While the California drought has made for some great January t-shirt days, it’s also made for a lousy mushroom season. Whole Foods, my closest good sized grocery store normally has Chanterelles or Hedgehog mushrooms this time of year, but they’ve had nothing but Oysters and other cultivatable mushrooms this winter. When I can get my hands on some nice meaty Chanterelles though, my favorite way to prepare them is in a Risotto.
You don’t need mushrooms for risotto. They’re equally delicious with asparagus, peas and sausage, or just about any other combination that you can think of (but keep it simple).
- 1.5 cups Short grain Italian Rice, such as Arborio
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Butter (optional)
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 Quart Chicken stock
- Wild Mushrooms (Chanterelles or Hedgehogs are both delicious)
- Lots of freshly grated Parmesiano Reggiano
- Salt and Pepper
Heat the stock on the back burner in a heavy pot until boiling, then reduce to a simmer.
In the meantime, chop the onion, and sautee in Olive Oil until soft. You may also add a bit of butter for a richer flavor. Add the rice, and cook for a couple of minutes on medium-high heat until coated in oil. Add the white wine, stir the rice, and let sit until the white wine has evaporated.
Now, start adding the chicken stock, one ladle at a time. Add a ladle, stir the rice, and then wait until the chicken stock has evaporated. Add the next ladle, and repeat. It should take 17 minutes for the Risotto to be fully cooked, but taste along the way.
After about 12 minutes, add the chopped mushrooms (and continue the process of ladling the stock).
Add as much parmesan as you want, the more the better (and the higher quality parmesan, the better!).
Ceviche is basically Salsa with fish “cooked” in lime juice, and is delicious. Since you are using raw fish, this is not the time to skimp with $2/lb halibut from Chinatown. I always buy my fish from a reputable fishmonger (ok, whole foods), since I don’t want to take any chances.
Ceviche is very easy to make, but you do need to let the fish sit in the lime juice for 3 hours, so make sure you have plenty of time set aside.
I usually use red snapper or a rockfish, though the last time I made it was with Halibut, which was delicious. If halibut is on sale and similarly priced to snapper, get that, but if it’s much more expensive, it’s not really worth the extra money in my opinion. Red Snapper is still delicious.
- 1 pound fresh white fish such as Red Snapper
- 6 Limes
- 1 Orange
- 1 small Red Onion
- 1 large, fresh tomato
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper
Make sure no bones are present in the Fish, and dice into 1cm chunks. Put fish chunks in a bowl, and squeeze fresh lime juice over until all the fish is submerged in lime. Place in the refridgerator for 2.5 hours.
After the fish has cooked in the lime juice, it will become opaque and firm. At this point, chop the red onion, jalapeno and dice the tomato and add that to the bowl. Squeeze fresh orange juice into the bowl, and add freshly chopped cilantro.
Put the bowl Ceviche back in the fridge, and let sit for another 30-60 minutes. The longer you wait, the better flavor it will have.
I usually eat like salsa, with corn tortilla chips.
Biting into a thick piece of matsutake is on the same magnitude as the first time you tasted into a perfectly grilled Filet. Actually, it’s even better.
Here’s how to cook them to perfection.
- As many Matsutake Mushrooms as you can afford (or find growing under Pine Trees)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (this dish warrants a good one!)
- Lemon (Meyer if available)
- A dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
- Salt and Pepper
Since Matsutakes are wild mushrooms, they’re going to have some dirt on them. Do NOT rinse them off with water unless you want a big soggy mess. Instead, brush the dirt off of the caps with your fingers or a light brush. The outside of the stalks will have a layer of tough flesh, which can be lightly peeled off with a vegetable peeler. You’re probably not going to get all of the dirt off, but a little dirt never hurt anyone.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Break up the matsutake into 1-2″ pieces. Take a large piece of tinfoil and fold it into the shape of a bowl. Place the matsutake chunks into the tinfoil.
Drizzle with olive oil, juice of a lemon, and 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup of white wine and some salt and pepper. Fold the foil over so that the mushroom are completely sealed.
Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, and which time you should check on it. Once the mushrooms are soft, they’re done, and you’re in for the biggest treat of your life.
I used to think that BBQing asparagus was the best way to prepare it, up until I concocted this recipe.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- freshly grated Parmisiano-reggianio
I prefer thinner asparagus spears, and I bend them until they break naturally, rather than chopping off the ends. If you like meatier spears, peel the skin at the base with a potato peeler.
In a skillet over medium heat add 1-2tbsp olive oil and asparagus. Cook until tender. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, and garnish with fresh parmensan.