Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuffed mushrooms

With all the fuss about the e.coli and the uncertainty weather it comes from vegetables or not, I realized that I've been cooking too much meat lately. Therefore, the dinner this weekend was almost completely vegetarian. However, I cooked mushrooms which are said to be the "meat of the poor".

For one more time, I tried recreating my mom's recipe of stuffed mushrooms. I can not remember when particularly this recipe made it's debut on our dinner table, but it was reoccurring from time to time, each time with a little twist.

So, since the weekend was all about vegetarian food, I thought these mushrooms would be just a great idea. Unfortunately, I could not get mom on the phone since she had a long shift at the hospital. So, the only solution was to improvise. I think, I managed to remember most of the ingredients and the result resembled quit closely the original thing. I could not resist adding some bacon to the stuffing, but you could skip it for a vegetarian version.


15 large (about 4-5cm in diameter) champignon mushrooms, washed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, very finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red paprika, very finely chopped (optional)
5 slices bacon or smoked ham, finely chopped
3-4 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt, ground black and red pepper to taste

1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, set the caps aside and finely dice the stems.
2. In a heavy sauce pan heat the oil.
3. Add the onions and cook on average heat until soft.
4. Stir in the diced mushroom stems, zucchini, paprika and bacon or ham (if using) and cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
5. Add the creme fraiche, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
6. Using a spoon stuff the mushroom caps with the filling and place in an ovenproof deep caserole dish, stuffing facing up.
7. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the mushrooms and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Serve either hot or chilled, as a starter or a part of a main course. Also very good for party food, a bit more complicated than pop corn and tortillas with salsa :P

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rice with grape leaves, sun dried tomatoes and raisins

It's amazing what you can find in the freezer when defrosting it. Tiny boxes with baby corn, diced onions and chopped parsley, leftover cookie dough and ... what's that? Grape leaves?! How long have they been in there?! Stratis found them at a Turkish store and thought it would be cool to make dolmadakia (little grape leaves rolls with rice stuffing). However, after the first, not very successful attempt there was more than half pack left, so it ended up lying pointless in the freezer, until I discovered it yesterday.

Luckily, a couple of days ago I was browsing through one of my most favorite cooking blogs dedicated to Greek food, owned by Peter Minakis. Few months ago he posted a recipe for a rice-based side dish which really intrigued me when I first read it. It was pretty much a fuss-free version of dolmadakia. The idea was to prepare the stuffing and then mix in the chopped grape leaves. Smaaaaart! You get all the flavor of dolmadakia without having to spend hours in the kitchen rolling them! Great!

I changed a bit the proportions of the ingredients, used slightly different herbs and added a sun dried tomato. I think it was one of those rare times when Stratis was not complaining about the plain rice for side dish :)


1 cup long grain rice, washed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp chives, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup black raisins, washed and soaked in hot water
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/3 cup canned sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup canned grape leaves, washed and chopped
2 cups hot chicken stock or water
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large pan heat the oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft.
2. Stir in the rice and cook together for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the parsley, chives, raisins, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, grape leaves, lemon juice and chicken stock, cover with a lid and cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is soft. Add more water if the rice looks dry.
4. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice and ready!