An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Fresh Basil and Mushroom Salad

I was power-walking home today, and as I carefully ran across the street, my polka dot umbrella blew itself inside-out. That is quite a tricky situation to maneuver in the midst of crossing a busy street in the rain, while carrying a heavy purse and wearing mittens. Today is one of those Seattle days where the cloud cover is so thick, that it is hard to image the sun is actually shining in other parts of the world. I just want to get indoors as quickly as possible and drink a warm mug of something and put on my slippers. I tend to drink more coffee on days like today, which would explain the other million people doing the same thing. You just crave the warmth of the mug in your hand and the community-based urge to get out of the cold and into the roasted bean-scented havens.

Enough about coffee. I could go on forever. I actually have a true sadness for people who don't drink coffee. I am sure some people feel the same way towards me and my seafood repulsion. But still...

...Back to the blown-out umbrella. I was walking home thinking about my Food Group dinner party happening tomorrow night. It has been months piled on months since we have gotten together and I am so looking forward to seeing everyone. I have a packed schedule up until the party starts, so I took advantage of a two hour window of time tonight to go to the grocery, get ingredients and wine, and prepare my dish. I am still on my mushroom honeymoon. I have been craving garbanzo beans and Great Northern beans the last few days as a result of talking with my vegetarian brother the other night. Last night I made a teriyaki stir fry with garbanzos. So tonight I chose white beans to boost the protein levels of the materializing mushroom salad. A little basil, a little lemon juice, and a few other ingredients and we have ourselves a salad. Now all I have to do is grab my container and hop in my car tomorrow. I will wear a hood.

Fresh Basil and Mushroom Salad
Makes about 6 cups

Definitely (and carefully) use a mandoline to cut the mushrooms if you have one. If not, thinly slicing with a sharp knife will be just fine too. The fresh basil gives the mushrooms and beans a nice refreshing hint. Serve alongside a fried egg or chicken sausage. Or bring to a potluck. It will surely fit in with everyone.

20 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
10 crimini mushrooms, very thinly sliced

Whisk the basil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture while simultaneously whisking. This will form an emulsion. Toss the dressing in with the beans and mushrooms.


Cauliflower with Spicy Peanut Sauce

As you may have noticed through the less frequent posting schedule, I have been super busy lately. So busy that by the time I get home at night, I usually cook a quick 'repeat' dinner. I was thinking on the bus ride home tonight how I haven't made a new recipe in weeks. My normal is to come home and make some sort of roasted vegetable and protein for dinner. I usually make enough to bring with me to work the next day. But all in all, I make very similar dinners every night and therefore my blog has suffered.

So this post is in honor of my fall back sauce. After continuous nights of roasted vegetables with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, I remember 'Alli's Peanut Sauce'.  This is an ever-evolving sauce made primarily from the condiments in my refrigerator door. It is a tad different every time I make it, so this post is representing tonight's menu.

Sometimes I use real ginger, and sometimes ground. Sometimes I use sesame seeds, and sometimes I skip them. Sometimes I use vinegar, and sometimes I forget vinegar. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I quick.

My take home message is this: experiment with your ingredients. Add more or less of certain parts. If you want extra heat, add some Sriracha. Use lemon juice or vinegar for some tang. Pour in extra soy sauce for a saltier flavor. This is a very forgiving sauce, so let it be an open canvas.

Cauliflower with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes 2 servings

This dish is a nice complement to a protein, such as a fried egg or baked chicken. Add brown rice to the plate if you want another hearty dimension. Please experiment with all the different flavors going on too.

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8th teaspoon ground ginger
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/8th onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups cauliflower, chopped

Combine garlic, peanut butter, chili sauce, soy sauce, water, hoisin sauce, Dijon mustard, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20 seconds so all the ingredients heat through. Remove from microwave and whisk into a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in olive oil and heat for a few minutes. Add onions and saute until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower and add a little bit of water. Cover pan and cook until cauliflower is almost falling apart, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour in sauce. Stir the cauliflower until fully coated. Serve immediately.


Portabella Mushroom and Wild Rice Dressing

It is the first Sunday of the month, which means...Recipe Swap time.  Christianna, of Burwell General Store has given us the assignment of recreating a wild rice dressing from a restaurant called Pine Tavern in Bend, Oregon.  Wild rice is one of those grains that I often forget about, which is unfortunate, because it is an nice earthy addition to the table.

There is a very special element to wild rice.  I don't know if it is because it is expensive, or that it is often eaten on festive occasions, but I am always happy to see it.  My first memory of wild rice is from a historic restaurant in Ohio called the Golden Lamb.  It was one of my family's 'special occasion' restaurants.  I would sit on my desk at school dreaming of apple butter and wild rice the week before going to the Golden Lamb. We would get all dressed up to make the long drive to Lebanon, Ohio.  I had the same impatient Christmas Eve excitement.  Once we got there, I ordered the same dish every time; roasted chicken with a wild rice pilaf.  A warmly lit crowded dining room, homemade apple butter and a basket of freshly baked grainy rolls; this girl was in heaven.

In our postprandial bliss, we would stroll through the Inn attached to the restaurant.  The red carpeted hallways held doorways to historic rooms where former presidents and famous people had stayed during their travels through Ohio.  I was always a little bit creeped out by this haunted aspect of the Inn, so I would be ready to get to the cinnamon scented gift shop on the ground floor.

So it was a pleasant reminder of the Gold Lamb when Christianna assigned us a Wild Rice dressing.  I wanted to stick with the heartiness of a dressing, so I kept the celery and wild rice.  One cup of bacon drippings sounded a little rich for me, so I swapped that for olive oil, a little butter and chicken sausage.  The curry powder was an intriguing component, but I wanted to keep things traditional.  As the song goes, I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  Thank you Christianna for giving us this recipe.  It was a fun trip down memory lane, translated into a more modern version that will be my leftovers for lunch this week.

Portabella Mushroom and Wild Rice Dressing
Makes about 6 cups

It has been a few months since Thanksgiving, so this recipe will bring the festive aromas into your February kitchen.  Feel free to swap in a different meat, or take out the sausage altogether.  Either way, you will be warmed with wild rice and mushroom goodness.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked brown rice and wild rice blend
1 1/2-2 cup broth (chicken, vegetable or mushroom)

2 chicken sausage links
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Portbella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 green onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat in a medium pot.   Drop in the onions and celery and saute until they have softened , about 10 minutes.  Add in the thyme, rosemary, sage and butter and stir to coat.  Pour in the rice and broth and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer, cover and cook until rice is done, about 35 minutes.  Add more broth if necessary.

Meanwhile, boil the chicken sausages until done.  Remove from heat, and cut into coins.  Heat a separate saute pan on medium.  Add in the other 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Drop in the mushrooms, thyme and garlic powder.  Saute until the mushrooms are cooked through.  Add in the sausage pieces and cook until all the flavors have blended.

When the rice mixture is done, pour it into the mushroom and sausage pan.  Stir in the fresh parsley, green onions and salt and pepper to taste.