culinary exploration

Follow me through the adventures that take place in my kitchen, in restaurants or in other kitchens. Cooking and food are my passions and I want to share my experiences of cooking, baking and eating with you.
I'm a Greek self-taught cook who lives in Chicago. I learned a lot about cooking from both of my grandmothers, my mom and dad, family and friends. Passing on timeless traditions through food is one thing I strive to do in life.

These are my journeys through culinary exploration...

clraptis (at) gmail (dot) com
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Posts tagged mushrooms

Oct 11
Lentil Mushrooom Soup
Blogging so I have the recipe handy when I make this, probably this weekend.

Lentil Mushrooom Soup

Blogging so I have the recipe handy when I make this, probably this weekend.


Sep 19
Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 3) 
I made a huge bowl of this roasted chickpea, cucumber and marinated mushroom salad on Sunday night. Then portioned it out into 5 servings so my lunch is made for each day this week! I have to do make-ahead lunches over the weekend otherwise I’ll forget and end up making poor decisions when it comes to food for lunch.
Check out what these bloggers are bringing for lunch!
Ambitious Kitchen: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Sweet Mango Cilantro SalsaFeeding Philosophers: Tart Pizza and Tofu Pesto Sandwiches, Oh MySweat=Success: Brown Bags and Book BagsConfessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled PorkReve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 8The Garden Ephemerist: Brown Bag TalesI Brown Bag: Healthy Eating Starts at HomeEssentials of Nutrition: Marriage>BachelorhoodAll Things Splendid: Day 12, Wild Rice SoupFamily Fresh Cooking: Project Lunch Box 30 Day ChallengeCity Life Eats: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day 11 Netlycka’s Distracting Confusion: Snacks for LunchThis Imperfect Plot: Brown-Bag Challenge, Week 3Adventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag ChallengeBoys n’ Berry: Brown-Bag Challenge, (featuring many great sandwiches)Healthy Plates: Quinoa With Peas and SpinachLiving Omily: Autumnal Brown-BagGlory Foods: What in the World is a Bento Box?

Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 3) 

I made a huge bowl of this roasted chickpea, cucumber and marinated mushroom salad on Sunday night. Then portioned it out into 5 servings so my lunch is made for each day this week! I have to do make-ahead lunches over the weekend otherwise I’ll forget and end up making poor decisions when it comes to food for lunch.

Check out what these bloggers are bringing for lunch!

Ambitious Kitchen: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Sweet Mango Cilantro Salsa
Feeding Philosophers: Tart Pizza and Tofu Pesto Sandwiches, Oh My
Sweat=Success: Brown Bags and Book Bags
Confessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Reve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 8
The Garden Ephemerist: Brown Bag Tales
I Brown Bag: Healthy Eating Starts at Home
Essentials of Nutrition: Marriage>Bachelorhood
All Things Splendid: Day 12, Wild Rice Soup
Family Fresh Cooking: Project Lunch Box 30 Day Challenge
City Life Eats: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day 11
Netlycka’s Distracting Confusion: Snacks for Lunch
This Imperfect Plot: Brown-Bag Challenge, Week 3
Adventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag Challenge
Boys n’ Berry: Brown-Bag Challenge, (featuring many great sandwiches)
Healthy Plates: Quinoa With Peas and Spinach
Living Omily: Autumnal Brown-Bag
Glory Foods: What in the World is a Bento Box?


Jul 11
POLENTA AND SWISS CHARD BAKE
I bought a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard at the farmer’s market - but had no clue what to do with it.  I knew I had to use it all in one dish because otherwise it would go to waste.  I didn’t want to just sautee them… BORING!  I had some polenta that I wanted to use and then I found this recipe online.  Perfect!  I thought it was a great, healthy way to utilize these greens - yet make a composed dish that would satisfy anybody’s hunger! 
INGREDIENTS1 T. olive oil 6 garlic cloves, minced 8-10 C. chopped Swiss chard, stems and leaves kept separate 1 T. butter 2 C. lowfat milk 1 ½ C. water ½ t. salt 1 C. cornmeal 3 T. grated Parmesan cheese 1 C. partskim grated mozzarella cheese⅓ C. sour cream
DIRECTIONS:Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sautee, then stir in the Swiss chard stems.  (Look at the color of those stems!  Gorgeous!!) 

Pour in a few tablespoons of water and cover the pan.  Cook the stems for a couple of minutes until they are tender.  Here is where I added my own twist, some sliced portabella mushrooms for that meaty-ness.

Then mix in the Swiss chard leaves and grate a little fresh nutmeg on them. 

