The Kale & Hedgehog Mushroom Salad

Have you ever tried the Hedgehog Mushroom? The hedgehog mushroom is has a sweet and nutty taste with a crunchy texture. A quick trip in the sauté pan makes these a great meaty addition to any salad.

In November we had our annual corporate weekend where the bosses pay for a little one night weekend getaway in the country…as long as we endure the 2 hour long annual meeting. It’s actually not that bad. This year we were in Saint-Sauveur, a tourist ski Mecca. The fancy hotel was located right across the street from a shopping center. In this outlet mall there is a food store I absolutely adore. It is not fancy and set up like a warehouse but there is one beautiful jewel spot in there: a walking 3-aisle cheese refrigerated room. O-M-G! That will be another post one day. But I also made a new discovery: the Hedgehog Mushroom.

Hedgehog Mushroom

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Sweet and Savory California Walnuts

I was just absolutely thrilled when I was contacted by the wonderful folks at Faye Clack Communications to try a sample of wonderful California walnuts. I have had wonderful review opportunities so far with this blog but I believe it was the first time I was offered such a raw product and I had already heard great things about these nuts. To my surprise I received an enormous bag of absolute fresh and sweet walnuts. I was giving away small samples to my friends I had so many.

Walnuts have been part of our diet for thousands of years. As a matter of fact walnuts are the oldest tree food known to man, going back to about 7000 BC. Walnuts are commonly featured in Greek and Roman lore and mythology. Seems our ancestors knew about the goodness of the walnut long before science proved the healthy benefits. Did you know that 3/4 of the fat found in the walnut is actually a cholesterol fighter? They are also packed with Omega-3s, they can reduce the overall risk of coronary heart disease, defend against some cancers and help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis. So keeping a bowl around to snack on is a pretty good idea!

I did not even know California grew nuts but apparently the mild climate and fertile soil is a perfect match. And I have to say these California walnuts were probably the best I have ever tasted: so fresh, almost chewy, lovely nutty flavor and jam packed with goodness. If you have extra remember to store them in a dry cool place. I put my leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. A great idea when using older nuts is to toast them to bring out the flavor. Easiest way is to bake them at 350ºF for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tip: sure you can chop your walnuts on a board with a big knife and have them fly all over the place. Or nothing beats the zip lock and rolling pin method. Make sure to take the air out of the zip lock before sealing it and wack away, great stress reliever too!

Not only are walnuts great on their own as a snack but they can be so versatile in recipes. You can add them to almost anything like salads, meats, sweets and veggies. The website provides a long list of fabulous walnut recipes but I went ahead and made my own recipes. I wanted to do both a sweet and a savory dish and I had puff pastry on my mind for both. The first is a Walnut and Mushroom en Croute which is a great vegetarian dish and fresh thyme does make all the difference here. I kept my walnuts fairly coarse so they added a lot of texture. For my sweet one I went with a Walnut Strudel: if you use dark chocolate like me it will not be too sweet so if you want a more chocolaty result go for milk chocolate.

Now if you want something savory….

Mushroom and Walnut en Croute


1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 minced onion
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 package puff pastry dough
1 egg


1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.

2. In preheating oven, spread walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast for 7 minutes, or until lightly browned.

3. In a large pan, cook onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden. Toss in walnuts and remove from heat.

4.Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the pan mixture in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet. Put the mushroom mixture in the middle.

5. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (fold sides in and then fold long flaps in making sure no filling can leek). Brush with the egg glaze. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned.

and for something sweet….

Walnut Strudel from Chef in You


1/2 cup dark chocolate
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
cinnamon to taste
1/2 package puff pastry dough
1 egg


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a bowl melt chocolate with milk and butter in a microwave, 30sec. Stir well.

3. Roll out the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and spread the chocolate mixture on the pastry leaving 1 inch clear.

