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You know it is going to be tasty when you are paying by the ounce!

January 2, 2010

I visited my mushroom friend Carl at the farmers market the other day. He only has shitake mushrooms this time of year but he did have something new this time. He had Oregon truffles. Assuming that you get what you pay for when I saw the $15/ounce price I said “are they really any good?” The Italian truffles can be over $200/ounce. After buying them and cooking with them his answer was spot on. He said they are 20x cheaper but not nearly that much less flavorful. True to truffle form they filled my entire refrigerator with their musty, woodsy, deep earthy smell. I think this is their way of demanding that you use them and not forget about them.

I sautéed the baby shitake mushrooms in olive oil. The key to cooking mushrooms is to think of them as meat. You want to use high heat and get the oil hot. Mushrooms can take a lot of heat. Once they get a nice roasted golden brown color there is a barrier between the mushroom and the sauce which preserves their texture. Now you can do almost anything to them. You can add wine and/or meat stock and reduce for a great sauce. You can add a touch of cream and toss with pasta. As long as you get the outside of the mushrooms golden brown their texture will be nice; slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. If you use low heat and don’t get them brown before adding liquid their texture will be spongy as they just soak up the liquid you add. In this case I did not add any liquid. I wanted to taste the full flavor of the mushrooms and the truffles via a bruschetta. Once golden I added a touch of chopped garlic and then shaved the truffle into the pan and turned off the heat. I always add garlic at the end so that it gives off its fresh perfume without getting toasted. The residual heat of the pan immediately infused the truffle flavor throughout. I added a handful of arugula and tossed again just to wilt the greens.

My daughter grilled the sliced baguette and laid them out on the platter. We topped the bread with the mushroom/truffle mixture and then dropped cubes of fresh mozzarella on top. A small drizzle of olive oil and there you have it. Before I got the first bite to my mouth I could “taste” the truffle via the smell. The strong woodsy, musty smell that you get when they are cold becomes a softer, richer mushroom flavor when heated. The truffle added an incredible depth to the mushrooms. The arugula added its peppery note as well as a balance to the richness. The cubes of fresh mozzarella melted half way from the heat of the mushrooms and then melted the rest of the way in my mouth. The fresh mozzarella tasted like a sip of pure, fresh, concentrated milk. My son was hesitant but when he saw the joy on the rest of our faces he gave it a try. He liked it too. A sip of yeasty, dry champagne is the perfect match. Killer appetizer or great lunch.

Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anisa permalink
    January 2, 2010 4:49 pm

    Hey Jeffrey, I am sure you’re sick of hearing this, but my daughter and I just watched the the finale last night. We’re a a bit slow in Vancouver, Canada. My theory – Food Network is all about ratings and their target audience and so with the recession and continued terrorist threats and attacks all over the world, people are generally not traveling, particularly to exotic locations such as Tunisia, Instanbul or Zanzibar. FN wants to appeal to their demographics of an audience who is wanting cozy, home cooked, mommy next door, inexpensive, cocooning etc.

    Which is the OPPOSITE of you- gorgeous husband and dad, sexy, smart, world traveler, beautiful family, married to a gorgeous exotic woman, open to new ideas, cultures, languages, foods, etc. etc, etc.

    I can see that you are doing well. You are what us well read, globe trotting and creative foodies want! So all the best and we will be following you. My 18 year old daughter is so pissed off she is planning to boycott “Food network”.

    Best to you and your family in 2010.

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      January 4, 2010 4:27 pm

      Thank you so much for the support (and the ego boost!). I really appreciate it. Please give your daughter my best and thank you both so much. Keep an eye out for me. I am not giving up. Lots in the works! Happy New Year. Jeffrey 🙂

  2. Anisa permalink
    January 4, 2010 8:17 pm

    Wow, you replied! I live in Vancouver, Canada so if you’re ever planning to visit our fine restaurants and need some arm candy (except your wife of course) then I’m in!

    I’m a big foodie and teach food/food safety skills to teens. Fun!

    Take care.

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      January 7, 2010 3:37 pm

      I love “C” and so many restaurants in Vancouver. You live in a great food city! Thanks again Anisa.

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