Tag Archives: mushrooms

South African Potjiekos

4 Jul

The South African Vegetarian Potjie is a classic and traditional Afrikaans recipe, usually made in a cast iron pot over a campfire. This version is basically a vegetable stew, but its how you cook the veggies, and how you present them that really makes them shine. This dish is usually made with lamb or meat, but occasionally you will find a vegetarian version. This is my favourite combination. It is a simple recipe because it comes down to which vegetables are available, and knowing how to combine said vegetables so that they sparkle.

Shopping is an integral part of cooking. Organic vegetables are always more expensive (they shouldn’t be but they are!) and so if you cant afford to go all organic, shop smart. Go to the organic section first and figure out what is freshest, ripest, smells and feels the best. Prod and touch and sniff and stroke your vegetables (much like the old lady in Tampopo) and choose a balance of colour and flavour. Max out your budget here, and then round out your vegetable selection with non-organic staples, that might have a larger range or more interesting choices then the organic aisle.

The single most important rule to remember when you make potjiekos is to let your imagination, wallet, and the state of your vegetable aisle combine in magical partnership! In terms of the vegetables you use, I would try to remember that you need something from each of these groups: aromatics to pull the entire dish together, such as onions, garlic, or for those who abstain, peppers and celery; starchy and firm vegetables that will standup to being on the bottom of the pot, and will cook the longest; sweet vegetables like pumpkin; vegetables that will release a lot of water, and flavour into the broth like mushrooms or tomatoes; and strong savoury green vegetables.

The potjiekos below will feed at least 12 – 16 people, and was made in a 32cm round (not oval) cast iron dutch oven. Get one if you can. Whatever you make in here will feed hoards, and it will last a lifetime. I quite like the smaller oval dutch ovens, but the round one is just fantastic.

I chose vegetables that were at their peak in terms of ripeness, luciousness and I tried to include a nice balance of organic and regular vegetables. I used a mix of tastes and textures that I like and enjoy, and layered the roughly chopped vegetables with a sludgey jam that I made from the onions and garlic.

I find this is a meditative dish. Cutting the vegetables, layering them, thinking about what goes where and how they will taste with each other – all these processes make you intensely aware of the food you are eating and serving. It’s a loving dish.

You can certainly adjust this recipe for much smaller crowds – though if youre cooking for 2 I would make enough for 4, and puree the remainder the next day for a comforting vegetable soup.

Potjiekos is beyond delicious! The best part, in my opinion, is the extraordinary, and scant, sauce that pools at the bottom of the cooked dish. It is the essence of the vegetables you used, and needs no seasoning. Sublime.

For a large crowd, you will need:

  • 3 – 4 onions roughly chopped
  • 8 – 12 garlic cloves, either chopped or smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Oregano, basil or any other dried herb that you like
  • Salt & Pepper
  • White wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar or port wine or regular wine or juice – just something acidic and liquid)
  • Mustard for that little hit of fire
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 – 4 tbsp butter

Combine all the ingredients above, in your dutch oven, and cook until the onions are wilted and slightly jammy in consistency. Transfer almost all of this mixture into a bowl, allowing a thin film of oil and onions to remain at the bottom of the pot.

Take your pot off the heat.

Roughly peel and chop

  • 3 – 4 red potatoes
  • 3 white potatoes
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 – 2 large carrots

They should cover the bottom of the pot. Mix them with the left over oil and onion coating the pot.

  • Roughly peel and chop
  • 4 Japanese sweet potatoes
  • ½ medium sized butternut squash

and layer on top of the potato mixture. You should almost cover it. Spoon a bit of the onion mixture over this.

Roughly chop

  • 4 -5 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 – 5 small very ripe tomatoes

and layer on top of the butternut mixture. You should almost cover it. Spoon a bit of the onion mixture over this. You could also layer a few fresh herbs – rosemary, thyme, basil – here as well.

Roughly chop

  • 1 large yellow zucchini
  • 1 large green zucchini

and shuck and slice

  • 1 ear of corn

and layer on top of the mushroom mixture. Spoon over your onion mixture again.

Roughly chop

  • 1 – 2 small heads of broccoli
  • 1 -2 small heads of broccoli rabe or cauliflower or purple broccoli
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • A few baby corns

And layer on top.

Your dutch oven should be full now. If its not, add more vegetables as you see fit. DON’T mix the layers.

Spoon over the last of your onion mixture.

Either make a vegetable broth with an organic broth cube, or use plain water, add enough water to come about 1/4th of the way up the pot.

