Savory Ginger Mushroom Oatmeal

Savory Ginger Mushroom Oatmeal

https://www.macheesmo.com/savory-ginger-mushroom-oatmeal/

So, a little background on me: I was a vegetarian for almost fifteen years, starting when I was about 20. When I moved in with my carnivorous fiancé, Dusty, I started incorporating a little bit of meat back into my diet. I didn’t intend to at first; in fact we would always cook separately, since there’s not a ton of overlap in the foods we like anyway.

One thing we could share was pizza, which we made together from scratch every Sunday. I would put various roasted vegetables on my half, or just leave it plain cheese, and he would make his usual heap o’ meat: ham, pepperoni, bacon, and ground beef. Occasionally we wouldn’t cut it quite perfectly down the center, and a fraction of a pepperoni slice would find its way onto my side. (Did I mention that pepperoni pizza was the very last thing I gave up, when I went vegetarian? The struggle was real.) My primary motivation for eating a vegetarian diet was to cut down on industrial farming. But… I also find pepperoni delicious. So I said to myself, “Well, it’s too late for this poor pepperoni anyway, it’s already paid for, and my not eating it isn’t going to cast an economic vote one way or the other.” And I went on that way for months, eating an occasional slice of pepperoni and reveling in it, but not intending to make any other major changes to my habits.

Then one day, by accident (yes! it really was an accident, although Dusty gleefully implies otherwise to this day), I was rushing out the door and took his slice of leftover pizza to work instead of my own. Lunchtime came around, I took a bite without thinking about it, and… it was all over. It was so good. Some kind of meltdown happened in my brain, and I decided that, after so many years of eating so strictly, I needed to go adventuring.  I wanted to see what other flavors I’d been missing.

So, for the past year or two, huge sections of cookbooks that had always been blank to me were suddenly filled with new and exciting ideas. I finally tried the celebrated local Pacific Northwest salmon, and tasted for myself what everyone was so excited about. I spent more than ten seconds looking at menus in restaurants. I put bacon in all the things: pizza, muffins, soup, omelets, sandwiches. My heart was happy. (My figurative heart, anyway; my physical heart probably not so much.)

Why am I going on and on about the glories of meat in this review of a recipe with no meat, you ask? It’s just to let you know that, although I’m not vegetarian currently, I spent many years in constant search of the elusive savory vegetarian dish. It’s very difficult to find a meatless recipe that hits those hearty & savory notes; the elusive “umami” flavor, the stick-to-your-ribs-ness that makes you want to curl up with it on a cold night.

This recipe has all of that. I was a little skeptical at first (“Mushrooms? In my oatmeal?”), but it looked interesting and I needed to round out my week’s worth of healthy recipes, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I’m definitely glad I tried it. It basically took all of the things I like about ramen and turned them into a brunch recipe. (I will admit that I don’t think I’d be up for this as breakfast first thing in the morning; I made it for lunch, and it was perfect. Hearty and satisfying, but not heavy.)

A few notes:

  • The mushroom type makes a big difference here. I used cremini mushrooms, as written, and they were tasty. Shiitake or maitake mushrooms would also be good I think; anything with some substantial, unique flavor. I probably wouldn’t just throw white mushrooms in here.
  • The recipe called for a dash of soy sauce; my recommendation is to dash, and then keep on dashing, and then dash a few times more. More of a 400-meter than a 100-meter, if you catch my drift. I like salt, what can I say.
  • I also added some garlic, because why not.
  • The oatmeal-to-mushroom ratio is a little high. I got two bowls out of this before running out of mushroom topping, and still had more than a cup of cooked oatmeal left over. Next time I will either make more mushrooms or less oatmeal.

Very tasty, and worth making again. I did not add any sriracha sauce, because I’m a total lightweight when it comes to spicy foods, but I’m sure it would be good that way as well.

It’s totally worth clicking through to the Cooks’ Illustrated soft-boiled eggs tutorial too, if you haven’t had much luck with soft-boiled eggs in the past (as I haven’t). I followed his instructions in the linked article, which were super simple, and my eggs came out great. They weren’t even hard to peel.

Deliciousness score: 7

Easiness score: 7

1.2 rating

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Scones with Lemon Curd

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/buttermilk-poppy-seed-citrus-scones/
http://www.goodlifeeats.com/citrus-curd-three-ways/

You can’t read cooking blogs for very long without running into lemon curd. Usually it appears in a beautiful sunny soft-focus photo, in a little jar, possibly with a gingham fabric cover, or possibly open, with an adorable tiny spoon ready to dollop it onto a fresh-baked scone. I have to admit that ever since I saw my first photo of lemon curd, I was entranced. What is this magical substance, which seems to glow with its own light? People rave about it with something between reverence and fanaticism; if Pinterest is to be believed, every adult kitchen has a bowl of lemons on standby at all times, ready to whip up a few jars of curd at a moment’s notice. What the hell is curd, anyway? I went my entire life without ever hearing about it, and suddenly it was everywhere. In my 20’s, as I was just beginning to be more serious about cooking for myself regularly and was still not quite sure how to adult, I wanted to be one of these people for whom a quick batch of lemon curd was a casual, everyday thing. For whatever reason, in my mind it became more than just a condiment; it represented an elusive stability, preparedness, and self-sufficiency, which I was not sure I would ever achieve.

