Portobello Pizzas

March 29, 2006 at 8:39 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

Looking for a new way to cook portobello mushrooms, I came across recipes for portobello pizzas. I love pizza, and so instantly jumped at the chance to try this lighter version.

Portobellos are 80 to 90 percent water, so they can become quite soggy, especially when topped with tomato sauce.  Cook’s Illustrated says that salting portobellos makes them slimy.  Apparently, mushroom exteriors are covered with a layer of hydrophobic (water-repellent) proteins that prevents water from going in—and keeps moisture from going out. Instead of salting the mushrooms, they recommend cutting slits in the caps before roasting them, to allow water to drip out and evaporate.  They also recommend preheating the baking sheet, to mimic the effects of a hot skillet and produce a carmelized exterior and deeper flavor.

Three favorite pizzas:

1 portobello mushroom cap
2 Tbs. pizza sauce (I used muir glen brand)
1/2 ounce cheese (I used a great, meltable sheep’s milk cheese)
3 kalamata olives
1 Tbs. red onion, chopped

1 portobello mushroom cap
1/4 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1/2 ounce cheese (I used fontinella)

1 portobello mushroom cap
1 Tbs. pesto
1/2 ounce feta cheese
1 Tbs. red onion, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. lemon juice (sprinkle on top after mushroom comes out of the oven)

Adjust oven rack to upper position.  If the rack is still more than a few inches from the top of the oven, place an ovenproof skillet on the rack (I used my cast iron skillet).  Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack (or the skillet), and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Clean mushrooms, and remove the stem. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch slits, spaced 1/2 inch apart, in crosshatch pattern on the surface of the mushroom (non-gill side).  If you like, you can brush the caps with oil and sprinkle with a little salt, and pre-roast them for about 10 minutes on each side. It will lead to a more concentrated flavor and carmelized texture, but it’s not essential.  Top the mushrooms and bake for about 10 minutes, until the mushroom is soft and the cheese flecked with brown spots.

My Notes:

This is definitely a keeper for when I get that pizza craving. And lower calorie than using a tortilla or pita. Derek didn’t think the mushroom added much, but I liked the moist but firm texture, and thought it made a lovely base for the toppings. Next time I’m going to try Cook’s Illustrated’s suggestions, and I bet it will be less soggy and Derek will like it better. I bet kids would love it as well.

My pesto pizza turned out terribly, but maybe my pesto just wasn’t good. It was from the freezer and not the best pesto.  My other two pizzas were excellent I thought.

I didn’t remove the gills because I’m lazy, but maybe this would provide more room for the toppings? It was kind of hard to get the apples to stay on.

I think using 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of cheese per mushroom is best, depending on the size of the mushroom. You can chop the stem up and use it as a topping if you like, or put it in the freezer and save for vegetable broth.

Note from second try– make sure the mushrooms get cooked enough!

Rating: B
Derek: C

Update Oct 2011:  I made portobello pizzas again but this time I forgot to cut slits in the gils.  Instead I rubbed a bit of oil into each portobello top (non-gill side), and roasted them at 400 F in the oven for about 30 minutes, until they were getting dried out.  Only then did I add the tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.  I think they turned out better.  They weren’t watery at all.  They were still pretty hard to cut though!  Derek even liked them this time.

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Japanese Country Power Breakfast (Miso Soup)

March 29, 2006 at 6:17 am (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Japanese, Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

The book “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old–Or Fat Either” recommends eating miso soup for breakfast, or what the author calls “Japanese Country Power Breakfast.” I don’t really follow her recipe but I love the idea. It’s very filling, tasty, and low-calorie. It’s also a great way to use up small amounts of leftover vegetables. I try to eat this “power breakfast” at least once a week for breakfast.

What I put in my miso soup (some subset depending on what I have):

  • Group 1. root vegetables or winter squash, whatever I have on hand: carrots, yams/sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, potato. This is actually a great way to use up something like turnips that I don’t generally like that much. They’re pretty good in miso soup, though. Parsnips are quite sweet, which is a bit odd in the soup, but not unpleasant.
  • Group 2. mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash or other soft vegetables
  • Group 3. cabbage, shredded, or leafy greens sliced finely
  • Group 4. diced scallions and/or bean sprouts
  • Tofu, diced into squares
  • Brown rice, pre-cooked or other leftover whole grains, about 2 Tablespoons per person
  • Fried (free-range) egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, cut into strands (about 1/2 – 1 egg per person)
  • Miso. I prefer red miso. (some info on miso varieties)

