Burnt Mushroom and Artichoke Succotash

10 ounces button mushrooms. minced
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2 tbls capers and brine
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbls hot sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 serrano, minced
1 habanero, minced
1 poblano, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 can red beans, rinsed
2 tsps basil
1 tbl salt
2 tsps black pepper2 tsps garlic powder

This dish uses the char of the mushrooms to add umami. When you char mushrooms, it's almost as if they are transformed into an entirely different product. Those bland, little sponges are miraculously turned into a rich, meaty, flavor bomb. They become like vegan bacon lardons. They elevate all the other ingredients with which you combine them and make everything come alive. 

The key is to take the mushrooms all the way to the edge of being burnt. 

Cook the mushrooms heavily salted in a dry fry pan over medium high heat. They will release their liquid. Let that evaporate. Deglaze with the wine. Let that…

Celery and Pickle Vinaigrette

I got a blender for christmas. I had been wanting one for a long time. I watch the food network show "Chopped" religiously. On Chopped the chefs are constantly utilizing the blender to make all manner of purees and sauces. I found myself very much wanting to be able to do similarly creative things.

On the inaugural run of my new blender I made a classic chimichuri. This was simply because I had leftover parsley from christmas dinner. It was good and I quickly devoured it.

It took me a while to get around to the second try. Not for lack of desire, but simply because the food store was very hectic every time I went there. There was New Year's and then there was a big, big blizzard. There was no real opportunity to browse for blender ingredients.

Finally the moment presented itself.

I had pickles, celery, garlic and jalapeno, hot sauce. I was excited to really get busy with my new blender.

I added all my ingredients to the machine, plus some pickle juice and some water and buzzed it all up.

After tasting I added some salt and pepper, a little soy sauce and some basil.

Satisfied with my concoction I relocated it to a storage container.

I thought to myself I could've used a little less pickle juice, but overall I was very pleased.

Then it dawned on me that this was a perfect opportunity to mix in some nooch as well. AKA nutrional yeast to those not in the know.

I stirred it all together and put it into the fridge to 'marry' overnight.

The next day I had a pretty awesome celery and pickle vinaigrette.

I doused my salad with it. I spooned it over my lentil/barley mixture from a few days before. I even used it to enhance some powdered garlic mashed potatoes.

It's also vegan and has a good dose of B12 for those of us non-meat eaters.

It turned out great and I'm excited to create my next blender sauce. Thanks Chopped.