Morel and mascarpone omelette

Mushrooms were always taken for granted in my childhood. I lived in a small village and my father loved foraging. Although that time you didn’t really have to go to the forest for produce. We had everything at home in our vegetable garden which was really big. Taking center point a big walnut tree with my all-time favorite autumn welcoming green walnuts.

So my father went off for long searches for mushrooms. Seriously if you ask me about the most memorable thing from my childhood, I would say pickled mushrooms. I actually started not liking this whole mushroom thing because there was way too much of it. And it meant I had to help. Yes, your feeling is right. I was not the kitchen fairy when I was a kid. I was so not interested. I had more important things to do. Like taking dogs home from the street. Luckily our village was small. With not many stray dogs. But still, there were a few….

So back to the mushrooms. As I said in my childhood mushrooms were given. Plenty. Free. Not like today. They cost a lot. Especially morels. So when I buy them I make them special. Making sure to highlight them in a dish, and not to overcook and not to hide their taste and beauty.

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A really good way to use morels is in a rich, decadent omelette with herbs and serve it with some green leaves and a simple lemon vinaigrette.  I used micro herbs, arugula leaves and blossoms but you can have any kind of salad leaves. This omelette will be rich and creamy so you will definitely need a salad with vinaigrette.

When I went to culinary school omelette had a real importance to it. Being able to make a really good omelette will show your skill, understanding of technique and essentially will tell people that you are a good cook. I personally don’t think it is a difficult thing to make right but you definitely have to know what a good omelette looks like so you know what you are going to need to achieve. Omelette is not a scrambled egg or a frittata. You are not stirring it in the pan or baking it in the oven. It is a quick process, only a few minutes and you will have to end up with a bit of crust outside, wobbly center.

For a detailed technique and pictures visit this site, I think it will help in case you have problems.     http://www.incredibleegg.org/cooking-school/egg-cookery/make-an-omelet

I took this close up shot of my omelette so you have the feeling what is should look like.

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Ingredients

  • about 1/4 cup of whole tiny morels or chopped big one (you can substitute with other, strong, woody mushroom)
  • 2T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T mascarpone
  • 1/2T mixed chopped parsley and chives
  • salt, ground pepper

Instruction

  1. In a bowl blend eggs, mascarpone and herbs thoroughly with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1T butter in a 6 inch pan. Once butter starts coloring add cleaned, dried morels.
  3. Sautee morels for a minute and when it is done season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour morels with the butter into a small bowl, ready to use.
  5. Put pan back on stove with the other tablespoon of butter.
  6. When butter stops sizzling slowly pour egg-mascarpone mix  into the center of the pan.
  7. Tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture evenly. Let eggs firm up a little and then gently direct the mixture away from the from the middle, making space with a spatula at the edges and to flow to the space on the edges.
  8. After this point let it cook and when you see the surface is 90% cooked, add filling and fold omelette very quickly.
  9. Slide omelette onto a plate.
  10. Serve it with a fresh green salad and lemon vinaigrette.

For advice on vinaigrette visit my previous post:  https://bornunderthesun.com/2016/05/11/215/

Why did I use micro greens and herbs?

For their look and nutrients. Microgreens are young seedling of vegetables and herbs and they come in all colors and shapes depending on the vegetable/herb and they are richer in nutrients than their “parents”.

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Strawberry tiramisu

 

It is strawberry and rhubarb season so I am sure everybody is making a dessert at some point using these fruits. Before getting into the delicious part let me remind you of something.

Always buy organic strawberries! Strawberry is on top of the list of fruits with pesticide residue. Considering how small a strawberry and how many you can eat of them, it would mean way too much pesticide for your body… Just saying.

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My kind of dessert is layered, has cream and fruit or meringue and caramel or cream and fruit, oh wait, I already said that…

Strawberry is perfect with cream. I remember when we lived in England, for the first year I never stopped eating scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. That clotted cream is the best creamy thing ever. Unfortunately I had to realize that my body is not responding really well for all that cream, sugar and carbs so had to really seriously cut back on it.

Strawberry is a great choice with any creamy dessert. The rhubarb helps to bring some tartness to the sweet, brightening it up a little bit. If you don’t use rhubarb you will need to add more lemon juice to the syrup.

Strawberry tiramisu is your easy late spring-early summer foolproof fruity dessert. To end your barbecue on a sweet, high note, or have it with friends over a cup of capuccino or  with your family for a  Sunday lunch.

You can simply add a layer of chopped strawberries in the traditional tiramisu. It does work, I tried it. However in this case I changed it a little bit and made it into a more fruity dessert.

The components are :

  • ladyfingers soaked in
  • strawberry-rhubarb-Limoncello syrup
  • fresh strawberries
  • mascarpone cream

 

Start cooking chopped strawberries, rhubarb, sugar in lemon juice and water. I also added lemon verbena I got at the market over the weekend. It helps to accentuate lemon taste in a different way than lemon zest.

