Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

Old Love, New Form April 7, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 11:05 am
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For a long, long, long… long time…

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I’ve had an adoration of mushrooms.

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They’re my first thought for toppings when ordering pizza.

Raw, stuffed, curried, grilled…

Deep fried at my Kingshead Pub

In a quiche, in a crepe?  Oui, s’il vous plaît.

Wild mushroom risotto?  The only time I will consider ordering a bowl of rice.

Portobello sandwiches, all the way.

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Or…  Something I’ve never done…

We can caramelize them with onions in Marsala wine.

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Everyonething is better with wine.

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And then we get fancies.

Marsala Mushroom Pate

This recipe is inspired by my passion for shrooms.  And by Homestyle Vegetarian.  I veganized it, as well as incorporated the Marsala wine.  Because that’s what I do, I dunno.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Marsala wine

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 a small onion, sliced

1 lb fresh mushrooms (white button or baby portobellos), quartered

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

2-3 Tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar

herbs/spices of your choice (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.)

salt and pepper to taste

1) Pour the wine into a large pan.  Add the garlic and onion and simmer until the onion starts to become translucent.  Then add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is gone.  Allow to cool.

2) While the mushrooms are cooling, you can skin the hazelnuts if desired.  Just place them on a baking sheet lined with foil, and toast them at about 300°F for 5-10 minutes, or until the skin comes off easily.  Then immediately throw them into a dish towel, wrap them up well, and rub around to loosen the skins.  This step is probably not necessary, but it the skin may darken the color of the pate.

3) In a food processor, finely chop the hazelnuts and almonds.  Then add the caramelized mushrooms and process until smooth.  Scrape down occasionally, and add the vinegar to smooth it out.  You can also use a little extra wine, vinegar, or olive oil to help with the texture.  Then add herbs, spices, salt and pepper to your liking.

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(Yep.  Looks like cat food.)

For variation… You can use another type of dessert wine, such as sherry or port.  You can also substitute different types of nuts– walnuts, macadamias, pine nuts, cashews, etc.  This pate can be used on crostini as an appetizer, an accompaniment to some grilled vegetables and tofu, stuffed into ravioli, spread on sandwiches, etc.

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But I’ve no problems just eating it with a spoon…

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The Colors… March 2, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 12:38 pm
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The first artistic talents I ever displayed were visual.

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I was four years old and would draw, and draw, and draw.

And draw.

This obsessive drawing led to obsessive painting as well.  And eventually a collection of art awards in high school.  First place, Best of Show, a scholarship, and a few other awards,  but I have no idea which shows they were from…  I just remember begrudgingly attending the shows because I was the “angry artist” type…  I still am… Sorta… but I use knives instead of pencils and paint brushes now.

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Naturally, my color palette is important to me.

I’m… “drawn”… to earthy colors in particular (see what I did there?).

Various shades of dusty red, rustic orange, warm yellow

deep purples and aquas

and ESPECIALLY olive green.

I love greens.

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That’s a pun, peeps…

So I found these beautiful mustard greens at the farmer’s market.  I’ve never eaten mustard greens, and they were cheap, so I went after them.  Already knowing that mustard greens are pretty damn bitter, I still tasted a couple leaves raw.  Yeesh.   Yeah, pretty bitter, even for someone who eats packets of mustard…

So then I talked to Chef at work, and his answer was sugar.  Saute garlic, onions, add brown sugar…  I thought, “Okay, but… I’m too cool for that…”  I thought up something else, but based on the idea of sugar.

Apricots & Mustard Greens

Ingredients:

about 1 cup dried apricots, chopped in halves or quarters

half an onion, thinly sliced

1 bunch of mustard greens*

1 cup sweet wine (apricot, sherry, marsala, etc.) OR 3/4 cup vegetable broth mixed with 1/4 cup honey, maple, or agave syrup

salt & pepper to taste

*You can try this with just about any greens– turnip, collards, even kale or Swiss chard.  Remove the stems and ribs of the leaves  if you don’t want to spend a lot of time chewing ^_^

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In a large pan or pot, spread out the apricots, then the onion slices, and then the mustard greens.  Pour in the wine or broth mixture, and turn the heat to medium high.  When the liquid is simmering and the greens near the bottom begin to soften, start stirring everything around.  The greens will soon reduce greatly.  Lower the heat to medium, and stir occasionally, to ensure even cooking.  Over the next 15-20 minutes, keep lowering the heat to prevent the liquid from evaporating too fast.  While it’s cooking, the natural sugars of the apricots and wine (or broth elixir) will counteract the bitterness of the greens, which is why you want to keep the simmer going for a while.  The onions will also take on some sweetness.  Let them infuse!  When the cooking liquid is syrupy, add salt and pepper to your liking.  If the greens are still bitter, gradually add extra honey/maple/agave syrup and cook a few minutes longer.

