Saturday, January 5, 2019

Dijonnaise Sauce

I may have to rename this sauce, because even though it's not on the West Coast anymore (that I can find) apparently Hellman's/BestFoods still makes and markets this. I can't think of a better more apt name at the moment though.

This is really simple.
Mix 2/3 cup of good quality Mayo (for me this means Best Foods) with 1/3 cup of good coarse ground dijon mustard. Put in a jar and use on darn near anything.

How to "Peel" Mushrooms (and general mushroom tips)

Have you ever been to a general grocery where the mushrooms all look dirty? Been told that you should never wash mushrooms because they soak up water? Want to know how to find a happy balance between these two extremes?  I'll teach you.

If you didn't already know, mushrooms are mostly water like watermelon, so keep them tightly wrapped with cling wrap with no air circulation if you want them to hang around longer. Also, because they are largely water (and fungal spores) anything going *bad* in your refrigerator will KILL your mushrooms and reduce them into a spotted, nasty slimy mess!! So clean out your icebox and wipe the shelves down with soap and water or even a *mild* disinfectant before bringing mushrooms home. Or, you know, while you're putting them away...just don't leave them in there with that gunk.

For an example of what I mean by a *mild* disinfectant, say a 1 gal bucket with no more than a shot-glass full of bleach. Maybe 1/2 a shot glass. Just enough to kill germs without making *any* lasting smell of bleach. Remember, mushrooms are fungus, and bleach kills fungus! If you use any other disinfectant, like one based on Thyme oil, adjust accordingly (i.e. don't use a shot glass, dilute from what's listed on the label.) If you use commercial disinfectant wipes, try wiping down behind it with a paper towel and water. The disinfectant has done its job of killing germs, but you don't want it to go to work killing your mushrooms!!

Now, to 'peel' mushrooms is very simple, although some people have a little bit of a learning curve and it takes them a time or two until they get the hang of it (my hubby for example.)

Turn on your sink with just a slight stream of water. Not large enough to soak or waterlog the mushrooms, but enough to provide lubrication. Hold the mushroom in the water stem-up and cap-down, and slide your finger at a slightly diagonal angle just at the edge of the cap where the cap meets the stem, and pull down towards the middle of the cap (underneath.) If on the first swipe it doesn't catch the top membrane of the cap, add a *little* more pressure to your sweep until you gain traction and the top layer peels up.

Try not to pell it all the way to the middle of the cap, for the same reason you can't always peel a sticker off a bottle - it tears. You should be able to get the top membrane to pull back to about the curve of the cap, then do this all the way around the edge of the cap until you have a frill all the way around. Once you have this frill, then you can work the entire peel down to the middle of the cap, and pull it off in more-or-less one piece. Sometimes it leaves a tiny bit in the middle, you can try and rub with your thumb and get it off, or just wash it well and leave it.

After you have all your mushrooms 'peeled' this way, cut the dry ends off the stems (or remove stems entirely, your call) and you're ready to cut them up for salads, saute, deep-fry, stir-fry... The list goes on.

Notes:

  • For people who love mushrooms but can't get over how they're grown, this will remove the surface that touched the growing medium, in addition to removing the stems, so eat happily. 
  • Doing this to your mushrooms removes the protective layer that keeps them from drying out so even a few hours out on the counter or in the icebox after this and these will look very unappealing. Best to do this right before cooking. 
  • This is a *great* way to display white, pristine mushrooms as an appetizer on a buffet or potluck table. But remember they will dry out fairly quickly. Cover tightly with cling wrap if you need to hold them for a few hours, but I don't suggest overnight. You could try if desperate...
  • Try this on other kinds of cap-based mushrooms like Portabellos if you want to reduce the water content slightly before cooking. For example, if using an indoor grill and you want to reduce the water drip and create a slightly more 'crispy' or 'grilled' surface texture. 
  • Brown colored mushrooms, like Crimini, are white underneath. 
  • Did you know? Button mushrooms, Crimini (also sometimes called "Baby Portabello") and large Portabello mushrooms are all the same variety of mushroom? White Button mushrooms are picked earliest, and the others are just left longer to grow meatier and darker. Who Knew!?!
  • If you really, really can't get the finger thing to work, cut a green non-stick style scrubbing pad into small squares about 2" square, and lightly scrub the dirt off the mushroom. you might try using the scrubby to catch the side of the membrane instead of your finger, although I recommend using the finger method once it does catch if possible to avoid digging into the meat too much.
  • Fresher mushrooms seem to peel best. The freshest mushrooms have the membrane still touching the stem. As they age, the membrane starts to pull back to release the mushroom spores inside, because, well, that's how we get more mushrooms! The little gills inside are very fragile, so try to avoid touching them or getting too much water directly inside the cap. Shake any excess water out after peeling. 
  • The older the mushrooms get, the more 'slime' the surface gets, making it harder to peel, and the more the meat seems to tear a bit and come up unevenly, causing the peeled mushroom to have a kind of striped effect. Not so bad in a saute, but not very appealing in a salad or appetizer plate. 

