Main Dishes

Mushroom Overload Cheddar Burgers

A couple of my cousins are fellow food lovers and we always inevitably land on the topic of food. Partly because we are usually gathering for some sort of meal and partly because endless discussions about food is a consequence (or bonus!) of being in my company. Somehow of all the various directions our food conversations could go we always make our way to the topic of fast food.

Now I eat fast food very rarely. And my cousins and I all have great food around our city of Boston that we enjoy frequently. But there is something so universal and instantly crave-inducing about a crispy McNugget, salty skinny fries and creamy soft serve ice cream in a cake cone. It probably has something to do with what’s in the food at these places, but shh! Let’s not ruin it!

The most crave-worthy of all is a juicy, cheesy burger. The last time I was with my cousins they asked when I was going to post a burger so here it is. A mushroom overload cheddar burger. Now originally I was waiting to post this during the warmer months when it would seem more seasonally appropriate. But I couldn’t wait. I had to post it right this second. What else were you going to eat with those zucchini fries?

Mushroom lovers will swoon over these patties loaded with porcini mushrooms and mushroom stock. And if that’s not enough, which is probably the case because there are never enough mushrooms, the burger is topped with a seasoned mushroom and shallot sauté that pairs perfectly with the richness of the sharp cheddar. These burgers will do more than satisfy your burger craving- they will create a whole new craving to have these again and again!

Mushroom Overload Cheddar Burgers
 
Yield: 4 burgers
Ingredients
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ ounce chopped dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1⅓ pounds ground beef
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 burger buns
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Microwave the water until hot. Add the dried mushrooms and let rehydrate.
  2. In a large sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and minced shallot then season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender and golden, about 10 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Stir in the Italian seasoning and remove from the heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, chopped onion, minced garlic, rehydrated dried mushrooms and a couple tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Do not overwork the meat, mix until just combined. Divide the beef mixture into four equal portions and form each portion into a 1 inch thick burger patty. Season each side of the burgers with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook the burgers on a grill or grill pan until desired doneness. During the last couple minutes of cooking place 1 slice of cheese on each burger. If using a grill pan tent foil over the pan to help the cheese melt.
  5. Serve the burgers on the buns topping with a large spoonful of the mushroom mixture.

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes.

Baked Pistachio Crusted Chicken

What is there to say about chicken? It’s healthy, a great source of protein and can be on the table in under thirty minutes. Did I put you to sleep yet? That is how I was feeling after all the chicken-eating going on in my apartment. The chickens were taking over! Well, at least of the boneless skinless variety. If you’ve been feeling like this lately then either you’re still traumatized from that childhood farm incident or you need to add some pizazz to your dinner table. Lets hope it’s the later, I’m a food blogger not a therapist.

I did not want to remove the chicken takeover from my kitchen as it has many mealtime benefits as previously mentioned. I decided I simply needed to add some new flavors and textures to re-excite myself about dinner. This baked pistachio crusted chicken has a crunchy exterior and juicy interior all while still bringing the health factor. It also pairs really well with last week’s roasted beet, blackberry and goat cheese salad; how convenient is that? So put down the grill pan and step away from the stir fry. It’s time to wake up your senses and reinvent your chicken.

I have some other chicken recipes I am trying out so I will be sure to share those here on Lemon & Mocha. However I am always looking for new suggestions. What is your favorite way to cook up this versatile poultry?

Baked Pistachio Crusted Chicken
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unsalted shelled pistachios
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly coat a cooling rack or roasting rack with cooking spray. Set over a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and set aside.
  3. Roughly chop the shelled pistachios in a food processor.
  4. Combine the chopped pistachios and seasonings in a shallow bowl.
  5. Place 1 chicken breast in the pistachio mixture and press down to coat. Flip and coat the other side of the breast. Carefully place on the prepared cooling rack. Do not pat the chicken dry as you will need the natural moisture of the chicken to help the pistachio coating stick. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
  6. Bake the chicken for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. The time varies because every oven is different and chicken can dry out quickly so it's best to use temperature rather than time to judge doneness.
  7. Remove and serve with a big salad or lemon orzo and asparagus.

