The Best Home Cookin' - Gasperlin's!

Wow!  What a great dinner!  This restaurant is somewhat hard to get into with the busy schedules of the chef, Todd and sous chef, Tammy but if you can get a seat, what a treat!


The evening started with appetizers.  While the younger crowd enjoyed tasty cheese balls, Chef Todd prepared bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese and guest chef Tim brought stuffed mushrooms for the adults.



There was a great selection of wines including Red Decadence which is a chocolate red wine.  You can really smell and taste the chocolate in this wine!  We were lucky enough to be given a bottle to take home.  Thank you!



Chef Todd prepared a plethora of amazing dishes without breaking a sweat.  All of the dishes were done at the same time and placed on the table hot and steamy which is not always easy to do with so many different dishes.

The Shrimp Scampi Linguini was delicious!  Prepared with the shells on the shrimp for the best flavor!  Then Sous Chef Tammy peeled the shrimp so the guests wouldn't have to!



The second main was Chicken Marsala.  I had enough on my plate so I didn't give this a try but David said it was delicious.  Even Dana, who like me doesn't like mushrooms, thought it was a really good dish.


Sides were garlic mashed potatoes (Dave and I both had second helpings of these) and a perfectly dressed Cesar salad prepared by Sous Chef Tammy.  Lately we've visited a few restaurants where the salad was overdressed.  This one was perfect!


We provided desserts, an orange cake and some yummy hazelnut chocolate cookies.  The cake was made with blood orange infused olive oil and each layer was brushed with Grand Marnier.  The filling was cream cheese and orange zest and the frosting an orange buttercream.  The cake was very rich.  Next time maybe I'll just fill it with orange curd to make it a bit more tart and less rich.


The cookies were delicious, especially with the great wine.  Thank you Barefoot Contessa for the recipe.

We had so much fun.  You can't ask for better company than the Gasperlins, Todd, Tammy, Tim, Dana, Tucker, Thomas, Oscar and that adorable Dolly!  Thank you, thank you!

Now to get that ride to Barker's scheduled!

Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

I am just LOVING "how easy is that" by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten!  So many recipes... so little time!

I wanted to bring something new and different to our dinner party tonight.  These little cookies sounded good to me.  Nutella has recently become one of my favorite foods!  Check out the recipe I posted for the banana hazelnut bruschetta.

Yes, these are easy but I would say pretty putzy cookies.  You need to roast the hazelnuts (if you don't buy them already roasted) which is not a big deal but there's cooling time involved so you can't just whip these up.

You also have to chill the dough, which is common with cutout cookies.  The recipe said to chill and hour.  I made the dough last night and chilled it overnight.  Other cookie doughs I've used that's fine, this one, well, it gets REALLY hard overnight so don't think you can just take the dough out and start making cookies if you do the same thing.

Then, once the cookies are cut out you have to chill them again, on the cookie sheets (can't wait for my new frig for this step!) for 15 minutes before baking.

Once baked and cooled you sift powdered sugar over the top cookies, cover the bottom cookies with Nutella then put them together.


So, like I said, putzy.

But, delicious!  They aren't too sweet and have a good nutty flavor. I'm thinking they are going to go down way to fast!

Orange Cake

We have been invited to dinner with some really good friends.  They are making appetizers and dinner (shrimp scampi yum!) and Dave and I bringing the wine and dessert (shocking, I know, that wine and dessert were our offerings!).

I've been baking a lot, A LOT and last week I had something to bake every night.  Some nights I had more than one order to bake.  So by Thursday night I was feeling "baked out" and uninspired as to what to bring for this great dinner.

I literally poured through a dozen cookbooks looking for something fun to make.  Nothing was jumping out at me.  There were the old stand-bys, like creme brule or one of my standard cakes but I wanted something new.  Dave, of course, wanted his favorite chocolate cake with fluffy white frosting.  I happened to mention an Orange Blossom Torte, a recipe from The Rittenhouse.  I hadn't made one in a LONG time.  A really long time. 

