Archive for March, 2009

KathEats Presents "Branch Out" with Green Mushroom Pizza

Please welcome KathEats back with the perfect post for the start of Spring.  Seeing as tomorrow begins a new month and most parts of the country should start seeing a little more green around, we thought this was the perfect post and recipe for the season.  And we’re with Kath- time to branch out!

Make this your month to try a new mushroom! Button mushrooms are ubiquitous, versatile and packed with antioxidants, but there are a host of other kinds of mushrooms just waiting for you to put in your cart.

Shiitake mushrooms are native to East Asia, so you may have had them at your favorite Japanese restaurant before, such as in miso soup. They have a longer stem, which is woody and often removed, and a subtle smoky flavor. You can find them fresh in most grocery stores these days, but they are also available dried, where they will last in your fridge or freezer for many months. Serve ‘em in a stir-fry or a brothy soup.green-pizza

The fan-shaped oyster mushroom grows in layers that look more like a beautiful white flower than a fungus. But peek underneath and you’ll find the usual ‘shroom gills. Oyster mushrooms do have a hint of a seafood flavor, but don’t worry, they’re not fishy fishy. And did you know The oyster mushroom is also one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms? Cool, huh!

Creminis are my favorite kind of mushroom. I like to think of them as “buttons with flavor.” They are a similar shape to button mushrooms but have a darker color and a deeper flavor. They are also know as baby bellas and have a similar hearty flavor without the meaty texture of full-size portabellas.

The following pizza recipe calls for 8 oz of any mushroom mix you like. You can’t go wrong!

Green Mushroom Pizza

Serves 4, 2 slices each

This recipe calls for exotic mushrooms, but button would be perfectly fine if that’s what you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb whole wheat pizza dough, such as Trader Joe’s
  • 8 oz of mixed mushrooms, such as shitake, oyster and cremini, sliced
  • 10 oz bag spinach (or the equivalent washed and trimmed)
  • Small handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Cooking spray

1.  Roll out dough according to package directions. Set oven to recommended temperature.

2.  Sautee spinach in cooking spray until wilted. Set aside.

3.  Sautee mushrooms in cooking spray until tender and beginning to brown

4.  Combine spinach, basil, oregano and 1/2 a cup of feta in a food processor and pulse until well mixed.

5.  Spread spinach onto pizza crust.

6.  Top with sauteed mushrooms, mozzarella and additional feta.

7.  Finish with red pepper flakes.

8.  Cook according to crust directions, until cheese begins to brown.

9.  Cut into 8 slices with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

Planning by the Pound:Pre-Sautéed Mushrooms

Confession: While many of my daily decisions revolve around my next meal, I can get pretty lazy by the time making supper rolls around. I’m pennywise enough not to go running for the takeout containers but I’ll admit that I have to be diligent about stocking my fridge on the weekends for items that can be “repurposed” for Monday- Thursday.

I’m making an effort though. Last Sunday I bought a pound of regular white button mushrooms, pre-sliced (2 8 oz containers for $4!).Sauteed Mushrooms I then sautéed every last one in a bit of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 TB of olive oil for 16oz of mushrooms).  And of course once I got started, I couldn’t help but mince a garlic clove or two and add that to the mix.  Then a splash of the white wine that had been opened for Sunday dinner and a healthy pinch of sea salt with ground pepper.  Suddenly the house smelled amazing and I was all smiles knowing that I was bestowing little treasures on myself for the days to come. After sneaking a couple bites on the side, I did the right thing and sealed them up in a Tupperware container and put them in the fridge. And then I plotted.

Over the next five days, my mushrooms made the following appearances:

