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Archive for Gourmet Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Brighten Up Winter Meals

Grape Salsa Bruschetta

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

Salmon With Grape Salsa

Cod With Grape Salsa

[1] Start with grape salsa and bruschetta, with wine and beer, as a snack or a first course (photos #1 and #3 courtesy California Table Grape Commission). [2] Another savory appetizer/first course: goat cheese cheesecake. What’s missing? The grape salsa! Here’s the recipe from Love And Olive Oil. [3] Move on to the mains; here, grilled salmon with grape salsa. [4] White cod with grape salsa. Here’s the recipe from Food And Wine.

 

To add color to a plate of white, beige or brown food with an easy sauce or colorful garnish.

But if it’s a simply grilled chicken breast or fish fillet, look to salsa.

Even in the winter months, with no good tomatoes, stone fruits, etc., a colorful, delicious and nutritious sauce can be made from…grapes.

Salsa is not just for taco chips. The original translation, “sauce,” it was used for millennia before tortilla chips were invented (in the late 1940s, in L.A.).

RECIPE: GRAPE SALSA

We adapted this recipe from a suggestion by the California Table Grape Commission.

  • 2 cups seedless grapes, assorted colors
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (scallions) or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice or vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Sriracha, jalapeño or other heat to taste
  •  
    Variations

  • Black olives
  • Chopped basil or mint
  • Lemon or orange zest
  • Substitute orange and red peppadews for the grapes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE or chop the grapes. For a sauce with protein, slice the grapes in half. For salsa with chips or crostini, chop coarsely.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in medium bowl; mix well.

    3. LET stand at least 1 hour before serving for flavors to meld. Drain excess liquid before serving.

     
    WAYS TO USE GRAPE SALSA

  • Baked Brie
  • Cheese plate condiment
  • Chips
  • Cottage cheese
  • Crostini/bruschetta
  • Greek yogurt
  • Grilled cheese, ham, turkey and other sandwiches
  • Main course sauce (roasted/grilled chicken, fish, pork)
  • Omelet or scrambled eggs
  • Salad: spoon over greens with optional blue/goat cheese crumble
  • Savory cheesecake topping
  • Taco topping
  • Turkey or veggie burger
  •  
    GRAPE NUTRITION

    Grapes are good for you. For those avoiding fruit because of the sugar, grapes have a relatively low glycemic index, with GI values ranging between 43 and 53.

  • 1.5 cups have just 90 calories, no fat, and virtually no sodium.
  • No cholesterol.
  • Lots of antioxidants.
  • An excellent source of vitamins C & K, wit a good supply of other minerals and nutrients.
  • Healthy carbs: A serving contains 24 grams of good carbs and 1 gram of fiber.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF GRAPES

    Different wild grape varieties were first cultivated around 6000 B.C.E. near northern Iran, between the Black and Caspian seas.

    By 3000 B.C.E. grapes were being cultivated inEgypt and Phoenicia, and by 2000 B.C.E. in Greece.

     
    Viticulture reached Italy, Sicily and North Africa by 1000 B.C.E., and by 500 B.C.E. had spread with the Roman legions to Spain, Portugal and France, and finally across Europe to the British Isles.

    America also had wild grape varieties, which were cultivated in of themselves, and joined by cultivars brought from Europe. In the mid-1800s, a Hungarian expatriate, Colonel Agoston Haraszthy, brought 100,000 cuttings of Vitis vinifera varieties from Europe to California.

    In 1860, English settler William Thompson planted a Mediterranean grape called the Oval Kishmish near Yuba City, north of Sacramento. This popular green grape variety became known as the Thompson Seedless.

    In 1970, per capita consumption of grapes in the U.S. was 2.5 pounds. Today, it’s around 8 pounds.
     
      

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    ELVIS RECIPE: Graceland Cupcakes

    Elvis would be 82 today; “The King” was born January 8, 1935.

