Mushrooms. This is what comes to mind when I think about my beloved friend Sky Pape.
Mushrooms. That’s what Sky orders whenever we manage to steal a little time away from our hectic lives to have dinner together. Whether it be roasted portobello mushrooms tossed in a salad, porcini mingling with fresh pasta, or flatbreads adorned with wild mushrooms and aged cheeses, if mushrooms are on the menu, I know that’s what she’s ordering.
Sky is an extraordinary artist. For her latest drawings, Water Works: Surface Tension, she worked on the floor and blew ink through tubes and funnels onto handmade papers from Japan, Korea and Nepal. Sky “breathes life” into each drawing to create “forms and lines that divulge our connectedness with nature, a reminder of our shared fragility.”
Today, her new drawings are being unveiled at the June Kelly Gallery in New York City. They will be on exhibit there until March 9. Then Sky packs up her bags and boards a plane to begin a month-long residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy.
To congratulate her for her abundant achievements still so near to the dawn of 2010, I could present Sky with a huge bouquet of roses. But I’d much rather create a dish for her.
Mushrooms. Let’s start with plump shiitake mushrooms, pan-roasted in a pat of butter. Let’s serve them with wilted arugula and crispy slices of sourdough bread. Let’s crown them with farm-fresh poached eggs. And, as a last touch, let’s drizzle the whole thing with a white truffle cream made with Gourmet Attitude’s deep and intensely flavorful Tartufata.
It’s a tall order, but I hope I was able to “blow life” into this recipe! One thing’s for sure, though: I certainly blew love into it! The mere thought of this dish makes me smile and celebrate the beauty of Sky’s spirit, the exquisiteness of her work and her penchant for those irresistible fungi: mushrooms!
Bonny Doon Vineyard – Ca’ Del Solo Dolcetto 2007 ($22)
Last week, I received my D.E.W.N. box, the precious package that Bonny Doon Vineyard ships to its club members several times a year. As I read the winemaker’s (aka the relentlessly creative Randall Grahm’s) note for the two new wines I received, it immediately occurred to me that the 2007 Ca’ Del Solo Dolcetto would be the perfect match for today’s recipe. That night, I decanted a bottle as recommended and served it with the poached eggs.
The wine was all that I wanted it to be! Ruby red, delicately complex, with juicy fruit notes and earthy tones, the 2007 Dolcetto was light enough not to overpower the dish and yet picked up on the flavor of the mushrooms and truffles. A perfect and harmonious marriage, and a wine we continued to sip long after our plates had been licked clean!
This dish is an obvious choice for brunch, but I also love to serve it for a light dinner with baby potatoes pan-roasted in a little brown butter and olive oil, and a crisp mesclun salad. The only problem is, we always want seconds!
Poached eggs with shiitake mushrooms, wilted arugula and white truffle cream
active time: 45 min
For the white truffle cream
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Tartufata or white truffle cream
For the balance of the ingredients
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 large shiitake mushrooms – stemmed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 oz (85gr) baby arugula
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 4 large eggs
- 4 – 1/2” thick slices whole grain or regular sourdough country bread – cut in 3” rounds with a cookie cutter
- Step 1: Place the stock, cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir well and heat over medium-high heat. Once the mixture reaches boiling point, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced by 2/3rds and has slightly thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in the Tartufata/white truffle cream until well blended. Transfer to a bowl, set aside and cool.
- Cook’s note: The sauce can be made up to one day ahead and refrigerated (after one day, the truffle cream starts losing its flavor). Bring to room temperature before serving. The sauce doesn’t need to be reheated before serving.
- Step 2: Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add the butter. Once the butter has melted, reduce heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms gill-side down. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown while applying a little pressure to the mushrooms with a fork or small spatula as they cook (this is to ensure even browning). Flip the mushrooms and sauté until golden-brown on the other side, continuing to apply a little pressure. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 3: Return the pan to the heat. Add the olive oil and the arugula. Toss well and quickly toss the arugula for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until barely wilted. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 4: Fill a medium saucepan with 3” to 4” of water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the vinegar and reduce heat to medium-high so you have a good boil, but not a roaring boil. Break four eggs into four separate small bowls and tip each egg onto itself in the boiling water, working as quickly as you can. Boil the eggs for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (depending on how firm you like your egg whites to be). As soon as the eggs are done, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Repeat with the balance of the eggs. (You can trim the uneven edges of each egg to make a clean shape if you’d like, but I don’t do this because I don’t like to waste any part of my beautiful eggs!)
- Step 5: To assemble the dish — Quickly toast the bread under a broiler until golden-brown on both sides. Place each slice in the center of a plate. Top with a spoonful of the wilted arugula, a mushroom cap (gill-side up) and a poached egg. Drizzle the white truffle cream on top of the eggs and around the plates. Sprinkle with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
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Disclosure: I received unsolicited free samples from Gourmet Attitude — but would not have featured them here if I didn’t think their products were outstanding.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.