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All Aboard Harvest

As summer fades and the weather cools, cooking goes back into the kitchen with foods that warm up your taste buds. This fall, almost any everyday dish can be made more flavorful by adding mushrooms. One of the most versatile foods, mushrooms can be sauted, grilled, baked or simply tossed in to give long-time favorite recipes more personality with their subtle, yet woodsy taste.

Chef Tom Colicchio from Craft Restaurant and Bravo's "Top Chef" suggests adding mushrooms to dishes you already make at home to give them a new, enhanced taste. "I love including mushrooms in pasta, soups and steaks because they add a savory, full-bodied flavor to each dish," he said. "In fact, mushrooms are a staple side dish and ingredient on the menus of all my restaurants in New York, Dallas and Las Vegas."

Mushrooms are an easy and flavorful way to liven any meal, and they're also gaining recognition for their nutritional value. A serving of 4 to 5 mushrooms provides a mere 20 calories and zero grams of fat, yet it also is an excellent to good source of numerous nutrients including several B vitamins, copper and the antioxidant selenium.

The best part--mushrooms are a fat free food that is low in calories, and can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. And while mushrooms are grown and harvested year round, their rich flavor makes autumn foods pleasing to the palate. Add them to everything from bruschetta to your favorite chicken dishes.


You don't have to be a chef to make ordinary dishes extraordinary

Add sautéed mushrooms to your favorite fall dishes to give them a boost of flavor and nutrients. Chef Tom Colicchio suggests adding sautéed mushrooms to:

--Mixed vegetable medleys
--Omelets
--Baked potatoes
--Cheeseburgers
--Steaks
--Soups
--Burritos or quesadillas
--Stews
--Frittatas and quiches
--Warm spinach and goat cheese salad

Great way to sauté

Sautéing is one of the quickest and easiest ways to cook mushrooms. The process intensifies mushrooms' natural earthy flavor and uses less fat and is faster than frying. Just follow these simple steps:

--Brush pan with oil or butter and heat on high.
--Add a single layer of mushrooms; turn once only when mushrooms become red-brown on one side.
--Turn and sauté until other side turns same color. Remove from heat, season to taste and serve with your favorite dish.


Asian Vegetable and Mushroom Soup

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 lite 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. Serves: 4.


Easy Chicken Marsala

Olive oil or butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

Heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in sauté pan over high heat. Add garlic and single layer of mushrooms. Leave the mushrooms alone as they sauté--be patient as they turn red-brown--then turn and sauté until second side turns similar color. Set aside in bowl. Combine flour and seasonings in small bowl. Pound the chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness and lightly coat with flour mixture. Add olive oil or butter to large skillet. Heat over medium to high heat. Cook chicken 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through; set aside and keep warm. Bring broth and wine to boil in saucepan over medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine water and corn starch, then stir into broth mixture. Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until thickened and clear. Stir in mushrooms. Top with mushroom sauce to serve. Serves: 4 to 6.

Date: 10/3/06


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