Megnut

Mushroom Stock

Over the weekend I made my favorite Cream of Mushroom Soup (with requisite homemade mushroom stock). The picture shows the stock on the stove as it gets under way. This is probably my favorite soup to make because it's so easy and it's so delicious. It never fails to impress, and I've discovered you can totally leave out the cream and it still tastes really good. Now I usually just garnish it with a dollop of whipped cream, but I never add cream to the soup. Try it over the holiday season, I'm sure you'll be the belle of the ball if you make it. It's elegant and rich and just the thing on a wintery night.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 pound white mushrooms (I like to mix this up with some portobellos as well)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped leaks or onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from stems
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1 quart Mushroom Stock
1/2 to 1 cup cream
Finely chopped parsley

Eighty-three percent of chicken sold in U.S. grocery stores may contain bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. The USDA denies the report from Consumer Reports, saying their sample size was too small. Consumer Reports also said the rate of bacteria contamination was "34 percentage points higher than the rate it found three years ago." I'm not sure who's "right" on this one, but if Consumer Reports used the same methodology as they did last time, and still found at 34% increase, it seems like there might be more bacteria on the meat.

Update: Here's a more detailed article on the Consumer Reports site. Thanks Rory!

Mushroom Stock

1 oz. dried mushrooms (I like to use a variety of porcini, oysters, and chanterelles)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 to 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped leek greens and leek roots, if available
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs
bouquet garni (small bundle of parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and thyme)
10 sage leaves
2 teaspoons salt

Gastrokid is a great blog about feeding kids good food. Two dads write it and share recipes and tales of success in getting their children to eat vegetables (like broccoli rabe) and fruit. A great source of inspiration for anyone trying to feed healthy, whole foods to their children. [via Typepad Featured Blog]

DWR Wine KnotEvery weekday between now and December 22, I'm going to do a food enthusiast gift idea. There will be ideas for all gift-giving budgets, so if you find yourself stuck for a present, and the myriad lists other people have created can't help, you might spy something here. Today we begin with a Wine Knot from Modern furniture purveyor Design Within Reach. An "ingenious interplay of shape and color," Wine Knot holds six liter wine bottles, with space in the center for a magnum. This is a wine holder for display, not cellaring. $98 from www.dwr.com.

If you’ve got contaminated anything in one of their restaurants, you’ve got it in many. That’s the nature of fast food. E. Coli sickens 39 at Taco Bells in New Jersey and New York. Yikes.

It turns out the Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream was the result of a Food Network contest and there were ten semi-finalists. You can watch the segments about each of them on the site. The only competition I see on the list is "Mocha Malt Crunch" but that's because I'm a malt freak. The others sound good, but too fancy for my taste (e.g. Caramelized Figs and Walnuts). Mmmm...I want to eat sticky toffee pudding right now!

Spice SachetHandmade holiday gift ideas from Martha Stewart Living. Somehow one of the best, Mulling Sachets, is on the splash page for the article but not included in the big list. But there's all sorts of stuff there if you're the crafty type and looking to make some presents this year. I like to give and receive homemade food stuffs (like jam, or mulling spices), so a lot on the list appealed to me.

Get the dish on what it's like to be a female chef in a 3-star Parisian restaurant from this great blog that was recently brought to my attention. Not surprisingly, it's a lot of hard, back-breaking labor. But the author writes so well and shares so much enthusiasm (and great photos), that I'm envious of her job as I read. I look forward to following her tale. Thanks Nelson!

The work for which we reserve top honors this year isn’t a cookbook, but rather Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Leite's Culinaria names the 20 best food books of 2006. I've only read five of them, and by read I mean "at least opened the cover and read a few pages of it, if not the whole thing." Pathetic. I will endeavor to do better in 2007. [via Ruhlman]

A basic understanding of the physics involved with heating food can help all of us become better cooks. Heat transfer is your friend.

