Friday, May 24, 2013

Sausage Portobello "Pizzas" (cheese optional!)

Sometimes I look at a portobello mushroom and think that nature gave us a little edible dish. But what to put on it? Two tastes that I think go extremely well together are portobello mushrooms and sausage. And with just a few more ingredients you can have your very own portobello "pizzas"!

I decided to splurge a little and put some cheese on mine, but these simple little "pizzas" don't need cheese to still be delicious. If you've been practicing your knife skills, you can whip this up in a few minutes and have it on the table in no time.

  • 6 portobello mushroom caps (peeled, stems removed)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian Sausage Seasoning* (see below for recipe)
  • 4 campari tomatoes (these are smaller than a beefsteak but larger than cherries)
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 12 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 1 6-oz package organic shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • salt, fresh pepper, and dried oregano to taste
  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  2. With your hands, mix the Italian Sausage Seasoning into the ground pork until combined. Crumble the sausage mix into the frying pan and cook until lightly browned. Move the meat in the frying pan off to the side.
  3. Set oven to broil.
  4. Line a sided baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place the mushrooms face down and drizzle generously with more oil. Broil for 5 - 7 minutes, until slightly soft, then remove from oven and flip mushrooms over so that the gills are facing up.
  5. Mix the garlic, sliced basil, and cheese (if using cheese) into the sausage mixture in the frying pan with another tablespoon or so of oil. If the mixture is still hot the cheese may start to melt, which is fine.
  6. Fill each mushroom cap with a heap of sausage mixture and top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle each with salt, pepper, and oregano and put back under the broiler another 3 - 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to wilt and soften.
  7. Remove from oven and serve hot!
*I've used this seasoning mix from Melissa Joulwan in a few recipes so far on this site. I always recommend you keep some in your spice cabinet, pre-made. I always use it to make my own sausage meat. I typically use 1 1/2 Tbsp per pound of ground pork. In case you need the recipe for the mix, here it is again. Note this will yield MUCH more than is necessary for this recipe so you can save the extra for next time.

Italian Sausage Seasoning Mix
  • 4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed (optional) - you should use this if you have it, though, it really gives the meat that sausagey taste
In a medium bowl, crush the dried parsley and Italian herbs with your fingers or a fork to release their flavor. Add the black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed. Mix with a fork.
Tips for Variations:
  • You can mix anything into the sausage filling. Why not try some chopped broccoli rape (saute first, until soft)?
  • Don't want to use campari tomatoes? Try using halved grape tomatoes instead. 
  • Sprinkle some crushed red pepper on top for a hint of spice.
  • Try switching out the mozzarella cheese with crumbled feta instead - yum!
Magic Trick - add a little seasoning and poof! You now have sausage!

I hate ground meat squishing between my fingers so I always wear gloves for this part.

Browned to perfection!

Getting the pan ready...
Peel the mushrooms starting from the inside lip..

And then you have the nice, clean, white meat underneath.

I typically leave the gills on my mushroom, but you can remove them if you like.

Just a few short minutes under the broiler and our portobello crusts are all ready for filling!

Love these campari tomatoes! If you don't have any, you can use grape or cherry.
What was that fancy word used earlier? Chiffonade? Well, here it is. Pretty simple, actually. Just stack all your basil leaves together and roll them up tightly. Then use your knife to slice the rolled basil into thin little ribbons. This is a quick and easy way to slice delicate leafy herbs.
And here is the product of your chiffonading! (This isn't all the basil, you should be left with much more than this.)

To use cheese or not is completely up to you. I do use a little dairy here or there. This meal would be delicious even without it.

And here we are, ready for the oven again!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Worcestershire Sauce

I usually shy away from recipes with Worcestershire Sauce because it bothers me that this little staple condiment contains processed sugar. Then I decided it can't be too hard to mimic the flavor and made my own. This mixture is a pretty decent substitute and can be kept in a jar ready to marinate your meats and mix into your sauces and dressings!

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp palm sugar (aka coconut crystals)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • a few rounds of fresh ground pepper
  1. Add all ingredients to a small stock pot or gravy pot and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 45 seconds or so and remove from heat. 
  2. Cool completely then store in an airtight container. 
It goes right from my little pot into a clean (re-used) jar.

A little masking tape for a label and I stick it right on my fridge door.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Broccoli Velouté Soup

It just occurred to me I haven't shared a recipe the entire month of April! Well, maybe you'll forgive me when you hear why. We just went to contract on our very first home! Aaaaaaah!

We are so excited and can't WAIT for moving day to come. Pretty soon I will have a nice big kitchen with tons of LIGHT and WINDOWS! No more underexposed food photos for you all! (The kitchen is HORRIBLY outdated, but that will be one of our first projects to tackle this year.)

Anywho, these past few months have been jam packed with house hunting and then the process of going to contract so I guess I haven't really put much thought into endeavoring to come up with new food ideas. I've been battling a cold on and off and last week it came back with a vengeance. I know the weather is warming up, but my throat was killing me and I was in the mood for something warm and soothing. When I looked in my fridge, it was pretty bare. I didn't even have any meat defrosted. Nothing! I did have a bag of broccoli florets that was on its way out the door if it didn't get made right away. I'd been wanting to make a broccoli soup for years so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

Velouté is a fancy french way of saying "velvety" (or creamy). And I'm fancy like that.

  • 1 - 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced about the size of your celery
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 - 10 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (cream separated from the water*)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste 
  1.  Heat oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute the onion and celery until softened about 5+ minutes. 
  3. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so until the garlic becomes fragrant (don't let it get browned as it may turn bitter).
  4. Add the broccoli, broth, water, and thyme to the pot and crank the heat up to bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender (8 - 10min or so).
  5. When you're satisfied the vegetables are soft enough, puree the soup with a stick blender or a regular blender (you may have to split it into batches with a regular blender). Stir the coconut cream in very well and then season to taste with salt and pepper (try starting with 1tsp salt and go from there).
  6. Serve hot!
*When either left sitting alone long enough, or chilled in the fridge, coconut milk will naturally separate with the creamy solids rising to the top and the clear water gathering in the bottom. DON'T SHAKE UP YOUR CAN OF COCONUT MILK! Carefully open the top and spoon the creamy portion into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. You should be left with about 1 cup of creamy solids which we'll use to make the soup "velouté" (you can do whatever you like with the leftover water). I promise the soup won't taste like a piña colada.

The creamy solids rise to the top.

You'll get about a cup of cream before you hit clear water.