1UP Mushroom Power Tower
Have you ever noticed how in the world of the Super Mario Bros. it is the humble mushroom—and not beef or milk or any other animal product—that causes Mario to grow and gain extra life? Yessir, mushrooms are the cat’s pajamas and I buy and consume a lot of them.
So when it came time for “What’s the in Fackin’ Fridge?” Friday, it was three varieties of mushrooms that fell into my arms first. I had a paper bag of hearty portobellos, a container of organic shiitakes, and even dug a couple of button mushrooms (erlack, I HATE them) out of my Mama’s stash. White button mushrooms are stupid and I refuse to eat them, but they met my ends here so I went with it.
I also scrounged up a bouquet of kale, some bright bell peppers, a beautiful red onion, a ripe red tomato and a small eggplant. Okay, so what to do now? Build a tower of deliciousness, of course! (This is how my mind works.)
My favourite way to eat portobello mushrooms is to brush them with a liberal coating of tamari, olive oil, and minced garlic. Easy peasy puddin’ ‘n’ pie! Mix those three ingredients up in a dish and brush them on all sides of your ‘shroom. Place them, gills up, on an oiled cookie sheet and dab a bit more of your mix on top so it’ll soak in.
I sliced up my eggplant and tomato, brushed them with a little olive oil, and placed them on the cookie sheet with the ports. We don’t want them to be right plain now, do we? No. So I dusted the entire sheet with cayenne pepper. KICK IT UP A NOTCH!
I fired those bad boys into a 400°F preheated oven for 18 minutes, flipping the eggplant and tomato after 10. After 18 minutes or so give your portobellos a healthy poke and use your judgment to decide if they are soft enough for your liking.
Then came time for my least favourite part of Cooking With Tracy: prep work. Shoot me.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I started a pot of quinoa on the stove and sautéed my finely diced red onion with my chopped bell peppers. After they softened a bit I added sliced shiitakes to the mix. As they cooked down I added a splash of tamari and, of course, more cayenne pepper! BAM!
While all this was going on, a second pan was sautéing ripped kale with a bit of olive oil, a tonne of garlic, and a nice grinding of fresh pepper. I make it sound like the pan was doing it on its own. I assure you, it was not.
There was a lot on the go in the kitchen at the time and I subsequently did I bang-up job of burning the quinoa. We definitely had our A-game on in the kitchen that night. Jeez Louise.
I discovered during this whole fandango that burnt quinoa is my favourite quinoa. It adds a nicer, deeper, nuttier flavour to the whole experience. Shut up, I seriously liked it. I now know in future that I like quinoa a multitude of (or at least two) ways. Personal growth and exploration!
It was now time to build our tower to the stars, my friends! I started with a soft bed of burnt quinoa. Delicious!
Next came the base: our tamari-garlic portobello mushroom. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Good thing I had leftovers after this meal and got to experience it all over. MmMMmMMmMmm!
Next I hid layered on the baked eggplant. Eggplant is so delicious, but it has the tendency to look like the waxy skin of a corpse when cooked. Seriously. That’s disgusting. I have matured to a point that I eat food based on flavour and not appearance (for the most part), so I have accepted the fact that yes, while it does look like a dead man’s skin, I love how it tastes and will still eat it. I just don’t want it visible in my pictures of the finished product.
To cover up the offensiveness that is baked eggplant, I swiftly added a liberal helping of sautéed kale.
Next up to bat was our beautiful and bright baked tomato. It was at this point that it started looking like a hamburger. I didn’t know if I liked that or not. I paused to cock my head at it like a dog trying to find the source of a noise then carried on.
I spooned on a hearty helping of our onion/pepper/shiitake mix and it ruined the hamburger effect. Problem solved.
To top it all off I added an extra leaf of kale and a hand-carved button mushroom flower. Because I’m street like that.
Taaaa daaaaaaa! The finished product! Our 1UP Mushroom Power Tower!
I attacked that tower until it came tumbling down like the Tower of Barad-dûr. I kept making involuntary noises of sheer pleasure. The portobello melted in my mouth like (Earth Balance vegan) butter. The burnt quinoa kicked it up a notch (I will keep defending it until I die). I gagged on the uncooked, stupid button mushroom, but powered through like a champ.
I have had some disastrous “What’s in the Fackin’ Fridge?” Fridays (seriously, what do you do with a bunch of carrots, mustard, and an old Smirnoff Ice?) but I think we can all agree that this was a wildly successful one.