Tag Archives: mushroom

Morel Mushroom Toasts

25 Jan

I have a bunch of virtual friends and we decided at the end of last year to start sharing amongst each other the things we love to eat from the places we live. These virtual friends are spread all over the US and the world – Colorado, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, of course me in Puerto Rico and even one in Italy and another one in can’t remember if she’s in Iceland, Vietnam or Australia. That girl has me confused…

On our first round of our Foodie Exchange I got paired up the KATY, the only other vegetarian in our group. Can you believe our luck??? Well, they say there are no coincidences in life. It was up to the Universe that we would get to share what we love about our region. Katy lives in Maryland, close to DC and Baltimore… but she’s a lover of everything in her region including Pennsylvania where most mushrooms in the US are grown.

This is what I received from Katy…



dried morels

But for the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on the baggie of dried morel mushrooms right there. Katy told me these are her favorites and that she preferred to send them fresh but was unable to locate them. So in its place she sent me these with instructions on her favorite way to eat them – sautéed with onions and thyme over toast. This is Katy’s favorite snack and she urged me to try it.

Katy is part of our Foodie Group for a reason… these toasts are amazing!!! I loved the earthiness of the morel mushrooms and how easy they are to put together. A great vegetarian snack or light lunch suitable for any foodie out there.

 Morel Toast


½ bag of dried morel mushrooms
½ medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small garlic clove, smashed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream Cheese
A whole wheat ciabatta roll, sliced in half


  1. Bring a small saucepot with water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, add the dried morel mushrooms to the water, cover and turn off the stove. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute in that hot water for about 30 minutes.
  2. After the mushrooms are softened again, strain the mushrooms over a fine sieve reserving the liquid for another recipe.
  3. Take the drained mushrooms and pat the dry a bit. I cut the larger ones in half, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
  4. In a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, the onions and the smashed garlic clove. Sautee them lightly for a few minutes. Add the softened morels and the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cook everything together until the mushrooms have dried out a bit and looked cooked and “kinda alive”. Discard the pieces of garlic and set aside.

morels Sautee

5.  While the mushroom cook, drizzle some olive oil over the bread halves and toast in toaster oven. Slather some cream cheese or other spreadable cheese of your choice and place the morels and onions over the toasts with cheese.

 Morel Toast - Closeup

This is a great snack or even a light lunch served with a simple salad on the side. Thanks Katy for introducing me to morel mushrooms… I had eaten them in restaurants, but never made them at home. And now, this has also become one of MY favorites, thanks to you.


Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti

17 Jan

My un-married friends (which is not the same as being single) and I like to get together and celebrate ourselves, our friendship and the Xmas season. We were also celebrating the new remodeled kitchen at one of my friend’s… She invited us all for a night of music, great company and Madelyn’s cooking.


That’s the funny thing… my friend loves to cook, and she does it very well, but when she invites, Madelyn does the cooking. I do not mind at all because it gives me a chance to showcase a few recipes I’ve had in the works. Tired of the same Xmas food fare people eat at most parties during the season, I planned a healthy pasta menu with low-fat cheeses and tons of flavors. Annie Mariel would bring the salad… something composed, that’s her type of cooking.

This pasta dish is super simple and you don’t even need to cook the pasta beforehand. Due to time and availability this time around, I made this recipe using regular semolina pasta, but I have certainly made it using brown rice pasta and whole wheat pasta. In none of those cases I have pre-boiled the pasta. There is no need to do that as long as you have enough liquid for the pasta to cook in. The liquid will come from the tomato sauce and the liquid in the filling. This is a mix and bake recipe perfect for entertaining or a pasta night with the family.


manicotti - cheese, spinach and mushrooms



1 box of whole wheat manicotti
1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes
16 oz tub of part skim ricotta cheese
16 oz tub of cottage cheese
1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 cup of shredded Italian Cheeses, divided
1 cup frozen spinach, mostly thawed and finely cut
1 packet of button mushrooms, finely chopped
½ onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of toasted pine nuts
1 tbs basil, chopped – I use the freeze dried kind or Italian Seasonings
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Let’s put together the filling…
  3. In a medium skillet over medium-hi heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and add the onion, garlic clove and mushrooms. Mix together and cook without stirring too much so the mushroom get to brown and caramelize. Move them once in a while, but leave them alone for periods of time and allow them to get brown.
  4. When the mushrooms are brown and fragrant, and to me they smell like steak, believe it or not, add a splash of soy sauce and a splash of balsamic vinegar to season. Add the thyme leaves and sauté a few times. Discard the pieces of garlic you may find and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, the cottage cheese, ½ cup shredded cheeses and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Also add the toasted pine nuts and the spinach, squeezing any extra liquid from it, but it does not have to be super dry. We want some moisture still because it will help cook the pasta. Also, add the cooked mushrooms. Mix everything together. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
  6. In another bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and season with salt, pepper and the basil or Italian seasonings mix. Mix everything together to combine all ingredients well.
  7. Transfer ½ the sauce to the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. I used a disposable baking dish because I do not bring my vegetarian-only dishes to anyone’s home where I am not 300% they’re vegetarian just like me.
  8. Using a small spoon, fill each dried manicotti sleeve with the cheese/spinach/mushroom filling we just did. Place each manicotti sleeve one next the other in the baking dish. Some will go one way, the rest across, but they should all fit. This is the most time consuming part of the process. Keep on going until all manicotti sleeves are filled with cheese. If you have any leftover filling, like I did, don’t worry. I have a Round 2 recipe for you to use it in a new different application.