 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Just in case you forgot I figured I would remind you. Although I’m counting down the hours until I can eat until I can’t eat anymore, what’s even more exciting than actual Thanksgiving day is the day after Thanksgiving. It involves leftovers and I love leftovers. You get to revisit all your favorite dishes from the day before and there’s no waiting for everyone to sit down for the big meal. The leftovers are in your fridge waiting for you, calling your name… Unless of course you didn’t have Thanksgiving at your house or word got out that you were cooking Monday’s mushrooms and unexpected guests ate all your would-be leftovers. Sorry about that.

But sometimes after a couple rounds of leftovers your stomach needs a break. All that stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie weigh on you and your body craves something light and refreshing. That’s when it is time to reinvent your leftovers. These leftover Thanksgiving turkey fresh rolls are exactly what you will need the day after Thanksgiving. They may look complicated, but I made about eight of these in less than ten minutes. After a long day you don’t need something that takes a lot of work.

Soaking the turkey in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil moistens the leftover slices. The cellophane noodles are a light filler and there’s no boiling required as they only need to be soaked in warm water. Then you can add whatever vegetables you have sitting in your fridge. Leftover avocado from guacamole? Done. Carrots, lettuce and cucumbers from leftover salad fixings? Done, done and done. I used carrots and lettuce in mine because that was what was in my fridge, but feel free to get creative. The sweet and tangy cranberry dipping sauce compliments the spring rolls well and helps you use up all that leftover cranberry sauce. So when you’re running out to the store today for those last minute ingredients make sure to pick up some spring roll wrappers and cellophane noodles. Your stomach will thank you for it, as will your taste buds.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce
 
Yield: 8 fresh rolls
Ingredients
for the rolls
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 cup chopped roast turkey
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • ½ package cellophane noodles
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 cup roughly chopped lettuce leaves
for the sauce
  • ¼ cup cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
Directions
for the rolls
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and seasonings. Add the turkey pieces and grated carrot, stir to coat and let soak.
  2. Place the cellophane noodles in a medium mixing bowl. Heat 4 cups of water and pour over the noodles. Let soak for 10 minutes, or until soft. Transfer the noodles to a small bowl with a fork or tongs leaving the water in the medium bowl for the spring roll wrappers. Rip the noodles or cut with kitchen scissors into shorter strands about 1 inch long. It doesn't need to be exact or even.
  3. Take the first spring roll wrapper and submerge it in the warm water the noodles were soaking in. After the wrapper is soft and pliable, about 10 seconds, remove from the water and carefully lay flat on a cutting board or clean counter.
  4. Take a small amount of the noodles and place in a line in the middle of the spring roll wrapper. Add a spoonful of the turkey mixture onto the noodles and a couple pieces of chopped lettuce. Fold the two sides next to the ends of the filling line you created up and over part of the filling. Take the top of the wrapper and pull it over the filling then tuck it under and roll the wrapped filling towards you to finish the roll. It sounds complicated, but once you do one or two you will get the hang of it.
  5. Repeat for the rest of the rolls.
for the sauce
  1. Place the cranberry sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and mash the cranberry sauce until mostly smooth.
  2. Whisk in the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce then bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and serve with the rolls.
Notes
You can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge as part of the filling. Some ideas include cucumber or avocado cut in 1 inch strips.

Inspiration from The Pioneer Woman.
Dipping sauce from allrecipes.com.

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Today is a special day. Partly because I am presenting you with these outrageous stuffed mushrooms just in time for you to make for Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to that in a second. It is also my stepmom’s birthday. You should be wishing her a happy birthday, buying her presents and even throwing her a party! Because if it was not for her you would not be staring at these tempting, fragrant grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms. In fact, if it wasn’t for my stepmom you would probably be reading a blog about chicken fingers, noodles and fish sticks right now, although that does sound rather delicious.

My palate growing up was mostly limited to “kid’s food,” but my stepmom opened up a whole new world for me. Artichokes, couscous and eggplant, oh my! And mushrooms, thank heavens for the mushrooms. The greatest gift my stepmom has ever given me, aside from love, support and all that good stuff, is the gift of mushrooms. Although she didn’t gift them to me in the literal sense, as that would be a little silly and hard to wrap, I had never given mushrooms a second glance until she cooked them for me. And as they say, the rest is history.