Cover. Do not stir whatever you do! Check only occasionally as you cook this over a lowish to medium heat for an hour or more. You will know when its ready. Everything will have steamed, lightly. All the vegetables retain their individuality, but the gorgeous elixir which has been created by their mingled cooking steam will unify the dish. It is truly a case of the sum being more than the parts. Check for salt and pepper.

To make this look “presentable” and party perfect, sprinkle a few breadcrumbs and over the top for the last five minutes. Pop into a hot oven, with the broiler on. Alternatively, chop up a few bright green asparagus or some broccoli, and put on top in the last 5 minutes. They will stay bright green and make the dish look delicious. Or sprinkle the top with some Italian parsley.

Day Two: If you have leftovers, you can do much with this stew. Blend in food processor or blender for a vegetable soup that is beyond delicious.

Mushrooms and Couscous

3 Jul

I first had this dish in a “wymyn friendly” cafe in Observatory, Cape Town. The place was a little intimidating (identifying as I do as a woman 😉 ) but the cooking was outstanding. Unfortunately, it closed down because the chef and the front of house manager were partners, and when they ended, the cafe ended. But while it was operational, I ate here on a regular basis to have this meal. Its charm is in its simplicity and clarity, and yet its attention to colour, texture and taste. Its an easy meal to make, but incredibly satisfying for a vegetarian, and a vegan too if you substitute olive oil for butter, and leave out the parmesan.

I made this for MZ one evening when everyone was exhausted and tired. It was so comforting, you could feel the mood around the table change. It was good.

The other thing I love about this is that is so easy to adapt – you can make it for yourself, or you can serve it on a platter, with the golden fluffy couscous, and the beautiful steaming mushrooms arranged in generous synchronicity. Such pleasure.

I usually make this for 4 – 6 people but feel free to double or halve or even quarter!

Couscous

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil or 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 500 g box of couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups of boiling salted water or vegetable stock (see note)
  • Couple tablespoons of butter or olive oil
  • Salt

First, pour out your couscous and measure the number of cups. Most boxes of couscous can vary by up to half a cup of couscous, though you should get about 2 1/2 cups of couscous in a 500 g box. You will want exactly half the amount of couscous, for your boiling water or stock. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When soft and glossy, add basil and a little salt and mix well. Take off heat, and add the couscous. Mix well so that the onion is completely combined with the couscous.

Pour over boiling salted water or vegetable stock, and immediately cover for 5 – 1o minutes, until the water is completely absorbed into the couscous.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous, adding small slithers of butter or a glug of olive oil and tasting for salt. Set aside, covered until ready to serve.

Mushrooms

  • 3 -4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 cups mixed mushrooms (portobello, white, Swiss brown), peeled and roughly chopped (you want large pieces)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 – 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup water or veegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup half and half (very optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of baby spinach + handful of fresh basil

In a large frying pan, over medium heat, soften onion and garlic, and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. When the onions are glassy, turn heat up to high, and add mushrooms in batches of 1 cup each. You want them to sear a bit, and burn a bit before releasing their juices. Stir well, and continue moving the mushrooms about the pan.

When all the mushrooms have been added to the pan, add the balsamic and soy sauce all at once. This will quickly steam in the pan, caramelising some bits of the mushrooms, but also encouraging them to release their juices. As the liquids begin to come out of the mushrooms, do not stir. Add a few slivers of butter over the mushrooms and allow the heat and steam to melt the butter into the mushrooms. This will do two things: it will flavour the mushrooms, and bring out their incredibly rich and meaty taste, but it will also thicken and encourage the sauce that is being created from their juices. The alchemy of heat and ingredients!

Add the dijon, wine, water and half and half (if using) and mix extremely well. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Allow to boil down by about half, but ensure you still have some liquid at the bottom of the pan. Set aside until ready to serve, or serve immediately.

Just before serving, reheat gently, and add a handful of baby spinach, and a handful of fresh basil to the pan, stirring to wilt.

Assembly

To serve this dish you will need:

  • Couscous
  • Mushrooms
  • About half a cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Another handful of fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped roughly
  • Thin slices / shards of old parmesan (optional)

On a beautiful serving platter, arrange the couscous so there is a small well or dip in the middle. Mound the mushroom mixture into the well, and pour sauce over the sides, so you soak the couscous, but still allow its fluffy goldenness to shine through. Sprinkle the pine nuts over, and then the basil or parsley. Finally top with shards of parmesan if using.

Delicious!