Instructions

  1. If you’re adding an egg, beat it in a bowl with a little bit of salt and pepper. Heat a small skillet (I use my 7 1/2 inch All Clad Stainless fry pan) over high heat, spray with oil, and add the egg. Lift the corners and tilt the pan to let the uncooked bits get cooked. When it’s cooked remove it from the heat. It’s okay to leave it in the pan though.,
  2. Put some water on to boil. For one person use a 2 quart pot and 3 cups of water? Maybe a little less?
  3. Prepare your vegetables from group 1. Peel or seed if needed and dice finely. Add them to the water before anything else to start to soften. When the water comes to a boil turn it down so it’s only boiling lightly. Cook for about 3? minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare any vegetables from group 2. Add them to the boiling water. Cook for about 2? minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare any vegetables from group 3, and dice your tofu and get out your brown rice. Add them to the boiling water, and cook for about 2? minutes.
  6. Off the heat, but it’s okay to leave the pan on the burner, even if you have an electric stove. Add your miso. I think for 3 cups of water you need about 1.5 Tbs. of miso (I need to check this). I’m usually lazy, and just mix the miso directly into the soup. Stir it well because if you don’t you could get a lump of miso, which is incredibly salty and so pretty unpleasant. Alternatively, use a small sieve, and push the miso through the sieve into the soup, to avoid any lumps.
  7. Add scallions or bean sprouts and your fried egg if desired. I like to cut my fried egg into strands using scissors.

My Notes:

I’d recommend not trying to put too many different ingredients in your miso soup. I’d choose probably three different vegetables only.

You’ll need an extra-large soup bowl for this breakfast. A little cereal bowl just won’t cut it. This breakfast is extremely healthy but high in sodium from the miso, so go light on sodium for the rest of the day.

I finished my miso and bought a new container and it tasted so good, much better than before. It could be I was just hungrier, but I was wondering if miso loses flavor with age? How long does miso last in the fridge? Anyone know?

The author of the above book makes her miso soup with dashi (a broth made from kombu and fish flakes) but I don’t eat fish and it’s easier to just use water, plus I’m not a big fan of the fishy flavor. Maybe that’s why I liked today’s soup better–no kombu?

I just noticed I don’t have broccoli or cauliflower on my list. Have I never put them in miso soup?

Clearly this recipe needs work, as I don’t have amounts for the vegetables and even the amounts I do have are total guesses. I’ll try to pay more attention next time I make it.

Rating: B
Derek: B (much to his surprise, he was quite skeptical when I said I was making miso soup for breakfast)

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White Wine and Garlic French-Style Vegetable Medley (B+)

March 29, 2006 at 5:04 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, French, Spring recipes)

At Kaya last weekend we had a “mixed mushroom saute” appetizer that was actually more potato than mushrooms, but extremely satisfying. It had fingerling potatoes, a few different types of mushrooms, little bits of chard, some garlic I think, and lots of white wine, olive oil, and salt. I tried to copy it at home last night, and it came out quite well. Even Derek liked it quite a bit, but he thought it was a little one dimensional, overly wine-y maybe. He thought Kaya’s dish had some other “rounding” flavor that I was missing. Perhaps it was butter?

I didn’t measure but here are the ingredients I used, as I remember them:

White Wine and Garlic French-Style Vegetable Medley

about 4-6 small Yukon gold potatoes, halved then sliced thinly [Kaya used fingerlings]
1 large shiitake mushroom [Kaya used different wild mushrooms]
about 10 large button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 of a large burdock root, cut very thinly along the bias [my own addition]
1/2 bunch of red chard (stems removed) [I used more than Kaya did]
5 medium-large cloves of garlic
olive oil
white wine
salt
black pepper
aleppo pepper [my addition, I don’t think the Kaya dish was spicy]
garlic powder
onion powder

I thought the burdock root added a great flavor, but I should have added it before the potatoes as it wasn’t quite cooked enough. Derek picked out his burdock, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the texture only, or the flavor too. Burdock and white wine… a wonderful combination. The earthy burdock is complemented by the sweet acidic wine so well.

The fresh shiitake was very nice. I should have used more except I was worried that Derek wouldn’t like them, since he’s picky about the texture of shiitake mushrooms. The shiitake wasn’t chewy, however, but quite tender. The button mushrooms were okay, but probably should have been quartered instead of sliced.

Rating: B+
Derek: B

With new potatoes, spring mushrooms like morels or porcinis, and early delicate chard or beet greens, this makes a lovely recipe for late spring.

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