Category Archives: Rice/pasta

Week 4- Mushroom Lasagna, and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

Meet the Contenders: 

  • Mushroom Lasagna
  • Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
This week we were lucky enough to host a few friends for our weekly TFB dinner and the NY times mushroom lasagna recipe seemed the perfect fit for a group dinner. It was a huge hit and provided some stiff competition for last week’s risotto!
The Lasagna
(recipe from New York Times)

Cooking Time: 3 hours (45 of those minutes are just sitting and smelling the delicious melty cheese)
Rating: cheeeeese
In three words: rich (ie. #opulent)

What we liked: 

Cheese.  Look at all the cheese!!!  CHEESE!!!!! As two meat lovers, we knew any vegetarian dish was going to be hard-pressed to make us fall in love, but this did a pretty excellent job. We used a number of different mushroom types (cremini, portobello, shiitake, and oyster) and the combination of all the different cheeses (fontina, gruyere, parmesan and smoked mozzarella) resulted in a delightful intermingling of flavors that was unbeatable. The middle layer of the lasagna was just the smoked mozzarella which really stood out. We used farm-fresh, small-batch mozz straight from Vermont and it was beyond worth it. The smoky flavor added so much to the dish as a whole.

Beyond tasting amazing, this lasagna smelled heavenly. The addition of the truffle oil to the mushroom mixture not only tasted good, but the earthy smell of the truffles took over the entire kitchen and we were sure glad it did. As the lasagna baked, it got better and better, making us more and more excited to actually dig in.

What we didn’t: Time and intensiveness of preparation–lots of slicing, dicing, grating, and sauteeing. We ended up grating 4 blocks of cheese total (that’s a lot of grating) and slicing a pound and a half of mushrooms (that’s a lot of slicing). Not to mention the shallots. The recipe called for 6 large shallots which had to be peeled (annoying) and minced. By the end, our eyes were killing us from the shallot-sting that we somehow couldn’t escape. And, let’s be honest, we love meat and this dish was lacking (although it was so delicious that we can’t really take off any points for that).

The Whoopie Pies
(recipe from Doubly Happy)

Cooking Time: 1.5 hours
Rating: WHOOPEE!
In three words: Use more bourbon.

What we liked: 

Wow. This was a spur of the moment dessert decision and it turned out wayyy better than we could have imagined. We’d toyed with the idea of making whoopee pies when we saw a whoopee pie baking tray at williams-sonoma. Though we didn’t purchase it, it got us thinking about the delicious little cookie cakes and we knew we had to try it. These were delicious. We were turned on to this recipe by the words “mini” and “bourbon” which are both always delightful, especially in cooking. As whoopie pie newbies, we weren’t sure how big they are normally, but by most standards, these don’t seem “mini.” At least two inches in diameter and almost the same in height, these little monsters were rich and gooey and delicious, but maybe not as mini as we’d imagined.

As our kitchen creativity took hold, we added half a tablespoon of allspice to the pumpkin mixture (a fabulous idea) and about two extra tablespoons of bourbon to the icing (also an excellent idea). I don’t think we’d change anything flavor-wise about the cookies if we were to make these again, but the bourbon flavor of the icing was completely dominated when it was inside the cookie cakes, so it definitely couldn’t hurt to add even more.

What we didn’t: 

These are some moist little cookie cakes. Once assembled, we let them chill a bit before serving, but even though they were fully cooked, they were so dense and sticky that it would have been off-putting if they weren’t so damn delicious. In the end, it almost made them taste better, but perhaps a few more minutes in the oven or a little less oil would have helped firm them up a bit more.

The Showdown

Savory 16: Mushroom Lasagna vs. Shrimp and Truffle Risotto with Seared Scallops

Winner: Risotto

The lasagna, amazing as it was, required way more prep and cooking time than the simple risotto. Both were, in our eyes, equally creamy, cheesy, and delicious, but the risotto is taking this one just because it was so, so easy. This one was a stiff competition, and it all came down to the simplicity factor. Either way, you should definitely try  both recipes because they are amazing.