Mushroom, Ham and Swiss Omelet with Dijonnaise sauce


So, some mornings I feel a little fancy. Instead of making just a plain old cheese omelet, I want something a little different. And if I have a bit of produce in the refrigerator, I like to play around with some veggies in my food.

This morning, in addition to feeling a little fancy, my morning medication wasn't sitting on my tummy very well. So I whipped this up and paired it with a little Superfood juice, and my tummy is much happier. Sorry, I don't have pics, as I still don't have a good camera.

3 slices (square) of thin sliced swiss cheese.
3 slices of smoked ham lunchmeat, diced (squares) [Leftover ham will do nicely as well.)
8 whole white mushrooms, peeled and stemmed
2 large eggs (or 3 egg whites if you prefer)
Salt, Pepper, garlic, cilantro or parsley, to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons of salted dairy butter
2 T Dijonnaise Sauce

First, wash, peel, and stem the mushrooms, slice thinly.
Cut up the ham.

Heat a small-ish fry pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of butter and quickly spread around until it melts and immediately add the sliced mushrooms. Saute until water is gone and mushrooms start to get a nice golden color. Don't leave too wet or it will make your omelet drippy. As soon as the mushrooms are done, you can scoop them out into the same bowl as your ham and stir together if you like. (See notes below.)

Quick Tips:

  • Never add milk to your eggs, and never pre-scramble them. 
  • The milk does nothing to break up the parts of the egg and just adds water content (which as it steams *seems* to make the eggs fluffier, but when it's all done just makes it all wetter - same with water) and makes it more prone to stick to the pan because of the milk solids.
  • Pre-scrambling the eggs just gives the eggs time to go flat. The whole purpose of whipping them up is to get them fluffy with air bubbles trapped inside the viscus egg mixture, but if you do this ahead of time, those bubbles escape. Better to whip your eggs just before they hit the pan.
  • For better results, use a small wire whisk. 
  • For even *better* results, use a small hand-held blender! 

Turn the heat down to medium on your burner as soon as you take the mushrooms out. If the pan still has a reasonable coating of buttery oil, you can try to put the eggs in at this point, but I recommend adding the other 1/2 T butter. swirl around so the pan is coated completely, even a little up the sides. Whip the eggs vigorously and put them in the pan quickly before the butter gets too hot. DO NOT let your butter smoke and burn.

Swirl the eggs around the sides, pull the middle in a little with a fork, pop any large bubbles that form in the middle, and when the wet egg won't roll around anymore, you can add the seasonings. Also about this time, you want to give the pan a good hard shake or three to make sure the eggs aren't sticking to the pan. Use a very flat, thin turner/spatula to unstick any spots, but DO NOT try and turn it over. Unless you have a spatula the width of the entire pan, then hey, you do you. But it's really not necessary. The eggs will cook, have faith.

Layer two of the squares of cheese side-by-side *near* the middle of the pan, but move them closer to one side, as long as the corners of the cheese don't overlap or touch the sides of the pan. Layer the ham and mushrooms over the top of the cheese.

Now, from here you have two options.
Put the other slice of cheese in here cut in half over the ham/mushroom mixture with the sauce atop
{OR}
Put the Dijonnaise in here and put the last slice of cheese on top

I did the second, and I think I might have preferred the first.
The reason for this is that the Dijonnaise overwhelmed the delicate flavors of the mushrooms, although it *did* enhance and blend very well with the ham. The outside was a little bland with just the swiss cheese on top, and I think I'd have liked the Dijonnaise thinned with just the tiniest amount of milk to make a nice glaze of sorts for the outside. It still would have mixed with the ham as you take a bite, but the initial bite would have had more flavor. Maybe next time.

Notes:
This would also be really super good with the Bearnaise or Hollandaise sauce on top!! Although with that I think I'd only use 1 T of the Dijonnaise and mix it with the mushrooms and ham before I add it to the omelet! Mmmmmm, I love experiments!

Happy eating!





Monday, December 31, 2018

Neiman-Marcus Cookies


Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, a staple of the downtown Portland holiday season was the decorations put up by the Neiman-Marcus department store. Their cookies were famous, and as you can see, made in huge batches. If you have a lot of gift-giving to do, this is a great recipe.


2 cups butter
24 oz. chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar, and nuts. Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.


Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Makes 112 cookies.  (Recipe may be halved)

Witches' Brooms


1/2       cup packed brown sugar
1/2       cup butter or margarine, softened
2          Tablespoons water
1          teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2   cups flour
1/8       teaspoon salt
10        pretzel rods, about 8 1/2 inches long, cut crosswise in half
2          teaspoons shortening
2/3       cup semisweet chocolate chipsButterscotch-flavored chips, melted


1.  Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix brown sugar, butter, water and vanilla in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt. Shape dough into twenty 1 1/4-inch balls.

2.  Place pretzel rod halves on ungreased cookie sheet. Press ball of dough onto cut end of each pretzel rod. Press dough with a fork to resemble "bristles" of a broom.

3.  Bake about 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes

4.  Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place brooms on waxed paper. Heat shortening and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth; remove from heat. Spoon melted chocolate over brooms, leaving about 1 inch at top of pretzel handle and bottom halves of cookie bristles uncovered. Drizzle with melted butterscotch chips. Let stand until
chocolate is set.