Tag Archives: mushrooms

HAVING PEOPLE OVER?? – The SIMPLEST Roast Chicken Dinner & EASIEST Dessert In The World (Serves 4, just double for 8!)

Having people over but you don’t have much time, talent or energy?? This is the dinner to make, and it is fool-proof, (I know this from experience). The is nothing better than a crispy (but moist!) roast chicken with a little pasta or mashed potatoes (or mashed parsnip or carrot!) and simple berries and fresh cream for dessert.

Crispy Roast Chicken in a Mushroom Broth - sumptious!

Crispy Roast Chicken in a Mushroom Broth – sumptuous!

  This sort of dinner party is the best kind as you will do little cooking and lots of socializing. It also makes the house smell heavenly (is there anything better than the smell of roast chicken!) and there is something so festive about a couple of crispy golden-skinned chickens on the center of a candlelit table!

My Roast Chicken Quest...

 A simple Roast Chicken can be served with anything (here it was roasted with fingerling potatoes)

The weekend is coming and you should think about serving this to your friends with lots of good wine. I made the chicken special by adding mounds of different kinds of mushrooms. They did all the work in the flavor department and I was free to spend time setting a nice table and generally just hung out being social (instead of being tied to the kitchen). The only other thing was dessert, and choosing to serve fresh fruit and cream is not only a big cheat, it is a refreshing ending to a rich meal (recipe at the end, pretty self-explanatory).

there is nothing better than fresh ripe berries in clouds of whipped cream

Fresh ripe berries in clouds of whipped cream (and a dash of chocolate shavings)

Hope you are inspired and tempted!

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*This is a good blood type A recipe – use mushrooms from this list; abalone, enoki, maitake, Portobello,Shiitake, tree oyster. Omit the pepper and chili flakes and no cream in dessert*

You will need:

1 (or 2) 4lb chicken (organic if you can)

sea salt and freshly ground pepper and optional cayenne pepper flakes for seasoning

1 onion (2 medium if cooking 2 birds) – diced (any kind will do)

2 lbs mixed mushrooms (3 lbs if cooking 2 birds) –  (I used white, crimini and shiitake) – quartered or halved depending on the size

a sprig or two of fresh rosemary

3 cups chicken broth (or water and good quality bouillon cube) (up to 4 1/2 cups for 2 birds)

Method:

Preheat oven 425*

1 – Put all prepped veggies into bottom of pan, along with rosemary sprigs and 2 cups of broth.

Place all veggie and seasoning into bottom of large pan or roasting pan. Add the broth.

Place all veggie and seasoning into bottom of large pan or roasting pan. Add the broth.

2  – Season the chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (if using) and rub with 2 tbs olive oil. place on top of veggies and place in preheated oven for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. After 1 hour add the last cup of chicken broth (or water) to pan. When you cut between the leg and the body and the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Place the seasoned chicken on top and pop into the oven

Place the seasoned chicken on top and pop into the oven

This chicken can be carved and served with a big meaty pasta with the broth or with some mashed potatoes and a veggie like simply boiled peas or carrots.

Cook for about 1 hr, 20 mins

Cook for about 1 hr, 20 mins

Time for dessert: Berries & Cream

Choose whatever berries you like or that are available and good – about 1/2 cup per person.

My favorite fruit; raspberries!

My favorite fruit; raspberries!

Put about 2 cups heavy whipping cream in a big bowl and add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar (helps the cream thicken faster) and beat with whatever mixer or whisk you have until it is thick and billowy.

whip cream

whip cream

Serve!

Yum!

Yum!

Crispy Fried Pork (or tofu!) Medallions with Escarole Rice (serves 4)

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Crispy Fried Pork Medallions with Escarole Rice

Sometimes I am in the mood to make dinner as quickly as possible, and others, like last night, there is nothing I enjoy more than standing in my kitchen lazily chopping and stirring, in the company of whomever wants to watch the movie I may have playing and perhaps share my bottle of wine.

frying pork to lovely crispiness

frying pork to lovely crispy-ness

I am always trying to come up with interesting ways to cook pork tenderloin. It is such a delicate cut of meat with a tenderness that needs to be preserved for it to taste its very best. I sliced the pork and with a crowded counter filled with bowls of flour, an Asian egg mixture and another of panko crumbs I coated each piece of meat before frying to perfection. This was so good, and such a hit, I was sorry I hadn’t double the recipe!

