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Flank Steak Tacos (Gluten-Free)

And so it came to pass that I had the occasion to throw a party--old friends who lived in far-off places like South Korea and Waco (shut up, Texas is a big state) were converging in town for a precious few days, and it was decided that fun times were in order.
The menu included guacamole, chili con queso, roasted corn, tres leches, a flourless Mexican chocolate cake (two of the attendees cannot eat gluten, and not having a dessert that was safe for them seemed cruel), lots of good beer, and oh, yes... Flank steak tacos.

These tacos are made with a recipe based off Cooks Illustrated, which I have since tweaked significantly. The method is the same, and it is a good one. Flank steak is a tough, cheap cut of beef, but it has a lot of flavor and most of the stringiness can be mitigated simply by cutting across the grain. This particular cut of meat makes figuring out where the "grain" is supremely easy: simply look at your steak, and take note of the muscle striations (they are really obvious--it's the long lines running across the cut of meat in the same direction on both sides). When you cut it, cut perpendicular to those lines, and make the slices as thin as your knife sharpness will allow. Because the muscle fibers are cut short, the pieces become tender and delightful. Stabbing it with a fork makes sure that the marinade gets into the piece of meat, helps cut some of those long muscle fibers, and is also oddly satisfying.
This is a paste-style marinade that comes together in a few minutes, and as little as half an hour lends a lot of flavor, making it ideal for a quick weeknight supper.

  • Olive oil (I just used a couple glugs, probably about 1/3 cup)
  • small can of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (if you are making the recipe gluten-free, read the label--some brands contain wheat flour)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 3-5 green onions, roots cut off
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (I used a combination of hickory and mesquite)
  • 1/4c soy sauce (I used low sodium, gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 or 2 flank steaks, depending on size.

    Cram everything but the steak into a food processor and pulverize it until you have a reddish-brown paste full of pretty little green flecks. Take your flank steak out and put it in a large baking pan or sheet. Pretend it is someone you hate, and stab repeatedly with a fork. Turn the steak over, repeat stabbings. Spread enough of the paste on each side to make a thin coating, and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. I let it sit on the counter (provided I can watch it--we have two labrador retrievers who think that things like steak and butter and apples left at counter-level are just dog treats we forgot to give them) so it can come to room temperature. You will likely have some marinade left over; save it and you can use it as a sauce, or freeze it for later use.
    Once the 30 minutes are up, place a large skillet on medium-high heat, or pull out your handy electric skillet (I have this one and I love it) and crank that sucker up. Add a little vegetable, corn, or other oil with a high smoke point to said skillet.
    Scrape most of the marinade paste off the meat. Burnt garlic is no one's friend. Sear the steak until browned and a little crusty, probably about 8 minutes or so per side. Cooking time will vary if you have an unusually thin or fat flank steak, or if you prefer yours more well-done (or still mooing). Once it is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes, then slice as thinly as possible.
    While the meat tends to retain a lot of flavor, if you want a sauce, add a little more olive oil and some lime juice to the reserved marinade and drizzle over your steaky goodness.

    This is a recipe that is easily doubled or tripled, and you can tweak it to your liking. My spicy-intolerant family had no problem with the chipotles, and if you like more heat, you can always toss some jalepeno or other peppers into the marinade.

    This can be served with the usual taco toppings, or you can go a little more unusual (but no less tasty) with blue cheese, carmelized onions, and sauteed garlicky spinach on corn tortillas. Which is what we did. It was delicious.
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    "Friendly Fire" No-Meat, No-Heat Vegan Chili

    So, I was tasked with coming up with a recipe for our church's chili cook-off. One that my youngest sister, Emma, would eat.
    Three things you should know about Emma:
    1. She is vegan.
    2. She does not like beans.
    3. She cannot tolerate spicy heat of any degree in food. I cannot so much as sprinkle a few stray grains of black pepper into a pot of whatever I am making without her insisting it is way too spicy*.

    Oh god, kill me now.