Glamorgan Sausages – My Favourite!

30 Jun

Glamorgan sausages are a simple, easy Welsh specialty. These vegetarian sausages were born out of poverty — a way to make readily available ingredients stand in for more expensive meat. Amazingly, I have had non-vegetarians try this, and they swear I have given them meat sausages! They are filling and rich, and incredibly forgiving. You can add or subtract ingredients as available. Though the base of breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese and onions should stay, if you have some lovely sautéed mushrooms, or a few shreds of ruby red sun dried tomato, or some deep green sautéed spinach or kale — by all means add!

I try and use leeks (for their Welsh-ness, and for their soft nuttiness when braised in butter) instead of an onion, but if I don’t find any leeks in the shops, an onion – red, white, yellow, or even spring – will do. I use cheddar here, but if you want, substitute it with Caerphilly or another kind of melting cheese. Parmesan gives it a sharp richness, feta makes a thicker smoother mouth feel. Try changing the breadcrumbs – from white to sourdough to nutty brown, and see how the taste (and texture) changes. White bread adds lightness, while brown makes these sausages much more dense and thick.

These sausages are amazingly flexible as they can take on the identity of many different ethnic cooking — feta and olives or spinach with the basic recipe makes them Greek; sun dried tomatoes and parmesan delivers a sunny taste of Italy; sesame seeds and oil, a teaspoon of miso paste, some soy and seaweed elevate these to an Asian favorite.

I serve these almost exclusively for dinner, but they would be fantastic as a Sunday brunch, with fried or scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and some home-made baked beans. A Sunday fry-up beyond compare!

These are the version of Glamorgan sausages that I make all the time. I add portobello mushrooms for a meaty texture and taste. They don’t really stand out, but the sausages taste better for them. I make the base ahead of time, a day or so, and store it in my very hardworking fridge! This enables the flavors to meld. I also make my own breadcrumbs – ridiculously easy, and store them in the freezer, or an airtight container.

I know it seems like a lot of work, but if you do things in stages, and a few things ahead of time, its a simple matter of assembling all the ingredients and frying the sausages up. I cannot tell you how delicious these are – the cheese melts through the sausages, making them stick to the pan and burn a little. Oh the joys of burnt cheese! And their hearty, meaty texture is a filling and fulfilling meal.

This recipe feeds about 12 people +/- so feel free to halve it if you are not dealing with hoards. It doubles well too!  Makes approximately 48 sausages.

Base

  • 2 cups leeks, white tips only, quartered, sliced, and washed in salted water
  • 2 cups portobello mushrooms, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon or so of aged syrupy balsamic vinegar, if you have it – if not, you could use a glugg of wine
  • Approximately 1/2 cup heavy cream

Prepare the leeks and mushrooms. Wash the leeks well in salted water, and let them stand for a minute while you peel the mushrooms and chop the mushrooms. I always chop and stem the mushrooms. My sister once had a terrible reaction to a mushroom dish because they weren’t cleaned well enough – I would rather go through the process of peeling off the top layer then not cleaning them well enough. Good mushrooms always come with dirt!

Over a medium heat, in a medium to large saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Once hot, add the leeks all at once. If you’ve washed them and left them standing, they will still have water clinging to them. This is good! The leeks will almost braise in the pan, the water mixing with the butter and oil. Cook until the leeks are glossy and shining. Add the mushrooms, and continue to cook, mixing well, until the mushrooms let go of their liquid. Add the garlic and stir well.

You don’t want everything to cook down to a mush as you will be cooking again when you fry the sausages, so this is a very quick process.

Once everything is combined well, add salt and pepper, and a bit of balsamic vinegar if you have it. The balsamic will deepen the taste of both the leeks and the mushrooms without insisting that you acknowledge it – very loving and supportive. Its addition gives the other flavors an added dimension.

Combine everything well, and add a couple big glugs of heavy cream (or if you don’t have any, add milk). Incorporate well, and let it bubble and thicken for a minute or so, melding the juices of the leeks and mushrooms with the cream., and then take off the heat. If you are making the sausages the next day, let cool, and then store in the fridge, covered.

By the by, this makes a phenomenal base for a leek and mushroom soup or pie. If you are making soup, blitz in blender with milk and/or vegetable stock, and reheat, adding herbs to taste. If you are making a pie, use bigger cuts of both the leeks and mushrooms. Yummy either way!

