One of my strongest childhood memories was our family trip in 1985 to Orlando, Florida; our first pilgrimage to Walt Disney World. We did a lot of fun things, saw a lot of amazing sights, and ate a lot of good food. As one does on such a trip. And the strongest food memory I have?
All of my life, I have hated mushrooms.
My memories of mushroom-aversion run deep and wide, all the way back to that traumatic time as a kid when my gag-reflex over being forced to eat the mushrooms on my plate got me into what I thought was some terribly unjust trouble.
Over the years though, I came to start appreciating mushrooms’ culinary uses. Contrary to my long-standing belief that it was their ability to “absorb” flavors that was supposed to make them great — a claim I always found dubious — I found instead that they were actually an excellent source of flavor themselves.
Eventually I would find out why, when I came to be familiar with the concept of umami, the so-called “fifth taste” beyond those of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Sometimes it’s explained as “savory,” but the Japanese word actually translates to give a meaning more like “deliciousness.” Umami is something found in foods which are high in glutamates, and one of the highest glutamate foods is, as it turns out, mushrooms. With this knowledge — and frankly, having married a woman who loves mushrooms — I was happy to begin experimenting with using mushrooms in my cooking. As it turns out, they’re actually really good when given a chance. Who knew?
Their request? Come up with a quick and easy mushroom recipe, and encourage others to do the same, for a chance at winning $500 for the best recipe.
I’m more than happy to oblige!
Last week I told you about a contest I was entering, where I was challenged to make a delicious March Madness snack using at least frozen food products. Well, tonight at the #FrozenChefMadness Twitter Party my entry was honored to be named as one of the #EliteAte, which means I am into the semi-finals! Soon they will announce the #FinalFour and then me, as the winner.
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself — some of the competition is pretty intimidating — but I am really proud of this dish, and I think you’ll love it if you try it.
So without further ado, the promised recipe!
Being a family of avid (well, enthusiastic, at least) gardeners, we’re no strangers to the problem of sometimes having way more fresh, ripe produce than we can use. Last year we had seven rather abundant tomato plants, for goodness sake. As a result, we have had to learn to preserve what we grow. That has definitely meant a lot of canning, and pickle-making, but for some foods my experience has led me to prefer one method over the rest: freezing.