    Okay, problem one. Meat-free chili. Given that traditional Texas-style chili is comprised almost entirely of beef and spices, with the barest hint of tomato or onion occasionally thrown in, this was clearly going to be far off the beaten path. I knew beans were probably going to be necessary to give the dish some heft, though since Emma doesn't love them, I didn't want to make them the focus. Since no vegan products I'm aware of fully imitate the texture of proper Texas chili meat, and I didn't want to go the made-entirely-of-packaged-products route, I opted for two different kinds of faux-meats: seitan, which has an excellent, meaty texture, and TVP, which I buy as dehydrated little granules, and which soaks up whatever liquid I toss it in quite well. Additional bulk would come from quinoa, a high-protein, high-fiber grain with a firm texture, and meaty vegetables like eggplant and zucchini. If it was too watery, I could turn to the traditional Texas thickener: cornmeal (in this case, some crumbled-up stale taco shells languishing in our pantry. Hooray!).

    Secondly, the beans. As I said, Emma doesn't particularly like them (much to our mother's dismay, as they are a good source of protein that Emma largely ignores). While I will no doubt attemt to bring them into Emma's good graces in the future, now, I could not make them the star of the show. Thankfully, with the aforementioned bulk brought by the seitan, TVP, quinoa, and veggies, the beans can act as a background player without sacrificing protein content or heartiness.

    Third, the most pressing issue: how to make a solid, hearty flavor base without animal products OR heat? I wanted to make sure this dish was actually something resembling chili, and not an oddly spiced minestrone soup. Chili, to me regardless of heat level, means something earthy, dark, rich, and warm. I remembered from an old Cooks Illustrated issue that some foods have a tendency to 'beef up' the meaty flavor of dishes, pardon the pun. Tomato paste, miso, and soy sauce were all on that list so I used all of 'em. Other ingredients that I personally felt added a meaty depth were cashew butter, blackstrap molasses, and vegan worcestershire sauce, so I tossed those in as well. I decided a mole-esque base for the chili would give it some smoke and earthiness--a little Mexican chocolate, and the barest whisper of some sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo (like I said, spicyness was not wanted, but the smoke and acidity was). I didn't want to waste any opportunity for flavor, so I decided to roast the vegetables before adding them, to use the tasty faux-chicken vegan broth I love, and simmer the whole mess with a bay leaf.

    The end result was, in a word, delicious. While I had no hope of winning anything (this is a vegan dish and I am in Texas, for chrissake--and not even Austin, our hippie town, but Houston. We loves us some beef), this actually beat out 13 meat-filled chilis to take third place at my church's chili cook-off. Hooray!


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    This is really a recipe you can alter to your tastes. If, unlike my sisters, you can handle spice, go ahead and roast a few spicier chiles with the bell peppers, and maybe add an actual chipotle pepper from that can of chipotles in adobo sauce. If you prefer meat, then by all means, substitute whatever sort of meat you want, though I think something assertive like beef might overwhelm the vegetable flavors. Ground chicken or turkey, or chicken thighs might be tasty, though. The amounts here are completley estimated, because I suffer from a chronic case of Never Measuring Anything (it drives my mother insane). I recommend using at least a little of all of them (unless you are allergic), and adjusting the ratios to your preferences.

    *Granted, I put some pepper in EVERYTHING, and she only notices when it's visible, so while it's scant, it is in the recipe. Shhhhhh.
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    World, we need to have a chat.

    And that chat is about diets.

    Not in the weight-loss sense that everyone seems to be losing their damn minds over at this time of year.
    I mean the accommodation of diets in your holiday gatherings. I know the big chunk of winter holidays have passed, but I saw so many posts on my f-lists these past two months regarding this issue, and I hope you will keep it in mind for next year and all parties to come:

    If you invite someone to your home for an event at which there will be food, it is YOUR obligation to make sure there is food they can eat.

    Which means, if you do not know this person well enough to be aware of their dietary needs, you ASK.
    You don't have to get into specifics. Ask if they have any allergies or food restrictions. Anyone dealing with food restrictions will tell you right then, because anyone who has dealt with food restrictions knows full well how bad it can get if they accidentally eat something that makes them oh, say, stop breathing.
    This includes the family/guests of whoever you have invited, if they are also attending. One of my cousins has a son who is allergic to eggs. So guess what we do when they visit? We don't make meals for the family that contain eggs. It's amazing how well this works at keeping him healthy.