DSC_4470Make sure to cook it on low heat and have enough water in there. When the fruit reaches mushy texture, you are ready. Turn off the heat and let it soak for 10 minutes if you have time. Strain the liquid, press on the fruit to get the last drop of nectar. At this point you can add Limoncello as much as you want, if there will be no kids eating the dessert.

 

While the syrup was cooking you can make your mascarpone cream using egg  yolks, sugar, vanilla, mascarpone and whipped cream.

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Finally start layering the tiramisu. Soaked ladyfingers in the bottom, top with mascarpone cream, then 2 layers of chopped strawberries ( I put only one, and it is so not enough….), mascarpone cream again, soaked ladyfingers and finish off with the mascarpone cream.

 

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If you feel that you miss the bitterness and cocoa from the original tiramisu (just like me), grate some very good quality dark, bitter chocolate on top. If you are happy with the taste of summer, cream, fruit, sweet then you can finish with fresh strawberries and mint leaves on top. Either way, it will be delicious.

 

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Spinach and asparagus salad with a warm vinaigrette and poached egg

The heart of a good salad is the quality ingredients and a really flavorful vinaigrette.

Here the quality ingredients came from Santa Monica farmers market. Feel free to use as much as you like in your salad or add different leaves, vegetables and also, in the vinaigrette, adjust it according to your taste, create your own with the given ingredients. You can not go wrong!

The only thing I would suggest definitely use some kind of spinach with this warm vinaigrette.

Before getting into the instruction let me show you these beautiful blossoms I used for plating. This is the flower of arugula. In spring, early summer it is widely available at farmers markets. You can buy a bunch, keep it in a vase and use the flowers for plating and even pick those young, crunchy peppery leaves. The flowers taste exactly the same as the young arugula leaves. It will definitely add a beautiful touch to your salad, especially if you are making it for brunch with friends! 😉

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Ingredients and instruction

The salad ingredients are bloomsdale spinach, shaved asparagus, watercress, sliced green onion, toasted rye bread croutons, crispy bacon and poached egg. You can add any other leafy greens, or shaved green, raw vegetables. Cut thick bacon into lardons, render the fat and use the fat for both the vinaigrette and toasting the bread if you have enough left.

The warm vinaigrette is made with chopped shallots sautéed in warm bacon fat, deglazing with sherry vinegar and adding maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

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How to make a good vinaigrette?

  • fat and acid components have to be mixed vigorously
  • season well
  • always taste
  • use both spices and chopped herbs or onion

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Traditionally the ratio for a stable vinaigrette is 3 parts fat to 1 part acidic liquid. For immediate use you can easily make a good vinaigrette with different amount. Make sure you have more fat than acid, and season generously.

As for practicality and ease of mixing, I have a small jar and I always mix my vinaigrette in that. After securing the lid, shaking it really well, it is the easiest way to get the vinaigrette into the right texture, which is silky, thickened, emulsified. And if you have leftover vinaigrette you can leave in in the jar and store it in your fridge for a couple of days and there is no more dirty bowl and whisk to clean.

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How to poach an egg?

Believe it or not making a good poached egg is not really about how skilled you are. It is all about your ingredient and technique. Remember, and don’t panic, there is ALWAYS some egg white coming off and swimming away in the water. That is totally normal, it is just how an egg is, the thinner part of the albumen (egg white) will not stick to your poached egg.

Check out this page if you want to know more about the structure of the egg

https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/eggcomposition.html

Follow these steps and you will have the perfect poached egg every time.

  • use the freshest eggs possible
  • if you don’t know how fresh your egg is, add 1t vinegar in the water
  • have your eggs at room temperature
  • use a big, shallower pot
  • water should be simmering, not boiling (180-190F)
  • crack your eggs in a cup and gently tip the egg out of the cup and let it slide down the side of the pot, into the water

Hope this all helps and enjoy this amazing salad!

Crab ravioli in an asparagus and pistachio avgolemono

I have bought so much asparagus during this season. And I have made asparagus soup too many times. So it was the time to make something else. I always wanted to try asparagus with pistachios because I do know it is a good pairing. But I was thinking of something else, other than soup :).

So when I got some good crab meat I decided to make it into a ravioli and serve with pistachio and asparagus sauce. When you make crab it will need acid. For sure. But you don’t want to make a tart ravioli, right? So the idea came from the Greek avgolemono sauce which is made with egg and lemon. In this case I used only the egg yolk and some cream to thicken and silken the texture of the sauce and add lemon juice at the end.

Also used my pretty wood sorrel leaves and blossoms for plating. They not only look pretty and perfect with this dish but their flavor profile matches so well.

If you like the idea of this dish please come back later for the recipe. I will update the post soon. Until then just enjoy its beauty.

 

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Strawberry and goat brie bruschetta

Just like most bruschetta, this is an easy one and at the same time very beautiful, colorful and tasty.