  • Breakfast for Dinner Night- Two Egg Omelet with Mushrooms, Spinach and a teaspoon of goat cheese.  The whole thing was seasoned with a pinch of Herbes de Provence and took about 10 minutes total.Lazy Linguine
  • Lazy Linguine- As pasta goes, I lean toward the thick stuff- linguine for the day-to-day and paparadelle if I’m feeling fancy.  It was Wednesday. I was not feeling fancy so I simply cooked my noodles and added 2TB of olive oil, 1 tsp of lemon juice, the tiniest pinch of cinnamon, a handful of mushrooms and a good bit of low fat feta. The fanciest thing that happened in that 11 minute meal was when I tore a few leaves of flat-leaf parsley off the bunch in my fridge and sprinkled them over the top of my dinner for a little color. Delicious.
  • Breakfast for Breakfast- Up with the sun so why not make coffee and something healthy for breakfast? Southwestern-style egg substitute with mushrooms and low fat cheddar cheese added in, salsa on the side. I wish I were enough of a weekday morning person to do this more often as I was in a good mood for the whole day. I’ll dedicate that to the D.
  • Impress the Guests- I love entertaining. Love it. I am never happier than when I have a full house with full bellies. That said, it can be tricky on a Friday night after work, so I do my best to prep ahead of time and choose things with minimal ingredients.Puff Pastry Pizza I learned this puff pastry pizza recipe at our team’s get together in January and I have to say, it’s as delicious as it is easy to put together. Even easier as I didn’t have to spend extra time with a sauté pan (I sautéed half of a sweet yellow onion the night before).    One sheet of rolled out puff pastry brushed with olive oil and pre-baked at 350 for 8 minutes.  It is then topped with thin slices of goat cheese, chopped spinach (I just thawed and drained a frozen 8oz box), sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onion slices and then more goat cheese if you’re feeling indulgent.  Indulgent is my default weekend setting. Salt and Pepper to taste then back in the oven till the crust is golden brown- about 10 minutes.

So there you have it, a bit of a long post but that’s appropriate given the mileage I managed to get out of a $4 pound of my favorite fungi.  Mushrooms have the ability to dress up anything while being one of the single easiest vegetables to prepare.  How are they going to make your life easier next week?

ROW:Mini Mushroom Pies from Not Eating Out in New York

Photo Credit: Not Eating Out in New York

This week’s mushroom recipe comes from a longtime favorite of some foodies in this group.  Not Eating Out in New York specializes in highlighting recipes that are not only healthy but feature seasonal ingredients that are local whenever possible.  This includes a cost breakdown along with health and sustainability ratings for every recipe. This particular recipe would be perfect for a party but I’d be inclined to simply add some steamed or roasted greens on the side and serve two per person as mini-pot pies for supper. At about $1.43 per serving? I think we’ve found a pie that pleases palate and pocketbook alike.

Special Report: The Delicious Life Takes On Vegas for the Pizza Expo

The week’s featured contributor is none other than food blogger Sarah Gim of The Delicious Life and a founder of foodie favorite, Tastespotting.  We sent Sarah on a special mission to the biggest pizza party of the year, evangelizing fresh mushrooms and taking in the scenery slice by slice- what follows is her personal account:

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll happen in Vegas? Obviously.paris-expo

But so does the annual Pizza Expo.

The Pizza Expo isn’t a consumer event. It’s a tradeshow meant for “pizza industry” people to which the Mushroom Council invited me as a guest. “Pizza industry.” For some reason I thought I was going to be rubbing olive oily elbows with the likes of Vinnie, Vidi and Vici. Sure, the “industry” includes pizzeria owners (many of whom were from the East Coast) and purveyors of ingredients that go into pizza, but the industry also includes companies that make all the other things you might (or might not) see or experience in a pizza restaurant.

mushroomIt was a lot to see, experience, absorb, and of course, taste. Vegas alone is a lot to take in two days, and you most certainly don’t “learn” anything except what it feels like to lose a thousand dollars in 10 seconds, but two days at the Pizza Expo taught me that pizza isn’t just crust, sauce, and cheese.

Top 10 Things I saw, experienced, learned, and tasted at the Pizza Expo that May or May Not Have Anything to Do with Mushrooms, Pizza, Vegas, Conferences, or Cher:

