Tag Archives: mushroom

Pumpkin Lasagna with Kale and Mushrooms

24 Oct

This pumpkin kick I’ve been on is showing no signs of slowing down.

I recently hosted an autumn bake fest with a few friends (mostly jabbering amongst some baking), where we made pumpkin spice cut-out cookies. The dough called for pumpkin purée— an unexpected addition to a fairly standard spiced sugar cookie recipe— which made it soft and easy to roll without sticking to every imaginable surface. It may not have been the pumpkin, but there was something about this dough that made for THE most perfect cookie. Sadly, it’s not healthy enough for More Spinach Please so you will have to visit Glorious Treats for the recipe.

DSC_0570

While I was pretty VERY proud of how well my cookies turned out, my big accomplishment of the weekend was the pumpkin lasagna that I tackled last Sunday night. Lasagna is intimidating. Even the simplest recipe can seem daunting. You have to juggle various ingredients, never sure if you’re estimating accurately when they tell you to put “one third of the mixture” on top of the noodles, only to realize that you ended up using half of the mixture and now you don’t have enough for the last layer. Luckily, taste is rarely affected by these nuances.

Once the idea of pumpkin lasagna popped into my head, I ruthlessly searched the web for the perfect recipe. The ones that sounded healthy didn’t seem quite right based on my prior lasagna-making experiences (improper ratios, not enough egg to bind), and the ones that sounded delicious were loaded with calories. I don’t usually like to mess around with lasagna recipes because if you’re not careful you will end up with a sloppy pile of noodles from too much liquid. But… I took a chance. And it paid off.

DSC_0556

Starting with a Rachael Ray recipe, I swapped in sautéed mushrooms, kale, and onion for the boiled escarole and cut down on the amount of cheese. I wanted to use whole wheat noodles but I couldn’t find a no-cook version (a key ingredient for a cohesive lasagna that will not fall apart on your plate). Oh well. I also managed to make a roux using a small amount of olive oil instead of equal parts butter and flour, although this ended up requiring a bit of extra flour at the end for thickening. The culinary gods were certainly frowning down on me for butchering a classic technique.

The layering process can be a pain when trying to follow written directions, so I created a quick drawing for myself that I could refer to.

LasagnaAssembly

The final product come out of the oven looking like a perfect lasagna should: oozing with cheese and golden brown on top. When I cut into it, I was delighted to find nicely defined layers that did not fall apart on my plate. Success!

DSC_0602

If you never make this lasagna, promise me one thing: you MUST make the garlic béchamel sauce. Throw it on pasta, eat it with a spoon— whatever you wish. It’s simple yet superb. And a good source of calcium.

Pumpkin Lasagna with Kale and Mushrooms
(adapted from Rachael Ray’s Pumpkin Lovers Lasagna)

1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
2 cups (227g) sliced mushrooms
5 cups chopped kale, ribs removed (approximately 5 leaves)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (skim or 1%)
Pinch of nutmeg
1 can (796mL) pure pumpkin purée
3 eggs
2 cups ricotta (ideally 6% M.F. or less)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cup grated partly-skimmed mozzarella cheese
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cover the garlic cloves with water in a small saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Squish the garlic pulp from the jackets into a bowl and mash with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the kale, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale has wilted and all liquid from the mixture has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
  4. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and mashed garlic until no lumps remain and season with salt and pepper to taste, and a little nutmeg. Cook until slightly thickened (the sauce should just coat the back of the spoon evenly without breaking up on the spoon’s surface). If your mixture doesn’t thicken properly, add another 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of flour.
  5. Whisk together the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a medium bowl. DO NOT FORGET THE SALT! I made this mistake and the pumpkin layer was a bit bland.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the remaining egg.
  7. In a large dish, soak the lasagna sheets in water for 5 minutes.
  8. Pour about half the garlic sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 11-inch baking dish. Add a layer of lasagna sheets (4 sheets per layer, breaking them up as needed to fit into the dish, keeping in mind that they will expand) and then half the pumpkin mixture. Make another layer of lasagna sheets and spread with all of the ricotta mixture, followed by the kale and mushroom mixture. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining pumpkin and another layer of lasagna sheets. Finish with the remaining garlic sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan.
  9. Bake the lasagna, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Try to tent the foil slightly, as part of my top layer of lasagna was pulled up when the foil was removed. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut and serve. Tastes even better the next day!