cooking 3

9.  Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the filled manicotti. Top with the remaining shredded Italian cheeses and grated Parmesan.

10.  Place in oven for about 30 minutes to allow the pasta to cook in the tomato sauce. You’ll notice when the sauce is bubbling and the pasta has softened. If the top is not golden brown, turn the broiler on and allow the cheeses to get crispy on top. When it’s golden delicious, I turn the oven off and leave the pasta in there for another 15 minutes to let it finish cooking with the oven’s residual heat. This will ensure the pasta is cooked, yet still al dente.


Serve with your favorite side dishes… and for us Puerto Ricans that means sweet plantains are on the menu too. We also served it with Annie Mariel’s awesome composed salad. It may not have been the traditional typical Xmas menu, but it was my last cooked meal of 2012 and I LOVED it!!!! I hope you love it too.

My Plate


Mushroom Parmesan Pinwheels

21 Dec

I asked around my foodie friends on the internet on various ideas for appetizers… and my friend Suzanne (I wish I could tag you like on FaceBook)  suggested to make puff pastry pinwheels filled with mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

Having just come from making an amazing mushroom filling for the lasagna at my nephew’s birthday party and knowing how impressed my sister was at the flavors of such filling, I decided to venture myself to making these as one of my savory appetizers. My spinach pinwheels were the HIT of the last baby shower I hosted. Kids love anything savory rolled in puff pastry and these mushroom ones were not the exception.

I have requests for the recipe already… so here it is for all of you interested.

mushroom parm pinwheels  KFC


2 sheets of puffed pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight – I just buy it and place it in the fridge…
24 ounces button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbs sour cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
  1. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and continue cooking stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the thyme, soy sauce and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the goat cheese and sour cream and stir once more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool off a bit.
  3. Open the puffed pastry (which comes folded in three). Place some flour onto a clean surface and flour the rolling pin too. Roll out the pastry so that it loses the creases where the folds were.
  4. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and spread an even layer of mushrooms leaving a border on one edge.
  5. mushroom parm in progress  KFC
  6. Start rolling from the farthest edge from the border you left without mushrooms. Roll the pastry onto itself until you create a log.
  7. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry in the package. Place logs in the fridge covered with a moist paper towel for about 10-15 minutes or until you’re ready to bake them. This is important for the pastry to harden a bit again. It’ll be easier to cut if the pastry is cold than if it is at room temp.
  8. Slice the logs into ¼ inch pieces. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 425F oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the cheeses smell great and the pastry is puffed and golden delicious.
  9. Transfer them to a cool plate and serve them immediately. But they will keep very well at room temperature as long as there’s not a lot of humidity… lots of humidity makes puff pastry soggy.

I prepare these the day before the party. Just cover them and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

El Palenque in Montevideo… Delicious Vegetarian Parrillada???

27 Aug

I love good food… and I particularly like to eat good food when I am traveling. I love to find out what are the best local places and experience what’s typical and traditional about a specific country’s cuisine and culture. And try everything, within my dietary playing field…

When I traveled for the first time to Uruguay in 2003 for work, we were taken to El Palenque in Montevideo. Located in the historical Mercado del Puerto we were told this was Montevideo’s most loved restaurants by far. It’s a parrillada restaurant and I do not have to tell you what is served traditionally in these parrillada places. But I have always been one to be resourceful when analyzing menus and I ordered the Provençal Mushrooms with French Fries. It was delicious and everyone was gawking at my plate to see what the vegetarian was eating…


I loved it so much indeed… that a few days later I went back to El Palenque by myself, sat at the very typical counter inside the market and ordered the exact same thing again!!! That’s me… that when I find something I love, I go back to the same place and order it over and over and over again.