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

Fresh herbs will always make your food taste better

I thought it would be perfect with a very aromatic rice, and since I was hell-bent on using up every last herb I had purchased for recipes over the Christmas break, I added chopped pungent rosemary and liquorice-y tarragon to the rice with a couple of mushrooms and sweet onions to make the best accompaniment ever. It was hard not to eat and say “mmmmm” the whole time we were eating!

By all means these two dishes can be made as part of other dishes. I think the pork with be great on a buffet table and the rice could go with so many other meat dishes, (and in the case of my dinner, crispy fried tofu).

Happy New Year’s Eve – Cook something memorable!

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You will need:

1 pork tenderloin, (try to find one that is about 1 1/4 lbs) cut into 3/8″ or 1 cm slices

OR tofu (instead of pork)about two packages of extra-firm, sliced into triangles or big squares (prepared as instructed below ingredient list)

2 large eggs

2 tbs hoisin sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs mirin

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups panko crumbs (have more on hand)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 medium sweet or yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 medium head escarole, washed and roughly chopped

2 large mushrooms, diced

10 (or so) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

1 stem of rosemary leaves, pulled off stem and chopped (about 1 tbs)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

sea-salt to taste

6 cups cooked basmati rice

Dipping sauce: 6 tbls soy sauce mixed with 6 tbs mirin. Divide between 2 or 3 bowls for the table.

*This can easily be a vegetarian/vegan or Blood Type A Diet recipe. Use extra firm tofu which you should squeeze of excess moisture (enough for 4 to 6 servings) and follow method below or follow method here.

Method:

1 – If you are going to cook rice, put it on right away and let it be cooling until you need it. If you already have leftover rice, take it out of the fridge and stir to loosen.

2 – Mix the eggs in a shallow bowl with the hoisin, soy and mirin. Place flour in a shallow bowl or a dinner plate. Put panko crumbs on a dinner plate. Place a big platter or plate on the counter beside the other plates and bowls.

3 – Make sure the pork is dry and then dip each piece in flour, then coat with egg mixture (by dipping), and finish by pressing each side into the panko crumbs. Place on the waiting platter or plate. When they are all dipped and rolled, place in the fridge. * I find they cook so much better when they are cold*

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

Prep pork and store in fridge until ready to fry

4 – Next make your dipping sauce (see method in ingredient list).

make dipping sauce

make dipping sauce

5 – Put big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes.

saute onions

saute onions

6 – Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes. You may have to add more oil. Add the chopped herbs and some sea-salt (about 1/2 to 1 tsp) and stir into veggies.

add herbs

Add mushrooms, then herbs

7 – Cook until onions are nice and soft.

cook for several minutes

Cook for several minutes

8 – Add the chopped escarole and cayenne flakes (if using) and cook until the greens wilt (about 4 or 5 minutes).

add escarole

Add escarole & pepper flakes

9 – Add the rice and stir until it has completely warmed through. Cover with lid and keep warm on lowest heat (or turn off and reheat right before serving)

add rice

Add rice

10 – Put large saute pan on medium/high heat and add about 3 tbs oil. When it is hot add the pork in a single un-crowded layer. Cook until crispy on both sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and keep warm in low temperature oven until you have fried all of the batches. You will need to add more oil as you go.

fry pork

fry pork

Serve pork alongside the rice and drizzle a little of the dipping sauce over the pork before serving. Each person may add more dipping sauce or hot sauce as they please.

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

serve with a drizzle of dipping sauce

The pork can be easily substituted for tofu (I did) and prepared exactly the same way. (Check above for further instructions)

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu

I had exactly the same thing only with tofu

Super-Easy Fish Lasagna – (serves 4 – 6)

Everyone wanted fish for dinner last night and I was dreaming about something comforting. It was a frigidly cold day and I was chilled to my very bones. My body was crying out for warm gastronomic consoling.

last night’s comfort food dinner

I adore fish but never think of it as a comfort-type food. How was I going to manage to please everyone and myself at the same time? I also decided that besides having to go to the trouble of running out to buy fish, I was in no mood to grocery shop. This would mean hunting in the pantry and fridge for the bulk of the dish.

