The Implosion of My Mushroom-Averse Mind




Maple Balsamic Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Havarti, Walnuts and Spinach


I’ve never liked mushrooms.  Combine the unappealing idea of eating fungi along with a rubbery texture and “earthy” taste (i.e. a polite way of saying they taste like dirt) and now you know why I never particularly dug these decomposers.

Did I think they looked cool?  Of course.  I always liked the shape as you can probably tell by the drawing below.

Cartoon Toadstool
This is the cartoon toadstool character I created when I was 10 or 11 years old. Am I aware the name Señor El Toadstool makes no sense? Yes. And before you ask, yes I was a weird kid.

I always found mushrooms to posses an unusually alluring aesthetic.  Some sort of odd combination of funkiness and beauty.

C’mon, a naturally growing circle of mushrooms is called a fairy ring so I can’t be the only person with mixed feelings about these fascinating organisms 

Recently I’ve tried to be a little more open minded and have done some experimentation with mushrooms.  Culinary experimentation only, thank you.

In July, I had some sesame flavored enoki mushrooms in ramen.  In September, I made an apple-goat cheese risotto with both dried porcini and fresh mushrooms.  And just last week I posted the recipe for my cremini mushroom mac ‘n cheese.

But mushrooms were never the main component of any of these dishes.  It was time to cast the humble mushroom in the lead role.

And boy, was I surprised. Read more

Stepping Up to Plate Tonight Is…French Onion Soup & Friends


French Onion Soup Dinner

Tonight’s plate appearance was made by French Onion Soup, a real class act born in the 18th century.  Don’t let the warm and comforting disposition fool you, this Frenchman has a streak of Port wine and isn’t afraid to tell you like it is.  Balancing out her more traditional companion is Mixed Greens, a sassy salad dressed in this season’s latest citrus vinegar.  As nutty as she is sweet, mandarin orange slices and toasted pecans round out her look.

Last but certainly not least is Chocolate-Orange Cake sporting a creamy yogurt hairstyle straight from Greece with orange zest highlights reflecting her bright personality.  Fresh from her oven-wide tour, she’ll make you, along with any scoop of ice cream, melt.


Hungry for more?  Check out related content.

Brunch Ready Pancakes in a Jiffy


Pancakes with Pears Caramelized in Fig Preserves

Wow, two of the first five recipes I’ve written here on Allspice & Ally use fig preserves.

You’d think I’d be a huge fan of figs but you’d be wrong.  I’ve never actually tasted a fresh fig…

My mom used to give me store bought fig bars for snack time during Chinese School.  Nine year-old me used to buy 50¢ Pringles from the snack cart instead.

And I’m not alone.  Last time I reminisced about fig bars and Chinese School aloud, my brother exclaimed fig bars are not cookies! with more emotion than he usually expresses about most things.

Sorry mom, neither of your offspring appreciated the snacks.

Border Dessert 3

I still don’t love fig bars but I do enjoy these fluffy pancakes. Served with pears caramelized in fig preserves and orange honey butter, they’ll start you off to a great weekend. Read more

The Floundering Fridge


For an appliance, our side by side fridge/freezer unit is getting a little old.  Having dealt with twenty years of Thanksgiving leftovers without complaint, it’s been a dependable companion but late last Friday night it needed to take a few days off.

Our poor broken fridge.

By Saturday morning, ginger ice cream had turned to soup and the numerous bags of frozen vegetable bought the previous afternoon were decidedly soggy.


Like children awakening on a particularly warm winter day, we were dumbfound by the unexpected thaw.  But instead of melted snowmen, we faced rapidly defrosting chicken breasts and turkey burger patties.
Read more

Gourmet Gemelli


Mac 'n Cheese with Mushrooms and Leeks in a Cauliflower Goat Cheese Sauce

I’m not ashamed— I like boxed mac ‘n cheese. Yes, it’s powdered cheese. And yes, I think it’s delicious.

For college students, it’s practically a food group.  Just like instant ramen, it’s quick and cheap but nothing about it screams of sophistication.

So for those of you who scoff at powdered cheese or just want something different, meet my gourmet gemelli. It has plenty of cheesy goodness but there’s something special about this macaroni and cheese.

It’s secretly packed with vegetables!!

It’s perfect for getting kids to eat more veggies.

It’s also perfect for getting adults to eat more veggies.  I’m looking at those of you who shrink away from spinach and disappear at the mention of daikon.

You know who you are 

Homemade Mac 'n Cheese Gourmet-style

Veggie lovers and veggie loathers unite, I think this is a dish you’ll both enjoy.
Read more

Accidental Discoveries When Hitting Pot Bottom


A Delicious Bed of Coconut Rice

I love this coconut brown rice. Actually I love just about any coconut rice but the addition of dried apricots and raisins gives this one an extra hint of sweetness and some nice texture.

I first made this dish back in 2014 while throwing a picnic to celebrate the end of the school year.

Regular people serve food along the lines of fried chicken, potato salad and sandwiches at a picnic.

Apparently I am not a regular person. Read more

Clammy Confessions


Clam Chowder Window 2

Okay, confession time.

I don’t eat clam chowder for the clams.

I know. Can we still be friends?

The clams are okay.  Sometimes I eat them but if it’s a low quality restaurant or buffet chowder, I often eat around them. I’m into chowder for the potatoes and the rest of the creamy goodness rather than for the clams.

So why not just eat cream of potato soup?  I could but I still like the faint briny taste of the chowder.  New England Clam Chowder is the embodiment of a winter beach scene.  Picture yourself tucked away in a cozy seaside cottage near a crackling fireplace as you watch the choppy waves break over a snow-scattered shoreline.  Now imagine that feeling in taste form.  Delicious. Read more

Monster Pizza + The Man Who Sold The World

Holy Holy at the NJ State Theater

I’ve gone to the NJ State Theater more times in the past three months than I do during most years.  We couldn’t pass up $10 tickets so my parents and I saw Holy Holy perform last night.  I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to call the group a David Bowie tribute band because it was formed by Woody Woodmansey and Tony Visconti (original Bowie bandmates).  Maybe just a tribute to David Bowie? Read more

The (in)Famous Frosted Carrot Cake



My famous curry cream cheese frosting. Or infamous, depending on who you ask.

My family rolls their eyes. One of my friends licks it straight off her arms while helping me frost cupcakes. I have the photos to prove it. Except she’d kill me if I shared them. And you still want the recipe, right? 😉

Some people love it. Some people don’t get it. I hope you love it!

Border Dessert 3
Carrot cake is one of the first types of cakes I ever baked. It’s also one of my family’s favorite cake flavors.

Unfortunately many bakeries and restaurants sell dry carrot cake.  And the dryness can’t be hidden by the super sweet frosting that doesn’t even taste like cream cheese.  It makes me sad.

What makes me happy is this super moist carrot cake full of crushed walnuts and golden raisins topped with a creamy frosting that gets just a touch of warmth from the curry.

It’s like a hug for your tastebuds.

And just look at that glorious cascade.

Carrot cake collage Read more