Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trial and Errors

So I've mentioned that I like to cook, right? Okay, now in a way, cooking is like gambling. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That's why I am not good at gambling, I don't like losing. Sure Blackjack is great when you get, well, Blackjack, but when you keep losing and handing your money to some guy in a bow tie, it's not fun. So...I don't really gamble too much. With cooking, you have to try things out and they may be great or bad (win or lose), but the difference is that you still get to eat your mistakes (loses) and like when you lose at gambling, I prescribe a glass of wine to ease the pain or the meal.

We're coming up on a demonstration at Hampton Bays library next week, so I wanted to sample some of the dishes we'll be cooking. We're doing a from scratch Cesar salad topped with grilled yellow fin tuna and a penne with shiitake mushroom sauce. First the pasta.

It's a rather simple sauce, sauteed garlic shiitake mushrooms, portabellos and dried shiitakes if you have them with some fresh cut tomatoes. I found the dish to be, average at best. I was following a recipe, and actually following it very closely, so I did make it pop in the end with some crushed red pepper.

When the penne is cooked, leave it off to the side, unwashed.

In a separate pan, saute garlic till it is tender, then add a sliced portabello mushroom, about a half pound of sliced shiitake mushroom, a handful of oyster mushrooms. Saute this for a few minutes and add cubed, fresh cut plum tomatoes, some white wine ( a cup ) and a half cup of vegetable broth. Let this boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Add the penne and let it get hot. Tear up some basil leaves and add a half cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Enjoy.

Now it was okay, so I added red pepper and in the future, I think sauteed shrimp will work nicely too.
So a Cesar salad. I experimented with actual anchovy fillets, but think I will use the paste next time. So just blend 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of paste, a tablespoon of mayo (or one egg yolk), a dash of worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper and a half cup of olive oil. Blend this and then add a 1/4 of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Check the thickness and see if you want to add some mayo to thicken.

Carefully fold this into clean, dry, torn romaine lettuce with some large cut croutons. Don't add too much dressing at first, you don't want to drown it!

It was fun to play around and get these dishes right. We'll see what happens when the pressure is on.

Penne with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce Cesar Salad

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Block Island Seafood Company (BISCO) helps fellow seafood enthusiasts enjoy the gifts of summer in their own homes all year long. BISCO will leave your family and friends with a memorable experience beyond the traditional catered gathering by providing a dynamic chef and extraordinary cuisine. Block Island, RI (41°09'N 71°33'W) is a small island that sits in the Atlantic Ocean between Rhode Island and Montauk Point, NY. For many years it has been a vacation spot for me and my family, and now I’d like to bring Block Island to your dinner table.