4. Sprinkle the walnuts on the chocolate along with cinnamon. Roll it up like a jelly role and seal with egg.

5. Bake for 30-45min until golden brown. Remove and dust with cinnamon. Cut into slices.

A Wolf in Tenderloin’s Clothing Pork Tebderloin

I really really really think (I hope) I am on the last leg of this laryngitis. Yes I still have some symptoms. I went to the clinic finally on Friday when I woke up with a terrible sore throat, nasal passage…spare you the details. So it is officially laryngitis, the viral no antibiotics but not contagious kind. I was given a nasal spray with cortisone and steroids. My nose and throat will soon be powerful.

Now one of the MAJOR drawbacks of such an illness is the NO ALCOHOL rule, one I followed as best I could. Yeah alcohol is bad and dehydrates. But I LOVE my booze! OK before I sound like a drunk let me precise I like the occasional wine glass with dinner even on a week night and and drinks can be part of a weekend outing too. And as Murphy’s Law likes to have it, I was recently sent a bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2009 to try. I stared at it day in and day out for 2 weeks…it was torture.

Not only did I want to be able to truly enjoy and critique this wine fairly but I also wanted to cook something appropriate for its flavors…but I have been too tired to cook lately. Well I had enough yesterday and stuck with a simple yet delicious meal to accompany my long needed pleasurable glass of wine. My simple affair was a lovely pan pork tenderloin served with ready made salad and corn chips.

I have been a fan of Wolf Blass wines for quite sometime. I think the Shiraz was the very first Australian wine I bought year ago. Wolf Blass Wines was established in 1966 by a German immigrant named Wolfgang Blass in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Today it is owed by Beringer Blass. White wines are sold under the White, Yellow, Green and Gold labels, where as the reds are sold under Red, Yellow, Brown, Grey and Black labels. Yellow Label and Red Label are considered everyday drinking wines.

Chardonnay is what I would call the safest bet for a white wine as it tends to be neutral in flavor compared to some other grapes. Chances are a Chardonnay will please all palates, especially the wine novice. This is not to say there are no complex Chardonnays that will enthrall the connoisseur. Quite the contrary. But this Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay 2009 is a safe buy. The color is a light yellow-green and the taste has notes of white peaches, melon and nectarines. The oak taste is not overpowering and it leaves a buttery texture in the mouth. It is crisp without being to acidic.

Again this wine is not meant for a major WOW factor but is more of a lovely everyday white wine, in my opinion. I really did enjoy it and would have it regularly for non special occasions. Now what to serve with it? Well this particular Chardonnay goes well with fish, seafood, white meats, spicy Asian dishes, as well as earthy foods like mushrooms and aged cheeses. I chose to go with a pork tenderloin that I marinated and then pan fried. I thought it was a perfect combination. Just marinate for a good  hour and then cook in a pan with a bit of olive oil. I like my pork with a very pink shade personally. Here is the marinade I used, just mix it up and put on the meat:

Wolf in Tenderloin’s Clothing Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard with seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Easter/Birthday Dinner: Green Tea Cake

My mother’s birthday this year was 3 days before Easter so we decided to combine the whole party thing in one. For these events it is just my parents and I. Obviously she was not going to cook for her birthday so I ended up preparing the Easter meal for the first time in my life.

I wish I could divulge the whole menu to you but I cannot. The bites and the appetizers were tests, secret tests, for a future event (so sneaky). Yes, my parents were foodie guinea pigs. But I can tell you what the main meal was. We had vanilla chicken as I made a little while back and asparagus with morels. Originally it was suppose to be a risotto with the veggies but I stuffed my parents up with my tests so we skipped the rice part. The morels where from a care package I had received from Paris from the Foodie Exchange.

Dessert was a huge success as well. I made a green tea birthday cake. To keep it very Easter-like I made a simple whip cream icing with a bit of sugar and food coloring. The cake itself had a green tinge with a pink icing decorated with blackberries and served with the Roasted Black Sesame Ice Cream I made earlier this week. A very unusual mix and look but it worked. My parents LOVED the ice cream too.

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →