Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Real Madrid celebrates Spain in Los Angeles with chef Jose Andres at SLS Hotel!

One of the perks of being a Fissler Foodie in Los Angeles is getting invited to fancy foodie events. Yes, it can be hard to tear us away from our own kitchens, but when it involves a special appearance by the world champion soccer team and food from one of the best chefs on the planet, we’re willing to put away the pressure cooker for a night. On Monday we attended a fantastic party at the SLS hotel given by The Spanish Tourist Office to celebrate Spain and particularly the capital, Madrid. MC Drew Carey introduced the guests of honor; the incredible athletes of Real Madrid, winners of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Team members, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Iker Casillas, and Karim Benzema mingled with athletic icons from other sports, like Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece, Lindsey Berg, Kim Glass, Kenneth Faried and Jeff Adrien. And it wouldn’t be a party in LA without Hollywood film stars like Gabrielle Union, Camilla Belle, Olivier Martinez, Jessie Williams and Scotty Granger who were joined by Spanish counterparts including Paz Vega, Jordi Molla and Elsa Pataky. You can see a sweet video of Real Madrid players talking about what they love about the home city of their team at: and at 1:05 they start to talk about Spanish food, especially tapas! So, of course, tapas was the food we celebrated with that night. Jose Andres, the James Beard award winning Spanish chef of Bazaar, the restaurant at the SLS hotel, created an incredible array of tapas, from foie gras cotton candy, manchego cheese, gazpacho, jamón con tomate, tortilla española, huge pans of paella and luscious apricot flan and chocolate lace lollipops for dessert. If you want to create tapas at home check out one of Jose Andres’ cookbooks. He has written several cookbooks including the companion to the PBS series, Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen and Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. We ended the night with a glass of cava (the Spanish bubbly) and a toast to Spain for its fabulous food and a culture that celebrates the pleasure in life.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Raab Photography.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mushroom Gravy using a juicer and pressure cooker!

I was in Colorado last week and it the weather was unbelieveable. Generally the Front Range area gets very dry summers, but for some reason this summer was riddled with monsoon storms every afternoon! The rains brought out mushrooms in abundance. If you have been following this blog you will see that I love mushrooms and look for them wherever I go. Driving down Nevada Ave in Colorado Springs, there were clusters of some form of Agaricus lining the median so I stopped off and gathered them by the armloads! It turns out they are “salt-loving” Agaricus Bernardii and grow along the roadside because of the salt they use to melt the snow. The grocery-store Button mushrooms are also a form Agaricus, but these are about 3-10 times the size, largely mature underground and have a brownish-grey cap that is often cracked-looking. Please don’t use my descriptions as your only form of identification. Mushrooms can cause severe gastrointestinal distress or even death, so please do your own thorough research before eating anything.

That being said, Agaricus Bernardii are not only safe to eat but delicious! They have a fantastic perfume-y rather than earthy scent. The only problem is that there was too little time to eat them all! Before serving to friends and family, I always eat a small quantity of a new mushroom first, wait, eat a larger quantity and only after my stomach feels fine will I offer them to others. I cleaned them thoroughly using my Skrub’a Veggie Gloves and after the first 2 full meals there was still a pound of stunningly gorgeous mushrooms left over. How to save them? Dry them? Sautee and freeze them? Neither of these normal preservation techniques is highly recommended for Agaricus in general, so I had to be creative. I know…Mushroom Gravy!

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound Agaricus Bernardii mushrooms

1/3 cup dried Morel mushrooms

3 T fresh Thyme

1 t fresh Rosemary

2 t chili powder

2/3 cup onion

2 T Safflower oil

¼ cup butter

¼ cup white flour

9 cloves garlic

3 cups chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste


I had some dried Morels, so first off I reconstituted them using hot water. I also kept the cup of mushroomy-water to use later.

Using my Hurom Slow Juicer I juiced all the mushrooms and the onion and even the herbs, as you can see in the photo below. It’s really so much more than just a juicer! Juicing allows the mushrooms to be pulverized (I added both the juice and the pulp) so that the gravy remained textured yet smooth.

Until now I had never used a pressure cooker. Honestly, they scared me a little! But I felt safe to use my Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker because for one it’s quiet (like the Hurom Slow Juicer!). Also it has safety valves that allow steam to escape instead of causing the pot to explode. And Fissler makes it so easy to use that I was actually excited to try it. I had heard great things about pressure cookers cutting cooking times down significantly and because mushrooms are very difficult to over cook, this seemed like a great recipe to experiment with.


On medium heat, I made a roux in the open-top pressure cooker using the Safflower oil, butter and white flour (heating the oil then slowly adding in the flour so that it doesn’t get lumpy). Then I added garlic and browned it. After that I added in all the chicken stock, mushroom and onion juice and all the pulp. I stirred it up, closed the lid and let it go.

I shook the pot once in a while to keep it from sticking to the bottom. After 5 minutes I turned down the heat to low and let it cook for another 5 minutes. I took it off the heat, allowed the steam to escape and waited until the Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker unlocked, letting me know that it was safe to take the top off. It’s really a great feature that it doesn’t allow me to open the top until it had cooled down enough.

The mushroom gravy tasted savory and delicious. We will use it on steak tonight! And the rest I can freeze and the mushrooms will be preserved with all their juices and flavors intact.

If you end up with a bumper crop of mushrooms, I highly recommend making gravy in your Blue Point Pressure Cooker. It was so easy to use: I put everything in and instead of standing over the pot stirring, I had the freedom to clean the entire kitchen while it cooked, saving time and energy. I can't wait to use it again!