Mushroom “Cappucino” Soup


Alex and I recently traveled to Playa and stayed at an awesome all inclusive resort called Unico. Guys. This place was clutch! Excursions and spa treatments were included, gorgeous grounds, amazing service, and some of the best resort food I’ve ever had. A stand-out favorite of the week was a delicious mushroom “cappucino,” served in a beautiful glass latte mug at the resort’s upscale Italian restaurant. I’m a sucker for good soup, and this presentation was something I had never seen before.

I’ve cooked my mushroom soup recipe for years now–it’s earthy, creamy, and has this amazing fluffy and velvety texture from it being thickened naturally, making it much lighter than a roux-based soup. The foamed milk adds a fun whimsical element, but if that’s not your scene, just skip it. It’s totally bourgie and over the top, but ya know, so am I.

You’ll Need

  • 5 styrofoam containers of baby bella mushrooms (white button mushrooms are fine too. Whatever is cheaper at your grocery store!)
  • 1/2 a cup of dried porcini mushrooms (This ingredient is actually super important, it’s where all the flavor comes from. At my grocery store, they’re in either the produce or bulk section in a little baggie, ask someone for help. If you can’t find them at the store, they are worth ordering on Amazon, as they impart a ton of flavor and have several other applications. The dried mushrooms in the Asian section of the grocery store would work too, or even a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen porcinis in a pinch)
  • A medium onion
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of half and half
  • Truffle oil (optional. Truffle oil is tricky and can really easily ruin a good dish with its strong perfume-y quality. Only use the good stuff from William Sonoma or somewhere fancy like that–if all you have is the kind from Target, leave it out)
  • About 1/2 a cup of milk, for foaming (optional but necessary for a dramatic presentation)

Method

  1. Pour a cup of hot water in a bowl and add the dried porcinis. Let the mushrooms steep and soften in the water while you work on the next two steps.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Put the mushrooms in a colander (you’ll probably have to do this in batches) and spray them down with water, swishing them around until the dirt is cleaned off from the mushrooms. This is important, mushrooms alway have soil and grit on them and that is very unpleasant to eat. Rough chop all the mushrooms.
  3. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat and sweat the onions for 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10-15 more minutes over medium heat. The mushrooms will expel a lot of liquid while they cook down.
  4. Add the dried porcinis and the liquid they steeped in, a couple dashes of salt, and half of the chicken broth to your soup pot. Bring the whole thing to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes
  5. Cut the heat, stir in the tarragon, and let the soup cool down for about 10 minutes. Tarragon has a licorice-like flavor that I absolutely LOVE with tomatoes and mushrooms, but if you don’t like the smell, trade it or for mild parsley instead. Transfer half of the soup to a blender, and blend (use a towel to hold the lid down tight) for about a minute, until the soup is smooth. Pour soup into a clean pot, then repeat with the other half of the soup.
  6. Once all the soup is blended, stir in the half and half, and add your reserved chicken broth, a little at a time until the soup is the consistency that you like. Some days I don’t need any reserved broth, some days I need all of it. Mushrooms man, they have a mind of their own. You can always add broth but it’s much more difficult to fix a too-thin soup, so I always try to err on the side of starting with a conservative amount of liquid. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if you need it.
  7. Use a latte machine to foam your milk. If you don’t have one, warm up the milk for 30 seconds or so in the microwave, then put it in a clean blender and whip for about 30 seconds.
  8. To serve, pour soup in bowls and drizzle with a little bit of truffle oil, a couple tarragon leaves, and the foam spooned on top. Another dramatic presentation is to serve the soup in pretty mugs with a generous helping of foam on top, like they did at Unico. Just ya know, warn people of what they’re about to consume first 🙂

Remix The Dish: I always have dried porcinis on hand because they make a clutch steak rub–blend them in a spice grinder with peppercorns, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, kosher salt, and a dash of sugar. Instead of foamed milk, fresh whipped cream (no sugar, duh) would be fun too. Or you could just garnish with some creme fraiche….you basic bitch.

Aglio e Olio–Lightened Up!


If you haven’t seen the movie Chef, drop what you’re doing and catch it on Netflix STAT. It is definitely in my top 10 all time favorites films, Jon Favreau’s passion project which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Chef is a redemption tale of a man trying to reclaim his voice in the kitchen, and finds his way back to his family in the process.

It’s a road movie filled with plenty of funny and charming moments, but (as I’m sure you can guess) the food is just to die for. Jon Favreau manages to capture the heart behind food, whether it’s whipping up gourmet grilled cheese for a child you love, the creative process that happens in the kitchen, the sensuality of feeding your partner on a sexy date night, or going back to an old recipe from the happiest time in your life. One of the food-porniest moments of the film happens when Jon Favreau makes a skillet full of Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic) for Scarlett Johansson, and holy hell so they make it look delicious. (Trust me, this movie clip is everything).

