Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Sugo con Fungi Porcini

Well, I have to start the recipe ball rolling with what is probably the classic of all the Italian sauces. Some people may think that it's tomato but I think that it's the porcini sauce. However, this one combines porcini and tomatoes so you get the best of both worlds.

1 Onion diced finely
1 clove of garlic
1 handful of dried mushrooms
2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 glass of white wine
Stock cube

To Make the Sauce:

  1. First you will need to soak the dried mushrooms in about 300ml of boiling water. This needs not be too precise. A bit more or less is hardly crucial. Set aside for about 20 mins by which time the mushrooms will have plumped up. Strain but keep the soaking liquid as you will need it for the sauce. If any dusty bits remain in the bottom of the soaking dish then throw them away.
  2. Chop the drained mushrooms into medium size pieces. No need to make them too small as you want to see that you are eating a mushroom sauce after all.
  3. Now fry the onion and the garlic slowly in oil until they soften and turn a golden colour. This should take about twenty minutes. you will give the sauce a good depth of flavour if you do it this way.
  4. Turn up the heat and add the chopped mushrooms. Fry for about 2 minutes and then add the white wine. Bubble up until the alcohol has boiled off and then add the mushroom soaking liquid.
  5. Now add the tomato puree and turn the heat down to a very gently simmer.
  6. Do not cover. The pan should be about 2/3rds full. This will evaporate as it cooks. Allow to simmer gently for about 2 hours, checking from time to time that it is not drying out.
  7. Taste and season with the stock cube and salt if necessary.
  8. Use this sauce with freshly cooked pasta and sprinkle generously with freshly grated parmesan.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Do you have any porcini recipes favourites?

If you do why not send me the links and I can compile a list for everyone to use.
I'll be posting mine in the next submission.

The Porcini are Finally Here

At last the long awaited porcini have arrived. The season here abouts has started very late this year as it's been too wet and cold to bring out the mushrooms. However here's the proof that they have decided to grow.

This photograph was taken in my garden in the UK so all the Italians who don't believe that porcini grow anywhere other than the hallowed ground of Italy, look with envy at the evidence.

As you can see the porcini grow to be quite large here as they are left in the ground to do so. In Italy they wouldn't get the chance. The only problem with the large porcini is that they are darker when dried so it is better to pick them small as they remain light and don't colour the risotto too much.

Once they have been picked they need to be cleaned and sliced.

The slices are about 1cm thick. They have to be this thick as they are nearly all water and if you cut them too thin they will be so papery that they will crumble to nothing.

To dry them you will need warm Italian sunshine, or failing that a fan assisted oven with a low temperature of 50C. Lay them out on the rungs of the oven trays and wedge the door open slightly. I use a wooden spatula. the aim is to keep the temperature low and not to cook the mushrooms. After about 12 hours like this the porcini should be dry. If you feel them damp in any way leave them longer. they must be bone dry to keep. They should be stored in an air tight jar or they will absorb moisture and go off quickly.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Late Summer Vegetable Bake

The next dish that I've made is one that is really useful when you get a glut of zucchini(courgette) and aubergines. Now I know that aubergines are not usually plentiful in British gardens but zucchini are so buy the other items from the supermarket.

You will need:

1 aubergine

3 or 4 tomatoes. It depends on the size of your tomatoes.

1 onion, sliced

Parmesan cheese

2 courgettes

Olive oil for frying the onions.

The first thing that I want to say is that I am not over fond of frying aubergines as I think that they soak up so much oil that the pleasure of eating them in lost in a sea of grease. What I do is slice the aubergines and put them on a microwaveable plate. Cover with cling film and cook until soft. The time that this takes will depend on the power of your microwave. Leave them aside until ready. Do the same with the zucchini.

Fry the onion until soft.

Skin and slice the tomatoes.

Make up the dish by putting layers of alternating vegetables in an oiled, oven proof dish . Cover with a layer of Parmesan cheese and bake in a hot oven for about 30 mins. Most of the vegetables have been pre-cooked so it does not take too long. It should be brown and bubbling like the photograph.

Serve as an accompaniment for grilled meat.