    While Elvis Presley is not exactly known for being a foodie, we, along with millions of fans worldwide, like to celebrate his birthday with a few hours of Elvis tunes and his favorite snack food: a fried sandwich filled with peanut butter, sliced banana and bacon (photo #1: here’s the recipe).

    This recipe was developed in honor of Elvis, whose favorite sandwich was PB, bacon and banana.

    Past celebrations at THE NIBBLE have included an:

  • Elvis Burger
  • Elvis Sandwich
  • Elvis Sundae
  •  
    Inspired by the king of rock and roll, these cupcakes are packed to the core with peanut butter. Top them off with candied bacon for a royally delectable dessert.

    RECIPE: GRACELAND MINI CUPCAKES
    (BANANA CUPCAKES WITH PEANUT BUTTER & BACON)

    You can use lowfat versions of the sour cream and cream cheese; but why bother? These are mini cupcakes, after all (photo #3).

    Instead, have one with the diet version of one of his favorite soft drinks: Pepsi Cola, Nesbitt’s Orange and Shasta Black Cherry.

    For The Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, the browner the better
  • 1/2 cup lite sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Peanut Butter Filling

  • Approximately 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  •  
    Bacon Topping

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  
    Frosting

  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  •  

    PB Banana Sandwich

    Elvis Burger

    Elvis Cupcakes

    [1] Don’t want an Elvis sandwich (recipe and photo from Hipsubwg | Blogspot). Have some [2] If Elvis had only thought of it, he’d have liked this The Elvis Burger, with bacon and peanut butter sauce (photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories. [3] Graceland Cupcakes (photo and recipe courtesy Peanut Butter Lovers).

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with foil.

    2. MAKE the batter. In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until blended.

    3. MASH the bananas and add sour cream in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

    4. BEAT until incorporated, with an electric hand mixer, the butter, oil and sugar (3-5 minutes). Add the eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add half of the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add the sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into the batter. Add the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon the batter into lined cupcake pans.

    5. BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes and let cool (do not turn off the oven). Once cool (about 30-45 minutes), use a paring knife to cut a small circle in the middle of the top of the cupcakes and remove the plug, creating a well about halfway down the cupcake. Using a piping bag, pipe the peanut butter to fill each hole. Set aside.

    6. PLACE brown sugar in medium size bowl and dredge the bacon slices on both sides. Place them on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip bacon and bake for another 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and place on plate to cool. Do not put bacon on paper towels: It will stick. Once cool, chop the bacon and set aside.

    7. MAKE the frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well combined. Add to a piping bag. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with the candied bacon pieces.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Panzanella Salad (Bread Salad)

    Bread Salad Recipe

    Winter Panzanella Salad With Squash

    Bread Salad With Rye & Ham

    Winter Panzanella Salad

    Panzanella Crostini

    [1] Bright colors in a winter panzanella. Here’s the recipe from Food 53. [2] With squash and sage from Good Eggs. [3] “Ham on rye” bread salad recipe from Betty Crocker. [4] Winter Panzanella Salad With Squash & Brussels Sprouts from Hot Bread Kitchen. [5] Winter “panzanella crostini” at The Tuck Room | NYC.

     

    Bread salad, like French toast and croutons, is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale.

    THE HISTORY OF PANZANELLA SALAD

    While some type of bread salad likely cropped up wherever people ate bread, panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) Italian bread, cubed into large croutons and soaked in vinaigrette to soften it. Chopped salad vegetables are added.

    The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the vinaigrette in which it the bread was soaked. When there wasn’t enough oil to spare, the bread was moistened in water.

    While today’s recipes are rich in ingredients, the original preparers foraged to pull together vegetables from the garden: cucumber, onion, tomato—and possibly purslane, a salad green that grows wild. Early recipes were heavy on the onions, the cheapest ingredient to pair with the bread.

    This peasant dish has become a popular first course in Italy. It doesn’t appear often on menus of U.S.-based Italian restaurants. That’s too bad, because it’s a dish worth knowing; but it’s also a salad that’s easy to make…

    Especially when you have a leftover baguette or other loaf, as we often do. (If you stick the leftovers in the freezer for some TBD use, put it to use!)

