Victory Is In The Kitchen


My daughter bought me this poster at the Churchhill Museum in London. I love how she instantly thought of me when she first eyed it. Of course, as a competitive home cook, my version of victory in the kitchen and the intent of the poster are quite different. Imagine the war struggle and women on the home front struggling to make ends meet and keep a household running. A message like this was meant to motivate a commitment to the war effort. With increasing shortages of food women tended vegetable gardens and used their creativity to put substantial meals on the table with what little they had. They were portrayed as of equal importance in the winning of the war as that of the fighting soldiers.


Maybe when it comes to creativity and a few ingredients I am not so much different from the women in the early 1900’s since winning in my kitchen has been a common occurrence lately. These mushroom lettuce wraps just took the grand prize in the Mad About Mushrooms recipe contest. Inspired by the olympics (Yay Team USA) and ingredients found in a local Korean market these meaty mushrooms soak up the sweet and spicy bulgogi marinade and are a light vegetarian option. Do you like lettuce wraps? What’s your favorite filling?

Korean Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

1 firm ripe Asian or bosc pear, peeled, cored, julienned

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, washed, sliced (stemmed shitake, cremini, oyster)

1/3 cup Korean bulgogi style marinade (bottled or homemade)*

1 teaspoon Korean sweet & spicy sauce (gochujang) *

2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

pinch kosher salt

2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated into cups

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In bowl, gently toss pear and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat a large, non-stick, skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic just begins to turn color. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. Add Korean marinade and gochujang; cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are glazed. Turn off heat. Stir in green onions. Season mushrooms with salt. Spoon mushrooms into lettuce cups. Top with pickled pears. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 12 appetizers or can serve 4 to 6 as an entree.

*located in the ethnic section of grocery store or any Asian market

Here is my first video demonstrating how to build another version of a lettuce wrap. Pretty excited that I have taught myself another new trick. Victory is in the kitchen in more ways than one.


Blend & Build A Better Burger


These are not edible mushrooms but a beautiful capture from Will’s Bench at Lake Elise

Living in Kennett Square, AKA, “the mushroom capital of the world” I can’t help but get up close and personal with a variety of deliciously cultivated fresh picked mushrooms. Today, I want to encourage you to start blending your meat with mushrooms, if you aren’t already.


It’s a super simple process and once you taste the combination I am certain you will never turn back to a full meat burger, sauce, ball or filling. For more umami flavor and juicer and lighter texture start blending mushrooms to meat 1:2. For every pound of ground meat include 8 ounces of mushrooms is what’s recommended, but I find myself doing an even 1:1 blend as we love mushrooms that much.


After rinsing your mushrooms and spinning them dry in a salad spinner I quarter them and then grind them in a food processor. I then sauté them until they have released all their liquid and begin to brown. Stir them often at this point.fullsizeoutput_5319

Season the mushrooms any way you like and let them cool.


Add to your ground beef, chicken, pork or lamb and shape into burgers or meatballs. You can also replace some of the meat in your favorite bolognese sauce or add to a filling to make ravioli.


mushroom burgers stuffed with fresh mozzarella

I hope you will give the mushroom blend a try; let me know if you do. It’s a healthy and delicious option and just for the record my family will not eat a burger any other way. BTW, it works with all kinds of mushrooms, but my favorite for the most flavor are cremini and shiitake.


Will’s Bench Lake Elise

Town Tour & Ancho Avocado Ice Cream


Welcome to Kennett Square, PA known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World”. Yes, our portobellos, cremini, oysters, trumpets, maitakes and fresh buttons are awesome and probably what you are buying in your local grocery store. Come September thousands will visit our 31st annual Mushroom Festival and get a taste of mushroom farming at its best. I am excited to see which fabulous home cook wins the mushroom cook-off earning their way to compete at the World Food Championships.


The rest of the town is pretty great, too, also quite famous for Longwood Gardens. Last night husband and I did a stroll celebrating the first Friday of the month. The stores stay open late. People are dancing in the street to live music and the award winning food is always abundant and delicious. From crepes to burgers to mushroom soup (of course) there are so many casual to high end restaurants to choose from.


On this particular warm summer evening I just wanted ice cream from the best place on earth and husband, much to my surprise, was all in on the idea. If you ever come to Kennett Square you absolutely have to stop by family-owned La Michoacana ice cream shop where you can sample traditional Mexican flavors like corn sprinkled with cinnamon or my favorite avocado with chile. Trust me! The best! Come visit!



Back home I wondered if I could make a no-churn version of avocado ice cream. You all know I am obsessed with the endless flavors of no-churn. Have you tried the Margarita or Almond Joy, yet? They are so simple, creamy and scoop-worthy. With only a few ingredients needed you are on your way to frozen flavor town.


Whatever flavor you choose to experiment with don’t forget to taste as you go. For the avocado I added extra lime juice and then had the epiphany to toss the chile powder right into the mix. Yes, that is my fingerprint you see. Please don’t do that. Use a 1 time tasting spoon to taste as you go. It’s cleaner.


And one more tip: place your bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes before whipping the cream. Cream whips up better when it is icy cold.



No Churn Ancho Avocado Ice Cream

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Powder

2 cups heavy cream

In a blender, combine condensed milk, lime juice, avocado, salt and chile powder; process until completely smooth. Beat cream to just stiff peaks; fold into avocado puree. Pour into freezer-safe containers. Freeze for at least 6 hours. Scoop and serve with an extra sprinkle of chile or some fresh seasonal fruit. Makes about 1 ½ quarts.


Overall my version of avocado ice cream is quite good with a rich creamy texture. Next time I might bump up the flavor with a touch more salt and citrus. Happy National Ice Cream Month & Independence Day. Celebrate your freedom and whatever is happening in your town.