Porcini Feast

October 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Porcini are HG/BSK’s favorite mushroom (morels are a close second and chanterelles are third). Thanks to friend Winfried S., BSK has been harvesting an abundance of chanterelles. This week (following Winfried’s directions), BSK, Lesley and Massimo R. went off to forage porcini. Their efforts were successful. Filled up a big bag of the fungi. (Checked with neighbor and mushroom foraging expert, Molly E., who pronounced the mushrooms as perfect and not poisonous) They became the basis of the best pasta dish in HG’s long history of Italian dinners. Dinner began with white wine and South Bay oysters (in season and delicious). Lesley cooked the porcini in olive oil and butter; much chopped garlic; shallots; parsley and thyme. Served over perfectly al dente Garapolo papardelle. HG lifted his plate and inhaled the earthy aromas. First forkful filled HG’s mouth with pleasure. Judicious sprinkle of smoked pepper and sea salt. Didn’t want the plate to empty. Ate slowly. The wine was Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2016). A gift from Viki F. (wife of HG nephew Paul F.). A splendid, rich wine. Perfect accompaniment. As the pasta/porcini delight came to a close, HG glanced at the plates of his companions. Not a tiny scrap left. Clean Plate Rangers. HG finished the meal with BSK’s lovely, custardy plum clafouti. Dining perfection had been achieved.

Exquisite Maiko Creates Culinary Heaven

April 21st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

As reported in an earlier post, SJ and family are in New Mexico for Passover/Easter vacation. Exquisite Maiko, HG’s favorite cook, prepared dinner and it was a miracle of Japanese simplicity and light, healthy eating. Appetizer was a giant steamed artichoke served with a mustard-based vinaigrette. This was followed by a platter of Icelandic cod in a soy and white wine sauce. EM saut├ęs (and lightly steams) the fish to bring out natural succulence. The cod was adorned with crisp garlic chips and little tangles of fried seaweed. HG contemplated an unusual phenomenon. HG was enjoying the ultimate seafood in the high desert of landlocked New Mexico. EM magic. Accompanying the fish were haricots vert and lush mushrooms (a tasty variety of oyster mushrooms). Just a sprinkle of soy sauce enhanced the flavors. Simple, simple food made memorable by EM’s Japanese genius.

The following night, EM took to the kitchen once again for a feast of tempura. Now, HG thinks of himself as a gourmand, a person who relishes good food and wine. And, he believes his choices are guided by judgment and experience. Decidedly not a glutton dedicated to the “grand bouffe.” There is an exception to HG’s self regarding analysis. That’s when HG is confronted by a tempura dinner created by Exquisite Maiko. Mad gluttony takes over. Excess rules. No chopsticks for HG. Knife, fork and spoon are wielded with speed. At times, HG wishes for a small shovel in order to engage the largest amount of EM’s tempura with dispatch. So, here’s what EM prepared last night. Each diner got a bowl of soba in soy broth (the fried items were dipped in this and the noodles slurped happily and noisily). Bowls were continuously replenished. The tempura included shrimp, bay scallops, mushrooms and asparagus. There was also a dish of Japanese eggplant — elegantly cross-hatched with knife cuts — nestled in a sweet and rich sauce, dusted with bonito flakes. A dish of Age Dashi Tofu. Condiments for the meal included wasabi, finely chopped ginger and sliced scallions. Only a poet could describe EM’s tempura adequately. Alas, HG is just a pedestrian proseur. HG can only stress that EM’s tempura is crisp, light and greaseless. Miraculously, EM’s swift frying doesn’t obscure the natural flavors of the ingredients, only enhances them. Two nights and two lovely examples of EM’s Japanese kitchen artistry.

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Mushroom Delight

October 30th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are mushroom lovers and a favorite is the oyster mushroom sold at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. BSK uses a plentiful amount of these in BSK’s creative variation of David Tanis’ fresh and wild mushroom stew recipe (Tanis writes for the New York Times Wednesday Food & Wine section. HG/BSK are Tanis fans). In creating the mushroom stew, BSK adds dried porcini mushrooms, the broth in which they have been softened and some good chicken stock. BSK’s choice of a cultivated mushroom is the brown cremini. BSK is generous with her use of herbs–namely fresh sage, rosemary and tarragon. BSK makes life simple by purchasing a polenta loaf at Trader Joe’s. BSK browns slices of the polenta. Tops them with a ladle of mushroom stew. A dash of red pepper flakes. Accompanied by a fruity red wine and followed by a green salad and cheese, you’ve got a festive autumn dinner.

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Mushrooms

August 10th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Folks who forage for mushrooms are notoriously secretive. When they find a productive mushroom patch they keep the information to themselves. Strangers (and even close friends) find it best not to pry. HG contemplated this as Gifted Daughter Lesley set out to the Prince Edward Island Farmers Market in a quest for mushrooms. She returned with excellent chanterelles and oyster mushrooms as well as supermarket bought shitake and cremini varieties. She sauted these in olive oil with reconstituted Italian porcinis, chopped fresh garlic (plucked from the earth hours before being sold), chopped onions and lots of thyme and sage from the herb garden. This was served over Garafolo (HG’s favorite pasta brand) pappardelle. A true taste of Italy. Ah, if only The Good Fairy of Italian Cuisine had made an appearance and showered the dish with thin shavings of fresh white truffle, HG would have been transported to a heavenly clime. But, as it were, HG made do with second helpings of Lesley’s sublime dish.

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Morels

June 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Morels are the kings of the mushroom world. They have a unique, sponge-like interior and a honeycomb shape. They taste musty, woody, earthy. A sensual mouth feel. They have many names. Among them: Hickory chickens, merkels, miracles.

In the Department of silver linings: They can often be found in areas that have had a recent forest fire. Grizzly bears like to eat morels and so does HG. They were a luncheon special recently at Santa Fe’s Compound Restaurant. Simply sauteed in butter, tiny bit of cream and some fresh herbs. HG ate them and drank some chilled Gruet Blanc et Noir. Nirvana.

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