Mushroom Soup

You can easily make a mushroom soup that is clear or you can make it thickened without adding cream. I like to add a handful of rice to the broth while cooking it or add a handful of cauliflower. You can then blend half the mix or all of it to make a rich mushroom soup without the added calories.

You will need:

  • 2 pkg 227 grams white mushrooms and cremini mushrooms
  • handful of dry mushrooms – re-hydrated with boiling water
  • 1 litre vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion – chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced fine
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Mandranova Cerasuola
  • 1/4 cup rice  or a cup of chopped cauliflower (or both)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: cook chopped onion with some salt and pepper in olive oil for 5-10 minutes until just starting to brown.

Step 2: add sliced mushrooms, chopped  re-hydrated dry mushrooms, thyme and chopped garlic. Saute for another 5-10 minutes until they are cooked and most of the water is evaporated.

Step 3: add half cooked mushrooms to a large pot with vegetable broth and rice. Cook 20 minutes until rice is soft.You can also add some cauliflower to thicken without cream instead of rice (or add both!)

Step 4: blend the entire mix in blender until pureed as you like it.

Step 5: add back the soup to the pot and add the other half of your cooked mushrooms. Stir and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

serve with a drizzle more of great olive oil

or add a drizzle of cream or milk if you prefer.

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread

I made this bread replacing the butter that is normally part of the recipe with a mild buttery olive oil. It turned out exceptionally well and I will make this recipe again. Big Pete loved this sweet orange and lemon scented sweet bread so I knew it was a good enough recipe to share.

You will need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pkg traditional dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you can add part of this as vanilla sugar if you like)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mahlepi/mahleb (optional but makes it truly exceptional!)
  • 1/4 tsp mastic powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup mild buttery olive oil – I used Oltremonti Extra Virgin from Corsica
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest (organic if possible)
  • 1/2 orange juiced
  • 1/2  tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg plus 1 tbsp water for egg wash
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds or sliced almonds

Step 1: place milk in a glass measuring cup and heat in microwave for 30 seconds – should be slightly warm. Sprinkle yeast on top of milk and stir. Set aside 10 minutes to activate yeast.

Step 2: in a large bowl add dry ingredients: add 4 cups of the flour, sugar , salt, mahlepi and mastic. Stir to combine.

Step 3: in another bowl add wet ingredients: olive oil, eggs, orange juice, lemon and orange zests. Whisk to mix.

Step 4: add activated yeast to flour, start to mix with a wooden spoon (a couple of turns) then add the orange egg mixture. Mix well with the wooden spoon until it is too hard to continue, then turn out the entire mixture onto the counter.

Step 5: add the final 1 cup of flour as necessary until your dough no longer is sticky to the touch. It will take about 5-8 minutes to knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and becomes soft and smooth. I like to use a bench scraper to help clean the board as I mix.

Step 6: place a bit of the same olive oil in a large clean bowl, coat the dough and sides of the bowl with the oil to make sure it doesn’t stick to bowl once it rises. Cover with plastic wrap and leave until double in size. Approximately 2-3 hours.

Step 7: once doubled remove from bowl and cut into 3 equal pieces. You may need a bit more flour (but don’t use too much, it is easier to roll if it is slightly sticky)

Step 8: roll out 3 logs that are 2 feet (24 inches) long. Braid bread. Pinching ends to join. Lightly, cover the dough and let rise another 1 hour. If the dough is too dry you can brush a small amount of oil over top to avoid the plastic wrap from sticking to it.

Step 9: after proofing the second time. Take an egg and a bit of water and whisk. Brush top of bread with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds over top. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Let it cool before slicing- I know it’s hard but, this step is important or you will squish the perfect interior.