  1. Canned mushrooms on pizza is a cardinal sin. Just ask the Caputo flour guys, in the space next to the Mushroom Council’s giant inflatable MushRoom, who made pizza for the Pope. I didn’t talk to the guys directly, but I would bet my life that the Pope’s pizza didn’t have canned mushrooms. Whether I actually did hear that from them or whether I am creating a big fat lie is a secret between me and God. The bottom line is, don’t ever put canned mushrooms on pizza.
  2. Special diets, like they are in any food category, are big for pizza and getting bigger. Whether it’s a vanity diet like low-carb, a nutrition diet, or an allergy diet like gluten-free, the pizza industry is taking steps to accommodate these needs. I tasted gluten free pastas and pizzas baked on gluten free dough. Personally, I love pizzas that use a giant portabella mushroom as the “crust” – gluten-free and low carb!
  3. What’s a pizza joint without chicken wings?!. There’s an unnatural but necessary pairing between pizza and wings, so there were quite a few exhibitors at the Expo with either sauces to make hot wings or pre-made products. One of them had the busiest exhibit at the Expo , with party music blaring from hidden speakers and “school girls” up on platforms bending down to serve wings. I didn’t try any.
  4. Speaking of hot sauce, I walked away from the Expo with a number of hot sauce samples. I couldn’t figure out if it’s a cultural thing, a West Coast thing, or just a me thing, but I very blasphemously dump hot sauce on my pizza. Texas Pete’s is now in the running for 2nd Best Hot Sauce in My World (nothing will ever replace Sriracha).
  5. I tried the Paris Pizza recipe from the Mushroom Channel with Boursin and Brie cheeses, fresh tomatoes, and portabella mushrooms. It’s delicious. I also tried a Spanish-style pizza with Romesco as the sauce base that was also delicious.paris_pizza_884935856
  6. There were two pizza competitions that took place during the Expo. One stage had the World Pizza Games with a dough throwing contest and the other was the International Pizza Challenge, a March Madness-style full-bracketed contest for Best Traditional Pizza and Best Non-traditional Pizza.
  7. Though I tasted more pizza in two days than I had eaten in an entire year before that, my favorite tastings were of all the pickled and marinated vegetables, mushrooms, and olives You can buy marinated mushrooms from the store (but not canned! see #1) but I have it in my mind now to make them at home in a much spicier rendition than any of the ones I tried there.  The big discovery for me, though, was a giant, bright green olive. It is now my obsession.
  8. You never think about these things when you walk into a Chuck E. Cheese, your local Mom & Pop pizzeria or even get delivery from a national chain, but for every single thing that is required for a pizza restaurant (not just the pizza, but the restaurant), there is a company that makes it – animatronics and arcade games for kid-centered pizza places, pizza themes plush toys as prizes, costumes, light-up signs to put on delivery cars, “pagers.” I was in search of a plush pizza as a souvenir for my 2 year-old niece but never found one. She’s going to have to be happy playing with a red, green, and white conference badge.
  9. The Mushroom Council left me an adorable Welcome Pack in my hotel with mushroom shaped chocolate truffles (was that pun intended? I think so!), a deck of mushroom playing cards, and a set of three small jars with magical stuff in them. One of the jars is sitting on my desk filled with white crystal. But remember, this is the PG rated mushroom council blog! It’s truffle salt and while once I refused to acknowledge truffles because they smelled like moldy dirt to me (even up to the day I left Vegas), I am now addicted. Thanks for the welcome pack, Mushroom Council. Thanks for nothing.

And the most important, lasting thing I learned at the Vegas Pizza Expo is…

There is more to pizza than just crust, sauce and cheese, but then again, at the end of the day, pizza’s beauty is in nothing more than the crust, sauce and cheese (with some mushrooms, of course).

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

Mushrooms & green tea may decrease breast cancer risk It’s easy to add mushrooms into any meal, and MSNBC gives you a great reason why you should add them to every meal!

The nutrition magic of mushrooms Are mushrooms magical? Reader’s Digest lets you in on the secret to mushroom’s magic – their magnificent nutritional benefits!

To be skinny you need vitamin D Bathing suit season is nearing, and Examiner wants you to know that in order to keep the fat off, you need vitamin D.

Mushrooms may offer natural solution for Vitamin D deficiency A recent review found that all mushrooms could have anywhere from 4 to 400 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin D and Waco Tribune-Herald gives you some great mushroom recipes to try tonight.

3 cheap and natural meat substitutes Trying to cut costs these days? Fit Sugar suggests some inexpensive meat alternatives that taste just as great!

Mushrooms – How well positioned? Despite the economy, mushroom sales are strong. Fresh Talk blog has more on mushrooms as one example that eating healthy does not equal expensive grocery bills.

How much vitamin D should someone over 55 take? Not sure about your vitamin D levels? CNN reminds us that the best way to find out how much vitamin D you need is to get your blood levels tested by your doctor.

Shitake mushroom demand: Is it taste or health? Did you know shitake mushrooms are the third most popular mushroom consumed in the United States? eMax Health reports that as the health benefits continue to be unveiled, shitakes might be consumed more! Time to go to the grocery store!