    Note: "I'm trying to lose a few pounds" is not a dietary restriction you necessarily have to concern yourself with. "I don't like tomatoes" isn't, either (though you should probably avoid having tomatoes in every dish, if that is the case--especially since putting them in the dessert just makes you look like a spiteful dick because really? Really?).
    I am talking about medically relevant issues, like "I'm pre-diabetic or diabetic and can't have sugar," or "I have celiac and cannot tolerate gluten," or "I am deathly allergic to shellfish." I would argue that providing vegan/vegetarian-friendly options are, while not generally medically necessary, a good thing to do. Speaking from experience, the reaction of a body to going from meat/animal products-free to something meaty/cheesy/etc. can be... unpleasant. Religious requirements are also in this category. You may not believe in your guest's particular invisible friend, but they've spent their life not eating x or y, so don't be the asshole that fucks up that winning streak by not telling them there's bacon grease in the brussel sprouts.
    If you are not familiar with their dietary requirements, again, ASK. Do a fucking google search! Read food labels! Err on the side of caution whenever questions arise that your guest cannot personally answer. Remember that yes, even a little bit of this or that counts. For non-pork eaters, bacon grease counts. For veg*ans, chicken broth counts. Don't half-ass it, and you can give your guests tasty food while respecting their dietary needs.

    Why do this?
    Because in addition to keeping your friends alive and healthy, and freeing them from one more stressor added by the holidays, it enables you to not be a giant douchebucket. Don't be the douchebucket. No one likes the douchebucket.
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    Easy Corn and Potato Chowder

    Or, How to Make a Delicious Dinner Using Ingredients I generally Have On Hand. Which is just too long and has too many capitalized words, really.
    This chowder arose out of... well, mostly, my desire for chowder. I think once it was designed to employ leftovers from a corn and potato sautee my family loves, but I started making it at random and found it delightful in a number of ways. You can make this vegetarian by using some butter or olive oil instead of bacon fat, and swapping out the chicken stock for veggie broth (I recommend these little babies, as they are delicious and taste JUST like chicken broth.)
    The best thing about this soup is that it can be made to any scale, with just about any form or amount of ingredients you have on hand. I like to make fairly big batches, though, because it goes fast.

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 potato
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 box chicken stock (about 3-4 cups)
  • heavy cream
  • bay leaf
  • jalapeño tabasco sauce
  • salt and pepper (I love Lawry's Seasoned Salt, because it is delicious)

    Put your bacon in a pan to render. This is best done by starting the bacon in a cold pan and putting it on low heat. You get the most fat out of your delicious pork product that way.
    Now, if you are lazy like me, you probably have the following things in your freezer: a bag of mirpoix-style mixed veggies (chopped onions, carrots, and celery), and a bag of potatoes o'brien (which consists of diced potatoes, chopped onions, and bell peppers). If this is the case, just haul 'em out and let them thaw a little while the bacon fat renders. You can adjust the proportions to your liking. I like more corn than potato, myself.
    If you do not have these things, simply chop all your veggies into small pieces; you don't want them too much bigger than the corn kernels. It's not a ton of work, but on nights when you are tired it can be the difference between having delicious soup and eating a banana for dinner.
    Once the bacon is sufficiently crispy, remove it to some paper towels for draining (or munching while you assemble everything else). Cook the veggies in the bacon fat until the onions are somewhat translucent and everything smells delicious (if you plan to blend the soup, I advise reserving half the corn). I generally go ahead and toss the bay leaf in at this point. Season with a little salt and pepper.
    Once the veggies are cooked, add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then--the starch released by the potatoes will help to thicken the soup slightly. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. If you're going to blend, blend now--an immersion blender is easiest, but if you want to pour the soup into a blender, then go right ahead. Just be careful; it's hot. Add the remaining corn kernels after blending, because it's nice to be able to see them.
    Stir in a bit of cream--how much is up to you. I generally go with 1/2-1 cup, depending on how large a batch of soup I'm making. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and tobasco.
    Remove bay leaf and devour.

    Things that Taste Good On This Soup:
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Thin rounds of smoked sausage, browned until slightly crispy
  • Green onions
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    Sopa de Criolla

    This soup tastes like my childhood.
    Okay, I did not spend my childhood swimming in delicious broth (as far as you know), but when I was little, my father's youngest brother and his wife lived with us for several years. My aunt Claudina and my mom made a number of tasty, tasty Peruvian dishes that I thoroughly enjoy to this day. This soup in particular is pretty good for kids-- it's got a bizarre pinkish-orange hue, noodles and bits of egg to hunt and devour, is often a bit messy to consume, and is not at all spicy. The usual veggie-hiding tactic of finely dicing some zucchini in with the ground beef works pretty well, too.

