Sunday, September 23, 2012

Monster Shitake

Year three and the shitake logs are going strong.  I pulled a 10" mushroom still fresh off one of our hickory logs.  Commercial shitakes are grown on oak, which wind up with the strong tannic taste characteristic in Oriental recipes.  The hickory produces a mild nutty taste, perfect for the venison pot pie they found themselves in.

After yesterday's haul, the next batch should be ready in a couple days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Understanding Mushrooms

Thank you everyone for attending the presentation on mushrooms last night.  It was great to see all of the interest and there were a lot of fantastic questions.  I had a lot of fun pulling the material together and presenting it.

Here's the slide deck that I went through.  I have this saved as a PowerPoint 2010 show, which supports the animations with the pictures.  For those that don't use PowerPoint, the second link is for a PDF, but there are some pictures missing from this version.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Truffled Chicken Mousse

One of the by-products of raising our own meat chickens is a rather large volume of livers.  While the occasional liver dish can be quite good, I find I usually turn my eye to other items in the freezer and the livers get backlogged.  This dish is an inexpensive pleasure that will likely use up my liver supply well in advance of our next batch of chickens.

This recipe is for a rich and aromatic mousse that has a subtle rather than overpowering liver flavor. The generous portion of butter creates an experience similar to foie gras while the addition of fresh egg yolks enhances the richness and creaminess of the dish. Truffles send the spread to a new level. Caution should be applied with this dish because it is truly addictive and is far from low-fat.There are plenty of very good liver mousse recipes on the shelf and on the net, and while this is my own take on it I have to give credit to the dozens of recipes I've perused for technique and proportion.

1.5 pounds Free range chicken livers
2 cups Milk
3 Sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup Diced shallots
1 tablespoon Dried french tarragon (or twice as much fresh)
1 teaspoon White pepper
1 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Madeira
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 cup Light cream
3 Farm fresh egg yolks
1 black truffle

Rinse livers in cold water and soak in milk over night in the fridge.

The next day, set the butter out and bring to room temperature. Pour the livers into a colander and let strain. Stir the livers with your hand to loosen any pockets of milk, but do not rinse. Discard the milk.

Melt 3 Tbs of butter in a medium pan, add the shallots and saute on low heat. Do not let them brown. Add the tarragon, white pepper & black pepper. Lightly saute until the shallots are soft and just starting to stick to the pan. Deglaze with 1/4 cup Madeira and scrape the pan of any bits. Reduce the liquid by 2/3 to 3/4, stirring occasionally. Scrape the mixture into a food processor equipped with the metal blade.

Return the pan to the flame, add 3 Tbs of butter and increase to medium heat. Saute the chicken livers in small batches, turning over after 2-3 minutes. Do not crowd the livers. The liver should be lightly browned, but still slightly pink on the interior. Transfer each batch to the food processor when cooked. After the last batch of livers is complete, deglaze the pan with the remaining 1/4 cup Madeira and reduce by 2/3. Stir frequently to incorporate any bits of liver and add to the food processor.

Add the cream and salt to the liver mix. Dice the truffle and add to the mix. Cover the food processor and begin chopping. While mixing, add one stick of butter in 2 Tbs chunks, then the egg yolks and remaining butter in 2 Tbs chunks and continue processing until the pate is smooth and uniform. It should have the texture of a semi-thick sauce. Only use fresh local eggs for this step (we used some from our chickens), otherwise simply skip them.

Pour the pate into a medium strainer and push through with a spatula. Transfer to serving dishes, cover and place in the fridge overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread or crostini. This is a fairly large batch of pate and ready to serve dishes can be frozen for later use.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shitake Pumpkin Ravioli

Here's a fun recipe using some creative home-cooking techniques.  The result is a wonderful layering of flavors that is both earthy and savory, with just a touch of sweet.  Using mushroom powder in pasta dough is a technique that's worth trying regardless of any stuffing or sauce you might add.

Shitake Pumpkin Ravioli

Shitake Powder
 The Dough
2 c unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c shitake powder
3 large eggs
3 tsp olive oil

For the Shitake powder, place dried shitake mushrooms (or another mushroom variety) in a food processor with the metal blade and chop to a fine powder.  Mix dry ingredients together and form a well in the center.  Add the olive oil and eggs, fold into the dry ingredients and then knead until well mixed.  Add a few drops of water if the dough won't hold a ball shape, but the mix should not be wet.  Wrap in plastic and set in the fridge for at least an hour.

 The Filling
2 c roasted pumpkin (see below)
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 c Parmesan
1 clove garlic
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Saute the garlic in olive oil and add the thyme until fragrant.  Add the roasted pumpkin, pepper and salt and stir over low-medium heat until well mixed and the pumpkin is no longer releasing liquid.  Turn off heat and fold in the Parmesan.  Set the mix in the fridge and cool to at least room temperature.

Roll out the pasta dough into long sheets with a pasta maker or hand roller.  Spoon a row of filling onto the sheet and fold over.  Firmly press one inch pockets in the pasta and cut with a ravioli blade or knife.

Voila... awesome Ravioli.

Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so once it goes into the boiling water, it should be out within three minutes at the most.  For the sauce, I used a simple cream sauce and added dried tomatoes from the garden:

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
1/4 cup Dried tomato (i.e. sun dried)
1/2 cup boiling water
4 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs Shallots
1 Cup light cream
Touch of Balsamic vinegar

Soak tomatoes in boiling water for 20-30 minutes.  Lightly heat butter in medium size frying pan and add shallots.  Saute until translucent and add tomato and water from soaking.  Saute until water has mostly evaporated.  Add cream & Balsamic vinegar and heat until sauce has lightly thickened.  Coat the pasta and serve immediately.

Roasted Pumpkin
1 baking pumpkin
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

The pumpkin I used for this recipe came from an 18 pound monster I cooked up in the fall.  Basically, you simply cut it into chunks, remove the seeds, slather the pieces with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with Thyme, a little salt and a touch of pepper.  You then bake at 350 until tender, remove the skins and mash up the pumpkin.  This produced enough pumpkin for several pies and several cups of filling for freezing.

As a side note, we dropped the skins & seeds into some water and simmered the mix for a couple of hours. After straining, a little brown sugar and chipotle powder were added and the liquid was reduced and carmelized to a thick pumpkin barbecue sauce.  Unique and delicious.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise

This is truly a revelation.  It's like ice cream that you can put on a steak.

Mayonnaise from farm fresh eggs and a touch of Limoncello, both of which were made on the farm.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Piglets

Our Berkshire piglets have arrived!  About a month ago we bought a pregnant Berk sow (Dolly) to pair up with our boar Sirius Black.  The plan is to mate the gilts from this litter with Sirius once they get old enough.  This litter produced two healthy girls and four boars.

Dolly's Piglets
In another month or so we'll introduce Dolly to the rest of Sirius' herd.

Watchful Mom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012