Journal •

For the Winter Months: Triple Mushroom Cream Soup

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Winter is the season of waning suns and dying leaves, of plants and animals succumbing to the laws of nature. Winter is the season when the glimmers of life slowly cultivated during the spring and summer months are abruptly taken and returned back to the earth. Winter was when I experienced homelessness. Winter was when I longed for a familiar face in a foreign country. Winter was when I experienced my first heartbreak. To me, winter is a season that requires extra care and nourishment to restore the body and replenish the soul.

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With a full heart, I present to you the Triple Mushroom Cream Soup. It is a most indulgent dish stocked rich with flavours from white onion, Russian garlic and three different types of mushrooms. Some say it is so flavourful, it could count as a meal in itself. I recommend it served with a light side dish, such as an arugula salad or a piece of sourdough bread.

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Triple Mushroom Cream Soup (Serves 6)

What You’ll Need:

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, three varieties (I used a combination of brown mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, and cauliflower mushrooms for added texture.)
2 tablespoons white onion, chopped
1-2 cloves Russian garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons flour, separated
2 cups chicken broth, low sodium or home made
1 cup light cream or half cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Cut the mushrooms into slices.
  • Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add in onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir.
  • Add the chicken broth and heat until slightly thickened while stirring frequently.
  • Add cream with additional 1 table spoon of flour and salt to taste. Heat to thicken while stirring frequently.
  • Garnish with sprig of rosemary or freshly ground pepper.

 
 

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Photo Credit: The Denizen Co.

Currently Loving: Elderflower Soda

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Lovingly known as “the medicine chest of the country folk,” the elderflower presents many health benefits such as boosting the immune system, purifying the bloodstream and clearing toxins from the lymph glands. It also smells and tastes like a sweet spritz of heaven – what more can one ask for? For those of you with a sweet tooth to indulge, I invite you to try the following recipe.

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Elderflower Soda

What You’ll Need:

6 cups elderflowers
4 quarts fresh water
1/2 cup natural sweetener (I used part raw honey and part raw sugar crystals)
2 table spoons whey
A glass container with a swing top

Directions:

  • Boil a pot of water. Meanwhile, rinse the elderflowers in a large bowl.
  • Pour the boiling water over the flowers, enough to cover them completely. Cover with a dishtowel and let it steep for 24 hours.
  • Strain out the flowers.
  • Add the natural sweetener.
  • Pour the mixture into a glass container. Add the whey. Cover loosely, and store in your cupboard for up to a week for fermentation.
  • After the fifth day, taste the mixture once a day. Once it turns slightly sweeter than you prefer, close the swing top.
  • Wait for a day or two to develop some fizz.

 
 
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Photo Credit: The Denizen Co.

Featured: Verily Magazine

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Friends! I am pleased to announce that some of my work was recently featured on the Verily Magazine website. I have been designing for Verily for a little over six months now and have had the distinct pleasure of watching a small online magazine mature into a full-length print publication available at big-name retailers (read: Barnes & Noble). For full coverage on the heartwarming autumn dishes down below, click here.

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A Beginner’s Guide To Mushrooms

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Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, I lived nearby half a dozen ravines and white oak forests. I spent hours “foraging” as a child, digging my fingers into the rich soil and seeking solace in the dark, leafy canopies. Much to my mother’s dismay, often times I came home with a handful of brightly pigmented mushrooms. Though I was never allowed to keep them for long, I admired their beauty – I dreamed of one day decorating my little room with these gilled jewels.

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Needless to say, I love mushrooms. And I love cooking with them. And I absolutely love the fact that as we plunge deeper into autumn’s embrace, food vendors and farmer’s markets have been slowly revealing their mushroom repertoires, ranging from pretty chanterelles to cuddly portobellos to thick-skinned black morels. But these mushroom varieties can be difficult to navigate, given their steep prices and wholesome good looks. If you’ve ever been the curious soul standing in front of a mushroom stand with a blank stare, I invite you to consult the following guide.

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1. Brown mushroom / Agaricus

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Flavour: Earthy, intensifies when cooked
Texture: Moderately fleshy
Good for: Salads, soups and entrées – can be eaten raw or cooked
 

2. Oyster mushroom / Pleurotus

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Flavour: Mild
Texture: Tender
Good for: Side for meat entrées – can be eaten raw or cooked

 
3. Chanterelle / Cantharellus

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Flavour: Nutty, slightly spicy
Texture: Tender
Good for: Salads, soups, and entrées – add late into cooking process to avoid toughening

 
4. Cauliflower mushroom / Sparassis

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Flavour: Earthy, slightly nutty
Texture: Crunchy
Good for: Side for entrées – can be breaded and fried

 
5. Shiitake / Lentinula edodes

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Flavour: Earthy, intensifies when steeped in boiling water
Texture: Very fleshy
Good for: Salads, soups, and entrées – produces a fantastic broth

 
6. Wood ears / Auricularia

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Flavour: Mild
Texture: Fleshy, slightly snappy
Good for: Salads and soups – can be used as garnish

 
7. Portobello / Agaricus

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Flavour: Earthy, intensifies when cooked
Texture: Very fleshy
Good for: Side for meat entrées, substitute for meat entrées

 
8. Lobster mushroom / Hypomyces lactifluorum

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Flavour: Seafood-like
Texture: Dense
Good for: Soups and entrées – can be breaded and fried

 
9. White mushroom / Agaricus

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Flavour: Earthy, intensifies when cooked although not as strong as brown mushroom
Texture: Moderately fleshy
Good for: Salads, soups, and entrées
 

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Photo credit: The Denizen Co.

For the Tired Body: Honey Garlic Lemon Tea

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There are times when your body gives in to the tide of exhaustion, leaving you muddled and heavy. Daily obligations fall to the wayside as you succumb to softer foods and a much-needed sleep. It has taken me years to embrace the occasional head cold as I always considered it nothing more than a hindrance; as I lay in bed begrudgingly, my mind often spun out of control with thoughts like how much work am I going to miss? Did I call that client about the invoice that was due last week? I should really update my portfolio. I wonder what so-and-so is doing – I should have her over for dinner. I wonder how clockmakers sustain themselves in this day and age? I’ll probably need new silver for the next shoot…

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Nowadays, I make an effort to relish the quiet hours. I wrap up timely projects in the early afternoon and take the rest of the day off to curl up in a cozy knit blanket with a warm cuppa and a good book. I let my mind wander; I let the daylight lure me to sleep. I find that this policy of mandatory rest rewards me with a deep and restorative slumber – often times it is the one sleep I need to wake up the next morning feeling completely nourished and ready to move on with my daily operations. I’ve grown to appreciate this much more than working feverishly to compensate for my suboptimal performance and dragging around a head cold like a dirty rag doll.

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During these quiet moments I usually steep a cup of honey garlic lemon tea. Lovingly known as the “Spanish cure,” this heady cocktail boosts the immune system and works as a natural decongestant. Do be generous with the lemon – it not only thins the mucus but also shifts the body’s pH, making it less hospitable to viruses and bacteria. The garlic can be substituted with fresh ginger or cayenne pepper if you feel so inclined – however, I highly recommend the garlic because its aromatic oils have the distinctive ability to clear the respiratory tracts.

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Honey Garlic Lemon Tea

What You’ll Need:

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup boiling water
Juice from half a lemon
Raw honey to taste

Directions:

  • Place the crushed garlic in a tea strainer.
  • Add the hot water and let it steep for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the strainer and stir in the lemon juice and honey.

 
 

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Photo Credit: The Denizen Co.