Monday MmmMmmMmm and Class Recap

I LOVE breakfast for dinner! And tonight Jeff made it so it was even better!  And the pancakes were savory, so now we’re 3 for 3!

When I left work tonight I got stuck in traffic – there was a disabled tractor-trailer blocking one lane of the road and things were rrrrreeeeeaaaaallllllllllyyyyy backed up.  So I called Jeff to let him know that I would probably get home later than he would.  Since he had a meeting at church tonight, I suggested that he have some leftover pasta and I told him I would make a sandwich for myself later.

Little did I know he already had a plan cooking in his head!  When I got home he was working on batter for cornmeal pancakes to which he added some sautéed veggies (onions, peppers, spinach, kale) and cheese.  While he was making the batter he was also heating a pan – when the batter was done he spooned some into the hot pan and went to change.  I kept an eye on the pancakes, turning them before he returned.

Pancake Batter

Pancakes on the Griddle

In a matter of minutes we were sitting down to a delicious and nutritious dinner AND Jeff was able to get out the door on time.  I’ll be honest, sometimes the best thing I can do to get dinner on the table is stay out of the way!!!!  I really appreciate it when someone else cooks for me – it makes a Monday MmmMmmMmm even mmm mmm mmm-ier!

While we were eating I was reviewing yesterday in my head.  I taught a class entitled ‘Holiday Brunch for Overnight Guests’ at the Kitchen Shoppe yesterday and I had a great time.

Although I’ve enjoyed all the classes I’ve taught so far, I had a really great group of people yesterday and they made it a lot of fun for me!  I hope they had as much fun as I did!!!  They asked a lot of good questions, interacted with one another, shared tips and ideas, and really seemed to enjoy the food (which, of course, makes me happy).

The menu for class was:

  • Bloody Mary with Roasted Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Arugula Pesto Bruschetta
  • Holiday Baked Egg Casserole
  • Bacon & Green Onion Studded Potato Pancakes
  • French Breakfast Puffs
  • Fruit Skewers with Orange Vinaigrette

The hands-down favorite seemed to be the French Breakfast Puffs, which are yummy light muffins that are rolled in melted butter and cinnamon sugar and served warm.  I first had these on  a trip to Cape Cod.  They were made by The Cottage Street Bakery and have been a family favorite ever since.  I’m glad I got to share them with my class.

The following is a picture of the buffet I set for class yesterday:

Brunch for Overnight Guests BUffet

I hope the folks who came to class will use some of the recipes for the holidays and that they will think of me when they do.  I will surely remember what a good time I had with them the next time I make one of the recipes I served in class.

What are some of your favorite things to serve to overnight guests?

How was Work?

What did you do at work today?  I’ll bet you didn’t have nearly as much fun as I did!

Having come from an office environment – and not a great one at that – moving on to a creative job is a huge improvement!  Tracee and I worked hard today prepping for two classes she is teaching on Saturday; but we also had time for good conversation, a few laughs, and right-brain stimulation.  The right side of the brain is the artistic side – from about.com Psychology,

“According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities that are popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:

  • Recognizing faces
  • Expressing emotions
  • Music
  • Reading emotions
  • Color
  • Images
  • Intuition
  • Creativity”

So, what was so fun?  We were preparing ingredients for two kids’ classes – 1) Big Hands Little Hands (where a 4 – 7-year-old child is accompanied by an adult to give them assistance making their recipes) and 2) After School Snacks & Treats (for kids aged 8 to 14).  And boy are the kids going to have fun on Saturday.  They are making all kinds of fun and yummy foods, but two things in particular captured the attention of the kid in me!

The first is a bread dough spider.  A strange sentence to be sure.  I’m fairly certain I never expected to be putting those words together – but there’s a first time for everything!  The spider has hairy legs (shredded parmesan cheese) and eyes made from olives.  He can also be used as a dip container – on Saturday he will hold “spider blood.”

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The second are spider web cookie pops. The spiders are made from chocolate covered raisins and black licorice.

These classes are a great way for your kids to spend a Saturday – and for younger kids they are a great way for you to spend time in the kitchen with your kids and have someone else clean up the mess!  Click the links above for information about the classes – and check out the Kitchen Shoppe catalog of classes for future classes for kids and adults.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be doing something I love.  I am happy to go to work every day.  I am in a creative, fun environment with people who genuinely enjoy the work they do.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it’s perfect for me!!!