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Sweet, peppery, lots of texture, and not at all bitter.

You can also saute everything in olive oil before you add the liquid, to really heighten the flavor.

Raisins or dried cherries are acceptable substitutes for the apricots.  (I just love dried apricots).

Serve alongside some rice, polenta, quinoa, or your grain of choice.

And topped with some chopped nuts, or crumbled cheese.

Yes.

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Give Parsnip a Chance January 24, 2013

Filed under: Random,Recipes — rabbit @ 5:26 pm
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I’ve been meaning to work with parsnip.  Sort of.

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Because I see it all the time at the markets, and I know how it tastes

and the array of dishes one can make with it…

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But I feel like it it often gets pushed aside.

Is it the name?  Pars. Nip.  Par. Snip.

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I dunno.

To me, parsnip is like… if a potato and a carrot had a baby.

A nice, sweet,  but awkward child that nobody really talks to.

Probably because its name is Parsnip.

(If I ever have a kid, its name will be Parsnip.)

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And little Parsnip will make great gnocchi.

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Parsnip Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola

This recipe is based on my Plantain Gnocchi, but I basically swapped out the plantain for parsnip.  Parsnip yields a slightly sweeter flavor and pairs nicely with the onions and tangy Gorgonzola.  You can also try folding in a bit of the cheese into the gnocchi dough… whoa…  Also, when I made this, I was using half the ingredients as listed.  The amount I made could feed two, so these quantities should be good for four peeps.

Ingredients:

4 large parsnip roots, peeled and cut into equal sizes

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 cups flour*

optional: fresh or dried herbs of your choice (I used chopped fresh sage)

salt and pepper to taste

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup or more of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

*I used amaranth flour to make a gluten-free version, just because.  I think the lack of gluten also made these gnocchi really tender, even after they’ve been refrigerated (which is good if you like eating leftovers straight from the fridge).  Using wheat flour will likely make the texture a little more firm, but I don’t imagine in a bad way, since that’s what is traditionally used in gnocchi.

1) Steam or roast the parsnip until tender.  I roasted mine (350°F for about an hour, coated in olive oil, salt and pepper) because I have an obsession with roasting veggies, apparently.  Steaming might make them easier to puree later on though.

2) Once cool enough to handle, puree the parsnip in a food processor, using the eggs (and scraping down occasionally) to help achieve a smooth consistency.  I also required a few tablespoons of water, FYI.  Transfer the puree to a medium bowl, and gradually combine with the flour, until you have a dough that is easy to handle but still a bit sticky (if you need more flour, add a tablespoon or two at a time).  Fold in the salt, pepper, and herbs if using.  Set dough aside to rest.

3) Caramelize the onion by cooking over medium-low heat in a bit of olive oil.  Stir frequently, until the onion is evenly browned and smells like angel sweat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4) Shape your gnocchi.  Flour your hands and your counter top, or a large cutting board.  As you can see, I did thumbprints (again).  You can also roll the dough into a snake and just cut equal-sized pieces from that, or if you have any special tools or techniques, go for it.  Once all the dough is shaped, bring a pot of water to a gentle boil.  In small batches, lower the gnocchi into the water, and once they float to the top, take them out and set aside.  Repeat until all the gnocchi is cooked.

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5) Combine the gnocchi with the caramelized onion, reheating if necessary on low.  Then transfer to a bowl and toss with the Gorgonzola.  Enjoy while thinking about which vegetable you would name your child after.  I also may consider Broccoli…

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Sharing is Yummy January 20, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 9:44 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I like to provide things when I can.  I try to be helpful, generous, solution-giving, etc.  I like to produce.

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So when someone asks for a recipe, because they so adored the dish when I first served it

2013-01-17 18.46.04   Damn right I’m gonna supply.

So yeah.  I made this Shepherd’s Pie for Thanksgiving.  And I kinda winged it, and didn’t record the recipe.

The “meat” portion is based on/inspired by my awesomely awesome chili.

The texture of the finely chopped veggies, legumes, and the wonderful blend of spices makes a great alternative to ground beef.

Lots of flavor going on, people.

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Then there’s mashedly mashed potatoes.

I boiled the tah-toes with their own skins, plenty of salt, and some peppercorns.

