Friday, July 18, 2008

Shitake Mushrooms with Cheese Tortillini

A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartenders says, "We don't allow your kind in here." The mushrooms says, "What do you have against me? I'm a fungi!"

I told that joke as an intro to a presentation on fungus in college. Yes, I have a biology degree and all I remember is that joke.

I saw this recipe on Everyday Foods. I stopped getting the magazine and pretty much stopped recording the show but I happened across one of the Everyday Food chefs making this and thought I'd give it a try. Turns out it's almost the exact same recipe that we make with green peas instead of mushrooms (a recipe from an old Everyday Foods magazine...imagine that) .

1/2 lb shitake mushrooms (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (minced), this was pretty garlicy
flat leaf parsley (a lot, chopped)
3 tbsp grated parmesan (more for top)
1 tbsp butter
1 package cheese tortellini

Heat a bit of oil in a pan, add mushrooms and soften, add garlic, stir, add 3/4 cup water and season with salt and pepper. Let reduce for 5 minutes.

Make tortellini per package instructions.

Add cooked pasta, parsley, parmesan and butter. Toss and serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Monday, July 14, 2008

perugian-style chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (torta di cioccolata al forno con vaniglia e nocciola)

I got this recipe out of the April issue of Gourmet. It was okay. Not great, just okay. My favorite thing about it was that I had an excuse to buy those Carr's whole wheat crackers. If you're looking for a Christmas present for me think Carr's whole wheat crackers...I love 'em that much. (I like them more than this torta.)

For crust:
1/4 pound wheatmeal crackers finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), grated
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
1/2 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound 2 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

1 cup hazelnuts (4 1/2 ounces), toasted loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel while still warm, and nuts chopped (this is, sort of, a pain in the butt)

Make crust:Combine all ingredients, then press onto bottom of springform pan.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Melt chocolate with butter, then remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until mixture has a mousse-like consistency, then stir in chocolate mixture and nuts.

Pour filling into crust and bake 1 1/2 hours. (Top will be slightly cracked.)

Cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill at least 1 hour. (Cake will sink slightly.)

Cooks' notes:

•Wheatmeal biscuits are British-style whole-wheat crackers. Look for Carr's (labeled "Whole Wheat Crackers" and found at most supermarkets) or McVitie's brand (found at some specialty foods shops).

•Chocolate hazelnut cheesecake can be chilled up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Guest Chef: Lisa White

Lisa White is my first guest Chef...I hope she doesn't mind.

We've had the great pleasure and honor of eating two lovely meals prepared (in part) by Lisa White. One in Galveston where despite the hazardous conditions and a power outage she fried up some wonderful shrimp, scallops, and oysters on a makeshift fryer on the gas grill...outside, in the rain, and with a smile...when others weren't so jolly.

The batter was a mixture of fish fry batter and crackers (I can't for the life of me think of what kind of crackers they were and it's Jen Gardner's family recipe!). Seriously, the best fried seafood I've ever had and the whole meal was wonderful (as was the night's before).

In Austin, over the 4th of July weekend, Lisa invited a bunch out to her house for dinner and again she hit the grill this time with burgers, drumsticks, Meyer's sausage, kabobs, and eggplant. She's got impeccable timing with the grill and everything was cooked perfectly. She also made homemade strawberry lemonade (with Vodka) and a delicious white bean salad that I'm planning on making at home this week.
White Bean Salad:
1 can of white beans
red onion chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
a little olive oil
parmesan cheese
I found the grilled eggplant recipe online and I thought it was very good -- though mostly it was because Lisa grilled it so well.
Grilled eggplant:
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 pinch each thyme, basil, dill, and oregano
salt and freshly grated black pepper
Three cheers for Lisa White!