Tag Archives: Mushrooms

Cloudy with NO chance of meatballs.

12 Aug

Neatballs? I went online to see the kitchen exploits of fellow vegetarian cooks and came across several sites featuring recipes for Neatballs. One click later and I realised neatballs is a term that’s been coined for vegan meatballs.

Why “Neat”?  Well, the “N” represents the “normal” ingredients that go into a neatball. Normal as in common, everyday, easy to find ingredients. Seriously?

A neatball is really a new-fangled way of saying vegetarian or vegan koftas. Instead of ground meat as the base, vegetarians use beans, tofu, nuts, mushrooms, eggplant or pulses as the base for their balls/cutlets. The different base ingredients determine not only the taste of your cutlet but also the texture. Using eggplant, for example, will yield you a smooth, soft cutlet while a nut-bean combo will give you a rough, crunchy texture. Mushrooms, of course, make anything taste good 🙂

Mushrooms are my favourite base ingredient for vegetarian koftas. And, unlike most recipes using mushroom, with koftas, I find the stems more useful than the caps so I buy the king oyster mushrooms (the one where the stems are at least a couple of inches thick and the caps are tiny and pale) and mix them with some shitake (stems and caps). The stems give you the koftas a kind of toughness you won’t find with most vegetables.

I drained the mushrooms (about 2 cups)  and roughly chopped them up. Next, I seasoned them with just salt and pepper and dry roasted them for about 30 mins (150C). Let them cool.

Once cool, mix the caps with other ingredients of choice: I used walnuts (1/4 cup), some carrots (1/2 cup), parsley (a handful, chopped) and eggplant (1/2 cup, lightly roasted) and blend them till they are slightly pureed — allow for some chunkiness. Add some mash potato (1 potato) and breadcrumbs (just 1/2 cup, optional) and season with oregano, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Roll into balls, and you’re set.

Bake at 180C for 20 mins or till they’re nice and browned. I cooked my koftas in a tomato-based stew and ate it with spaghetti but I kept several aside to eat on their own for my dinner tomorrow. They’re that tasty ..

A case for mushrooms

19 Jul

I have way too many cookbooks. Some of these cookbooks I inherited but most of them I bought. I have so many that there are some I haven’t used — sure, I’ve browsed through them but haven’t tested the recipes.

Since we started reviewing cookbooks for Don’t Call Me Chef column in StarTwo (together with Marty Thyme and The Hungry Caterpillar), I’ve accumulated even more cookbooks. Yowza!

So, for today’s review, I decided to unearth a cookbook I bought about six months ago at a book sale dubbed the Big Bad Wolf sale: the Good Housekeeping Step-By-Step Cookbook. The 460-odd paged book is an essential for beginner cooks as it has step-by-step instructions on basic but fundamental cooking techniques with recipes to accompany.

But it is also a keeper for those of us who know a little about cooking and are  learning: especially Asian cooks who need to know the fundamentals of western cooking styles using Western flavouring.

From jams to pot roasts, chocolate brownies to paella, the cook book is replete with recipes to try out. For the column in the newspaper, I tested two recipes, one for herbed butter and another for a basic lemon cheesecake. Read the full review and get the recipes HERE.

Having tried the two recipes, I wasn’t quite done with the book. There were several other recipes I wanted to try: tomato sauce, chilli sauce, the sweet mocha bread (which looked divine), the chocolate chip cookies (if this book could guide me to baking great cookies, it’s definitely gold-star worthy as I am hopeless at cookies) and many more.

I started with the recipe for Mushroom Baskets simply because I love mushrooms and had some on hand.  They’re really tasty (you can’t really go wrong with mushrooms) and though the baskets in the recipe are individual meal-sized portions, they’d make really good canapés if you make downsize them to tartlets.

There are just two steps to these baskets: Step 1 is making and pre- baking the pastry and Step 2 is making the mushroom filling.

Pastry

250 g plain flour

150g chilled butter, cubed

1 large egg

Crumble the butter in the flour till it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and mix (by hand or pulse in a food processor) till the mixture comes together. Knead lightly on a floured surface and shape into six balls. Wrap and chill for 30 mins. Once chilled, roll the pastry out on a floured work surface (big enough to fully line the tart tins) and line the tins (loose based tart tins are recommended) . Prick the base with a fork and chill for 20mins. Heat the oven to 200C. Line the base of the cases with parchment paper and fill with beans. Blind bake for 10 mins. Remove the beans and bake for a further 5 mins or till cooked. reduce oven temp to 180C.

