Archive for August, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Creamy Spanish Rice with Mushrooms, Artichokes and Tomatoes from Andrea's Recipes

Photo Credit: Andrea's RecipesOne of the best trends I’ve seen coming out of food blogging this year are the clubs that encourage members to recreate a recipe from a favorite chef on a weekly basis.  Tuesdays with Dorie and Barefoot Bloggers make good examples as members opt in to take turns choosing from the recipes of Dorie Greenspan and Ina Garten respectively.  A group that encourages weekly posts from bloggers with a backbone is the Daring Bakers, of which this week’s honoree Andrea’s Recipes is a member.

They challenge themselves and they grow as a group.  It’s more than an excuse, it’s an approach to the kitchen that requires a fearless approach to delicious and offering support when needed.  This gorgeous Spanish rice and it’s delectable browned mushrooms caught my eye and I thought it was high time I give these groups their due.  They encourage an attitude of invention in a community of cooks- what could be better?

Day-Starter: Mushroom Omelet from Simply Breakfast

simply breakfastSimply Breakfast is one of those blogs that’s just easy to love. Every day a photo of breakfast is posted, nothing more and nothing less. The photos themselves have a bit of poetry to them and I like the straightforward approach and inspiration toward my oft-forgotten meal. This looked to divine not to share.

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

Gourmet Mushrooms recalls Julia Child’s visit to a California farm Have you see the newly released movie Julie and Julia, which features Meryl Streep acting as Julia Childs? It’s a great flick for everyone but especially us foodies. The Packer reports on Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. reminiscence about the real Julia Child’s visit to their farm. Check out what she has to say in the article above.

Mushroom cap pizzas FOX 4 in Kansas City offers some great recipe ideas for the remainder of the summer, including mushroom cap pizzas, cucumber slices and vegetable kabobs. Let’s get cooking!

New research shows vitamin D slashes risk of cancers by 77 percent Thrilling new research conducted at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska has revealed that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium can reduce your risk of cancer by an astonishing 77 percent. That’s right 77 percent! This includes breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer and other forms of cancer.

Mushrooms great health benefits and recipe ideas Mushrooms offer great health benefits and there are several ways to incorporate them into your every day recipes. Examiner reports on some great research, including Penn State research that found mushrooms, from the humble button to the giant Portabella, harbor large amounts of an antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. It has been suggested that compounds in mushrooms may do everything from bolster immune function to suppress breast and prostate cancers to decrease tumor size. Check out some of their recipe ideas too, it’s time to load up on mushrooms!

Recipe: Savory mushrooms and polenta In need of a healthy recipe? This dish was created and tested by the Chicago Tribune and truly offers great nutrition without sacrificing on taste! Even better, with less than 10 ingredients you’re sure to wow guests or your family with this easy to prepare meal.

Portabella mushrooms don’t have to play second fiddle Food Buzz is buzzing about the wonderful fungi, mushrooms! Fresh and healthy mushrooms can do more than play on the sidelines of a dish, as a matter of fact they can be the all-star player on the plate. Portabella mushrooms, for instance, can be marinated and grilled, or you can stuff them with spinach or crab dip and bake them. The Mushroom Council offers dozens of recipes at, such as the one here. Get the kids to come up with variations on toppings. Recipe to try: Portabella Skins.

Recipe of the Week: Mamaliga's Turkey Mushroom Burger

Photo Credit: MamaligaThis was Mamaliga‘s submission for Wordless Wednesday.  As you can see, Gabi’s creation is something I’m going to have a tough time remaining wordless about.  It’s beautiful. And it’s proof that people can have their meat and mushrooms too.  I took the following description of what’s so mouthwateringly pictured above from Gabi’s Flickr page:

Turkey burger filled with sauteed mushrooms, grilled egg-plant, Portobello mushroom, red-pepper and aioli.”

See my favorite parts in bold. This is a masterpiece and Gabi has even volunteered (if you go over and comment nicely) to break his wordless vow and share the recipe. Or at least more gorgeous photos.

As an unrelated aside, it appears that Gabi may know a thing or two about  guitars so I plan on asking him what I should listen too while I eat my inevitable recreation of his epiphany. The Assad Brothers are favorites on  my current cooking soundtrack so I see this leading somewhere good.

A Perfect Opportunity:Carla Hall Talks Life Post-Top Chef and Garlicky Mushrooms

Carla HallSince Top Chef ended, I’m often asked “So what are you doing now?”  I’m asked even at my catering events.  So, yes, I am still catering to businesses and homes with love-filled food, but I was doing that before the show.  Most folks want to know how the show has changed my life.  What opportunities have come my way?  Am I going to open a restaurant?  Am I going to be on another show? To the surprise of some or possibly the disappointment of others, a restaurant is not going to be on the horizon, but I’m looking at ways to make my food accessible to those of you who aren’t looking to have a catered event.  Another show?  I don’t know.

In the midst of staying sane while my catering business grew exponentially, seemingly overnight, all sorts of other opportunities were falling into my lap.  Sorting through them was the key.   A girl’s gotta have standards, right?  One opportunity that I didn’t think twice about was working with The Mushroom Council.  My job was to create an original recipe using mushrooms, and in the process help re-educate consumers about the nutritional, economical and versatile properties of mushrooms.  Are you kidding me?  I’m going to get paid for playing with food that I like?  For sharing my own mushroom tales?  Okay, so that’s my job as a chef, but I’m still pinching myself.  The recipe I created was Garlicky Mushroom Hearts with Sweet Potato Poblano Hash.  Sweet, spicy, southern goodness using button mushrooms was what I was going for in this dish.  Paired with an easy-going nutritionist, Heidi Gengler, who educates while telling great stories, I was on a plane, before I knew it, heading to Meredith Publications in Des Moines, Iowa.

If you’ve never had a reason to go to Des Moines, I would put Meredith Publications on the list, right up there with Des Moines’ farmer’s market.  NICE.  The backdrop for our presentation was a gorgeous, light-filled and comfortable kitchen.  Our audience was several magazine editors, and I simply had a ball.  Afterwards, I asked Heidi if our experience was the norm.  A bigger question inside was “Will I always choose the right and perfect opportunities?”

Garlicky Mushroom Hearts over Sweet Potato and Poblano Hash

Serves: 4

carla-flipping-mushrooms-in-skilletCooking Time: 10 minutes


  • 6 large white mushrooms
  • 6 large crimini mushrooms
  • Olive oil spray
  • Splash white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  • 1 poblano pepper, finely diced
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, finely diced and blanched (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1 cup spinach, julienned

Trim the stem of each mushroom flush with the cap; cut a small piece to flatten each top.  Trim the sides to create a cylinder shape.  (Reserve mushroom scraps for mushroom stock or another recipe.)

Heat large skillet to high heat, spray with olive oil. Place mushrooms topside down in pan.  Lightly season with salt and pepper. Allow mushrooms to brown before turning them over. Brown on all sides.  Add a splash of white wine and garlic. Shake to distribute and cook until pan is dry. Remove mushrooms and set aside on a plate.

Using the same large skillet, heat to medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and poblanos. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Sauté until poblanos are just tender, about 2 minutes.  Remove and set aside in a small bowl.  Bring pan to high heat; add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sweet potatoes. Lightly season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with paprika and garlic. Allow potatoes to brown. Toss, then let sit again, about 2 minutes. Add scallions, parsley and poblanos and toss. Top with mushrooms and serve immediately. Reheat mushrooms if necessary.

Garnish with sautéed spinach.

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Carla’s take on “Flexitarianism“!