Ina's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

This is without a doubt the best mushroom soup I've ever tasted....anywhere. Of course, it's Ina's recipe...how could it be otherwise?

Ina's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
From Barefoot Contessa at Home, 2006


5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms

5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. 
Separate the stems, trim and coarsely chop the stems. 
Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are large, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.


Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

While my daughter was here over the holidays, we tried several new dishes. I was pleased to give this pork dish a try because I so rarely eat pork (I don't know why, but that's going to change!) and it's such a natural paired with apples and onions. If you're like me, you'll love that it's made all in one skillet and I'll make it again. A nice hearty dish, perfect for cold weather. We both enjoyed it. (The booze didn't hurt either. LOL)

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
From Southern Living

4 (6- to 8-oz.) bone-in pork rib chops (1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 medium-size yellow onion, thinly sliced (root end intact)
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons bourbon
8 small fresh thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 450°. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Cook in hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet.
Add apples and onion to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from skillet.
Add broth to skillet, and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Whisk together cream and mustard; add to skillet, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly.
Remove skillet from heat, and stir in bourbon. Add pork, turning to coat, and top with apples, onions, and thyme.

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until liquid is just beginning to bubble. Let stand in skillet 5 minutes before serving.


Cheesecake Brownie Bites

                      Happy Valentine's Day!

For Valentine's Day, it just has to be chocolate something, right? I've had this recipe in my file for ages and finally made them for a luncheon. Women will refuse a dessert for lunch, but if you put a plate of little gems like this out, they're gone in no time. So rich, dense and smooth that you really only want a couple bites....sort of like candy, but better, I think. Minis are definitely the way to go with this sweet treat. Your whole family will go nuts over them and they freeze beautifully.

Cheesecake Brownie Bites

Found on Just a Taste

For the brownie batter:
4 large eggs
1¼ cups baking cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder, mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups all-purpose flour
For the cheesecake filling:
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, baking cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso mixed with water, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the sugar and melted butter until well combined, then stir in the flour. Set brownie batter aside.
In a separate bowl, prepare the cheesecake filling by stirring together the cream cheese, sugar and egg yolk until well combined. 

Grease a non-stick mini-muffin pan with cooking spray or butter and then spoon a tablespoon of brownie batter into the greased cups. Add a spoonful of cheesecake filling atop the brownie batter. At this point, I took a toothpick and swirled a little. Then top off each cup with an additional teaspoon of brownie batter. Swirl again.
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let the brownie bites cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a cooling rack to continue cooling, or enjoy warm.


Shrimp Scampi

We eat a lot of shrimp at my house...served any number of ways. My favorite is Shrimp De Johne, but we decided to try this scampi recipe recently. A simple dish, full of flavor. I served it with roasted carrots and you could also serve the shrimp over rice or pasta. 

Shrimp Scampi
From The New York Times

2 lbs large shrimp (about 48), shelled and deveined
1 large garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chervil
Pinch of dried thyme, crumbled
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of mace
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook shrimp in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water * until just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain shrimp in a colander, then immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mash garlic to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash garlic with salt using a large knife), then stir together with fresh and dried herbs, shallot, onion, 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, 1 cup bread crumbs, nutmeg, mace, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Melt remaining 1/2 stick butter and stir together with remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to make topping.
Arrange shrimp in 1 layer (slightly overlapping if necessary) in a buttered 3-quart flameproof gratin dish or other wide shallow ceramic baking dish. Cover with herbed breadcrumb mixture, then sprinkle with topping. Bake in upper third of oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil until crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes.

(When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon for every 4 quarts water.)


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