Honey Chocolate Fudge

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Healthy fudge!? For real? A few weeks ago Sprouted Kitchen started a Cooking Club. I like Sarah’s recipes and thought it would be fun to join, so I did. Each week she provides a shopping list and recipes for three meals and a snack. This is one of the snacks. As with most of her recipes it’s pretty healthy and made with natural ingredients. This is the second time I’ve made it. The first time I made it I used whole raw almonds, here I made it with toasted almond slivers. I definitely prefer toasted almonds.

It’s not exactly like fudge but similar and I like it better in a lot of ways. She said the recipe was created and inspired by Honey Mamas fudge which is made right here in Portland! You can check our their site to get some ideas on variations, adding coconut, peppermint or spices. Enjoy :)

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Honey Chocolate Fudge

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, well chopped

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds 

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch) or raw cacao, plus more for dusting

  • pinch of sea salt

  • 1/3 cup honey 

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate along the bottom of the pan. 

In a food processor or a strong blender, combine the almonds, cocoa powder and sea salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse sand, about 10 times. You want some crunchy bits of almonds. 

In a saucepan, combine the honey and coconut oil and bring it to a gentle boil. Stir to mix. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Add the almond mixture and the rice cereal into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Any extra add-ins would go in here (coconut, seeds or more nuts). Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the top and put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. Store refrigerated or a very cool place.

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Grilled Asparagus

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Last month for my birthday Jeff gave me the Toro Bravo cookbook. It’s an awesome book with lots of background stories told by John Gorham, creator of Toro Bravo, Tasty N Sons, and so much more here. He’s had a pretty interesting life and I read it cover to cover, which I normally don’t do with a cookbook. But he’s funny and talks about all the challenges of starting and running a restaurant. Within the first year, the Toro Bravo restaurant had a flood, a fire, and a burglary! So much drama. Anyways, I came across this recipe and it sounded good, plus I was able to use some of my Preserved Lemons. I always get excited when I can use them, and this is a staple in the Toro Bravo kitchen. If you are ever in Portland, this restaurant is a must. The food is spectacular, so much flavor and depth. It’s Spanish tapas style servings shared for the table, it’s fun to get dish after dish after dish, and just when you think you’ve had enough, one more.

This recipe has a lot of bold flavors, with preserved lemon, olives, pepper and Jamón. What the heck is Jamón? It’s a cured Spanish ham, it has intense flavor and it’s used sparingly in this dish. It’s also very expensive and I had to really dig to find this in the store, it was about $10 for 2 ounces. If you can’t find it you could substitute with bacon or even pepperoni, Jamón has that same intense flavor. Oh, here it is on Amazon if you want to splurge but I don’t think it’s necessary for the dish.

The asparagus is blanched before grilling which I recommend doing. I’ve grilled asparagus without blanching and get mixed results. The tips burn while the stalk is barely cooked. By blanching you only need to grill for a few minutes to get them charred and your done. 

Below is a half version of the recipe (a lot of the recipes are for huge portions!). This is a good side dish, or tapas dish for about 3-4 people. If you have a 6-8 just double up the recipe.

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Grilled Asparagus

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices Jamón, very finely julienned
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 Preserved lemon, pulp removed, skin julienned
  • 1 1/2 Calabrian chilis (or a few Mama Lil’s peppers)
  • 1/4 cup Marinated Olives

Start you grill. 

Snap each asparagus spear at the spot where it stops being woody and gets soft. Discard the woody parts. Peel the skin away from the lower part of the remaining asparagus. You want to peel about 1 1/2” of the bottom of your asparagus. 

Bring a gallon of water to a boil with 1/3 cup salt (this was for the original recipe which I’ve halved so you might not need this much water for 1 pound of asparagus). Once the water is boiling add the asparagus and boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the size. Remove the asparagus to a plate and let it cool.

In a medium saute pan over med-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and Jamón and cook, stirring constantly until nicely crisped, about 1 minute. Strain and discard the oil and set the Jamón aside. (as the Jamón sits it gets crisper)

Dry the asparagus, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, toss to coat.

Grill the asparagus until nicely charred, 3-4 minutes, and remove to a plate and set aside.

