Suzi’s Blog

Roasted Mushrooms with Bacon and Eggs from Downtown Italian by Joe Campanele, Gabriel Thompson, and Katherine Thompson


In Downtown Italian: Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York’s West Village, authors Joe Campanale, Gabriel Thompson, and Katherine Thompson offer you some of the spectacular recipes from their lower Manhattan restaurant empire.

In this special recipe three simple ingredients — mushrooms, eggs, and pickled peppers — combine energetically and enthusiastically. Here 1 and 1 and 1 add up to a 10, or so the customers at the restaurants declare. You will, too. Italian cuisine, noted for its simplicity in preparation, is on rampant display in this dish.

A combination of mushrooms is suggested: shiitake, oyster, hon-shimeji, and Trumpet Royale.

Cooking mushrooms can be easy or a black hole. Here is the advice straight from the authors:

The key is to cook the mushrooms as you would a steak: giving them a caramelized crunchy crust. Be sure to cook them in batches, and do not overcrowd the pan, or the mushrooms will steam instead. This is a great dish for guests because you can cook the mushrooms ahead of time and sauté the rest of the ingredients at the last minute. And don’t forget the lemon juice: It ties the whole thing together.

This can be the ideal light summer dinner. Yes, egg for dinner. White wine, chilled, and pefereably a little spicy to match ‘rooms and bacon.

Ah, for special flavor, consider augmenting the bacon by cooking it with maple syrup or brown sugar. That sweetness will be a strong counterpoint to the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Roasted Mushrooms with Bacon and Eggs

Yield: serves 4


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced or torn into ¾-inch-thick pieces (about 6 cups)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 ½ ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced hot pickled peppers
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 large eggs (preferably free range, farm fresh)
  • 4 ounces ricotta salata or Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and ½ tablespoon of the unsalted butter. Once the butter has melted, add one-third of the mushrooms. Scatter the mushrooms in an even layer in the sauté pan. Cook the mushrooms until caramelized on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper. Remove the mushrooms from the sauté pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat this process 2 more times with the remaining mushrooms.

Lower the heat to medium, and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to the sauté pan. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the meat is slightly crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is slightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the pickled peppers and basil; stir to combine. Then add the cooked mushrooms and toss together until the mushrooms are warm. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed; the mixture should be spicy, salty, and lemony. Set aside and keep warm while cooking the eggs.

In a medium ovenproof nonstick sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ tablespoon butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, crack the eggs and add them to the pan. Season the eggs generously with salt and pepper. When the eggs start to sizzle, place the sauté pan in the oven. Cook the eggs just until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the mushrooms among the serving plates. With a rubber spatula, divide the eggs into individual servings and slide 1 egg onto each serving of mushrooms. Garnish with freshly grated ricotta salata or Parmesan and serve.

Source Downtown Italian: Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York’s West Village by Joe Campanale, Gabriel Thompson, and Katherine Thompson [Andrews McMeel, 2014]

Photo Credit: Tara Donne


Asparagus and Fried Egg for Breakfast from Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodgers


We have two weeks of spring left and perhaps a few more of “spring” asparagus. In Breakfast Comforts Rick Rodgers encourages us all to spend more time in our kitchens crafting a healthy breakfast. In a busy world, that’s a big request. But that challenge is specifically why Rick has filled his lively book with recipes to encourage you “to look twice, savor quickly and cook away.”

What could be more healthy for breakfast than asparagus? Okay, it may be a bit unexpected to see asparagus on your place before noon, but in this version — accompanied by fried egg and pancetta and bread crumbs — you may find yourself with an indispensable breakfast companion.

You can prepare this dish is less than 30 minutes. But you may choose to linger over those asparagus spears for a leisurely start to your day.

Asparagus and Fried Eggs with Pancetta and Bread Crumbs

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 pound plump asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 large eggs
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, or other herbs of your preference, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roll the asparagus in the oil until lightly coated. Roast until the asparagus are just tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, combine the pancetta and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Add the bread crumbs to the fat in the pan. Cook, stirring often, until crisp and browned, about 1 minute. Return the pancetta to the pan and stir well. Transfer the pancetta and bread crumbs to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and warm over medium heat. One at a time, crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the whites are set, about 2 minutes for sunny-side-up eggs. Or carefully flip the eggs and cook to the desired doneness.

Divide the asparagus among 4 individual serving dishes or plates. Top each serving with an egg and sprinkle generously with the pancetta and bread crumbs. Garnish with the parsley and serve at once.

Source: Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodger [Weldon Owen, 2013]

Photo Credit: Maren Caruso




Cookbook Review: National Geographic Kids Cookbook


It is now summer and if you have kids, they are home at last. A leisurely two or three months off from school is, of course, a thing of the past. You may be busier than ever with increased sports events and dance lessons and even summer music lessons. Summer for parents often means, “Where are the car keys?”

Summer is surely the perfect time for culinary activities with your kids. They don’t have homework to take up their late afternoon. And you don’t want them just vegetating on their computers. Their appetites will soar with all their outside activities. So why not bundle in some fun learning activities during the summer. Right there in the most social space in their lives: the kitchen.

Cook with your kids. Take them to the supermarket and show them how to select produce. Stroll with them at a farmers market to wonder at the freshness in the air and to gain that sense of civilization that comes when people mingle and bump their shopping baskets together. Too often we just feed our kids. That’s just the end game of the whole gestalt of buying ingredients — ideally fresh and local — and then preparing the meal. So, if you are preparing meals, include the kids and prepare them for life, too. Someday, sooner than anyone can imagine, they are going to have to cook for themselves. Or making valiant attempts.

This colorful and fact-filled book, National Geographic Kids Cookbook, is an ideal way to work with kids in, I suspect, the 8-14 age range. Old enough to read, old enough to hold a knife, and definitely old enough to enjoy a kitchen experience.

This book is written with a year round theme: there are chapters for each month of the year offering not just recipes but also positive guidelines for how to work in the kitchen.

For the month of July, Kids Cookbook includes:

  • How to plan a picnic, a fun guide on what to do and how to do for an outdoor feast
  • Recipes for Zesty Coleslaw, Pasty Salad, Chicken Salad — treats for that picnic table
  • Suggestions for “cleaning as you go in the kitchen” so kids can leave the kitchen in good shape and not in a mess for Mom and Dad to deal with
  • How to have a Family Chef Competition that lets kids and parents have a playful time in the kitchen and learn the power of inspiration

Kids Cookbook has recipes that are kids’ favorites, like Sloppy Joes, and some foods they may not have yet begun to enjoy in their life, like Hummus. Do you even remember how old you were before you, the parent, had your first hummus? Nowadays, the number of foods and recipes available to us is astonishing. We don’t always take advantage of that bounty or introduce our kids to that variety.

Kids will always benefit from a Culinary Head Start Program. Their lives and their future abilities are oh so malleable now. Kids Cookbook lets you be proactive with your kids and have fun. And have great food, too. Some hummus with bread, those sloppy joes, and a raspberry yogurt parfait will make everybody happy, kids and parents.