This is my usual approach to dinner each evening and I really love the whole process, from pulling out the central ingredient (usually the protein), to the discovery of a can of tomatoes on a back shelf, or as in the case last night, finding a package of nearly expired wonton skins in the cheese drawer!

There is nothing more versatile in the world than these perfect little squares of thin dough. Yes, they are called wonton skins or wrappers, but using them to only make wontons ( a laborious task which I only take on if I have many hands in the kitchen) would be discounting their many other uses.

A very handy pantry item

It touts on the front of the pack that it can also be used for ravioli, another job which can be tiresome unless you have help, but if that is the case, then why not for any kind of pasta dish which requires it to act like the protector of some filling or other. Why not lasagna?

I love lasagna but more often than not I find the thick sheets of pasta a bit stodgy, and can make for a very heavy meal. Using these paper-thin wrappers instead solves all of those problems, and lends a lovely lightness to the dish. They work especially well if the sauce is delicate like a bechamel, or where the main ingredient needs to be treated with a gentle hand (like my cod fish).

This was the best lasagna I have ever made with fish and I urge everyone to pick up a package of wonton skins (they have a great shelf life) to have on hand for just such an occasion. I don’t know how they hold up when used with a hearty red sauce, but I will give it a try and  let you know.

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You will need;

4 tbs unsalted butter

4  6oz pieces firm white fish, cut into large chunks (I used cod fillets)

1 bunch scallion/green onions, sliced (about 6 approx)

1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut in half

8 med/lrg white mushrooms, sliced

bunch of fresh thyme (5 or 6 stems)

4 to 5 cups chopped fresh spinach

3 tbs all-purpose flour

3 cups milk (any %)

1 tsp salt or 1/2 tsp if using fine salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes so use 1 tsp)

several grinds black pepper

27 wonton wrapperscan be found in the fridge in the veggie section of your supermarket. *read more about this handy item in above introduction*

Method

Preheat oven 375*

1 – Assemble ingredients and prep as instructed above.

cook fish in the milk

2 – Put milk into a saucepan and add the halved onion, several grinds of pepper, 4 thyme sprigs, fish, and 1/2 tsp of the salt (1/4 tsp if salt is very fine). Place on low/medium heat and bring to a very slight simmer. Cook uncovered at a bare simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not stir or you will break up the fish too much. Remove thyme and onion and discard. Strain the milk into a bowl or pitcher and carefully place the fish into a bowl to cool. It will flake into smaller chunks which is fine.

saute scallions and mushrooms

3 – Place large saute pan on low/medium heat and add the butter (4 tbs). When it melts, add the sliced scallions and mushroom, along with 2 sprigs of thyme. Cook for about 8 or so minutes, until scallions are soft and mushrooms begin to brown slightly.

make sauce

4 – Add the flour and stir with a wire whisk into veggies until incorporated. Add the warm reserved milk one cup at a time, whisking in-between. The mixture will thicken. This will take 3 or 4 minutes in all.

add spinach

5 – Add the chopped spinach and cook it down for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

add fish

6 – Gently add the fish and carefully stir to distribute. Ready to assemble.

first: a thin layer of sauce

7 – Using a glass or ceramic casserole dish, (about the size of 9 wonton skins laid out), spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom, avoiding adding fish to this layer.

Place 9 wonton wrappers over this in a single layer, letting them overlap slightly, (3 across, 3 down – look at picture below)

Next add half of the filling, spreading gently.

follow with wrappers, filling, wrappers, filling and top with won ton wrappers

Next comes another 9 wonton wraps, followed by the remainder of the filling and topped with the last layer of wrappers.

cook

Place in oven for 20 minutes or until the top has turned a nice golden brown (start checking after 18 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

time for dinner

Rib-End pork Chops in Thyme-y Mushroom Cream with Spinach & Red Potatoes (serves 6)

I am apparently on a mushroom kick. When I look back on my last few months of nightly dinners it is almost devoid of this delicious fungus. I have been enjoying my weekly crop share box of veggies so much since May (see top right of blog for more information) I have been able to completely ignore the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. The most conveniently located one to from our house is sadly lacking in all things that make grocery shopping more of a pleasure than a pain; glaring fluorescent lighting, loud tinny music, crappy vegetables, long shelves of prepackaged meat, unending corridors of instant-style meals, and clerks who have absolutely no interest in being there, which is understandable, but frustrating when they avoid all eye contact with you, for fear of being asked to do something!  

the mushrooms i had to have.

