July 8, 2011


Mushroom Ragu is a rich and hearty Mushroom Sauce that can be tossed with cooked Pasta, layered in a Lasagna to replace the Meat or ladled over creamy Polenta or steamed White Rice.  The Mushrooms give an earthy depth of flavor that allows the other key ingredients, like Garlic and Madeira Wine to shine in the background without dominating.   This delicious Ragu will become one of your go to comfort foods that can be a main course or a side dish to other hearty dishes like Meatloaf or Braised Beef Ribs.   Mushroom Ragu is a dish that makes Cooking The Amazing both easy and delicious.

Here is the recipe.

2 lbs.  Fresh Mixed Mushrooms, quartered
3 T Olive Oil
1 1/2 t  Sea Salt, fine grain
1 t  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 T Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced fine
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine
1/2 t Sea Salt
1/2 t Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 t  Dried Thyme
1 t  Dried Oregano
1 c  Beef Stock
1/2 c  Madeira Wine
2 1/2 c  Tomato Sauce 

1.  Select at least two types of Mushrooms for a more in depth Mushroom flavor.  Crimini, Oyster, Shiitaki, Chanterelle or even White Button Mushrooms are widely available varieties.  Use a slightly damp cloth to clean your Mushrooms.  Never put mushrooms under water to clean them because they will become water logged and so will the dish you are making.  Mushrooms absorb liquids easily.  After cleaning, quarter the Mushrooms lengthwise.

2.  Heat 3 T of Olive Oil in a large deep pan over medium heat.  Add the Mushrooms in 2-3 batches, avoiding over crowding the pan, and saute until browned and crisp, about 7-10 mins per batch.  Season with Sea Salt and Black Pepper as they saute. Over crowding leads to steaming and changes the taste of the dish in the end.  Set aside on a large plate once sauteed.

3.  In the same pan heat up 2 T Olive Oil and add a finely diced medium Yellow Onion and saute until translucent and soft, about 6-8 minutes.  Then add the finely chopped Garlic, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Thyme and Oregano and saute for 1 minute more.

4.  Deglaze the pan with Madeira Wine increasing the heat to medium high and bringing to a boil.  Once at a boil add the Beef Stock.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer then add the Tomato Sauce  and stir in well.  Simmer with the lid off until and reduce, about 7-10 minutes.   The Sauce should coat the back of a spoon.  This concentrates the flavors and thickens the Sauce.  Taste the Sauce and add Sea Salt or Black Pepper if needed.  Be sure to use a very good flavorful Tomato Sauce because it is a dominant flavor.

5.  Add the Mushrooms back to the Sauce and mix in well.   Simmer for 5 minutes.  The Ragu should be thick.  Taste again, and add any Sea Salt or Black Pepper if needed then serve.
COPYRIGHT (c) 2011

July 2, 2011


Making your own homemade Croutons using left over Bread or even fresh Bread you have just made can turn a boring Salad into something amazing.   Croutons add that flavorful crunch and break up the veg monopoly of a salad or they give a hot bowl of soup more character.  Homemade Croutons take a millions times better than any stale store bought ones that are full of who knows what and probably older than your middle child.   And making Croutons is easy.  Use left over homemade Bread or a good  store bought loaf  like Brioche or Challah or any good French Baguette.  Almost any good Bread will work.  Using a good Olive Oil to round out the flavors is also an important ingredient not to skimp on.  Salads and Soups do not need to be boring.  Adding a few crisp and delicious Croutons that you made yourself will make anyone Cooking The Amazing.


Here is the recipe.

2 c  Cubed Good Bread
1/2 c  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 t  Fine Grain Sea Salt
1 t  Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 t  Dried Thyme
2 t  Dried Oregano
1 t  Garlic Powder
1 t  Onion Powder
1/4 t Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 c  Grated Parmesan Cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminium foil over a Cookie sheet tray.

2.  Cube Bread into one inch squares with the crusts left on using a serrated knife.  You can use any good Bread or make your own Brioche.  It does not need to be "day old" or stale.  Fresh Bread works just fine.  Just make sure the Bread tastes good because this is the main ingredient.  Bad tasting bread=bad tasting  Croutons.
3.  In a medium bowl stir together the Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, all of the Seasonings and the Parmesan Cheese until well mixed.
4.  Add the cubes of Bread and toss with your hands until well coated with the Olive Oil mixture then spread them out on the covered Cookie Sheet keeping some space between them so they brown evenly as they bake.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until well browned, turning them over with a spatula half way through cooking.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes then serve. Store once completely cooled in an airtight ziplock bag at room temperature.

COPYRIGHT (c) 2011