Posts Tagged ‘umami’

Meaty Mushrooms Star in Wiz Kid’s Philly

Wiz Kid is the brainchild of Rich Landau, chef and owner of trendy restaurants V Street and Vedge in Philadelphia. We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Chef Rich about his new fast-casual restaurant and his star “crowd stunner” menu item: the Wiz Kid Philly. The best part? He swapped traditional steak for juicy, meaty mushrooms.


What inspired you to open a fast-casual restaurant?

“People don’t have time for fancy, white tablecloth, hour-long lunches anymore. In fact, some might be lucky to even have a half hour for lunch these days. Fast casual is being defined as the new American cuisine, because people want something that is healthy, delicious and fair priced, that they can take on the go.”

Why did you decide to swap mushrooms for meat in the Wiz Kid Philly?

“We wanted to use something that is completely fresh and whole. There aren’t many, if any, other vegetables that can mimic the taste of meat quite like mushrooms. When treated right, mushrooms are delicious, meaty and smoky. Portabellas are one of the best food products – they’re a real ‘knife & fork’ food. A knife won’t glide through any other food like it does through a portabella.”

Chef Rich Landau_7543 FINAL Credit Jason Varney

What is your favorite mushroom variety?

“While portabellas are great to have on hand because of their versatility, my favorite variety is the maitake. They’re the next big thing. They have a very distinct ‘mushroomy’ flavor – which is a good thing! They’re just a beautiful mushroom. I love the difference in texture and the variety of flavor. When grilled, the tops get crunchy, crackly and caramelized, while the base stays thick and meaty.”

What is your go-to mushroom dish?

“Right now, probably the Philly from Wiz Kid. It’s just such a crowd stunner, and it’s great to see peoples’ reactions when they try it. They wonder why they have been eating meat all this time when they could be eating mushrooms!”

What has been the reaction to Wiz Kid so far?

“So far, the reaction has been stellar. I’ve had the sandwich recipe in my back pocket for a few years now, and I finally had the opportunity to showcase it. We’re super thrilled about it.”

If you live in Philly, we encourage you to try the famous Wiz Kid Philly for yourself, check out Wiz Kid’s satellite location in Whole Foods, and stay tuned for Wiz Kid’s 19th street location – opening soon!

The Blend: Your New Year’s Resolution Solution

Resolving to be healthier in 2016? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey, Americans have resolved to “live a healthier lifestyle” this year. The key to keeping resolutions: make simple shifts toward healthier long-term eating patterns, such as adding more veggies to your favorite foods as recommended in the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.

This year, resolve to try The Blend, combining chopped mushrooms with ground meat, to help you stay on track without sacrificing flavor. Here are three healthy perks of The Blend:


  • Trim calories and fat. Mushrooms are naturally low in calories, fat free and cholesterol free. Research shows that increasing the intake of lower calorie foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of those higher in calories, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing calorie and fat intake while still feeling full and satisfied after a meal.
  • Reduce sodium intake. Excessive levels of sodium may put you at risk for high blood pressure, stroke and even kidney disease. Fortunately, mushrooms are low in sodium and rich in umami – meaning enhanced flavor without the added salt.
  • Add nutrients. Mushrooms provide important nutrients such a vitamin D, B vitamins, antioxidants and potassium. Plus, blending mushrooms into a recipe can add an easy serving of vegetables to the plate.

Don’t just take it from us, test the benefits of The Blend in your favorite recipes. This one pot lamb ragout is a flavorful and easy weeknight meal the entire family will enjoy.


How to Get Livelier Taste When Lightening the Plate

Chef Jackie Newgent, RDN, shares her favorite tips on how to make tastier springtime meals.

With summer around the corner, spring is the time we often look to lighten up our meals. But going lighter doesn’t mean you need to accept blah breakfasts, bland lunches, or boring dinners. In fact, health-friendlier meals can mean more deliciousness.

So here are a few of my favorite and simplest strategies for heightening taste. I suggest focusing on one of these culinary tips a week. Eventually, you’ll find yourself naturally including all of these approaches as part of your lively meal repertoire. I promise, your taste buds will thank you.

