Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Portobello Satay with braised collard greens and hazelnut crusted potato cakes

Agricus Bisporus - The portobello mushroom is a variety of agricus that is allowed to mature beyond the button stage before harvesting and are simply an overgrown crimini, the brown version of the button mushroom.  Often thought less potent than the exotic varieties they are as much if not more so. These meaty mushrooms are among my favorite foods and I cook them often, on their own and almost always add them in one form or another to recipes.

Vancouver BC is the birth place of eating local, home of the 100-mile diet and is also home to 13 certified organic mushroom growers.  A British Columbian eats more mushrooms per capita than anyone else in Canada averaging 3 kilos per person.  BC produces 35% of Canada's mushrooms and the availability year round of the portobello put this food on the top of my list.

Asia Pacific Farms is the largest producer of organic mushrooms in Canada is located in nearby Aldergrove.
I am investigating growing my own as an important part of a permaculture design in my yard.  Fungi cycle nutrients that nourish new life in the soil.  Recognizing this essential function would be an inventive way to integrate mushrooms into my fledgling front yard edible garden.                 
Misty Mountain Mushrooms David Lee Kwen is a man I've come across on a few occasions during the pine mushroom season and he is extremely knowledgeable about our indigenous species.  What I've gleaned over the years about the wild mushhrooms I'll leave for further posts as they come into season.

Portobello mushrooms are prized for their anti-cancer properties although the phyto-chemicals and antioxidants have yet to be fully understood, but we do know enough to say they are a nutritional powerhouse compared to other kinds of produce, a cup of cooked mushrooms does contain a milligram of copper, a trace mineral that may play a role in guarding against osteoporosis.  Adding a portobello mushroom to your plate for an extra bit of bone-friendly copper is a smart idea. If that's not enough to recommend them here is a short list of benefits aside from the local and sustainable:  only plant food to contain high levels of vitamin D, rich in niacin, and trace amounts of B6 and B12, (vegans take note) and excellent levels of selenium, good levels of potassium and zinc. All in all an excellent meat alternative or booster for any diet.

Here is a dish I made at the Tree Planting Reunion in August 2008 for the vegans and vegetarians. Some of the meat eaters thought it was steak.  The menu for the weekend started with a BBQ on Friday night.  Here is the recipe.

Portobello Satay
1 T olive oil
4 large portobello

1/4 c organic tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T lime juice, fresh squeezed
2 T organic dark brown sugar
1 T smooth organic peanut butter
2 - 3 t spice mix
spice mix
1 t cumin seed
1 t coriander seed
1 t allspice berry
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t cayenne

1) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add the portobello caps and cook until softened, turning once.  About 5 minutes.  set aside.
2) In a small cast iron skillet dry roast the cumin, coriander, and the allspice seeds.  Cool and grind in spice grinder or mortar and pestle adding the ground ginger and cayenne.  M ix well.
3) In a food processor combine the tamari, minced garlic, peanut butter, lime juice, brown sugar, and spice mix and process until smooth.  Transfer to a shallow dish.
4) Cut the portobello into 1/4" thick slices and add to the marinade.  Cover and leave for 1/2 hour at room temperature.
5) Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Remove the mushrooms from marinade reserving marinade.  Thread onto soaked bamboo skewers. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until browned 6-8 minutes, turning once and brushing with marinade.  Serve hot.

I use the broiler or the BBQ depending on the occasion.  This time I used the broiler and served over a bed of collards braised and hazelnut crusted potato cakes and garlic chips.

go be delicious

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wholewheat stone ground organic cinnamon buns with dried cranberry and walnuts

This post is an ongoing editorial of angst.  I drool enviously over the breads made by artisan bread makers, lusting after the dark chewy textures.  Recently I realized my bread making is stuck in a rut.  Sure these look good and taste good, made with the right ingredients but I want to trap my own yeast and culture a starter that isn't made with store bought yeast. 

The School of Artisan Food based in the heart of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, is set to take it's first students in September 2010 for the Foundation Degree in Artisan Food, a 2 year diploma program. The emphasis is on foods that ferment; bread, cheese, beer, diary and charcuterie. While that would be an marvelous experience I'll need to take another route.

I begin with the very talented Susan at yeastspotting who has mentored a league of her own, sharing her knowledge so kindly.  I started my quest with; water + flour = yeast, a very detailed set of instructions, thank you very much Susan.

It all went well for awhile but something went wrong so I had to resort back to my tried and true method, for now.  Here is my recipe for sweet dough. I use our local Anita's organic stone ground wholewheat and organic unbleached white flour.

1 c warm water
1T sugar
2T regular yeast

In a small bowl add the warm water, dissolve the sugar and stir in the yeast.  Let set until foamy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3 c milk or water and milk combination, scald
1/3 c to 1/2 c butter or coconut oil
1/4 c to 1/2 c  pure cane sugar
2 large eggs, organic free run
1 1/2  t  sea salt
4 c wholewheat flour
4 c  unbleached white flour, approximately

In a large bowl whisk hot milk, butter, sugar, and salt together to melt butter and cool to warm before adding eggs.  Whisk in yeast mixture and add the wholewheat flour changing to a large wooden spoon.  Work in enough unbleached flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Wash the bowl and butter or oil the bowl well and roll the dough to cover with oil or butter.  Cover with cloth and let stand in warm spot.  When it has doubled punch down to let air out and butter top.  Let rise again to double.


1/2 c butter
1 c packed organic dark brown sugar
2 - 3 T ground cinnamon
1/2 c dried cranberries, soaked and drained well
1/2 c raisins or currents
1/2 c chopped raw walnuts

glaze for pans
1/4 c butter
1 c dark organic brown sugar
12 raw walnut halves, optional

Preheat oven to 375 F
Butter 2 large heavy baking pans or 2 glass cake pans, this is a large batch.  Sprinkle brown sugar on bottom of pan and distribute the walnut halves if using.  

On a large floured surface roll out the dough making sure to keep the surface underneath well floured. Roll a large rectangle to 1/4 thick.  Spread soft butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, then cranberries, raisins and walnuts.  Roll the long side in tightly.  Cut into 1 inch slices and place cut side down 1/4 inch apart.  Cover with tea towel until double in size.  Bake in oven on middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and firm.

Have a large cooling rack ready and another baking pan to turn the buns out onto right away.  Flip out onto rack with sticky side up until cool.



go be delicious xx

Friday, February 5, 2010

huckleberry sauerbraten pork burger with portobello and dipping broth

I am in the grip of Olympic fever and still can't believe it has finally arrived.  My thoughts travel back to earlier times when the IOC came to town in Whistler .... gold ribbons lined the highway that day in March of 2002 - while driving to Squamish I kept seeing limousines go by, so many I started to count them, a common thing but this day was extraordinary, in a 45 minute drive I passed over 50 limousines.