Breadcrumbs

  • 2 loaves of bread – at least 2 days old. I usually use a mix of brown and white. I used a Swiss egg bread and a German brown sourdough for this recipe, but you can use whatever you want!
  • 2 croissants (for richness – very optional!)

Tear the bread in to large pieces, and toast, for about ten minutes, in a low (100 C) oven. You want it to be crisp, not colored or burnt. This deepens the flavor of the bread, and makes sure its very dry. Dry bread sucks up the flavors of the leeks, cheese and mushrooms really well. Allow the bread to cool once it has been toasted.

Pulse in food processor until bread has become breadcrumbs. Store in an airtight container, or the freezer until needed.

This makes much more than you will need, but breadcrumbs are a wonderful resource to have. You can use them for a stuffing, for a cake in lieu of flour if you don’t have any, to thicken sauces, as a coating when frying. The possibilities are endless.

Also, obviously, you can make this with storebought breadcrumbs – I have used a mix of breadcrumbs and panko and its been superb!

Assembly

  • 6 – 7 eggs,  beaten
  • Base of leeks & mushrooms
  • 6 – 8 cups of breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups of grated cheddar
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan
  • ½ cup washed chopped Italian parsley

In a large bowl, whip the eggs together. Add all the leek & mushroom base, and beat together well. Take off all your rings! Add 6 cups of breadcrumbs and mix well with your hands. Taste for salt.

Wash your hands well, and grate the cheeses over this mixture. Then, using your hands again, mix thoroughly. Taste. You may need more breadcrumbs if its too cheesy. You can also add a little cream or milk to make the mixture come together. Mix in the chopped parsley.

Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Heat your oven at its lowest possible temperature. Take a baking tin, and put a cookie rack on top of the tin. You will put your sausages here as you fry them to keep them warm.

Take another baking tin and line it with baking paper.  Take the sausage mixture out of the fridge, and with wet hands, form sausages. You can make round ones, though I prefer the traditional sausage shape. Probably about 4 inches x 2 inches wide. Line the sausages up on the baking tin lined with paper. As the tin fills up, cover the layer of sausages with more baking paper, and continue.

Frying

  • About ¼ cup olive oil
  • A non stick pan
  • A few teaspoons of Fleur de sel or Maldon salt to finish

Up to 2 hours before serving, start frying your sausages.  Ensure that your olive oil is in a pouring measuring cup and use it very sparingly.  A little drizzle is all you need, and a medium hot flame. If you have a large pan, you should be able to get 9 sausages at once. I try and flip each sausage three times, so I usually get a sausage chain going, concentrating on 3 sausages at a time, letting the other 6 brown up.

You will see the sausages brown on the outside, and cook firm inside. The cheese will melt out and  brown. The scent is superlative!

As the sausages are cooked, blot the oil off on paper towels, and transfer to the baking tin cookie rack in the oven. Sprinkle over some Fleur de sel if you have it, or Maldon salt.  Remember to keep sprinkling sausages with a tiny bit of salt as you add them to the oven.

The frying process should take 40 minutes to an hour for approximately 48 – 50 sausages.

Photo copyright U-En Ng

Green Pasta for MZ+BSA

27 Jun

While visiting M a few months ago, I was able to cook in her wonderful kitchen (using knives that a friend of BSA had hand made!) and enjoy all the bounty and amazing-ness that was Whole Foods! I could so live in that place!

One of my favourite concoctions was this green pasta. BSA seemed to like it enough that he went for thirds (or was that fourths?). Either way, it is made with the freshest and greenest veg you can find. Feel free to adjust, though these go well together. The mushroom adds a warm muskiness that holds everything else together.  This dish bursts with energy and vibrancy, and its so delicious. Simple, and not creamy either, which is satisfying without being overwhelming.

You could serve this with all sorts: couscous, rice, even a toasted brioche, but angel hair pasta, to me, has the delicacy that this dish needs.

Feeds 4 hungry people

  • Approximately 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5-7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 250 g mushrooms
  • 2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced into ribbons
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup white wine (or alternatively, veg stock and lemon juice, if you dont want alcohol)
  • 1 cup broccolini (or other type broccoli) roughly chopped
  • Few leaves fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or so parmesan and more to serve
  • Angel hair pasta

Start with about half the olive oil, or enough to thickly coat the bottom of a large non stick pan. You should have a green gold puddle. Add more olive oil as needed while cooking. Turn heat on low.

As oil heats, throw in all the thinly sliced garlic. It will infuse the oil, and add depth to the flavour of the finished pasta. Watch as garlic gets soft but dont allow it to brown.