Who can blame me for skipping as much of that experience as I possibly can? The other day however, I found myself in need of an onion, and as I past the rows of overly plump peppers and the too-perfect lines of glossy apples, I spotted the mushrooms. I imagined all sorts of things I could use them in, and promptly threw a couple of cartons into my shopping cart before grabbing the onion, and going on my merry way.

Rib-End pork Chops in thyme-y Mushroom Cream with Spinach & Red Potatoes.

I ended up making a lovely pork dish with a creamy mushroom sauce, laced with the sweetness of fresh thyme. We had this with delicious locally grown spinach and potatoes.

I have also just remembered that there is a farmer close (ish) by who grows a variety of mushrooms. I’m thinking that today I will head to their  place and buy myself a hoard. In other words; more mushroom recipes to follow!

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For the Pork dish; You will need: 3 lbs rib-end boneless loin pork chops, 1 lb mushrooms, sliced, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tbs olive oil, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 cups chicken broth (or, 1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube & 2 cups water), 1 cup heavy cream, sea-salt and freshly cracked pepper for seasoning, & to taste.

Preheat oven 400*

sear chops

1 – Season each chop with a little salt and pepper. Put big saute pan on high heat and add a tbs of the oil and of butter. When the butter and oil get hot, add the chops in an even layer and sear in batches. You will need to add more butter and oil as you go. Transfer chops to a plate.

saute mushrooms

2 – Turn heat down to medium, and add another tbs of butter. Toss the mushrooms into the pan and cook for about 10 minutes before adding the thyme sprigs. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

place in oven for 40 minutes

3 – Add the flour and stir into mushrooms until incorporated. Add the broth, stirring until the liquid comes to a simmer. Add the cream and continue to cook until it comes back to a simmer. Transfer the chops to the pan in an even layer, cover and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

*At this point, you could be done and just serve the dish with some pasta, rice or bread, and a big salad. You could also make the Spinach & Potato recipe which follows.

For the spinach & potato Side-Dish; You will need: 3 lbs baby red-skinned potatoes, 2 Anaheim peppers, sliced (or 2 long skinny seasonal peppers, which is what I snagged from my garden yesterday), 4 or 5 cups fresh spinach leaves, 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, sea-salt & freshly cracked black pepper for seasoning and to taste.

1 – If your potatoes are on the big side, slice in half or quarters. Put them in a big pot and cover with cold water. Place on stove-top and boil (with lid on) until they are soft. Drain into a colander and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

saute cooked potatoes with peppers

2 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add oil and butter. Saute peppers for 3 minutes or so, before tipping in the potatoes. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown in spots. you will need to turn occasionally.

wilt the spinach

3 – Add the spinach and cover with lid. The spinach will wilt in about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and give everything a gentle stir. Keep warm until ready to serve (try to time having them ready by the time the chops come out of the oven).

Very satisfying.

Serve everyone a couple of chops with lots of mushrooms, and a side of potatoes and spinach.

Calzones Stuffed with choice of Chicken, Cheeses, Peppers, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Fresh Oregano (Serves 6 or more)

I had so much fun making these! What a great night. It was the perfect thing to make for a crowd as everyone got to choose their own stuffing and try their hand at putting their dinner together! I was inspired to make these because I had time on my hands and felt like having a little “chopping therapy” in the kitchen. This dish is great in that I got to be quietly by myself for the prep, and then cooking them was like a party.

Delicious Calzones for Dinner!

My neighbor and friend Lori was leaving town for the summer so we invited  her over to say goodbye. My friend Tom had dropped in earlier and whisked the kids of for ice-cream, so, of course he was invited too! That’s all it took for my house to turn into the loud and crazy place that I love it to be.

Our friend Tom bought strawberries from a local farm for dessert..

We cooled off with a lovely bottle of white wine from a local winery (Blair Vineyards) and some beer. Tom became the hero of the hour when he presented me with 2 big boxes of fresh strawberries. Calzones were assembled and cooked and we all ate until we felt like calzones ourselves (I know, corny analogy!)

Yum!

I am so happy that I make the effort to cook dinner every night. I always have something to look forward to!

