The Gearhead has been remarkably behaved and ordinary of late, leaving me little opportunity to derive inspiration for this blog. [wife edits: that’s right, it’s his fault]. In part, this is because all of his spare moments have focused on ensuring our house is winter weather tight; that there’s a pile of wood, stacked, split, and in reserve; that the cars are donning snow tires, pulsing new oil and squirting windshield washer fluid that won’t freeze.
Of course I could mention our political dinner conversation the other evening when he peered over his glasses and down his nose at our daughter, incredulous that she didn’t understand what socialism is, or know what communism is, “what the hell are they teaching you in school!?”
“she’s only 11 for Christ’s sake!”
“be glad they’re not teaching her this in our schools” – this from my father, who gently dropped this pearl of wisdom into our conversation tsunami. He experienced both as a young child in Eastern Europe.
Or I could mention the Gearhead’s recent attempt to reclaim his youth through skateboarding, fuelled, as most of these things are, by an expertly made martini [wife edits: I tout my talents at any opportunity]. He’s now sporting a sickly yellow bruise and a blackened broken toe.
I could complain about one of my biggest pet peeves: after changing said oil or chopping said wood, the Gearhead insists on “washing up” – loudly, messily and till everything is covered in wet – at my bloody kitchen sink instead of in the washroom, where any other human being might think to do this. I think it’s a ploy to get me to notice how much hard work he’s been doing, how much “man” work he’s been up to, and how pale and weak my “woman” – kitchen, cooking, cleaning – work is next to this. [wife edits: that’s right, his loud ablutions are interpreted as a defiant act of chauvinism], [gearhead edits: that’s ridiculous. What’s for dinner? It better have meat in it.]
This is a beautiful, warm, winter salad with mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and
crunchy bits of breadcrumbs. It’s quick to whip up if you have a hot oven going already. If you have a Gearhead who’s working over time to keep you warm, safe and prepared for a Canadian winter, then you would be wise to pair this alongside a haunch of beef [wife edits: this wisdom escapes me].
Warm Mushroom Salad
The ingredients here are not precise measurements – make as little or as much as you would like. The oven needs to be hot, 400-450 Farenheight (200-230 Celsius), to get the mushrooms to caramelize quickly without drying out.
6 oz/200 g mixed mushrooms – a combination of types will provide the best texture and flavour contrast – you can chop these or just roughly tear them into bite sized pieces
1 shallot, minced
½ cup (120g) breadcrumbs
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese finely grated – a few tablespoons
greens – a lettuce mix with at least some bitter chicories and arugula for good flavour contrast
Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a bowl. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet so that the mushrooms don’t’ overlap one another too much. Cook in the hot oven 5-7 minutes, just until the mushrooms start to brown to butterscotch colour on the edges. Remove from the oven and place a top salad greens. Drizzle on a bit more olive oil and balsamic vinegar, grate some fresh parmesan over top and serve immediately.
Here’s a clip of my friend, Stev, of Olivea restaurant, making this delicious salad.