    While crusty Italian loaves were used in the original, you can use any bread from challah to semolina raisin to sourdough.

    Bread salad is not a lettuce salad. You should toss in some small greens with a bite—arugula, mustard greens and watercress, along with radishes and red onions. But keep the mesclun mix and romaine for lettuce salads.

    RECIPE: DIY WINTER PANZANELLA SALAD

    Winter is no time to repurpose summer vegetables like tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini. Instead, look for year-round options and root vegetables. (Here’s a list of winter fruits and vegetables.)

    You can add the root vegetables raw or roasted. Carrots are a dual-usage veg, as are beets, celery roots and turnips—the latter ideally halved or cut into very thin slices.

    Pick Your Ingredients

  • Bell peppers
  • Capers
  • Celery
  • Cheese: cubed, shredded
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Citrus: orange or red grapefruit segments
  • Cucumbers
  • Crucifers: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi, turnips, watercress*
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, sage
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Protein: anchovies, chicken/turkey, ham, hard-boiled eggs, prosciutto, sardines, tuna
  • Non-crucifer root vegetables, raw or roasted: beets, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, parsnips, radishes turnips
  • Spices: crushed coriander seeds, fennel seeds, red flakes
  • Winter greens: chard, collards, kale, rapini
  • Winter squash, roasted (acorn, butternut, etc.)
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Cheese: crumbled
  • Nuts and seeds, including pomegranate arils
  • Roasted garlic cloves
  • Herbs
  •  
    Plan a variety of colors; not just green but red (e.g. beets, bell pepper, grapefruit), orange (e.g. mandarins, oranges, winter squash) and yellow (beets, bell peppers, cherry/grape tomatoes).

    Don’t forget to season with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

    Vinaigrette

    Lastly, you need a good vinaigrette. Pick your favorite or use a the conventional red wine vinegar and EVOO, with or without an added half teaspoon of mushrooms.

    The emphasis is on “good”: Red wine vinegar can be stringent. Seek out the good stuff. Good doesn’t mean expensive:

  • Pompeian, about $2.60 for 16 ounces.
  • Holland House Red Wine Vinegar, about $3.29 for 12 ounces
  • Laurent du Clos, $5.49 for 16.9 ounces (worth it!)
  •  
    The traditional vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar; the recipes above are written as such. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you are the only one who knows exactly how acidic and how viscous you want your dressing to be.

  • More oil will mute flavors but add body and mouthfeel.
  • More acidity can be helpful if the salad ingredients have stronger flavor (think heartier greens).
  • To add pungency (e.g., with mustard) or sweetness (e.g., with honey), start with a half teaspoon per half cup of vinaigrette. Taste and adjust to your preference.
  •  

     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

    Keep these on tap for warmer weather:

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
  •  
    ________________
    *Horseradish and wasabi are also cruciferous.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Fish With Sashimi Salad

    If you want to eat more fish but don’t like cooking it, here’s an easy idea: sashimi salad.

    Just toss sliced fish over greens.

    Instead of opening a can or searing the fish tataki-style (briefly seared), sashimi salad is an easy alternative.

    A decade ago one of our favorite neighborhood sushi bars closed, taking with it one of our favorite foods, “marinated salmon”—was a mesclun salad with onions dressed in vinaigrette and topped with slices of salmon sashimi.

    It was deliciousness, low in calories, and had eye appeal: a culinary home run. We had it several times a week.

    When the restaurant was replaced by a cupcake parlor, we had to make it at home. Aside from fetching fresh salmon, it couldn’t have been easier.
     
     
    1. SELECT YOUR FISH.

    Ask for recommendations at the fish counter. The staff can also slice the salmon or tuna loins into sashimi-thickness slices.

    The typical sashimi slice is 2 inches by 1/16 inch, but you can have them sliced longer and thicker as you prefer (longer is also better to drape over a mound of salad, as in photo # 2).

    You can also consider the kaku-zukuri cut (“square slice”, photo #5) of 3/4-inch cubes (photos #1, #3 and #4).

