Friday, June 27, 2008

Zucchini Mushroom Crumble: a Day in the Life

I love food blogs. Oh, the actual meals are nice, but beyond that, I really dig learning about folks’ day-to-day experiences making them. It’s a neat little window into lives totally different from mine, and truly, kind of awe-inspiring. (Note: I would have said “amazing,” but am actively trying to abolish it, since it’s the most overused word in the English language. Gandhi? Amazing. Cat socks? Not amazing. Seriously, folks.)

Take the fancier food blogs. They make something as mundane as dinner prep seem so idyllic, like there’s art in the air and deliciousness hovering over every well-tended garden. Really, some’re like reading an E.M. Forster novel:

I took care to place the heavier, robin’s-egg-blue crockery upon a trivet made entirely of gossamer wisps and the shattered dreams of former suitors. I did SO want to set the dish atop Signora’s silk-screened napkins depicting Queen Victoria, but alas – the airy soufflé would far from compliment the grandiosity of her majesty’s jowls.

The mom food blogs are pretty sweet, too, because I don’t know how these women do it all:

SIL and MIL popped over for din-din Tuesday night, so I had to breastfeed, hit the treadmill, open a Roth IRA, and whip up four 11x13’s of Tex-Mex casserole all before 6. Faboo. And let’s not even talk about Lil’ Miss Poopyhead, who decided to invite 14 homeless cats in for a tea party. I’m allergic to kitties, as is DH, so there was a lot of sneezing.

They make my days look like Dazed and Confused, y’know? Like, if I wrote about what happened last Thursday, it’d read more like a slacker police blotter than an actual narrative:

Came home. Worked out. Didn’t die. Ate peach. Farted. Threw pasta in pot. Ate pasta. Typed about it. Pet dog. Farted again. Examined ceiling leak. Smooched Boyfriend. Slept. Dreamed of Godzilla again. Is he dinosaur? No one knows, still.

One of my favorite blogs for day-to-day descriptions is Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde’s writing is laid-back but still engrossing, and her entry for today’s dish, Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble (Crumble de Courgette aux Champignons), is particularly good. Besides the mouth-watering details she rattles off with great affection, it makes you want to watch her cook. And that, I think, is the point.

If you decide to make the crumble itself (which you should, because it’s tasty), a few suggestions:

1) The herbs are totally up to you. I went with a ½ teaspoon basil, ½ teaspoon oregano, and a ¼ teaspoon of thyme for the mushrooms (crushed in my hand before adding to the pan to release the flavor), ½ teaspoon thyme for the zucchini, and a sprinkle each of oregano, basil, and thyme for the topping. It worked well.

2) If I whipped this up again, I’d only make two changes: adding a clove or two of garlic, along with two more ounces of mushrooms. (Also, maybe better background music.)

3) Clotilde’s original recipe was for twice the amount, cooked in ramekins, and written for metric system users (um … meaning everybody but us Yanks). I halved it, used an 8x8 pyrex dish, and converted everything to U.S. customary units. It worked.

Happy weekend, y’all.

Zucchini Mushroom Crumble
Makes 3 full servings or 4-5 sides.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini.

1-1/2 tablespoons oatmeal
1-1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons grated cheese (parmesan, comté...)
1 T olive oil, divided
1/8th of an onion, diced
8oz mixed mushrooms, big ones chopped in half
3 medium zucchinis, cut in small pieces (preferably julienned)
½ teaspoon flour
Thyme and dried herbs of your choice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppe

1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Get out 8x8 baking dish.

2) In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal, bread crumbs, butter, and cheese with your fingers. It should look like "coarse sand" when finished. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside.

3)  In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add mushrooms and some dried herbs. Cook until mushrooms "have released their water," about 10 minutes. Add flour. Stir until slightly thickened. (I forgot the flour entirely, and it still came out fine. – Kris.)

4) While mushrooms are cooking, in a different large skillet, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add zucchini. Stir. Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Drop heat to medium low. Cover. Cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, between 15 and 20 minutes.

5) Place zucchini in baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Top with mushrooms and spread them out, as well. Sprinkle crumb mixture over everything. Roast until crust is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes to cool, or a burned tongue may be in your future. (NOTE: I discovered the last part the hard way.  – Kris)

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
Main Course: 179 calories, 11.9 g fat, $1.13
Side Dish: 107.6 calories, 7.1 g fat, $0.68

3 medium zucchinis: 94 calories, 1.1 g fat, $1.28
8oz mixed mushrooms: 50 calories, 0.8 g fat, $1.49
1/8th of an onion: 6 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
½ teaspoon flour: 16 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
1 T olive oil, separated: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, $0.12
1-1/2 tablespoons oatmeal: 12 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.02
1-1/2 tablespoons breadcrumbs: 51 calories, 0.7 g fat, $0.06
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, diced: 153 calories, 17.3 g fat, $0.09
1-1/2 tablespoons grated cheese (parmesan, comté...): 32 calories, 2.1 g fat, $0.21
thyme and dried herbs of your choice: 5 calories, 0 g fat, $0.05
salt, pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 538 calories, 35.7 g fat, $3.38
PER SERVING MAIN (TOTAL/3): 179 calories, 11.9 g fat, $1.13
PER SERVING SIDE (TOTAL/5): 107.6 calories, 7.1 g fat, $0.68

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Kristen said...

That is a really neat food blog! I'll have to bookmark it. Her photos are really gorgeous.

kathryn said...

Hi there. I read Chocolate & Zucchini all the time, but I've never noticed this recipe - and it's a great one - particularly like the oatmeal addition to the crumble. I can imagine using the crumble a lot, to top off whatever was left in the fridge from the week.

On the subject of frugal meals, I recently made the cabbage & white bean soup from 101 Cookbooks. It's winter over here in Australia, so cabbage is in season and soup is most definitely on the menu (a lot). Anyway, we calculated it cost 24c a portion. Not sure what exactly that is in US cents - but still not a lot. And it was delicious. Amazing even.

Like your blog by the way.

molly b. said...

This looks yummy. And you are hilarious. Amazingly hilarious, no less! :-)

I was just thinking the other day about how I used to be addicted to a USENET newsgroup called (or RFC). Then I quit reading it about the time it got easy to read USENET posts in a browser (it's been a while, obviously), and food blogs have completely replaced RFC for comments like "Went out to the garden and brought in a couple of heirloom tomatoes and some fresh basil, then grabbed an onion from the root cellar and whipped up a nice bruschetta with the remainder of the baguette I baked for lunch yesterday." That is totally my fantasy life: to have the garden, the root cellar, and enough time and counter space to make the other two things worthwhile.