Put the butter in a medium saute pan and let it just get to browning, then add the preserved lemon skin and give the pan a good couple shakes. One the lemon turns a little white, and is starting to get crispy, after about 1-2 minutes, add the chilies, then the olives and give the pan another good shake. Stir and allow the mix to bloom for about 20 seconds.

Add the Jamón, shake and top the asparagus with the mix. Serve immediately.

Quick Pickled Green Beans + Bloody Mary

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Hi Folks. Hope everyone is having a great summer. I’m getting back to some quick pickling again. Not too long ago we bought a big bag of green beans, for potato salad and whatever else. But we couldn’t eat that many that fast so I decided to pickle what we had left. And I’m glad I did, they’re really good, makes a great garnish for a Bloody Mary so I posted that recipe as well. 

The ratio of green beans to liquid from the original recipe didn’t work out well, so I’ve made some notes in the recipe below that might be helpful. But don’t feel that you have to get everything super exact. After my second and third attempt I just started tossing a few things in here and there, adding the hot water and vinegar, it all works out, mostly, ha ha. I’m looking forward to trying this with other vegetables. One vegetable I’ve had pickled that I didn’t like was celery. The texture was too weird and it was hard to eat because it was so rubbery. I’ve had some excellent pickled mushrooms which I never thought I would like, but I do very much and plan on trying out some recipes. 

Initially I just photographed a plate of the pickled green beans, but it didn’t look very impressive, lol, then I remembered how good they were in a Bloody Mary so I whisked that together and I think the cocktail gives the green beans more visual appeal and context for photo styling purposes. 

Anything can look good!

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Quick Pickled Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups white vinegar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (1 for each jar)
  • A handful of fresh dill weed (and flowering dill seed if available)

Place the beans in canning jars (about 3 or 4 jars). Distribute the mustard seeds, crushed red pepper and dill among the jars evenly. Add a garlic clove to each jar. (I do it this way because when I worked from the original recipe, which was adding all these things to the pot, it was more difficult to distribute evenly in several containers)

In a pot, heat the vinegar and water to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the salt and sugar. Whisk until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Pour the liquid over the green beans. Add water to top off if needed (I ended up heating more vinegar and water because the ratios were way off, 1 lb of green beans is a lot!). Let cool, and then cover and place in the refrigerator. Allow the beans to pickle 24 hours before using. Pickled green beans will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

(Adapted from The Food Network)

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Bloody Mary

  • 6 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish 
  • A few drops worcestershire sauce
  • A few drops hot sauce
  • Fresh lemon and juice
  • 1.5 ounce vodka

In a glass whisk together tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, squeeze in juice of about a 1/4 lemon, stir and taste. (adjust as needed, I like 1 teaspoon horseradish but Jeff likes 1/2 teaspoon) It’s all about preferred taste, but this is what I like.  Add ice, garnish with lemon wedge and pickled green beans! Makes 1 drink.

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Preserved Lemon + Herb Focaccia

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And I’m back with a Preserved Lemon recipe! You might remember I preserved lemons in April and wanted to follow up with some ideas on how to use them. I’ve since added them to dishes like rice salad and they really add some great flavor. The lemons are super salty (even after rinsing) which makes me think I might have used too much salt, so something to keep in mind for next time. I got the idea for this Focaccia bread not too long ago. The bakery at my local grocery store makes this and wow, it’s incredible. It’s very flavorful, you can eat it on its own or with pasta or salad. For this recipe I used dried oregano, I wished I had used more so that it would look a little more “herby” for the photos.

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Preserved Lemon + Herb Focaccia

  • 2 cups warm water (105°-110°F)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • olive oil
  • Oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinsed, rinds chopped
  • kosher or sea salt for sprinkling over the top

 

Preheat oven to 425°F

Put the yeast in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the warm water. Add the salt and 2 cups of the flour, mix into a soft and sticky dough. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix well. (The dough will be sticky)

In a large bowl add olive oil, enough to cover interior of bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover the dough with some olive oil. Cover and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Press out the dough on a well oiled baking sheet. Using your fingers, shape into a rectangle approximately 9”x13”.

Add olive oil to the top of the dough, poking the bread surface and leaving little pools of oil. Do this all over the bread. Don't skimp; this will result in great flavor after the bread is baked.