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock + 2 cups water
  • 4 oz dried Spaghetti, angelhair, or other long, thin noodles
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, and oregano to taste

    In a medium-sized pot or a skillet with sufficiently high sides, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until almost translucent. Add the tomato paste and ground beef, cook until the beef is browned and the tomato paste has darkened somewhat. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and paprika. Add chicken stock and water*, heat until boiling. Add pasta and cook until almost al dente. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the eggs, allowing them to cook in delightful threads and ribbons. Allow the soup to cool slightly before slowly adding the milk, return to heat and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika, and oregano. Garnish with fresh oregano, if desired. Serve hot. This recipe serves about 6 people, maybe more or less depending on how hungry you are. It is also almost impossible to eat neatly. Have napkins at the ready and prepare to slurp.

    To make this vegetarian, simply swap out the ground beef for either minced veggies (I reccoment sauteed mushrooms and some zucchini) or a soy-based substitute (Gimme Lean ground beef is by far the favorite around here). Veganizing might be trickier, as the eggs provide a distinct flavor and texture that you can't really approximate with anything else. Though if you're okay with eliminating the eggs entirely, just use the milk substitute of your choice along with the veggie 'beef' and broth.

    This soup is also delicious the next day in spite of slightly soggy noodles, though it always, ALWAYS seems to need more salt as leftovers. This is a mystery of the universe.

    *This is approximately how much I use when making it in a specific skillet of ours-- I don't ever actually measure the ingredients for this soup, so I am not sure. Basically, it is enough liquid that all the meat goodness is hidden, plus a few inches for the pasta to cook in and absorb. If you need to add more water, do so. I do not recommend adding much more chicken broth, though; it will make the soup too salty.
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    Meatloaf Wellington (sort of)

    My father is picky.
    "Oh, he can't be that picky," you might say. "He's survived 67 years and no one has throttled him yet." I tell you, you are WRONG, and his continuing non-throttled status is nothing short of miraculous.
    A by-no-means comprehensive list of things my father will not eat: meat that is not well-done and devoid of any trace of red or pink, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions*, carrots, anything combining sweet and savory flavors, anything too sour, anything too sweet (even desserts), anything too spicy, most vegetables, soups that are too thick, and lamb. In addition, he is not a fan of pasta, and prefers to have white rice at every meal (regardless of whether or not it already contains starch). Also, he does not like leftovers, and does not consider dinner a proper meal without meat.
    You can see, now, why my family's list of Acceptable Foods is very, very short, with the list of Foods Everyone Can/Will Eat containing something like three things. Did I mention that my brother is vegan, my youngest sister is a vegetarian who does not like 98% of all vegetables, my other sister hates any attempts to 'lighten' recipes and attempts to eat low-carb without really being too clear on things like nutritional information, neither my sisters nor my mother can stand even a few grains of black pepper or anything else spicy, and my father has a habit of randomly deciding he no longer likes dishes that he has been eating contentedly for decades? There is a very good reason why I refer to menu planning for my family as the Logic Puzzle from Hell.

    Before my brother was vegan and my sister was vegetarian, my mother had a recipe for meatloaf that my father would actually eat. Rather than the usual tomato-based glaze, the loaf was slathered with condensed cream of mushroom soup, with a layer of crescent roll dough wrapped around it, baking up golden and flaky on the outside, creamy and meaty on the inside. More of a Meatloaf Wellington than traditional loaf. It was delicious, Dad loved it, and it was fairly easy.
    Naturally, we lost the recipe.
    Attempts were made to find a replacement. Most were mediocre at best, but several were genuinely disturbing, which ultimately led to my mother producing what I simply refer to as The HorrorLoaf:
    Oh god what was my mother thinking. Half-cooked bacon, giant chunks of uncooked celery and onion, still raw in the middle... This is why she is not allowed to make meatloaves anymore.


