Archive for January, 2012

Behind the Scenes at a Mushroom Council Photo Shoot

The Mushroom Council recently invited photographer Jen Moran to document a dozen new recipes. Take a look at her behind the scenes shots and commentary on these mushroom meals!

I love mushrooms! They have a fantastic array of flavors, taste meaty without any fat, and can be cultivated and harvested in a sustainable way. On top of all this, they are very versatile and can be used in many recipes as a favorful, nutrient rich ingredient. So, when asked to photgraph a dozen new recipes for the Mushroom Council, I replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes, please tell me more!” The result was a delicious culinary and photographic adventure and I’ve shared a few highlights below.

Ingredients for our adventure

One of my favorite recipes was the Mushroom Orzo with Parsley, Lemon Zest and Olive Oil. First of all, the shapes of the enoki and oyster mushrooms were fun to photograph! After the photo shoot, we all just had to try a bowl. WOW! The lemon and parsley give it the most refreshing taste and I’m pretty sure we all had seconds!

Mushroom Orzo with Parsley, Lemon Zest and Olive Oil

Enoki mushrooms

In the next recipe, mushrooms were used discreetly in meatballs, or albondigas. We made plenty of these and shared them with our crew and family. Even if you don’t like mushrooms, you’ll love this dish! Developed by a nutritionist to lower fat and boost health benefits, this is a great affordable choice for an omnivorous crowd. You wouldn’t know mushrooms were in here unless you had the recipe!

Cremini and Pork Albondigas with Chipotle Tomato Sauce

One of the biggest hits of the day was the Jamaican Jerk wrap. The vibrant colors and flavors of these wraps brightened up the cold, wintry day. Juicy papaya, meaty button and oyster mushrooms, and a zesty hand made jerk sauce all added to the exciting colors, flavors and textures of this vegetarian dish.

Jamaican Jerk Mushroom Lettuce Wraps with Papaya Salsa

Special thanks to my mushroom loving team of assistants for helping to make this delicious day a success!

Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto from We are not Martha

Warm, creamy, and rich… just the flavors we’re looking for to forget the winter cold. This Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto from We are not Martha, packed with hearty flavors and filling quinoa, is just the ticket…

I’ll admit it. I’m risotto obsessed. I’m perfectly convinced that I could create a variation of risotto every single night and be perfectly happy with my dinner choice… for the rest of my life. Not to mention risotto makes the perfect leftovers for lunch the next day. Meals that you actually want to eat two days in a row or multiple times a day are always winners in my book. Mushroom risotto was the very first risotto I ever made, back in my “I’m so scared I won’t stir the risotto enough and it will stick to the pot and be ruined” days. Nowadays, I’m an old risotto pro (so I like to think) and have come to learn that constantly stirring the pot isn’t necessary. (Literally and figuratively.)

Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto Mushrooms

The other night, I had a desire to go back to my roots, while at the same time experimenting. And thus, I pulled my quinoa out of the pantry and grabbed a block of feta cheese and, of course, my old friends, mushrooms. A new risotto was born; one filled with healthy whole grains that will keep you nice and satisfied. Of course, the mushrooms really make this dish and add to its incredible earthy feel. Mushrooms and risotto will always go together like soul sisters. But adding a little extra pizazz is exactly what we need to keep life (and dinner) exciting.

Mushroom Feta Quinoa Risotto (serves 4-6):

  • 4-5 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 C mushrooms of your choice (I used shitake and baby bella), chopped in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 C quinoa
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 C spinach

1) In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil then lower to a simmer and keep on burner.
2) In a separate, medium-large saucepan, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, until onions are transparent.
3) Add the quinoa to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes.
4) Pour the wine in, listen to it sizzle, and then stir it a bit while the quinoa absorbs the wine.
5) Add one cup of chicken broth to the pot and stir a bit. You don’t have to constantly stir, but do check on the quinoa from time to time to make sure it’s not sticking to the pot. As soon as the chicken broth is absorbed by the quinoa, add another cup. Continue until the quinoa is nice and tender, but still firm. Don’t be a afraid to taste! That’s the best part.
6) Once all of the broth has been absorbed, stir in feta cheese. Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the spinach so it gets a little wilted.
7) Enjoy the most perfect comfort food of all.

Baby Bella, Caramelized Onion & Swiss Panini from bell'alimento

Whether you need a filling, warm lunch or a comforting sandwich to pair with dinner, this panini, packed with baby bella mushrooms, gooey cheese, and sweet sauteed onions is a superb sandwich choice! Read on for the recipe from Paula from bell’alimento.

Panini are Italian pressed sandwiches that come filled with just about anything your heart desires. This vegetarian version will satisfy even the biggest of appetites.  It’s filled with creamy caramelized onions and baby bella mushrooms that have been sautéed to perfection in an herb butter. It’s oozing with Swiss cheese and has a big crunchy exterior thanks to the Pan Bigio bread. It’s a stellar lunch or light dinner when accompanied with a hearty bowl of soup!

What you’ll need: (Makes 2 panini)

Caramelized Onions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar


2 tablespoons unsalted herb butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces baby bella mushrooms – sliced

4 slices Pan Bigio – sliced thick on the bias
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 cherry tomatoes – halved, optional

What to do:
1. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil into a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add onions.  Season with salt/pepper.  Cook until onions are softened. Add sugar, continue cooking, stirring as necessary until onions have caramelized (approximately 30 minutes). Set aside.

2. Into a small sauté pan add: 2 tablespoons herb butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat over medium heat.  Add mushrooms. Season with salt/pepper. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat your Panini press to 350 degrees. Equally distribute mushrooms between two slices of bread. Equally top with mushrooms with caramelized onions. Place 2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of bread. (NOTE: if using tomatoes place them on at this time) Place corresponding slices of bread on top. Lightly brush tops of bread with room temperature herb butter.

4. Place sandwiches onto hot panini press. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes until bread is toasted and cheese has melted.

TIPS: If you do not have a panini grill, use a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Place sandwich onto hot pan. Using a heavy pan (such as a cast iron pan), weigh sandwich down. Cook as directed above.