Friday, January 18, 2008

What's for dinner?

I love to cook. I seldom make real meals except on weekends, as we get home from work so late. (A real meal is defined as something from scratch, usually something that takes an hour or more to assemble, and is more interesting than hastily assembled mid-week fare). Sunday is usually my cooking day. We have a big meal Sunday, and then use leftovers for lunches most of the week. I also love casseroles that can be assembled on Sunday and baked later in the week. Tonight, I got home early because I had to take the bus, and my last bus leaves school an hour before my normal quitting time. So I had some extra time, and Branden wasn't home yet. The result? A real dinner.

We bought some mushrooms last weekend at the farmer's market. I think they're called hedgehogs, but the sign said that they're like Chantrelles. We're not usually mushroom people, so I have no idea if they were like Chantrelles, as I don't know what they taste like. The mushrooms were intended to be part of a turkey noodle casserole that I made last weekend, but I forgot to put them in. So, I had a bag of mushrooms that needed to be used up in the fridge. I also had some mustard greens from the farmer's market that I hadn't gotten around to. This is how most meals start in our house; there's something in the fridge that needs to be used, and I start cooking around it.

We went to a potluck Thanksgiving last year, and there was a really good corn stuffing that I really loved. It was surprisingly sweet, and really good. Sort of a creamy cornbread studded with kernels. I'm not sure why it occurred to me to mix that with a layer of savory mushroom, but that's where I started, and things just went from there.

Base layer:

1 small onion, diced
3 oz chantrelle mushrooms, finely chopped
garlic, salt, pepper, sage, cayenne and pepper flakes to taste
4 oz butter (I never use this much butter, but I splurged tonight. It was good, but I'm sure you'd be fine with a single tablespoon, or oil instead)
1/2 c white wine (another thing that just happened to be in the fridge needing to be used)

Mustard greens (or whatever happens to be in your fridge)
Canned corn
1 package corn bread mix (or your favorite recipe; I just made up my own)
2 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
1/4 cup of grated cheese (I had cheddar and parmesan on probably want something with a lot of taste, and maybe something melty, too)

Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter on medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add spices, and half of the white wine. Simmer to evaporate the wine while you prepare the rest of the meal. When the wine has been almost fully reduced, add the rest and simmer again.

While the base layer is simmering, wash and coarsely chop the mustard greens. Set aside.

Mix corn bread batter, and add 1 can of drained corn and the extra sugar. Stir to combine.

Hopefully this has taken long enough that your wine has mostly evaporated, leaving you with about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pan. Pour the base layer into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, add mustard greens, a layer of cheese, and the cornbread batter. Bake at 425 until it passes the toothpick test. The baking seems to take a little longer than usual because of the extra liquid in the bottom of the pan (but that extra liquid also makes the cornbread taste really good...). I think mine took between 45 mins and an hour to bake. Because it takes so long, the cornbread might start to overbrown while baking. If this happens, just put a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the crust to keep it from burning.

I served mine with a couple of slices of turkey ham and a salad. Yum!