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.

Souper Immunity!

If you really want an immune boost come visit our booth at Alchemy’s Handmade Holiday Festival, this Friday evening and Saturday from 10-5 pm.  We will be handing out Fire Cider samples and selling our holiday edition wax sealed bottles as well as herbal bath soaks, unique tee shirts from A Fine Example and other great handmade gifties!

Dana just made turkey stock from the Thanksgiving carcass (thank you Meat Market!) and it came out really well.  Soup stock made from simmering an organic, healthy animal has tons of nutrition in it.  If you don’t have a day to simmer, here’s an easier immune boosting soup recipe from my doctor in NYC.

'Tis the season for soup!

Superimmunity Soup from Dr. Vincent Pedre

When you need an immune pick-me-up, try this superimmunity soup to charge up your immune system and ward off that cold.  It contains many common vegetables that we all enjoy, but feel free to vary the recipe by adding your own winter vegetables.  You may vary the mushroom used from shiitake to reishi or maitake, all are highly medicinal.  It is ideal to always add the astragalus, but it may be harder to find at your local grocery store.  Astragalus may actually require a trip to Chinatown or to Mountain Rose Herbs on-line.

Also, remove any ingredients you don’t enjoy.  For example, I am an avid cilantro lover, so I always add cilantro to my soups, but there are those among that may not share my enthusiasm.  Feel free to quietly omit the cilantro and use parsley instead.  You can also use the soup recipe to make a vegetable stock to use in other recipes.

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients

1 yellow onion

2 large organic carrots

2 stalks of organic celery

1 head of kale

30g dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms

30g dried astragalus root

1-2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

10 garlic cloves (chopped or whole)

1 bunch of cilantro

¼ cup olive oil

Sea salt

Ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Wash and cut the vegetables
  2. For extra browning and flavor, you can sauté the vegetables with olive oil or sesame oil
  3. Wash the mushrooms and astragalus root and place into pot
  4. Pour cold water into a large soup pot up to 3/4 full, add all vegetables, and bring to a boil
  5. Lower the heat, and cook uncovered for 40 minutes
  6. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste
  7. Cool down and enjoy!
If you have an autoimmune condition or other chronic disease, you should consult with your doctor before taking medicinal herbs or mushrooms.  Read Dr. Pedre’s whole post about immune boosting for the winter….and don’t forget to take your daily dose of Fire Cider!!!

Kimchi: Lacto-Fermentation is Easy!

You may remember this post I did for a quick version of kimchi.  Here is the lacto-fermented version which is pretty easy considering how much food you can preserve in about an hour, no boiling or sterilizing necessary.  Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria.  So basically you take a plant that is already good for you and preserve it in a way that makes it even healthier AND you can enjoy it all winter long.  Pretty neat trick, just ask Sally Fallon:

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”    Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

Simple Bites also offers a lot of information and instruction for lacto-fermenting whatever it is you have in abundance at the end of the growing season!  Here’s what my dad and I did with the beautiful cabbages he grew this year….

We started with about 6 heads of cabbage from the garden each weighing about 3.5-5 pounds!

For each 5 pounds of sliced cabbage you need 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt, 4 dried hot peppers, a head of garlic and a chunk of ginger, peeled.  The ginger and salt were store-bought but the rest my dad grew in his garden!

Hot peppers from Dad's garden drying on the table, we used 4, seeds removed, for each 5 pounds of shredded cabbage.

Dad shredded and weighed the cabbage for each batch while I.....

...removed the seeds from the hot chilis, measured out the salt, peeled the head of garlic and used the food processor to grind everything up.

Once the cabbage was shredded and the salt-hot pepper-garlic-ginger mix was ready, I mixed the two together in a large bowl. We ended up making about 4 batches.

The salt makes the cabbage release its water, creating the brine it will ferment in.

Once the brine can be seen above the level of the cabbage, which is very soft at this point, it's ready to pack in big, clean glass jars.

I packed the cabbage into the jar, added the brine, plus a little more so that it covered the cabbage by at least an inch. We used a plastic bag filled with water as a weight to make sure the cabbage would stay completely covered by the brine.

The lids are just sitting on top so that the air can escape and the little guys doing the fermenting can breathe!

And that’s it!  The jars will sit out for a few days and then will be kept in the fridge (or a cool root cellar) until they get eaten!  Lacto-fermented foods are good for everyone and especially beneficial to those of us on the Candida diet.