Fast forward to today where these mushrooms sit on your computer screen exploding with juicy sausage bits, creamy marscarpone cheese, nutty Parmesan, crunchy bread crumbs and tantalizing herbs and spices. The mushrooms themselves have been grilled to perfection as they are hearty in taste, but delicate enough in texture to yield to your fork’s cut. Are you still with me or did you you already run to your kitchen to start making these? If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?! Perfect as a side dish, main dish or even in place of traditional stuffing for a tasty twist this Thanksgiving, gifting these mushrooms to your guests might result in future spontaneous house calls around dinnertime. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Grilled and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces marscarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Crumble the sausage and add it to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until cooked through, stirring often.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the marscarpone, parsley flakes, oregano, bread crumbs and ½ cup of the Parmesan to the cooked sausage and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil or cooking spray then place the mushrooms stem side down on the grill pan. Lightly coat the tops of the mushrooms with olive oil or cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms for 4 minutes.
  6. Turn the mushrooms over and cook them for another 2 minutes.
  7. Carefully fill the mushrooms with the sausage mixture. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese then tent some tin foil over the pan to help the Parmesan melt. Grill for another 6 minutes then remove from the heat and serve.
Notes
I used fully cooked roasted garlic chicken sausages from Trader Joe's and would highly recommend them for this recipe. If you use them as well follow these adaptations to the recipe above:
*Omit the minced garlic
*There is not a thick casing so you can simply crumble and tear the sausage with the casing intact
*Still complete the first step of the recipe even though they are cooked because it will help brown and warm the sausages

Recipe slightly adapted from Giada at Home.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp

 

I’m a little late to the kale trend, but I have recently started experimenting with it in the kitchen. Kale is a superfood and no that does not mean it has sonic vision or invisibility powers. A superfood is one that is light in calories, rich in nutrients and has additional health benefits. Kale’s extra health goodies include all kinds of fancy science words like phytochemicals and beta-carotene. But all you need to know is that it’s good for you.

Don’t run away just yet! I promise I wouldn’t share something that wasn’t also sneak-back-for-seconds delicious. Through my adventures with kale I have discovered that it can also often be very bitter. Turning the kale into a pesto with walnuts, Parmesan, lemon and olive oil ensures that the kale is vibrant, savory and definitely not bitter. It might just be my new favorite pesto.

I love loading my meals with seasonal vegetables, which is why I added the leeks and red peppers. The kale may shine, but the lemon shrimp isn’t far behind. I love anything with a fresh lemon flavor and the shrimp in this recipe do not disappoint. They were so tasty I would certainly not promote skipping the shrimp in this dish, but if you needed it to be vegetarian you could omit the shrimp and add the lemon juice and zest to the vegetables instead.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta with Lemon Shrimp
 
Yield: 6 servings, plus 1 extra cup pesto
Ingredients
for the pesto
  • ¾ cup shelled walnuts
  • 12 ounces kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
for the pasta
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the pesto
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Evenly spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the walnuts are roasted, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool chop ¼ cup of the walnuts, leaving the rest whole, and set aside for garnish.
  2. Remove the hard stems from the kale then roughly chop. Steam for 4 minutes, or until tender.
  3. In a food processor or with an immersion blender pulse together the steamed kale, garlic, ½ cup of the roasted walnuts, Parmesan and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until a paste forms. While pulsing pour in ⅔ cup olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
for the pasta
  1. Cook the linguine until al dente then drain.
  2. Prepare the leeks. Trim off the dark green parts and discard. Trim off the root ends and discard. Cut the entire leek lengthwise then slice crosswise into pieces.
  3. Leeks harbor a lot of dirt so special care needs to be taken to remove all the grit. First rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander. Then fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rinsed leeks. Swirl and rub the leeks with your hands to dislodge any dirt. The dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl so remove the leek pieces with a slotted spoon and set back in the rinsed colander to dry.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the sliced red peppers and prepared leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Once cooked remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in the same sauté pan. Toss the shrimp with the flour then sauté in the pan for 5 minutes, or until firm and pink making sure to turn while cooking. Stir in the zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice then season with salt and pepper. Add the sautéed leeks and red peppers then remove from the heat.
  6. Toss the pasta with 1 cup pesto, shrimp and vegetables. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and extra grated Parmesan, if desired.

Recipe adapted from November/December 2013 issue of Cuisine at Home.