Wild Mushroom Soup


For 13 years I worked on 17th & Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC across from Au Bon Pan restaurant. One season they introduced a new soup: Wild Mushroom Bisque. There after, along with a hoard of other hungry lunch hour folks, I stood in line anxiously waiting to order a bowl of wild mushroom bisque. As one person put it, their mushroom bisque was "to die for!!"

I no longer live any where near Au Bon Pan.  And not being able to find the actual recipe, I poked around for similar ones to tweak. I have more tweaking to do on the next batch but this first one was really, really good.  It's loaded with a medley of mushrooms and a rich flavor.  This is what I came up with.


  • 3-1/2 oz  each of oyster and maitake mushroom, chopped
  • 5-3/4 oz Shitake mushroom, chopped
  • 3 oz white mushrooms, sliced (This is your garnish for the plated soup.) 
  •  5 oz white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium size sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 large garlic  cloves, diced
  • 8 Tablespoons of butter, set aside 2 tablespoons
  • 4 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (.... fresh thyme or ...thyme leaves)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or just salt to taste)
  • 3/4 cups of sherry (One mushroom soup I reviewed called for a cup of sherry.  In my next batch of this soup, I will definitely add 1 cup.)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream


In a separate skillet, melt saute the sliced white mushrooms until golden brown.

Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a  5 quart pot or a very large pot.  (I like to use a heavy cast iron pot.) s

Sauté mushrooms and set aside, leaving remaining butter in pot.  Add onions to cook for about one minute.  Turn over onions, add garlic and cook until onions are translucent.  

Add remaining butter and stir in flour.  Brown the flour while stirring until smooth.  Add chicken broth.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened a bit.  Add thyme and pepper.  Salt to taste.  Add sherry and simmer for about 1 minute.  Then gently stir in heavy cream.  

Serve garnished with the sauté mushroom.  Optional:  Add additional garnish of sliced spring green onions.

Yields 6-7 cups




Betty's Flan Dessert

FLAN 050.jpg

I call this Betty's Flan because the recipe was given to me by a very dear friend many years ago.  As a follower of the recipe book, The Joys Of Cooking, she may have gotten her recipe from there.  I'm happy to give credit to both my friend and her favorite recipe book.  

Most often I caramelize the sugar just to a  golden color.  But this time, I had opted for a much darker color.  When cooked to that point, the flavor has a pronounced almost burnt taste.


Syrup Ingredients
3/4 cups of sugar

Custard Ingredients
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  - 14 ounce condensed milk
1 -3/4 cup of water

Prepare Custard

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Gently beat 4 eggs, trying not to produce bubbles in eggs.  Do not over beat eggs.  Sir in remaining ingredients:  condensed milk, vanilla extract and water.  Set aside.

Prepare Syrup

Pour 3/4 cup of sugar in heavy skillet.  Stir sugar over medium heat until it melts and is caramelized.  This takes a little while but once sugar begins melting it does so very fast.  Once caramelized, brown syrup to your desired color.  Some people like the caramelized sugar burned. Pour caramelized sugar in a 7" (or 9") WARM cake pan.  A souffle pan would just as well.  WORK FAST so that syrup spreads over bottom of entire pan because it hardens very quickly.

Custard to Mold to Serving

Pour custard into cake pan up to about 1/4 from the top. NOTE: Pour custard through a fine strainer to get rid of any bubbles.  Place pan in a larger heavy pan.  Pour hot water in the larger pan up to about 1 to 2 inches of cake pan containing the custard.  Cook in oven for 1 hour.  Test custard for doneness:  insert a thin knife near the center.  If it comes out clean, the custard is done.  Remove from oven.  Let custard cool at room temperature.  Put custard in refrigerator.  Custard is best when allowed to refrigerate over night.  Left over should be kept refrigerated.

Remove custard from mold

Run a thin knife around the side of the mold to make sure the sides are not sticking.  Put serving plate on top of mold. Carefully and quickly turn over the plate and custard.  Be careful of caramelized syrup running.  Garnish with raspberries or some other tart fruit and mint around the edge of the custard.  

Serves 4-6




My First Chicken Piccata

image by shirley byrd

image by shirley byrd

I had been working on a photographing lemons for a food photography project when I ran across this recipe for chicken piccata.  There are many versions on this recipe.  It's quite easy to make and gives you a wonderfully lemony flavor-filled gravy.  To my dish, as you can see, I added a side pasta of angle hair spaghetti. 

The Ingredients: 

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, washed
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour to coat chicken
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock or white wine
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation for breaded chicken breasts:

In a heavy frying pan, heat 1-1/2 extra-virgin olive oil.  Add two tablespoons of butter.   Making a  vertical cut, slice through each piece.  This will yield you four thin pieces of chicken breasts.   Start by dredging two pieces in the flour.  Add them to the hot oil and butter.  Cook  three minutes.  Turn over the chicken breasts.  Cook three minutes.  NOTE:  If you are using a heavy stainless steel fry pan, as I did,  cook 2-1/2 minutes on each side.  Take care to brown the chicken, keeping it tender and juicy.  Repeat these steps for the next two pieces and set them aside.  

Preparation for the lemon sauce:

Melt two tablespoons of butter in the pan.  Add one tablespoon of flour from the flour used for dredging the chicken.  While mixing the ingredients be sure to scrap up any  browned flour at the bottom.  Add lemon juice, chicken stock or white wine and parsley.  Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste.  You can add the capers at this stage or, as I prefer, add the capers to the finish plate.  Pour the sauce over the breaded chicken breasts, serving individually or a platter.