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Calzone Dough Recipe (makes 12)

You will Need: 6 cups white unbleached flour, 2 packages rapid rise yeast (each package is 2 1/4 tsp), 1 tsp coarse sea salt (or kosher salt), 2/3 cups olive oil, 2 cups warm water.

1 – Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tbs of the warm water. Measure flour into a big bowl and add the salt. Whisk it into the flour to incorporate evenly.

This is the yeast I used.

2 – Make a well and add the oil. Use your hands to crumble the oil throughout the flour. Add the yeast mixture to the warm water in a little bowl or jug and pour into the flour. Mix it together with a wooden spoon and then flour the counter-top and knead for 4 or 5 minutes.

3 – Turn the dough back into the bowl and cover with a cloth. It will rise in about 2 hours (I let it go for 3 hours and it was fine)

4 – Punch down the dough and knead for about a minute. Divide the dough into 12 dough balls. I was pretty abusive with the dough (changing sizes and adding bits to one from another) and it didn’t seem to matter. So, if you are not a pro like me, this is the dough for you! Set the dough balls on a floured board and cover until ready to assemble calzones.

Stuffings for Calzones:

Prep all Ingredients listed below for Calzones.

You will need: 2 Jalapeno peppers, sliced, 1 can Plum tomatoes, Sliced, 1 Green Pepper, Diced, 1 cup fresh oregano leaves, 8 large white mushrooms, sliced, 1lb Provolone Cheese, grated, 1 lb mozzarella Cheese, large cubes,1 1/2 cups sliced hard salami, 5 cups cooked chicken breast.

Recipe for Chicken

You will need: 6 skinless chicken breasts, 1 cup chicken broth, 4 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper.

1 –  Put big pan on high heat and add 4 tbs olive oil. Season chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry until brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side.

Add 1 cup of broth to chicken..

2 – Turn heat down to low and wait a minute or 2 before adding a cup of chicken broth. Let it come to a gently simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5 or 10 minutes before slicing for calzone stuffing.

Chicken ready..

Recipe For Mushrooms

You will Need: 8 very big white mushrooms, sliced, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

ready to cook..

1 – Put pan on medium heat and add butter and oil. When butter has melted add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until mushrooms have started to brown. Place in bowl and set aside.

It's hard not to eat these before putting in the calzone!

Ready to Assemble and Cook Calzones

Preheat oven 450*

Ready for Filling..

Pound down a dough ball with the palm of your hand until you have a biggish disc. At this point you can use a floured rolling-pin to do the rest of the stretching OR try your hand at shaping by hand. They should be about 9″ in diameter when you are done. Don’t get too hung-up about the shape. Something sort of roundish will do!

Fill with whatever you please. Sprinkle ingredients on one half and stop a little way from the edge. Start with cheese and end with cheese. This keeps everything together nicely.

When you have finished stuffing the calzone, fold into a half circle and press closed with the tines of a fork. Move it to the greased baking sheet with an egg flip and your hand. It is pretty sturdy so should not fall apart.

Each Calzone got a different symbol on top so we could all recognise which one was ours - so clever.

Coat a big baking sheet with plenty of olive oil before putting calzone in to bake. Cook Calzones anywhere from 11 to 14 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to guage rest of cooking time.

The classic Strawberries and Cream to end the meal. Everyone got there very own bowl of freshly whipped cream to dip their strawberries.

Lamb with Scalloped Potato and Mushroom Pie Casserole (serves 4-6)

This was a truly wonderful lamb dish. If you like lamb well-enough, you will love it after trying this!

Truly a great lamb dinner!

This dish came about because I wanted something fabulous to go with some morel mushrooms my friend Tom had found in the woods by his house. I got a phone call to tell me the news and I was so excited that I bought some expensive meat and some cream to make a rich sauce for the morels to languish in! Anyway to make a long story short, I did not end up using them in this dish for one reason or another, and, that may be a good thing. (I am writing a post about my morels next!). If I had used them instead of  the ordinary white button mushrooms you would perhaps never have had an opportunity to try this recipe (being that they are difficult to come by and cost an obscene amount of money). That would be a great tragedy as I actual don’t see how this dish could have turned out better!

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You will need: 2 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into big chunks (you may be able to find it already cut. It will be marked “stewing lamb”), 3 tbs olive oil,  1 medium sweet onion, diced, 8 medium yellow, white or red potatoes, cut in half, 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, left whole,  1 vegetable stock cube, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup water, coarse sea-salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven 375*

Seasoned lamb ready for searing..

