Posts Tagged ‘Mushroom’

Mushrooms and Peppers

August 23, 2012

One summer night we were dining at the late, lamented Cesare’s Cafe here in Trenton.

We’d placed our order and were relaxing with our drinks and enjoying small talk when, out of the kitchen, came Cesare himself. He was carrying a sizzling platter of sauteed mushrooms and hot peppers. “From the garden!” He said, as he placed the platter on our table.

Every table in the dining room got one of those platters that night. That’s the way Cesare was. It was that touch of “home.” Like having dinner at your grandparents house in the ‘Burg. It’s what made the place a favorite and why we miss is it so.

I’m a huge fan of mushrooms. And peppers. Especially hot peppers. The idea of cooking them up together is not foreign to me. They make a nice side/topping for a sizzling steak or some roasted chicken.

Served on their own, with some bread for dipping into the flavor infused olive oil….! What better way to start a meal?

Cesare’s, unfortunately, is long gone. You can find this dish on the menu at Rossi‘s…perhaps the “old ‘Burg’s” remaining hold out.

Or you can make it at home.

Right now, while the local peppers are in abundance in backyard gardens and farmers’ markets, is the time to do it.

So simple. So good.

Mushrooms and Peppers

  • 10 ounce package of fresh mushrooms, preferably brown (crimini, baby bellas) but white will do. Wipe them clean but leave whole, only removing the hardest ends of the stems.
  • 4 to 8 fresh, locally grown hot peppers (pick your favorite or go with what is available from your garden or the market), cut into 1 inch pieces or left whole; stemmed; seeded if you want/need to control the heat.
  • 4 cloves of garlic. Three peeled and whole, one peeled and minced.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for “drizzling” if needed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • several slices of good bread for dipping and sopping.

In a 10 inch skillet, warm the 1/2 cup of olive oil and whole cloves of garlic over medium/medium-high heat. Let the garlic color (and flavor the oil) but do not let it burn!  (about 5 minutes)

Remove the garlic and add the peppers. If the peppers are of medium to thin walled (banana or cayenne types), cook for two minutes. If thicker, cook just until they start to color and soften.

Add the minced garlic.

Add the mushrooms and stir. Sprinkle lightly with salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Stir to mix well.

Cook until mushrooms and peppers have softened but don’t let them become mush (3 to 4 minutes). Stir as needed.

Remove from heat, place in platter to serve. Drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed.

Serve with bread for sopping.

Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as a light lunch.

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Waste not

November 16, 2010

Ann’s brother and sister-in-law were visiting the other day and after a great afternoon touring the Grounds for Sculpture, we returned home for a dinner of roasted beef tenderloin, caramelized onions in red wine sauce, green beans and mashed potatoes.

When I buy tenderloins I trim them myself and cut into filets or roasts as the menu dictates.  This always leaves me with the “chain,” the ends and various odd sized pieces of good meat that I hate to waste.

I also had a stick of Italian bread, some peppers and some mushrooms in the fridge (I’d forgotten about them when making dinner for us) and some provolone cheese. For lunch today, I decided to put those trimmings to good use and make a version of a cheese steak*.

In a large skillet I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  To that I added one Italian frying (Cubanelle) pepper and one jalapeno pepper, both sliced lengthwise.  In went a small yellow onion sliced thinly.  I hit them with a little salt and pepper and tossed them in the oil for three or four minutes. 

In the meantime, I took the stems off of the shitake mushrooms and cut the toughest parts off of the oyster mushrooms.  The peppers and onion got pushed to one side and I added the mushrooms to the pan.  Another sprinkle of salt and pepper was laid over the mushrooms and they were stirred occasionally.

While the mushrooms cooked, I made sure the beef trimmings were free of fat, silver skin and any other undesirables.  Then I sliced the bigger pieces very thinly (as if for stir fry…and this would have been easier if I had thought to partially freeze the meat first. Oh well).  The smaller pieces were just rough chopped into bite size pieces. 

Mixing the mushrooms in the pan with the peppers and onion, I then pushed everything to the side and added the meat.  More salt and pepper and frequent stirring to brown the beef on all sides followed. 

Once the meat was done, I mixed it up with the mushrooms, peppers and onion and laid two slices of provolone cheese over the top.  Once the cheese melted into the mixture, I loaded it all into the bread, which had been sliced lengthwise. 

It wasn’t as pretty as it should have been, but it was a tasty use of “leftovers” fit for a king.

Take that “Pat’s,” “Geno’s,” “Jim’s,” “Rick’s,” et al!

*Remind me sometime to share the story that lays claim to Trenton as the home of the steak sandwich.