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 405 kcal, 15 g fat (6 g saturated), 44 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 24 g protein, 465 mg sodium

Advertisements

Brilliantly Bright Borscht

10 Feb

My job has serious perks.  As a food lover, it hardly feels like work to sample an array of vegan products that I may eventually recommend to my patients or feast on a spread of Mardi Gras-themed dishes that may make their way onto the cafeteria’s menu.  Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of doing both this week.   Events like these are side projects that our dietetic interns are involved with over the course of their training.  As a former intern not too long ago, shopping for interesting food products and perusing the web for recipes was a nice break from the clinical work, case studies, and research projects.

In the fall, an Ontario borscht was sampled at an event that I was unable to attend.  It received such rave reviews that the recipe was sent out to all of the dietitians.  Earlier this week, I stumbled across it in my inbox so I made it my mission to cook up a pot this weekend.

Borscht

Never having made borscht before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The colour is stunning (never wear white when cooking or eating borscht) and the flavour was more complex than I anticipated.  Beets can be overpowering but subtle potato and cabbage flavours shone through.  It’s a shame that I couldn’t taste all of the different vegetables in this dish (there were a lot!) but I was reassured by knowing that I was getting all of their nutrients.  Best of all was the texture.  In this particular recipe, the cabbage retained a bit of crunch and provided nice contrast to the rest of the softer vegetables.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s lunch, since I read that borscht is supposed to taste better the next day.

Borscht2

Ontario Borscht
(from Foodland Ontario)

Since it’s the middle of winter, I wasn’t able to use nearly as much Ontario produce as the recipe calls for.  This is the perfect autumn dish, when everything is in season.

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
6 Ontario Beets, peeled and shredded
4 Ontario Leeks, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) sliced Ontario Mushrooms
2 Ontario Carrots, shredded
2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
1 Ontario Onion, chopped
1 Ontario White Turnip, peeled and shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 Ontario Potato, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
7 cups (1.75 L) beef or vegetable broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
2 cups (500 mL) shredded Ontario Cabbage
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp (50 mL) red wine vinegar – I used 4 tbsp
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
Salt and pepper
Sour cream and snipped chives or green onion tops

  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add beets, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, onion, white turnip, celery, potato and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Bring to simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in cabbage and beans; cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Season with vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar and sugar if needed (there should be a nice sweet and sour balance).  Discard bay leaves. Place dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chives on each serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. Per serving (based on 10 servings): 157 kcal, 3 g fat, 25 g CHO, 7 g protein.

Make-ahead Breakfast Strata

28 Dec

Happy holidays!  It’s been a busy yet relaxing week filled with many Fs: family, friends, fun, and fabulous food.  I feel particularly thankful around this time of the year as I know there are many less fortunate than myself.  Despite living in different cities, my immediate family was able to connect again this year.  As we get older and life gets busier, work may not always allow us to travel to spend the holidays together.

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Sand-sculpted nativity scene spotted on the beach on Christmas Day

Christmas morning is the perfect time for a wholesome, make-ahead breakfast to balance the feast that follows later in the day.  This year my mom suggested a strata and I had the perfect recipe in mind.  If you’re not familiar with the term, a strata is essentially just a savory bread pudding.  This strata uses whole grain bread, an equal ratio of egg to egg whites, and is brimming with veggies.  Outside of the holidays, this recipe is perfect for cottage weekends– a bit of quick prep the night before and the dish is ready to go into the oven the following morning. No fuss, no dishes to wash.

