Archive for December, 2010

I got home from work last night inspired by chard. Again. Though this time, a little less frenzied.

Like last time, I balanced my Diet Coke with a glass of Cabernet. I was craving something creamy and earthy and rich. I replaced the pasta and feta with polenta and provolone, added mushrooms to the chard, and doused the mix with some wine from my glass (and then refilled my glass). I called the vegetable mix a ragoût. Because I like how that sounds. Ragoooo. And because it’s French. It comes from the verb ragoûter – to restore the appetite, to stimulate, to stir up; goûter means to taste. I didn’t need my appetite restored, but I did need my appetite fed, and this did the trick.

Sitting on my kitchen counter is a little wooden sign that says

I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food. (W.C. Fields)

This statement is true. Very true. But I’d like my to add wine to the food more than sometimes.

Mushroom Chard Ragoût over Creamy Polenta

Make these two dishes at the same time. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. Scoop a nice mound of polenta in the center of a wide bowl and spoon the ragoût around the

Creamy Polenta

– 1C medium or coarse grind corn meal

– 4.5 C water

– salt

– 2 T butter

– 1/2 C provolone cheese, shredded

Add polenta and salt to cold water in a small pots. Whisk a few times and bring to boiling. Turn the heat to low and whisk every minute for the first 5 minutes. Continue to whisk every few minutes until all the water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes for a total cooking time of 20-15 minutes. Add butter and shredded cheese and salt to taste.

Mushroom Chard Ragoût

– 1 T butter, 1 T olive oil

– 1 onion, chopped

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced

– 1 big bunch of red chard

– 1/2 C red wine (I used a rich Cabernet)

Heat butter and oil in a wide skillet large enough to fit all the chard. Sauté onion and garlic until transparent. Add sliced chard ribs, cover, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for another ~8 minutes until mushrooms darken, release their fluid and then reabsorb it. Add chard leaves and cover for another 5 minutes to wilt. Add wine and heat until liquid reduces, another 5 mintues or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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get the meal started

A few weeks ago, I made my first shabbat dinner in months. Many, many months. I  fretted about the burnt chicken, the apple-pear galette that cracked, the salad poorly dressed. But the one thing I could rely on was the mushroom soup. It’s the absolute essence of mushroom. And the recipe is little more than sautéeing several handfuls of sliced mushrooms with shallots, throwing together a roux to thicken things up a bit, and adding broth and sherry. Then a quick buzz with an immersion blender and voilà — creamy thick mushroom soup. Garnish with a few chives and we’re ready to get the meal started.


Mushroom Soup

Makes a lot, but our party of 5 finished the entire pot. Probably should serve up to 8.

I adapted this from two wild mushroom soups – one from Levana Kirschbaum and one from Carole Sobell. I left out Levana’s soy milk, but added her sherry and used flour instead of Sobell’s cornstarch. I kept her thyme as well, but dropped the saffron. I kept Sobell’s simplicity and her chives turned the soup from good to spectacular with just a hint of bite and sharpness.

2 cloves garlic

– 6 shallots

– 3 T margarine

– 2.5 lbs assorted mushrooms (I used a mix of white button and cremini) – about 4-5 cups

– several branches of thyme

– 1/3 C flour

– 5 C vegetable (or chicken) broth

– 1 C dry sherry (I used Tio Pepe Zerez Palomino Fino) or vermouth

– chives

Prep. There’s a lot of chopping going on here. Finely hop the garlic and shallots fine. Clean and slice the mushrooms any which way you want.

Sauté. Melt the margarine in a big soup pot. Sauté the garlic and shallots over low heat until translucent (try not to let them color). Add the mushrooms and thyme and continue to sauté for another 8-10 minutes or so. Add the flour to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, mixing to make sure there are no lumps. Add broth and sherry and simmer for ~15 minutes. Remove the thyme branches, which by now should be bare of leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Blend. Whip the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also pass the soup through a sieve, but I didn’t bother.

Serve. Ladle into bowls and snip a few chives over top.

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