Ever since the first rains this season, mushrooms have been popping up on my radar in a number of ways: Friends of mine have been mushrooming several times and telling me about and occasionally sharing their delicious findings; recipes have been cropping up for hearting warming mushroom recipes; a wide range of mushroom types have been showing up in food stores. All of this has lead to massive mushroom cravings for me.
One day in September, I first saw huge gorgeous porcini mushrooms at the mushroom shop in the Ferry building and I immediately remembered the drool-eliciting photos of porcini in the Silver Spoon and knew I needed to buy some and get back on track with my blog. After my purchase, I met a friend for lunch at Boulette's Larder, a restaurant that is often the source of culinary inspiration for me. A fellow luncher sitting at the group table ordered one of the specials that day which was a lightly breaded and fried pork chop sitting on four small heaps of lentils topped with a structure of greens. It was very 3-dimensional and spectacular to look at.
When I got home, I flipped through the mushroom chapter to see my options. After a survey of the recipes and a tally of my ingredients, I decided to make something rather elaborate and inspired by that lentil-pork dish, but vegetarian in nature. In lieu of pork chop, I decided to use the porcini. Enter today's recipe.
I sliced the mushrooms into thick slices cross-wise, coated them in flour, then dipped them in a beaten egg. I preheated some vegetable oil, and tested it with a little drop of water to make sure it was hot enough (it sizzled), then began deep frying the mushrooms until they reached a satisfyingly golden glow.
I drained them on paper towels and salted them lightly. This is where our recipe form SS ends. Not too exciting, but a solid Italian classic recipe.
Before frying the mushrooms, I'd prepared the following:
- French Lentils: In a small pot, I sautéed a chopped shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it was golden, I added a cup of green French lentils and stirred until they were all coated with the oil. I added one cup of vegetable broth and simmered on medium-low until the lentils were cooked. I don't like them to be too al dente, so I tend to test the lentils until they just lose that toughness but before they get mushy.
- Green beans: I steamed a small batch of green beans until they were bright green but then ran cold water on them to flash them and prevent them from getting overcooked, drab and soggy.
- Sliced one huge heirloom tomato into 1/2" to 3/4" slices - nice and big and beefy.
- Sliced the other type of mushroom I bought - butter boletes - into 1/4" slices, lay them out on a cookie sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of thyme, salt and pepper and oven roasted them. (You didn't really think I could leave the mushroom shop with only one type of mushroom, did you?)
- Opened a jar of homemade hazelnut-basil pesto I'd made the previous week (it had olive oil, toasted hazelnuts, a ton of basil I'd gotten from my CSA, some Parmesan cheese and a couple of cloves of garlic).
On each of our two dinner plates, I first built four little lentil pyramids as elegantly as possible (a feat in itself. Why don't we just pretend they were elegant.)
Then I placed one large tomato slice centered atop the pyramids.
I spooned a tablespoon or so of pesto onto the tomatoes and spread it to cover it as much as possible.
Then I split the mushrooms into two batches and set them atop the tomatoes like sun rays, emanating from the center of each tomatoes.
In the spaces on the plate between the mushroom rays, I sprinkled little batches of the roasted mushrooms.
Finally, I mounted a tower of green beans on top of each of the structures, sprinkled some freshly ground pepper and Voilà!
Vegetarian porcini summer veggie & lentil extravaganza!
Maybe I need to come up with a better name.
Point being, some of the recipes in Silver Spoon are admittedly on the basic side. However, the more basic recipes can definitely be combined with other ideas or even other recipes for more elaborate concoctions. It's sort of like using the béchamel recipe which is then incorporated in the lasagna recipe...
Tasty Factor: A+ (let's think about this one: Deep fried mushrooms... What's not to love?) Ease of Preparation: A Modifications: No. Really, not much there to modify.