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This recipe came about by trial and error to recreate the Ravioli di Zio Paperone dish at an Italian restaurant named Terroni. For weeks I’ve been obsessed with this dish which contains homemade ravioli stuffed with duck confit, fig, roasted butternut squash, sautéed with oyster, button mushrooms and parmigiano. During the trials, I opted to leave out the duck confit raviolis to concentrate on the mushrooms and sauce, which was my favourite part. The result of my attempt was nowhere near the original (of course) but still delicious, hence the birth of the Braised Mushroom Parmigiano recipe.
Braised Mushroom Parmigiano—a fancy way of saying sautéed mushrooms with cheese and absorbed stock—is an easy side dish to cook for a weeknight. Every bite of mushroom gushes with flavour from the absorbed stock and parmigiano cheese. The squirt of lemon juice rounds it off, creating a complimentary balance of umami flavour with a hint of acidity.
While doing research for this recipe, I learned that white button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and portobellos are all the same mushroom type. The only difference is that they are at different stages of growth and because of that, they will look and taste slightly different. The order of youngest to most mature goes like this: white, cremini, portobello.
You might be interested to know that mushrooms are not classified as fruit, vegetable, or plant. Instead they are included in the fungus family and are a great addition to a healthy diet as they are highly nutritious with loads of vitamins/minerals. Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a savoury taste, which is known as ‘umami’. Parmigiano-reggiano cheese also has this umami flavour.
When buying mushrooms, avoid the pre-cut and pre-packaged ‘Chef’s Blend Mushrooms’ which can be more expensive and not as fresh. Select your own mushrooms from the bulk mushroom baskets and prep them at home— this will give the choice of picking the freshest mushrooms and help you retain the bills in your wallet. Choose the mushrooms that are firm, bruise free and look matte/dry on the outside.
Mushrooms cook down quite a bit so don’t be overwhelmed if it looks like a lot when you toss them into the pan. To clean the mushrooms, simply trim off the dirty bases and wipe them thoroughly with a damp paper towel.
If you are vegetarian or cooking for a vegetarian, mushroom stock can replace the chicken stock and the parmigiano-regianno cheese can be taken out entirely (It will still taste pretty good although not as cheesy). Alternatively, parmigiano can be substituted using a vegetarian version.
Those who are aware of my cooking style know that I prefer to have a recipe and precise measurements while cooking—I feel lost without them. However, with Braised Mushroom Parmigiano, I go by taste, adding a hint of this and that when needed. I also encourage you to stray from the recipe to your liking—you can use any type of mushroom blend you want, so long as the total weight of the mushrooms add up. Also, be liberal with the cheese! One can never have too much cheese!
As always, I’d love to see your results using the hashtag #francesmenu on instagram, twitter and Facebook! Happy cooking!
Braised Mushroom Parmigiano Recipe
YIELD: 2-3 side dish portions
ACTIVE TIME: 15-20 mins
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 25 mins
CREDITS: Frances Lam
- 1.5 tbsp Salted/Unsalted Butter
- 2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 90 g Oyster mushrooms (torn into large chunks)
- 90 g Shiitake mushrooms (thickly sliced)
- 90 g Cremini mushrooms (thickly sliced)
- 0.5 cup Chicken Stock (OR Mushroom Stock for a vegetarian option)
- 4-5 tbsp. parmigiano cheese (grated)
- 2 squeezes of fresh lemon juice (approx. 0.5 tspn)
- 0.25 tspn salt (or to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- Heat the butter in a non-stick pan on high heat until melted. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, followed by adding the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms for 2 – 3 minutes and add the chicken broth to the pan. Adjust the heat to maintain a low boil until all the chicken broth is absorbed/reduced and the mushrooms are slightly damp, stirring occasionally. Mix in the lemon juice, season with salt/pepper to your liking and serve.
- To clean the mushrooms, simply trim off the dirty bases and wipe them thoroughly with a damp paper towel. It’s best not to soak the mushrooms in water, they will absorb all the liquid, only to release it while cooking, therefore preventing you from browning them nicely.
- If you are vegetarian or cooking for a vegetarian, mushroom stock can replace the chicken stock and the parmigiana regianno cheese can be taken out completely (It will still taste pretty good although not as cheesy). Alternatively, parmigiano can be substituted using a vegetarian version.