Now, I’m sure that at any time I wanted over the last ten years, I could have just gone ahead and made some lemon curd. There was absolutely no reason not to. It takes ten minutes and five ingredients. But somehow, the moment never seemed right.

So lemon curd was just on the back burner for me for a long time, occasionally popping up on Pinterest or in blogs, reminding me that it existed, was around, would be there when I was ready. And over the last couple of weeks, as the chaos has begun to calm down from our cross-continent move, as my fiancé and I start to feel settled in our house, as the summer (finally!) begins to arrive and we enjoy the warm breeze and birdsong through our open windows, as I start to feel like I’m at home in the right place with the right person and the right job and can finally, kind of, relax… I started to think, hey, lemon curd. Lemon curd sounds pretty good right about now. Maybe now’s the time.

I had this buttermilk scone recipe open in a tab in my browser for a couple of weeks, along with the lemon curd recipe, waiting to think of something else I could make to use up the rest of the buttermilk. Then the other day Dusty suggested that we should make our favorite baked onion rings recipe, which calls for a full quart of buttermilk, and I thought, yes! It’s go time. Let’s do this.

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Now, I’ve had plenty of experiences that seemed a lot better in my head than they were in real life. Sometimes (most times?) the things you’ve built up in your imagination turn out to be a little duller or stranger or less satisfying than you expected. This is just a natural consequence of trying new things, and the lemon curd could easily have fallen into this category, and I’m sure the sun would have gone on rising and setting and I would have woken up to try another recipe another day.

But it didn’t.

It was amazing.

It was everything I wanted it to be.

It’s nice when that happens, isn’t it? I think it’s safe to say that expectation vs. reality, especially with regard to things discovered on Pinterest, is a bit of a crapshoot. But the lemon curd 100% delivered. The lemon curd + buttermilk scone combo, in fact, is basically unbeatable. As I took my first bite, all the rumors were confirmed; my mind was blown. It was like biting into a little piece of sunshine. Bright, tangy, and just sweet enough; a taste of concentrated summer.

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As I was making it, I was seriously skeptical. I hadn’t taken a super close look at the ingredients list before (or if I had I’d forgotten), and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. It’s basically all egg yolks and butter. Which, on the one hand, didn’t seem like a bad start; those are both ingredients in lots of delicious things. But they seemed like a weird combination for a standalone condiment. I need not have worried; they came together easily into smooth, delicious lemony goodness.

Note: if you made baked onion rings earlier in the week and saved the egg yolks, now is the time to use them.

I did make some modifications to reduce the amounts:

– I put in less than 1/2 cup of sugar, instead of 1 to 1 1/2 cups as written, because my fiancé and I both tend to like things on the less-sweet side. This also let the lemon flavor  shine through.
– I used “only” 6 egg yolks and 8 tbsp (1 stick) of butter, mostly because I felt like I was going to end up with an insane amount of this stuff otherwise.

I later discovered that another favorite food blogger has a similar recipe with more sensible amounts for a small household:

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/03/04/how-to-make-lemon-curd/

I will likely use this recipe going forward. The principles are pretty much the same. The key is cooking on low heat, and whisking constantly, to avoid overcooking your egg yolks. I was a little bit anxious about this, but it was not that hard and turned out totally fine.

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I’ve been so focused on the lemon curd that I’ve barely mentioned the scones, which were amazing in their own right. Relatively quick to put together, with a great slightly-flaky texture and just a hint of citrus. I’m always nervous about doughs that require you to cut the butter into the flour, partly because my pastry cutter is horrible and frustrates me every time I use it, and partially because I’m never sure if or when I’ve crossed the line into overworking the dough. You need small pieces of intact butter to melt in the oven and create the flaky layers, so stirring or kneading too much will work in all the butter chunks and you won’t get that flaking; but underwork it, and the dough doesn’t stick together, and also you get big weird butter pools. Luckily, this dough must have been pretty forgiving. I actually remembered the egg wash (a thing I tend to forget at the last minute), and baked these for the full 25 minutes at 350 degrees, and they turned out great.

All in all, I couldn’t be more delighted. This is a breakfast that does take a little time and planning, but it’s hearty, festive, and totally soul-satisfying. Definitely worth the time. And I will be incorporating lemon curd into a lot more of my baking from now on.

Deliciousness score: 10/10
Easiness score: 8/10

5.0 rating