The last time I made one was for a friend's housewarming party and as we were packing the car, Molly (just a puppy then) got up on the counter and ate half of it!  Since Molly was just a puppy it had to be over 12 years ago that I made the last cake.

I decided to change it up a bit.  I added orange infused oil to the cake itself.  There was just a hint of orange as they were baking.  I torted the cake and brushed the layers with Grand Marnier.

Each layer is filled with an orange/cream cheese filling (cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar and orange flavor). 


The original recipe called for a whipped cream frosting.  I've never been much of a fan of whipped cream frosting.  I'm a butter cream girl!  So I made an orange butter cream instead.  It should be a nicely orange, but not overpowering cake.  I guess we'll know tomorrow night!  I think it will go well after Todd's shrimp scampi!

I hope our friends like it!

The "Recipe"
Your favorite basic white cake recipe or mix (if using a mix I highly recommend Duncan Hines Classic White) where orange infused olive oil is substituted for the regular oil.

The filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream - softened
1/2 cup butter - softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream and butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, orange rind and orange extract and mix well.

The frosting:
1 pound butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream the butter and lemon zest.  Add the sugar and mix until incorporated.  Add orange juice, vanilla and cream and whisk until light and creamy, about 4 minutes.

Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower

Last weekend we visited our local Border's Bookstore which, unfortunately, was going out of business.  One of the three cookbooks I bought was "How Easy Is That" by Ina Garten.  I've got over a dozen post-it's in the book, this was one of them.
We roast veggies here at least twice a week, sometimes more.  I thought I had pretty much figured out roasting veggies.  Wrong!  This roasted cauliflower was delicious!

I used a walnut infused Olive Oil (of course from The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company).


The smell in the house was amazing!  One bite and we were hooked.  Dave and I finished an entire head of cauliflower!


I served it with grilled ham steak and some great Italian bread.




Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

From How Easy is That? by Barefoot Contessa
Serves 6

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 head of garlic, cloves separated & unpeeled
4 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil {divided}
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Begin by toasting the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, until lightly golden {about 5 minutes}. Be careful! Nuts burn quickly. Set aside.


Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil & add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds, drain & peel the skins off. If the cloves are large, cut them in half.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Lay the cauliflower out on a baking sheet & toss with the garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until the cauliflower is just tender & lightly browned.

Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a bowl & add the parsley, pine nuts, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil & lemon juice. Toss to combine & serve.

Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup

YUM!  I've been wanting to try this soup for a while now and finally got to it today.

It's delicious!  We were amazed at how you can taste the smokiness of the blue cheese but you don't lose the tomato flavor.  The kitchen smelled amazing while it was simmering!  If you don't like heat be careful!  It's got heat!  Dave and I like heat and it was almost too much for us.  Next time I make it I would probably cut back on the sriracha sauce.

I did make one other substitution.  I'm trying to keep the weight I lost off and having a soup with both 1/2 a cup of blue cheese AND heavy cream seemed a bit much.  So I used fat free half and half in place of the heavy cream.  I also didn't do the straining step.  We were hungry!  Still a delicious soup!

I had some crusty sour dough left over so I drizzled it with some basil infused EVOO and toasted it in the oven for a garnish.  Delish!  We had the soup with chicken salad sandwiches.  The heat of the soup with the cool of the sandwich made a great combination.


Here's a link to the recipe:  Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup

Yummy Date Night Dinner!

Another post migrated from my 3-Day site...

I had this $100 gift card (remember that amount as you read on) burning a hole in my pocket so Dave and I decided we'd use it on a restaurant we'd never been to before.  Dave had seen a review for The Hanger Room in the paper a couple of weeks ago.  The restaurant is in what used to be a bowling alley in the little town of Willernie on the south eastern tip of White Bear Lake (the lake not the town).




According to their website they prepare all of the meals from only local sources and are committed to a sustainable product.  Even more of a reason to try it in our opinion.


We arrived a bit early for our reservation (there was no traffic on a Friday afternoon, what's up with that?) so we had a seat at the bar.  The bar is beautiful!  They have over 80 different tap beers and a wine list that requires a three-ring book!




