One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fresh Tagliatelle with Mushrooms, Chestnuts & Sage


Ack.  I had this whole post written and lost it while it was still in "Draft" mode.  Auto-Save is a great feature but can be harsh if you inadvertently lose text (or an entire post) and don't have a chance to recover it before it's automatically saved.  Lesson learned.  If I'm going to save something in Draft before publishing, copy the entire post's HTML code into a text or Word document.  That's my tip for the day!

(An apology is in order here:  My photos this week are particularly poor.  Not sure what my problem is, but I will do my best to get that figured out soon!)

I do so look forward to the weekends.  It not only means leaving the stress of the work week behind, but it allows me the time to do what I really enjoy... cook!  Though I do a little cooking during the week, weekends give me the opportunity to try new recipes and more time-consuming techniques that I don't have the time (or inclination) for after a long work day.  Which brings me to this week's Weekend Blog Showcase, hosted by Ann (Thibeault's Table) this week.

I've had this recipe on file to try for a few weeks now from Take Thou Food. Being the mushroom-lover that I am, I knew it was a dish I would love. Take Thou Food is written by Sean, a young guy who is obviously a talented cook and photographer.  I loved that he made the pasta from scratch for this dish even though the mushrooms are what really take center stage in the recipe.  While Sean used a rolling pin to roll out his pasta dough, though, I used my handy, dandy crank pasta machine.  I felt like a bit of a slacker in comparison, especially given the fact that his dough looks remarkably uniform and mine, well, ... doesn't.  Nonetheless, his pasta dough was simple enough to make and will be my go-to pasta dough recipe from now on.

Sean used a combination of shiitake, oyster, button and rehydrated chanterelles in his dish, which sounded delicious.  I remembered a small bag of dried lobster mushrooms I've had stashed in my pantry for quite some time, waiting for a dish where they would really star.  So I reconstituted them in some hot water for about 30 minutes, and sliced them up along with some shiitakes and baby bellas, saving some of their steeping liquid to enhance the dish.  Perfect.

I also had a jar of roasted chestnuts on hand.  Their slightly sweet flavor and soft yet chewy texture were a wonderful addition to the recipe.This dish was so easy and so delicious, I know it will be one I will make again and again.  Thank you, Sean!

Fresh Tagliatelle (Mushroom, Chestnuts, Sage) 
Inspired by Gabby's Fettucini from La Pietra Cucina

- mixture of wild mushrooms
- 2+ tablespoons of butter
- a bunch of sage, chiffonade
- roasted chestnuts, in little pieces
- dried or fresh fettucini or tagliatelle
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

1) Make the pasta. This is so easy and simple to make at home. Just combine 100g of flour, 1 large egg and a tablespoon of olive oil and blitz until it resembles wet sand. Pour out to a lightly floured work surface and knead for a couple minutes until smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

2) After the pasta's chilled, roll it out using a rolling pin (not recommended) or a pasta machine. After it's thin enough, cut into tagliatelle and set aside until you need it.

3) In a hot pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil (Lori's note:  I added an additional 2 tablespoons of butter to the olive oil). Add the mushrooms (rehydrate any dry mushrooms per package instructions) and saute until it starts to brown and reduce in size. Finish off with a tablespoon of butter to give it a nice, rich, nutty flavor.

4) Add in sage a minute before the mushrooms finish cooking.

5) This is where you gotta multitask: if you're using fresh pasta, cook it in salted, boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes before the mushrooms finish cooking. If you're using dried pasta, you want to cook it just before al dente and by the time the mushrooms finish cooking so about the same time you start sauteeing the mushrooms. Overcooking the mushrooms is more forgivable than mushy pasta though.

6) Add a splash of the mushroom stock from the liquid the dried mushrooms were in and squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice over the pan.

7) Toss in your pasta with the chestnut bits and toss a few times until well incorporated.

8) Finish the pasta with another tablespoon of butter and mix. Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Orange-Pomegranate Tarts


We've made it to the weekend.  Thank goodness!  It's time for Weekend Blog Showcase.  Join Ann (Thibeault's Table) and me in showcasing recipes from the beautiful and delicious blogs that surround us in the virtual world.  Find out how to participate at the end of this post.

My blog of choice this week is the beautiful Amber's Sprinkled with Flour.  I was totally taken with her Orange Pomegranate Tarts.  The flavors and the colors are so stunning that I knew this was going to be my recipe to try this weekend.  And I was not disappointed.  The orange custard is amazing.  And the pomegranate arils? They so beautifully contrast with the pale orange custard visually while offering that amazing textural 'crunch' to these tarts.    I have to admit that I stayed within my comfort zone and made my normal pie crust (using all butter this time).  A little sugar added to the pie dough would have been in order, but I forgot it.  Nonetheless, the crust did turn out flaky.  When making the custard, instead of using the optional vanilla extract, I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the Fiori di Sicilia I have stored in my fridge. It's a lightly floral orange/vanilla extract, and this tart was the perfect foil for using it, though pure vanilla extract would have been wonderful, too.  (I often use the Fiori di Sicilia in oatmeal cookies.  It adds that background je ne sais quoi that people can't seem to put their finger on.  Really delicious!)


I will be making this custard again, no doubt about it.  Thank you, Amber!

Orange-Pomegranate Tarts
Orange Pastry Cream

1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar (divided)
finely grated peel from one orange
1/8 teaspoon vanilla (optional - I used fiori di sicilia)
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the flour until well incorporated. Set aside. In a small, heavy-bottomed pan, place the milk, orange zest, and the other 2 tablespoons of sugar, and heat until barely boiling. Remove from heat and pour half of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking until combined. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and put on medium-low heat, whisking constantly until mixture is thick (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until melted. If desired, press the pastry cream through a sieve over a bowl. Store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed on the surface for up to 3 days.

Crust

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter (chilled and diced into small cubes)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice-cold water

In a food processor, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt.  Pulse 10 times.  With food processor running, stream in cold water little at a time until dough comes together.  Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, and pull dough together to form a disc.  Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roll dough and cut out large enough circles of dough to fit into bottom and sides of 4-inch tart shells. Place into tart pans and prick bottom and sides.  Place tart shells on a cookie pan and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Remove the tart shells from the pans, and place on serving plates.  Fill the cooled shells with the prepared pastry cream, then sprinkle the pomegranate arils over the top.
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To participate in Weekend Blog Showcase, pick a recipe from a blog other than your own (Tastespotting and Foodgawker are great places for inspiration), make the recipe and post about it on your own blog, crediting the originating blog with the recipe.  Then sign into Mr. Linky.  That's all there is to it!  Ann and I look forward to your participation!

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