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honey-soy glazed vegetables with crispy mushrooms

May 5th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Saturday mornings are my sacred time. I rise early, with eager cats who think that the moment the birds start singing is ripe for raising their own voices, stirring the humans awake. I try to ignore Eli’s little ‘meeps’ while he negotiates the bed as light barely filters through the blind, but I can’t ignore his 16-lb frame when he steps on my head. It’s fine when all this happens around 7am in January. In May, at the prime hour of 5am, it’s a different story. But it’s his job and we respect that. Thank goodness for coffee.

And Saturday is my time. Mike rises six days a week with those critters (God bless that man) but on Saturday, he sleeps like a teenager, often until the unlikely hour of 9 or 10. It’s good for him, and those quiet moments of early sunrise, with coffee and a purring cat, are moments that are good for me. The patio door is open (though not in January) the birds sing-song chorus is cheerful, the coffee is super strong just as I like it and I have oceans of time to scan my blog reader, catch up on email or even a show on Hulu if I want. I’m often selfish with time; I like some that’s all mine, that I don’t need to share with anyone. I like being introspective, quiet and alone sometimes and these Saturday mornings are perfect for that.

I almost didn’t want to post this recipe. It was an utter ‘Hail Mary’ moment, a substitution of this for that, swapping one method for another and done in a haste that I’m almost embarrassed about. I had a small bag of fresh shiitake mushrooms, a plan and a time frame and every bit of it slipped away in the chaotic way that life takes charge and suddenly I was faced with a ‘Now or never’ option before the mushrooms became a slippery mass in their bag, and I punted blind.

The first bite to my mouth was almost interrupted by my heart pounding so badly that it nearly cut off my ability to swallow. I set some pretty high standards for myself, and no one is really holding that yardstick up to me, but me. I think I know what I’m doing; I think I can look at a recipe and recreate it in my head to be more about what I like to eat. And almost all of the time, when I head blind in to a dish, swapped out of someone else’s work, I do really well with it. It’s when I don’t trust my gut instincts and follow a recipe step by step, with all the ingredients in line like regimented soldiers that I trip up over my own indecision and end up tossing the whole thing on the compost heap.

Why do we sell ourselves short? We all do it, for one area of our lives or another. We can talk ourselves out of anything, refute the praise sent our way, shake our heads and frown at a compliment, and in our heads we make it seem so completely right, as in ‘Everyone does it and I’m not that great’. But here’s the thing: we ARE that great. We deserve those compliments and when they come, when praise rains down we shouldn’t turn from it, we should bask in it. It doesn’t mean we’re egotistical. It means something much more than that.

At my age I should think I know who I am, what I am capable of, what I enjoy eating and what I really don’t like any longer, and I SHOULD be able to rearrange a recipe without hand-wringing and self-doubt. I’m good at my craft; God gave me a gift and a skill set, and every time I stop my forward momentum and start scratching at my chin, all wrapped up in anxiety as I second guess myself, I’m portraying to Him that I don’t trust Him one bit.

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”

{{I’m not here to ask, or even expect that you share my beliefs, and if you don’t,
please respect our differences as I kindly ask that you keep that to yourself}}

This very act of disavowing God’s gifts to us was discussed in a sermon in my church several months back and it sank in to my heart like a stone and settled there, and now, with conviction, every time I raise my own voice against myself, I hear His coming back to me. This is my gift, and this is HIS gift to me and I trust in Him with all my heart. It goes without saying that He is not one to retract a gift due to some misaligned belief. “Oh whoops, sorry. Those skills were meant for someone ELSE. NOT you!” He just doesn’t work in that manner. I can trust in my gifts as I trust in Him. And whether you believe or not, your specific type of faith is irrelevant. We all have amazing gifts that we can be proud of, that we can own 100% regardless of where we feel they come from. Acknowledging them is a truth that we should never deny ourselves. We don’t need belief in God for that to happen; just faith in ourselves.

And with this recipe, in my rushed state to prepare this, without a whole great plan of exactly HOW it was going to be done, like I said, I punted blind and should have just told that quickened heartbeat to ‘Shush!’ as I raised my fork. I know that I’m good enough at my craft to make this dish amazing.

Because the end result was delicious, and it was exactly like I expected it to be. And those crispy Shiitake mushrooms? What an amazing taste and crunch. I should prepare them that way just as a snack, drenched and dredged and seared to a golden crackle. I had to shoot the photos, taste the finished product and just as quickly as all that was completed, pack it away and race out the door to one of those life moments that you simply can’t miss. So I need to make this again, with time to savor and enjoy the process, the gift and the fruits of the Earth and rejoice in what I’ve been given.

Do you ever find that you second guess yourself, or you dismiss praise, or shake off a compliment??
What do you feel are your own unique gifts?? 
 
 

Honey-Soy Glazed Vegetables
with Crispy Mushrooms

1/2 lb Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 bunch Gold Beets, with greens; trimmed, peeled and cut to bite size pieces. Greens rinsed and set aside
1 small head Cauliflower, washed and cut to bite size pieces
1 bunch Radishes, trimmed and halved
1/4 c. honey
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 T. molasses
2 T. water
1 package Asian Rice Crackers, pulverized (I placed these in a large plastic bag and whacked at them with a rolling pin)

Heat your oven to 400°. Whisk the honey, soy sauce and lemon juice together and set aside. In a separate small bowl, whisk the molasses and water together and set that aside as well.

Toss beets with oil of choice, salt and pepper to taste and place on a large baking sheet. Separately, prepare cauliflower and radishes in the same manner but place on a separate sheet as they will cook at a different rate than the beets. Place both sheet pans in the oven and roast until beginning to become tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the pans from the oven and drizzle the honey-soy mixture evenly between the two pans. Stir the vegetables to coat, place back in the oven and continue to roast, stirring often, until the sauce caramelizes and the vegetables become very tender. This timing will depend on your oven and the size to which you cut the vegetables. Be sure to watch them rather carefully, as the honey in the sauce can scorch.

