Saturday, December 10, 2005
Mushroom Workshop Revisited
When I fall off the horse, I like to get right back on.
As you may recall, I was unsatisfied with my previous attempt at a cream and mushroom pasta sauce, which tasted great but was too dry. I would wake up in the middle of the night pondering what went wrong, then pace around like a zombie during the daylight hours thinking about heavy cream and pasta cooking water. Trying again was my only recourse.
This time I got it right.
I made sure to add plenty of cream -- I don't cook with it often, so there's no reason to skimp when I do -- along with all of the water I used to hydrate the dried porcini. (If you've never cooked with dried mushrooms, I recommend you try it. The soaking water becomes a powerful potion packed with mushroom essence, and you should never throw it away.) And when I put the undercooked pasta in the sauce to finish cooking while absorbing the sauce's flavor, I added a big ladle of the cooking water as well, to keep things flowing. The sauce was not watery, but there was enough of it, and it coated the noodles perfectly, with help from lots of Parmesan. Margy dug it -- to the point that we ate it all and had none left over.
Allow me a word about the salad. I am on the verge of discovering the ultimate nut topping. I'm not quite there, but I'm getting close. I took whatever nuts we had lying around -- walnuts, almonds, peanuts -- and mixed them with some honey (which I warmed in the microwave to make it easy to work with), sesame seeds, and ground cayenne. I then spread the nuts on a sheet pan and baked them for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Sweet and spicy and roasted! (I think Margy dug those too -- look at how many she put on her salad.) Yet they were neither sweet nor spicy enough, and they needed some salt. My mom suggested I try toasting the nuts in a pan on the stove with brown sugar instead of honey. Stay tuned...