Naptime Everyday: Recipes for Everyday Cooking and Baking
During my year of exploring the flavor trend of mushrooms with Sargento I’ve been trying to highlight the many ways mushrooms can be used in home cooking. So far I’ve turned up ways to incorporate them into so many sides dishes and main courses. This month I wanted to take mushrooms and turn them into a sauce. I love a good savory mushroom sauce for pasta and chicken so why not try my hand at it home. The twist? This time I added some Parmesan breadcrumbs to the chicken and gave it a quick broil at the end, turn this dish into an earthy, cheesy delight.
It is not an exaggeration for me to say that Dorie Greenspan is my baking idol. And I am not saying that because I want to win any sort of contest. It is the honest to goodness truth that I love her writing and her work and deeply admire her dedication baking in the home kitchen. So, when I was invited to join in the Cookie Rumble with Dorie, Jacques Torres, and Fonseca BIN 71, I couldn’t say no! For my entry I am submitting these tasty salted butter blondies topped with figs poached in port and a brown sugar streusel.
After my trip to the Greenwich Food + Wine Festival I got thinking more about weeknight meals. I loved Sara Moulton’s and Richard Blais’ presentations, but they didn’t really feature a lot of cheese. However, the dishes they made could feature plenty of cheese. In my year of working with Sargento I have had a lot of fun documenting the popular food trends of food trucks and mushrooms but it really all comes back to the cheese. I am no stranger to cheesy weeknight meals and I wondered if I could take Sara’s and Richard’s dishes and make them a little cheesier, so to speak.
We love grilling even when the temperatures begins to drop. However, we do draw the line at grilling when there is actual snow outside. Since the move our grill has been sitting in the basement. We plan to get it out again soon, but that is pretty far down our to-do list at this point. Instead, as luck would have it, I was sent a new OptiGrill in the mail to try at home and that is what we have been using. It ideal for indoor grilling any night of the week. I find it especially easy since it means I don’t have to run outside and light the coals while I juggle the kids dinner time as well.
The first thing I cooked in our new home was acorn squash. When I wandered into Whole Foods, exhausted from unpacking, I immediately spotted the seasonal vegetable display and instantly knew that is what I needed to make. Squash is one of our favorite fall vegetables and I cook it as often as possible when it is available. I like to prepare it simply, roasted with oil and sprinkled with a little browned butter and Parmesan. I love the sweet flavor and autumnal aroma that wafts through the kitchen as it roasts.
One of the challenges I’ve been enjoying in my year exploring mushrooms with Sargento is incorporating them in to every meal of the day. Mushrooms, I find, are very flavorful in savory meals for lunch and dinner. Grilled cheeses, sauces, and soups taste amazing with a little or a lot of mushroom umami flavor. Breakfast, however, other than stirred into eggs, can be a little more difficult. We know mushrooms taste great in quiche or frittatas, but…what else? Can they be incorporated differently? I wanted to try pairing them with salty bacon, a fried egg, and some delicious cheese, but instead of a quiche in a tasty, easy breakfast bake.
Since I am in moving mode I am also in quick-dinner-every-night mode. There is not a lot of time for lengthy food prep and I am relying heavily on my pantry and herb garden for ingredients. Most nights I am either testing recipes for the next book, feeding the family something I pull together at the last minute, or picking up prepared foods at the store. It is a little something I have dubbed “moving survival mode.” You just do what works one night, then move on to the next. The other night I made these awesome pork chops. My mother gave me the recipe since I remember her making it when we were little. It was one of her week night staples. In fact, there are many great recipes for pork chops that make awesome, easy weeknight meals. I will share more in the future, but these are a real favorite.
I am a big fan of preserving. Over the years I’ve written about many of my favorite jams, jellies, and pickles and I’ve linked to the recipes below. I even included a few never-seen-here canning recipes in my cookbook. In addition to my own recipes, I am a devotee of Marisa McClellan’s blog, Food in Jars, and cookbook of the same name. I also frequently consult my Ball Blue Book and Well-Preserved for recipes and answers to my myriad of canning questions. I’m fairly sure preserving is one of those things I’ll always practice but never master. The nuances of each recipe and idiosyncrasies of produce ensure that no canning batch is ever truly a slam dunk. Every year at least one or two variables has to be adjusted to accommodate sour fruit or soggy cukes. No two batches are ever exactly the same. Which is exactly why I love it.
I know, I know, here I go with the rhubarb again. What can I say, I am addicted. I have a problem with stewed, sweetened rhubarb. This decadent breakfast treat came about last weekend when I was eating my strawberry rhubarb skillet jam out of the jar with a spoon. I wanted to eat it for breakfast on toast, but my daughter wanted french toast, so I decided to combine my ideas into one dish and make Strawberry Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast. Yes, sometimes I even amaze myself at my 7am culinary capabilities.
My friend Phoebe inspired me last month. We share a mutual take-it-or-leave-it attitude to the amazingly popular smoothie trend. Sometimes I make them, most of the time I don’t. But last month Phoebz made an inspired smoothie using my favorite breakfast drink: chai tea! Genius! I decided to take a page out of her book and make one of my favorite summer drinks, a cool silky horchata, with some warm and nutty chai spices.
In cooler weather I am a big fan of cheesy mushroom pizzas, hot mushroom crepes, and thick mushroom soups. But what to do when the thermometer reads 90 degrees F+? When faced with this question last week I decided to take a cue from Rick Bayless and run for the border. Since margaritas have been my drink of choice in this heat wave it only seemed natural to pair them with some spicy tacos, chips, and guac! As part of my year exploring the use of mushrooms in a variety of foods I decided to give basic tacos a vegetarian twist and make them with fresh mushrooms straight from the farmer’s market.
The trifecta of tomato, basil, and mozzarella might be one of the best (or possibly the best) flavor combinations of all time. Add in a splash of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and I’m done. It is the only thing I want to eat all summer long. A few years ago I made this delicious Caprese Pasta Salad and it is still one of my favorites. However, recently I decided to change it up and use some spaghetti and give the tomatoes a little heat to make them more tender and sauce-like.