Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 21, 2013

Lee Ward:Mushrooms rank high for health; pies, soups in season: 1/22/13

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Today is the deadine to submit your favorite meal, plus a recipe for any dish in it, to lward@dailyindependent.com, Lee Ward, c/o The Independent, P.O. Box 311, Ashland, KY 41101 or fax (606) 326-2678.

I’ll share what I learn next week.


Wednesday is National Pie Day, and the American Pie Council encourages everyone to enjoy pie on that day, whether it’s homemade or store bought.

The American Pie Council says apple is the most popular kind of pie in the United States.

The council also announced its big annual competition — the APC/Crisco National Pie Championships, an event in Florida scheduled for April 26 through 28 at the Caribe Royal Orlando. For details, visit piecouncil.org.


Registered dietitian Dave Grotto endorses mushrooms for a healthy lifestyle.

In his book “The Best Things You Can Eat,” the writer devotes extensive instruction to healthy foods and includes mushrooms among his top 13.

“Mushrooms provide critical nutrients for this time of year, like vitamin D to add a dose of sunshine to winter days and antioxidants to help boost immunity — and the best part is that you can eat them in every meal,” Grotto said.

Mushrooms help extend portions and provide an extra serving of vegetables per plate. They’re also helpful to vegetarians as a meat substitute.

Here’s a recipe recommended by Grotto that will warm up your winter chill.


Recipe courtesy of the Mushroom Council

3⁄4 cup cooked orzo pasta

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms

1⁄3 cup sliced green onions

3  cans (14.5 ounce) reduced fat and low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1⁄2 cup chopped baby carrots

1 cup chopped red peppers

1⁄2 cup fresh snow pea pods, sliced lengthwise

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1⁄2 cup water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat sesame oil in medium sauté pan over high heat. Add a single layer of mushrooms and onions. Leave the mushrooms alone as they sauté — be patient as they turn red-brown — then turn and sauté until second side turns similar color. Season to taste and set aside in bowl.

Combine chicken broth and soy sauce in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Add carrots and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes. Stir in peppers and pea pods. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir mushroom mixture and cayenne into soup mixture. In a separate bowl, combine water and cornstarch. Stir into soup mixture. Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened and clear. Add orzo pasta and serve.


Soup seems right during winter. As a cook, it’s always right because it’s a one-pot meal, which saves on dish washing.

Here’s a different kind of soup that’s sure to heat you up.


Geoffry Le Cher

of Michigan City, Ind.,

at justapinch.com

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 to 2 pounds pork loin cut in 1-inch cubes

1 onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic

coarse salt

4 teaspoons red chili powder

5 cups chicken broth, low salt, 5 tomatillos, quartered

2 14-ounce cans white hominy, drained

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)

1 tablespoon oregano, dried

11⁄2 cups chopped green chilies (canned)

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

black pepper

10 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled for garnish


In skillet, heat oil until shimmering and add pork, onion, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper

Sauté meat and onion mixture until onions are translucent and the pork juices run clear.

Transfer to a slow cooker. Deglaze skillet with 1 cup broth and add this to slow cooker as well.

Add tomatillos, 1 can of hominy, cilantro, oregano, broth, green chilies and spices to slow cooker. Turn cooker on medium, stirring after about 1 hour. Adjust seasoning as neccessary.

Reduce to low/warm, cover and heat for an additional 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before service, raise temp back to high and add last can of hominy and frozen corn, adjusting seasoning as necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and cheese. Serve with warm tortillas.


Besides classic old tomato soup from my childhood, French onion soup is my favorite.

Chef Sara Moulton offers this Italian take on French onion. She said this version is a bit lighter.

“I caramelized the onions in olive oil, rather than butter, swapped out the Gruyere in favor of Parmigiano-Reggiano (less fat and bigger flavor, so you can use less of it), and moved the croutons and cheese off the top to make room for a poached egg,” she said. “Finally, I added some pancetta for flavor, because we have to have at least a little fun.”


2 ounces chopped pancetta

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 cup red wine

5 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar

4 large eggs

11⁄2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1⁄2 cup)

Ground black pepper

Eight 1⁄2-inch-thick baguette slices, toasted

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until it is golden. Transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Return the saucepan to medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions, then cook, covered but stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook, stirring frequently, for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Add the wine and boil until it is reduced by half. Add the broth and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a low simmer. Add the vinegar.

Crack each egg into a small glass. One at a time, gently and slowly pour each egg into the simmering water, bringing the lip of the glass right down to the water so that the egg slides in. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook them in 2 batches. Cook for 4 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to lift each egg out (letting excess water drip away).

To serve, ladle the soup into 4 bowls. Top each with a poached egg, sprinkle with some of the cheese, some of the pancetta and pepper to taste. Serve each portion with 2 toasts on the side.




While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email  andto lward@dailyindependent.com.