Magic Mushrooms

by Anne Maxfield on May 14, 2015

Accidental Locavore Magic MushroomsThe Accidental Locavore was reading a recipe on Pure Wow for crispy mushrooms and it sounded so simple and good that I had to give them a try. What better excuse than people coming for dinner, and it would be a nice change or addition to the usual cheese and charcuterie. They couldn’t be simpler, but you do have to give yourself about an hour for roasting them.Accidental Locavore Prepping Mushrooms

  • 1 ½ pounds cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 large clove finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Flaky salt, like Maldon, for finishing

Accidental Locavore Roasting MushroomsPreheat the oven to 375°F (I used the convection setting). Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper to combine.

Pour the mushrooms onto the baking sheet, then spread them out evenly (don’t overcrowd or they won’t get crispy). Roast until the mushrooms are very brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes.

Let the mushrooms cool slightly, then garnish with parsley and flaky salt, if using. You can serve the mushrooms warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Crispy MushroomsMy verdict: When we were cleaning and prepping the mushrooms, my friend Laura and I decided that a pound wasn’t going to be enough, so we went out and got another small container and ended up with about a pound and a half. I added the fresh garlic and thyme – any fresh herbs would work as well. So, we roasted them and roasted them, tossing them occasionally, and they got beautifully dark brown and smelled great! However, after about 70 minutes in the oven, they weren’t crispy (or anywhere near that) and our guests had arrived, so we pulled them out. They were fabulous—seriously roasted, with the garlic and thyme adding to the great mushroom flavor. I would definitely make them again, but wouldn’t expect them to be crispy. Maybe if you sliced them you could achieve crispiness (which might be an experiment for the next batch). We did end up with a few leftovers which were equally delicious chopped into an omelet and sliced into salads.






Creamed Spinach With Garlic Confit

by Anne Maxfield on May 7, 2015

Accidental Locavore Creamed SpinachThe Accidental Locavore thought this version of creamed spinach would be great with a roast beef I cooked recently. I love garlic confit, it’s great for so many things (toss with broccoli or spinach, salad dressing etc), and since you just use the cloves for this recipe, I tossed some extra in the oil (my new hack for peeling a lot of garlic is at the end).There was also a taste test between fresh and frozen spinach, so check out the results at the end. Serves 4 generously. You can make all the parts ahead of time and refrigerate. Baking and resting takes about 40 minutes.

For the garlic confit:

  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled (or more for other uses)
  • 1 cup olive oil

Cream Sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt


  • Olive oil, for greasing and sautéing
  • 2 pounds spinach, stemmed
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Accidental Locavore Garlic Confit PureeMake the garlic confit: Put the garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan, and cook over very low heat until the garlic is softened and golden, about 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve, reserving the oil for another use. Transfer 3 cloves of the garlic to a blender and if you added extra cloves, save them, refrigerated, for another use.

Make the cream sauce: In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of the cream with the cornstarch. In a saucepan, bring the remaining cream to a simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the cream is thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt. Add the cream sauce to the blender and puree with the garlic until smooth.

Accidental Locavore Prepped Creamed SpinacgMake the spinach and finish the dish: Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil a 1 1/2-quart gratin pan. Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a very large sauté pan and, working in batches, sauté the spinach until just cooked. Transfer to a colander. Squeeze out as much water from the spinach as possible. Using paper towels, blot any excess water. Coarsely chop the spinach and transfer to a bowl (you should have about 3 packed cups). Add the cream sauce and mix well. Season with salt. Spread the spinach in the prepared dish and top with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and dot with butter. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I love creamed spinach and this was really delicious! It was nice and thick, with the breadcrumbs giving it a nice crunch. I would definitely make it again. Frank seemed to think this was a lot of work, but I just did it in stages. First the confit, and while that was cooking I did the spinach. Later on, I made the sauce, put it all together and popped it in the oven while my roast was finishing up. You wouldn’t need to make the garlic confit and it would still be good, but as I said in the intro, it’s a great thing to have in the fridge, so why not? While this recipe calls for cooking fresh spinach, I made one dish with fresh and one with frozen. The guests didn’t know which was which. One person preferred the frozen spinach, the rest of us went for the fresh, but everyone said there wasn’t much of a difference. The next time I make this, unless there’s fresh, local spinach available (which should be a big difference in taste) I’ll definitely use the chopped frozen stuff. A large bag would be more than enough for this recipe. And the hack for peeling a lot of garlic fast? I rubbed the cloves between two of my silicone GIR lids! The garlic confit that I didn’t use for the sauce I puréed with a little of the oil and it’s in the fridge waiting for some unsuspecting broccoli.Accidental Locavore GIR Lids