Celeb chef (and you know, The Godfather of modern day food trucks) Roy Choi wrote all the recipes for this movie, and let’s just say the one for his Aglio e Olio is…indulgent. Like, an entire cup of olive oil kind of generous. Considering it’s a Tuesday night, that kind of richness just isn’t going to fly. My trick is to stretch the olive oil by incorporating the starchy water that the pasta boiled in–it thickens up into a light sauce that evenly coats every noodle. Have it ready on your kitchen table in 20 minutes flat.

You’ll Need

  • About 1/2 a package of pasta (any kind will do but there’s something extra satisfying about slurping angel hair or linguini. Today, I used orrichiette!)
  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as you can. Like razor-blade-Goodfellas thin.
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (be sure to zest it first, duh!!
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 fists full of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of greens, rough chopped (optional, but a great way to  sneak some good nutrition and fiber into this indulgent dish. I used pea tendrils because that’s what I picked up at the farmer’s market, but spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard is good)
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan or pecorino
  • A handful of breadcrumbs (optional, but adds a nice textural element. Don’t use the gross bread crumbs that come from the aisle in a grocery store either–toast up a couple slices of French bread or some rolls, or bust out some crostinis and crunch them up with your fingers)

Method

  1. Cook your pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package, by subtract a minute from the shortest suggested cooking time. You want this pasta al dente…mushy noodles are gross. Plus, it’s going to cook again in a skillet later, and you don’t want them to overcook.
  2. While waiting on your pasta to cook, slice up your garlic, chop your parsley and greens, and zest your lemon.
  3. Before draining your pasta, pour 1/2-3/4s of a cup of the starchy pasta water into a heat-proof measuring cup or a bowl. Dump the pasta into a colander.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, and add the garlic slices and red pepper flakes. Let cook until aromatic but not scorched, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it!! As soon as you see the edges of the garlic start to brown, add the pasta water. Let the sauce boil and thicken for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta, greens, parsley, and a dash of salt in the skillet, and toss until the greens have softened. Add the lemon juice and cheese, and toss again, tasting to see if it needs more salt or red pepper.
  6. Serve garnished with bread crumbs. Delish!!

Remix The Dish: this pasta is pretty much a blank canvas, so toss it with anything you have in your fridge. Leftover chicken, steak,  or shrimp, roasted veggies, or leftover diced crudité would all taste great.

Super Easy Fruit Galettes


I love a good dessert, but if I’m going to expend the calories it better be a DAMN good dessert. No donuts or office birthday cake for me. Gotta be something clutch. 

I made these galettes last week while my book club girlfrans drank wine and gathered around my kitchen island. A galette is basically a free form pie, which effectively solves the crust-to-filling ratio problem we all bemoan. It was an easy dessert that looks disproportionately gorgeous compared to how fast it comes together. Seriously, if you use fruits that don’t require prep (raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries) it’ll be ready to bake in 3 minutes. This is also one of those recipes that’s great if you have a bunch of fruit that’s passed its prime. The pie application will give them new life!

Borrow one from Sandra Lee’s book and pick up a pre-made pie crust from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. I’ve included a recipe for insanely delicious whipped goat cheese, but no shame in using a tub of Cool Whip or a scoop of Bluebell. This is about getting maximum impact while expending minimal energy. I have lots of gatherings the rest of this 4th of July weekend, so I plan on making about 8 more of these in the next few days.

(Recipe makes 2 galettes. Each galette serves 4 non-dieting people).

You’ll Need

  • 1 package of pre-made pie crusts (should include 2 crusts in the pack. Buy the kind in a flat box, not the ones in a pie crust). 
  • 4 heaping cups of fresh or thawed frozen fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or a combo (highly recommended) will be good
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz of plain or honey goat cheese, set out for an hour or so, so it’s room temperature
  • 3/4 a cup of heavy cream
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Method

