Day 4 Mushrooms

People use all sorts of things to measure time.  The obvious choice, of course, is a clock, but when you think about it, there are other more subtle ways to measure time.

Your newborn baby sleeps through the entire night.  Congratulations, you just made it to six months, or has it been a year?  Your neighbors have their trash cans lined up on the street.  Oh, it’s weekly trash pickup day.  You see Christmas decorations pop up at local stores when there wasn’t any the day before.  It must be September already. 

The kitchen is full of time measuring devices, aside from a clock on the stove or microwave oven.  The refrigerator and pantry are full of time reminders.  Expiration dates and “best sold by” dates are on just about everything.  They tell you the necessary information, which is, “use this item before this time, or you will risk making everyone sick”.  What they don’t tell you is when you bought the item.  All you care about is the expiration date, and that’s OK.

Some food items are like time bombs.  Their life clock starts ticking from the moment you put them in your shopping basket until the moment you eat them.  King among those sort of items is common, white button mushrooms.

I look at mushrooms like this…

Day 1 – The mushrooms are nearly perfect.  Rinse off the dirt, pat them dry and you can use them in fresh salads or any other purpose.

Day 2 – The mushrooms have barely changed.  You might want to trim off the bottoms of the stems because they have turned a little brown, otherwise they are still good for any use.

Day 3 – Why haven’t I used these yet?  If I use them now, I will need to pluck the stems out of the mushroom caps.  They’re still fresh enough for salads, but just barely.

Day 4 and 5 – Critical warning!  Mushrooms look a little smaller and browner than they did a few days ago.  They also feel wet, in a not-so-good way.   Use them now, or risk the death throes of Day 6, or dare I mention, Day 7!

Day 6 and 7 – Well, I really screwed up!  I knew this was coming.  I open the package and inspect the mushrooms.  They have big, soft brown spots on them, and they aren’t white anymore, and wow, what’s that awful smell?

Fortunately, I’m only on Day 4 with my mushrooms.  They aren’t salad worthy, and I need to find a way to disguise them and showcase them at the same time.  Sauces are great solutions for vegetables and fungi as they enter their “autumn years”.

Let’s make some jägerschnitzel!

First of all, if your menu choice contains an umlaut in its name, you earn bonus points, and possibly a James Beard award!  Secondly, if it is a compound German word, you receive the smug satisfaction of knowing a compound word when you see one. 

Jägerschnitzel is a hunter’s schnitzel with mushroom gravy.  Jäger means “hunter” and schnitzel means…well, schnitzel means schnitzel.  Schnitzel refers to the pounding and breading method used when preparing the meat.

I made a few substitutions along the way, like sake instead of white wine and panko breadcrumbs instead of traditional breadcrumbs and I’m happier for it!  I only took a few photos, but trust me, this is fairly easy to make and is very satisfying. 

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

½ onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup flour

½ cup white wine (I used saké)

2 cups beef stock

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Mushroom Gravy Directions:

Heat the olive oil in skillet.  Add butter and chopped onion.  Stir for two minutes. 

Add garlic and continue stirring for another two minutes.

Add mushrooms and stir for three minutes.

Add flour and mix to combine.

Add wine and cook for three minutes.

Add beef stock and stir sauce for about five minutes, until thickened.

Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce. 

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Schnitzel Ingredients:

1 cup cooking oil

4 boneless, center cut pork chops, pounded to about 1/8” thick

2 eggs

2 teaspoons water

1 ½ cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed

Schnitzel Directions:

Pound the pork chops until they are very thin, about 1/8” thick.  I like to lay the chops on wax paper and add another piece of wax paper on top and then pound the chops with the flat side of a meat cleaver.

Mix the eggs in a large bowl with water.

Spread the flour across a large plate.

Spread the breadcrumbs across a large plate.

Dredge the pork in the flour, dip in egg wash, and dredge in the breadcrumbs.

Fry the thin pork chops in hot oil for about three minutes and turn them over.  Continue frying for another three minutes, or until golden brown, and remove them to warm place.

I serve the schnitzel with fried potatoes on a platter with the mushroom gravy on the side.  This allows each person the option to add as much gravy as they like to the schnitzel.  I like to pour the gravy over everything!

And a little sauerkraut seals the deal!

Chicken Schnitzel with Roasted Mushrooms and Broccoli

A Quick Dinner for Two

Preparing a dinner has nearly become automatic for me.  I say, nearly, because there are still times that I am stumped about how to approach a particular meal, which usually causes me to bounce around the kitchen like a ping-pong ball, while trying to accomplish the simplest tasks.  But, over the years, I’ve learned how to manage my time and I’ve learned how to stay calm in the kitchen, even while improvising. 

For this meal, I wanted to flavor the broccoli with garlic but I didn’t want pieces of garlic in the finished dish and I wanted to add garlic paste to the schnitzel gravy so, it made perfect sense to me to quickly pan fry the broccoli with whole pieces of garlic and then use the garlic for the gravy.  That kind of efficiency pays off when you want to reduce the amount of time preparing a meal.  If I remember correctly, this meal took about 45 minutes to prepare.

Mushroom and Broccoli ingredients:

8 oz fresh broccoli florets

5 garlic cloves

8 oz fresh mushrooms (stems removed)

8 oz Mozzarella, crumbled

1 Tbs bread crumbs


Heat a small pan and add a little olive oil, about 1 tablespoon.  Add broccoli and peeled garlic cloves over high heat, tossing in the pan, frequently.  The high heat will char the broccoli without overcooking.  Remove and set the garlic aside.

Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a ceramic baking dish.  Smear the oil around the bottom of the dish, to coat. 

Remove stems from mushrooms and arrange them in the dish.  Nestle the broccoli between the mushrooms. 

Top with crumbled Mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over the cheese.

Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.  Remove from oven and store in a warm place.

Schnitzel Gravy ingredients:

15 oz tomato sauce

4 Tbs Hungarian paprika

5 garlic cloves, sautéed and mashed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbs softened butter

2 Tbs flour

For the schnitzel:

1 cup of cooking oil

2 large chicken breasts, flattened

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 Green onions, chopped


Add tomato sauce to a large pan and set the heat to medium/low.  Add the paprika and swirl into the sauce with a whisk. 

Move the sautéed garlic, prepared earlier, to a clean cutting board.  Sprinkle a little coarse salt over the garlic cloves.   Press and smear the garlic with the broad side of a kitchen knife, to form a paste.

Add the garlic paste to the sauce and mix. 

Add flour and softened butter to a small bowl.  Mix with a fork.  Ladle some of the warm sauce into the bowl and continue to mix. 

Add the mixture back to the sauce and continue to the heat the sauce over medium/low heat.  The sauce will thicken during the next several minutes.  Reduce heat to low and simmer while preparing the chicken.

Add about 1 cup cooking oil to a pan and heat over medium/hot heat.

Add chicken breasts to a clean work surface.  Pound the chicken to about ½” thick with the broad side of a meat cleaver or mallet. 

Set up a dredging station with beaten eggs in one dish and Panko bread crumbs in the other dish.

Dredge the chicken in the egg, coating each side.  Lay the chicken in the Panko bread crumbs and turn over to coat each side.  Press on the chicken with your hands to ensure that the chicken is thoroughly coated.  Pan fry the chicken for about two minutes on each side, or until the chicken is golden brown.

Remove to a paper towel to remove excess oil. 

Add the chicken to a serving dish and cover with the schnitzel gravy.  Garnish with chopped green onions and serve warm.