    The sashimi sold in sushi restaurants in North America is flash-frozen, whether it is local or flown in from elsewhere. It is thawed before preparation. You can purchase flash-frozen fish in your supermarket, slowly thaw it overnight in the fridge and eat it the next day.

    You may also find live salmon and other varieties at Asian fish markets, where they can filet them for you.

     
    2. PICK YOUR GREENS.

    Are you in the mood for something more mild, like a mesclun mix; or a peppery arugula and watercress? A mixture is always a good idea.

    If you like crunch, consider shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix).

    We like onion in our salad. Japanese recipes use green onions (scallions); but you can add your allium of preference (the different types of onions).
     
     
    3. ADD OTHER VEGETABLES & FRUITS.

    Use whatever you have, or add whatever you like. We personally like:

  • Avocado
  • Baby beets
  • Blueberries and/or blackberries
  • Carrot curls
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Chinese vegetables: bamboo shoots, bok choy, napa cabbage, etc.
  • Diced honeydew
  • Edamame
  • Japanese pickles (oshinko and tsukemono, available online or at Asian food stores)
  • Lychees or rambutans
  • Mango or papaya
  • Orange or mandarin segments (particularly blood orange)
  • Radish slices, or shredded daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Seaweed salad or kimchi
  • Snow peas or sugar snap peas
  •    

    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad With Quinoa

    Sashimi Salad

    Square Cut Toro Sashimi

    [1] Mesclun with tuna cubes, at Kabuki Restaurants. [2] Conventional sashimi strips over a mounded salad, garnished with cherry tomatoes and tobacco, at Natsumi | NYC. [3] Double the nutrition: Sashimi salad over quinoa (or your whole grain of choice), at Sushi Samba. [4] Sashimi salad with wasabi & passionfruit dressing. Here’s the recipe from from Delicious | Australia. [5] kaku-zukuri, square-cut sushi; here, toro from Fish For Sushi.

     

    Shichimi Togarashi

    Nori Strips

    [6] Shichimi Togarashi, a blend of seven Japanese spices (photo courtesy Yahoo). [7] Nori strips, scissor-cut from nori sheets (photo courtesy Food Sharing With Little One).

     

    4. PICK YOUR DRESSING.

    Rice vinegar and/or lime juice with olive oil (and a splash of sesame oil if you have it) make an excellent basic vinaigrette for sashimi salad.

    You can also add salad oil to ponzu sauce.

    Here are some more-elaborate favorites:

  • Wasabi-passionfruit dressing.
  • Yuzu dressing.
  • Nobu’s sashimi salad dressing is simple: onion, rice vinegar, water, mustard and pinches of granulated sugar, sea salt and black pepper.
  • For something more lively, take a look at this mint cilantro vinaigrette.
  • This gluten-free ginger dressing uses tamari instead of soy sauce, plus green onions and a splash of sake.
  • If you like things spicy, check out spicy Korean sashimi salad, hwe dap bap, which uses gochujang, spicy red pepper paste.
  • Or, simply splash some sriracha into the vinaigrette. This fusion recipe combines soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice and sriracha.
  •  
     
    5. PICK YOUR GARNISH.

  • Citrus zest or julienned strips
  • Crispy Chinese noodle or wonton strips
  • Nori strips (photo #7)
  • Scallions, finely-sliceds
  • Sesame seeds—black, white, regular or toasted
  • Shichimi togarishi, Japanese spice blend (red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed)
  • Tobiko (flying fish roe), available in different colors (green, orange, red, yellow) and flavors, like wasabi tobiko
  •  
     
    6. BEVERAGE PAIRINGS

  • Green tea or black tea, hot or iced (but no milk and sugar in the black tea). We especially like Genmaicha, green tea with toasted rice that gives it a lovely, nutty; flavor.
  • Mineral water, especially sparkling with a high level of minerals.
  • Rosé, sparkling wine or white wine.
  • Sparkling water/club soda, plain or citrus-flavored.
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 30 Ideas For Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    For something delicious, impressive, healthful (except when loaded with cheese) and easy to make, we love meaty stuffed portabella mushrooms. We have our favorite fall transition recipes, as the lighter foods of summer transition to the heartier autumn and winter recipes.

