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Grilled Green Bean Casserole with Portobello Cream


Grilled Green Bean Casserole with Portobello Cream

A portobello mushroom is simply a cremini mushroom that has been allowed to mature, says Garrett Stephens of the County Line. The flavors have grown earthier and meatier as the cap has gotten larger. It’s that added oomph that you want when making this green bean casserole.

Grilled Green Bean Casserole with Portobello Cream

1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1 can fried onions
2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces portobello mushroom, rinsed and sliced
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half

Set grill for a direct grilling method. Add soaked wood chips to fire.

Place beans on a grill pan and grill directly over hot fire until nicely browned. Set aside. Cut in half.

Place fried onions on a grill pan and toast for 2 to 3 minutes.

Melt butter in a large oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up liquid, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook 2 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add stock and cook for 1 minute. Decrease the temperature to medium low and add half-and-half. Cook until mixture thickens, approximately 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add green beans. Top with fried onions.

Make at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Garrett Stephens/The County Line

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Mushrooms Add Earthy Richness to Soup


A food processor is a big help with chopping the onions and mushrooms to the fine point you want for this soup.

Mixed Mushroom Soup

1 ounce butter
1 pound onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 pounds mixed mushrooms, finely chopped (see note)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 ounces flour
2 pints vegetable or mushroom stock
1 pint whole milk or fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

In a large stockpot, melt the butter over a very low heat, add the onions and cook gently for 10 minutes or until translucent. Raise the heat, add the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes or until the juices start to run, then stir in the flour. Lower the heat and cook, stirring continuously, for about 8 minutes. Combine the stock and milk in a separate pan and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Gradually add the stock and milk to the mushroom mixture, whisking to avoid lumps. Heat the soup at just below simmering point for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, check the seasoning and serve.

[amazon-product]095381520X[/amazon-product]Note: This recipe was tested with a mixture of button caps, brown mushrooms and portobellos. I stirred porcini powder, available at specialty supermarkets like Central Market, to enhance the place. I used thin slices of button cap as a garnish.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Adapted from “Avoca Café Cookbook” by Hugo Arnold with Leylie Hayes

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Spice Up a Portobello Sandwich


PortobelloCajun Portobello Sandwich With Avocado and Rémoulade

“Marinating mushrooms takes out a bit of the earthy flavor that some people find off-putting,” writes Tal Ronnen in the new vegan cookbook, “The Conscious Cook” (William Morrow, $29.99). “Of course, the longer they marinate, the more intensity you’ll get. This is a rich sandwich, with luscious avocado and a generous smear of rémoulade.”

Mushrooms:
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons low-salt Cajun seasoning, divided use
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills removed, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch slices

Assembly:
About 1/4 cup rémoulade (recipe follows)
4 soft sandwich rolls, split
4 to 8 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed and sliced

Rémoulade:
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons capers, minced
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper

For the mushrooms: Place a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, along with the wine, vinegar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Pour the mushrooms and liquid into a shallow container, cover and set aside to marinate for 1 hour.

Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and press between paper towels or in a cotton dish towel to remove the excess marinade, then sprinkle with the remaining Cajun seasoning, pressing the seasoning into both sides of the mushroom slices. Discard the marinade.

[amazon-product]0061874337[/amazon-product]In a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, cook the mushrooms in a single layer (you may have to do this in two batches) until blackened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

To assemble: Spread a spoonful of the rémoulade on one half of each roll. Top each with 1 or 2 lettuce leaves and a few slices of tomato and avocado. Divide the mushroom slices among the rolls. Close each sandwich, cut in half and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

For the rémoulade: Place mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, capers, shallot, parsley and pepper in a food processor or blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 1/4 cups.

From “The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat” by Tal Ronnen

This article is part of the series:  World Vegetarian Day Brings Some Meat-free Surprises

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Tap Exchange: Beers for All Tastes – and Food, Too


TapExchange5I headed out to the Tap Exchange Alehouse &  Grill last Saturday to watch McAllister Park in the Little League World Series game. The rain delays kept me from seeing the game, but I left with a good feeling about the restaurant.

Any place with that many India pale ales on the menu – not to mention the stouts, pilsners, porters, weissens and amber ales – gets a thumbs up from me. I love the bitter, floral hoppiness of IPAs and could easily drink my way through the dozen or so offered – as long as someone else was driving and I didn’t care what I felt like the next day. The whole list includes more than 60 beers on tap and 50 by the bottle. There’s also a list of beer-based cocktails that go well beyond the beloved black and tan. There’s a good wine list, too, for variety.

Food: 2.5
Service: 3.0
Value: 2.5

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

But it was beer I wanted, so I started with a Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale, which had a happy hoppiness about it that made me sink back into my chair and forget all about rain delays and the rest of the afternoon. My Patty Melt made me perk up even more, thanks to a winning combination of grilled onions, melted Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on toasted rye. Oh, yeah, there was a burger tucked in there, too, but more on that later.

TapExchange4A bright, fresh side salad with the house vinaigrette made was equally good.

A Green Flash IPA from the tap added plenty of citrus notes to the beer’s floral nature, which was just fine with me because, by the time I ordered the second beer, I was ready for a snack. I opted for the hot wings with the habanero sauce, which wasn’t too hot but had a lot of fruit flavor. The spiciness of the sauce seemed to come more from black pepper, but they were still good and meaty, just what you’d expect from a beer hall like this.

I made it back there Monday night with friends, who were a bit flummoxed at all the beer choices available. Thankfully, our waitress was extremely helpful. She approached the topic the way a good wine steward does, and after a few short questions, she had the right beers chosen for both. A fruit Michelob Ultra Pomegranate-Raspberry for one, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout for the other. I opted for hops again and chose Victory Wild Devil IPA, again with plenty of citrus notes to balance the pleasant bitterness.

We each found something to like when we paired the brews with thick-cut fried pickles and a trio plate of breaded jalapeño slices, mushrooms and Buffalo-style cheese sticks. Fried food all, but the quality, unfortunately, was not equal. The cheese sticks were oddly bland next to the rest of the goodies, which disappeared quickly.

TapExchange3Our sandwiches varied from good to mediocre. Top honor went to a custom burger made with a large portobello mushroom instead of beef. Ripe avocado and cheese made it even more enjoyable. A Black & Bleu Wrap with steak strips and blue cheese also made a good impression, though the tortilla wrap itself was on the cardboard side in terms of texture and lack of taste.

On the Ortega burger drew yawns. The mild green chile aioli the menu referred to was really a shrinking violet, adding no flavor. A slightly sweet, slightly stale bun didn’t help. But worst of all was the preformed burger patty, lifeless and dull – and not all that hot. The ripe avocado was about the only saving grace of the whole sandwich. (If you can made your own sauce for the ziti and your own soups each day, spend the time to form your own patties and don’t freeze the meat. You’ll do better in the long-run for taking the extra step.)

But my friend got over her disappointment by ordering the homemade ice cream. We all loved the chalky, gritty texture of the cocoa powder in the chocolate ice cream, which also had small chunks of chocolate for added flavor. (And, yes, it pairs nicely with Double Chocolate Stout.) The vanilla could have used a little more vanilla; what we had was more like sweet cream, which certainly wasn’t bad.

In the end, though, it’s beer, not ice cream, that will get people into Tap Exchange. (And apparently the promise of kids eating free on Mondays will, too, as there were many families that night.) I’ve already got my next IPAs picked out.

TapExchange2TapExchange1

Tap Exchange
22250 Bulverde Road at Evans Road
(210) 396-7917
Lunch and dinner daily.
$-$$

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