I don’t know what you did at work today.  But I sure hope you enjoyed your day as much as I enjoyed mine.

Do you enjoy your job?  If not, what keeps you there?

 

Recipe Review: Roasted Mushroom Soup with Apple Cider Stock Part II

As I indicated in Recipe Review: Roasted Mushroom Soup with Apple Cider Stock Part I, this is a soup I’ve been wanting to make for years and haven’t taken the time to tackle.  The class I taught at The Kitchen Shop and Cooking School on Friday evening was entitled Apple Harvest and included apples in each recipe.  What better time to work with this recipe?

In Part I of my post, I explained how I made the cider stock….now for the soup.  In comparison with the making of the stock, the soup is a breeze!

First the mushrooms….for some quick peeks at my recent experience at the mushroom festival in Kennett Square, PA, click here and here…..the recipe called for yellow morel mushroom, oyster mushrooms, and button mushrooms.  Since I wasn’t able to locate morels in my area, I substituted Portobello each time I made the soup.

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I cleaned the mushrooms with a mushroom brush and a damp paper towel and then, although the recipe instructed me to saute the mushrooms whole, never one to follow directions I sliced the mushrooms and sautéed them in butter, stirring occasionally.  “Why?” you ask.  I thought the mushrooms would give up their liquids more quickly and would brown better if they were sliced rather than whole…..my thinking may be flawed (or not), but the outcome was some beautifully browned mushrooms!

After the mushrooms were browned and no liquid remained in the pan, I added some Madeira wine, fresh oregano, and salt/pepper.

In the last year I’ve learned a little something about Madeira wine.  I’m no expert, but I the following information fascinating and thought you might too.  Madeira (REAL Madeira) is made in Portugal – in the Madeira Islands – and is a wine fortified with brandy.  (Not too bad so far, right?)  There is a wide spectrum – from dry to sweet – of this very robust wine.  The wine undergoes a unique wine making process and a unique aging process.  During wine making, the wine is heated for an extended period of time and is exposed to a specific level of oxidation.  During the aging process, the wine is stored in sauna-like conditions.  These processes are meant to mimic the intense heat and constant movement of the ships on which Madeira was originally transported – these two factors had a transforming effect on the wine.

In my quest to learn about Madeira and try different brands, I have found that you can buy “knock-off” Madeiras from California – they are quite inexpensive, but you get what you pay for.  When I spent $10 more per bottle on Leacock’s Rainwater Madeira, I got a change in flavor that was immeasurable! I’m not sure for cooking I would spend much more per bottle, but for drinking I certainly might!

Anyway, back to the soup…while the mushrooms and Madeira mingled in the skillet, I heated the cider stock in a separate stock pot.  The mushrooms continued to cook until the Madeira evaporated.  Then I added all but 1/2 cup of the mushrooms into the heated stock and simmered it for 15 minutes.

Finally, I used my immersion blender to puree the soup until it was smooth (if you like a little texture in your soup, feel free to leave it chunky).  I added a whisper of heavy cream, simmered the soup for an additional minute and tasted it for seasoning adjustments.

Then, the moment of truth….taste testing.  The roasted mushroom soup with apple cider stock was magnificent.  It was smooth,, creamy (but not overly so), warm, and flavorful.  It had a hint of sweetness from the stock which balanced nicely with the mushrooms.  I will say the second time I made it the apple cider I purchased was sweeter than the first time and I liked the soup better with a less-sweet cider.

This past Friday evening I made this soup for the students in my Apple Harvest class and they LOVED it too!

I’d give this soup 5 M’s out of 5!

Even though it is very time-intensive, it is worth the work.  I would definitely recommend you giving this soup a try….perhaps for a holiday or other special occasion. You will not be sorry!

Roasted Mushroom Soup with Apple Cider Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 cups yello morel mushrooms (can substitute portobello mushrooms)
  • 2 cups oyster mushrooms
  • 2 cups button mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (divided)
  • 1/4 cup Madeira wine
  • 7 cups apple cider stock (see recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

Note

Adapted from "In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture & Recipes" by Mark Rosenstein, 1996.

This recipe will make more cider stock than you need for the Roasted Mushroom Soup with Apple Cider Stock.  YOu can freeze the rest for other uses.