1 – Put lamb chunks in big bowl and season with 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt (if your salt is not coarse just add 1 tsp), several good grinds of pepper and the chopped garlic. Mix everything together. Set aside until ready to sear.

2 – Put halved potatoes in pot and cover with cold water. Place on stove top with lid and when it comes to a boil, time for 10 minutes. The will still be undercooked, but not hard. Drain in colander. When the are cool enough to handle (you can be doing other tasks like chopping onions and mushrooms or searing lamb?) peel, slice thickly and set aside.

Sear lamb in batches..

3 – In big saute pan sear meat on high heat in olive oil. Do not add meat until pan and oil are hot. Sear in a single layer and don’t crowd the pan or the meat will not brown! (A little patience required)

saute onions, garlic, rosemary and bouillon cube..

4 – When meat is done, turn heat down and cook the onions for 5 minutes. Add garlic, bouillon cube and rosemary sprigs and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

5 – Add the cream and water and stir. Continue to cook until it comes to a simmer. Turn off pan.

Assemble casserole: In heavy casserole pot rub about 1/2 tbs unsalted butter inside pot. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes on the bottom, followed by 1/2 of the raw sliced mushrooms. Add 1 cup of sauce from pan, along with a nice portion of the onion mixture and 1 of the rosemary sprigs.

Layer potatoes, mushrooms, sauce, onions and rosemary sprig..

Next add all the lamb, followed by potatoes, mushrooms and the rest of the sauce. Cover and place in oven for 1 1/2 hours.

The sauce was perfect with the lamb..

Serve on warmed plates with some greens. (We had it with sautéed spinach)

Savory Pork Balls in Mushroom Cream Sauce (serves 4)

a very tasty dinner..

I was away all day and had neglected to think about dinner in the morning and possibly defrost something? I didn’t have much choice when I got home, but, I was in the mood to try something different with the only offering in the fridge; ground pork. I made what might have been a run-of-the-mill meatball except I paired it with a very intense, flavorful mushroom cream sauce. I used shiitake mushrooms for their rich flavor, but, don’t let that stop you from using what you have available to you. It was a delightful dinner and was ready in no time.

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You will Need: 1 1/3 lbs ground pork, 1 egg, 1 rib celery, including leaves, diced, 1 carrot, diced, 1 onion, diced, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 8 to 9 shiitake mushrooms, diced, 2 peeled and cored plum tomatoes (including juice), diced, (I used tomatoes from a can of San Marzano and 2 tbs of the juice from the can), 1 cup chicken stock (I had some home-made), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup white wine, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs olive oil, 3/4 lb penne pasta (I used a ridged mini penne by Barilla).

Preheat oven 425*

saute diced vegetables for pork balls..

1 – Put big saute pan on low/medium heat and add 1 tbs olive oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place lid on pan and turn heat down to low and continue to cook for another 6 to seven minutes.

2 – In the meantime, crack egg into a big bowl and beat with a fork. Add the ground pork and 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. When onion mixture has cooked add to pork and mix everything together with your hands.

Place pork in oven for 24 minutes, turning once during cooking..

3 – Make pork balls and roll in flour and put on plate, (a little smaller than a golf ball in size). When they are all made place a baking sheet in the oven with 1 tbs of olive oil for 3 minutes. Remove and place pork on sheet in a single uniform layer. Cook for 12 minutes, turn and cook for another 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to add to your sauce.

At this point put water on for pasta and cook according to instructions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Try to time it so as the pasta is cooked at about the same time as the sauce. Do not rinse the pasta in cold water when it is cooked.

Saute mushrooms and garlic..

4 – While pork is cooking in oven make the mushroom cream sauce. Using same pan you used for frying the vegetables add the butter and 1 tbs olive oil. Put pan on medium heat and add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

mushroom cream sauce..

5 – Add the tomatoes, juice and wine and cook for 1 minutes before adding the stock, water and cream. Stir the liquids and let everything simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes. Taste for additional salt and pepper.

add cooked pork to sauce..

6 – At this point the meatballs and pasta should be cooked.  Add directly into the sauce and turn heat down to low and stir. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if you want a thinner sauce or need to loosen the pasta.

a perfect balance of flavors for dinner..