Since Top Chef ended, I’m often asked “So what are you doing now?” I’m asked even at my catering events. So, yes, I am still catering to businesses and homes with love-filled food, but I was doing that before the show. Most folks want to know how the show has changed my life. What opportunities have come my way? Am I going to open a restaurant? Am I going to be on another show? To the surprise of some or possibly the disappointment of others, a restaurant is not going to be on the horizon, but I’m looking at ways to make my food accessible to those of you who aren’t looking to have a catered event. Another show? I don’t know.
In the midst of staying sane while my catering business grew exponentially, seemingly overnight, all sorts of other opportunities were falling into my lap. Sorting through them was the key. A girl’s gotta have standards, right? One opportunity that I didn’t think twice about was working with The Mushroom Council. My job was to create an original recipe using mushrooms, and in the process help re-educate consumers about the nutritional, economical and versatile properties of mushrooms. Are you kidding me? I’m going to get paid for playing with food that I like? For sharing my own mushroom tales? Okay, so that’s my job as a chef, but I’m still pinching myself. The recipe I created was Garlicky Mushroom Hearts with Sweet Potato Poblano Hash. Sweet, spicy, southern goodness using button mushrooms was what I was going for in this dish. Paired with an easy-going nutritionist, Heidi Gengler, who educates while telling great stories, I was on a plane, before I knew it, heading to Meredith Publications in Des Moines, Iowa.
If you’ve never had a reason to go to Des Moines, I would put Meredith Publications on the list, right up there with Des Moines’ farmer’s market. NICE. The backdrop for our presentation was a gorgeous, light-filled and comfortable kitchen. Our audience was several magazine editors, and I simply had a ball. Afterwards, I asked Heidi if our experience was the norm. A bigger question inside was “Will I always choose the right and perfect opportunities?”
Garlicky Mushroom Hearts over Sweet Potato and Poblano Hash
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 6 large white mushrooms
- 6 large crimini mushrooms
- Olive oil spray
- Splash white wine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 poblano pepper, finely diced
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 large sweet potatoes, finely diced and blanched (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup spinach, julienned
Trim the stem of each mushroom flush with the cap; cut a small piece to flatten each top. Trim the sides to create a cylinder shape. (Reserve mushroom scraps for mushroom stock or another recipe.)
Heat large skillet to high heat, spray with olive oil. Place mushrooms topside down in pan. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Allow mushrooms to brown before turning them over. Brown on all sides. Add a splash of white wine and garlic. Shake to distribute and cook until pan is dry. Remove mushrooms and set aside on a plate.
Using the same large skillet, heat to medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and poblanos. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Sauté until poblanos are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside in a small bowl. Bring pan to high heat; add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sweet potatoes. Lightly season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with paprika and garlic. Allow potatoes to brown. Toss, then let sit again, about 2 minutes. Add scallions, parsley and poblanos and toss. Top with mushrooms and serve immediately. Reheat mushrooms if necessary.
Garnish with sautéed spinach.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out Carla’s take on “Flexitarianism“!