BK’s ‘Shrooms

It’s not every day that someone plops a bag of fresh mushrooms on your desk at work. But I’d been hearing about these mushrooms for awhile and Heather likes to promote anything healthy and veggie. She tells me that mushrooms are high in antioxidants – a kind of a super food that can lower cholesterol, prevent tumors and cancer, serve as a “nerve tonic” and much more. She reminds me they are also more nutritious cooked than raw.

Pioppini mushrooms are deep, robust flavor. Good with pasta and meats. Photo by Heather Callin.

Pioppini mushrooms have a deep, robust flavor. Good with pasta and meats. Photo by Heather Callin.

My variety bag was purchased from Ferial Welsh, the Mushroom Lady, at the Bethesda, Maryland, farmer’s market. Talk about fresh! Although, some of the upscale grocery stores carry a wild mushroom mix, but nothing can beat the freshness of ‘shrooms straight from the market.

Wild mushroom mix with marinara sauce.

Wild mushroom mix with marinara sauce.

I used the ‘shrooms that night to make an otherwise dull marinara sauce rich and interesting. I used every single variety! Mushrooms make anything better. Make a white mushroom pizza, mushroom frittata, or sauté them with onions in olive oil to accompany steak, chicken or pork. Mushrooms tend to take on the flavor of the food you cook them with – kind of like tofu. And like vodka with a mixer.

If you want to know more about how mushrooms are grown, read this fascinating blog by Forrest Pritchard from Smith Meadows Farm who goes behind the scenes at the Phillips Mushroom Farm.

Thanks, Heather, for introducing me to fresh, wild mushrooms…they’re a beautiful thing!

Grazing at HOK

We share the dinner prep here at HOK (House of Kelley). When it’s my turn I have a problem waiting for everyone to get home. I can barely stave off hunger while chopping, slicing and sautéing. I’m a grazer.

Here’s my new hold-me-off-until-dinner graze plate:

Zero fat.
Only 35 measly calories in five of them.

What am I describing?  Peppadews of course!

Prepare yourself a little plate – Peppadews, cucumbers, Feta, and some Peppadew brine lightly sprinkled on top, punctuated with cracked pepper. This also makes a tasty and light appetizer. Keep the ingredients on hand. Maybe pour a glass of wine while you graze and cook? (Just a thought…)

Savory 16? Keep This in Your Hip Pocket

I don’t know what to call it when a boy turns 16 — for girls it’s Sweet 16. And, when you have a boy who wants everything lower than low key, you can’t go all out.

Here’s an idea for your new driver’s 16th birthday. Find a baby photo like this in your archives. My local Giant made the cake. I am not going to say he was thrilled – but at least it wasn’t naked baby pictures!

Sweet 16 for Girls?
That one is easy. Here is my eHow video on how to make unique Sweet 16 centerpieces for a girl’s party.

To all the teens I love who turn 16 this year, Happy Birthday!

A Fine Brine

It’s complex, it’s big, it’s tangy, it’s the varietal brine of that sweet, yet spicy, fruit called the Peppadew®. I’ve incorporated these morsels of good in many recipes, but I’m telling you, do not throw away the brine!

Use the Peppadew® brine in place of vinegar when tossing your favorite oil and vinegar dressing on your greens. Use the brine when making slaw dressing for some added tang.

Here’s a dressing I created using the Peppadew® brine to go along with a salad using fall fruits. Pair this salad with any grilled beef, chicken or pork. And remember, don’t throw away that brine!

Pear-Apple Salad with Peppadew Dressing
16-oz of mixed salad greens
1/3 cup Peppadews®, chopped
1 cup Swiss cheese, shaved
1 cup roasted nuts – either pecans or cashews
1 red apple (Gala or Honeycrisp), sliced thinly
1 green pear (Anjou), sliced thinly
Toss together all the above ingredients with the Peppadew Dressing (recipe below).

Peppadew Dressing for Pear-Apple Salad

Morsels of Good

Morsels of Good

2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Peppadew® brine
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Process ingredients in a blender or shaker until smooth. Can make ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to one week; bring to room temperature before using.

Yield: 6-8 servings