Making the filling

15g dried mushroom

50g butter

2 onions, finely chopped

450g mixed mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, cruched

300 ml med-dry sherry (I used red wine)

250 gm double cream

salt and ground black pepper

fresh thyme to garnish

Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 10 mins. Heat the butter in a pan and add the onions. Cook for 10 mins. Add the fresh mushrooms and garlic and cook for 5 mins. Remove from pan and set aside.

Put the dried mushrooms and the liquid (about a cup) in a pan with the sherry. Bring to a boil, bubble for 10 mins and add the cream. Cook till it becomes syrupy.

To serve

Put the pastry cases in the oven to heat them up, about 5 mins. Add the cooked fresh mushrooms to the sauce  and season on low heat. Pour into cases and garnish with thyme.

Mushroom magic

7 Jul

I learnt my lesson the hard way. About six years ago, I was lunching with  some buds in a deli-styled eatery in KL and I ordered a mushroom burger thinking it would be a vegetarian burger made of mushrooms. The menu didn’t offer a description of the burger so I assumed…

Imagine my embarrassment when the burger arrived: a huge chunk of beef patty with a generous mushroom topping and some white sauce, some variation of mayonnaise I assume. I protested, but to no avail of course. The waiter thought I was being ridiculous: who would order a burger made of mushrooms (he didn’t say it but his expression shouted it!).

I pushed my plate aside, dejected, an sipped on my smoothie. Oh bother, these all-meat eateries.

Mushroom burgers are not something I conjured up, in case you are wondering. Portobello mushroom burgers are quite popular, perhaps not in our cafes. I’ve had them (they serve them at The Daily Grind in Bangsar Village) and I love them. You can’t go wrong with mushrooms, really. Especially not the Portobello, surely a royal mushroom.

At home, I make mushroom burgers/sandwiches all the time. I either incorporate them in vege burger patties or, like the one above, I make sandwiches with a variety of mushroom fillings. The one above is made from sautéed mushrooms in a creamy cheese sauce, served with roasted tomatoes on sprouts. I usually use lettuce or salad but I had some sprouts at home and used them instead.

Cheesy Mushroom chompers

1 cups mushrooms (swiss brown, button white and fresh shiitake), separate the stems from the caps.

1/4 cup cheddar

1/4 cup parmesan (you can add blue cheese too if you feel extravagant)

4 tbsp butter

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 sprigs thyme

1 med onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Chop the mushroom stems; quarter the caps.

Heat 2 tbsp butter and saute the caps with thyme, season with salt and pepper, remove and set aside.

Heat  butter. Add onions and then garlic and saute till soft. Add chopped stems and cook till soft, about 5 mins. Stir in cheese and nuts. Cook for a couple of mins.

Lay sautéed caps on baking sheet and pour half the cheesy sauce over. Bake in 180C oven for about 15 mins. Remove. Pour remaining sauce over.

Assemble the chomper: Layers of sprouts, mustard, cheesy mushrooms and roasted tomato in between sesame burger buns.

Soba meets cheese

1 Jul


I won a packet of cha (green tea) soba noodles recently. It was a lucky draw, you see, and I won a hamper of food stuff which included the packet or soba noodles. Soba or buckwheat noodles are often eaten cold: the noodles, once cooked, are rinsed under cold water. The cold noodles are eaten with a dipping sauce and often, wasabi.

Our hot weather is the ideal impetus for a plate of cold soba. But I don’t fancy cold noodles. They have to be a little warm, at least. Besides, since I don’t usually cook Japanese dishes, I didn’t have the requisite ingredients for the dipping sauce: no dashi, no mirin, no Japanese soy sauce, no bonito flakes. I didn’t want to go out and buy them: they’re quite costly and since I don’t them use them often enough, it would be foolish. I could give the noodles to friends who do cook Japanese food often but I was curious and wanted to play with my noodles.

So, I decided to use the soba as I would pasta (purists, turn away now) and tossed it with garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese and garnished with a mushroom and scallion tapenade. How un-Japanese is that, eh?