Sautee until wilted down, then remove the pan from the heat and let cool, uncovered.
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a 2½ quart shallow baking dish and set it aside.  To make the polenta, combine the milk, water and salt in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly drizzle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly.  Continue to cook and whisk the polenta until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes and tears away from the sides of the pan (about 5 minutes). Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the 1 tablespoon of butter and the mozzarella cheese.
 
Spread half the polenta in the baking dish.

Spoon on the Swiss chard and distribute it evenly.  Drop on small spoonfuls of the sour cream and spread it with the back of a spoon. 

Spoon on the remaining polenta and spread it out.

Sprinkle on the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.  (The casserole may be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.  Bring to room temperature before baking.)
Bake the casserole for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and sizzling.  Serve immediately.

POLENTA AND SWISS CHARD BAKE

I bought a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard at the farmer’s market - but had no clue what to do with it.  I knew I had to use it all in one dish because otherwise it would go to waste.  I didn’t want to just sautee them… BORING!  I had some polenta that I wanted to use and then I found this recipe online.  Perfect!  I thought it was a great, healthy way to utilize these greens - yet make a composed dish that would satisfy anybody’s hunger! 

INGREDIENTS
1 T. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
8-10 C. chopped Swiss chard, stems and leaves kept separate
1 T. butter
2 C. lowfat milk
1 ½ C. water
½ t. salt
1 C. cornmeal
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 C. partskim grated mozzarella cheese
⅓ C. sour cream

DIRECTIONS:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sautee, then stir in the Swiss chard stems.  (Look at the color of those stems!  Gorgeous!!) 

Pour in a few tablespoons of water and cover the pan.  Cook the stems for a couple of minutes until they are tender.  Here is where I added my own twist, some sliced portabella mushrooms for that meaty-ness.

Then mix in the Swiss chard leaves and grate a little fresh nutmeg on them. 

Sautee until wilted down, then remove the pan from the heat and let cool, uncovered.

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a 2½ quart shallow baking dish and set it aside.  To make the polenta, combine the milk, water and salt in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly drizzle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly.  Continue to cook and whisk the polenta until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes and tears away from the sides of the pan (about 5 minutes). Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the 1 tablespoon of butter and the mozzarella cheese.

 

Spread half the polenta in the baking dish.

Spoon on the Swiss chard and distribute it evenly.  Drop on small spoonfuls of the sour cream and spread it with the back of a spoon. 

Spoon on the remaining polenta and spread it out.

Sprinkle on the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.  (The casserole may be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.  Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake the casserole for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top and sizzling.  Serve immediately.


Dec 3
Mushroom and Lentil Pot Pies with Gouda Biscuit Topping
This recipe from my favorite food mag Bon Appetit sounds wonderful!  The best part about it?  You can make the filling up to 2 days before and store it in the fridge - just bring it to room temp before topping them with the biscuit dough and popping them in the oven. 
Meaty mushrooms and protein-filled lentils (a favorite of mine at the moment) make for a healthy and satisfying combination!  My sister (a vegetarian) would love this dish just as much as a meat-lover would. 
Can’t wait to try these.  Until I post my attempt at this recipe - check out the other food blogger’s versions that were featured on bonappetit.com!

Mushroom and Lentil Pot Pies with Gouda Biscuit Topping

This recipe from my favorite food mag Bon Appetit sounds wonderful!  The best part about it?  You can make the filling up to 2 days before and store it in the fridge - just bring it to room temp before topping them with the biscuit dough and popping them in the oven. 

Meaty mushrooms and protein-filled lentils (a favorite of mine at the moment) make for a healthy and satisfying combination!  My sister (a vegetarian) would love this dish just as much as a meat-lover would. 

Can’t wait to try these.  Until I post my attempt at this recipe - check out the other food blogger’s versions that were featured on bonappetit.com!


Nov 5
This mushroom quiche looks amazingly delicious.  The recipe was adapted from a Thomas Keller recipe. 
Now I just have to figure out an excuse to make it… maybe a side dish for Thanksgiving?  Or - who wants to have a brunch pot-luck party?  :)

This mushroom quiche looks amazingly delicious.  The recipe was adapted from a Thomas Keller recipe. 

Now I just have to figure out an excuse to make it… maybe a side dish for Thanksgiving?  Or - who wants to have a brunch pot-luck party?  :)


Oct 27

SPICY & SMOKY MAC-N-CHEESE

Funny story.  When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand the thought of eating macaroni and cheese that didn’t come from the blue Kraft box.  If my mom or grandma made a rich, gooey 9x13 dish of home made mac-n-cheese I refused to even take a bite! 

