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  • The Chopping Blog

Love it or Hate it - Part 2

Lisa C
Posted by Lisa C on Mar 2, 2023


It’s time for another round of my favorite series: Love it or hate it! What foods do you love that no one else does? What foods do you have a deep distain for? This is a hot topic in all of my classes, and I am always interested to hear opinions on food. That is all cooking is… a matter of opinion and guess what? Nobody is wrong! No matter whether you love an ingredient or hate it, there is still one common denominator - everyone must eat, and that is why I love a good exchange on what recipes people love and love to hate.

In part one, we discussed five different ingredients that I hear my students do not like to eat. My mission is to provide recipes that may change their mind about that ingredient and want to try it again and hopefully start liking it! In this edition, we will talk about the dreaded mushroom, everything anise, and of course, liver.




I think the biggest reason people don’t like mushrooms is due to texture which relates to the moisture content found in most mushrooms like cremini or portabellas. Simply try roasting your mushrooms in a 425 degree oven with your favorite spice blend. This will evaporate the moisture out and concentrate the rich umami flavor, but the trick is to roast on a rack and not directly on the sheet tray. There are a wide variety of mushrooms to try, and one of my favorites is the maitake or hen of the woods. This texture is a little firmer than other mushrooms so I think it makes for a great starter shroom.

mushroom cheesecake tart

Mushroom Cheesecake Tart

Yield: 6-8 servings

Active time: 30 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour


For the pan:

1 to 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs


For the mushroom mixture:

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, rough chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup dry sherry


For the cheese mixture:

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Prepare a 12-inch tart pan by coating it with a thin layer of butter or olive oil. Then coat with a thin layer of bread crumbs.
  3. To prepare the mushrooms, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the butter and olive oil.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue to cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and set aside to cool.
  6. For the cheese mixture, place all of the ingredients in the food processor and mix until smooth.
  7. Transfer the cheese mixture to a bowl and stir in the sautéed mushroom mixture.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set. It will still be a bit jiggly.
  10. Wait at least 20 minutes before unmolding, so it doesn’t collapse. Serve warm or room temperature.




This is a big category because a lot of foods encompass that licorice flavor that either people are on board with or just can’t get behind. There is anise seed, fennel, fennel seed, caraway, star anise, tarragon, ouzo or other aperitifs. That taste can be hidden in a variety of different foods like sausages, teas, alcohol, candy and much more. What is funny to me is that while I am not a fan of black licorice candy, I will eat anything else anise flavored. I love fennel so much, but if you are not so inclined here is a recipe to try out to change your mind.

lamb dish

Roasted Lamb with Fennel, Red Onions and Pomegranates with Balsamic Glaze

Yield: 2-4 servings

Active time: 35 minutes

Start to finish: 55 minutes

1 tablespoon fresh oregano or rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic glaze (see note, below)

2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed or 1 teaspoon ground fennel

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 rack of lamb, Frenched, meaning the meat and fat have been removed from in between the bones

Salt and pepper to taste

2 bulbs fennel, cut into 1/4-inch wedges

1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic glaze, fennel seeds or ground fennel, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the grapeseed oil. Season the rack of lamb with salt and pepper to taste, and sear in the hot pan, fat side down, until golden brown and crisp. Flip, and continue to sear an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate, and generously brush with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the balsamic glaze. Reserve the extra glaze.
  4. In the same pan the lamb was seared in, sauté the fennel and onions over medium heat until caramelized around the edges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Set the lamb on top of the fennel and onions, and slide the pan right into the oven.
  6. Roast the lamb until medium rare—it should read 125° to 130° on a meat thermometer.
  7. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Once the lamb has rested, slice the rack in between the bones to separate the individual chops.
  8. To assemble the dish, transfer the fennel and onions to a platter. Place the lamb chops on top, and drizzle the reserved balsamic glaze garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.



I grew up watching my dad eat classic liver and onions as a kid and never realized that this grossed most people out! To me, it was just like any cut of meat. The key to any successful offal dish is soaking in a dairy like buttermilk, milk, or even yogurt. This helps remove the extra bitterness and iron flavor before it is cooked. I understand it may be difficult to jump into the deep end with a plate of liver but an easy way to try liver would to make a mousse or a pate. These classic dishes are rich with flavor and pair well on a charcuterie board. Smear on a toast point with some jam or honey its like a savory PB&J sandwich.



Growing up as a kid your mom maybe gave you a box of raisins to snack on and that's when it begins… you want a sweet snack like candy and instead you get a dried-out grape for snacking! True, raisins are sweet and make for a nutritious treat instead of processed sugar but that is hard to hear when you are so young. Thus begins a hate-filled relationship with the delicious raisin.

There has actually been numerous discussions among my staff about raisins having a place in baked goods. I don’t mind them in certain areas like classic chewy oatmeal raisin cookies but that is about it. But there are tons of other applications for raisins that people forget about! Use them in place of cranberries or other dried fruit in savory applications, toss them in salads or even stuffings, make a vinaigrette or try this recipe for a caper raisin relish to top fish or other items. It can even work as a dip or paired with a creamy base such as brie. Granted it does include another ingredient that most people don’t particularly like, the anchovy, which can be omitted but it really makes this dish pop.

salmon with relish

Caper Raisin Relish

Active time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 cup


1/4 cup dark raisins

2 tablespoons very hot water

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 teaspoon finely minced anchovy fillet or paste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put 1/4 cup dark raisins into a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of very hot water and honey and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the shallot and garlic with the drained capers, the vinegars, fresh lemon juice, anchovy and pepper flakes in a separate bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain water from raisins and add to the caper mixture.
  4. Top with the extra virgin olive oil and stir in parsley. Season to taste.
  5. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.


Cottage Cheese

In my previous blog, I had stated that even I have a food that I dislike. Although you will not catch me eating a bowl full of cottage cheese - either savory or sweet - my awesome friend and colleague Chef Sara Salzinski has this amazing kugel recipe that I had to try in order to change my mind on cottage cheese! So if you are like me and don’t like it, I insist that you at least try this recipe because I am now on the road to liking cottage cheese…albeit buried under a bunch of other ingredients, this recipe has me thinking of other ways to incorporate this ingredient into recipes I do like!

kugelWell, this has been another fun edition of Love it or hate it! Please let me know in the comments if there are any ingredients that I may have missed that you think you hate. I would love to try and come up with recipes to change your mind!

If this subject interests you, don't miss our Flavor Dynamics class coming up on Saturday, April 15 at 12pm at Lincoln Square. We teach you how to combine those less than palatable tastes to make them even more scrumptious than you can imagine. Just like balancing out the sweetness of the raisins with vinegar or taming down the intense flavor of the liver… it’s all about balance to achieve the ultimate respect of the ingredient.

See our class calendar

Topics: raisins, fennel, cottage cheese, mushrooms, Ingredients, anise, liver

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