Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry

January 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love mushrooms- especially wild mushroom soup. I searched far and wide for this recipe after lunching at the inconspicuous French bakery Belle Epicurean in downtown Seattle and had their mushroom soup puree- so delicious!  I was (and still am) such a klutz I accidentally knocked my soup over and spilled half of it on my new sweater. You know it’s a good soup when you’re more upset about losing the soup than having soup all over you! I got over it.

Serves 6 for a first course or 3 very hungry guests


  • 5 tblsp unsalted butter
  • 12 oz wild mushrooms (Chanterelles, Winecap, Portabella, Shiitake) chopped coarsely into bite-size pieces
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Dry Sherry
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tsp Chives, chopped



  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Sweat shallots in pan.
  2. Add mushrooms. Coat mushrooms with butter and stir occasionally until they begin to express their juices.
  3. Remove 1/3 of the mushrooms allow to cool a bit and purée them. Lower heat on remaining mushrooms.
  4. Meanwhile, in a stock pot, add veggie stock, and sherry. Bring to a slow, rolling boil for about 10 minutes, allowing stock to reduce a bit.
  5. Lower heat to a simmer. Add mushroom purée and continue simmering for about another 10 minutes allowing the flavors to marry.
  6. Add the remaining mushrooms, season soup with salt, pepper to taste, blend well.
  7. Add milk, taste soup and season to desired flavor
  8. Add fresh chopped herbs.
  9. Just before serving whisk in 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Serve.
  10. Garnish with full sprigs of herbs.
  11. Serve with fresh popovers or french bread

Lessons learned:

  • This recipe was not the purée I loved from the restaurant- next time I’ll thicken by adding less liquid (milk and broth) and blending everything to a chunky pulp.
  • After adding the milk I poured up one bowl of soup then kept the stove on high and stepped away for a few minutes. When I returned to the pot the milk was all clotted and separated (it still tasted good!) Next time I’ll make sure to take the soup off the heat before adding the milk or at least lower the heat.
  • To make the soup prettier next time I’ll slice a couple of button mushrooms lengthwise and saute, then place a couple on top of each soup for a mushroom garnish.

Love mushrooms like I do? Here’s another great recipe: Wild Mushroom Pizza with Yukon Gold Potato, Arugula, and Rosemary


Glitter Birthday Candles!

January 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

Give your next birthday cake a little more sparkle- I took some ordinary birthday candles and gave them a makeover.


You’ll need candles, spray paint, loose glitter, spray adhesive, and newspaper. I used the cheap-o glitter but will definitely use the Martha Stewart glitter next time since the glitter is finer and more sparkly.

Cover your work area with newspaper- preferably do this outside so you don’t accidentally spray your walls or bathtub (case in point.) Lay out the candles and spray with the spray paint. Allow to dry for about an hour. Turn the candles over and repeat. After the paint is dry, spray the candles with spray adhesive and immediately cover with loose glitter. One nice little surprise I got with these candles is when they were lit, the multicolored wax dripped down the gold to make a fun unexpected effect that surprised the guests. Apparantly Amzon sells these Colorflame candles that burn multicolored flames. Love it!

Roasted Beet Stacks with Balsamic Reduction and Panko Crusted Goat Cheese

January 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

The most interesting food display I have ever seen was the Roasted Beet Salad at Wine Cellar Restaurant in Los Gatos, CA. I had a huge craving for a roasted beet salad this week and wanted to recreate their display of the thinly sliced beets stacked on one another and came up with this recipe. They look like little volcanos or trees of some kind.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 large beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed off
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c panko
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp pecans, finely chopped
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Individually wrap each beet in foil, place in a baking pan or cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for about an hour
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine panko, parsley, and pecans
  4. Separate the goat cheese in half and roll each half into a ball
  5. Place flour, egg (beaten) in separate small bowls
  6. Roll the goat cheese balls first in the flour, then the beaten egg, then the panko mixture
  7. Place in a bowl or on a plate, cover and chill while you wait for the beets to cook
  8. In a medium saucepan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it is reduced to about half volume
  9. After the beets have cooked, wait for them to cool and peel. The skin should slide right off with your fingers, if they don’t the beets need to cook longer
  10. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium (panko is easy to burn!)
  11. Slice the beets in half crosswise, then slice from the center of each half, alternating halves and stacking the slices on a plate. This way the slices will be stacked from big at the bottom to small at the top
  12. Drizzle stacks with balsamic reduction
  13. In oil, quickly fry the goat cheese balls until golden brown. About 20 seconds per side. Place on top of your stacks and serve with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Lessons learned:

  • A combination of freezing the goat cheese balls and letting the oil get too hot not only burned the crust but the goat cheese was cold- not the oozy melty goat cheese I’d hoped for. 
  •  To make the dish prettier and add more flavor complexity, next time I’ll place the stack on a bed of arugula or spring greens.
  • I’d also like to try shaping the goat cheese into medallions so every time you get the same amount of crust in each bite.

Lingerie Themed Bachelorette Party Invite

January 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is an invitation for your sassy bride-to-be’s bachelorette party- take it one step further by asking all of the guests to bring a lingerie-themed present for the bride.

You must open the bra to see what’s inside!

It is so easy to make!

You’ll need paper in baby pink, black and white; envelopes in black or white, white paint, a paintbrush, glue, scissors, ribbon, and craft scissors.

To make the center-open invitation just measure the paper twice the width of the envelope and cut out

Next, paint white stripes on the paper to give it a French boutique look

While the paint dries, cut the bra out by folding the black paper in half, drawing half of the bra, and cutting out. When the paper dries, turn in over, measure out the center of the paper and mark- fold each end into the center. Next, glue the bra on the front of the invitation and cut along the center. Cut out a lace trim with your craft scissors and the white paper and glue on the top of the bra. Cut the ribbon in half and glue each half to the center of the bra, wrong side down. Next, either write your own details on the inside, or print it out, cut to ft the inside, and glue. Tie into a bow and you’re all done!

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