    I know they won't let me make my own crescent dough, or my own mushroom sauce. It takes too long, and why mess with the flavors everyone liked? Fair enough, but there were things I could improve-- perhaps eliminate the chances of a rogue uncooked onion bit making its way to Dad's plate (I swear, if there is a large or undercooked chunk of onion, he will find it) and putting him off the entire dish. Or make sure that the meat was cooked through more effectively, and maybe amp up the meaty flavor.

    Meatloaf Wellington, or: The Meatloaf Dad Will Eat
  • 1 T butter
  • 0.5 onion, finely diced
  • 0.5 cups celery, finely diced
  • 1 T garlic, finely diced
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 lb ground beef, (I use 90% lean, generally-- this loaf is pretty moist even with the lower fat content)
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup**
  • 1 can Crescent Roll Dough***

    DirectionsCollapse )
    Golden brown and delicious!
    The smaller and prettier of the two loaves, which will be given to my grandparents tomorrow.
    Serves 4.

    *You will notice that this recipe contains onions. So do most of our recipes. This is because while my father hates large bites of onion, he has no idea that it's there when it is finely diced and cooked into something. The tricky part is avoiding him seeing or smelling us chop the damn things. Onions are delicious, and I refuse to eliminate them.
    **I generally go with Campbell's "Healthy Request" soups, which are lower in fat and sodium. They also have a thinner consistency, which works well here-- not only does it keep the meat moist, but it functions as a gravy when the individual portions are served.
    ***Pillsbury's now makes a crescent roll dough that is designed for non-crescent-roll uses, and is just a big rectangle. This is awesome.
    • Current Mood
      I really like saying "loaf".
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    Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookies, aka Bacon Blasphemy (Baconsphemy?)

    No, I am not joking.
    A while back, I saw a post on some food blog about making bacon chocolate-chip cookies. The idea intrigued me-- the combination of smoky, salty, and sweet was just enticing enough to override my inherent preference to avoid bacon (and the small part of my brain that shouted "NO THIS IS WRONG IN EVERY WAY").
    But when I saw their efforts, I was disappointed. They produced a regular, moderately chewy chocolate-chip cookie with some chunks of bacon thrown in and a maple glaze on top. That did not appeal to me. I didn't want sweetness with my bacony goodness. I wanted something rich and complex and deliciously terrifying.

    First off, the texture of the cookie. Now, I think in this instance, the tender but firm texture of shortbread is infinitely more pleasant than the chewy interior of your average chocolate-chip cookie. The rich, buttery flavor would also add a nice background, but would be neutral enough that it wouldn't take over the other flavors.
    As for the chips, while I like sweet and savory, I felt like this needed something richer. And so I instead opted for the darkest chocolate chips I could find: about 72% cocoa. The chips I found were rather large, so I had to try to chop them down to a smaller size. It sort of worked (my kingdom for a properly sharp knife!).
    While I liked the idea of adding in some maple notes, maple bacon is uninteresting to me. So I used maple syrup (real syrup, none of this maple-flavored corn syrup crap) as a sweetener in the cookie recipe, and stuck to regular center-cut bacon, which I cooked until it was quite crispy-- chewy bacon is disgusting and I'll stare down anyone who says otherwise-- and crumbled into pieces about the same size as the chocolate chips.

  • 1 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 6 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (you can use more, if you like)
  • kosher salt
  • turbinado or another coarse sugar

    Preheat the oven to 325.
    In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and maple syrup until fluffy and thoroughly combined. Toss in the pinch of salt, and then add in the flour. Stir until just combined.
    Add the bacon and chocolate chips. Pause for just a moment to consider what you are doing. Ignore that tiny, worried voice in your head, and continue.
    The dough will be very wet and soft. You can either roll it up in cling wrap and chill it for an hour (which will firm it up somewhat) before slicing into cookies, or do what I did and just roll out little balls with your hands and squish them into cookie shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You will not want them very big-- these cookies are quite rich, and work best as slightly-more-than-bite-sized morsels.
    Sprinkle each cookie with a tiny bit of Kosher salt and some coarse sugar, at about a 1:2 ratio. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies begin to brown.
    Let cool until you can handle them, and then taste.

