Tag Archives: shiitake

Thanksgiving Recipe Linky Love / Visiting Food Banks in the Land of Milk and Honey

Some fun Turkey Day links:

  1. 59 Cheap and Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes;
  2. Mark Bittman’s Mimimalist Thanksgiving (or, at least some of it) turkey and some sides, all under THREE hours;
  3. Food safety experts say the turkey can go from FREEZER to OVEN;
  4. Kaylyn’s Low Carb Thanksgiving/Leftovers Recipes; and
  5. Bryant Terry’s ecological Thanksgiving recipes*.

And of course -holiday-friendly  Dude, Where’s the Stove? recipes:

* I have such a book crush on Bryant Terry. I received a copy of his new hit, The Inspired Vegan – I’ll have to post a review once I’ve done more than just drool over the recipes!

In the spirit of gratitude, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about food banks this year. My town has a hotline people can call to find out what food banks are open each day. And this year, I helped a few friends visit them. By help I mean – making a phone call and driving people around. Not much, but, something, right?  It turns out that one my friends never got any sort of help from family during a rough patch. Not a penny, not a can. Nothing. It meant the world to her that I picked her up in my car, waited in line with her, and visited the food bank a few times. I had no clue it made a difference.

So what are these food banks like? One local non-profit with an ecological bent distributes food to seniors who pay a small flat fee each year, to get a weekly grocery bag full of lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and other  veggies that are a shade past their prime, as well as a loaf of bread, saving them from the trash heap. A church distributes twenty-pound sacks of onions, cauliflowers, potatoes, carrots, and other veggies as part of a USDA program. Another place shares a mixture of canned / packaged foods and some fresh veggies as part of a food distribution non-profit.

So, anyways, I am giving thanks, to anyone who has ever given food, money, time, anything to any of these food banks.  Thank you for helping people in their time of need. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And may we all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: my friend who worked like crazy making turkey cake pops!

Advertisements

Shiitake Stuffing for a Minnesota Holiday Potluck

Zojirushi

Once upon a time, I attended a potluck, with a savory bread pudding in tow. It was much, much loved. And my hopes of eating the leftovers were not to be – it was entirely demolished! I was so proud of myself because I thought I had completely invented the recipe, and it was the first time I made it (not something I recommend when cooking for others – my backup plan was to buy something if it didn’t turn out). But now I realize – the dish reminds me a little bit of the chawanmushi my grandmother would make. Everything “new” is actually old.

Shiitake Stuffing

Ingredients: (I don’t remember the exact measurements…these are very approximate)

  • 1/2 loaf of decent quality San Francisco style sweet Italian bread – the kind with sesame seeds on the crust;
  • 2 cups of dried shiitakes;
  • 3 medium yellow onions or 2 large yellow onions;
  • soy sauce;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 1 24 oz can of chicken stock;
  • milk? (I can’t remember if I used milk or not…*)
  • dashes of white wine;
  • dashes of ngouc mam;
  • dash of sugar;
  • cooking oil/butter.

1. Soaking

The mushrooms were the stars of this show. I soaked them in warm water for a few hours before I cooked. Usually, I soak them in a deep, narrow container with a small dish that fits inside the container mouth to keep the mushrooms submerged nicely.

2. Chopping

The onions and mushrooms needed chopping/slicing. Each went into their own bowls, waiting their turn. I wanted to show off the beautiful shape of the shiitake, so, I sliced them (sans stem of course) from the top to the gills in 1/8″ wide pieces.

3. Bread Frying

This was the longest part – frying 8-10 pieces of bread on each side, to get some slight browning.** After frying, I chopped each slice into four strips. I think I chose against cubes, in the hopes that the pudding would be more textural.

4. Sweating the veggies + deglazing

To a hot, hot skillet, I added the onions, then the mushrooms. They sweated for a good few minutes, without burning. Then, I poured the chicken stock to deglaze and quickly scraped all the veggie fond from the bottom of the skillet. Now, I can’t quite remember how much white wine, soy sauce, ngouc mam, and sugar I added, but, they went into the mix during the deglazing. Everything simmered and smelled amazing as it all reduced a little bit.

5. Cooling the mushroom mix/Preheating oven

I knew I would need to add egg to make the stuffing, and did not want scrambled eggs, so, I let the mixture cool down a bit. Very important! I think I separated the liquids and stored them in the fridge or freezer for a little bit. This is probably when I preheated the oven (likely to 400).

6. Egg mixture

I beat the three eggs and incorporated the cooled liquids (and possibly the milk, if I used it!). The egg mixture was not watery in consistency – when I was mixing, likely with some chopsticks, the mixture was a little bit resistant/elastic.

7. Baking

I think the glass baking dish was 9″ x 13″ or so. Well, I buttered it. Then, loosely arranged the bread and the mushroom mix. Then poured the egg mixture, which almost covered the bread/mushroom mix. A few pieces stuck up here and there, for textural interest. Into the oven it all went, for about 1 hour at (probably) 350 Fahrenheit.

8. Costs

Most of the ingredients were pretty cheap, but the shiitakes usually aren’t.  The shiitakes came from a package I got from Costco, a really great deal – I think it was like 1/2 lb for $10.00 or so. Probably used less than 2 dollars’ worth or so. The quantity of onions might be 2 dollars. The bread expense…hm…maybe 2 dollars? Half a loaf, for four dollars or less (two dollars’ worth). Three eggs…roughly 50 cents – 75 cents, depending on how fancy the eggs were. That’s seven dollars so far, not counting the dashes of this and that. Using store-bought chicken stock brings up the cost to ten dollars. It serves more than ten, so, it’s probably less than a dollar per serving.

How did it taste? Oh, I remember it well! First, the nearly custard-like bread/egg foundation is rich and savory. Then a bite of the shiitakes makes the brain so very happy. Shiitakes are pure umami to me.***

*I usually use milk when making stuffing…so…I probably used it for this recipe…

**I don’t remember why I fried the bread, it’s been such a long time since I’ve made any kind of stuffing/pudding , but I’m pretty sure I’ve always done that for bread stuffings.

***Science journalist Robert Krulwich has a charming 8 minute story about Kikunae Ikeda and Escoffier discovering umami contemporaneously. One as a chemist, the other as a chef.