Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mad Mushroom

So a mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'm sorry. We don't serve your kind here." The mushroom replies, "Oh c'mon. I am FUN-GHI."

If that wasn't the stupidest joke you have heard yet this week, you might br running the wrong circles. :)

Mushrooms have always been a favorite or mine. This week, I took a variety of mushrooms - oyster, porcini and shitake - and made a wild mushroom risotto.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

* Ingredients * 
8 cups chicken stock
6 ounces diced pancetta
3 cups mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups risotto
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Asiago cheese

* Instructions * 
1. In frying pan over medium-high heat, fry pancetta until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, sauté mushrooms in batches. Set aside.
3. In stock pot, melt butter. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add risotto and toss until well coated.
4. Add white wine. Stir until wine is almost absorbed.
5. Add 1 cup of stock. Stir until almost absorbed. Continue process of adding stock and stiring until risotto is creamy, approximately 30 minutes.
6. Stir in herbs and cheese.
7. Top with mushrooms and pancetta.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blackberries and Boxcars

My recipes are experimentations. There are as many that don't turn out as do. Let's just say this week there was a lot of wasted butter and flour this week at my house. 

The inspiration this week was a blackberry pie. Growing up, our house backed on to a wooded ravine. This forrest provided a perfect backdrop for the imaginative mind. I would often spend the afternoon as a woodland fairy or as one of The Boxcar Children. I even befriended a mountain beaver as a pet, but that's our little secret. Don't tell my mom... they destroyed her rhoadies. And don't tell Zeuggie... he might be jealous. 

Adding to the adventure of my imaginary life in the woods was the expansive thicket of blackberries. They provided a great afternoon snack. When I was bored I would collect baskets full or bowls that my mother would turn into pies or cobblers. FYI, my bother and cousins on the other hand were collecting banana slugs... my mom never made a pie out of them. 

In a ode to those childhood memories, I wanted to create two versions of a blackberry pie to share at work and at a friends rooftop BBQ. I ended up with an Almond Blackberry Bar and Lime Shortbread with Blackberry Currant Filling. Try both and let me know which one you prefer! 

Almond Blackberry Bar 
* Ingredients * 
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into squares 
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract 
3 cups flour 
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour
4 cups blackberries

* Instructions * 
1.  Using a pastry blender, mix butter, sugar, almond extract and flour until ingredients from a nice crumble. Set 1/3 of mixture aside. 
2. Press 2/3 of mixture into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. 
3. Whisk 4 eggs and powdered sugar. Add sour cream and flour. Mix until well blended. Fold in blackberries. 
4. Spread blackberry mixture over cooled crust. Sprinkle remaining crust on top. Bake for 45-60 minutes. 

Lime Shortbread with Blackberry Currant Filling 

* Ingredients * 

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
4 cups blackberries 
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Creme de Cassis 
2 packets gelatin 

* Instructions * 
1. In mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest and juice. 
2. Slowly mix in flour and salt. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. 
3. Roll dough on to a floured surface and using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out an even number of rounds. Place on to greased cookie sheet. 
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Cool on racks. 
5. In food processor or blender, puree blackberries, sugar and liquor. Stir in gelatin. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. 
6. Spoon filling onto cookie and place 2nd cookie on top. Dust with powdered sugar.