It’s All the Same Mushroom… Sort Of

I'm starting to make a concerted effort to make sure the pictures I use on this blog don't violate copyright laws. Consequently, they're getting a lot more dull so far...

The other day  I tried to look up Portobello mushrooms on wikipedia, and I was redirected to the page for the mushroom species  Agaricus bisporus. There, I was presented with a list of all the different names they can go by: White, button, crimini, baby bella, portobello, swiss mushrooms, champignons…everything I could think of  except Oyster, Shiitake, and Porcini. They were, apparently, all the same.

I was a bit taken a back, vaguely annoyed about all the times I’d paid extra for a fancier sounding mushroom, and extremely curious. I did a cursory investigation and found plenty of pages superficially confirming what I’d just read. I filed it away in the brain-folder I use for “did-you-know factoids to impress people with at dinner parties.”

But that’s also where things got a little more complicated. After I typed the title of the post, I realized I had basically given the way the twist ending and would need some more information to serve as filler. As I dug further into the topic, however, I discovered that my initial investigation had led me astray. Read more of this post


Et Tu, Wasabi?

A good while ago I wrote a post about my discovery that, despite my fondness for the exotic, tart-but-sweet condiment that I splash into olive oil whenever I have bread that needs dipping, I’ve never actually tasted balsamic vinegar. Instead I’ve just had a condiment made with regular wine vinegar and flavored with artificial caramel. It was sad news but perhaps at the same time comforting: I certainly still enjoy the taste of the “cheap” imitation and now I know that perhaps some day I can look forward to trying the real thing.

And thus it was with mixed emotions that I recently made a similar discovery: in spite of all the sushi I’ve eaten since getting up the nerve to try it during my freshman year of college, I’ve never actually eaten wasabi either.

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Sour Grapes (Or At Least A Reduction Thereof)

Here’s something that may surprise you: you’ve probably never tasted balsamic vinegar.

Oh, sure, I bet you’ve bought and cooked with your fair share of stuff called balsamic vinegar. And probably it was even fancier, more expensive stuff than the Heinz bottle pictured at right. It may even have said “aceto balsamico di Modena” to impress you. But unless you’re prepared to make some really annoying arguments about how changes in pop-commercial usage redefine language at will (are all sad things really ironic just because Alanis Morisette thinks so?) then I’m afraid you’ve been slightly hoodwinked.

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Tasty Tofu Bites–And A Small Musing About Intellectual Property Law

Tried out a new recipe for dinner tonight. And since I didn’t make it up myself, I feel like I can talk it up a bit: it was delicious. Just wonderful. “Restaurant Quality,” as they say. I practically had to tie myself up to keep from eating the leftovers that I’d planned to have for later in the week.

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A Pasta Success

Aha! Finally, after a couple of cooking experiments which turned up less-than desirable results in the past week or two, I wound up with this enormously satisfying concoction last night, right in time for a bit of cold weather that made me want to stay in side and, well, eat a nice plate full of warm, tasty pasta.

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Pan-Fried Italian Eggplant

I bought a small Long Island eggplant last week for a buck last week, figuring I was going to make Baingan Bharta, but I’ve actually been cooking a lot of Indian and Thai lately so I was a bit tapped out on spicy food. I sort of wanted to make Eggplant Parmesan, but I don’t have a baking dish yet, so I opted to just fry it in slices and then top with tomato sauce. It wasn’t very fancy, but it was just delicious, particularly the slices that weren’t cut too thick or too thin. Since the recipe was somewhat ad-hoc, I didn’t take pictures along the way this time, but I don’t suppose those really helped with anything other than my desire to have a colorful blog anyway. Bear in mind the quantities are approximate, since I didn’t measure as I went along and am “sizing up” to 4 people. Also bear in mind that the ingredients were chosen purely using the famous gastronomical principle of “let’s see, what do I have here in my meager pantry…”

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Kofta balls (ish) with yogurt sauce

I went grocery shopping this morning and bought some plain yogurt to use in curry dishes, but as I learned last week, when you’re only cooking for one, you only need half as much yogurt as they sell in the grocery store, so I wanted a way to use the rest of it.

Then I remembered a dish a friend of mine made for us in college a couple of years back, which he called “kofta balls.”  It was modeled after something we’d had at the Duschanbe Tea House in Boulder, and since he’d let me help him cook it, I knew that it was easy to make and better still, quick to prepare, so I gave it a shot. I had to make some changes along the way to compensate for my imperfect memory of the original recipe, but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, so I wanted to share the recipe as it resulted:

I just made two servings (one for me, and one for me on Monday), but the recipe below is doubled so it should serve 4. Total time is probably 30-40 minutes.

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