Top with the preserved lemon and oregano and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

 

Adapted from The View from Great Island

Coconut Cake

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Wouldn’t you know. On Jeff’s Birthday I’m ready to make this cake and… the oven is broken. It won’t heat and it’s only three years old! Luckily I had only prepared the cake pans while attempting to preheat the oven, so it wasn’t a total loss. We had an extended warranty on the stove but even with that it took a couple weeks to be resolved. Like it didn’t work when the repairman showed up, then it did and he left unsure of what was wrong, and then it didn’t again so he came back the next week after ordering parts. Turns out the ignitor needed replacing. Anyway, back to cake! I changed a few things but mostly stuck to this recipe. The original recipe says to buy a coconut and drill holes in it, bake it, crack it and all sorts of crazy stuff I didn’t want to do, so I just bought coconut cream and milk in cans at the market. It came out great. Really great. The texture of the cake is perfect, it has a nice density to it. The flavor is exactly what you would want. I read the reviews on the cake and one of the biggest complaints was the frosting, that it tasted too much like marshmallow, and I knew I didn’t want that super sweet stuff, so I made a version of the frosting I made last year for Jeff’s Birthday Cake with Mascarpone and whipped cream. Last time I ran short on frosting, so for this recipe I doubled it, then I went lightly frosting the layers (as you can see), but I ended up with so much leftover! I was concerned about running out, but believe me you can pile on the frosting between layers and have plenty for the top and sides. This is a delicious cake and well worth making.

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Coconut Cake

  • Butter, for cake pan
  • 14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • Coconut flakes 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and then flour the pans. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate, they will be easier to slice. While the cakes are chilling prepare the frosting (recipe below) Assemble: Cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers.  Frost each layer with a generous amount, then top with coconut flakes.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Beat together all ingredients in a stand mixer for a couple minutes until fluffy. 

Adapted from Alton Brown

Smoked Pork Tacos

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You might remember last year we purchased a smoker grill after the bacon making class. Since then we’ve used it for chicken and vegetables, but this is the first time trying a slow smoked pork shoulder. The Kamado ceramic style smoker grill we have is difficult for low and slow cooking, but we do it anyway. The pork should be cooked around 225°F, and we did all we could to keep the temperature below 300°F. Our 7 lb pork shoulder was done in 6 hours, and it really should have taken 7-10 hours. Regardless it tasted amazing. Below is the Bobby Flay recipe I used. I didn’t make the slaw he suggested but I’ve included it below, so I can’t really comment on the taste for that. The slaw I made was pretty simple: shredded cabbage, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, chopped jalapeño and salt. The longer you let it sit the better it tastes. Well that was our Cinco De Mayo last weekend, these tacos and margaritas! The pork tastes awesome and I would recommend this recipe. :)

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Slow Smoked Pork Shoulder with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Queso Fresco

Smoked Pork Shoulder

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 or 2 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 5 pounds)
  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Napa Cabbage Slaw, recipe follows
  • Hot sauce
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco

Slaw

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

Special equipment: 2 cups wood chips (hickory or apple), soaked in water 30 minutes

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the thyme, garlic, onions, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, orange juice, lime juice, 1/2 water and chipotle, and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. Put the pork in a large pan and pour over the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat a charcoal grill for indirect heat and place the soaked wood chips on top of the coals.

Place the pork on the grill, cover and let smoke until the temperature inside the grill is 220 degrees F. Add chips as necessary to continue smoking until the internal temperature of the pork reaches140 degrees F. Then just let the pork finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches about 190 degrees F. This can take about 5 hours. Let the pork rest 30 minutes.

Shred the pork and serve in the warm tortillas topped with some Napa Cabbage Slaw, hot sauce, fresh cilantro leaves and queso fresco.

Napa Cabbage Slaw:

Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, oil and celery seeds until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the green onions and serrano chiles. Place the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Add the dressing and the queso fresco, and toss to combine.

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Preserved Lemons

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One night last week we walked over to Wilder for happy hour. One of the things we ordered was Fried Green Beans with spicy remoulade, and on top of the green beans laid a few slices of fried Preserved Lemons, and, wow, that’s what got me wanting to make them. The flavor is intense! Super rich lemony flavor, and not tart, they’re really amazing. Eating them on their own is a bit much, even when fried like french fries, so they’re mostly used to enhance flavors in salads, tabouli or fish.

