Hello, loyal readers! I’m back from a long summer break with some big news to share: we’ve moved to Pennsylvania. New job, keeping the family together, blah blah. Fine. Let’s get to the tragic part of this story. My lovingly designed, light-filled kitchen with its 9’x5’ marble-topped island and rocket-powered 8-burner range. . .
has been replaced with something slightly less Houzz-worthy:
So, for the last two months I’ve been a real pill. A lot of whining, not much cooking. However, through this period of mourning, I’ve slowly arrived at acceptance. Yes! There are bigger problems to have in life. Yes! I can redo another kitchen. Yes! Pennsylvania actually has a lot to offer for foodies. (Who knew?)
For example – this weekend is the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival. (Because Kennett Square – just a few miles from where we live – is “The Mushroom Capital of the World.”) It sounds like a can’t-miss event: mushroom sampling, mushrooms for sale, culinary demonstrations, a fried-mushroom eating contest, and a mushroom appetizer cook-off. I missed the entry deadline for this year but will be scoping out the competition for next year. I probably would’ve entered my Wild Mushroom “Fondue” – always the first appetizer to disappear from a party, and also great mixed in with pasta for a gourmet version of mac-n-cheese. Here’s our “toast” to New Beginnings??
Wild Mushroom Fondue (Click here for the original post with step-by-step photos.)
Serves a crowd as an appetizer, or enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta.
- 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (approx. 1 oz.)
- 1 ½ cup boiling water
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Approx. 2 lbs. cultivated white or cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4-6 large shallots, minced (approx. 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1 block cream cheese or Neufchatel/reduced fat cram cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or more, to taste)
- Freshly grated black pepper
- Black truffle oil (optional)
Place dried porcini mushrooms in a Pyrex measuring cup. Pour in boiling water to cover (approximately 1 ½ cup). Set aside to reconstitute.
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat butter and oil. Add sliced cultivated mushrooms, stir to coat, and then let cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Stir in the minced shallots and cook until softened. (Approx. 5 minutes more.)
Meanwhile, using your fingers or a slotted spoon, gently scoop out the reconstituted porcini from the soaking liquid without disturbing any grit that may have settled to the bottom of the measuring up. Chop porcini and reserve the soaking liquid.
Add chopped porcini and thyme to the mushroom/shallot mixture.
Add sherry to deglaze the pan (loosen any bits from the bottom) and allow to cook for another minute.
Reduce heat and stir in cream cheese and heavy cream. Once smooth, stir in 3/4 cup parmesan and a few grinds of freshly grated black pepper. Taste for seasoning (important!), adding more parmesan cheese or a pinch more kosher salt if necessary. Stir in a few drizzles of black truffle oil, if using. Serve spooned onto toasted baguette slices or stirred into pasta.