A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mushroom agnolotti

The idea here is that you purchase a container of fresh Buitoni wild mushroom agnolotti.  (No, I’m not getting paid by this company.) Fresh, as opposed to frozen, pasta products are typically found in the refrigerated section containing bagels, English muffins, and sometimes tortillas. But not always. Some of these pasta products are pretty good, and I think this is one of them. Others such as ravioli stuffed allegedly with spinach, four different types of cheese, chicken, and so on challenge the eater to taste any of them. 
So, buy this product and take it home and refrigerate or freeze it. You’ll use it another day, that day being a day when you don’t feel like actually making a full-blown dinner, but neither do want to go out to a restaurant, and you don’t want take-out. And, discouragingly, whatever you can find in the back of your refrigerator shelves has transmogrified into unrecognizable slime, has an expiration date dating to the second Shrub administration, or has produced mold (excluding blue cheese, of course). This recipe, then, is for those occasions because (a) it tastes good and (b) it’s easy. ‘Nuff say.
Buitoni Mushroom agnolotti, 9 oz package, serves two people
Dried mushrooms, soaked in port
Butter, 1 or 2 Tbs
Heavy or light cream, 1 cup
Sour cream, 1/4 cup or more
Dijon mustard, 1 Tbs
Shallot, 1 or 2, minced
Salt and pepper
I used Argentinian dried mushrooms, which I’ve seen nowhere besides the Greek shop where I purchased them. I suggest you use any of the heartier or meatier dried mushrooms such as shiitakes or portobellos. Oyster mushrooms are too “light”. If necessary, fresh mushrooms can be used. Just cook them until browned.
Rehydrate the mushrooms by putting them a bowl and covering with port, a port and water mixture, or Madeira. Dry sherry would be a satisfactory alternative. Leave it for a couple of hours or until soft. Remove the mushrooms, squeeze them to remove as mush moisture as you can, retaining a couple of tablespoons of the liquid. Chop the mushrooms.
Heat the butter in a pan and add the mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat until soft, then add the shallots, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Now add the reserved port or Madeira and cook for a minute or so. Put the heavy or light cream, the sour cream, the mustard, and the salt and pepper in the pan and keep warm.
In the meantime, you will have cooked the pasta, which takes a very few minutes. See the package for more precision.
Drain the pasta, keeping some of the cooking water if you need a thinner sauce. Return to the pot used to cook the pasta, add the mushroom mixture, and stir to combine. 
The greenery in the photograph is parsley.

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