Category Archives: What’s For Dinner

It’s What’s For Dinner: photos, inspiration, recipes

Herb crusted rack of lamb

Today’s mushroom dish had mushroom as a side rather than a main.

The main attraction was herb crusted rack of lamb… seared in a pan, then finished in the oven, and coated with mustard and a panko-herb mixture then baked for just a couple more minutes.

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The lamb was served over a red pepper sauce with pan seared mushroom, crispy polenta and grilled zucchini.

Yum!

Mushroom Trio

I do what I call ‘tuna trio’ with our sushi grade tuna.  I prepare 3 separate tuna preparations on the same plate.  It allows me to experiment with different flavor profiles and hopefully add something to my repertoire to make again.  Some preparations may not make the grade and could get modified or dropped from the future menus altogether.

Since I have 6–10 lbs of porcini we just foraged, I have lots of mushrooms to play with.  While I dehydrated bunches, there is nothing like fresh porcini.  So I decided to do a mushroom trio – 3 different preparations of fresh porcini on the same plate.

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From right to left we have:

  1.  Nostursium Leaves – Red pepper sauce – Boursin – butter pan roasted porcini
  2. Greek yogurt – grilled lemon – thyme – parsley – pan seared porcini
  3.  Bresole (thin sliced italian cured beef) wrapped around Bacon chipotle cheddar mash potato – tomato, garlic cream sauce – pan seared porcini

And the winner is…….

Number 1 – far left.  While they were all good, the red pepper sauce and the boursin cheese wonderfully complemented the nutty meaty texture of the porcini.

Though those bresole wrapped potato mash were good all by themselves!

Mushroom Ragout

It’s mushroom season again on the mountain, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  We just love the idea of foraging for our food.  What’s not to like about a nice walk in the woods with something to quest for, or the excitement that results when you spot a fresh porcini, yelling out those now familiar words, “I found one!”.  It’s great fun, and makes for delicious meals and experimentation at home to make more and more interesting and amazing dishes.

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For our first mushroom feast, we made a super flavorful mushroom ragout using a mix of exotic mushrooms like oyster and porcini.  We started by sautéing onion and garlic, to which we added our diced mushroom medley.  We then deglazed with a bit of wine.  Once that was evaporated we added a cup of chicken broth and let that simmer until reduced.  Finally we added 1/2 c. whipping cream and a variety of chopped herbs.

We served the mushroom ragout over a bed of creamy polenta (4 parts liquid to 1 part polenta).  We simmer 1 c. milk + 1 c. chicken broth, then add 1/2 c. polenta and simmer, stirring constantly until the polenta starts to pull away from the side.  Then we add butter, parmesan cheese, whipping cream, and herbs.

Finally we grilled some shrimp to put over the top.  But honestly, the shrimp was overkill.  The polenta and mushroom ragout were enough… and with plenty of deliciousness of their own.

Madeleine Scallops

My friend Maureen turned me on to this new kitchen tool… a shrimp / scallop pan.  This pan goes in the oven, and had little divots for the shrimp or scallop to hold the garlic butter or other flavor agents.  It’s true I own a lot of kitchen gear and tools.  (I just can’t help myself.)  These days however I have to think twice before buying more gear.

I just got through making a batch of Madeleine’s (you know the little shell shaped cake-like cookies), with my special Madeleine pan.  When Maureen showed me this pan online, I thought maybe I could get another use out of my single-use Madeleine pan.  So I thought I’d try her baked scallops…. and while I was at, why not play in the kitchen.

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So I made a variety of different versions – 2 each, one for myself and my husband.

We had fun with combinations like:

  • jalapeno butter
  • chile sauce + mayo
  • garlic, parsley, lemon butter
  • tomato, yogurt, salsa verde
  • chili oil, cilantro
  • BBQ spice
  • yogurt, chili

The fun part was I could have done all kinds of other combinations I thought of afterward.  They were fun to make… and to eat.

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So… what did I think of the pan idea?  Truth is, it was kinda cool and very fun.

The part I didn’t like was I lost all those great juices when I transferred them to my serving spoons, as I didn’t want to serve in the pan.  If I tried to pour the juices out, I lost all the scallops.

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So instead, I wound up with no juice / dry scallops.  My favorite combinations were those where the juice ‘stuck’, like the yogurt based ones.  I’d definitely try it again, as I thought it was fun… but next time I’ll just bake them in my spoons. (I wonder if they are oven proof?).

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Marinaded seabass with summer squash skewers

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We actually made this dish camping, which gives you an idea of how easy it was.

I made the marinade for the seabass at home and put in a baggie to marinade the seabass filet:

  • sugar
  • soy
  • water
  • sake
  • chili sauce

For the veg, I stacked 3 thin slices of summer squash on top of one another, then rolled and skewered…. alternating radish in between each summer squash roll.  I marinaded the skewers in a salsa verde, and drizzled with oil.

At dinner time we grilled the seabass and the summer squash skewers for a perfect summer time outdoor meal outside a great setting… see here.

Salmon with Yogurt Sauce and Mango Salsa

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I must confess I enjoyed this dish more than I expected.

While I was going to make a salad side, I decided to use some of my wonderful very ripe fresh tomatoes in a new way.  I had plain yogurt in the fridge, so I smeared that on the plate, along with dollops of salsa verde, and then topped with sliced large and cherry tomatoes, that I well salted.

For the salmon, I seasoned it and cooked it on the grill on the skin side for around 8 minutes (dependent on thickness of salmon), with lid on grill closed to allow to bake.

I also had a mango, and fixings for a salsa.  So I diced up the mango, tomato, green onion, and jalapeno for fresh spicy fruit salsa to top the salmon.

Between the luscious salmon, spicy fruity salsa, and creamy yogurt with fresh tomatoes and garlicky herby salsa verde… it was a hit!  I will definitely make this again, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Souffle

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I never would have guessed I’d be a souffle gal.  Who knew?!  But they have become a special celebratory treat around here.

I guess I was intimidated, early on, by the separating the eggs, whisking the whites to soft peaks, and folding it together… never opening the oven, and having it fall.  Now that seems silly.

I use a great recipe from my food hero, Jacques Pepin.  I think I first saw it in his fantastic memoir, The Apprentice.  It’s his mothers, Maman’s, souffle recipe.  In this version you don’t even have to separate the eggs or mess with any of that.  It’s super simple.  You basically make a béchamel (butter, flour, milk), add cheese, and eggs.  Bake.  As easy as that.  Serve with a nice green salad… and champagne.

Jacques Maman’s Souffle

  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. white pepper

Melt butter.  Whisk in flour.  Slowly add milk, whisking in to make homogenous mixture. Mix until smooth and thick.  Season with salt, pepper, chives, and nutmeg.

  • 2-1/2 c. gruyere cheese
  • 5 eggs

Off heat, mix cheese into béchamel until melted.  Whisk together eggs, and slowly add, whisking constantly, so as not to cook eggs.

Bake 400F for 30-40 min.