  1. Thaw pie crusts if they’re frozen. Unroll on a lightly floured surface.
  2. If your chosen fruit needs prep work, go ahead an hull strawberries and cut into fourths, rinse berries, sliced peaches into 1 inch pieces, or de-pit cherries. I didn’t have a cherry pitter so I did a whole pint by hand. It was super fun. Put the fruit in a mixing bowl and toss with the sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Divide the fruit mixture in two and plop them in the middle of each of the pie crusts. Some of the powdery mixture will be leftover in the mixing bowl, which is totally fine. Take the edges of the pie crust and gently fold them over each other going in one direction, so it makes kinda a pinwheel with about half of the berries’ total surface area covered. This is supposed to look super rustic, so just go it! No need for do overs.
  4. Beat an egg with a splash of water and brush over the top surface of the pie dough with a brush. If you don’t have a brush, be ratchet and gently drizzle and rub it on with your fingers. You don’t want to skip this step, trust me, your pies will come out all pale and pasty looking. Not great. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  5. While the pie bakes, whip the goat cheese, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt in your fancy pants Kitchen Aid mixer (or use a hand mixer. If all you have is a whisk I guess you’re fucked). It should be soft and luscious but not super airy, kinda like Cool Whip, and taste like the most delicious thing you’be ever tasted. You can use this goat cheese crema in a million different applications–its light tang tastes amazing with sweet berries, but it would taste amazing in savory dishes like beet salad, on a baked potato, dolloped over a soup, or with any roasted veggie you can think of.
  6. Cut the pies in quarters and serve with the crema and mint leaves for garnish.

*Note: when you bake, it’s almost guaranteed that some of the berry juice will overflow, jacking with the instagram-worthiness of your final product. This my friends is why mint sprigs are you BFFs. Artfully cover them up and you’re good to go.

Remix The Dish: this would be so clutch if you omit the sugar and use cherry tomatoes or carmelized onions as the filling instead. Garnish with basil!

Girl and the Goat Roasted Cauliflower, and a little chat about flavors

I had the pleasure of visiting Girl and The Goat one week after the chef/owner Stephanie Izard won Iron Chef Gauntlet. That’s right, the first person to win Top Chef and become an Iron Chef is a woman, and her food is just as stunning as you’d expect.

We went family style and tried everything from goat belly to escargot ravioli to “pig face” to the most delicious shishitos I’ve ever tasted, covered in a crunchy layer of sesame and parmesan cheese. Stephanie is ballsy AF and understands how flavors work together.

When it comes to cooking on the fly, the most valuable skill you can possess is understanding what each component brings to the party. Knowing what an ingredient is supposed to accomplish empowers you to substitute with what you have at hand. Here are the flavor profiles we’re looking at in this dish:

Roasted Cauliflower = earthy, vegetal, soft

Parmesean = salty, umami, rich

Mint = fresh

Roasted Nuts = crunch

Pepperocini = acid, brightness, heat

Next time you take a bite of a dish with several components, think about how they all play off each other–how the sweet meat of a burger plays against a soft and buttery bun, crunchy lettuce, and tangy pickles, or how funky blue cheese works with fresh iceberg, salty bacon, and sweet tomatoes. A great plate combines several different flavors and textures, and this week I challenge you to contemplate this as you eat.

You’ll Need

  • A head of cauliflower (or be lazy and buy one pre-cut from the salad section, no judgement here)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • A handful of mint, chopped (can sub flat-leaf parsley or any leafy green herb)
  • 1/4 cup of roasted almonds (can sub whatever you have in the house–walnuts, pistachios, or even peanuts would accomplish the same thing. Stephanie used roasted pine nuts! Seeds or even crushed croutons work too)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (pecorino, manchego, or and hard and flavorful cheese would work fine)
  • Pepperocini rings (banana peppers, peppadews, jalapenos, or any spicy pickled pepper would work great)

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Break the cauliflower down into 1-2 inch chunks. If you’ve never cut up a cauliflower before, I promise it’s way less scary then you’d think. They’re significantly softer than a spaghetti squash or even a cabbage, so no need to say your hail marys or feel like your fingers are living on borrowed time. I like to slice the thing into 4 big pieces then gently separate the florets from the leaves and thick center, using my hands or a small knife. The leaves and stem are edible (and delicious), but that’s for another post.
  2. Toss the cauliflower with about a couple good glugs of olive oil and a few big pinches of salt. Place on a baking sheet (cut side down for maximum browning) and roast until tender, 20-25 minutes. TIP CITY: when roasting veggies, in addition to tossing in olive oil, I also like to hit the baking pan with some Pam spray, as well as spritz the tops of the veg with it before popping it in the oven. Oil promotes browning, and browning = flavortown.
  3. While the veg roasts, rough chop the nuts and the mint. Have some ziploc baggies handy for the leftovers–the nuts and mint would taste awesome tossed with berries, sprinkled over a salad, or mashed into some goat or cream cheese.
  4. Remove cauliflower and toss in a serving bowl with the parmesan. Taste for seasoning, and add more cheese or a little more salt if necessary. (If your nuts are salted, keep this in mind! Nothing shuts down a party like too much seasoning). Sprinkle the mint and nuts on top. Finish by garnishing with the pepperocini.

Remix The Dish: try this cauliflower with peppadews and manchego cheese for a Spanish take, or use basil or cilantro, peanuts, pickled jalapeño, and omit the cheese for a Thai spin.