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What's Cooking Archives - Page 2 of 19 - Backyard Grocery

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Venison, Pumpkin, and Blue Cheese Mushroom Caps

Venison, Pumpkin, and Blue Cheese Mushroom Caps

Venison appetizers are a great way to introduce people to this tasty meat. With pumpkin and blue cheese, what’s not to love?

Happy New Year! Hard to believe the holidays are already over and it’s 2013. I think this is going to be a fantastic year. It’s already off to a great start. I’m working in a job that I enjoy with great people, I’m cooking great foods, and I’m getting my health squared away. As far as the cooking great foods goes, I made these venison, pumpkin, and blue cheese mushroom caps for the New Year’s Eve party I attended this year.

I eat a lot of venison, as you know if you read this blog. I’m always trying to find new things to do with it. As with many of my recipes, this one was the result of leftovers in the fridge; specifically organic pumpkin. I’ve been on a pumpkin/blue cheese kick, so I figured if I added some venison to the mix, it’d be a winner.

I actually made two versions because I couldn’t find as many mushrooms as I’d like—this time of year, I can find locally grown mushrooms at the Maple Avenue Market. But I think there had been a run on them so I only got a dozen. Fortunately, I had some wonton wrappers in the freezer (alas, not local, not organic), so I was able to use all the stuffing by making little wonton pockets.

Finally, the blue cheese is also local, and raw. I was never a blue cheese fan until I started buying high-quality, local blue cheese. It is heaven on this Earth. I can not get enough of it. Mostly I’ve been crumbling it and eating it over greens with fermented onions and walnuts. But it was worth the sacrifice to add it to this recipe…the tang of the blue cheese pairs well with the pumpkin and the venison.

I actually think these would be great without the meat. I wouldn’t puree the pumpkin in that case. Rather, I’d roast it and then chop it finely, but still chunky. Try it, let me know!

Venison, Pumpkin, and Blue Cheese Mushroom Caps

I love pumpkin, blue cheese, mushrooms, and venison. It’s only natural I’d love all them together!

Recipe: Venison, Pumpkin, and Blue Cheese Mushroom Caps

Summary: A tasty appetizer for a cold winter night.


  • 1/2 lb ground venison
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup aged or raw blue cheese
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 24 medium Crimini (Baby Bella) or white mushrooms


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Brown the ground venison and set aside.
  3. Mix the venison, pumpkin, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  4. Crumble the blue cheese and mix it into the meat mixture. Set aside.
  5. Wash the mushrooms and pat dry with towel. Remove the mushroom stems by gently twisting and pulling. Place the mushroom caps in a baking dish and spoon the meat mixture into the caps. Put enough meat in each cap so that the meat peeks over the top.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender, but still solid enough to hold the stuffing.
  7. Serve immediately.


Instead of mushrooms, you can use wanton wrappers. Place one won ton wrapper in each muffin cup of a mini muffin pan (oil first if you’re not using a non-stick pan), making a little nest. Fill each cup with about 1 tsp of the meat mixture.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Copyright © Susan Rose


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Acorn honey cake

acorn honey cake

Feeling super traditional? You can’t get more American than acorn honey cake.

So, I’ve become obsessed with foraging for acorns. A few weeks ago, I harvested my first batch to make acorn flour. I chose to make the flour because I wanted to make an acorn honey cake, a recipe from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook. A cake seemed like a good first acorn based food to try.

I thought Thanksgiving would be the best day to try it out. I haven’t seen it documented, but I wouldn’t be surprised if acorn honey cake was served at the first Thanksgiving. Maybe.

I was amazed at how light and fluffy it turned out, mostly because I was expecting it to be really dry (that was the warning from the website). And the taste is so interesting. It kind of looks and tastes like gingerbread, although there is no ginger in it. The taste may be in part due to the olive oil. I’ve never baked with olive oil, and almost switched it out with grape seed oil. But I decided to stay true to the recipe, and am glad I did.