Meanwhile peel and slice the mushrooms, and add to pan, putting heat up to medium low. Stir well and encourage the juices of the mushrooms to let go.

Prepare spinach by taking leaves, rolling them into little cigar shapes, and cutting into ribbons. Add to pan and saute to wilt.

Roughly chop artichoke hearts, and add to the pan. Stir all ingredients together, to introduce them to one another and immediately add wine (or veg stock/lemon juice). Allow to braise for a few minutes, and check for flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note: I usually add white pepper to this dish so as not to whack all the delicate flavours over the head with ground black pepper.

Roughly chop broccolini, and add it to the steaming pan. Turn off heat after a few minutes. Use a light hand with this recipe and work quickly. You want your ingredients to cook, but you dont want them to boil and leach all their flavour and freshness. Remember that the heat will continue cooking the vegetables for quite a while after you take the pan off the fire.

Tear a few leaves of fresh basil in half, or crush them between your fingers to release their amazing scent and oils. Add to the pan and mix all together.

Cook angel hair pasta, reserving 1/2 mug of cooking liquid. Drain pasta. Mix vegetables and pasta together by adding pasta to the vegetables rather than vice versa. Use tongs and mix well. Add a little of the pasta cooking liquid if you think its too dry. You might want to add some lemon juice or another splash of wine. Grate parmesan lightly over and mix well.

You could use many different vegetables for this beautifully delicate dish. Asparagus comes to mind, as do peas, rocket, french beans.

Vegetables a la Greque a la Karo

22 Jun

This is from a good friend of mine who has the same philosophy of cooking with love and passion, and as little harm as possible. She sent it to me as below, and I love her words, so I will let them be …

The original recipe is in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – and I think it’s volume 1.

It’s a one-pot method of turning your beautiful raw vegetables, which might otherwise become cloudy and dull in the fridge as you wait for another idea/opportunity to do something with them, into delectable little appetisers or salady thingies.

You can do it with any vegetable that has firm texture and flavour, as long as it does not need to be cooked before being eaten raw like potatoes and aubergines do. I find it a much more forgiving method than oven-roasting or grilling for cold salad veg.

I have used: courgettes, mushrooms, asparagus, pepper, celery, green beans, beetroot. Must do firm small tomatoes next.

Take your fresh and good vegetables and prepare them as if for salad – cut them cleanly and decoratively and uniformly.

Take a pot and put in it a scanty pint of water, the juices of one or two lemons, a cup of good olive oil, good salt, pepper, and garlic cloves finely chopped. Add any good herbs that you have to flavour your court-bouillon; bay, parsley, thyme, tarragon, fennel … I have added lemon rind too.

Bring to the boil and simmer your vegetables within until tender but still holding their firmness. Mushrooms will be tender in 5 minutes or less (depending on your slicing of them); celery could take 20.

Remove your vegetables, and leave to cool on a plate.

You could now poach another set of vegetables in the same pot. Or proceed:

Strain the court-bouillon and put it back to reduce by at least half. It will become a lovely flavoured smooth light emulsion.

Then cool it down and bathe your vegetables with it. And then eat as they are at room-temperature or cold from the fridge later. And consider dressing them further by adding garlic or fresh herbs or more garlic or more whatever to them.

(Last weekend, I had a cold hors d’oeuvre which included mushrooms with no added seasoning, green beans with lots of extra lemon and garlic, courgettes with chopped parsley and lemon )

Caramelised Onion Jam + Truffled Garlic Mash + Sauteed Mushrooms

21 Jun

When everyone else is eating meat, this is an incredibly rich, delicious, celebratory addition to the meal which you can share (if you really love them) with the carnivores.

Caramelised Onion Jam

(adapted from Softly Simmered Onions from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook)

These are so delicious. They can be added to so many things – mixed with a bit of cream in a pasta sauce, whizzed with vegetable broth for an amazing onion soup, on toast rounds with feta for an astounding bruschetta, or mixed with savoury custard in a brilliant tart / quiche. I like them as they are, tumbled over some creamy dreamy mash, with a few sauteed mushrooms for extra “meatiness”

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 8 cups sliced white and yellow onions
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over low heat. While the butter is melting, prepare the onions: peel, cut in half lengthwise, and slice in thin half-rings. It helps if you keep the root intact, as an anchor.
Add the onions to the melted butter and stir well. Add all the wine, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt and mix to combine. Cover and cook slowly over low heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so, about 1 hour.
Remove the cover and cook 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally. You can decide how long you want to cook it – the onions will become thicker and jammier as you go. Just make sure you stir well through the bottom of the pan because it can burn. Makes about 4 cups, which will keep for at least 1 week, covered in the fridge.