    Stuffed portables are so versatile.

  • They can be vegan, vegetarian or stuffed with ground meat or poultry.
  • They can be filled with scrambled eggs and kale for breakfast, used instead of English muffins for a twist on Eggs Benedict.
  • Substitute ‘shroom for bread: the bun of a burger, the slices for grilled cheese.
  •  
    MUSHROOM COOKING TIPS

    To avoid sogginess:

    1. WIPE the mushrooms clean. Don’t wet them or or they’ll absorb water. You can use a slightly damp paper towel or a dry mushroom brush, which is softer than other vegetable brushes so it doesn’t bruise the delicate flesh.

    2. PRE-BROIL or pre-bake for 3 minutes or so, to release some of the mushroom’s natural water. Then stuff and return to the heat.

    3. COOK until the topping is just browned. Overcooking will release any remaining natural mushroom moisture into the your filling, as it dries out the mushroom.
     
    DIFFERENT STUFFINGS FOR PORTABELLAS

    Appetizers Or First Courses

  • Herbed goat cheese (garnish with croutons)
  • Mock onion soup: caramelized onions, croutons (or one large crouton) and gruyère (photo #4)
  • Pork or chicken sausage, spinach and smoked mozzarella; or lamb sausage with spinach and feta
  •  
    Salads

  • Artichoke hearts (not marinated) and pimiento (roasted red pepper) with optional pepper jack cheese
  • Caprese: chopped tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with EVOO
  • “Cheese course” (photo #4)
  • Corn and black bean salad
  • Israeli salad: chopped cucumbers, tomatoes
  • Mesclun/baby greens with garnishes of choice (photo #1)
  • Salad base (“edible salad bowl”): arugula, spinach (with bacon and chopped onions)
  •  
    Sides

  • Caramelized onions and bacon (or variation: pork belly, proscuitto)
  • Cornbread stuffing, sausage and optional jalapeno
  • Grains: barley, pilaf, quinoa, risotto, wild rice, etc.
  • Gratins
  • Ratatouille
  • Mashed: cauliflower (photo #2), potatoes (photo #3), acorn/butternut squash
  • Pasta: orzo, soup pasta
  • Polenta, topped with shaved radicchio
  • Three bean salad
  • Dressing: bread cubes, onion, celery and anything else you add with the turkey dressing
  •  
    Mains

  • Chicken cubes, broccoli florets and sundried tomatoes
  • Chicken salad with apples, celery, red onion and parsley or other favorite recipe (we like this curried chicken salad with grapes)
  • Grilled cheese: the mushroom becomes the toast
  • Leftovers: stretch short ribs, stew, whatever (photo #7)
  • Portabella “pizza,” with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and your favorite pizza toppings stuffed into the cap (photo #9—anchovies, anyone?)
  • Shredded pork or other protein, with barbecue sauce or other condiment
  • Seafood gratin (photo #8)
  • “Tacos,” with seasoned chopped beef or turkey, chopped tomatoes or drained pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, sour cream or grated/crumbled cheese and a tortilla strips garnish
  •  
    CONSIDER…

  • Brush the caps with a flavored oil—basil, truffle, etc.—instead of olive oil spray.
  • Pay attention to seasonings. We’re big on fresh herbs.
  • Raw mushrooms can be used in salad preparations; but you can cook them if you prefer.
  • Garnish for fun and flavor, from breadcrumbs to pickled jalapeños.
  • Consider international focus, such as spinach, feta and oregano (with optional ground lamb), and curry, almonds and raisins.
  •  
    RECIPE: SPINACH-STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    Frozen spinach is a time saver in this easy recipe (photo #6, the bottom photo at right).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the middle and preheat the broiler on the high setting. Line a baking sheet with foil.