Sweet 16: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting vs. Apple Pie Phyllo Rolls

Winner: Whoopie Pies

The whoopie pies beat our little phyllo rolls in almost every way–ease of preparation (ugh… phyllo) and seasonal appropriateness (perhaps this was our bad) being chief among them. That said, the bourbon butterscotch sauce on the apple pies could definitely beat the bourbon cream cheese icing (but that’s probably because the icing didn’t taste very bourbon-y at all and needed something to cut through the sweetness).

Week 3- Shrimp and Truffle Risotto with Seared Scallops, and Phyllo Wrapped Apple Pie Rolls with Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce

Meet the Contenders: 

  • Shrimp and Truffle Risotto with Seared Scallops
  • Phyllo Wrapped Apple Pie Rolls with Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce
The Risotto
(recipe from Epicurious)

Cooking Time: An hour, max. (That includes 10 minutes of hand-washing after you finish deveining your shrimp).
Rating: The Atlantic Ocean with a hint of truffle oil
In three words: Oh.Mah.Gawd.

What we liked: This was an amazing dish and so quick and easy to make. We made a couple edits to the original recipe such as using much more chicken broth than clam juice and adding a half cup of parmesan right at the end, which made everything even more delicious.  All of the ingredients in our preparation of the dish went amazingly well with each other–from the bit of clam juice we did use to the truffle oil.  Which brings us to the truffle oil.  YUM.  YUMMM.  All in all, the dish was beyond satisfying–rich, unique, flavorful but not overpowering, perfect for wowing company and wowing yourself, which is a very important and sometimes overlooked quality.

What we didn’t: A very minor (and purely aesthetic) complaint is that the scallops didn’t have that amazing golden brown sear on the outside. They had a little bit of crunch, and tasted amazing (and very well cooked!) but for some reason just didn’t get as golden-y delicious looking as we would have liked. Also, if we had followed the original recipe, it would have been too clam-juice-y.  That said though, we made a small batch without the clam juice, and it wasn’t quite the same. We might sound like whiny girls right now but deveining the shrimp was a borderline traumatic experience (just kidding, but it was not enjoyable in the slightest).  Some of them also oozed an orange creamy substance, gross… But they tasted good and we’re still alive so we guess that’s normal??

The Pie Rolls
(recipe from Evil Shenanigans)

Cooking Time: As long as it takes to figure out the phyllo dough. Plus about a half hour.
Rating: A (as in Apple)
In three words: Fussy but tasty.

What we liked: The flavors.  The spices we used for the apples were a perfect blend, combining your traditional cinnamon and sugar with cardamom, which we think added a unique and highly delectable twist.  The bourbon butterscotch sauce was intensely delicious–sweet, buttery, caramelly, warm, with perfect viscosity.  And it goes without saying that vanilla ice cream is the ultimate complement to anything involving apples and caramel.  Also, just look at how pretty the plate is, and it was so easy to put together.

What we didn’t: The ratio of apple filling to phyllo was a little off.  More filling, less flakiness please.  And phyllo is a pain in the ass to work with. We also tried to go off book a little and make extra sauce. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite enough brown sugar and none of the stores close by did either, so we thought about improvising with some sweetened condensed milk. This, however, did not go as imagined and was as much of an epic failure as the first sauce was insanely delicious. Somehow, it didn’t caramelize but instead turned into a mass that looked like a mix of dog food and brain. Needless to say, that went straight into the trash, and we will be sticking to recipes for the foreseeable future.

All in all, it was a hugely successful week for TFB and we will be sleeping soundly tonight with tummies full of incredible (incrEDIBLE) food. Next week, the risotto will be going head to head with a delicious-looking mushroom lasagna and we’ll be spending the rest of the week trying to find an acceptable matchup for our little apple phyllo rolls. We can’t wait to see what we come up with.