Friday, March 22, 2013

Shroom city, welcome to it.

Guys. This is so good.

That's what I captioned this picture when I posted it on instagram the other day.
It wasn't quite accurate.  This is not so good... This is SO good!

It's mushroom ragout.  Sounds boring right?  Ok... maybe not boring.  Not interesting? whatever... you should make this.

I swung by whole foods on my way home from work after a long day knowing that I wanted to cook something that involved a little more care... a little bit of prep.  I think cooking is generally my go-to relaxation technique. A little wine, a little knife skills (prob best in reverse order), a little dump and stir and I feel so much better no matter what came before the wine, chopping and stirring.

Anyway, when I walked into whole foods, I saw this gorgeous mushroom display (sidenote:  how do the whole foods overlords know how to make the food look SO appealing?? Gets me every time.) They probably had 10 different types of mushrooms.  I picked up wood ears, chantarelles, cremini and hedge hogs along with a package of local white button mushrooms and headed home.  They also had oyster, enoki, porcini, portabellas and a couple of other varieties.  Mushrooms are cool because you can get really deep, caramelized, meaty flavor without too much cooking time, like after a long day at work.  Did I mention I had a long day at work?


Below is a rough estimate for a recipe.  I don't generally like to use recipes, I like to make things up.  The problem with this is when you want to share something that is So. Good.  Well - if it sucks when YOU try to make it, consider this fair warning..  (just kidding - this won't suck... you could just dump all these ingredients in a feedbag and give it a shake and it would still probably taste good)

I served this on the side of a Niman Ranch ham and a few roasted beets.

The beets made for a great balance of sweet and savory and complemented the earthiness of the mushrooms really well.  (All those words mean nothing except for mmmmm gooooooood.)  This would also make a great pasta sauce if you used a bit of pasta water to thin it out. Or over steaks!  The possibilities are endless.
Mushroom Ragout with Bacon

2lbs various mushrooms, sliced (I used white button, cremini, chantarelles, wood ears and hedge hogs)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 Strips thick cut bacon, diced ( I use niman ranch or truck patch farms bacon)
1 Sprig Thyme
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup stock (you could use any kind - I used homemade veal stock)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp coconut milk (my husband is allergic to casein so I used this instead of regular cream.  You could also use a knob of cream cheese or a spoonful of creme fraiche)

Brown the bacon pieces in a heavy bottomed skillet.
Once browned, remove the bacon and set aside leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
Add the diced onions to the pan and slowly begin to caramelize on medium heat.
When the onions are just starting to caramelize, add the mushrooms, a few shakes of salt, and cook until they give off all their water and begin to caramelize.  (If you have some mushrooms that are more delicate like the wood ears, add the other mushrooms first, cook them off a bit and then add the more delicate ones)
At this point add the thyme sprig and the tomato paste and brown.
Add the wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping all the browned bits off the bottom.  Reduce the wine a bit and add the stock and bacon and stir.
Add the coconut milk.
Let simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat until liquid has reduced to a glaze and mushrooms are soft.
Serve with a drizzle of truffle oil over top (optional not optional)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A little home happy hour...

Hi both of you who are left!  You are in luck because today I have a fantastic cocktail recipe for you that I think I might just have made up a couple of weeks ago. (Note:  I am positive that it's basically impossible to make anything up these days but I refuse to search the internet just to refute that statement and see that someone has done this better than me with prettier pictures - so... here is a totally original recipe that I obviously made up).

The week had been an exhausting one.  Work has been challenging, there was an impending snowstorm be excited about and then let down by and a huge grant to recover from.  There were deadlines, bills and paper rewrites.  By the time Friday afternoon rolled around the idea of spending the evening out and about had zero appeal.  So, on my way home from work I swung by whole foods for some rations.  Olives, pickles, popcorn, kale chips and a little soppresatta seemed like a perfectly reasonable dinner.

While I was there, I noticed it was still blood orange season.  They had the most perfect blood orange cut in half on display, practically screaming to be made into some sort of cocktail.  So I snagged four of them and headed to the register.

By the time I got home, I realized that a drink of decent strength was needed to soften the exit from the workday (that was a poetic way of saying that a glass of wine wasn't going to cut it)  so I set my sights on some bourbon, my drink of choice when the going gets tough.

At first, my plan was to juice the oranges and use it as a mixer with some fresh mint but that sounded sort of meh and I was in the mood for something a bit more bracing.  While it would probably make for a delicious drink, I was planning to use a pretty good bourbon and didn't want to completely cover the flavor with juice and herbs.  So, the blood orange old fashioned was born.

Why yes, I am still using my Christmas table cloth... thanks for asking!
And it was delicious!

Burnt Sugar Blood Orange Old Fashioned

2 ounces whiskey (rye or bourbon – I used Black Maple Hill Bourbon Whiskey)
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 Blood Orange wedges
Maraschino cherry (I didn't have any of these sadly)
2 teaspoon blood orange juice (for muddling)
Sprinkle the sugar on top of the blood orange wedges.  Hit them quickly with a culinary torch (as if you are making creme brulee topping) until they start to caramelize.  If you don't have a culinary torch (thanks adam!) you can stick them under your broiler (on high) as close as you can get them for a minute or two.  Drop the cooled orange wedges in the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass. Add the bitters and juice directly to the sugar on the fruit so that they begin to absorb.  Muddle with the back of a spoon or a muddler.  Add the whiskey and one or two large ice cubes. Stir gently. Garnish with a thinly sliced blood orange.  You can top with a splash of seltzer if you like but that would make you a pansy.