I wasn't able to sneak a photo before we dug in-- everyone was too hungry!

I wasn’t able to sneak a photo before we dug in– everyone was too hungry!

I recently bought myself a new camera (Merry Christmas to me!) so you’ll have to bear with me and my many photos as I learn to navigate its settings.  Stay tuned for a few more recipes over the next week or two.  It’s been a treat having the time to cook proper meals!

Layers of goodness

Layers of goodness

You may want to keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!

Keep an eye on the strata at the 45 minute mark to prevent charring on top!

 

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Breakfast Strata
(adapted from Foodnetwork.com)

4 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups), and preferably a sweet onion, e.g. Vidalia
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
5 cups cubed, whole grain bread
8 eggs and 8 egg whites
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1o oz frozen broccoli, thawed (or you can steam fresh broccoli, then cool)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated extra-old cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes, reconstituted
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt  (the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp but some reviewers said it was too bland)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1 minute. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their water, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Spray a large rectangular glass dish (9″x13″ or larger) with cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes in the dish.
  4. To the onion mixture, add mushrooms, broccoli, and sundried tomato.  Pour over bread cubes, ensuring vegetables are evenly distributed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, milk and mustard until incorporated.  Add Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, thyme, and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
  6. Pour mixture over vegetables and bread, making sure liquid saturates bread.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  7. The next day: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap from strata and bake for 60 minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust and no liquid remains when knife is inserted into centre. You may want to place a baking sheet under the dish to prevent any spillage. An extra 15-20 minutes may need to be added to the baking time depending on the size/depth of your dish – cover dish with foil during this period to prevent the top from burning.

Makes 9 servings. Per serving: 297 kcal, 22 g CHO, 4 g fibre, 15 g fat (5.1 g saturated), 21 g protein, 710 mg sodium.

Cooking with E: Nori-wrapped Salmon in Miso Broth

20 Nov

I’ve returned to my old ways.  A dismal one blog entry in the past month– and it wasn’t even written by me!  Pathetic.

Working full-time has its perks (a salary!) but also has its pitfalls (less time for cooking, blogging, SLEEP, exercise, and the list goes on).  Lucky for me, Mr.  E has been around for the past couple of months to ensure that I’m well-fed.  If it weren’t for him, dinner would often consist of an omelette or scrambled eggs, toast, and broccoli.

[As an aside, my friend doesn’t think that eggs are “real” food for dinner.  I would appreciate it if you could take a minute to answer this poll and let me know your thoughts.  We’ve been having this debate for 8 years now!]

E has been cooking up a variety of dishes, including slow cooker beef stew, jerk chicken, Asian chicken soup with daikon, authentic sweet and sour pork, more stir fries than I can count on one hand, and one of his more interesting concoctions: chicken breast stuffed with pineapple, sundried tomato, feta, and smoked cheddar.  I was skeptical, but it was surprisingly tasty.

My favourite “E” dinner to date was adapted from a dish featured on the cover of the Autumn LCBO Food & Drink Magazine: Nori-wrapped Salmon with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Soy Beans in Miso Broth.  Sounds impressive (and intimidating!) but E claims it was “pretty easy.”  The broth was simple yet flavourful, the fish tasted divine, and the edamame added just the right amount of texture.

Definitely a dinner-party-worthy dish.

How the dish should look

E’s version (don’t forget to slice the salmon in half before serving!)