I’m looking forward to using these in the next few weeks (they need to sit for 3-4 weeks, most people say 4 weeks) I’m going with the most basic recipe here. I’ve seen other recipes that add sugar, sometimes fresh herb or peppercorns. And from what I’ve read they will last a very long time refrigerated, some say a year, some say forever! But something tells me they won’t sit forever in the fridge. A couple things to keep in mind:

Salt. I did a little research on what kind of salt to use. I have Morton kosher salt and Mrs. Wages Pickling Salt, and everyone seems to say to use a kosher salt or any salt free of iodine, which can inhibit fermentation, so you won’t want to use basic table salt. I went with Mrs. Wages pickling salt since I still have quite a bit left from my pickling adventures. Also, the amount of salt? I’ve seen anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1 cup for a one quart jar. I ended up using 1/2 cup and I think a lot depends on the kind of salt you use, kosher is more granular so you would probably want to use more of that than pickling or a finer salt. 

Lemons. Many people recommend Meyer lemons, but you can use any kind of lemon, I would recommend using organic since you’ll be eating the peel. I used six large lemons, four for preserving in jar and two for additional juice.

See you in a few weeks with maybe a Moroccan dish! I’m looking forward to it.

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Preserved Lemons

  • 6 large Organic Lemons (or 8-9 Meyer Lemons)
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt (see notes above)

Sterilize a 1 quart canning jar. Fill jar with boiling water and let sit at least 10 minutes, then discard water. 

Trim the ends off lemons then slice the lemons into quarters.

Add 1/4 cup of salt to bottom of jar, add 2 or 3 slices of lemon, mash them with wooden spoon until they become soft and release their juice. Add a teaspoon or two of salt and then add more lemons, then more salt. Continue adding lemons, mashing and salting until jar is full. Top with more lemon juice if needed.

Ferment at room temperature for a couple days, giving the jar a shake here and there. Then refrigerate. In a few days, the salt will draw out enough juice to cover the lemons, add more lemon juice if needed. They will be ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks. They can be kept refrigerated up to 1 year.

Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

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Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread. That’s some alliteration there.I wasn’t planning on posting this but it came out so good I decided to take a few photos and share the recipe here. The brown butter adds such a great flavor, I’m not sure I would make banana bread any other way. The bourbon adds even more richness making this recipe a keeper. This is my second post with this awesome Cast Iron Loaf Pan I bought recently, it bakes very evenly and it has handles! And it’s cute!

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Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350° F. and butter a loaf pan. (I used 5”x9”)

Place the 1/2 cup of butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Continue to melt butter for a few minutes until it starts turning brown and smells good! Set aside to cool.    

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl beat together the eggs and sugars until well combined, then add the bananas, yogurt, brown butter, bourbon and vanilla, whisking until all combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with wooden spoon until combined. Spoon into loaf pan and smooth out the top. 

Bake 40-45 minutes, it will be done when knife placed in center of loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes. 

Adapted from Food52

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Dill Rye Bread

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It’s strange. I forgot that I had wanted to make this bread back in late January and just now found the text doc I started, which was a week before my mother became ill with pneumonia. I was writing about this bread, how she discovered it on a trip to California in the 1970s and brought back a loaf in her suitcase. It wasn’t something she could find in Connecticut and really loved it. The words I wrote just a few weeks ago couldn't possibly express the emotions that I feel now that she’s gone. 

I’m going through a lot of… I should have called her more, I should have visited her more, and just missing her so much. While I’m experiencing the sadness of losing her, it’s left me with a greater appreciation for family and friends, and life in general. This post is for my sweet Mom who introduced me to Dill Rye Bread.

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Dill Rye Bread

  • 8 oz rye flour (2 cups)
  • 12 oz all-purpose flour (almost 3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 15 oz water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill weed

In a large bowl combine flours, yeast, salt, dill and caraway seeds. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with towel and let rest about 15 minutes.

Place the dough in a cast-iron loaf pan, cover with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Score the dough down the middle. Bake about 45 minutes until loaf is browned and internal temp reaches 190°F. Cool on a rack about an hour before slicing.

While looking for ideas for an open faced sandwich with rye bread I came across the Danish Smorrebrod here. Pictured above, I layered the rye slices with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, sliced cucumber and fresh dill. It tastes amazing on this bread.

