Grilled Portabella Mushroom Tacos

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Here is a hearty meatless taco. The surprising flavor combinations work well together and give a unique twist to a Mexican favorite.

Ingredients

Truffle Aioli
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 head garlic, roasted
¼ shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon white truffle oil
1 cup mayonnaise

Mushrooms
6 large Portabella mushrooms
¼ Cup olive oil

Caramelized Onions
1 red onion, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup fresh orange juice (3 to 4 oranges)

Tacos
12 (4-inch) corn tortillas
6 large radishes, thinly sliced
2 cups pea shoots

Directions

Truffle aioli
Slice the top off a whole head of garlic and place on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap the garlic head. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap up the head tightly in the aluminum foil. Place on grill while heating grill for mushrooms. Next, place vinegar, roasted garlic, shallot, and truffle oil, in a food processor and pulse several times to create a chunky paste. Add mayonnaise and process until well-combined. Cover and place in refrigerator until needed for tacos.

Grilled mushrooms
Heat grill to medium high heat. Meanwhile remove stems from portobellos and discard. Place mushrooms, olive oil, salt, and pepper in one gallon sealing plastic baggie and gently shake to coat mushrooms. Place mushrooms onto hot grill gill side up and cook for four to five minutes. Turn mushrooms over and cook for another four to five minutes. Remove from grill and tent with aluminum foil. After about ten minutes, slice them into approximately twenty-four ½-inch thick pieces, cover once again with foil and set aside.

Caramelized onions
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add onions, salt and pepper and sauté for three to five minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until they have turned a nice light brown color. Once onions are caramelized, add fresh orange juice and continue to cook for about fifteen minutes.

Tacos
Warm tortillas and hold in a tortilla warmer or in aluminum foil until ready to serve. Assemble tacos by adding approximately one tablespoon of truffle aioli to the center of the tortilla from end to end creating a line. Place caramelized onions on top of the truffle aioli and then place two slices of grilled mushrooms on top of mushrooms. Garnish with several slices of radish and five or six sprigs of pea shoots. Serve with a wedge or two of lime to squeeze on tacos.

Shiitake and Leek Stuffed Seitan Roast

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Cook happy and cook with love. I think that about sums it up.

I have been telling people for years that I do not travel on Thanksgiving. If you want to see me, you must come to my house and I will gladly cook for you. Over the years I have had as few as three and as many as twenty at my table. This year, I cooked for eight. I made the traditional turkey dinner but I also did things a bit differently.

My daughter Elizabeth and son Greg were among my guests which made me very happy. They have adopted a vegetarian diet and I wanted to honor that choice. Whether it is intentional or not, too many people make people with dietary restrictions or choices feel unwelcome and put out when it comes to including them in family celebrations. I wanted all my guests to know that they are welcome and so began my quest.

Making most of the traditional dishes vegetarian was the easy part. In fact it was mostly substituting vegetable broth for chicken or turkey broth. I also made a very tasty mushroom gravy to serve along side the traditional turkey gravy.

For me, the challenge was going to be making something in place of turkey for my vegetarian guests. I wanted something filling and satisfying. I didn’t want to simply buy something and throw it in the oven without much thought and tofurkey, or anything made with tofu, was out of the question. It seems like a cop out to me. So my research began which led me to seitan.

Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat protein. It has a very remarkable meat like texture and is very popular in many cultures that forgo the eating of meat. It is remarkably versatile and extremely tasty.

Ultimately, I came upon this recipe courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz on her Post Punk Kitchen web site. This roast is fantastic and doesn’t need to be reserved for a holiday, but it sure makes a great centerpiece dish for a celebration.

Here is what I did:

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (remove rough ends)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin half moons
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the roast
3 cloves garlic
¾ cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained (fresh or canned)
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed between your fingers
Several dashes fresh black pepper

First prepare the filling:
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and leeks in oil about ten minutes or until soft. Add salt, pepper, garlic and thyme and cook for about two minutes more while constantly stirring often.

Add the breadcrumbs and cook the mixture tossing and stirring until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mixture is relatively dry. After about five minutes the breadcrumbs should turn a few shades darker.

Drizzle in the broth and lemon juice and stir until moist. Additional olive oil may be needed if it still seems dry. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the roast:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until well chopped. Add the beans, broth, olive oil and soy sauce and puree until mostly smooth and no bean piece is bigger in size than a pea.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Make a well in the center and add the bean mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts coming together to form a ball of dough. Continue kneading with the spoon until everything is well incorporated.

Now roll out the seitan and form the roast by placing two pieces of tin foil (about 18 inches long) horizontally in front of you. Overlap the sheet further from you about six inches over the sheet closer to you. This will ensure you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast.

Next, place a piece of wax paper on a separate surface and use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the seitan into a roughly 12 x 10 rectangle. If the seitan tears, just pinch the dough back together. If the tear is large you can use dough from the ends to repair the holes.

Now place the filling in length-wise in the lower 1/3 of the seitan rectangle from end to end leaving about one inch at both ends. Compact the filling as tightly as you can.

It is now time to form the roast. Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. The wax paper will help keep the seitan from tearing while you roll. Roll until it is in a log shape. Pinch together the seam if needed and then pinch together the sides to seal.

Lastly, place the roll in the center of the tinfoil and roll up like a tootsie roll. Make sure the ends are tightly wrapped and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for an hour and a half. The roast should feel very firm. If it does not, cook a little longer until it does. Rotate the roll every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Remove from oven and let cool about five or ten minutes. Unwrap, slice and serve with a mushroom gravy.

Meatless Monday or just any time: Gemelli with Mixed Mushrooms and Thyme

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Sometime around 2003 a push was made to reintroduce Meatless Mondays: a campaign begun during World War II to help the war effort but today to help establish better eating habits which has since become a global initiative. I know many people who partake in Meatless Monday or have one day a week that the main meal of the day is vegan or less reliant on meat as do I. Here is a great meal for the Meatless Monday that is protein packed, full of B vitamins.

I paired this with an excellent pinot noir. My only wish is that I would have had more morels…

Ingredients

Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces gemelli pasta
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
½ cup Sauvignon Blanc (one that you would drink)
10 ounces baby bella mushrooms,  thinly sliced
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 ounces morel mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain, and return to pot. Set aside. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, soak porcini in 1 ½ cups hot water until tender, at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add baby bella and shiitake mushrooms. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add morels and porcini along with their soaking liquid (leaving any grit at the bottom of the bowl), morels and thyme to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces by half, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer porcini mixture to pot with pasta. Add Parmesan and remaining butter, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.