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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Comfort Food part 1 - Mushroom Burgers

Hello everyone.  I haven’t written anything in a while, and its been really weighing on my conscience, which is quite odd, as its not like I’m beholden to anything or anyone.  Or at least, I keep telling myself that.  The other day my friend was telling me that she met someone who defined himself by what he liked to do, rather than what he actually did.  This really got me thinking.  I’ve met a lot of new people lately and the first question asked always seems to be ‘what do you do?’ Fair enough, its a socially excepted way to start asking someone about their lives and hopefully it’ll lead to more interesting conversations, but still, saying the same thing over and over again gets so exhausting.  Also, I really don’t think that my job defines who I am at all, its just what I happen to do, and that can get a bit depressing.  So I was thinking that if I wanted to describe myself by what I enjoyed doing as opposed to my job, I could call myself a ‘food writer’ or possibly a ‘food writer/film critic/lay-about/professional window-shopper’ or something.  If I am going to call myself a food writer, I really ought to write more about food.

I haven’t made anything new lately, having neither the inspiration nor the time, so here are a couple of non-recipe food ideas, the kind of ultimate comfort food that just seems to work in a dreary February, and goes especially well with your brand of self-indulgent voyeuristic TV guilty pleasures, mine currently being ‘Big fat gypsy weddings’.

·    Portobello mushrooms (1-2 each, depending on how big they are)
·    Olive oil & Balsamic vinegar or butter & a couple of crushed garlic cloves
·    Cream cheese & pesto, mixed together
·    Wholemeal round rolls
·    1 large tomato (only if you can find nice looking red ones, otherwise don’t bother)
·    1 red onion
·    Rocket

Basically, it’s a large roasted mushroom in a bun, but totally works.  Wipe clean some large Portobello mushrooms and arrange in a single layer in a roasting dish (make sure its some with sides, to collect all the lovely juices.  I have suggested 2 different flavourings for the mushrooms, the garlic butter is a classic, but the oil and vinegar gives an amazing sweetness, like a marinated steak.  So either mix together butter and crushed garlic and put a generous teaspoonful on top of each one, or drizzle them with olive oil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Roast at about 180 for 20 or so minutes, until they start smelling super-mushroomy and looking quite burger-like.  One of the best things about burgers is all the bits that come with them, so make sure you have proper round buns (wholemeal) and chips (see below). When the mushrooms are almost done, cut the rolls in half and stick them in the oven to toast up a bit.  You don’t want them too toasted, but rather just enough for the surfaces to harden slightly, so that they don’t fall apart as soon as you put all the delicious things in them.  I have specified pesto cream cheese, tomato, red onion and rocket, that’s just a personal thing, I love the combination of sweet/rich/fresh/bitter.  That’s just me though.  Also, save all the juices that will have accumulated in the bottom of the roasting dish – don’t put them on the burgers because it’ll make them too soggy, but save the liquid and use it as a base to make the most amazing pasta sauce, mushroom risotto or soup.

For the potato wedges – I’m hesitant to tell you how many potatoes to use, because I don’t want to betray how greedy I am when it comes to chips, but you know how many you would use, besides if you make too many, I’m sure someone will finish them:
·     potatoes (floury not waxy) cut into wedge shapes as according to your preference.
·     olive oil
·     paprika or fajita seasoning.  Discovery and Old el Paso make these incredible spice mixes, and they are really cheap.  Somehow they make this great flavour combination that really tastes just right
·     chili powder
·     salt

pour into a large bowl 1 tablespoon of oil, followed by a heaped teaspoon of the paprika or fajita spice, a quarter teaspoon of chilli powder, and a large pinch of salt. Add the potatoes to the bowl and mix together so that they all get coated in the spiced oil.  Arrange on a baking tray in a single layer and roast for about 35 minutes – turning them over halfway.  If putting them in the oven with the mushrooms  -give them a 10-15 minute head start and it should all be ready at the same time.

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