An Afternoon at the Chili Festival

by Anne Maxfield on March 23, 2015

Accidental Locavore Inflatable ColonChef friends of the Accidental Locavore were asked to be judges at the 4th annual “Challenge Your Colon” Chili Festival, so we thought it was a perfect excuse to pig out on chili and possibly discover some good local restaurants. Other than the fact that beans are good for you, I’m not quite sure what chili has to do with colon health, but hey…

Accidental Locavore Chili VotingThere were about 45 vendors competing for best chili, vegetarian chili and cornbread to be determined by the judges, and also voted on by the people. Possibly the judges got better, hotter or different chili than the crowd did, or maybe our taste in chili is really off the mark because only one that we liked even made the list!

Chili practically ran the alphabet of proteins, from alligator to wildebeest, and covered ground from traditional to Thai. Rabbit and venison made appearances, alongside more traditional beef in many cuts and all sorts of beans.

Accidental Locavore Billy Joe's ChiliIt was great to get a chance to talk to some of the restaurateurs and made us promise to expand our dining parameters. Somewhat like going from west to east in the city, crossing the Hudson isn’t an everyday occurrence, but since our favorite chili came from across the river, it looks like we’ll be taking a drive soon!

And that chili was? A brisket chili from Billy Joe’s Ribworks. Smoky and delicious, sadly it will have to be an elusive memory until next year. It’s not made as a regular dish at the restaurant because it would mean giving up a secret recipe, but if the ribs are as good as the chili, it’s worth a stop!

Accidental Locavore Wildebeest ChiliThe aforementioned wildebeest chili was really from a wildebeest that the owner of Toma’s, shot in South Africa and transported back. While I’m no judge of wildebeest, the chili was really tasty and, like Billy Joe’s, not on the regular menu. What is on the regular menu, is an interesting looking array of tapas not generally found in these parts.

The most interesting vegetarian chili was a Thai Curry Chili from Mother Earth’s Storehouse, a local natural food store. A healthy vegan chili, the coconut milk and curry made it a winner for us (bonus points for handing out the recipe too)!

Accidental Locavore Farm to Table ChiliAs is probably the raison d’etre for most of the restaurants at the event, we have now definitely put two local favorites on the must-try list. Farm to Table Bistro had the only straight-up meat (no bean) chili, individually garnished with cheese, sour cream and tiny strips of fried tortillas. Even though Frank usually shies away from any restaurant with “live” music, because Chris used to run Fat Tuesdays in the city, he might be coaxed into going on a Friday night for the jazz.

The other place, Schatzi’s, we’ve actually tried to get into, but turned away when it looked packed recently. They had another great vegetarian chili, this time with tomatillos and cilantro. We’re going to give it another shot on a Wednesday night when pirogues are the special.

So until next year…







Better Broccoli Soup

by Anne Maxfield on January 8, 2015

Accidental Locavore Better Broccoli SoupAfter the disappointing batch of roasted broccoli soup, the Accidental Locavore was on a quest to find a better recipe. This one from the New York Times definitely fit the bill with broccoli and potatoes. And you think you’re being healthy, no milk or cream, but there is a good bit of butter and oil. Serves 4-6.

  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 heads broccoli (about 2 pounds), separated into small florets
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoons black pepper, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • Grated Parmesan, to finish

Accidental Locavore Seared BroccoliIn a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add about a third of the broccoli, just enough so that it covers the bottom of the pan in a single layer without overcrowding. Cook broccoli without moving it for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until dark brown on 1 side only (leave the other side bright green). Transfer to a big bowl and repeat with more oil and the remaining broccoli. When all the broccoli has been browned, season with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan. Add onions and garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add potato to the pot with 1 quart water and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, cover pot and cook until potato is just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broccoli, cover again and cook until tender, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Add lemon zest and purée soup with an immersion or regular blender, to your desired texture. Stir in lemon juice. Finish with grated Parmesan, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Oh so much better than the roasted broccoli soup, that I couldn’t stop tasting it! I ended up running it through a blender because I was afraid the stick blender would leave soup all over the kitchen. I wish I’d kept a few small pieces of broccoli aside to give it a little more texture, but that’s a small thing. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you might want to taste it before you (cautiously) add the red pepper flakes. Mine were pretty fresh and gave it a nice kick, but I probably added more that ¼ teaspoon to the pot. I’ve made it a couple of times and it’s definitely a keeper!