Truffled Garlic Mash

Serves 8, though you can adjust as needed. The garlic will soften and sweeten when boiled with the potatoes and will add a whisp of fragrance and scent to this amazing creamy mix.
  • 9 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Teaspoon or so jarred, canned or fresh truffles (you could use truffle oil in a pinch)
  • Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, over high heat, boil enough water to just cover the potatoes. Once the water is at a roiling boil, add all the potatoes and garlic at once. They should take about 10 – 15 minutes to cook through. You want to be able to put the tip of a cutting knife through a slice of potato without any resistance.

While the potatoes are boiling, combine butter, milk, cream, truffles, and salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and set aside to enable the truffle to infuse the butter and milk mixture with its heady scent.

When the potatoes have been cooked through, drain thoroughly, and place in serving bowl. Using a handheld masher, mash the potatoes, while adding the butter-milk-cream-truffle mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

Sauteed Mushrooms

For each person, use 1 – 2 very large portobello mushrooms, depending on what else you are serving

  • 2 portobello mushrooms, peeled and sliced thickly
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil or truffle oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or port wine or red wine)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You want to ensure the mushrooms are seared and not soggy. To do this, heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan until quite hot, on high heat. Add the mushrooms, and stir to coat with butter. As the mushrooms start to let off some juice, add vinegar and then soy sauce. This will encourage some caramelisation and cause the mushrooms to sear against the heat of the pan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve each lucky vegetarian a large scoop of mash, topped with the caramelised onion jam, and sauteed mushrooms. Yum.

World Cup Pasta

20 Jun

Yesterday, we watched the World Cup together, and decided to make a meal. Its such an exciting time of the year, and so much fun to watch the action unfolding in South Africa! We made rice crispie treats with rice crispies, marshmallows, butter and vanilla (very delicious – like crisp vanilla ice cream!) and the perfect chocolate chip cookies from Cook’s Illustrated. I will post the recipe for those later. But the pasta was the star, and oh my goddess it was good!

For 4 – 6 people

  • Approx 2 – 3 tbsp truffle oil (olive oil infused with truffle)
  • 4 -5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4 – 6 large mushrooms (I used portabello) sliced roughly
  • 4 – 5 thin slices cold butter
  • Good glug of very old delicious balsamic vinegar (the syrupy-er the better!)
  • Approx 10 – 15 ripe cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper
  • Big glug of cream
  • Angel hair pasta

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with the truffle oil, and arrange garlic over. Over a very low heat, begin to fry the garlic. You dont want it to burn, just infuse the oil and become soft and ever so slightly golden. Dont flip the garlic or move it around the pan – just let it slowly come to heat with the oil.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly slice the mushrooms. How many you use depends on how much you like mushrooms, and how many people you have to serve – I usually use 1 large mushroom per person. Once you really smell the garlic wafting from the pan, tip in all the mushrooms all at once, and increase the heat to medium high. Stir the mushrooms so they pick up the oil and garlic, and then lay the butter over the top of the mushrooms. The butter will melt in the heat and steam coming from the mushrooms, and will infuse them with flavour, and will also add to the thickness of your sauce.

As the mushrooms begin to fry, and the butter has been melted, pour a good glug of balsamic vinegar over, and stir the entire heady mixture together once or twice. You should see some mushrooms begin to burn a bit, and some juices begin to release. Slice the cherry tomatoes over the top, and let the heat get to them, and watch them wilt a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.

As the mixture begins to come together, add the cream. I usually dont measure this but again, its relative to the amount of people eating. The cream will pick up all the flavours of truffle, balsamic, mushroom and garlic, and will turn a rich brown. Squish the tomatoes into the cream so that they add their sweetness and tartness to the sauce. Let the cream come to a full boil and thicken. Taste for seasoning. Add more cream if you want it.

As the cream is boiling, prepare the angel hair pasta. It should take a few minutes in a boiling pot of water, with a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Drain the pasta, stir it, and if you want, add a little bit of butter for flavour.

Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the frying pan and mix well. This gives you control over how much pasta you add to the sauce and ensures you dont have a pasta heavy, lightly sauced meal. Keep tasting as you add the pasta – it will dilute the flavours of the sauce. You might need to add a little more salt to brighten the flavour.

Serve, in bowls, with parmesan to grate over. Enjoy the game!