Can’t hurt to add a little extras when you boil something…

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(Can you see my reflection in the wonderful Professional Kitchenaid Mixer, Tia Malena??)

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Green things = chives.  Because everyone likes chives, right?

Yellow cube things: buttah.  Because, damnit.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

for the filling-

1 medium carrot

1 pint mushrooms

1 medium tomato

1 small onion (or half medium

1-2 garlic cloves, depending on your liking for garlic

1/2 cup red lentils (you can use other types of lentils, but they may require longer cooking time)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander

approx 1 cup liquid (broth, beer, water, etc.)

drizzle of soy sauce or tamari

salt and pepper to taste

for the mashed potatoes-

3 large Russet potatoes

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper or peppercorns (optional)

1 1/4 cup sour cream (maybe a little more if necessary)

1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter

1 bunch of chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1) Make the filling.  Finely chop the carrot, mushrooms, tomato, onion and garlic.  Drizzle some olive oil in large pot and turn the heat to medium-high.  Now throw in all the veggies and lentils.  When things start to get hot, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pot partially.  Stir occasionally as the liquid from the shrooms and tomatoes evaporates.  Meanwhile, combine the spices in a small bowl.  When the mixture has lost most of its liquid, stir in the spices, then add the broth, or whatever you’re using (I used a combination of hard cider and water).  Also add the soy sauce.  Bonus: I had some fresh thyme and sage from my new patio garden and threw that in.  Allow to cook until the mixture has a chili-like consistency and the lentils are done.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.  Spread filling into a 9-inch pie plate, or an 8×8 inch baking dish (or something equivalent).  Set aside.

2) Make the mashed potatoes.  Peel the potatoes, and combine them with their skins, salt, and pepper (if using) in a large pot.  (The skin adds a bit of flavor).  Add enough water to cover the potatoes and put to boil for about half an hour, or until they are tender.  Once done, transfer the hot potatoes to a large bowl.  Reserve the water they were boiled in.  Break them up with a knife or large fork, then start mashing with either a mixer or potato masher.  Add the butter, and mix/mash it in until it’s melted.  Now mix in the sour cream, then the reserved cooking water as necessary until it’s smooth, creamy and fluffy.  Gradually add chives, salt and pepper to taste, and more sour cream if you feel it’s needed.

3) Spread the potatoes over the filling.  Make it fluffy!!  If you’re like me, more salt and pepper over the top.  Then we’re gonna be bad… and dot some little cubes of butter all over before this baby hits the oven.  And bake at 350°F, though you can turn the temperature higher if you’re lacking patience…  Until the potatoes are lightly browned…  And that butter has melted and adorned the crevices like rivers running through mountains…

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You can serve this right away.  Maybe along a nice salad like this one.

Or this one.

And for dessert, maybe some Cranberry Orange Banana Bread?

And/or irresistible Pumpkin Blondies?

Some notes…  This recipe can be adjusted in various ways.  For one, you can use different veggies than listed.  Just keep texture in mind.  You don’t want a mushy filling, so different types of mushrooms, root veggies, lentils, corn, quinoa, etc, are good options.  Second, you can use different types of potatoes, but some are more waxy versus starchy like Russets, so do your research and see what will be good for mashing.  Third, want to make this a little healthier?  Use Greek yogurt mixed with the juice of one lemon instead of sour cream.  And olive oil instead of butter?  Totally okay.  FOURTH!  Want to make it vegan?  There are plenty of vegan substitutes for butter and sour cream.  But if you have trouble getting them near you, just ask, I’ll help you out with what you got.

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And finally… Share =)

 

Hodgepodge January 10, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 3:31 pm
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The feeling that part of you slept through the end of the year..

chibi nap

And though good things happened

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Those things are still too new to really grasp…

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So you take what you got, or what you’ve made from what you got…

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And layer it into the Pyrex dish you received  for Christmas :)

And bake.

You make comfort food.  You make something special out of things so ordinary,

or things that are “just there”… for whatever reason.

You make:

Rainbow Chard, Onion, and Lentil Panade

Panade is essentially a bread casserole.  It’s very versatile.  All you need is some stale or dried bread cubes, a filling of your choice, and soup stock.  Here’s my delicious version.