Directions

1. Wipe any dirt from the mushrooms and remove and discard any dried, hard parts of the stems.
2. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the whole mushrooms and sauté, tossing once or twice during the first few minutes. The mushrooms will begin to render their liquid.
3. After 5 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low.
4. Pour 7 cups of cider stock into a stockpot (separate from the mushrooms) and bring to a simmer.
5. Continue to cook the mushrooms, browning them and allowing them to render all their liquid. You may need to add some additional butter to keep them from sticking to the pan or burning. Stir once every 3 minutes while they cook.
6. After the mushroom liquid has evaporated, add the salt, pepper, 2 Tbsp oregano, and the Madeira wine. Allow the wine to evaporate completely.
7. Add all but 6 Tbsp of the browned mushrooms to the simmering stock. Turn the heat up and bring the stock to a slow boil. Cook for 15 minutes.
8. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.
9. Puree the finished soup with an immersion blender.
10. Add the cream and cook for about 1 additional minute to allow the cream to incorporate into the soup.
11. Divide among bowls and garnish with the remaining oregano and the whole mushrooms.
12. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Apple Cider Stock

Ingredients

  • 4 cooking apples (such as Fuji, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Cortland, or Nittany)
  • 6 medium carrots
  • 6 leeks (roots and 1/2 of greens leaves removed)
  • 4 cups Portobello mushroom stems
  • 3 tablespoons light cooking oil (such as safflower or peanut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 12 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 bay leaf

Note

Adapted from "In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture & Recipes" by Mark Rosenstein, 1996.

This recipe will make more cider stock than you need for the Roasted Mushroom Soup with Apple Cider Stock.  YOu can freeze the rest for other uses.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Core and chop the unpeeled apples.
3. Cut the peeled carrots, leeks and mushroom stems into 2" pieces (discard any hard ends of the mushroom stems).
4. Place the chopped veggies and apples on sheet pans, toss with the cooking oil, and add the whole coriander seeds.
5. Roast until veggies and apples are golden brown, about 2 hours, turning the ingredients approximately every 30 minutes to ensure even browning.
6. Scrape the roasted vegetables into a stockpot. To loosen the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan, pour in 1/2 to 1 cup of cold water and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon (this process is known as deglazing).
7. Add the cider, the remaining stock ingredients, and just enough cold water to cover the vegetables. Place the lid on the stockpot, leaving it slightly ajar, and heat the stock over medium-low heat. It should reach a simmer in approximately 1 hour. Simmer for 8 hours, adjusting the heat if necessary.
8. Strain, cool and refrigerate.

What I’ve Been Up To

You’ve probably noticed that in the last few weeks I have been posting less frequently than I typically do.  I’m working on establishing a new normal when it comes to my schedule because I’ve accepted a part time job.  You’ve read many mentions of the Kitchen Shoppe in previous posts and until two weeks ago my work there was on a volunteer basis.  But I am happy to report that they have offered me a position that fits with both my schedule and my passion!

I am working with a wonderful team of people.  They are happy doing what they’re doing, which is quite a change from my former job.  The people are warm and genuine and share my passion for cooking.  I am helping to prep food for classes and helping execute classes in whatever capacity is necessary – washing dishes, serving and clearing, assisting the chefs, etc.  The work is more physically demanding than my cushy desk job was and although I am tired at the end of the day, I feel a sense of accomplishment as I “review the game tape” on my drive home.  It is also helping me be better prepared for the classes I am teaching, which is an added bonus.

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with the First Step

As I revealed in an earlier post, I have begun a new journey.  On Sunday I taught my first cooking class at the Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School in Carlisle, PA and I had a great time doing it!

First, let me say a HEARTY THANK YOU to the wonderful women at the Kitchen Shoppe.  They have encouraged and supported and guided me throughout the process and they celebrated with me before, during and after class on Sunday.  I consider myself seriously lucky to be a part of their team!  The photo below includes only a few of those women!!!

Ann Me Sue Barb Mo TiffanyAlso, thank you to my friends and family who have supported me as I’ve begun this journey, especially to my husband, Jeff.  And thank you to those friends who have come over to eat one or several iterations of the same meal!!!!  YOU ROCK!  It sounds like a good job, but not all iterations turn out as well as others!

Jeff and Me Before Class Continue reading