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…

Boxed Mac and Cheese with Guac

I was in the mood for some mac and cheese. I haven't had any in a really long time. I had a couple boxes of the Aldi brand box style in the cabinet. So I set about preparing one of those.

After the macaroni is cooked I usually add 1 tbl of butter, a 1/4 cup of almond milk and a 1/4 cup of water to the cheese packet powder to make the sauce. I didn't want to use butter today and I happened to have some homemade guacamole. So I thought to myself, avocado is fatty like butter, what if I try that.

I used two small spoonfuls of the guac because that was all that was left and a 1/4 cup of almond milk, but no water was necessary. It created a velvety smooth cheese sauce that was much better than any I'd ever made before with a boxed product. It was really good. I also threw in some crushed red pepper flakes for a tiny kick of heat. Best boxed mac and cheese I've ever had. And it was still a beautiful bright yellow/orange cheese sauce. It didn't turn it a weird color at all.

The guac was really simple. Just one avocado, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 jalapeno, 1 garlic clove in the chopper attachment for the blender until smooth. Remove to storage container. Season with 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander. Stir to combine. Let chill a while.