mushrooms

Halfway through the year, let’s take a look at where I am with my list. Updates (and true confessions) after each point. Let me know in the comments what you think.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been kicking an idea around about all the dishes I swear I’m going to cook—recipes I’m going to try.

If you’re reading this and thinking I can’t believe she’s intimidated to make (fill in the blank), know we all have culinary roadblocks.

When I was thinking about this, I came across a piece on the Taste website, “Everyone Should Have a Winter Cooking Goal.” The author’s goal is to work on one dish until she masters it and has explored all its variations.

My goals are a little different–some of these I’d like to master, some I’d like to have become a regular part of my cooking repertoire and others are rainy day/all day projects. I’m thinking that maybe there should be one a month, but at the moment, I’m 4 short. Any suggestions?

8 Things I’m Challenging Myself to Cook in 2019:

  1. Crêpes: One of those projects that I thought I could throw equipment at and be okay. This just needs practice and probably patience. For you crêpe makers out there, is it easier to start with regular (flour) ones before moving on to savory (buckwheat) ones? Update: Thanks to my friend Jan, mastered this one. Have done both plain and buckwheat, plain are easier and probably more versatile.
  2. Soupe de poisson: This is one of my favorite soups and a prelude to bouillabaisse. Making this is just a matter of deciding to do it and getting some good fish. Update: Still on my wish list. 
  3. Whole fish: I don’t know why this has always seemed so challenging to me and since they just published this in the NY Times, I’m not the only one. Could it be one of those things like roasting meats that’s super easy but looks like you can cook? Anyone got a favorite recipe to share? Update: In spite of saving simple whole fish recipes and checking out the contenders at Adam’s, I haven’t gotten here yet, but it’s coming.
  4. More fish: Where we are, it’s much easier to get great (farm raised) meat, than good fish, but I’m going to make finding a good source for fish and befriending a fishmonger a priority this year (and it will make #2 & 3 much easier). Update: got off to a good start with this and give myself extra points for doing a lot more salmon to see if I could con Frank into eating it. We loved several of the recipes.
  5. Cream of mushroom soup: (as good as the CIA and/or the late Campfire in GB) Like the soupe de poisson, this is more a matter of going shopping and facing the stove. Update: Like the soupe de poisson, didn’t happen and I’ve got no excuses.
  6. Cauliflower rice: Yes, I can be trendy, and we need to cut carbs/sugar in my house. Update: Since I wrote this I don’t think we’ve had any cauliflower. Hmmm…
  7. Grains: Freekeh, farro, oats, lentils, etc. Time to switch it up from rice and potatoes. And if I would do #8, probably faster cooking than an hour on the stove. Update: More room for improvement and that goes for #8 too. Accidental Locavore Insta-Pot
  8. Use my Insta-Pot: for more than yogurt and use the pressure cooker part of it. Shoot, I guess that means I have to find the instruction book and read it. Update: It still makes great yogurt…

And, I’m going to start using the “good” silver! Update: Polished it and used it the last time we had friends for dinner. Nice to use the good stuff, try it.

What would go on your list?

 

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It Started With Olives

by Anne Maxfield on January 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore Green Olives and PitsIt started with the olives…small and green with garlic and herbs. Six, to be savored while sipping wine and waiting for the main course. Well worth searching out.

Accidental Locavore Nice PortTo be truthful, it actually started out the other day when the Accidental Locavore was walking around the port. In another year or two it will once again be spectacular, but for now, it’s a glorified construction zone, awaiting the continuance of the tram. I saw a cute place on the corner and the menu looked interesting, so I filed it away for a future lunch.

Accidental Locavore le Passe Plat InteriorLe passe-plat is an open room, casual, with lamps perched on top of piles of wine boxes. There’s an open kitchen – rare for here, filled with copper pots, mason jars with spices and a handsome chef, Anthony Coppet, straight from central casting, dark hair, piercing blue eyes and two days’ stubble.

I went in, curious about the pot au feu with Thai spices, but ended up with the plat du jour. On this particular jour, it was a veal steak with a wild mushroom cream sauce and mashed potatoes.

Accidental Locavore Veal With Cream SauceThe veal turned out to be grilled and had that great grilled taste. The cream sauce was wonderful, with lots of mushrooms and possibly just a hint of Roquefort. There were a couple of cherry tomatoes as garnish, roasted into sweetness. And what can you say about mashed potatoes? It’s France and they were great!