Now the thought of that processed powdered cheese makes my tummy turn.  Who knows what they put in that stuff!?  Being older and more conscious of what I’m consuming, I’d rather make my own mac-n-cheese, pizza, ANYTHING if it means I can control my ingredients and/or put a healthy twist on it. 

Enter my too-often craving for a good quality, thick, melty homemade mac-n-cheese.

I always make a roux with flour and butter, add milk (I use fat-free skim and sometimes add a touch of half & half or heavy cream to give it an extra boost of richness) and a blend of different good quality cheeses to make my thick, gravy-like cheesy sauce. 

This time I had a few slices of bacon in the freezer and a paper bag with some cremini mushrooms in my fridge that needed to be used before they were tossed in the trash.  I decided they would be a perfect pair to add to my mac-n-cheese after I picked up some extra sharp cheddar and chipotle smoked gouda at the store.  The end result was a spicy, smoky mac-n-cheese that was dangerously delicious! 

Here is the recipe for you all!

INGREDIENTS:

½ lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni
3-4 slices of center cut bacon, chopped
2 c. sliced cremini mushrooms
5 T. unsalted butter
6 T. all-purpose flour
3 c. milk (I used fat-free skim and a shot of heavy cream)
1 t. salt
¼ t. ground black peper
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 c. grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and chipotle gouda)
½ c. bread crumbs (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a generous amount of salt and macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and rinse off any extra starch.

Render chopped bacon in a sautee pan until crispy. 

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Sautee mushrooms in bacon grease until soft and completely cooked. 

Set mushrooms aside with the bacon.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, stirring constantly and cook until the flour has absorbed the butter and gets thick.  Do not let the flour brown!  Add in the milk and cook, stirring with a whisk constantly, until thick and creamy.  Add the spices and 2 ½ cups of the cheese and stir well until metled.  Add the cooked macaroni, bacon and mushrooms then stir to combine.  Pour into the baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs and remaining ½ cup of cheese (or just take the left over cheese) and evenly sprinkle on top of the macaroni.  Bake until cheese topping is golden, about 25 minutes.  Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.


Sep 27
Sea Scallops in a Bacon Mushroom Sherry Cream Sauce from Glenn’s Diner
Took my mom for a quick Friday night meal at Glenn’s Diner in Ravenswood.  They have between 12-14 fresh catch fish dishes that change daily on their menu.  Our server recommended this dish because of the sauce - and he was right, it was delicious!

Sea Scallops in a Bacon Mushroom Sherry Cream Sauce from Glenn’s Diner

Took my mom for a quick Friday night meal at Glenn’s Diner in Ravenswood.  They have between 12-14 fresh catch fish dishes that change daily on their menu.  Our server recommended this dish because of the sauce - and he was right, it was delicious!


Aug 30
This pizza was going to be a fancy white pizza… but it turned into more of a gourmet supreme pizza!
Leeks, shallots, crimini mushrooms, sweet orange peppers, crispy prosciutto, white truffle oil and mozzarella cheese
I like the way this turned out.  My new favorite pizza topping is prosciutto.  It’s a somewhat healthier alternative to pepperoni or sausage, while incorporating the saltiness that pork brings to a pizza.  I slice the prosciutto and crisp it under the broiler to render most of the fat out - then there won’t be a lot of excess grease floating on top of my pizza.

This pizza was going to be a fancy white pizza… but it turned into more of a gourmet supreme pizza!

Leeks, shallots, crimini mushrooms, sweet orange peppers, crispy prosciutto, white truffle oil and mozzarella cheese

I like the way this turned out.  My new favorite pizza topping is prosciutto.  It’s a somewhat healthier alternative to pepperoni or sausage, while incorporating the saltiness that pork brings to a pizza.  I slice the prosciutto and crisp it under the broiler to render most of the fat out - then there won’t be a lot of excess grease floating on top of my pizza.


Aug 27
haygirlhay:

wazzugal:

graceinplace:

mushroom, spinach, and asparagus pasta
are you a creamed spinach fan? do you also love mushrooms & pasta? ever wish you could combine all three? then you’ll probably love this! 
click thru or here for photo set and recipe.

nom,nom,nom

Having a nom seizure up in here.

haygirlhay:

wazzugal:

graceinplace:

mushroom, spinach, and asparagus pasta

are you a creamed spinach fan? do you also love mushrooms & pasta? ever wish you could combine all three? then you’ll probably love this!

click thru or here for photo set and recipe.

nom,nom,nom

Having a nom seizure up in here.


Aug 24
Crimini Mushrooms from Rivery Valley Ranch at the Green City Market

Crimini Mushrooms from Rivery Valley Ranch at the Green City Market


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