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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Balsamic Mushroom Slices

We often have friends and relatives stay with us at our vacation home.  During our fall vacation in October, four of the guys arrived the same day my husband's sister and our nephew left.  They were down for a week of serious golfing while enjoying the sun.  While do a fair share of eating out when they are down, we also cook meals.  Most of the breakfasts and lunches are made at home as well as about half of the dinners.  Don't get me wrong as we love eating out but getting into relaxed mode makes it easier to eat at home some days.

frying the mushrooms
The nice thing is, most of our family and friends are foodies as well so they love to help with the cooking and KP duty.  This is a wonderful way to share recipes and lots of good conversation peppered heavily with laughter.

My husband picked up rib eye steaks to grill for dinner.  Sautéed mushrooms are almost a must have with steak followed closely by caramelized onions.  One of the guys was making his specialty caramelized onions in a bourbon reduction.  I decided to get creative with the sautéed mushrooms.  I started them as I normally do in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and butter.  When the mushrooms were at the sweat point, I made a change.

balsamic vinegar added to the mushrooms
Balsamic vinegar reduction is absolutely delightful and ever so easy to make.  Simply pour balsamic vinegar into a fry pan then bring to a simmer.  Continue cooking until it is reduced to the consistency of a medium thick syrup.  It is a lovely, rich, full bodied  sauce ideal for serving over meats but also works nicely over some sweets like vanilla icecream.   I reasoned a balsamic vinegar reduction would go nicely with the mushrooms while complimenting the flavour of the grilled steaks.  Instead of making the balsamic vinegar reduction separately, I added about a half cup of balsamic vinegar to the cooking mushrooms.  I thought it would infuse the mushrooms with the rich flavour of the reduction.  

balsamic mushrooms ready for serving
I continued cooking the mushrooms until the balsamic vinegar was nicely reduced.  The mushrooms were nicely sautéed with a lovely hint of caramelization but with a deeper, richer colouring.  The aroma was tantalizing!

The whole kitchen smelled heavenly between my mushrooms and our friend's onions!  Both took about the same time to cook.  Both were simple variations of traditional toppings served with steak.  My husband had raved about our friends bourbon onions so I kept my fingers crossed the balsamic sautéed mushrooms would  be equally well received.

balsamic mushrooms served
The meal was rather simple yet quite delicious consisting of grilled rib eye steaks, grilled potatoes,  balsamic sautéed mushrooms and bourbon caramelized onions, and a garden salad.  I could not believe how such simple variations by adding balsamic vinegar to the mushrooms and bourbon to the onions, made such a difference.  That is not sour cream on the potatoes.  It is Greek style yogurt that is lower in fat with a bit richer flavour than sour cream.

This really is what makes cooking so much fun.  It really doesn't take much to change a recipe for a totally different result.  Simply substituting one type of vinegar for another can change the flavour of a dish.  I found that out years ago with canning recipes.   Adding in flavour enhancers like bourbon, sherry or wine can make a huge difference in the flavour as well.  So don't be afraid to do a bit of experimenting substituting one or more ingredient with a variant of that ingredient.

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