One of the things I always wonder about here is why most restaurant tables have four legs. It’s what French Morning NY would call a question bête, but here’s my answer – more room for dogs to stretch out. It struck me as amusing that the couple sitting by the window (with a dog) had risotto with scallops, which were served in a dish that had an uncanny resemblance to a dog’s bowl. Just saying.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Board in NiceExpanding on my vocabulary, I learned that the ardoise de fromages was what I was hoping for – a cheese plate, and since ardoise means slate, it arrived on a handsome slab. On the slate were a Brie, a chèvre rolled in herbs, a gooey vacherin and a semi-soft cheese like a mild Pont-l’Évêque. They were all good and worked well together and with the fig compote, but the chèvre was outstanding! Another thing to try to hunt down. I was happy and will be back to try the pot au feu soon.

 

 

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Roasted and Crispy Chickpeas

by Anne Maxfield on June 24, 2015

Accidental Locavore Roasted ChickpeasIn an ongoing search for healthier snacks (i.e. not chips), the Accidental Locavore recently came across a bunch of recipes for roasted chickpeas. These, from the NY Times, are super easy, and probably pretty heathy, but you do need some time to let them dry before you roast them. Makes a good-sized bowl to snack from.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Accidental Locavore Drying ChickpeasSpread out chickpeas on a paper towel. Pat dry, then let dry for about an hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, and spread chickpeas evenly on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven until crunchy, about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. (The chickpeas will continue to get crunchy as they cool.)

Accidental Locavore Chickpeas With Za'atarPlace hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, za’atar and salt. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A surprisingly flawed recipe from the “paper of record”. A few of my chickpeas were actually crunchy, most were just sort of tough. With both these and the crunchy mushrooms, I used the convection setting on my oven because I figured it would add to the crunch. Now I’m not so sure. Anyone have any ideas? I did let them dry for most of the morning, so it wasn’t that. The za’atar is an interesting blend of spices and would probably be great on warm chickpeas or on a chickpea salad. If I tried these again, I would first toss them in the oil and za’atar and then roast them. That way, although they wouldn’t be as healthy, they might have a better chance of being crunchy and the za’atar wouldn’t all fall to the bottom of the bowl. Have you made crispy chickpeas? How did you do them?

 

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Accidental Locavore Gathering – Morel Edition

by Anne Maxfield on June 2, 2014

Accidental Locavore Ready to ForageForaging for mushrooms is something the Accidental Locavore has wanted to do for years. Ever since a friend of mine gifted me with a big bag of chanterelles he found behind our golf course, I’ve wanted to go in search of mushrooms. However, unlike some kitchen experiments that might make you sick if screwed up, gathering the wrong mushrooms can kill you – definitely a deterrent! So I was happy to discover (and join) the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association.

Accidental Locavore Dryad SaddleThey were promising a morel walk for the past couple of weekends, but the morels weren’t cooperating until last Saturday. The walks are all kept very hush-hush so interlopers won’t go out and pick all the mushrooms. Then, late Friday night, an email giving the time and secret meeting place went out to the members. About fifteen foragers met in a parking lot and once we were briefed, we took off for the woods. Because it had rained (a lot) the night before, our first challenge was fording a couple of small streams. Once up in the woods, it wasn’t long before someone found the first fungi, a couple of Dryad Saddles.

Accidental Locavore MorelFurther into the woods, our first sighting of morels! There were three decent-sized ones, close by a dying elm tree. Once everyone got to admire them, the person who discovered them picked them, and we were on our way. Up a trail past old discarded washing machines and wrecked tires, we hiked on. Suddenly, in the middle of the woods, I had a wardrobe malfunction. My hiking boots, which hadn’t seen the light of day in years, suddenly delamintated. At first it was just the heels flapping around, but before too long, both soles fell off! Rather than risk slipping and falling (note to self, next time, bring a hiking stick), and since my feet were rapidly getting wet, I had to turn back. Reluctantly, I let everyone know, packed my soles in the bag I was going to use for the morels, and hiked back to the car, driving home in bare feet, since boots were ruined and socks were soaked.

Accidental Locavore Trashed BootsIt didn’t help to get the next midnight email, saying how successful the walk had been, with everyone (except me) going home with morels! But I have a better understanding of where to look for them, and a network of people I can send photos to if I need confirmation. I’m looking forward to the next secret meeting and a walk in my own woods to see if there’s anything out there.

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