Ingredients:

a couple cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 lb rainbow chard, sliced into ribbons, and the stems diced

a tsp each of fennel and caraway seeds (you can use whatever herbs or spices you like, but I find this combination interesting and delicious)

about half a pound of stale or dried bread cubes (I used challah but brioche, sourdough, baguette, whole wheat, etc., should do just as well)

about 1 cup cooked lentils (any type– French, red, black, green, etc.)*

2 cups nice vegetable broth

1) Make your filling.  Over medium heat in some olive oil or butter, cook your garlic and onions until they start to soften.  Add the chard, and stir around until it’s wilted.  Add the fennel and caraway seeds, salt, pepper, and adjust flavors to your taste.

2) (If your bread cubes are not dry, you can pop them in the oven on the lowest temperature for a while.  You want them to be able to soak up the broth.)  When you have your fillings and bread ready, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Brush a medium sized baking dish (about 8×8 inches or the equivalent) with olive oil.  Spread half of the bread cubes on the bottom.  Drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fill the gaps with half the fillings.  Repeat with the remaining bread and filling.  I had some finely ground pecans and sprinkled some of those on top, but that’s not necessary.  Top off the casserole with an extra drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and anything else you feel like.

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3) Pour the broth evenly over the panade.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top bread cubes are dry and crusty, and there’s some bubbling action on the bottom.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

*Cheese is often used in panade.  I had some cooked red lentils on hand and thought it a good idea to throw in something healthier than cheese, so there.  But by all means, whatever floats yer boat…

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All you need now is a fork.  Plates are stupid.

 

Lushtastic October 18, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 11:52 am
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It’s not my fault wine makes everything better.

Food, I mean.

Hey, what would you do if you acquired a bunch of booze you wouldn’t drink?  So.  Much.  White Zinfandel.  I just can’t.  It’s too sweet.  Or the rejected beer.  It takes up space, people.  So I’ve been thinking outside the bottle.  Rice, vegetables, soups, bread.  You’d be surprised how little other flavoring is needed when you add some wine or beer.  Hey, it’s not exactly out of the ordinary.  Remember?

When working at Creme Brulee, we supplemented some of our food.  Whiskey in the flourless chocolate cake, sherry in the mushrooms, white wine in the French onion soup.   We sold a lot of soup.

I decided to treat my sense of nostalgia, and my poor eyes, to an evening of cooking French onion soup.  Doesn’t matter how fast you can slice onions, even with a mandolin slicer.  Tears will happen.  But I think I’m starting to develop a bit of immunity… Maybe.


Caramelizing onions takes time.  Time to listen to some 70s music.

And mess around with Henry’s camera.

Ponder your to-do list.

And when things get brown and sticky… (ew)

Add more wine to deglaze.

Now you can add soup broth like a normal person.

French Onion Soup for the Lush

Ingredients:

about 2 lbs sweet onions (I used 2 and a quarter large)

a drizzle of olive oil

a few cups of white wine (zinfandel, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, etc.), depending on your taste

3 or more cups of well-flavored vegetable broth (depending on your preference of onion to broth ratio)

a few tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari

salt and pepper to taste

1) Slice the onions very thinly, preferably on a mandolin slicer.  Seriously, you need one.  Throw the onions into a large soup pot.  Coat with the olive oil, and add 1-2 cups of the wine.  The alcohol will cook out, and the natural sugars will help caramelize the onions, as well as impart the wine’s own delicate flavor.  Cook over medium-high heat until the onions wilt and deepen in color.  Stir occasionally.

2) When the liquid starts evaporating and onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan, deglaze with extra wine, or a flavored vinegar.  Add the broth, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  And simmer for 10-15 minutes.  From here, adjust the flavors to your liking.  You may want it slightly sweeter, more savory, etc.  You can also add some choice herbs such as thyme or marjoram.  But on its own this soup should be pretty rich in flavor.

You may be used to a French onion soup that is mostly salty beef broth while a comparatively small amount of onions swim around.  This version, however, which is very similar to what we made at Creme Brulee, is abundant with sweet onions.  The flavor is both smooth and bold.  The texture is comforting.  If you feel you need more liquid, go for it.  (Pansy).

Of course, French onion is typically served smothered in cheese (Gruyere, Swiss, Provolone, etc.).  I decided to go the vegan route this time.  I had some seitan handy, so I pan fried that until slightly crisp.  Add crusty bread, and voila.

