, , , ,

Mushrooms, Jersualem artichokes and other ugly food

When all else fails, make stir fry. This is my motto for when life gets in the way of cooking - when studying and working and all the restless gubbins of life tries to get me out of the kitchen, I get back in it and make a stir fry.

Apart from the fact you can have it from chopping board to plate in about 15 minutes, another reason why I love the humble stir fry is it can take practically anything you can throw at it and taste decent - a saving grace I normally attribute to soup (we eat a lot of soup here too!)

The other reason stir fries occur a lot in my house is whenever I ask my other half what he wants for dinner, he will always say, without fail, "Mexican. Or a stir fry." For the reasons listed above, he mostly gets a stir fry!

This stir fry must have been one for when he wasn't around though - it features mushrooms, which I love and are his nemesis. He recoils from them like he thinks they might be poisonous, so they rarely make it into our dinners together.

There's also mushrooms in the steamed buns: I found a load of frozen cabbage and shiitake steamed buns at our local Oriental supermarket and I can't get enough of them. One is never enough. Neither for that matter is two or three or four...

Mind you, I can't say as I blame him - mushroom dishes aren't always the prettiest. I found this snap on my phone of mushrooms on toast - I must have made it for myself with some fancy dan fungi from Borough Market. It looks like a dogs breakfast - another sign I was eating alone that evening!

I particularly like the fact that I must have thought 'man, that looks shocking. If I put some parsley on it, it'll transform it!' Erm, no.

Still, it was subsequently covered with cashew cheese sauce and it tasted good, so proof if proof were needed that looks aren't everything!

Along with mushrooms, my other current obsession of late has been Jerusalem artichokes. They may beat even mushrooms on toast for one in the ugliness stakes, but their nutty, creamy-fleshed perfection is all I've been craving for the tail end of winter.

My current favourite way of preparing them is to steam them for 10 minutes or so ,then roast them til crisp. While they're in the oven, I make up a pesto like sauce by blending walnuts, lemon juice, salt, water and either coriander or parsley (and as we know, a bit of parsley on top can right any wrong.)

Dollop liberally on your roasted 'chokes, and enjoy.

You may not enjoy the aftermath though - there's a reason they're also known as Jerusalem fartichokes...

Moving swiftly on, I found out that Coopers Vegetarian - a small veggie cafe and supermarket near Waterloo - has shut down. While I didn't ever eat there (there wasn't much in the way of vegan friendly food on offer), I could pop in and grab some soy milk or vegan biscuits if I was in the area.

Alas, there can't have been enough business to keep it afloat, and now it's gone - a lesson in 'use it or lose it' if there ever was one.

So, with that in mind, I made a trip to the health food store a mile or so away from where I lived, with the aim of making sure a similar fate didn't befall it.

I walked out with some Neapolitan Swedish Glace, a bag of linseed, some vegan tortellini, and one of these:

It's a sandwich of vegan shortbread with apple and date filling and to gives me that sort of Proustian feeling of having eaten something very similar as a child. It's also the size of a house brick, which made me love it even more. I'm definitely going back for another several trillion of these - fingers crossed that can keep the shop in business!

You Might Also Like


  1. I have to admit I've never tried Jerusalem artichokes before as I've always been a bit scared away by their ugliness (how can something so ugly taste nice?) but I should probably give them a try. Your pesto-like spread sounds lovely!

  2. Stir fries are the best fast food around - healthy, quick, easy and usually cleans out the fridge. I'll also put fried rice in the same category, if I have leftover rice sitting around. The steamed buns are a great find, I never seem to located the veggie ones at the store. :-)

  3. Steamed buns! We used to go for dim sum regularly as a family on Sundays and I was a little crazy for those puffy little things.
    I love both mushrooms and jerusalem artichokes too though I don't think I've had any of the latter this winter!

  4. I love those Proustian feelings, although they are often frustrating in trying to remember the original food.
    Such cute little steamed buns! I'll take a couple, or three or four.
    Also, I bought jerusulem artichokes a couple years ago and had no idea what to do with them! We roasted them but something was off. Probably the fact that they weren't smothered in that delicious pesto. I'll have to try again when I see them at the market.

  5. Jerusalem fartichokes had me laughing so hard my husband had to intervene! I can't believe that I've never heard that before!

    We also have the stir fry vs. Mexican debate in our house, and Mexican usually wins! But damn, I love a good stir fry.

  6. Oh, I love mushrooms as much as you do, and I also share your heartache of housemates not loving them as much as I do. My oldest daughter, despises them as much as your significant other does. I'm reduced to cooking them on the side and adding them as a topping, which doesn't do justice to most dishes.

  7. UGLY FOOD = FREAKING DELICIOUS! Ahhhh I love steamed buns (bao-zi) and they are sooooo good, my Mom makes them all the time. I need to make some right now and post a damn recipe, which I haven’t gotten to that yet. This year has been really hectic, and a lot of dramas I’ve to deal with ;( I have never tried these artichokes (or fartichokes), but they look so delicious though! Now that last photo looks yum - Gentle Gourmet has a seasonal dessert called Neapolitan as well - but that shortbread sandwich looks like something I would eat right away!

  8. Ugly foods are the tastiest. Although that pastry in the last shot is far from ugly!

  9. Stir fry or soup are usually the choices around here, but unlike at your house, mushrooms are invited to the wok whenever we have them on hand, which is often. I like the way they look, too, which is more than I can say for jerusalem artichokes. :) As for steamed buns — I wish I'd eaten more of them before I stopped eating gluten. Dang.

  10. It all looks so good but I really really want those fungi dumplings. I'm obsessed with all things doughy.


Popular Posts

Blog Archive