Monday, March 25, 2013

Shiitake Mushrooms

We grew these!!

Dave got this mushroom-growing kit from my sister for Christmas, and it's going pretty well. My sister's boyfriend, Tyler, made that beautiful cutting board in the top photo!

Shiitake mushrooms have an intense mushroomy flavor, and they are wonderful in Asian-style noodle soups, or stir-fry. But they're also great in any western-style dish that calls for regular mushrooms. Next I think I really need to try making gyoza or pot stickers with a mushroom filling! Or that savory custard recipe in this month's issue of Bon Appetit.

My go-to mushroom recipe is Mollie Katzen's Stellar Mushroom Sauce. It's kind of like a beef stroganoff, but with no beef. Part of its genius is the combination of sherry and sour cream; it's one of those recipes that somehow adds up to more than the sum of its parts. I've never been able to photograph it well, I guess because it's just not that pretty. Here's my adaptation of the recipe.

1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbs butter or olive oil1 cup minced onion
3/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3/4 lb crimini or white button mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 Tbs flour
1 clove garlic, minced
Lots of black pepper
1 lb extra-wide egg noodles

Put the pasta water on to boil, and set out the sour cream to warm to room temperature. Heat butter or oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion, mushrooms, and salt. Cook uncovered on medium heat until mushrooms and onions are soft (they don't have to brown).

Add the pasta to the water and cook according to directions. Stir the sherry into the mushroom mixture, then sprinkle in flour while whisking constantly. Add garlic and black pepper, cook another 5 minutes or so, then stir in the sour cream and cook until just heated through. Toss with noodles and serve hot. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring has sprung!

I went on a little road trip to Arizona this week - only four days - and while I was gone, all kinds of amazing things happened! Amazing how sudden it can be.

Our Manchurian apricot tree bloomed for the first time! Well, I guess last year it had maybe two little blossoms, but this year it's covered with these little beauties. It's not supposed to freeze at all this week, so maybe it will have time to set fruits before we get another cold snap.


 Daffodils are poking up...


And tulips...

And daylilies!

The lilacs are beginning to leaf out, and the golden currant is blooming. I hope we'll have a good show this spring, but I'm a bit worried because it's been such a dry winter. Things tend to die over the winter because I don't water them enough.

And the fava beans are in full bloom! Maybe this year we'll actually have a decent crop. I've never quite gotten it right before with the timing. We have such a short time when it's not too cold and not too hot. I planted these seeds in the fall - the plants grew about four inches high, and survived the entire winter. They are a black-seeded variety called Negreta from Territorial Seed, advertised as being early to mature and good for overwintering. They're supposed to have 10-inch long pods with 6-7 beans per pod! In the foreground are some Turkish Giant garlic and Gray Shallots which I also planted in fall; they sprouted and have been hanging out just like that all winter.