopped raw green onions (garnish)

The tofu is simply cut into four chunks, boiled in plain water, and drained.

To prepare the sauce:
1. Bring kombu stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and salt to a boil in a frying pan or pot.

2. Add thinly sliced mushrooms and carrots and simmer for a few minutes.

3. Lower the heat and mix the cornstarch slowly into the liquid to thicken the sauce.

4. Pour the sauce over the tofu.

The recipe recommends garnishing the tofu with strips of blanched green beans, but we used chopped raw green onions instead.

Final judgment: simple, satisfying, and extremely yummy.

The next day, I ate the leftover sauce poured over rice. I had packed my lunch container the night before, and by the time I ate it, the sauce had soaked into the rice, softening the texture and adding a rich flavour.

Megan Fitzgibbons

Check out Megan’s bio and a link to her food blog on the Contributors page