It tasted  good though. Soba noodles are really quite thin, kinda like angel hair pasta. They’re usually brown but the one I used was green tea+buckwheat so they were moss-green. I have to say they have a more distinct taste than pasta, a little nutty perhaps and it added flavour to my dinner.

Soba, my way

Soba noodles

3/4 fresh shiitake mushroom, chopped fine

2 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2  tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Boil a pot of water and slide in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 mins (or as specified in the packet). Drain, set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the chopped mushrooms and scallions and cook till soft, about 5 mins. Add the noodles and sprinkle the garlic powder and toss. Remove from heat.

Toss the parmesan in and serve. Garnish with a little more parmesan. Eat.

Bouchee. Don’t pronounce, just devour.

14 Dec

Stuffed but still pretty.

I had it once at a fancy cocktail party somewhere and I think I spent more time studying my bouchee than actually eating it. Ok, it’s pretty small and so all it takes is a  couple of bites (one, if your not concerned about appearing dainty).

And then I forgot about it until last weekend. I was at Bangsar Village II and noticed that the Delicious cafe had an annex that sold food supplies and some other cook’s toys: crockery and machinary.  I walked in — just curious, not intending to buy anything — and 20 minutes later walked out with a packet of 12 mini bouchee cases. I had to  get them because I hadn’t thought of those bouchees since that one time I had them many years ago.

Ready made.

Bouchee shells are basically puff pastry cylinders — kinda like shot glasses made of puff pastry — in which you stuff with the filling of your choice. Now, I had no intention of making the shells myself but since they  were all done for me  (all I had to do was stick them in the oven (180 C) for five mins or so to warm them up before serving) I started to get excited and began cracking my head over the filling. (An alternative to the shells would be toasted 2 inch bread circles — a tad less exciting but just as delicious)

Well, I didn’t really crack my head. I knew I wanted mushrooms and spinach and I knew I didn’t want them together. So I decided to stuff a couple with Creamed herbed Mushrooms and another two with spinach and caramelised onions.

spinach and onions.

The mushrooms were lovely but I think my new favourite combo is the spinach + caramelised onions. So divine. And so simple. Don’t believe me?

How could Popeye not like spinach?

A cup of spinach, washed and cut small

1 tsp garlic

salt and pepper

knob of butter

Melt butter. Add garlic and a couple of minutes later, add spinach and a dash of water. Cook till soft and water evaporates; add seasoning and mash spinach and remove from heat.

The spinach- onion hook-up.

11/2- 2 tbsp Olive oil

2 large red onions

1 tsp brown sugar/balsamic vinger

Heat oil in saucepan till it simmers (medium heat). Add onions and stir a little to coat with oil evenly. Stir occasionally — not to often or they won’t brown well. Five minutes in, add  sugar and let the magic begin. Remove before it burns (letting them burn just a little is quite lovely actually) — should be about 15 to 20 mins.

Stuff bouchee with spinach mix. Spread onions on plate. Place the stuffed bouchee on the onions. Attack.

I told ya, it’s easy when you cheat and use store ready shells.

Perfect for a rainy day

16 Nov
Mushroom soup

Nothing like creamy mushroom soup on a rainy day. And it's Type B perfect.

Mushroom soup easily ranks as one of  my favourite things to eat. Especially when its cold outside. For the longest time, homemeade mushroom soup for me meant a can of Campbells’  (I’d add some milk and call it my own).

mushroooom

Hello, old friend

Then, one day I decided to try making my own from scratch. I figure, this way I could add more yummy mushrooms!

Cranking open a can of Campbells is way cheaper than making your own mushroom soup but homemade soup is a gazillion times more tasty. And, seriously, its almost as easy.

♣ Delish Mushroom soup

3 cups mushrooms (Swiss button/ shitake/white button … as long as it’s fresh), cut into 1 inch pieces.

1.5 cups leek, sliced.

300ml vege stock

milk

pepper and salt

Parmesan cheese

Heat some butter in a saucepan and add leek when hot. When soft, add mushrooms and cook till browned — about 5-7 mins. Add pepper. Add stock and cook till it simmers. Add millk — about 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup and salt and cook till it simmers. Turn off fire.

Blend (depends on what consistency you want. I like it a but chunky).

Return to stove and cook till it simmers. Add cheese. turn off. Serve with croutons or saltines or crackers.

burp and smile.