Toast some bruschetta in the oven or on a grill. Add a slice of goat cheese brie on each slice of bread. Top with sliced strawberries, micro basil, or if you don’t have it, slice basil leaves thinly and finally drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

And please remember! Have the best quality ingredients! Especially in this case when you don’t modify any of the produce with cooking, it is imperative to use the best you can get.

Make this when strawberries are in season, buy at the market or order from a farm or if you buy it at the supermarket make sure it is organic, and from a local producer.

The basil should be fresh, the balsamic good quality, aged, thick. Your goat brie ripe and intense with flavor. ENJOY!

 

 

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strawberries

Spring in a bowl

Vignole with artichoke ravioli

DSC_2995.jpgVignole, originated in Rome, is a spring vegetable stew.

According to the original recipe the vegetables are cooked in a stock, making it into a stew. When I came home from the Santa Monica Farmers Market with all these beautiful, fresh, bright green and nutrient dense vegetables I decided to change the original recipe.

 

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artichoke, english peas, asparagus, fava beans, parsley and mint the green components of the dish

Why? Well, first of all I wanted to keep the color and nutrient of the vegetables.

So I made a vegetable stock and then cooked these bright green veggies only for a few minutes. This way I had a flavorful stock and crisp, tasty, beautiful vegetables.

At the same time I felt the artichoke somehow is not fitting the picture because it needs definitely more cooking. So the idea came to add those as a ravioli, making a satisfying and comforting, yet fresh plate of spring beauties.

I like making my own stock, however I understand that most of you are busy. So instead of making a stock from scratch you might want to make a shortcut with a stock.

As for me, I started making a vegetable stock with sweet onion, leek, garlic and parsley. To make sure the flavor of the stock is in line with the vegetables, added the emptied pea pods and the cleaned, halved artichoke. Vegetable stock doesn’t need more than 40-60 minutes cooking, so by that time the artichokes cooked perfectly.

If you didn’t make the ravioli dough beforehand, it is time now, while the stock is cooking and you will still have time to let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

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Then I strained the stock and took the artichokes out. Using only the artichoke hearts, adding some ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and lemon juice, blended it together. When everything was ready, boiled the stock, added salt and cooked the fresh peas, asparagus and fava beans for a few minutes. Finished the stew with chopped mint, parsley, grated lemon zest and generous amount of grated pecorino.

If you can not make your own stock this is how I suggest you do it. Make sure you get some low sodium quality stock and cook the artichoke, empty pea pods with the parsley in the stock. Also if you don’t want to make your own ravioli dough, you can buy fresh lasagne sheets or wonton wrappers. They will work. But of course, your pasta dough would be the best 🙂

Vignole with artichoke ravioli for 4 persons

Ingredients

For the stock

  • 2 T light olive oil
  • 1 chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 chopped leek
  • 3 parsley springs
  • 2 handful of emptied pea pods
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 2 halved, cleaned artichokes
  • 1/3 cup of white wine
  • 3 cups water

For the vegetable stew

  •  4 cups of stock
  • 1 pound cleaned, blanched fava beans
  • 1 pound english peas (without the pod)
  • 1/2 pound asparagus chopped to match size of fava beans approximately
  • 1T chopped parsley and mint
  • zest of half lemon
  • 1/2 cup or more pecorino
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pea tendril and/or pea blossom for plating

For the ravioli dough (you can use your own recipe if you made ravioli before)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1t salt
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water

For the ravioli filling

  • 2 cooked  artichoke hearts
  • 1 grated garlic
  • 2 T ricotta (adjust if you prefer more creamy)
  • 1 T Parmigianno Reggiano
  • salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice to taste.

Instruction

  1. Make the stock with the listed ingredients above. Or if you have stock, add only emptied pea pods, few parsley springs and cleaned, halved artichoke and cook until artichoke is ready.
  2. For the ravioli add flour in a deep bowl. Add egg, salt, water and oil in the middle and mix and gradually, with your fingers mix the flour into the wet ingredients. When sticks together take the dough out and put on your floured kitchen counter. Kneed it for approximately 10 minutes. Form a ball, cover with cling film and let it rest at least for 30 mins in the fridge.
  3. Time to make the artichoke filling. Add artichoke, ricotta,and parmesan in a blender or just smash the artichoke with a fork and mix thoroughly with other ingredients. Season with the smashed garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon juice.
  4. In the meantime the stock is ready. Take out artichokes and strain the stock.
  5. Bring the clear stock to a boil again, add salt and add the fava beans, peas and asparagus. Cook it for a few minutes and only and when you turn the heat off, add chopped parsley, mint and grated lemon zest and pecorino. Make sure your end result is a stew, lots of veggies in little liquid, preferably thickened with the pecorino.
  6. Roll the dough in a pasta maker ravioli setting, and make raviolis with artichoke filling.
  7. Cook the raviolis in salted, boiling water for 2 minutes.
  8. Serve the stew in a deep bowl, with a few raviolis, depending on size and hunger, and top it with grated pecorino, chopped mint, parsley, pea tendrils and pea blossom if you have them.