    Either curse my name or send me flowers, as applicable.
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    Accidental Cookies

    These cookies were created when I began making a Tres Leches cake (using Alton Brown's recipe; it is delicious), discovered that my mother had already made the cake, and decided to turn the creamed butter and sugar into cookies, instead. I adjusted the proportions a bit, tossed in whatever we had on hand, and produced a cookie that my mother absolutely adores. Winnar is me.
    Unfortunately, I did not measure anything or write the recipe down. D'oh.
    So today I remade it, using measuring implements and actual egg (the original cookies were intended to be safe for my egg-allergic cousin and used a substitute), and it seems to have worked. Accidents no more, these tender cookies are best when the bottom is browned and crispy.

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks or morsels
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

    Preheat the oven to 375° F
    Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy. Add sugar and cream together.
    Add vanilla extract and egg whites, mix thoroughly. Add baking powder, mix some more.
    Add flour, mix until combined. Stir in white chocolate, cranberries, and almonds.
    Spoon onto cookie sheets. These will spread just a little, so give them some space.
    Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookie is a delicious golden brown.

    Picture courtesy of Emma
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    Mushroom Puffs with Roasted Red Pepper and Gruyere

    Or, How to Make People Think You're a Fancy-Schmancy Cook When You Really Aren't.

    Seriously. These look (and sound) so posh and nice, but they're really quick and easy to assemble. I made them for my Business Communications class, and they vanished. There are only a few ingredients, and buying the more work-intensive ones pre-made makes ABSOLUTELY NO difference in the flavor and saves tons of time.

  • 2 packages frozen puff pastry (how many you go through will depend on how much you stuff in each pastry), thawed
  • 1 lb mushrooms (I just got two packages of the 8 oz pre-sliced, pre-washed kind. Yay for saving time!)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper strips (I buy a big 'ol jar of these every now and then. They are priceless -- I never manage to roast peppers properly myself, but now I don't have to!)
  • 4 oz Gruyere cheese, finely grated (you could probably use any decent swiss cheese, but I've grown quite fond of gruyere. On the occasions where we buy specific cheeses rather than our usual of "white" "yellow" and "in a green can" -- uughhhhh -- I try to get it. It's a hard cheese, so it lasts damn near forever if I don't use it up at once.)
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley (I used dried, since I lacked fresh on hand. You can use whatever)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Water, in a shallow bowl or cup

    Preheat the oven to 350°F
    Clean mushrooms as necessary, and chop them into small pieces. Heat a nonstick skillet with a drizzle of oil until just below the smoking point. Add the mushrooms and watch 'em sizzle. They will start to release a lot of water -- let them. The high heat will cook it off fairly quickly, and then they will darken and shrink. You may need to add a little more oil, as mushrooms are like tiny sponges around fats once they've shrunk down. When they are done, turn off the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.
    Some jarred roasted peppers are whole/halved or in long strips. Chop them up until they're close in size to the mushrooms, then toss it in.
    Add the grated cheese to the bowl and mix thoroughly. The cheese may melt slightly due to the heat from the 'shrooms. This is perfectly fine and will probably smell delicious. Fend off hungry family members with a spatula.
    Add the chopped parsley, which will add a lovely bit of green to the mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Remove one roll of pastry from its cardboardy prison. If it is anything like mine, it is folded into thirds, with two folded sheets per box. You can cut along each fold, and then cut the remaining rectangle into thirds again to get a total of nine squares (they will not be perfect squares. This is okay). If they dry out a little too much, dab some water on them and wait a few minutes.
    Take one square of pastry and dab a bit of water around the edges with your finger. Place a tablespoon or so of the mushroom filling in the center, and fold the square over into a triangle, pressing to seal the wet edges. Place it on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or covered in parchment paper/a silicone mat. Repeat until you run out of squares or filling, whichever happens first. You can freeze any remaining pastry bits, and if you have a significant amount of mushroom filling left, it tastes delightful in a quiche. If you only have a few bites left, I recommend eating it when no one is looking. OM NOM NOM.
    Once your triangles are arranges on the baking sheet (they can be fairly close together -- they will expand during cooking, but this expansion will be primarily upwards), give every one a good poke or two with the tip of a knife, to allow a vent for steam.
    Bake for about 20 minutes. Depending on how close they are to the heat source and your particular oven, they may need as little as 15 minutes or as much as 25. Check on them at 15 -- you will know they are done when they are puffy and golden.