Nori-wrapped Salmon with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Soy Beans in Miso Broth
(from Food & Drink magazine, Autumn 2012)

1 oz (30 g) dried black trumpet mushrooms (E used shiitake mushrooms)
5 green onions, trimmed and cut in half
2 inch length of ginger, sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
2 cloves garlic
4 salmon fillets, each 6 oz (175 g)
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sheets nori (the large sheets of dried seaweed used in sushi)
1 cup frozen shelled soy beans (aka edamame)
2 tbsp miso paste
micro-greens or shredded green onion to garnish

  1. Soak dried mushrooms in enough warm water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse mushrooms under cool running water. Slice larger ones in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  3. In a small saucepan, bring 3 cups (750 mL) water to a boil. Add green onions, ginger and soy sauce. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard solids. Return broth to pot.
  4. Using the side of a large knife, lightly crush garlic to release juices, leaving cloves in 1 piece. Rub salmon with garlic and discard cloves. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Working with 1 sheet of nori at a time, place salmon, skin-side up, in the centre of the nori. Fold edges up and around to enclose salmon as you would a gift-wrapped box. Place, seamside down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining salmon fillets. Roast for 12 to 14 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to rest while finishing the broth.
  5. While salmon is roasting, return broth to a simmer over medium heat. Add soy beans and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in mushrooms; cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat, add miso paste and stir until miso is dissolved.
  6. Divide broth and vegetables between 4 shallow bowls. Slice each salmon fillet in half on the diagonal and place 2 half-fillets in each bowl. Top with a small handful of micro-greens or shredded green onion.

Serves 4.  Per serving: 450 kcal, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 26g fat (5.3 g saturated), 41 g protein, 505 mg sodium.

Easy but Elegant Asian-Style White Fish

16 Aug

It was my mom’s birthday earlier this week and I wanted to treat her to a nicer-than-usual dinner.  Sifting through my cookbooks, I came across a simple yet sophisticated fish recipe that I’ve made once before.  Mushrooms are sauteed until all of their moisture is lost and then tossed in a salty yet sweet Asian-inspired sauce.  Next, a firm white fish of your choice is topped with the mushroom mixture, then baked in the oven for just over ten minutes.  Easy peasy, right?

To class up the meal just a bit more, I decided to forgo the usual plain brown rice for a coconut rice dish from the Looneyspoons Collection cookbook.  Good ole Janet and Greta… again, providing me with much-needed inspiration!  Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed with the rice despite it being a nice addition to the meal.  The coconut flavour was too subtle; however, the ginger shone through and saved the day.  Next time I’d omit the salt and try it with the lemon zest (the fridge was void of lemons).

Do you have any easy, pseudo-gourmet meals worth sharing?  I’m always looking for new recipes to add to the pile, especially ones that trick my guests into thinking I’m a great chef!

Tilapia hiding under a mound of mushrooms

 

White Fish with Black Bean Sauce and Oyster Mushrooms
(from Rose Reisman’s Family Favorites cookbook)

Black bean sauce is a Chinese sauce made from fermented soy beans and wheat flour.  It’s very high in sodium (like many Asian sauces), so use it in moderation.

1-1/2 lbs (675 g) firm white fish (e.g. tilapia or pickerel)
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 cups sliced oyster mushrooms (feel free to substitute any kind of mushroom)

Sauce:
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (or ketchup)
2 tbsp black bean sauce
3 tbsp water
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp minced garlic

Garnish (optional):  3 tbsp chopped green onions, 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or oil.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute for 8 minutes or until the mushrooms are no longer wet, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  When the mushrooms are finished cooking, add the sauce to the mushrooms and saute for one more minute.
  4. Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet and divide the mushroom mixture evenly between the fillets.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the fish just starts to flake.
  5. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro, and serve.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 203 kcal, 10 g fat (1.4 g saturated fat), 0.7 g fibre, 23 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 268 mg sodium

——————————————————————————————————————-

Twice as Nice Coconut Rice
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

Click here for tips on what to look for when choosing a coconut milk

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1-1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
2-1/4 cups water
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt

  1. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and gingerroot and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.  Add rice and cook for one more minute.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  (Exact cooking time depends on brand of rice.  Check instructions on the package as some brown rice takes up to 45 minutes to cook).
  3. Fluff rice with a fork and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 208 kcal, 4.6 g fat (3.1 g saturated fat), 4 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fibre, 4 g protein, 203 mg sodium.