[Photograph: Deb Perelman]

Those who have followed Deb Perelman's blog Smitten Kitchen for any length of time have learned that she works wonders with vegetables (and also butter). Her past life as a food-loving vegetarian shows in each of her recipes. Perelman's Mushroom Bourguignon in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is a perfect example of her vegetable creativity. Meaty portobellos (or creminis) and pearl onions are browned a la chuck roast, then added to a rich tomato and wine gravy. After only 20 minutes on the stove, the stew is thickened with beurre maniƩ (butter and flour mixture), and it's ready to serve.

Why I picked this recipe: Another perfect dish for cooler temperatures, this stew showcases one of my favorite fall ingredients: the hearty mushroom.

What worked: This is a truly awesome recipe. Not only is it a fast (and vegetarian) alternative to beef stew, but it is also a wonderful mushroom dish in its own right.

What didn't: Unless you have a very wide pot, I'd recommend browning the mushrooms and onions in batches for the best results.

Suggested tweaks: Next time, I plan to mix in a few different kinds of mushrooms (blue oyster and shiitake are some of my favorites) along with the creminis for funkier flavor.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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