Mushroom Lasagna

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This Mushroom Lasagna is absolutely delicious. It’s the second time I’ve made it and even changing the types of mushrooms and cheese did not disappoint. I saw the recipe about two years ago on Adventures in Cooking and finally gave it a try. Mushroom, cheese and pasta generally are a good combination, still sometimes things sound good but are just meh. Not this time. It was wow! it’s so good! And it makes quite a bit too, even with four people we had leftover. It’s even better the second day.

I shopped at Trader Joe’s knowing they would have better prices on the cheese, but I would sacrifice mushroom selection. The last time I made this Mushroom Lasagna I had shopped at Whole Foods, and the selection for Ricotta cheese was slim, I had the choice to fork over $7 for one container (and you need two for this recipe), or get the low fat version at around $4+. They were all out of the 365 brand, and this seems to be an ongoing problem with Whole Foods lately, the shelves are bare! They started a new inventory system called order-to-shelf (OTS), which was designed and implemented a year ago (long before Amazon purchased them, so don’t blame Amazon as tempting as it is), the new system is good in that it’s cost-cutting, and will help prevent food spoilage from excess inventory going bad in the storage room, but damn, if you look at some of those photos, I haven’t seen it that bad here in Portland but I have experienced times where some fairly basic items normally in stock are just not there. Mostly in produce, like where’s the parsley? Hopefully now that it’s had some press Amazon will do something about this. 

The recipe is very forgiving in that you can add whatever mushrooms or cheese you have. The original recipe used a sharp cheddar, which I did the first time, but then I opted for Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio on the second time. Both were delicious so you can mix up whatever kind of shredded cheese you want.

When this came out of the oven yesterday it smelled so amazing, but then I thought, no way was this going on the blog, it just looked like a big heap of stuff in my old ugly-ass pyrex dish, but a day later and a few food styling tweaks, it looked presentable. There are certain foods, dishes, that really don’t lend themselves to sexy food. For example, raw mushroom, sexy! Cooked mushroom, er, um, cover me up please. I took some photos of the sliced mushrooms cooking on the stove and it looked so unappetizing I didn’t include it here. Smelled great though.

By the way, January marks my five year anniversary with Pixels + Crumbs blog. And guess what, my very first post was a mushroom post! Mushroom Soup. I remember how I labored over it, the whole thing seemed to take forever and I wondered if I’d gotten myself into something a bit crazy. It’s like hours of cooking, hours of food styling, photos and editing and writing. Well the writing gets a bit short because I’m completely burnt out at that point, ha ha. But I’ve kept this blog alive after five years. I don’t post as much as I used to, now it’s more of a monthly post, but I can’t seem to let it go. 

See you next month and thanks for stopping by.

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Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Layer

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ounces chantarelles, chopped (all mushrooms will work, I used only white button mushrooms and Crimini and it tasted great)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Cheese Layers

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 30 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves chopped (or dried, but tastes better with fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound (12 oz bag)  white cheddar, grated (or mixed cheeses)

Lasagna Layers

  • 9 sheets dried lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil on bottom of pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch black pepper

For the mushroom layer, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sautee onion and garlic in the butter until softened and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and olive oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the white wine. Cook until most of the liquid is gone for an additional 5 minutes or so. Remove the mushrooms and onion, place in a small bowl and set aside to cool.

For the cheese layer, add 1/4 cup butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add the flour, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until a roux forms. Place the roux in a large bowl and add the ricotta cheese, milk, thyme, sage, oregano, black pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Toss the quartered crimini mushrooms with the olive oil and salt in a medium bowl and set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place some of the lasagna noodles in the water and allow to cook until slightly bendable, about 3-4 minutes, working in batches as necessary. Remove with tongs and place three of the noodles on the bottom of a roughly 9 x 13-inch rectangular casserole dish, keeping them in a flat even layer.

Spread 1/4 of the sautéed mushroom mixture over the noodles, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheddar cheese. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta mixture over the cheddar, then place 3 to 4 noodles in an even layer on top of the ricotta. Repeat until you have used all of the sautéed mushrooms, cheddar, and ricotta, but do not place noodles over the top and final layer of ricotta. Instead, evenly distribute the quartered mushrooms over the top and sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper. Place the pan on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook until the cheese is bubbly around the edges and the mushrooms on top have turned a deep brown and wrinkled, about 45-50 minutes. 

Adapted from Adventures in Cooking