stuffed mushrooms

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A home cookbook isn’t complete without at least one recipe for stuffed mushrooms. It’s the kind of dish that’s coveted by a crowd and goes fast at any party. Easy to make, the variations are endless. This classic appetizer is widely popular in many cookbooks worldwide and worth a bite.

Stuffed Mushrooms
20 medium white button or crimini mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Directions: Wash and dry the mushrooms. Grasp one at a time, cap face down in the palm of your hand, and gently gripping at the base, wiggle the stalk loose and remove, then set aside. Repeat this step until all the mushroom have a hollow center. Prep the stalks by slicing and discarding the dark ends then finely chop the rest. Note that some stalks may not be suitable for cooking and should be discarded. In a large pan on the stovetop, melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the mushrooms cap face down for several minutes until lightly brown before turning over and cooking on the opposite side for another minute or two. At this stage add the wine to the pan and cook for an additional minute. Remove the mushrooms and place them in an oven-proof baking dish. Using the same pan, sauté the scallions for a couple of minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Taste and add additional seasoning as required. When the mixture is ready, spoon a portion into the hollow center of each mushroom. Place the stuffed mushrooms in a 300 degree oven; bake for approximately 15-20 minutes prior to serving. Serve warm.

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Notes: Once you get a hang of removing the stems, all sorts of fillings can be stuffed inside. In place of scallions, shallots are a superb and tasty option as are leeks. Fresh chopped garlic is also a great addition. For an extra bite add Parmigian-Reggiano cheese to the mix. For a vegan version, replace the butter with an olive oil that is naturally buttery in taste.

The filling inside the mushrooms can be mile-high and overstuffed, or the filling filled up to the rim, it’s up to the cook to decide. Try adding sausage for a meat-lovers version or crab if you’re craving seafood fare. Different types of cheese can be blended in as well, or the mushrooms can even be stuffed with a creamy spinach or artichoke mix. There’s lots of room for creativity. I can assure though this simple recipe is mouth-watering as is. Since the recipe calls for a dry white wine, try Dry Creek Fumé Blanc which is enjoyable both for drinking and cooking. Cheers and bon appétit!

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dans le jardin

photos du jour | dans le jardin
in the garden

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a toast to ridge

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Friends at Ridge Vineyards are celebrating their fourth blogiversary. 4488: A Ridge Blog is hosted by the amiable Christopher Watkins, a bard of sorts, who is one cool cat. Savvy and passionate about wine, words, and jazz he brought several of us kindred spirits together one afternoon to revel in the Gospels of Pauls. The sermon delivered that day had one message – to experience fine, classic wine paired with the smooth sounds of jazz.

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Though we were initially focused on a wine tasting in the comforts of Monte Bello, cradling a glass in hand, the music whisked us off to another place. Whether it was to a ragged old club with weathered chairs, “smoke-filled jazz grottos in Paris” or a posh apartment overlooking Central Park, for a few moments the sounds carried us far. The banter in the room was filled with vibrant subjects. We warmed our palates and minds with Paul Draper’s wine philosophy (shared by our host). We pondered and deliberated over subtleties and nuances in each wine. From there topics took off that spanned art and the painter Jackson Pollock, prose and the writer Jack Kerouac, and in the background Miles Davis, Theolonius Monk, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane were strumming and swinging along as though to the tune of our conversation.

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That afternoon took place a year ago, on Ridge’s third blogiversary. Though a full year has passed, and perhaps the details may not be as crisp, ultimately it’s the experience that lingers. Thank you Christopher and Ridge for hosting such an enriching experience. Pairing wine and music was an exercise that compelled us to creatively think about marrying two elements or passions together in harmony. For those nostalgic, and for those curious and wish a taste of what we tasted that day, sit back with these wine aficionados and enjoy:
On Wine, Jazz and Inkblots
Ridge Wine Blog Anniversary Tasting
Drink That Tune: A blogger tasting at Ridge Vineyards
Ramblings: Wine Descriptors and Ridge Vineyards Wines

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Wishing you a very happy fourth blogging birthday, and many many more.

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A toast, to Ridge!

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spring pea and ricotta crostini

yumivore pea ricotta crostini (2)

With spring bursting across the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s hard to not be inspired in the kitchen by the bright green grass and early buds suddenly covering the landscape outside. This open-faced sandwich can easily be prepared year-round, though the combination of flavors seems to suggest spring. No matter where you’re located, the ingredients are relatively easy to find, and as with any dish, using the finest will add zing to the plate and your palate. This creamy ricotta and garden pea combination works wonders with pasta, or is perfect spread across crostini. Bright, fresh it’s like biting into the season.

Spring Pea and Ricotta Crostini
Adapted from Sonali, the Foodie Physician | Food52

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen spring peas
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of rustic bread or baguette
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings for garnish*

In a saucepan on the stovetop, sauté the shallots and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add the peas and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pan; cook until the peas are tender. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the lemon zest, tarragon and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The original recipe* calls for 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added to the mix; I omitted this and changed the quantity on the ricotta to accommodate. Either way, it’s a matter of preference. Purée until smooth. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

On the ricotta, I recommend Grande Ricotta Sopraffina if you’re able to locate it at your market. It’s beyond delicious and worthy of being eaten just with a spoon. A friend suggests Bellwether Farms ricotta (I trust their opinion, though I haven’t had this yet myself). In Israel, Romania, Bulgaria and other parts Urdă is almost identical to ricotta and can be found at many markets.