We ordered a bottle of Louis Martini Cabernet and decided we were hungry.  Rather than go to dinner early we tried an appetizer.  What would go better with a good (ok great) Cabernet than a plate of cheese?  We ordered the cheese plate.  There were three cheeses, blueberries, nuts, a blueberry puree and a balsamic reduction on the plate.  The blue cheese was a little to "barn" for me but Dave liked it.  The brie was from Wisconsin and I really liked that one!  The third cheese was a pecorino romano and we fought over that one!  The blueberry coulis was ok, but the balsamic reduction was amazing.  I literally scraped plate clean!  A little brie, some greens and that reduction on the amazing flatbread crisps was to die for!




Oh wait!  I forgot to mention the flatbread crisps!  They were so good!  I asked how the chef made them; salt, pepper, garlic oil and flatbread.  You can bet I'll be trying to make those at home!


We moved into the dining room for dinner.  Dave knew he was going to have a steak and they did sound really good but there was a sandwich on the menu that caught my eye,
the Fried Egg BLT.  It had avocado, a spicy a spicy aioli, apple wood smoked bacon, bibb lettuce, and  tomato on ciabatta roll.  It was AMAZING!  The bacon was delicious and perfectly crispy.  The egg still oozed just a little and the aioli was just hot enough to provide flavor without overpowering the sandwich.  The ciabatta roll wasn't like any I've had before.  It was soft!  You could actually bite through it without destroying the rest of the sandwich.




The sandwich came with their Arugula salad.  Dave and I shared that.  It was good but a bit over-dressed for me.  I like a little dressing on my salad, not the other way around.  Next time I would order the dressing on the side (it was delicious!) or just ask for less of it.

Dave had the Beef Tenderloin steak.  It was cooked a perfect medium and was topped with caramelized onions and arguably the best onion ring I have ever had!  I'm not sure what the seasonings in the batter were but that ring was delicious.  Dave's steak also came with cauliflower puree.  It was like cream!  Also drizzled on the plate was a shallot jus.  Something else I need to figure out how to make!


We ordered a side of fingerling potatoes to share.  OH MY!  These roasted little potatoes were addicting!  Again, simply roasted with perfect seasonings.  So good!

For dessert we split a dish of amazing vanilla bean ice cream.  The portion was just perfect.

We'll definitely be going back.  It was about a half hour drive without traffic so not too bad to get to.  The service was great from the bar to the dining room and I'm definitely a fan of the chef!

The entire bill was $100.  Yes, exactly $100!  Don't think that it's an expensive place.  That $100 included the $50 bottle of wine we ordered!

Migration!

Hello!

I'm migrating!  Please visit my 3-Day Blog if you haven't yet!  I started blogging to document my Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day journey this year and that blog seemed to grow into more than that.  I'd like to keep that blog about the 3-Day only so I started up this one to include all of my foodie rantings!

This first post contains everything in my "year in recipes" from the other blog.  My resolution this year was to try a new recipe every week!  Let's see how I do?

Andrea

Ok, here goes!  My New Year's resolution is to try a new recipe every week.  No promises that I'll meet that goal but I will try and I will post the recipes and our reviews of them here.


Wednesday, March 16th:  Salmon with Angel Hair


A coworker sent me this recipe.   It's something she just "made".  It's so simple, so good and good for you!

It's this simple, start some water boiling for some angel hair pasta.

Heat up some olive oil in a pan.  I used a basil infused olive oil from my favorite place, The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  Place the salmon in the pan and coat with lemon pepper seasoning.  Cook until the skin separates, discard the skin.  Break the salmon up in pieces and continue cooking, making sure there is enough lemon pepper seasoning to have some on every piece.

I added capers to the salmon when it was almost done cooking.

Drain the pasta and toss with a little more oil.  Again, I used the basil oil.  Add the salmon and top with grated parmesan.

The whole process took about 10 minutes once the water was boiling.  This is something I can do even when I'm "too tired to cook"!  I served it with a great sour dough bread and a mixed green salad (of course with the orange oil/chocolate balsamic dressing).



