a food blog by samwellsphoto.com

Archive for 'Basics'

December 4, 2014

It seems like a lot of people I know don’t like mushrooms. They flee from them like the plague. They’re probably traumatized from multiple experiences with terribly cooked button mushrooms, so they refuse to try them anymore. Or they might not like the texture – don’t get me started on that. It’s a shame because there are so many varieties that offer such wildly unique flavors, and everything deserves a try.

At the San Francisco farmers market I found a farmer selling unique organic mushrooms. I got some Nameko, Lion’s mane, hedgehog, black trumpet, king trumpet, oyster, and maitake mushrooms. I cooked them over the campfire when I was passing through Big Sur.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that these mushrooms tasted better than bacon juice injected beef dipped in butter. I used my favorite method frying in a dry pan (explained below) with the added bonus of oak smoke from the fire.

Here are some tips on how to properly prepare mushrooms so you can convert some mushroom haters you know.

1. Pick some interesting varieties. We all know what button and crimini mushrooms taste like, so try something different. There is usually someone specializing in mushrooms at most farmers markets, and all Asian markets have a more interesting selection of dried and fresh.

2. Don’t wash them!!! Please refrain from ruining the mushrooms. They are like sponges that pickup all the water you put on them. This makes them chewy and water logged. Most come pretty clean because they don’t really pickup that much dirt – depending on how they are grown. If they do have dirt on them, simply wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel. This is very important.

3. Dry pan fry. Try adding them to a well seasoned cast iron pan or nonstick WITHOUT oil on medium heat. Let them fry to evaporate the moisture. This will allow you to brown them a bit and even make them crispy if you like. I like to add oil and garlic after 5 minutes in the pan. If you add the oil too early the mushrooms soak it up right away.

4. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Moisture will come out of the mushrooms as they cook, so to avoid boiling them in a puddle of water, leave space so the moisture can evaporate quickly.

5. Keep it simple. I like to just add salt and pepper. Sometimes I might add creme, garlic, or butter.

6. Ultra crispy. Slice some giant trumpets ultra thin on a mandolin slicer and add them to the pan wiped with a little oil and cook them on low until they dehydrate and crisp up. This makes an epic garnish.

7. Mushrooms on toast. Toast some good bread and rub with a garlic clove cut in half. Then add the mushrooms on top and garnish with some spicy greens (I used nasturtium leaves in this photo).

8. Marinate. You can marinate even boring button mushrooms to make them interesting. I use a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, minced shallot, salt, and pepper. Marinate for a few hours and then saute.

July 2, 2013

Peppers were super cheap, so I bought a ton and roasted them to use in a bunch of recipes. I like roasting big batches, so I can eat some right away and freeze the rest. I love to use them to make tapenades, put in sandwiches, and rough chop them to add in rice or beans. Check out this method of roasting peppers so you can remove the skin leaving you with a smooth and silky sweet pepper.

Here’s how to roast peppers for maximum flavor:

  1. Toss whole peppers in a large mixing bowl with enough olive oil to coat. Add salt and pepper. You can also add a peeled onion cut into quarters and a whole bulb of garlic broken into pieces if you like.
  2. Put on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. They taste better if they char black in some spots (but not too black). You will peel off the skin anyway. If they don’t darken, you can add them to the broiler for 5 minutes on high.
  3. Turn them half way through to get color on the other side.
  4. Remove from oven and IMMEDIATELY put back in mixing bowl and cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap to lock in the steam. The plastic wrap will start to puff up if you’ve created the seal correctly. It usually takes 2-3 pieces to seal the bowl.
  5. Let sit in the fridge until cool. They get better after a day in the fridge, but you can move onto the next step as soon as they cool down.
  6. Uncover and peel the skins off by hand. They should just peel off like butter. Remove the stems and seeds.
  7. Add to any recipe.
  8. To freeze, add to a mason jar and cover with the juice left over in the bowl. Fill 70 percent of the way, add cap, and freeze.

Here is a pepper tapenade recipe:

  • 4 roasted bell peppers
  • 1/2 roasted onion
  • 3 roasted garlic gloves
  • handful of basil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Roast peppers, onions, and garlic and peel.
  2. Rough chop everything with a knife or use a food processor.
  3. Add olive oil to get the consistency you want.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Eat with high quality bread.

I know it sounds simple, but my brother cooks the best hash browns and eggs, and I’m gonna reveal his secrets. For the hash browns, you need to grate fresh potato. Add oil to a pan and bring it up to medium temp. Rule #1: DON’T OVERCROWD THE PAN. If your making 2 servings, make two little neat piles by sprinkling the flakes into the pan. Don’t press a huge blob together or it will be too dense. You want to be able to crisp the outside and have it cook the inside.

Rule #2: DON’T TOUCH THEM. Just set the temp on medium-low and let them get crispy. Make sure your heat isn’t too high or they will burn. If you turn them too early, it will probably stick because the potatoes haven’t had time to crisp and release from the pan. Flip once crispy and cook the other side until golden brown.

For the eggs, add a touch of water to the pan before putting the eggs in. 3-4 tablespoons of water will poach the egg slightly and then evaporate by the time the egg is done. This will give you a nice juicy egg that wont dry out or stick.

  • Britni Radford says:

    About to go on a diet, Its such a treat when I get to eggs so I’ll be using your tips 😉