Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Cream

It's chanterelle mushroom season here on Vancouver Island. Cars and trucks parked alongside the highway in uninhabited locations usually mean that someone has entered the forest to find their secret location for mushrooms. These secrets are closely guarded. Mushroom picking can be a lucrative business.

I came by these chanterelles in a serendipitous encounter at the grocery store. You can read that story here. They were delicious, a bit of apricot flavor with a hint of pepper and meaty mushroomness. 

This is hardly a recipe - just a suggestion, but here goes.

Chanterelle mushrooms - I used the amount pictured above. Cleaning them took some time. I wiped them with a damp paper towel and picked all the pine needles and forest debris from them. Don't soak them in water unless very dirty, and then only briefly and just before cooking.

Heat 2 Tablespoons butter and 1 T olive oil in a frying pan until melted and hot, but not brown. Add the sliced mushrooms. Stir briefly, then let them cook over high heat. They will release a lot of liquid. Keep cooking them until the liquid is mostly evaporated. They will have shrunk considerably.

When the liquid is gone, pour in about 1/4 cup cream, and 2 cloves of garlic, minced. Stir and boil for 1-2 minutes until the cream thickens slightly. Just before serving, add a handful of chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Mmmmn. I served them over salmon fillet and they were delicious!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Double-Baked Zucchini Soufflés

I'm feeling a little under the weather today - achy, a bit of a sore throat, and a stuffy nose. Not bad enough to make me want to lie around all day, just a bit frail and wanting to be pampered. Souffles are good comfort food, with their light fluffy interiors and cheesy goodness, just perfect for making me feel better mentally, if not physically. 

This recipe is based on one from Laura Calder's French Food at Home. I think Laura Calder is my favourite cooking show host. She sashays around the kitchen in her pretty dresses and makes everything she cooks look simultaneously simple and marvelous. 

A double-baked soufflé is a way to salvage a soufflé that may have fallen. But even if it rises perfectly high and golden the way these did today, a little extra cream and cheese makes them even more wonderful. 

Double-baked Zucchini Soufflés

1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
3 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, separated
1 cup pureed cooked zucchini (you could use leftovers, but I simmered one in a little water with two cloves of garlic, peeled, then drained the water off and mashed the zucchini - it wasn't perfectly smooth)
1 cup grated Havarti cheese
salt and pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 6 - 3/4 cup ramekins and dust with flour. Bring the milk to a simmer with the bay leaf. Let sit to infuse for 10 minutes or so.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook, while whisking for 1 minute. Remove the bay leaf from the milk and add the milk to the mixture, whisking until smooth over medium heat until it's thick. It won't take long because of the heated milk. 

Whisk the egg yolks together and add a bit of the flour-milk mixture to it, then pour the two mixtures together and whisk until smooth. Add the zucchini and cheese and stir together. Season with salt and pepper. You'll want it quite highly seasoned.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the vegetable mixture. Fill the ramekins. Set in a baking dish and carefully pour around boiling water to come 2/3 up the sides. Bake until puffed up and golden brown on top. The center will still be slightly soft. It should take about 15 - 20 minutes. 

Remove the soufflés from the water. Let cool for a few minutes. They will fall slightly. Gently remove them from the ramekins and place, golden side up, in a baking dish. Pour the cream gently around the soufflés, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

This can be done ahead and when ready to serve, place in a hot oven (400 F) until the cream is bubbly and the soufflés are hot. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Of all the wonderful squashes in season just now, I think that butternut is my favourite. I only discovered it a few years ago. Why do I prefer it over other types of squash? Let me count the ways....

* the ratio of squash to seeds is very high
* the skin peels easily
*it has a firmer flesh than acorn squash 

Butternut squash, like other squashes, makes wonderful soup, is great on salads, plain roasted, can take a hit of sweetness but is equally delicious paired with a savory flavoring. Today's was fresh rosemary.

So simple: Trim the ends off a butternut squash so it sits flat on the cutting board. Slice the peel off with a sharp knife from top to bottom (cutting the squash in half helps when maneuvering the knife over the bumps and curves.)

Remove the seeds (using a melon baller works well.) Cut the squash into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and a Tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary.

Roast at 420 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender and beginning to caramelize around the edges. Stir once or twice during cooking.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Cake

During the summer months I avoid buying apples in favor of all the wonderful soft fruits available. But come fall, it's apple season! This cake is best eaten warm. I like it alone, the apple taste unadulterated. Others like a bit of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it. A puddle of crème anglaise wouldn't come amiss either.

One of the best things about this apple cake is how easily it comes together. The apples are not peeled, just thinly sliced. And there are a lot of them in the recipe so the apple-ness is pronounced. Mmm, perfect for autumn.

Apple Cake

4 cups diced unpeeled apples (I cut them into 8ths, then thinly slice them)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup nuts (walnuts are great, but any nut will do. Or none, as is the case in my household)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Stir together the apples, sugar, oil and nuts. Lightly beat the eggs and combine with the vanilla. Add to the apple mixture. Stir together the dry ingredients, then add them to the apple mixture and stir to combine. There will be a lot of apples and little batter.
Scrape into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.