Friday, August 26, 2011

Creamy Morel Sauce over Pasta

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

8 oz dry pasta ( Your choice, Spaghetti, Linquine, Capellini, etc...)

Cook pasta as per package instructions and set aside. 

(Morel Sauce)

1/2-ounce dried morels
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Reggianito Cheese, grated (optional)

To reconstitute dried morel mushrooms, place them in a bowl and cover them with 3/4 cup of boiling water.  Let them soak for 20 minutes.  Remove the morels and set aside.  Reserve the liquid.  Strain the liquid through cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove any small bits of grit, and set aside.

Slice the reconstituted morel mushrooms 1/4 inch thick and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium high heat.

Once the butter is melted, add the reserved sliced morels, the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the white wine and reduce until nearly dry, about 3 -4 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup of the reserved mushroom broth and cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 - 7 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. stirring continuously.

Swirl the remaining butter into the sauce and adjust the seasoning.

Add pasta to skillet and mixture thoroughly, coating all the pasta with the sauce.

Divide pasta mixture in half and plate, sprinkle with parmesan, Reggianito or Parmigiano Reggiano (optional) and serve immediately!  Enjoy!

Tip:   I used grated Reggianito.  Reggianito is rather saltier than its Italian parent, and is generally used for cooking or for grating over pasta dishes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spinach and Truffle Cheese Omelet

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

3 eggs
1/2 cup Truffle Cheese (Sam's Club, Whole Foods and Central Market carry it.)
1 handful of fresh spinach leaves
1 pinch of truffle salt (HEB, Whole Foods and Central Market carry it, or food specialty stores.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a bowl beat the eggs gently with a fork, just until they combine together. Do not over beat them to a froth.

In a warm, medium size non-stick skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat.  Turn the heat up a fraction.  As the butter is melting, and tilt the pan so that the bottom and sides are both coated.

Once the butter begins to foam, carefully add the eggs to the center of the pan, tilting the pan so that the eggs spread out evenly over the bottom.

Cook over a moderate heat.  As the eggs begin to set, very carefully lift the edges of the omelette upwards with a spatula, ensuring that the omelette does not stick and also allowing the uncooked eggs to run underneath.  Rotate the pan as you do so, making sure that all sides have been moved.

Cook until the eggs have set on the bottom but the top is still a little moist.

Add the cheese, and then add the spinach.

Lift up the edge of one side of the omelette and fold this half so that is covers the other half and sits neatly on top of the spinach and cheese. Do not break the omelette in half.  The underside should be a golden brown in color.

Loosen the omelette away from the pan and tip out onto a warmed plate.  Sprinkle with pinch of truffle salt to taste and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Tip:  Truffle salt is a blend of dried, ground truffle and sea salt.  It is ideal with egg dishes, pasta, mashed potatoes, red meat, salads, roasted vegetables, seafood, and buttered popcorn!  I'm addicted to the aroma and flavor it gives foods!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sauteed Shrimp with Polenta

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.


2 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 18 oz package of Pre-Cooked Polenta
1 cup chicken broth (1 cup additonal, optional, for creamery polenta)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
1/2 teaspoon salt


In a medium size heavy skillet, over medium heat, add pancetta and cook until crispy.  Be careful not to burn.

Add polenta, 3/4 cup of the chicken broth and heavy cream.

Continue to cook over medium heat, using a ladle break up the polenta and keep stirring until smooth.  Reduce to a low, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add remaining 1/4 cup of broth, and butter, then stir.  Let simmer another 3 minutes, stirring constantly and then remove from heat and set aside.  If polenta becomes too thick before serving, slowly add as much as 1 more cup of chicken broth, for a creamy consistency.

In a bowl season shrimp all over with paprika and salt, then, set aside to let marinate for 10 minutes.

In a medium size heavy skillet, over medium heat, add pancetta and cook until crispy. Then add garlic and shallots cook for about 1 minute.  Then add butter.

Add shrimp and cook until opaque in center, about 2 minutes on each side.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

Divide into 4 and arrange polenta on 4 dishes.  Top each dish with shrimp, and garnish with a pinch of the smoked paprika.

Tip:  Polenta is made from ground corn and can be used in a wide variety of ways.