Have you ever been served a dish with food so beautiful you felt it was a crime to eat it? Imagine a cook, who is so charmed by the natural beauty of raw ingredients and hesitates to cook them. That’s what I feel when I see Romanesco Broccoli. What is the best way to put it on a pedestal of our dinner plate? How to protect its color and shape? How to bring out its nutty flavor and crunchy texture?
Risotto is a quick (25 minutes!) meal to make at home. With mastered cooking method, you can easily make different kinds of healthy and delicious restaurant-quality risotto in a comfort of your own kitchen. Make sure you have the right ingredients! This recipe features whole frozen porcini mushrooms and Italian Superfino Arborio rice. They are available at our local Astin foods stores: Central Market has the rice, and Borderless European Market (BEM) — the mushrooms. The BEM porcini mushrooms are foraged in Lithuania and distributed by AmbeRye (AmbeRye Boletus Mushrooms, packaged 300 g / 10.58 oz).
Buckwheat is mostly unknown in the U.S., or at least in Southern states. Which is one the most mysterious culinary facts for me. Since we are conscious about gluten tolerance and actively discover ancient grains, doesn’t this Eastern European delicacy deserve to trend worldwide?
Buckwheat is one of the healthiest ingredients that makes the most delicious main and side dishes. It is available in bulk sections of supermarkets, sold either unroasted or roasted. Each form requires specific cooking methods and timing and can’t be substituted in recipes. Unroasted buckwheat grain is relatively soft. Even raw and dry, you can bite and easily crumble it with your teeth. It’s flavor is very subtle, and it makes a porridge when cooked with hot liquid. Good roasted buckwheat has darker tannish color and a very hard grain that doesn’t crumble. When cooked, it has fluffy texture and rich earthy and nutty taste.
The best vegan okroshka is made with salted mushrooms (L.deliciosus/Ryzhik and L.resimus/Gruzd’), fermented apples, and malossol cucumbers with ice cold kvass, green onions, and fresh dill. In hot climate of Central Texas, we have to be careful when playing with long-term fermentation at home. I was wondering how pickled ingredients would work here…
Today in the U.S., mentioned above milk-caps are either unknown or deemed inedible, while in Easter Europe they are traditionally considered among the best edible mushrooms. After removing the bitterness, they are salted and later enjoyed as a condiment (there is no better companion for a shot of ice-cold vodka!) or as an ingredient in other dishes. Salted mushrooms are fleshy, juicy, and have a unique flavor.
When gruzd or ryzhik mushrooms are not available, my second favorite are P. ostreatus or Oyster mushrooms. Luckily, they are farmed by Kitchen Pride just about two hours away from Austin, in Gonzales, TX.
When serving beef wellington, the ends with just dough and mushrooms are sliced off. They are so delicious, I’ve never seen them left on a plate. Always gone! It feels like they deserve to be featured as an appetizer and have their own recipe.
While the rest of the world used this word to describe a matchstick knife cut, for Russian-speaking culinary community julienne has always been a chicken and mushroom casserole en cocotte. This legendary dish was extremely popular during the Soviet era in high-end restaurants as well as at home. Naturally, the assumption was that the recipe is a result of French influence on pre-revolution Russian cuisine. All stories I know about this dish are mostly anecdotes. Many different recipes claim to be original. Some insist on using mushrooms, preferably porchini. Other include cooked chicken and other vegetables. Restaurant versions often add bechamel or mornay sauces, while home cooks prefer sour cream. Everybody makes this dish adjusted to their personal taste, keeping the same only basic ingredients and the way it is served. Russian julienne has to be cooked individually portioned in mini casseroles and covered with a generous amount of cheese to melt on top. It is simple and delicious!
There are many morels recipes in my collection. All of them are variations of what everybody else makes with morels. Baked Langres stuffed with morels and served with crusty bread and French champagne is my own invention. It is my favorite and the most decadent recipe. It turns an ordinary weekday dinner into fantastic celebration of flavors and textures.