The verdict in our house: acorn honey cake is worth the effort. I think it’s going to become a new Thanksgiving tradition for me.

acorn honey cake

This cake is surprisingly moist and light. Yum.

Recipe: Acorn Honey Cake

Summary: A tasty, very Virginia cake


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup acorn
  • 1/2 cup call-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup palm sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Butter for greasing pan


  1. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    acorn honey cake
  3. Mix the flours, baking soda and powder, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Beat the egg yolks, oil, honey and 2 tablespoons of sugar together until it looks like caramel. Mix in the dry ingredients.
    acorn honey cake
  5. In another bowl, add the egg whites and just a pinch of salt and beat into soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat a bit more, so the whites are reaching the firm peak stage.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the dough a little at a time gently.
    acorn honey cake
  7. Pour the dough into the springform pan. Using a rubber spatula flatten out the top and place in the oven as fast as you can.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, watch for burning.
  9. Remove from the oven, let rest 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
  10. When the cake has cooled for 15-20 minutes, dust with the confectioner’s sugar.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

Copyright © Susan Rose.

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Making Acorn Flour

making acorn flour

Making acorn flour is a time-honored American tradition…and pretty darn easy.

When I started eating more local foods and growing much of my own produce, I really didn’t think I’d become a forager. But more and more, it seems like a cool idea. I live in Virginia, which is an incredibly abundant place. I was thinking on that this fall as the Burr Oak in my back yard incessantly pelted my roof with acorns. Then I thought, how does one go about making acorn flour? I didn’t even know if acorns were edible.

Well, acorns are edible and making acorn flour is really not all that difficult. Tedious. Time consuming. But not difficult.

I found instructions on how to do it on one of my favorite sites, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, along with some history on making acorn flour and its various uses. So, a week or so ago on a blustery Sunday, I grabbed a bucket and went out back to forage for some acorns. I have up within in minutes. The squirrels had done a very good job of eating the acorns. If I dug through the leaves I could find more, but it was musty, moldy work and I had another source. There are several trees in my neighborhood and two of them dump most of their acorns by the carport area. The leaves get collected, but the acorns nestle into the gravel. So, the dog and I scoured the neighborhood and had much better luck.

For my first forray into making acorn flour, I only collected about four cups of acorns. I wanted to test the process out before I really went wild.

Four cups of flour, nine days of leeching tannins, three hours of dehydrating, and one minute of processing later and I have about 3/4 cup of acorn flour. Thanksgiving morning I plan to turn that four into some acorn flour cakes!

Making acorn flour

So here is what you do:

making acorn flour

First, collect the acorns. Look for holes in them. The ones with holes housed a little worm. They’re no good (and be prepared to encounter a few of the worms when your hulling them. It goes with the territory).

To get the nut meat out of the hull, I used a carpenter’s chisel. You could use a knife, but my hands are small and I had visions of losing a finger. Instead, I held the nut steady with some pliers and chiseled off the hull. Once I got in the swing of it, it was easy. I only encountered two worms, but both times they startled me. They kind of pop out as soon as you break the hull. They look like white fluff balls. Ick.

As you free the nuts, immediately put them in a bowl of water because they start oxidizing. This also begins the tedious tannins leeching process.

making acorn flour

Once the nuts were done, I coarsely chopped them in my Vitamix. I decided to make flour my first time, rather than roasting the nuts. Acorns have a lot of tannins, so you have to leech them out. How long it takes depends on the variety of acorn. There are a couple of ways to do it, but everything I read said that if you’re making flour, you want to do a cold leeching (versus using boiling water). So, I put the nuts in a ball jar and filled it with water. Every morning for 9 days I changed the water until the water was nearly clear.

making acorn flour

Once the tannins have been leeched, you need to dry the nuts. I used my dehydrator and it took about three hours. You can also use the lowest setting on your oven.

The last part was the easiest. I just put the dried nuts in the dry container of the vitamix and about one minute later I had acorn flour!

I’m insanely excited about making acorn flour honey cakes for Thanksgiving breakfast. And if they taste good, I’ll be wandering back over to the big oak tree and getting some more nuts!

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