Go ahead.  Zoom in…

 

High School Chem, Bad. Casserole, Good. November 21, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 9:09 am
Tags: , ,

I got rid of my TV when I moved recently.  The last time I had used it was months ago, and it’s not like I was trying to catch a particular show, I was just bored.  Nowadays, it’s generally a task for me to follow TV.  I can deal with Hulu and Netflix, or listening in on old Seinfeld episodes when my dad watches.  Buuuut that’s about it.  I think I was last into current television when I was trying to learn how to be a serious cook.  Not surprisingly, I watched a lot of Food Network.  Some stuff was useful, some not so much.  Some stuff made me hungry, and Paula Deen just annoyed the hell out of me.  My favorite show was Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  Because he helped me finally understand chemistry (to an extent).  Unlike my high school chem teacher, Alton made me feel validated.  Plus, he didn’t give me a C on my report card.  Or a D.  Whatever that bitch gave me…

One Good Eats episode I was particularly fond of was “Bean Stalker”, in which he made the classic green bean casserole from scratch.  Obviously, I like from-scratch food, not just for the better flavor and nutrition, but for the labor of love that goes into it.  As a vegetable-lover, it kills me to see a green bean casserole made the Campbell’s way– with limp, flavorless green beans and condensed mushroom soup that barely has any mushrooms in it.  The French fried onions are not even onions, but I consider those a guilty pleasure.

I’ve actually never made Alton’s recipe to the T.  But I’ve been inspired by it, and done a couple of my own versions.  Vegan, of course.  I depend mostly on his method of making the crispy onion topping, as well as the mushroom sauce.  As for the green beans, I like to change it up.  I like green beans, but when it comes to green veggies, they don’t quite grab my attention the way collard greens, Swiss chard, or even broccoli would.  So I encourage you to do as you please as well.  I think it’s good to be flexible.  Unlike my high school chemistry teacher…

Shrooms & Greens Casserole

Ingredients:

1 pint mushrooms

2 to 3 cloves of garlic

3 Tbsp olive oil

a few dashes each of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and any other additional herbs or spices you’d like to try

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour*

a bottle of white wine**

1 lb green vegetables (fresh green beans, collard or mustard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.), cooked***

1 small onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour or tapioca starch for gluten-free

1/4 cup cornflour

salt & pepper

1) Slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic.  Heat the olive oil in a pan and throw in the shrooms and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms start to give off their liquid.

2) As the shroom juice evaporates, add your spices.  I added a bit of dill, which may sound like an odd combination with nutmeg, but it’s quite nice.  You can try sage, thyme, basil, cumin, coriander, cloves.  Surprise yourself.

3) Once the shroom juice is all gone, sprinkle on the flour, and stir the mushrooms around to get them coated.

4) Now comes the fun part.  Pour in the wine.

Yeah, about that much.  Enough to flood the mushrooms.  This will not only deglaze the bits that are stuck to the pan, the liquid will bind with the flour and begin to thicken, creating a gravy-like sauce.

Stir it around for a few minutes and let the alcohol cook out.  Taste it occasionally to track where it’s at.  Adjust seasonings if needed.  At the very end, I added an extra schtickle of olive oil (because here’s a secret kids: fat makes stuff taste better).

5) Time for the green part.  You can either add your green veggies straight to the mushroom sauce, or layer them in your casserole dish with the sauce on top.  I used spinach and mixed it up with the mushrooms.  Set this aside.

6) For the crispy onion topping, slice the onion thinly.  To keep yourself from crying, chill the onion well.  This will at least hold back some of the sulfur so if you do cry, it will be minimal.  Or get a scuba mask.

7) Combine the flour, corn flour, and a few dashes of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the onion slices and toss them around to coat.  Spread on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 475°F for 30 minutes.  Stir them around to keep them from burning.

And there you have crispy onions.  Made with real onions.  How nice.

8) Finally, throw the onions on top of the casserole, and bake in the oven until hot, bubbly, and delicious.  350-400°F is good, though any temperature will do, I’m sure you’ll have other stuff in there (like a turkey carcass…).   You can prepare the three components the day before and just put them together and heat before dinner time.  How convenient.

Mushrooms, white wine, crisp onions… Yes, ma’am!

*If you’re doing the gluten-free thing, you can try arrowroot, tapioca, or potato starch.  I imagine other gluten-free flours and starches will work as well, but I think those are your best bets.  I would also recommend first dissolving them in cold water before adding to the pan.  Some starches will clump up if added directly to heat.

**Any white wine should do here, and I would stay clear of reds (though I may go crazy and try it one day).  I used the White Zinfandel I had leftover from my cranberry sauce.  If you don’t want to use booze in here, feel free to substitute vegetable broth.

 ***Keep in mind, not all greens cook equally.  Fresh spinach can be added straight to the hot mushroom sauce, while other leafy greens, broccoli, and fresh green beans should be blanched, steamed, or sauteed.  If you’re not sure, just ask me.  And make sure to treat them with salt and pepper.