Sunday, March 13th:  Banana Hazelnut Bruschetta

OH MY!  This is delish!  I found this very simple recipe in my Food Network Magazine.  I couldn't find hazelnut butter in my local grocery store (if they had it it wasn't near the peanut butter!) so I bought Nutella, chocolate and bananas how could that be bad?
Link to Recipe

The recipe didn't say how many slices of baguette to use.  After it was all said and done, the two average sized bananas I used would have made 10 nice slices of bruschetta.

The recipe also said to bake the baguette and bananas separately.  I'm lazy.  I put them on the same baking sheet and just took the baguette out after 7 minutes and put the bananas back in for an additional 3.


They make a beautiful brunch item or dessert.  I don't know that I would use just "plain old" hazelnut butter, the Nutella is so good!  I didn't add the whipped cream.  I just didn't take the time to make it but I'm sure it would be good.


I served these for brunch with some crab cakes benedict that I topped with San Pedro Cafe habanero aioli rather than hollandaise, some Nueske's smoked bacon and roasted veggies.  Dave and I are ready for a nap now!


Tuesday, March 8th:  Lemon Sugar Cookies

Oh my these are delicious!  My fellow Weight Watchers have been looking for low point but yummy desserts.  I found this cookie recipe from Cook's Illustrated and made them.  I made them half size which is a good two or three bites and they are just one WW Plus point each!  You wouldn't know it!  Coworkers who weren't in on the secret couldn't get enough of them either!  One even asked for the recipe!



Cook's Illustrated Light Sugar Cookies
Servings: 24

NOTES: In order for the cookies to spread and brown properly it is important to bake them one tray at a time.

Ingredients:
3 ¾ ounces unbleached flour -- 3/4 cup
2 ounces cake flour -- 1/2 cup
 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
 5 tablespoons butter -- softened
 8 1/3 ounces sugar -- 1 1/3 cup, divided
 1 large egg
 1 tablespoon vanilla

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar (retain remaining sugar for coating) together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed..  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat at medium speed until combined, 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.  Working with a level tablespoon of dough each time, roll the dough into 1-inch balls.  If the dough is too soft to roll, refrigerate it until firm.  Carefully roll the balls in the sugar and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/;2 inches apart.  You will fit 12 cookies on a cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies, one tray at a time; until the edges are light golden and the centers are just set, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking (do not over bake).  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Lemon Sugar Cookie variation: (lime or orange zest could also be used)
Follow the recipe adding 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest with the egg in step 2.  Before coating the cookies in sugar, process the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest in a food processor until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Coat, bake and cool the cookies as directed.



Saturday, March 5 :Spaghettini with Crab, Tomato and White Wine & Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar

Dave and I are going back to Napa in April.  One of the wineries we plan on visiting this time is Cakebread so I bought the Cakebread cookbook to try a few of the recipes.

The first was Spaghettini with Crab, Tomato and White Wine.  It was good but we didn't think it was fabulous.  I was very quick to prepare so if you're in a hurry it's a good dish to do and it's a very pretty dish if you're having guests.  You can really taste the crab which nice and the smell in the kitchen was unbelievable.  You can't get better aromas than sauteing garlic and then adding red wine!







On the side I made Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar.  I do roasted veggies all the time (at least two nights a week) but the twist with the balsamic interested me so I tried them.

I'm not a fan of beets.  The recipe called for parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, carrots and, yes, beets.  Ok, I'll try them.  The recipe said to roast at 400 for 45 minutes.  I should have checked them sooner.  I know my oven's temperature is true at 400 so I didn't think to check.  The kitchen was smelling so good!  They got a little over-caramelized, they were still good but a little over done.

There was really nothing different about this recipe from what I normally do other than finishing the veggies with balsamic and WOW is that good!  I'll be doing that from now on!  I have a bunch of flavored oils from my favorite
Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  I can't wait to try them out!

Oh, and I'll be leaving out the beets!




Monday, 2/21/11 Mashed Potatoes and Root Vegetables with Bacon and Thyme

YUMMY!  I've mixed carrots and parsnips in with my mashed potatoes before and I like it.  I like just plain old mashed parsnips too so this recipe piqued my interest.  After the last mashed potato with bacon recipe (see #7 below) I decided to modify this one just a bit and leave the bacon out.  Just the bacon, not the bacon grease!

