Tag Archives: mushrooms

Party time

28 Jun

Today was another fun catering gig. It’s getting more and more exciting getting these parties to cook for really makes me feel like culinary school was worthwhile. Today was a Christening for 75 at my client’s house. The menu was changed and debated more times than I’d care to discuss, but the end product was fantastic.

The menu was simple:

Veggies and Hummus

Carrots, celery, red peppers and cucumber with hummus

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichokes in a creamy Parmesan sauce served with baguette and pita chips

Stuffed Mushrooms

Baby portabellos stuffed with crab, spinach, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese

and a vegetarian option with herbs, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese

Cucumber Sandwiches

Thinly sliced cucumber with herbed borsin cheese on white bread

Napa Chicken Salad

Poached chicken with grapes, celery, and walnuts in a creamy herb dressing. Served on sourdough bread

Spanish Style Ham Sandwiches

Ham and manchego cheese with roasted red peppers and garlic aioli on italian bread

Americana Turkey Wraps

Turkey, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese wrapped with a cranberry mayo

Spinach Salad

Baby Spinach with strawberries, candied walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles with a poppy seed vinaigrette

Caprese Pasta Salad

Curly pasta with basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and red onion with a balsamic dressing


Pineapple, coconut, marshmallow, and orange segments tossed in a sweet dressing

I was a little nervous about this party. I had just come off of another party that had a very different execution. You know when you do the same things over and over how they become second nature? Well, in my business nothing really repeats itself.

I feel like every time I do a party I learn something else and every time it’s a new experience. It really is a great thing. I know I’ll never get bored dealing with new clients or seeing the looks on people’s faces when they taste the food. Anyway that’s a tangent I could take all day.

The party started for me the night before making some of the salads and dressings. I finished things the next morning at the client’s house and had my timing just right. The biggest hit at the party were the stuffed mushrooms, and the ham sandwiches. Here are the recipes:

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 pound crab meat (I use leg meat)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 3 more for drizzling
2 pints button mushrooms, stems removed

Combine all the ingredients except the mushrooms in a bowl. Stuff each mushroom with the filling and press down. Arrange the mushroom caps on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The secret to the ham sandwiches was the mayo. It was a garlic and smoked paprika mayo. Although I didn’t make the mayo base, I did roast the peppers and the garlic. And it made all the difference. This was layered with ham off the bone and manchego cheese and was packaged on ciabatta bread. Not only did they fly off the platter, people were asking for more. Too bad my clients wanted more chicken salad and less of everything else!

I can’t wait for the next party and more opportunities to have fun cooking!

Always thinking of the next meal (and party)


Mushroom Paté, up the anti a bit

5 Apr

Mushroom paté isn’t any everyday thing. It can’t be. After all, mushrooms can be expensive. Think not? Well truffles are mushrooms aren’t they? So enough preaching already. Paté is typically a delicious combination of fat, meat, vegetables and seasoning that is cooked in a pot or a terrine. My mushroom paté is a little different… if you are a frequent reader of my blog, you might remember a post I did a few months ago about duxelles. The mushroom paté is similar to that but with distinct differences.

The key to good paté is fat and seasoning. My version is vegetarian so the fat I’m using is olive oil. I use a bright peppery olive oil from California. This is one of those recipes where the higher the quality of the ingredients, the better the paté will taste. If you prefer Italian olive oil use that just make sure it’s extra virgin olive oil.

Mushroom Paté

4 oz shitake mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz cremini mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 large garlic cloves, rough chopped
1/4 cup yellow onions, rough chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon truffle salt
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
1/2 cup marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add a tablespoon of the oil. Add in half the thyme, the garlic and onions. Let cook until translucent and add in the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes add in another tablespoon of oil and stir it in. Let the mushrooms cook for another 5 minutes and then add in the marsala. Let the marsala reduce and add the rest of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature and add in the rest of the olive oil and truffle salt. Serve chilled on crostini.

I’m serving this at a wine tasting that I’m hosting this coming Friday. Mushrooms pair great with wine because they bring out the earthiness of reds and tone down the acidity of whites.

I’ll let you know the verdict

Always thinking of the next meal


Marvelous Mushrooms

19 Feb

Mushrooms are amazing. They are so versatile. They are endless is variety and fantastic of flavor. The tastes can range from mild and meaty to intense and luxurious. Some mushrooms, like the truffle, are prized culinary ingredients. But mushroom can really add interesting complexity to any dish. I like to let mushrooms shine and but them in the fore front of a dish.

My standard mushroom of choice is the cremini or baby bella. These are great mushrooms to cook with or to eat raw. The hold up well to any cooking technique and and lots of flavor to soups and sauces. Although sometimes considered a base mushroom to support bigger flavors from more expensive mushrooms like porcini or morels, cremini mushrooms can also stand on their own. They are great to stuff and to marinate. While button mushrooms tend to be a little less expensive than creminis, their flavor is pretty non-existent.

One of my favorite dishes is chicken marsala. While it doesn’t give it away in the name, this is a very mushroom forward dish. The mushrooms are complemented well by the sweet, fortified wine and the richness of the butter. Actually you can make this dish with chicken, pork, beef or even tofu. You can even take the sauce and combine it with ricotta cheese and stuff ravioli with it. It’s a simple recipe, but it is so rich and satisfying.

Chicken Marsala
serves 2

2 6 oz portions of chicken
2 cups cremini mushrooms sliced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional

Heat a sauté pan and add in oil. Season chicken and sear in the pan. Let cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add mushrooms to the pan and let cook. Don’t move the pan. Seriously, let the mushrooms brown and without moving the pan. After a minute or so stir the mushrooms and then let cook without moving the pan for another minute. When the mushrooms are brown, add in the marsala wine and garlic. Let the wine reduce by half and add the chicken back to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat and plate the chicken leaving the mushrooms in the pan. Add in the butter and swirl until the butter is incorporated into the wine sauce. If you want to add the cream, do it now. Pour over the chicken and serve.

This whole meal will take about 15 -20 minutes. Delightful! Pairs with red and white wine, but I prefer a merlot or carmenere.

Always thinking of the next meal