Mushrooms and Spices by Cheeky Kitchen

Image Courtesy of Brooke, Cheeky Kitchen

1.  Reach for Umami

Umami is the name for savory or “meaty” taste. But you don’t actually need meat to get it. A few ways to up the umami in your dishes is by incorporating more mushrooms, fully ripened tomatoes, naturally brewed soy sauce, or green tea.

Tip: Sauté sliced mushrooms with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of fresh rosemary until the mushrooms are softened. Use the mushrooms as the “meat” of a sandwich—or make a better burger by blending finely chopped sautéed mushrooms with less meat, and grill.

2.  Feel the “Heat”

To create more depth of flavor, try a little bit of a spicy ingredient. I’m not talking about food that’ll make you sweat. I’m talking about a pinch of minced jalapeño pepper, splash of hot sauce, or dab of curry paste, for instance. Add just enough to create pep. Try it with mixed dishes, veggies, soups, dips, and desserts.

Tip: Prepare seasonal veggies any which way you like—grilled, stir-fried, or steamed. Then just toss with a drizzle of Gochujang (it’s a Korean sweet and spicy sauce). No other ingredients required.

3. Go for Spice Intrigue

Spices provide flavor panache and fragrant interest. So take full advantage of your spice rack. This is especially important to consider when preparing calorie-conscious cuisine to keep full-flavorful. Be playful, but start with just a smidgen of one or two spices at a time—not the whole rack at once, of course!

Tip: Pick opposites by adding a “sweet” spice to a savory dish for taste intrigue. Sprinkle ground cinnamon or ginger onto grilled chicken breast or kebabs.

4. Get Fresh with Herbs

I include fresh herbs in an integral way for healthful recipes, not just as a garnish or afterthought. They provide refreshing and distinctive aroma. Since most flavors actually come by way of your nose, this is one key to tasty fare.

Tip: Enhance salads by using herbs as part of the greens or the dressing. Toss in a small handful of fresh mint or basil leaves along with your leafy greens. Or whirl together equal parts extra-virgin olive oil, golden balsamic vinegar, and fresh cilantro or tarragon for an easy herb vinaigrette.

5.  Try Acidic Pairings

Pairing wine to food can boost the overall taste appeal of your meal. The same can be said of matching an acid ingredient—like vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice—to your foods. Consider pairing these acids as you might pair wines to food. Try red wine vinegar with Italian food or lime juice with Mexican food. It’s magical how a simple squirt can heighten flavor.

Tip: Pick up some kale, tatsoi, spinach, or other dark leafy greens from the farmers’ market. Wilt or sauté the greens and add a sassy splash of lemon juice or aged balsamic vinegar; it delightfully balances bitterness.

Need more ways to boost flavor in your food? Just ask us below—or connect with Jackie on Twitter @jackienewgent.

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

Best and Worst Foods Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN tells “Early Show” viewers to always “Go for those ‘shrooms!” She makes note of the fact that it’s not always those bright colored veggies that pack a nutritious punch – those that are light in color do too, like mushrooms! Light-colored mushrooms are the leading source of the antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle.

Trend Alert: The ‘Fifth Taste’ Is Coming On Strong, As More People Say I Want My Umami We’ve heard that this is the year for umami and don’t you bet that WE of all people are excited! If you haven’t heard, umami is the savory fifth taste found naturally in mushrooms. Delish.  

How to Order a Healthier Pizza The Baltimore Sun helps readers make healthier pizza choices by advising to load up on the veggies – in particular mushrooms because they are nutrient-packed, high in fiber and low in calories.

Keri Glassman and The O2 Diet Glassman touts her love for mushrooms again in this segment featured on “700 Club.” She highlights mushrooms as the only fruit or veggie with vitamin D, which is very important for immunity. Also discussed are the benefits of swapping meat for mushrooms – if you take away about four ounces of meat a weak and substitute it with mushrooms, you can lose about five pounds over one year!