Tag Archives: mushrooms

Mushroom and Leek Quiche


Take a leek.

Being able to make that joke each and every time I make this may in fact be the only reason I like leeks. It’s hard to dislike food that so easily lends itself to 12-year-old humor. In fairness to the leek, though, this is quite good even without the lame jokes. Leeks are milder and sweeter than onions, and are a great way to impart an onion-like flavor without the tears and inevitable halitosis. They also contain less of the sulfur compounds that make onions difficult for some people to digest, and thus make a good substitute for people who don’t tolerate them well. And that is why the leek shall inherit the earth.

Okay then. Now that I’ve indulged my insatiable need to pun, let’s move on. This quiche is a weeknight staple for us – although the total prep-and-cook time is close to an hour and a half, it’s easy and extremely satisfying. And I’m saying this as somebody who isn’t really a quiche person – my general rationale is along the lines of “if you’re going to throw a bunch of eggs together and call it dinner, why not make an omelet and save us all the hassle?” But this isn’t a quivering three-inch-high egg pile like some quiches. The rich flavors of the roasted mushrooms and leeks are the real stars here – the eggs just quietly hold it all together. Serve with a simple green salad and as many bad leek puns as you can think of.

Mushroom and Leek Quiche
Ingredients:
1 pound mushrooms, quartered or diced (I use a combination of cremini, shiitake, and portabello)
1 bunch leeks, washed and sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup half and half or milk
1.5 cups grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 eggs
1 9-inch pie crust
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine mushrooms, leeks, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss to combine, making sure everything is well coated with the oil. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Return to bowl and stir in cheese.

Prick pie shell with fork and prebake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove and lower oven temperature to 350 F.

Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add the half and half and thyme, and more salt and pepper to taste. Spread mushroom mixture into the pie pan in an even layer and pour half-and-half/egg mixture on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until lightly browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Portabella Steaks

There’s something about the first juicy, toothsome bite of a portabella mushroom that truly is reminiscent of meat. I never understood this and didn’t give it much thought until I learned about umami (disclaimer: I’m about to be a big nerd).

Umami is the fifth taste category that the human taste buds can discern – the one that doesn’t fit neatly into the previously defined sweet/sour/salty/bitter packages. Translated simply, it means “delicious,” but the umami flavor is generally defined as meaty, robust, or savory. Umami’s discoverer, Japanese researcher Kikunae Ikeda, identified the broken down form of the amino acid glutamate (L-glutamate) as the source of the umami taste. Guess what’s super-rich in glutamate and hence, really delicious when cooked? Yep – mushrooms. This is why mushrooms are so often used as a meat substitute, and why the texture and mouthfeel of a grilled portabella is so very steaky.

Got all that? Okay, now you can forget it, because you’re not going to be thinking about glutamate or taste buds or century-old Japanese research when you make this. You’re just going to be thinking about how something so quick and easy could possibly be this good. We had these with roasted asparagus and fresh watercress on the side, and the entire thing went from grocery bag to table in under 45 minutes. Not too shabby for umami.

Portabella Steaks
Ingredients
1 ½ lbs whole portabella mushrooms (about 6)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat the broiler or fire up your grill. Or, if you’re me, put a grill pan on your stove and coat it with an equal mixture of Pam and your own tears, because you don’t own a grill and your oven is so old that the broiler is actually a drawer underneath the stove that licks tongues of hungry flames upon your food as soon as you open it, charring it beyond recognition and causing a cringing Pavlovian response every time someone says “broil.”

Place the mushrooms in a large, shallow dish (either a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet will work well) Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley in a bowl and mix well. Pour over mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning once.

Place the mushrooms on a grill grate (or aforementioned grill pan) or broiler pan (gill side down if grilling, gill side up if broiling) and cook for 4-6 minutes per side. The mushrooms should give off some of their natural liquid and be mostly firm to the touch. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma