Wild Mushroom Pasta

I'm a big fan of Good Eats and Alton Brown. I've learned a lot from him. So when he suggested that dried exotic mushrooms were an umani flavor bomb I took to amazon to procure some. 

When you only cook with and eat plants, sources of deep and real flavor are important. 

His advice was spot on. I got a dried exotic mushroom mix and used it in my pressure cooker to create a sauce/broth for pasta and even though I forgot to add olive oil, it still had tons of flavor. 
After the pressure cook was finished I added the oil I forgot and cooked it off for a  few minutes. I then stirred it into my precooked pasta. Let it rest 5 minutes to tighten up. It was a perfect sauce to enrobe my pasta. . 

Dried exotic mushrooms are not cheap. But if you don't eat/cook with animal products, they feel like a bargain. There's so much flavor to be had. It's worth it and then some. 

1/2 box pasta, cooked to al dente

2 ounces dried fancy mushroom mix, big pieces broken or diced
1 pint …

SmashBurger 2.0

So armed with a $50 gift card and a hefty appetite I revisited my neighborhood smashburger. I'd been there once before when they had first opened and was not disappointed, but not really impressed either. For a better understanding view the post about my very first visit to SmashBurger restaurant in my home town.

My second visit was a very different experience from my first even though my order was nearly the same.

Again I got the spicy black bean burger. Again I requested it sans mayo and tomato. This time I did not eschew the gauc. And this time I also asked for grilled onions in addition to the standard toppings of lettuce, red onion, pepper jack and jalapenos.

Maybe it was the grilled onions. They are sweet and crunchy and delicious. Maybe it was the guacamole that added some needed fat and moisture. I got a big scoop of guacamole, but just spread a tsp on the top of the bun. Perhaps it was the combination of the two. I can't really pinpoint the reason. Maybe the cook that day was just more talented. Or it could have been the fact that there weren't mob scene crowds forcing all the employees to rush, rush, rush. Perhaps wind of my prior article may have even gotten back to them somehow and they spiced up the patty. It did seem less bland. Whatever the reasons, I really enjoyed it a lot the second time around. It just struck all the right notes for my meatless palette. I quite enjoyed. So much so, that I'd be happy to return again.

What still bothers me are their sides. They suck. The skinny fries are meh. The shoestring onions are sad. Their salads are pretty nice. This time instead of a side salad I got the baha minus bacon. It's mostly mixed greens with some tomato, jalapeno and cheddar. The spicy chipotle dressing is very tasty, but a little too thick to distribute well. Still, all in all, I enjoyed the salad.

But I would like a decent starch side dish option. Baked potato would be ideal. Wendy's serves baked potatoes. If they can do it, Smashburger can too. All the smashburger sides are so fatty and so full of salt. The salads not so much. But again, I'm craving a starch. A baked potato would just hit the spot alongside the black bean burger. Then the customer would have the option of customizing it with any of their toppings or dressings. You could have it plain and salt free if desired or you could smother it in spicy, salty goodness. It's a blank canvas that people could fit to their individual tastes. It satisfies those that want low cal, low salt and those that want high fat or high heat. But it's still starchy and feels substantial and filling. It can be made fatty, greasy, spicy, light, heavy. It's so versatile. It's the ultimate people pleaser. It's a million dollar idea and I'm giving it away for free.