Presenting The Faux Gourmet!

The Faux Gourmet has been on hiatus for a while. I began this blog as a creative outlet during law school. After law school, I started other blogs on other topics and no longer needed this as a creative outlet, not to mention my diminishing free time.

But I kept cooking, kept taking food pictures and garden pictures, kept wanting to share the little tidbits of what I'd made. I occasionally did this on my personal blog (to which, I'm sure, people yawned and wondered when I'd post another cat picture). But I started to miss this space. Of all the blogs I have, this format, culled over several dedicated years and incorporating that adorable illustration by Sam Wedelich (see info the left) is by far my favorite.

So I'm back!

Expect short and sweet posts. Less food porn, more recipes and tips. If you want food porn you can look at any of the 5000 million existing food blogs. I don't have good lighting in my apartment and don't have time to style plates. I just want to make something yummy and eat it. If that sounds ok with you, stick around.

Looking forward to being back in touch!


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    Sunday, January 25, 2009


    Stuffed mushrooms-a-la-Faux Gourmet,
    a little more chic city girl, a little less 50s housewife.

    Taste & See: I had a Christmas party last night. I was so busy in December (the dearth of posts!) I didn't have time to cram my loved ones into my tiny apartment and force them to consume massive amounts of my cooking, so I thought perhaps I'd have a go at doing so in January. I tried to use holiday-esque flavors to recall the holiday season but somewhere amidst the cinnamon and sugar, the candy cane peppermint, the cranberry & turkey, I got a hankering for stuffed mushrooms.

    Mushrooms are not a beautiful food. Button mushrooms are particularly unassuming, the pudgy vanilla kid-brother of the mushroom family. Sure, they're handy in a pinch. They go with a wide range of cuisines & best of all, tend to come pre-chopped. A lazy Faux Gourmet like myself can unwrap and toss them in practically anything to add a little bulk. But they're not really a beacon of flavor; they're more like background noise.

    Which makes them the perfect vehicle for flavorful stuffings. Button mushrooms, especially when cooked, do have a nice neutral earthiness, into which inspired Faux Gourmets like you can pour all your artistry. They're so perfectly round and empty, just waiting for you to fill them.

    The recipe below is my on-the-fly for last night's party, a hit if their rapid disappearance was any indication. But don't let my ideas limit you! Open wide the fridge and in true Faux Gourmet style, assemble a mishmash filling of whatever lovely flavors you have available. Even in these economic times, a container of mushrooms is still only a dollar or two, making this a cheap experiment to fail and try again.

    Do it Yourself:

    Pesto Chevre Stuffed Mushrooms

    Amounts listed made about 80 mushrooms, a good amount for a party with 30 guests. For a smaller gathering, definitely do half or even a quarter the amount; making so many mushrooms is pretty tedious. Think of the amounts as flexible suggestions, to be altered based as needed.

    4 containers Button Mushrooms
    6 cloves Garlic
    20 Sage leaves
    10 oz. Chevre (soft goat cheese)
    1/2 cup Pesto, then sample and add more until you're satisfied with the flavor
    Parmesan cheese

    1. Clean the mushrooms. I like to rinse and then pour the wet mushrooms onto a clean kitchen towel after rinsing to pat dry.

    2. Twist off the caps and set whole mushrooms aside. (My friends A & C recommend soaking in wine . . . a delicious idea to try next time). Chop caps into smallish pieces.

    3. Fry garlic in oil (I used Apres Vin Poivre Chardonnay, to impart a mild peppery flavor). Add chopped sage leaves and 1 tbsp butter. When leaves have fried, add mushroom caps and a few tablespoons water, wine or broth. Cover and allow caps to soften, about 5 minutes. Continue to let simmer with lid partially on until liquid is gone.

    4. Allow mixture to cool, then add chevre and pesto. Set aside.

    5. Dowse the mushrooms in melted butter. No need for a full dunking; a light touch is fine. A marinade brush works best if you have one. Set mushrooms in a baking pan.

    6. Stuff each mushroom with a healthy teaspoon of filling, or enough to evenly distribute filling between the mushrooms.

    7. Bake on 350 about ten minutes; check to make sure mushrooms are soft. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and continue baking a few minutes more, while cheese turns golden.

    Voila, you are a hostess extraordinaire! Well done!

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Quick Link: New Washington Winery

    Props to my sister-in-law for this update on a newly opened Washington winery with Norwegian roots, Gård Vinters. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Wish You Were Here . . .

    Hello dear readers,

    Apologies for the dearth of posts over the past month. The Faux Gourmet has been a busy bee . . . and on the road in Australia & New Zealand. It was a lovely vacation, and to all of you I met along the way who may peek in here from time to time, cheers! Thanks for making my visit memorable & for taking time to see What's in the Pot? To the rest of you . . . I wish you could have come with me! I had many an unparalleled delight, such as a dozen raw oysters, like butter in the mouth . . .

    And tastes of some of the best wine I've ever had.

    I can't wait to post about it, and hope to begin doing so soon!

    In the mean time, I direct your attention to my column on Airfield Estates Winery's website, where I'm the guest chef. There you'll find my first recipe, a lovely sauce made by deglazing meat in a pan, and very soon, my next two recipes, both of which I've made well over a dozen times and continue to enjoy. What you have to look forward to:

    Airfield Estates is a family run winery in my hometown making some great wines. They don't pay me to say that. :)

    To those of you who find this page because of past New York Restaurant-Week reviews (Park Avenue (Insert season); Mercer Kitchen; and Kittichai), and to those who sample upcoming NY Restaurant Week offerings, please do leave a comment and let us know where you went, what you ate, and how it was! I can't wait to hear!

    As a preview of Australia:

    Throwing another shrimp on the barbie . . . I couldn't resist the classic Aussie cliche. Cliche doesn't stop something from being tasty!

    Kangaroo sausages- good for you & the environment (if a little tough & gamey):

    The full spread: delicious, and the beachside setting didn't hurt!

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    What's in the Pantry?

    Out with the old, in with the easy.

    Quick Tip: A little over a year ago I did a piece on stocking a kitchen for making generic Asian food. I raved about the benefits of having a stocked kitchen- after making a solid one time investment you have at your fingertips dozens upon dozens of potential dishes simply by adding a touch of fresh produce or a little meat. I recommended the top 30 or so ingredients one should buy to be able to make a variety of stir fries, curries, and noodle dishes.

    In a similar vein, Mark Bittman (discussed on a previous entry) has a New Year's column on making room in the kitchen for the things that really matter but tossing out a few things that don't. The article is full of great suggestions and functions more or less as a shopping list for those of us that want to cook, but always seem to have a kitchen full of nothing. I disagree with a few things: bottled lemon juice & chicken stock are so much easier, but that's just Faux Gourmet for you. But nevermind me. Read for yourself and see if you aren't inspired.