    2. WIPE the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush. Remove the stems and reserve for another purpose (eggs, salad, etc.). Spray the caps on both sides with the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

    3. BROIL for 5 minutes on each side, or until just tender. While the mushrooms cook…

    4. DEFROST the spinach in the microwave according to package directions; place in a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, press on the cooked spinach with your hands and extract as much water as possible out of it. Repeat this until you can extract more water (we wring it with our hands).

       
    Starters & Sides
    Salad-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Mashed Cauliflower Stuffed Portabella

    Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Garlic-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    Portabella Gratinee

    Spinach Stuffed Portabella

    [1] Enjoy a small salad in a portabella cap. You don’t have to cook the cap, but you certainly can. Here’s the recipe from Pom Wonderful. [2] Cauliflower purée in a portabella cap, from The Purple Carrot. [3] Mushrooms gratin: Fill with shredded gruyère or other melting cheese. Here’s the original recipe from Urban Accents). We turned ours into mock onion soup, filling the cap with caramelized onions, gruyere croutons. [4] Who could turn down mashed potatoes and bacon? Here’s the recipe from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. [5] This starter or side from A Food Centric Life is filled with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and lots of chopped herbs. We substituted garlic cloves for the goat cheese, and sprinkled on crumbled cheese when the ‘shrooms came out of the oven. [6] Easy spinach-stuffed portables from Healthy Recipes Blog.

     
    5. REMOVE the mushrooms from the oven. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (about 3 minutes). Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until golden stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spinach, the rest of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to blend, for 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a few minutes; then mix in the Parmesan.

    6. FILL the mushroom caps with the stuffing, piled high. Place back under the broiler on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, or until the filling is golden.

     

    Main Courses

    Turkey-Broccoli-Cheddar Portobello

    Portobello Pizza

    Lobster Stuffed Portobello

    [7] Toss together leftovers: here, turkey, broccoli and cheddar (photo courtesy Mushroom Info). [8] Turn portabellas into mini pizza (here’s the recipe from Picture The Recipe). [9] Lobster in a cream sherry sauce (photo courtesy Mushroom Council).

     

    IS IT PORTABELLA, PORTABELLO OR PORTOBELLO?
    AND THE HISTORY OF PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have three different spellings? After all, chanterelle is chanterelle, morel is morel, porcini is porcini.

    The answer: When Americans began to grow and sell cremini mushrooms in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1960s, it was a very small output. The growers were largely from Italy, and grew the creminis they missed from the old country.

    A 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News noted that initially there was no market for the creminis. The public wanted pristine white mushrooms. Fortunately, the back-to-earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s opened the door for the growers to make another stab at selling them.

    According to Food Timeline, food experts generally agree on these points when it comes to the history of portabellas:

  • By accident, growers found that creminis that weren’t harvested grew into extra-large mushrooms (what became known as portabellas). These large mushrooms are here today despite early efforts to thwart them.
  • Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s. The growers named the new variety. Portabella means “beautiful door; portobello means “beautiful port.”
  • In a 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News on the growing popularity of portabellas, Wade Whitfield of the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group, noted, “They are really culls. You didn’t want them in the mushroom bed. [Growers] would throw them away. There was no market. Growers would take them home.”
  • Whitfield then noted: “This thing has gone from nearly zero in 1993 to a predicted 30 million pounds this year. It’s a major item. It will be the largest specialty mushroom.”
  • According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “‘portobello’ began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.”
  • There is no definitive spelling. According to Food Timeline, an un-scientific Google survey at one point showed that portobello got the most searches (169,000), followed by portabella (33,100) and portobella (3,510). Wade Whitfield noted The Mushroom Council preferred “portabella”; we use “portabella” because we prefer how it rolls off the tongue.
  • We must point out, vis-a-vis the spelling variations of portabella, that cremini is also spelled crimini, and also called the brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. Newer marketing names including baby portobellos, mini bellas and portabellinis. “Baby Bella” is a trademarked name.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSHROOMS IN OUR MUSHROOM GLOSSARY.

      

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