Tastes Like Steak

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Today we are grilling-up a vegetable that's flavor resembles a meaty protein. They're so meaty in flavor, eating one is almost like cutting into a piece of steak. Portobello mushrooms make great appetizers, but also have earned it's position on the main course plate.

Portobello mushrooms, a larger relative of the crimini and are the largest of all the cultivated mushrooms with tan or brown caps often reaching 6 to 7 inches across. For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ health benefits. Mushrooms have long been celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients, and can also help us meet the dietary and vitamin D recommendation and also benefit from this leading source of the antioxidant selenium which helps maintain a healthy immune system. (mushroomcouncil.org)

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Gorgonzola Mushrooms

 Makes 4 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestytle

As a variation, add one of the following to the stuffing: 1/4 cup grilled and diced ham; meat from 2 grilled spicy Italian sausages; or 1/2 cup chopped grilled shrimp.

8 large mushrooms, 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter

2 Tablespoons olive oil'1/2 cup chopped grilled onion

3 scallions, grilled and chopped

Puree from 4 cloves Caramelized Garlic

2 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, or cooked rice, or other grain

1/4 cup milk

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Grill Temperature | high, then medium

Preheat the grill.

Remove the mushroom stems with a knife and set aside. Brush the caps with oil, grill over high for 1 minutes on each side, and remove. Chop the stems and combine with the onion, scallions and garlic in a medium bowl. Add 2 cups of the bread crumbs, milk, cilantro and hot sauce and mix well. Add the cheese and stir until the mixture is smooth. Fill the mushroom caps evenly with the mixture and roll them in the remaining bread crumbs. Brush lightly with the remaining olive oil and grill over medium heat until tender.

Jubilee Time

Walk fast but don't run, cherry season in North America has finally arrived! This very short season, which only lasts about one month, makes way for endless sweet recipes. Simply, enjoy cherries fresh-out of the bag; just soak cherries in ice-water for five minutes for a refreshing chilly snack. Or, incorporate fresh cherries into shortcakes, clafouti, or savory sauces for duck, chicken and pork.

Today's recipe is a cherry show stopper. You can put on quite a live demonstration for your guests by whipping up this a la Escoffier classic, Cherries Jubilee. Auguste Escoffier prepared Cherries Jubilee for Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebration in the late 1800's. 

Here are a few good-to-know tips on cherries:

- Removing pits is easily accomplished with OXO's new Cherry + Olive Pitter - a Good Stuff pick.

- Cherries are a very delicate fruit and do not ripen further once picked.

- Choose cherries with stems still attached, this helps them maintain their freshness.  Cherries with plump, bendable stems have recently been picked and are at the peak of freshness.

- Select cherries with firm, smooth, unblemished skin, and buy only as many as you plan to eat within a couple days.

- For best results, store refrigerated in a plastic bag with holes in it, and wash cherries only when you're ready to use them.

Cherries Jubilee
Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes four servings 
Adapted from Gather 'round the Grill Cookbook, 1995

2 Tablespoons sweet butter
1/2 cup Turbinado (suger in the raw) or pure cane granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Juice from half a lemon
2 cups Bing or other dark, sweet cherries, rinsed and pitted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1/4 cup Kirschwasser
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 cups vanilla ice cream

In four small bowls, pre portion ice cream and return bowls to freezer prior to preparing cherries and until ready to serve.

Pre heat a sauce pan over a low temperature. Add butter and sugar and stir until melted. Continue cooking over a low flame until sugar begins to turn a light brown color. Stir in the orange and lemon juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until slightly thickened. Stir in the cherries, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest, return to a boil, then reduce heat, and add the Kirschwasser (cherry brandy). Pour in the Grand Marnier, and ignite with an igniter. Gently shake the pan and stir with a large spoon until the blue flame has extinguished itself. Receive applause from your guests.

Spoon the cherries and the sauce over the bowls of ice cream and serve immediately. 

CAUTION:

I am reminded of an episode from the TV show Frasier; when Frasier and Niles open an upscale French restaurant called "Les Frères Heureux", meaning "The Happy Brothers". The uber pretentious budinski brothers can't keep their hands out of the kitchen. When opening night arrives, everything that can go wrong, does - the waiters go to the emergency room and the chef quits, with Niles taking over the chef position and Daphne helping him. Martin becomes a bartender and Roz becomes a waitress. Frasier and Niles, throughout the night keep enhancing the amount of brandy in the batch of cherries jubliee. Well, you can imagine how this turns out; as Roz the ever faithful producer bails Fraiser out of yet another jam. She assists to serve the cherries jubilee in the dining room. As she ignites the cherries jubilee in the dining room it explodes with cherries embedded into the restaurant ceiling.

Lesson here - First, don't open a restaurant unless you know what you are doing. And, VERY importantly, the flames can get quite high when flambeing, so give your full attention to anything flammable above and around the area where you ignite the cherries. Lastly, NEVER add liquor straight from the bottle into the pan directly over a fire.