Behind the Scenes:
Here’s a little bonus for those of you who have expressed interest in my photography setup. I was recently gifted a Softbox from a secret santa exchange and I’ve been taking advantage of it (Thanks Mike!). I often run out of time to do all my photography during the daytime, so my speedlights and lighting panel go a long way to helping me recreate the lighting when the sun sets.
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No-Bake Tofu Cheesecake? You’re probably thinking ‘Blegh, No Thanks’. But I kid you not, this tofu cheesecake is one of the most amazing cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted. It is easy to make (almost impossible to screw up), doesn’t require baking and tastes as if a cheesecake was made into a light and airy custard with hints of sweetness and tofu. If you enjoy subtly sweet desserts, then you will love this No-Bake Tofu Cheesecake!
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Happy New Year! It’s been a while, my apologies, I was vacationing for a month and then the holiday season hit so it’s been busy. I’ve been doing a lot of gluttonous gorging, partying, eating some more and almost ZERO exercise. As a result, I feel sluggish and foggy causing me to crave something light on my stomach, healthy for the body and easy to make (because I’m also feeling quite lazy). The probability of other people also feeling the same after the holidays is 5 in every 3 couch potatoes, so I’ll share with you what I’ve been eating lately to put the zing back in my step. I present to you, Zaru Soba, also known as Chilled Buckwheat Noodles.
Soba, the Japanese term for buckwheat noodles, is gluten free (if you purchase soba with 100% buckwheat) and full of bio-compounds that the body needs, such as all eight essential amino acids, choline, thiamine and riboflavin (source). It also contains antioxidants which helps the body fight free radicals and prevent/delay some types of cell damage such as cancer. Soba regulates blood pressure and liver function which plays an important part in metabolism. By acting as a neutralizing agent it also supports the liver, which is great after a night of drinking, not to mention, the high fibre content promotes bowel movement and helps eliminate cholesterol (source). In conclusion, thumbs up for Soba for being good to your body.
Real talk though—all of this health info I found for the sake of writing this blog article; the main reason I eat Zaru Soba is because it tastes good and it’s so easy to make. If I cook enough soba for 2 or 3 meals I can store it in an airtight container in the fridge and eat it for lunch over the next two days.
There are many variations of Zaru Soba and the great thing is, you can go as simple as you want (chilled soba + dipping sauce) or as fancy as you want. Soba can also be eaten hot! For this recipe, I mix the grated daikon, wasabi, green onion together before dipping the noodles in. Part of the fun is that you can create a ratio of this mixture to your own desire, there is no right or wrong. I hope you enjoy chilled Zaru Soba as much as I do!
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to share by taking a photo and posting on instagram with the hashtag #francesmenu!
Zaru Soba (Chilled Buckwheat Noodles)
YIELD: 2 portions
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 10 minutes
CREDITS: Frances Lam
- 1 – 2 bunches of Soba/Gluten free soba (Regular Japanese Buckwheat noodles available at your local Korean/Japanese/Chinese grocery store)
- 3-4 tbsp Soba Tsuyu dipping sauce (available at your local Korean/Japanese/Chinese grocery store)
- 1 Green Onion/Scallion, diced
- 1/2 tspn Wasabi Paste
- 1.5 tbsp Daikon Radish, grated (optional)
- 1 Boiled egg, chilled (optional)
- Dried seaweed/Nori (in shreds) (optional)
- Mixing Bowl of cold water
Prepare the soba by following the cooking instructions at the back of the noodle package. After it is done cooking, add the soba to the bowl of cold water and swirl around to wash off the extra starch and stop any further cooking. Transfer the soba to a colander and allow it to drain in the fridge for 5 minutes (with a drip pan of some sort underneath). Noodles can also be made the night before, drained and stored in an airtight container.
In the meanwhile, grate the daikon radish, dice the green onion and pour the soba tsyuyu into a dipping bowl. To mix the dipping sauce, add some scallion, grated daikon radish, tiny bit of wasabi to the soba sauce. Stir and taste, add more of what you want.
Serve the soba with dried seaweed sprinkled on top and the chilled egg sliced in half on the side. To eat, dip the soba into the sauce as you eat. Alternatively, you can mix your sauce into the soba noodles.
- I’ve been kindly informed by a reader (Thanks Olivia!) that different soba types have different ratios of buckwheat and wheat flour, usually an 80% buckwheat and 20% wheat flour ratio. If you are on a gluten free diet, here is the link to purchase gluten free soba.