Flash forward 8 ½ years later… I got the chance again to visit Montevideo, now as a day trip with my mom after a week in Buenos Aires. We took the Buquebus from Puerto Madero to Montevideo which in a few hours takes you across the Río la Plata. I was so excited to show my mom around Montevideo, a place I had very much enjoyed a few years back.


I was not sure of how I would find the city after all these years, but one thing I was sure of… we would have lunch at El Palenque!!! This is what we ordered:

Provençal Mushrooms and French Fries

Lettuce, Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad


I felt we could now have a salad because we are now 2 sharing this meal and not just me eating by myself. And check out how the server made the balsamic vinaigrette in front of us… so cool!!!

Dressing our salad…


Cooking our mushrooms… 2012!!!


Here are my cooks in 2003… Doesn’t the guy on the left look like the chef cooking my mushrooms in my last trip??????

The food and the service were as good as I remembered it. Below you’ll find evidence if we enjoyed it or not…  Check out the pics from this trip and my first one… I think I look better now than what I did then, don’t you think???



I tried to locate another restaurant I enjoyed very much during my first trip – ROMA AMOR de Donatella, an Italian restaurant which taught me so much about enjoying delicious and beautiful food. It was sad it was no longer open. I really wanted to show it off to my mom and to you guys too!!!   😦

A tip to you travelers… Montevideo, for some reason, is mostly closed on the weekends. So much of what I enjoyed during my business trip, I was not able to show my mom because the streets were empty the Saturday we visited. So if you plan a trip to Montevideo, please keep that in mind when scheduling.

Do you have a favorite restaurant you love to visit whenever you travel to a specific city??? What is THE MUST thing to order there??? Tell me all about it….

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Brown Rice Pasta

8 Oct

This is one of my favorite recipes nowadays… I can safely say this is what I am cooking to impress new boyfriends (yes, there is more than one…) these days. Boyfriends and girlfriends too… OK, friends overall!!!

The first time I made this recipe, or idea/concept really, was at my friend’s Melissa. I was bored, wanted to cook but not just for me, posted on FaceBook and Melissa offered her kitchen for me to cook away. FaceBook is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It connects you with friends online and offline too…

I say this is a concept or idea more than a recipe because I have done this about 5-6 times already and every time I make it differently. And every time the end result is still delicious… I am sharing with you the BEST combination of them all.  But you can certainly mix and match, omit or add any ingredient you deem appropriate.












4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, preferably organic and washed well with a vegetable cleanser
3 button mushrooms, chopped
¼ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
¼ cup goat cheese or goat cheese crumbles
2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
A few sprinklings of Italian Seasonings
Salt and Freshly Cracked Ground Pepper to taste
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs water or vegetable broth
Brown Rice pasta – fettuccini or penne… your choice
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut the top off the tomatoes and carefully scoop out most of the inner flesh and seeds. Sometimes, I also cut a very small slit underneath the tomato to help is stay upright.
  3. Collect the innards of the tomatoes in a bowl were we will mix with the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Place the hollowed tomatoes in a greased baking dish. Season them with a very light sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
  4. Chop the tomato insides in a small dice. Chop the tomato tops also. No need to waste those. Add the mushrooms, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, parmesan, goat cheese and parsley. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and a small drizzle of olive oil. Mix well to combine.
  5. Stuff the tomatoes generously. Try not to burst them open, but create a mound of stuffing on top. Garnish with a little more grated or shredded parmesan cheese on top of each tomato. Season again the whole dish with some salt, pepper and a last drizzle of olive oil. Add the vinegar and broth to the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Place in oven and roast for about 30 -45 minutes.
  7. When the tomatoes just have about 10 minutes left, cook the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in.
  8. Remove the tomatoes onto a holding dish. Transfer the juice/broth in the bottom of the baking dish onto the pasta pot with the drained pasta. Mix well to combine… add a bit of pasta water if you like. Add a sprinkle of additional parmesan if you’d like.
  9. Serve pasta in plates… add one tomato per person on top of the pasta.


The way to go about this is that the stuffed tomato becomes, when you cut it while eating, the tomato sauce you eat the pasta with. The cheeses and mushrooms and breadcrumbs in the stuffing create this savory mixture with the tomatoes that is just spectacular.

Melissa has already requested I make this in her home again for company… Walter and David were positively impressed when they tasted it. My mom also… I am telling you, this recipe is a true hit. And a tad bit more figure-friendly than my usual impress-new boyfriend-recipe Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses.

I have made this recipe with Roma tomatoes, large tomatoes and even those small vine-ripened tomatoes you find at Costco.  I just use 3 tomatoes per person when using either Roma or the smaller ones. 

Hope you like it too… How would you make this recipe your own???

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