Mushroom Stir-Fry: Mark Bittman Style

Once again I have been carving out time to work on my book of recipes based on this blog.  Yesterday I was adding to a section on mushrooms and reminding myself of how incredibly beneficial they are to those of us working hard to regain our healthy balance.  Here is a great article on how mold, fungus and other beneficial organisms are very good for us, and no, they definitely don’t make Candida worse!

I found the following recipe for a mushroom based meal in the Sunday Times Magazine, it’s by Mark Bittman, taken from his cookbook, “How To Cook Everything” which is as handy as the title suggests.  This recipe is all about mushrooms: dried and fresh they make for a filling and healthy vegetarian meal.  You can add any protein you like: cubes of fried tofu or baked chicken or make the recipe as is, it’s simple and should take less than half an hour to make.

Dried Shiitake mushrooms will keep in your pantry long term and add tons of flavor and nutrition to so many dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces dried mushrooms, preferably shiitakes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets and stems, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms like button, cremini, shiitake, sliced (a variety is nice)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional as a thickener, it does NOT add a significant amount of carbohydrates.
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 3/4 cup mushroom-soaking liquid
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

Procedure:

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in 3 cups very hot water until soft, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. (Dried shiitake are much tougher than other varieties and should be soaked in boiled water.) When they are tender, remove the dried mushrooms from the liquid with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid; slice or chop if the pieces are large.
2. Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil for the broccoli. Cook the broccoli for 2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain.
3. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil and swirl it around, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds; add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms when they’re ready, and allow them to cook down 2 or 3 minutes before adding the carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but not at all mushy, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the broccoli during the last five minutes of cooking.
4. If you like, dissolve the cornstarch in the tamari to thicken it; stir into the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Add the crushed red pepper if you’re using it, and pour in the soaking liquid. Stir the mixture, and scrape the bottom of the pan, then turn off the heat; the liquid should be mostly absorbed. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.
YIELD
4 to 6 servings

The original recipe can be found here.

Broccoli Fritters and A Garden Update

Ok, how about the garden update first and then the recipe for Broccoli Fritters that John found for me on Smitten Kitchen (love the name and the recipes, thank you thank you!).

Our garden at Green Meads Farm in Richmond is growing like crazy; veggies, weeds and that invasive comfrey too.  Last night Dana and I harvested carrots, lots and lots of lettuce: baby romaine, red sails and black seeded simpson as well as spinach, it doesn’t like the heat but it’s hangin’ in there.  Here’s a shot of the garden, the back third is still pretty much all weeds but we’re doing what we can with our hand tools.

There are a couple of hops plants in the foreground and off to the right with our 5 veggie and herb beds in the middle.

Dana harvested a bunch of Holy Basil and is drying it inside on some old print screens Crispina donated to us a few years back, can’t wait to make tea with it!

Holy Basil!

We have been eating salad non stop since the weather turned and I think in about a week or so we’ll be picking chard and kale.  Can’t wait to make these broccoli fritters with our home grown broccoli in another few weeks!  Here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I only changed one thing: the flour.  Her recipe calls for a half cup of regular wheat flour which easily swaps out for 1/2 cup of chick pea flour or about 2 tablespoons of coconut flour.  Enjoy!

Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Fritters

“There’s a lot of broccoli and very little pancake in this fritter. The broccoli is not grated or pureed, but left in small, recognizable bits that are bound lightly, faintly, to their batter of egg, parmesan and flour. And when you cook them right — that is, to a crisp, in a preheated, heavy, oil-slicked skillet — they get a fantastic crisp edge to them.

To serve: I like these with a dollop of the garlicky lemon yogurt I share here, roughly 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tiny minced clove of garlic, a bit of zest and salt. It would also be good with this homemade ricotta, with or without additional lemon juice. They’re also good simply, with just a squeeze of lemon juice. I think I’d also enjoy them with a little crumbled feta on top. Oh, and of course, you can put a runny fried egg on top of it. But I don’t need to tell you that.

Yield: nine 2 to 2 1/2-inch fritters

8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) chick pea flour or for almost no carbs at all, 1-2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive, coconut or vegetable oil for frying

Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.

Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.

In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the chick pea or coconut flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.  If it seems like there is not enough batter simply whip up another egg, add some more grated cheese, it’s a pretty flexible recipe!

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.”  Freezes and reheats well so make a big batch and save some for later!

Browned Broccoli with Greek Olives and Lemon

Yay Broccoli!!

This was my go to quick snack after a long day of woking as a nanny in NYC.  I would get home around 7:30 if I was lucky, usually too late for a big dinner but I needed something healthy and fast!  If you keep chopped broccoli on hand, this is even easier.

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, chopped into manageable pieces.  Save the stem for coleslaw!

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Olive Oil

5-10 kalamata olives, whole or torn into halves

Salt n pepper to taste

Throw the broccoli into a sauce pan (or cast iron skillet) with about an inch of water in the bottom, put a lid on it and turn the heat to high.

Let the broccoli steam until it turns bright green, you just want to cook it a bit, it should definitly have some crunch to it!  Drain whatever water is left, put the pan back on the high heat, add a little drizzle of olive oil, not too much, you want to brown the broccoli and that won’t happen if you add too much oil, I’d say about 2 teaspoons.

