Tag Archives: porcini mushrooms

Cottage Pie w/ Beef & Carrots


Comfort foods run supreme in my household this time of the year and one of the most satisfying meals when the weather is dark and damp is meat pies. Try as I might, however, I always struggle with making a nice pie crust. My solution is to skip the crust all together and to top the pie with mashed potatoes instead.

This recipe is courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine and is rich, hearty and thoroughly satisfying and is reminiscent of a shepherd’s pie. Because I started with a more tender piece of meat which was then slow cooked, the meat is fork tender while the addition of porcini mushrooms adds even more flavor and texture to the dish. I love the tanginess that the addition of Greek yogurt adds to the mashed potato topping. If you don’t have Greek yogurt you can substitute sour cream or even half-and-half.

So when the weather turns cold, turn on your oven and bake up this hearty dish for dinner. It will warm you inside and out.


For the beef stew:

1-3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-1/2 pounds thin-cut steaks, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of any excess fat or gristle

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 small onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dry white wine

For the topping:

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch chunks

Kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature, cut into 3 pieces)

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

To make the stew:
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms then remove from the pan from the heat, cover, and steep for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy stew pot or shallow 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Pat the steaks dry, season lightly with kosher salt and pepper, and put only as many in the pan as will fit without crowding.
  • Sear the steaks, flipping once, until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Set aside on a platter, and repeat with the remaining steaks.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onions, and thyme.
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the flour, stirring to blend, and cook for another minute.
  • Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop the mushrooms from the broth and transfer to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the vegetables. Slowly add the broth, being careful to hold back the last few tablespoons, which may contain grit from the mushrooms.
  • Cut the steaks into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and add to the pot, along with any juices.
  • Cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stew in a warm place, and increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
To make the potato topping:
  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover by an inch with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a skewer, about 20 minutes.
  • Drain, and return the potatoes to the saucepan. Put the pan over low heat and shake or stir the potatoes until a floury film forms on the bottom of the pot, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Using a ricer, food mill, or potato masher, mash the potatoes. Stir in the  butter with a broad wooden spoon.
  • Once the butter is thoroughly absorbed, add the yogurt and stir vigorously until it is thoroughly blended in.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble and bake:
  • Lightly coat a shallow 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Spoon the stew into the baking dish.
  • Spread the potatoes on top in an even layer and sprinkle with the paprika.
  • Bake at 375°F until the stew is bubbling around the sides, and the top is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Roasted Sweet Potato & Porcini Mushroom Soup


Whether it be lunch or dinner, soup is my favorite cool weather meal.  With only a handful of ingredients and inspired by Williams-Sonoma, this simple winter soup is easy enough for a weeknight dinner yet fancy enough for the soup course of a dinner party.  Roasting the vegetables before adding them to the soup pot mellows the onions and garlic and brings out their sweetness.  The porcini mushrooms dress the dish up and add enough substance to make the soup a satisfying dinner.  If porcinis are not available you can substitute other meaty mushrooms.


3 large sweet potatoes, cubed

5 garlic cloves

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry sherry

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the sweet potatoes, whole garlic cloves, and onion on a large rimmed baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  • Roast the vegetables in the oven for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, place the dried mushrooms in a large bowl.  Cover with three cups of boiling water and soak until soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a large stock pot set over medium high heat.  Add the roasted vegetable mixture and stir to coat the vegetables with the butter.
  • Stir in the cinnamon, black pepper, salt, nutmeg, and cloves and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the temperature and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup cool slightly.
  • Using an emulsion blender, carefully puree the soup until it is smooth.  Adjust the seasonings.
  • Stir in the rehydrated mushrooms and the sherry.
  • Return the soup to the stove and reheat over medium heat.

Serves 4

Porcini Risotto



It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Here’s another risotto dish that celebrates the flavors of fall.  Like most risotto dishes, they only appear to be complex when in reality they are a snap to make.  Rich and meaty porcini mushrooms make this dish satisfying and substantial enough to serve as a meal in itself which is how I like it but you can also serve it as an accompaniment to roasted meat.  If you don’t have porcini mushrooms you can substitute other flavorful varieties or you can use a combination of mushrooms for added texture and flavor. However you chose to make it or eat it, enjoy!


1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, minced

1 ½ cups risotto rice

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Place the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Cover with the boiling water and allow to sit until they are soft and have rehydrated, approximately 10 minutes.  Drain well then cut into slices. Set aside.
  • Heat the vegetable broth and white wine in a medium sized saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Adjust the heat to keep the broth mixture at a low simmer.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium0high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the onions and stir to combine.  Add one ladleful of the broth to the pot and stir well.  Stirring occasionally, continue cooking the rice until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding additional broth.
  • Repeat this process until the rice is al dente.  You may not need to use all of the broth.
  • Add the reserved mushrooms with the last ladle of broth.  Stir well to incorporate the mushrooms throughout the rice.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Serves:  4 as an entree or 6 as a side dish

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