Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms and Mushroom Soup from Extra Mushroom Stuffing

I used a Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving appetizer recipe to create this version of stuffed mushrooms. I made some changes along the way and improvised a mushroom soup with the extra mushroom stuffing.
Being an anti-recipe chef wannabe, I couldn't help the occassional rebellious impulse while following this stuffed mushroom recipe especially when I already taught myself to make kick-ass stuffed mushrooms. But you know what? I learned a great trick (or perhaps it's supposed to be common knowledge) from abiding by this recipe on the whole.

The recipe says to steam the mushroom caps before stuffing to get rid of the moisture so that when you bake the mushrooms, they wouldn't get all soggy. This is a fantastic trick! Not only did my mushrooms remain juicy yet unsoggy, I was able to make a delicious mushroom soup from the mushroom water that was drained out of the mushrooms from the steaming process!

Draining Steamed Mushroom Caps
I used prosciutto instead of serrano ham and low-fat sour cream instead of creme fraiche for the stuffing.

Mushroom Stuffing: Prosciutto, Garlic, Sage, Parsley, Bread Crumbs, Sour Cream, Dash of Salt & Pepper, and Chopped Mushroom Stems
For the soup, I boiled the water I used to steam the mushrooms and poured the juices drained from the mushrooms after they were steamed into the boiling pot. After I stuffed all the mushrooms, I dumped the leftover mushroom stuffing mixture into the mushroom water, add white wine, and whatever vegetables you have sitting in the fridge (I added shredded carrots).

Mushroom Stuffing Soup

Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto, Sage, and Parsely

Thanksgiving Pot Luck

An LBJ Thanksgiving Day
I had the happiest Thanksgiving dinner this year. You just can't beat a day of great company and great food!
One reason why my family does not celebrate Thanksgiving with the usual spread is because my parents dislike potatoes, my mom dislikes pumpkin pies or most pies of any kind for that matter, my dad thinks that Chinese vegetable dishes taste infinitely better than most Western vegetable dishes, and we all dislike turkey, assuming that there is just no way to make a whole turkey flavorful and moist.
I had my reservations about finally eating my first Thanksgiving turkey. My fellow LBJ grad student and friend, Kevin, deserves a standing ovation for the juiciest and wonderfully fragrant turkey I've ever had! So brining the turkey does the trick!

Kevin's Turkey Seasoned with Cinnamon and Other Yummy Things and Stuffed with Apples, Onions, and Carrots
With such a star dish at our buffet line, nothing could have brought this dinner down! Everyone's dish turned out delicious. Here's a recap:

The Spread: Baked Sweet Potatoes and Apples, Carved Turkey, Savory-Sweet Potato Mash, Corn, Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto, Fried Rice with Turkey Liver, Chinese Savory Sticky Rice "Stuffing", Vegan Mushroom Gravy, Green Bean Casserole

My Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto; Martina's Chinese Savory Sticky Rice "Stuffing" with shrimp, shitake, green onion, and egg

Erin's Vegan Mushroom Gravy; Jamie's Green Bean Casserole

Erin's Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apples; Jamie's Savory-Sweet Potato Mash

Thanksgiving on a Plate

Fickle Foodie's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies; Brian's Key Lime Pie; Shu's Tapioca in Coconut Milk

I ate this for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving!
Game Night! Cranium and Taiwanese Mahjong (and Apples to Apples and the infuriating Foodie Fight)
A big thanks to our LBJ "Three's Company" for hosting a memorable Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

After-Thanksgiving Caribbean Cruise

I will be heading out into the Caribbean after Thanksgiving and will be indulging in food, sun, water, and more food!

We'll board the Carnival Conquest in Galveston and visit 3 port of calls:
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Cozumel, Mexico

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving with a gigantic meal, so the idea of dieting after Thanksgiving isn't big in my family. However, this Thanksgiving, my friends are holding a potluck, so I'll have to watch myself this time!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Salon du Chocolat (Paris 2006)

I was fortunate to have been in Paris when they held a Salon du Chocolat Fall 2006. I thought that I would leave the salon with a bunch of chocolates, but instead, I came away with fruit cakes, spices, and one box of Madame Setsuko chocolates.

The Japanese Madame Setsuko chocolate vendor outshone all the other European chocolates at the salon. The artistry of the chocolate sculptures and the taste of the chocolates of Madame Setsuko were exquisite.

Chocolate covered Kimono
Setsuko Chocolate Floral Origami Sculptures

Chocolate Making at its Best-my favorite piece was the green tea one, bien sur!
The most impressive vendor was a Russian chocolatier. They managed to render chocolates into figurines that look like fine china.

Pig and Puss in Boots from a Russian Chocolatier
Another Chocolate Sculpture Vendor

A Couple of the Winning Sculptures

Chocolate Inspired Frocks (not very impressive)

Fabulous Fruit Cake Vendor

Colorful Spice Stand

Banquet Food Throughout Northeast China

As you can see, I am not done posting about food I've eaten in China! I think eating was my full-time job!

I attended many banquets throughout Northeast China, and could only steal a few shots from each. Some dishes were really awesome, others, not so much. I will refrain from long commentary and just categorize the dishes to give you an idea of the spectrum.


Steamed Egg Custard with Clams
BBQ Pork-Northeast China take on a Cantonese Star Dish

Sauteed Clams-the server actually plucked off the clam meat out of the shells one, by, one in front of us!

Simple Steamed Fish
Candied Fried Yams with Confetti Sprinkles! Nice use of the very American Betty Crocker-like sprinkles!
Fried and Steamed Sweet Buns with Condensed Milk as a Dip-Absolutely addictive! Unfortunately, I only had it once

Delicious But Appeared All Too Frequently:

Pot of Braised Potatotes, Pork Ribs, Clear Potato Noodles, and Corn Bread-It was awesome the first two times...then I grew tired of having meat & potatoes for every meal

MaLa (Tongue-Numbingly-Spicy) Sauteed Cabbage-Tasty but is the only vegetable dish at most restaurants in Northeast China (NE China is a very meat & potatoes kind of place)

Sauteed Spicy Eggplant-the best way to cook eggplant! But I had it for every meal!
And Of Course the Inescapable Dumplings-I was, afterall, in Northeast China, the home of dumplings

Dishes I Simply Didn't Care For (Very Few):

Spicy Jellyfish and Cabbage Salad (I like jellyfish salads, but the sauce they use in Northeast China just ruins this common Chinese banquet appetizer)
Spicy Cucumber Salad-I'm not fond of the vinaigrette
Most Memorable, Which I Would Like to Make Forgettable:

What I Call, "Papaya Surprise!"-A Sea Cucumber/Slug Floating in a Delicious Clear Broth in a Steamed Papaya-I give them props for creatively substituting the slimey dark brown papaya seeds with the slimey gigantic sea cucumber. Kudos! However, creativity, excellent broth, nor anything else, can ever make sea cucumbers taste delicious.

Soy Sauce Braised Whole Fish with Dried Bean Curd, Tofu Skin, Fried Tofu, and Eggs-Delicious and homey, but knowing that the 2 fish came out of polluted waters scared me. I had visions of walking out of the banquet all radioactive.