Browning the broccoli with just a bit of oil (or butter!)

Toss the broccoli around so it gets coated with the oil and doesn’t burn.  When it’s getting some nice brown spots, add the olives, and the lemon, the juice will steam and sizzle and you’re DONE!

This is a great healthy snack or side dish.  It takes just a few minutes to make and would always make me feel a little more energized and take the edge off my hunger after a long work day!

Back to Basics: Green Soup

Green soup with sriracha, mmmm!

I’m really looking forward to my workshop, ‘Food as Medicine’, that I am preparing for the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Becket-Chimney Corners.  I have been thinking a lot about which foods are truly medicinal for me.  When I’m not feeling well there are certain foods that always make me feel good, especially when my Candida is getting out of balance because of too much stress, too little sleep or hormonal fluctuations.  I realized that my go to Green Soup recipe is at the top of my good for me foods list.  And I have not been eating it! It’s so important to eat the foods that best support a healthy you and I think it’s time to incorporate Green Soup back into my diet.

This is the soup I ate while recovering from Candida, it’s very low in carbohydrates, very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and easy to digest.   Green Soup goes really well with all sorts of herbs and spices that encourage a healthy internal balance.  It’s basically an immune boosting multi-vitamin you can eat as often as you like.   A few servings a week is about the right dose for me, enough to keep me healthy but not so much that I’ll be bored to tears eating it all the time.  It freezes well so I can make a big batch, put it into single serving containers in the freezer and take one out when I need it.  It’s very helpful for me to have some meals planned in advance that require only that I heat and eat.  If I don’t plan anything ahead I sometimes end up making less than awesome choices.  Here’s my basic recipe for Green Soup along with a few heat and eat serving suggestions so that you can customize the flavor of the soup.  This is very important as far as getting medicinal doses of different spices and herbs as well as keeping you and your taste buds happy!

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Ingredients:

4-6 Tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil  (this is the only significant source of calories in the whole recipe so don’t be shy!)

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed

1 jalapeño, chopped.  Add more or less or none at all.  I used a whole one and still added spice to the finished soup.

3-4 large leeks, white/light green parts only, sliced thin in half moons

3-4 medium zucchinis, chopped into roughly 1 inch cubes

Veggie broth, about 4-6 cups

1 bunch of spinach or kale (I used kale today and really like the flavor!)

1 bunch of broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces.

*A note about broccoli:  My grandmother, who was a young girl during the great depression, explained to me that broccoli stems are for eating.  I often peel them and grate them up with cabbage when I make coleslaw.  Today I peeled the rough bits towards the end, chopped them up small and added them in with the rest of the broccoli.  Unless you are going to feed the stems to your farm animals or add them to your worm bin, please consider eating them!!

The Procedure

Over low-medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed soup pan add your oil, garlic, jalapeño and leeks, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are wilted and soft.

Sautéing leeks, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil.

Next, add in all the zucchini and keep on sautéing until the zucchini is soft.  About 8-10 minutes.

Add in the veggie broth, about 4+ cups to start with.  Honestly I never measure, I just pour water from the kettle and add a few of those handy broth concentrate packets from Trader Joe’s.  You can add more broth for a thinner soup but I prefer mine thick and more like stew.  Get the broth hot by turning the heat up to medium.

After you have added all the veggies adjust the broth so that the veggies are barely covered.

As soon as the broth is hot add in the broccoli and kale/spinach and cook until just tender.  DO NOT overcook the broccoli, over done broccoli is not awesome and a whole pot of over done broccoli soup will not get eaten.  I know because I have done just that and it was sad.

Remove from heat, use a wand blender or regular blender (make sure to vent the blender!!) to puree the soup.  Adjust for salt and add more broth if you want.

Now you have basic Green Soup.  I like to portion mine out into large servings, the soup is really low in calories so be generous with portion size!  Keep some in the fridge and some in the freezer for later in the week.

This is all the soup I had left over plus the big bowl I ate for lunch!

Variations….they are limitless but here are a few to start:

When you want to re-heat refrigerated or frozen soup, start with a tablespoon of oil in a pan large enough for the soup.  Heat up your spices over medium-low heat until they are fragrant and then add the soup and heat til it’s warm.  Add fresh or dried herbs at the end.

*another note: I think microwaves are weird and I don’t trust them so that’s why my instructions are always for the stove top.

Italian style: fennel, cumin, chili flakes, more garlic in olive oil.   Then basil, parsley and oregano to the warmed soup.

Curry: your favorite curry powder mix in coconut oil, heat then add coconut milk with the soup.  Add cilantro and or parsley at the end.

Sautee mushrooms in butter with salt and black pepper.  Add the soup and mix together.

Top with a dollop of unsweetened greek yogurt, or goat cheese,  this is especially great on spicy green soup.

You can eat this soup cold, like a green gazpacho, just add cilantro and parsley, a splash of vinegar and hot sauce.

Today I added some sriracha and about 2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar directly into my soup bowl for a tangy, spicy flavor.  There are more variations, I will post them as I try them out.

Please post your own suggestions and favorites!

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