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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

Eat more pie!

Yesterday Aoife and I decided on a trade, she will make me a very needed cake/pie serving dish and I, in return, will make her pies. Sweet and savory pies. First pie to be exchanged: leek, goat cheese and mushrooms (with a little bit of sun-chokes).I bought a beautiful Leek at the coop a few days ago that has been begging to be cooked, and so as soon as I got up I started working on it. Tart dough is simple to make and it is by far more rewarding then buying a frozen pre-made crust. The fun thing about baking pies is that you don't have to be so accurate, often when baking there is not much room for making up stuff as you go. With pies, however, I find that I have a lot more room to play with quantities and ingredients and that is exactly how I like to cook. I actually had some sun-chokes that needed to be used and so I peeled them, sliced them, cooked them in some milk and stuffed them in the bottom of the tart.

Stay tuned for more pie recipes over the next few weeks, and feel free to suggest ideas for pies I should make for the clay master and her chef lover.

Dough ingredients:

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut to cubes
  • 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl, add butter and mix until the butter pieces are pea-size. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and mix with your fingertips. Do not over work the dough or it will become hard. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Make the filling:

  • 3lbs leek, white part, thinly sliced
  • 15-20 mixed mushrooms, cremini, oyster, shiitake, brushed cleaned and chopped coarsely
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

* if you want to use potatoes or sun-chokes as well, peel and slice them and then cook in milk or cream for about 20 minutes until soft.

In a frying pan melt the butter and add the leek. Cook until leek is translucent, about 5 minutes, add thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper and the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure not to brown the leeks. Uncover and cook for about 15 more minutes until all juices are almost gone. In a separate pan melt the remaining butter and add the mushrooms and, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices. Place the leeks in a bowl, discard the nay leaf and mix in goat cheese and creme fraiche.

On a floured surface roll out the dough. Butter a 9" pie pan and line with rolled dough, fill with the leek mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust and leeks are starting to turn golden. Place mushrooms on top and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Place on a wire rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Fighting the cold - chinese style

As the weather in NY drops below the freezing point, soups seems to be the only natural thing to eat.I was told by my acupuncturist yesterday that I need to push out something that is still external , but may become internal if left untreated, and so I should eat a lot of Miso. According to Chinese tradition exterior diseases first affect the body surfaces that are exposed directly to the environment - the skin, the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs. The most prevalent exterior conditions are the common cold and flu, the sooner ones notices these conditions and take action, the more likely their interior progress can be reversed. Food that promotes sweating is recommended for treating such conditions - miso soup, ginger and peppermint tea are my favorite remedies.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste thought to have originated in China some 2,500 years ago. It is made by combining cooked soybeans, mold, salt and various grains and then fermenting them together for six months to two years. There are three basic types of miso: soybean, barley and rice, and 40-50 other varieties. Each type has its own distinctive color and flavor. Healing properties of miso: 13%-20% protein; it is a live food containing lactobacillus (the same in yogurt) that aids in digestion; it creates an alkaline condition in the body promoting resistance against disease. According to tradition, miso promotes long life and good health. In my miso soup I like using a lot of ginger and scallions, along with kombu, wakame, tofu and shiitake. Kombu (kelp) -  moistens dryness; increases yin fluids; softens hardened areas and masses in the body; helps transform heat induced phlegm; benefits kidneys; diuretic; anti-coagulant effect on the blood; is a natural fungicide; relieves coughing and asthma; soothes the lungs and throat; eradicates fungal and candida yeast overgrowths. Wakame - diuretic; transforms and resolves phlegm; high in calcium; rich in niacin and thiamine; promotes healthy hair and skin; soften hardened tissue and masses; tonifies the yin fluids; used in Japanese tradition to purify the mother's blood after childbirth. Tofu - benefits the lungs and large intestine; relieves inflammation in the stomach; neutralizes toxins. Shiitake

What a healthy, cold fighting soup this is going to be! *most of this information is based on the book "healing with whole foods" by Paul Pritchard Miso soup recipe Ingredients:

  • 10-12 cups of chicken stock or water - I prefer using chicken stock, got to give grandma's remedies some credit too.
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of dark miso
  • 1/4 cup dry Wakame, soaked in 2 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of Kombu, cut into small chunks (use scissors)
  • 1/2 pack of tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of bonito (or any other) dry fish flakes, optional
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ginger, at least 3-5 inch long, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, leg removed, cut in 4

Directions:

  1. in a soup pot, sautee garlic onion and ginger for about 4-5 minutes
  2. add wakame and the liquid it was soaked in and stir
  3. add mushrooms, 3/4 of scallions, kombu, tofu, bonito fish flakes and chicken stock
  4. bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, cook for about 30 minutes
  5. add miso, stir and cook for 10 more minutes
  6. serve hot with fresh scallions on top
  7. optional addition: hard-boiled or fried egg is a delicious addition to this soup.

*Miso, Kombu, Wakame and Bonito flakes can be found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets.

Shiitake

I had to slice a lot of mushrooms at work today, Portobello, Oyster, and My favorite, Shiitake.Shiitake mushrooms with their rich, smoky flavor are  used in many recipes and different cuisine, they are relatively new to our western taste buds (Americans been eating them since 1972) but have become very popular over the years. I was first introduce to Shiitake about 11 years ago, when my step grandfather was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and decided to fight it with a meticulous diet that involved a lot of Shiitake (along with many other things). Why Shiitake? There are a few answers to this question, I'll try to keep it short: Early investigators were skeptical of mushrooms because they appeared to have properties similar to those of cancer - parasitical, fungus-like, and fast growing. It now seems that these qualities might be an indications that mushroom are useful for treating cancer. Shiitake mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, they are said to be a natural source of interferon, a protein which appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases. They are also thought to tonify immunity and appears to have strong effect against tumors and cancers.  Mushrooms are also a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhance immunity. * (based mostly on information from the book "Healing with whole foods" Paul Pitchford and from various online sources).

Oh wow, it sounds like we all should be eating more Shiitake... Living in a city filled with pollution and being exposed to all these cancerous threats is pretty harsh on our bodies, and if adding Shiitake to my diet can boost up my odds, even just a bit, I'm in! You can buy them fresh, dried or even powdered, you can soak them in hot water and drink as a tea or fill your on capsules and take as a supplement, personally I like to eat them, raw, or cooked.

Convinced yet? Let's get down to business: First make sure that when selecting fresh mushrooms they are firm and clean, if they look soft, sticky or have dark spots, you should not eat them. Fresh ones are best stored loosely in a paper bag inside your fridge and the dried ones in an air tight container in your pantry. As for cooking them, you can be creative and add them into soups, sautéed veggies, rice dishes, pastas, sushi, salads and so on ( please share any recipes and/or ideas) I really like adding them to my porcini and shallots when making a risotto (see recipe below) but if you feel like cooking something that simply screams "healthy" here is a recipe for Barley with vegetables:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup barley, soaked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (soaked for 15 minutes if dried)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups water (can be substituted with stock for extra flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. saute vegetables in sesame oil
  2. dry roast barley lightly
  3. place barley and vegetable in a pot with water and salt
  4. cover and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat to low, simmer for 40 minutes

Mushroom risotto:

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pound Porcini, Shiitake and baby Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, just about 22 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Appetite !