Around the world, competitive oyster shucking has come of age. Winners at the local level progress to nationals, and those winners head to the World Oyster Opening Championships in Galway, Ireland. "Speed is only one element of a competition. Presentation is the other." I would lose very quickly on both. I can shuck but not very fast, and I always seem to be picking tiny bits of shell out before I serve them. But I don't mind because the pleasure of fresh oysters makes it all worth it.

Sticky Toffee PuddingI just discovered the yummiest flavor of ice cream ever! Häagen-Dazs has a limited flavor of Sticky Toffee Pudding. "A tribute to the popular English dessert, our rich vanilla ice cream is swirled with a sticky toffee sauce and morsels of moist, brown sugar cake." According to the website, it will run through January. It's been around, supposedly, since July, but Saturday AM was the first I'd seen of it. I love the real sticky toffee pudding dessert, and now I love the ice cream version of it as well.

A special preview for Megnut readers

For the past few months, I've been helping Ed Levine and a small team get a new food website called Serious Eats off the ground. Though the site will officially launch on Monday, Megnut readers can get some special "friends and family" access starting right now. Simply visit http://preview.seriouseats.com. You will be prompted for a username ("serious") and a password ("eater") to enter, and then you can take a look around and create an account. We've got discussions, original content like features and video, and a whole lot more to come. This is just the beginning. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your feedback. We want to make it the best damn food site on the web. Well, second best, second to Megnut, of course! ;)

What if we got some of Toronto’s most exciting architects and designers to build gingerbread houses? The Toronto Star's got the amazing results from seven firms and the photos are great. A far cry from what I envision building. If you live in the Toronto area, you can see the houses on display at the Manulife Centre at 55 Bloor St. W. Very cool.

Win a Shake Shack t-shirt autographed by Danny Meyer! Numero Uno hamburger blog A Hamburger Today is sponsoring a contest on this, the last day of Shake Shack 2006. Simply head over to the Shack today and order a burger. Present your receipt to AHT and the person with the latest time/date stamp on his or her receipt will get the signed t-shirt. Pretty cool! The Shake Shack closes at 7 PM, so plan accordingly.

Becoming soy-a-holics and automatically downing anything made from soybeans is not the road to health, but neither is shunning and stigmatizing soyfoods. This page has more links and information about soy than you could possibly read in a day. Lots of stuff to poke through and digest if you're interested in the health benefit claims of soy.

Chocolate advent calendar adventures

Chocolate Advent CalendarToday is December 1st, and you know what that means? It's the first day of my chocolate advent calendar! I couldn't resist picking one up last week when I spied them at the market. And I was so excited to get started with it this morning. Having a chocolate advent calendar is one of my favorite childhood memories. We never got to have candy, so getting a small chocolate each day for nearly a month was almost better than Christmas itself. One year, we got calendars that had an extra-large chocolate for the 24th. Each day I carefully opened the cardboard door to reveal the small chocolate inside, and savored it with my breakfast.

Every day, I edged closer and closer to the big one, until the morning of the 24th. I sat at the table with my calendar in hand, and as I attempted to pry open the door, I realized it had already been opened. Someone had opened it and then closed it again. And then I looked in shock: No Chocolate! My giant chocolate I'd been waiting a month for was gone! And who was the culprit? My brother, who'd eaten his entire chocolate advent calendar in one sitting on December 1st and couldn't resist eating mine as well. Honestly, I remember this as one of the most crushing disappointments of my childhood. Probably because my brother not only didn't get in trouble for eating his calendar, but he didn't get punished for eating mine either! And I, the patient older child who played by the rules, was just out one giant Santa-shaped chocolate. My calendar this year doesn't have an over-sized chocolate for the 24th. Nevertheless, I will be hyper-vigilant, lest my husband attempt a similar, nefarious trick to crush my chocolate advent spirit!

A rich dish that comes from the Cajun cuisine tradition, classic Turducken is a created by deboning and layering a whole turkey, duck and chicken, then inserting layers of stuffing. Hannaford, a supermarket chain in the Northeastern US, is selling turducken for the holidays! If I had known, I could have picked up a turducken last week when I was at one of their stores. I've always wanted to try one.

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