When veggies are done to your liking, place them in a large bowl and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the pulverized rice crackers over them, tossing lightly to coat.

Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron if you’ve got it) with about 1/4″ of an oil that will withstand a high dose of heat, like coconut or grapeseed. Toss the shiitake mushroom caps in the molasses mixture, then coat them with the crushed rice crackers. Carefully place them, cap down in the heated oil and fry until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain them on paper towels until cool enough to handle, then slice them in to strips.

Spoon the glazed vegetables on to plates, then top with the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle the dish with any remaining crushed rice crackers and serve. This tasted divine served just slightly above room temperature.

KATE’S NOTES:
In my haste and scattered-ness over this recipe, I completely forgot to add the greens to the dish. They can be sauteed until tender in the skillet, just before you sear the shiitake mushrooms. I will definitely make that addition next time this dish comes through my kitchen.

radishes! radishes! radishes!

July 16th, 2011 | 7 Comments »

People, I’ve madly fallen in love with radishes.

(photo courtesy of Really Natural)  
 

I do remember not particularly liking them as a kid. But then again, I didn’t care for much then anyway, being raised on a typically 1970′s diet, I was your typically picky little thing. Fresh foods weren’t that present in our home so my exposure was lacking and my palate not particularly advanced; it’s no shock I wasn’t at all enamored with the radish’s peppery bite, a sting to the tongue that I found unpleasant. My sister Karen loved them, dragging them through a plate of table salt before popping them in her mouth. Even that typical dressing did nothing to take the edge off the flavor. So for the most part, I’d ignored them.

Then something happened a few years back. On a trip to the Farmers Market, I spied a large bunch of red, white and pink radishes- it was an enormous amount- and was only a dollar. I picked them up, passed a buck to the farmer and placed them in my bag. Once home, I stared at them and thought ‘Great. Now what?’ I ate one, and it was divine. Fresh, snappy, crisp and tart, but not harsh and sour like I recalled. Still, I didn’t leap headfirst into devouring them. I remained rather skeptical. And they languished in my fridge until I was forced to do something, anything, with them.

So I pickled them. On a whim. And went tuckus over teakettle for the crisp little discs, eating them on sandwiches, with my fingers and finally with a fork to grab the last little slices from the dredges of their vinegary brine. And it was soon after that when I first dragged a cold fresh radish through a slab of creamy butter to discover one of the best, and most surprising treats I’ve ever tasted. My eyes were now opened to the radish. Once again. Adulthood is a wonder around every corner, especially when discovering the foods from your childhood that once caused you to turn up your nose are now part of your regular gustatory delight.

So they’ve happily made a comeback; the inexpensive little things can be had sometimes on a 2-fer deal with any farmer willing to move their bounty. I scrub them down and place them in a baggie where they happily keep for days on end, willing that they last that long in my fridge. I eat them for breakfast a lot, sliced thick on good toasted bread with slices of butter, or most recently, this delicious sandwich creation that I’m thoroughly ga-ga over.

A cooked egg, nice and firm is placed a top a bed of greens on nicely toasted bread, and covered with several shredded radishes. The key is to shred the radish directly over the egg. Something about the fresh spray of liquid released makes for a much better flavor. I like spinach with this, but I’ve used spring greens, garden lettuce and romaine as well. This is a summery breakfast, if I’ve ever dreamed of one.

I took my radish love one step further too, recently, when I roasted an entire batch of them.

Roasting radishes takes the sharp flavor away, and replaces it with a mellow soft rendition that is palatable to anyone, even the most avowed radish hater. One would hope, anyway. I could have eaten these like candy, but instead, I caramelized a big pan of vidalia onions and made the two of them into a delicious tart atop a flaky puff pastry crust.

This was a sweet, tender and amazing hand held meal, soft like summer nights, fresh as the season and when topped with just a little Gouda cheese, a bit of savory tang that balanced the vegetables perfectly. Eating a slice of it, on my patio, with a lovely glass of Rosé wine and a perfect summer night surrounding me, I felt a million miles away from my life, but in the simplest way possible. I love how a good meal, with gentle ease can transform an ordinary day into something surreal and dreamy. That’s the magic in a plate of really, really good food.

So…. do you like radishes? What do you like to do with them?

Roasted Radish & Caramelize Onion Tart

Scrub one bunch of radishes well, removing tops and roots. Cut into halves or quarters and toss with a bit of seasoned oil of choice. Roast at 400° until tender. It won’t take too long, maybe 10 minutes.

Slice two Vidalia onions and place in a hot skillet. Cook onions over medium heat, turning frequently, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add a few tablespoons of brown sugar (or a drizzle of good honey) a tablespoon of kosher salt and a dash or two of balsamic vinegar. This is my favorite way to caramelize onions, but you may have your own method. Continue cooking the onions for about 20-30 more minutes, or until they are very soft and richly browned. Stir them on occasion, and be careful not to let them burn.

Thaw one sheet of puff pastry. Roll out sheet to desired thickness on parchment paper, then transfer to baking sheet. Poke holes in pastry with a fork and place in 400° oven, baking until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, spread caramelized onion over the crust then top with roasted radish and a small amount of a good sharp aged cheese of your choice. I used Gouda because I had a some on hand. Fontina and Gruyere would be good options too. Place back in oven and bake for about 15 more minutes, until edges of pastry are crisp and brown and toppings are hot. Allow to cool slightly, then serve. Can also be served at room temperature.