Radical Cooking - Bistro Mushrooms and Virginia Hummus

Outside the take out box
Better, faster, fresher, cheaper and healthier

Wish you could cook like one of those pro chefs from TV?

Eye candy for your palate
 Now you can!!

Knock their socks off with this oh so easy, oh so gourmet, make ahead first course.

You'll pay big bucks for this at a fancy bistro but when I show you how easy it is to get together, you'll wonder why you fall for all the gourmet hype.

Great cooking (like a great life) is all in the presentation. 
The ingredients in this recipe are inexpensive and the preparation is quick but when you add a soupcon of style, well, that's what turns any dish into gourmet fare.

Bistro Mushrooms and Virginia Hummus
The recipe may look long but it is really easy- REALLY!

A first couse should be
 a teaser that makes
them beg for more
Makes about 4 (1/3 cup hummus) servings
Make ahead to allow for chilling
Can also be served topped with hot mushrooms

1 recipe Virginia Hummus (recipe follows)
1 recipe Bistro Mushrooms (recipe follows)
Fresh rosemary for garnish
Balsamic vinegar for serving (optional)

Make a fork pattern
Divide the hummus evenly and mound it in the center of each serving plate.  Form each into a patty that's flat on top.

Using a fork, make a pattern on each mound for style and to help keep the mushrooms from slipping off. (You can do this several hours ahead, cover plates lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

At serving time, divide the mushroom mixture (hot or cold) over the hummus. 

Add a sprig of rosemary to each side.  Splash with a little balsamic vinegar, if desired.                                     
Top with mushroom mixture

Garnish with fresh

Virginia Hummus

1/2 medium size Vidalia onion (about  2 1/2 inches in diameter - see Karla's Tip #1 below)
2 tablespoons smooth, natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
2 to 3 cloves garlic (or to taste- see Karla's Tip #2 below)
1 (15 to 16 oz) cans chick peas (drained and rinsed)
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice  (fresh or bottled - Karla's Tip #3 below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Dash hot sauce (or to taste - optional)

Put everything in to the food processor and whirl till smooth.  Refrigerate several hours to chill well and blend the flavors.


Karla's Tip #1 - Onions
Vidalia onions are very, very mild and will never bring a tear to your eyes.  They have no bite so they are perfect to eat raw and they don't upset the stomach as much as regular onions can.

Seasonally, they're available May thru July but with the season-less way food is available now-a-days,  you may be able to find them at other times of the year.

If you can't find Vidalias, try another type of sweet mild onion or even red onions.  But, if the taste of raw onions is too much for you, try chopping the coarsely and microwaving (covered) for 30 seconds or so.  This will take the edge off without cooking them.  Cool before adding to the recipe.

Karla's Tip #2 - Garlic
The bite of garlic is similar to that of onions.  If you don't like or can't handle raw garlic, microwave the cloves briefly just as you did with the onions.  You can also use roasted garlic.  Some varieties of garlic are milder than others like elephant garlic which is especially mild.  

Storing raw garlic in the freezer also helps soften the bite.  Just pop the whole head into the freezer and whenever you need a clove, just break off what you need and peel.  It thaws almost instantly.

Can you use the chopped garlic from a jar?   I'd rather you wouldn't.  

Karla's Tip #3 - Lemon Juice
Canned chick peas vary in hardness according to brand. Softer ones will need less liquid.  Start with the 6 tablespoons of lemon juice and add more, if needed, to make a consistency that's thick and mold-able.


Bistro Mushrooms

8 oz Baby Bella (small Portabella) mushrooms (other varieties not recommended - see Karla's Tip #1)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Dash black pepper (see Karla's Tip #2)

Wash mushrooms well under tepid, gently running water.  Drain well.  Drying not necessary.  Cut into 1/8 inch thick slices. 

Heat oil and pepper together in a medium frying pan.  Add mushrooms and spread out into a single layer.  Cook on high (watching carefully) until liquid starts to release and mushrooms begin to brown.  Stir and flip mushrooms (a pan cake turner works well). 

Let mushrooms continue to cook until darkened, tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Chill.  Mixture can also be served hot.  Even easier so there's less last minute cooking ..... chilled mixture can me microwaved to reheat.


Karla's Tip #1 - Mushrooms

Portabella mushrooms turn very dark and make a rich looking sauce when cooked. Other mushrooms don't which is why they are not recommended. In this recipe, a rich, dark mushroom mixture makes a beautiful contrast to the pale color of the hummus.

Karla's Tip #2 - Pepper
As a rule of thumb, spices, like pepper, are always heated in oil at the beginning of cooking. This releases their fragrance yielding a richer, deeper, more complex taste.

Herbs, except for garlic, are never heated in this manner but are added later to preserve their flavor.


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