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dinner Fall lunch main courses pasta seafood

Matsutake Mushroom Gnocci with Watercress

October 31, 2010
matsutake gnocci with watercress

Preface: The only other context I’ve eaten matsutake is in dashi and in a quesadilla (a delicious quesadilla). I don’t think I would make this dish exactly the same next time; I think it would be better in more broth, without the creme fraiche, with egg noodles (Asian style). I used really good quality, fluffy, fresh gnocci for this dish and I think it was really competing with the matsutake, which is a shame because they should have been the feature of the dish.

matsutake gnocci with watercress

matsutake mushrooms cooking

Luckily, matsutakes had a bumper crop this year and they were only $20/lb. In SF, they can be found for $40 or more most years, so this was a really nice surprise last time I popped in at the Japanese market. Yesterday, I even saw them at Rainbow Foods!

I do think simmering the matsutakes in dashi (it was small amounts of mirin, soy sauce, sake, walnut oil and then a larger amount of straight up dashi–water infused with kombu and i-forget-the-name tuna flakes) worked well, I just would have made more of it next time and omitted the creme fraiche I added. The watercress also worked well. So go ahead and do that, and sub those gnocci for egg noodles and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a delicious meal.

Anyway, no recipe here since I won’t stand behind it, but thought you might learn from my experience.

appetizers breakfast & brunch main courses Recipes sauces seafood

Shrimp & Grits

October 30, 2010
home made gourmet shrimp and grits with chard
home made gourmet shrimp and grits with chard

A friend and I stopped by Farmer Brown for a late night meal after seeing a play about a week ago and we had some shrimp & grits. Created a little inspiration.

Had a little panic, though. I canned my own tomatoes this summer with just some fresh lemon juice; a coworker and I were talking about canning techniques and she mtnioned she would not can her own tomatoes especially without preserved lemon juice because of the variation in pH in fresh lemons, due to the botulism risk.. I felt like a bit of a dummy. I took chemistry, why’s my brain not thinkin?

At any rate, I ran out of tomatoes and really had to break open that jar and had myself all hyped up that we might start having lazy eyes and collapsing lungs within a day or two, but it’s been a few and we’re fine. I did throw the rest of the jar away, kinda regretting that now, and what we did eat would have been totally worth it because it was totally tasty.

Here’s my version.

Shrimp and Grits
For four

1 C polenta
1 C chopped tomatoes, strained tomatoes, or 2C fresh tomatoes chopped and seeded
1 tsp dry thyme or 1 T fresh thyme
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/4 C vegetable stock
16 18-20 count shrimp (prefer blue Mexican prawns), deveined and shell removed completely
2 C chopped fresh spinach

Cook the polenta using a 1-3 ratio with water or stock. Be sure to bring liquid to boil first, evenly cipher in the polenta and continue stirring on low heat for at least 5-6 minutes until creamy and thick.

In a sauce pan bring the tomatoes to a simmer and add the chili flakes, thyme, and veg stock. Reserve some veg stock in case you need to thin the sauce. Let it reduce to a tasty, rich flavor and add the shrimp to cook. Add the spinach, turning off the heat and throwing a lid on the pan for 30 seconds or so to wilt. Serve on top of the polenta in a bowl.

dinner Italian lunch main courses one-pan recipes pasta Recipes sauces seafood

Spaghetti & Shrimp in Spicy Chevre Sauce (Pasta with Goat Cheese Sauce)

October 18, 2010
bionaturae whole wheat spaghetti in goat cheese sauce with shrimp

bionaturae whole wheat spaghetti in goat cheese sauce with shrimp

I was reading the Times a couple of days ago and saw an article about whole wheat pasta and its merits. Yeah, it’s merits. I haven’t tried the stuff in years and 100% agreed with the starting sentiment of the article–it’s icky stuff, and I’m a pasta traditionalist, picky as hell about my Italian food in general.

But the author won my trust as I read and knowing I could get their “favorite” brand at my neighborhood grocer, I grabbed some when I was at the store later in the week and gave it a go. It’s really non offensive. It even has a nice texture. We’ll try rigatoni next time.

Also, I just returned from a fabulous trip to Mexico with my S.O., and am seriously craving some pasta! We ate pretty much meat, and a little bit of vegetables, and a lot of coconut milk and wine (oh come on, not together!).

Bionature whole wheat spaghetti with shrimp in goat cheese sauce

Pasta with Goat Cheese for two:

12 shrimp of your preference (blue Mexican gulf prawns for me, until they don’t have them next year..)
2 T butter
2 tsp olive oil
2 T goat cheese
3/4 C vegetable stock
1/4 C heavy cream
120 grams spaghetti (I used bionature whole wheat organic spaghetti)
1 tsp chili flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp mixed Italian dry spices
salt & pepper

Start your water to boil and chop the garlic finely. When you add the pasta to the boiling water, warm a skillet to medium high heat and add the butter and oil.

When the oil and butter are hot, reduce to medium and add the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the veg stock, cream, chili flakes and spices.

De-vein and peel your shrimp, patting dry and tossing with a little salt. When the sauce is bubbly and slightly reduced, add the goat cheese until incorporated, and then immediately the shrimp.

The pasta should be about done; drain and add it immediately to the sauce*. If you should need to wait for it to finish, DO NOT over cook the shrimp–take them out slightly underdone and set aside, re-adding them with the pasta. Simmer a bit as you see in the picture above and serve it up!

*You could also add some swiss chard, kale, or spinach to this dish at the end, throw a lid on it to wilt and serve.

*In my opinion, the trick to really good home pasta is to simmer the pasta a bit in the sauce, getting it really hot.