I made this batch with parsnips.  I think I'll try with carrots or maybe a mixture of carrots and parsnips next time.  There was just enough smokiness from the bacon grease.  I think the bacon would have overpowered everything but if you're a bacon lover, by all means leave it in!

I found this recipe at Cooks Illustrated.

Serves 4.  Published November 1, 2007.



ARGH!!!  I lost a couple of recipes I had posted here.  I'm not sure what happened.  I know I'm missing my Spaghetti and Meatballs cake but not sure what else.  I'll try to get them all back.

Saturday 2/19/11 - Balsamic Steak with Cabernet Mushroom Sauce & Mashed Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon

Balsamic Steak


This was so good and so easy!  I'm not sure from where I got the recipe but based on the paper on which it was printed I'm guessing a balsamic vinegar and olive oil tasting Dave and I attended.

Mix 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a teaspoon of salt.  Place your favorite steak in a plastic zip top bag and pour the marinade over it.  Marinate the steak for 30 minutes.

Take the steak out of the bag and place it on the grill or in the oven.  Reserve the marinade!

While the steak is cooking, place 2 cups of cabernet in a sauce pan with the reserved marinade.  Bring this to a boil then add 2 cups of your favorite mushrooms.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until your steaks are done.

Pour the sauce over your steak and serve.  Delish!

Mashed Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon


Dave and I both thought this was good, not great, but good.  We both thought it would have been better without the bacon.  It seemed to overpower the delicious smoked gouda flavor.


I found this recipe in an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mashed-Potato-Casserole-with-Gouda-and-Bacon-351538


Sunday 2/6/11 - Spaghetti and Meatballs Cake

My copy of Food Network magazine came and this was in it.  I just had to make it.  I don't know if it really qualifies as a new "recipe" but I'm not going to be a stickler for technicalities!  I think it turned out pretty darn cute!

It's just a regular chocolate cake.  Frost one layer then crumble the other to make the "meatballs".  Tint your favorite frosting (the recipe actually called for "tub" frosting.... YUCK) with a little yellow food color and add 1 tsp of cocoa powder to give it flecks like pasta.  The sauce is just pureed raspberry jam (the recipe called for pureed strawberries, I didn't have any!).



Saturday 01/22/11:  Lump Crab meat Ravioli with Red Pepper Cream Sauce

I had Jen and Xavier over for dinner.  I'd been promising them one for a while.  Dinner was, if I do say so myself, very yummy!

I made pasta with Michael Symon's recipe.  I can give it to you if you want it but it's your basic egg pasta recipe, flour, egg yolks and oil.  The only change I made was I used a basil infused olive oil instead of regular EVOO.  It smelled SO good!

The main course was Emeril Lagasse's Lump Crab meat Ravioli with Red Pepper Cream Sauce.  The only change I made here was to use a smoked paprika in the cream sauce rather than regular paprika.  We all thought this was one tasty dish!

I happened to be at the
Olive Grove Olive Oil Company today buying some blood orange infused EVOO for a coworker.  The staff talked me into trying it with the chocolate balsamic.  OH MY!  So for our salad tonight we had mixed greens with toasted almonds, craisins, red onion and goat cheese topped with a vinaigrette with the orange EVOO and chocolate balsamic.  Xavier didn't really care for it but Jen and I couldn't stop eating it!
I also sauteed some asparagus.  Nothing special there!

Here's the recipe for the ravioli and cream sauce.  I didn't do the monster ravioli Emeril suggested so my batch served more than 4!  The three of us had plenty and there's still lots left in the freezer!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/lump-crabmeat-ravioli-with-red-pepper-cream-sauce-and-asparagus-recipe/index.html




Sunday 01/16/11:  Bacon Brownies

Yes, Bacon Brownies!  Intrigued by a post on a friend's Facebook site I decided to try these.  He was lamenting a week-old curry smell in the kitchen and there were suggestions to bake brownies or cook bacon to mask the curry.  He found, and posted, a recipe for bacon brownies so I tried them.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  The recipe used an, in my opinion, inferior brownie mix and he left the slices of bacon whole.  I chopped them up and sprinkled them around the batter.  He also used a brownie mix with caramel.  I opted to be a purist and just use "plain old" brownie mix.


