If you don’t know, and you likely don’t, unless you follow my Facebook page or that of glutenvygirl, she blatantly and brazenly challenged me to a cook off (or I challenged her, the facts, as in any war, are somewhat fuzzy). Claims were made, food flung in mock anger and before you know it the gloves came off. The challenge was to cook something involving mushrooms and asparagus. Since I am a neophyte when it comes to mushrooms, it was difficult for me, but I’m pleased to find that they aren’t that complicated. And I love eating them. So it was a challenge that I was very anxious to undertake. Even if I failed at it miserably, I’d at least gain some insight into what not to do.
My recipes should consist of two lists:
1) The complete Ingredient List
2) An after action casualty report.
First the casualty report. I am a disaster in a kitchen. I am a cooking tornado. When I get done it appears as if someone planted a large IED somewhere behind the refrigerator. I am not neat and orderly, I admit. But that isn’t necessary for a good meal. I do know from watching Gordon Ramsay’s shows that he would have a massive coronary even watching me cook.
Today’s casualties include one finger, an oven mitt, one small bowl and one very pissed off cat. Now if you’ve ever cooked while sucking on one finger, putting out a fire and fighting a screaming clawing cat while maintaining some semblance of sanity then you’ll immediately respect me. If you haven’t I highly discourage it. My cooking of late is some culinary soap opera. At any rate, I expect a HAZMAT team to arrive shortly and clean everything up. Either that or a divorce attorney.
Being that I had some flounder left over I went ahead and did blackened fish again, since yesterday I seemed to have fallen in love with it. Though I did change the recipe for that a bit, just to keep things fresh and because tampering with recipes is fun. It isn’t always successful but it is fun. And mixes things up, especially with simple dishes like blackened fish. The seasoning mix for this batch consisted of the following:
1 Tablespoon Paprika
4 Teaspoons Thyme
2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt
1 ½ Teaspoons of White Peppers
1 Teaspoons Black Pepper
1 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Oregano
½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
½ Teaspoon Cumin
Simply follow my last recipe for the cooking instructions for the fish.
It took hours of deliberation and a sleepless night counting sheep jumping over toadstools to come up with something for the mushrooms and asparagus. I am, by nature, one that loves simplicity. So naturally my first thought was to keep it simple. First because bringing too many ingredients in or trying fancy cooking techniques would likely involve the loss of my homeowner’s insurance and possibly arson charges.
Officer 1: “Mr. Nichols, please, you expect us to believe you burned down your home trying to flambé Cremini mushrooms?”
Me (wiping soot and sweat from my brows while struggling to control a madly thrashing cat): “But officer it is TRUE!! One minute things were normal, the next, WHOOOSH. It was terrible!“
And secondly because I have never had a lot of experience with mushrooms.
Anyways without further adieu and serving as my shot over Ms. Glutenvygirl’s bow I present:
Asparagus-Mushroom Stuffed Baked Potatoes
4 large baking potatoes
2 Tablespoons of Milk
½ Cup of Sour Cream
1 Teaspoon Onion Salt
¼ Teaspoon White Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
½ Tablespoon of Cilantro
¾ Pound of Fresh Asparagus
¾ Pound of Fresh Baby Portabello Mushrooms
2 sticks of Mozzarella Cheese
½ cup of Cheddar-Jack Cheese, Shredded
1 stick of Butter
Baking potatoes is easy. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, pop them in let them bake for an hour.
While they are baking it is time to prepare your mushrooms and asparagus.
Chop the asparagus into ¾“ – 1” pieces removing the hard portions and set it to the side. Do likewise with your mushrooms, chop them into smaller pieces approximately ½” square and mix with the asparagus.
Over medium heat melt your butter and sauté the mushrooms and asparagus with the cilantro until the vegetables are tender. Remove them and drain them and set them to the side.
Once your potatoes are ready, remove them from the oven. Cut off the tops about a quarter of the way down and scoop out the insides of each potato placing it in a large bowl. Set the shells of the potatoes to the side and then mix the insides with the sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper and fold it all together thoroughly. Once this is done, mix in the asparagus-mushroom mix and combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
Stuff each potato with the mixture to almost overflowing. Chop the mozzarella up into small squares and stick the pieces evenly into the top of each potato. I cut them in half, and then in half again, giving me eight half inch squares for four potatoes. Then slide the stuffed potatoes back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes of cooking.
Pull them once more, then sprinkle them with Cheddar-Jack cheese liberally. Once more slide them into the oven. About 5-8 minutes should do it.
Remove. Eat. Easy. Delicious.
You can do this WITHOUT the cheese if you wish. I made one without just to sample it and it was quite delicious despite the absence of the cheese topping. The mushroom- asparagus mixture alone was delicious enough to carry the dish. The cheese serves more as an accent.
(I realize potatoes and cheeses are both controversial items in the Paleo diet. But I also believe that used sensibly and in moderation, they should be accepted. Yes the potatoes represent a starch, but I wouldn’t consider it ‘cheating’ like my grain slip up the other night. If you’re hardcore Paleo/Primal, this isn’t for you. Cheese, according to a few noted proponents, is a ‘sensible indulgence’. So. Go cheese.)