Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Because it’s Art…

Camp of the Woods - Lake Pleasant, NY

Because it’s Art…

As a child, I was always enamored with arts and crafts.  We used to vacation at Camp-of-the-Woods at Lake Pleasant as a family adventure during the warm and balmy New York summers.  While a plethora of time was devoted to making sand castles on the beach and swimming in the sparkling lake, I was, more often than not, in the “Arts-and-Crafts” cabin.  I have always loved to create… formulating a plan in my mind, and executing with my hands (yes… I have awkwardly large hands… bring it).  One of my favorite aspects about cooking is the final presentation… food being the medium and plates being the blank canvas.  The best reward is then being able to share said meal with family and friends.
Portabella Mushrooms

Moderate in degree of level-of-difficulty, but fantastic recipe:

Portabella Mushroom Napoleon
Prep Time: 5 – 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 for puff pastry; 5-10 for mushrooms
Total Time: 35 Minutes

2 Large Portabella Mushrooms
Almond oil – May also use Walnut oil, EVOO, Butter
Salt - to taste
Cayenne Pepper - to taste
½ C. Cashews – roasted
1 Tbsp. Dried Italian herbs
1 Tbsp. Water
Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
Parmesan cheese
Micro Greens (may purchase at Whole Foods/Central Market – often an Organic reseller)

Careful when placing HOT Pyrex glass on
cool marble... it will implode.
Photo by: Jennifer Richards.  Error by sb.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Lightly sprinkle flour over your clean counter and unfold puff pastry.  As a time-saver, I use Pepperidge Farms Frozen Puff Pastry instead of rolling my own puff pastry from scratch (is there an incredible difference between hand-made puff pastry and store bought?  Absolutely.  But every moment matters when serving a large crowd within a limited amount of time.  For occasions that are truly special, yes… I will make the puff pastry by hand).
Cut the shapes and sizes that you desire with a knife, pizza cutter or cookie cutters.
Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place cut pastry on the parchment papers, then cover the puff pastry with a sheet of parchment paper.  Place another baking sheet on top of the pastries.  This prevents the pastry from rising during the cooking process.  Puff pastry was intended to rise; however, a flat pastry is desired for the recipe, as it is a layered finished product (easier to “stack” when flat surfaces are involved).  Cooking time depends on every stove.  Pastry will be finished when light golden brown (about 15-20 minutes).  When finished, allow to cool.

Portabella Mushrooms
My hands are larger than Chuck Norris... round-house kick?
Clean the mushrooms with a paper towel.  Do not use water to soak the mushrooms when cleaning; since mushrooms are extremely porous, they soak up water like a sponge.  Trim away any damaged spots or dirty stems, then cut Portabella mushrooms into bite sized pieces.  I know… being that my mouth is enormous, my pieces are usually cut large than normal.  It is what it is.
Pour almond oil into large sauté pan – enough to coat the bottom of the pan – high heat.
When the oil begins to smoke, add mushrooms, salt, cayenne and dried Italian herbs.  May add butter if desired.  Allow mushrooms to cook until tender (about 5 minutes), then remove from sauté pan.
In a small blender/emersion blender/food processor, chop cashews until the consistency is similar to sand.  Add about 1 Tbsp of water and continue to pulse until cashews form a smooth paste (may need to add more water).
In the process of plating
Photo by: Jennifer Richards.  Unmanicured nail fail by: sb
Combine the cooked mushrooms with the cashew paste in a bowl and stir until fully incorporated. 

Using the reduced balsamic vinegar, draw a unique design on the bottom of a white plate.  Place one layer of puff pastry on the plate and top with cashew/mushroom mixture.  Repeat the procedure with one more layer of puff pastry and cashew/mushroom mix.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and top with micro greens.

Bird's Eye View of Mushroom Napoleon
Photo by: Jennifer Richards.
In order to save time, as well as turn this into a more healthy option, omit the puff pastry and use whole wheat toast or crackers in order to build the layered Napoleon-look.  Gluten-free crackers are always an option if gluten is not permitted in your diet.  You may also forgo the bread route and pair the cashew/mushroom mixture with quinoa, brown rice or more vegetables (though not as presentable).  Adding a dollop of plain 0% Greek yogurt would allow the dish to be slightly more creamy and rich.  Just another option.

I often save this dish to serve as an appetizer… artistic presentation bursting with delicious tastes.

All my love from DALLAS, y’all,

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