For serving, select a rustic hearty bread. I choose to use a loaf I picked up from the Manresa Bread Project available at a local farmers’ market. Slice your bread or baguette, place on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the remaining olive oil. Place the sheet in a hot oven and bake until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread some of the pea and ricotta mixture across each slice. Top each with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and tarragon, along with crushed pepper. A simple, creamy and delightful way to enjoy the season. Bon appétit!

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the french laundry garden

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Early spring, a mildly hazy but wonderfully warm day. Following an impromptu visit to the renowned French Laundry for lunch, a romp through the restaurant’s edible garden. Sit back and savor the moment.

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For more pictures from that exquisite visit, enjoy photos and a taste: Lunch at The French Laundry.

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a mad men cocktail party

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Grab a glass and a plate, the menu for this cocktail party is inspired by the many seasons and episodes of Mad Men. Mushroom Canapés are the quintessential cocktail party appetizer of the 1960s. Savory bites on Melba toasts are a perfect and easy hors d’oeuvre. Blinis topped with caviar or smoked salmon adds a little elegance to the party. A plate of crudité is perfect for dipping in and enjoying Bagna Càuda. Devoured out of the oven, Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot adds a little intrigue to the evening. The recipes are below; go ahead and have a taste.

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For the Vodka Gimlet, mix vodka with simple syrup and a squeeze of lime. Be sure your glass and the vodka is ice cold. For more cocktail party inspiration and recipes along with tales from Mad Men peruse through The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. Cheers to a new season of Mad Men, more cocktails and happy eating!

recipes on yumivore
Mushroom Canapés
Buckwheat Blini
Bagna Càuda
Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot

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mushroom canapés

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Canapés are the quintessential cocktail party appetizer of the 1960s. Recipes abound for these little treats. Melba toasts smothered with anything from decadent caviar to seasoned cream cheese can be found in most cookbooks from that era. Sure enough The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook highlights these hors d’oeuvres with several recipes. Savory or sweet, canapés make a tasty addition to any cocktail party menu. Whether you make the Melba toast on your own, or go for a good-quality store-bought option (which saves a bit of time) there’s an endless amount of creative toppings to try on these toasts. It’s fun to serve more than one variety, certainly your taste buds and guests will agree.

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The recipe below for mushroom canapés comes out of the pages of Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin’s cookbook. The Worcestershire sauce wooed me from the beginning. It makes the dish taste retro right from the start. I modified the preparation by slicing the mushrooms instead of finely chopping them (the finely chopped version wasn’t cooperating with the camera). I also omitted the Parmesan cheese for the pictures, but grated cheese can be added to the mix then heated under the broiler until bubbling.

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Mushroom Canapés
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
20 Melba toast rounds
chopped parsley for garnish

Sauté the mushrooms until browned. Add the sauce and seasonings, taste and adjust. Spoon a bit of the mixture on each Melba toast and sprinkle with parsley before serving. Voila!

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Whether you’re planning a Mad Men cocktail party or any celebration, canapés are easy to prepare and are an hors d’oeuvre that can impress a crowd. Melba toasts accommodate a wide range of flavors so consider whipping up more than one recipe. For more appetizer ideas for your menu try Bagna Càuda, a quick garlic and anchovies recipe, freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot and Buckwheat Blini topped with caviar.

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buckwheat blini

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Blinis, Russian in origin, are small pancakes that are traditionally made with buckwheat flour. It’s served with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche on top, along with either caviar or smoked salmon. Other smoked, pickled or salted fish can be substituted; the slightly sweet almost nutty-flavored pancakes are incredible with the contrasting salty fish and creamy crème fraîche. Paired with Champagne, it’s a classic appetizer to serve during the winter holidays, and is popular for Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, but there’s no reason not to prepare blinis year-round. It’s wonderful not just with a flute filled with something bubbly, vodka is the drink of choice in Russia and makes a crowd-pleasing drink with this pancake.

Blini and caviar is a dish that’s on the Mad Men menu for those who are fans of the hit television show. Season one, episode six, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism finds itself shopping for an advertising agency and delegates pay a visit to Sterling Cooper. Early 1960s, Roger Sterling proposes positioning the young Jewish state as a land of “exotic luxury”. There’s a lot of thought behind serving the blini which speaks to the roots of many early pioneers of Israel of whom hail from Eastern Europe and Russia. More details can be found in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Regardless if you’re preparing a Mad Men cocktail party, buckwheat blini is a hint sweet and savory hors d’oeuvre to add to your menu any time of year. As I often say, it’s a party for your taste buds.

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Buckwheat Blini
recipe adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous
My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups warm whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs, separated
butter, canola oil or cooking spray for frying
makes approximately 24 blinis

In a bowl dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the honey (or substitute with sugar) and set aside until bubbly for about 7-8 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the first three dry ingredients together. Pour the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture, add the egg yolks along with the melted butter and blend well. Cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm area for an hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly fold into the batter just before it’s ready to prepare on the stove. The secret to relatively round blinis is a squeeze bottle usually used to serve condiments. Pour the batter into the bottle. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and coat lightly with butter. Squeeze a small amount of the batter in a circular motion onto the pan. When the batter starts to bubble on the surface, flip the blini over with a spatula and cook for roughly an additional minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche topped with caviar or smoked fish such as salmon or lox, whitefish or trout. Garnish with dill or chopped chives.

The caviar captured here is called Tobiko, Flying Fish roe or Tobiuo in Japanese. Tobiko is referred to as the “poor man’s caviar“. Sustainable seafood is the preferred choice for any recipe; a few tips on selecting sustainable caviar on a budget. For more appetizer ideas to nibble on, try Bagna Càuda, a scrumptious and easy garlic and anchovies recipe, and try delicious freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot. Cheers to happy eating!

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