The brownies are in the oven as I type this.  I'll update the posting with finished product pictures and if I can get Dave to eat one, a review.

I've tried bacon and chocolate before.  Voges' has a bacon chocolate bar.  I didn't care for it.  I'm thinking the brownies won't be that much better but who knows!  I could be surprised!

UPDATE:  Well, Dave and I tried them.  They aren't terrible but they aren't something I have the burning desire to make again.  We'll see what the folks at work think!

Wednesday 01/12/11:  Michael Symon's Pork Souvlaki with Honeyed Apricots

Dave and I eat a lot of pork tenderloin and I'm always looking for new things to do with it.  This recipe was so easy and so good!  The only thing I changed was I made a cucumber sauce rather than serving it with plain Greek yogurt.

Here's a link to the recipe on Food Network!
Michael Symon's Pork Souvlaki with Honeyed Apricots


Saturday 01/01/11:  Mushroom Gravy

We picked up some mushrooms at Farmer's Market this morning.  We had planned to roast a turkey breast and do mashed potatoes for dinner so I thought mushroom gravy would be a good addition.

I've made gravy before but this was a new recipe and the resolution was new recipes.  I've always made gravy from pan drippings or from stewing vegetables in stock for several hours.  This recipe called for red wine and balsamic vinegar and took about half an hour to make.  How could I pass that up?

The kitchen smelled great while this was cooking!  There's almost no better smell than sauteed garlic and then when you add red wine and balsamic, well it doesn't get much better.

Even though I am not a fan of mushrooms I liked this gravy.  It was more of a pan sauce than a gravy I think, mostly mushrooms, little sauce, but very tasty and not salty.

It was quick and easy to make and I had all the ingredients in the house.

I found the recipe at epicurious.com, one of my many go-to places for recipes.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 pound mixed fresh white and exotic mushrooms such as cremini, oyster or shiitake
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions:
Slice mushrooms.  In a 10-inch heavy non-stick skillet cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened.   Add mushrooms and soy sauce and saute mixture over moderately high heat, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown.

Add wine and vinegar and boil until liquid is evaporated.  Stir cornstarch mixture and add to skillet with sugar.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer 2 minutes.  Stir in parsley and season gravy with salt and pepper. 

Gravy may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.  When reheating gravynecessary to thin to desired consistency.







Russet potatoes will yield a slightly fluffier, less creamy mash, but they can be used in place of the Yukon Gold potatoes if desired. Rinsing the potatoes in several changes of water reduces starch and prevents the mashed potatoes from becoming gluey. It is important to cut the potatoes and root vegetables into even-sized pieces so they cook at the same rate. This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a large Dutch oven. If doubling, increase the cooking time in step 2 to 40 minutes. This variation is particularly nice with turnips.
4ounces bacon , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2tablespoons unsalted butter
8ounces carrots , parsnips, turnips, or celery root, peeled; carrots or parsnips cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons; turnips or celery root cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices; rinsed well in 3 or 4 changes of cold water and drained well
1/3cup low-sodium chicken broth
Table salt
3/4cup half-and-half , warmed
1teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook 4 slices (about 4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, in large saucepan over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from pan.
  2. Add butter to pan and keep over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add root vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is browned and vegetables are dark brown and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. (If after 4 minutes vegetables have not started to brown, increase heat to medium-high.)
  3. Add potatoes, broth, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cook, covered, over low heat (broth should simmer gently; do not boil), stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart easily when poked with fork and all liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. (If liquid does not gently simmer after a few minutes, increase heat to medium-low.) Remove pan from heat; remove lid and allow steam to escape for 2 minutes.
  4. Gently mash potatoes and root vegetables in saucepan with potato masher (do not mash vigorously). Gently fold in warm half-and-half, reserved bacon, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

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