Sky and I make sure we take at least one night during the week where we're home together on the earlier side with nothing we have to do. This can be harder than it sounds when both of us are capable of succumbing to workaholism and overplanning, but since we made the promise to each other we've been really good about keeping it. It's so easy for us to go in our different directions during the week, and if we only do that our relationship takes a hit: we don't feel as connected, we both get sensitive in the ways we get sensitive, and we can spend the weekend just trying to catch up with each other. So the mid-week rituals are important, whatever they are.
Tuesdays are a night that usually works for both of us. I go to that spin class I recently told you about, come home and make something special for dinner. Which has the added benefit of giving me a chance mid-week to make something fabulous that has no doubt been sitting in the ever-growing pile of Things I Really Want to Cook.
I recently revisited the Culver City Farmers' Market. Hadn't been to that one in a while, and conveniently it's on Tuesday in the afternoon, so should I miss the weekend markets and want to make said husband said fabulous dinner I have a market at which to shop. I love LA! (and if you do too check out this month's issue of Saveur: it's all about LA food!)
There is someone new and very special at this market: LAFunghi. I am going to do a whole post on this guy soon. He's from Germany, was a chef, and now is seriously hosting the most extraordinary mushroom display I've just about ever seen. Pretty much every variety I've ever heard of in beautiful freshness and great multitudes. EXCITING. So when I came across a mushroom sauce I wanted to make and Hark! there was the Tuesday market and Hark! I had found the mushroom guru, I seriously felt all elements of the universe were conspiring to make this Tues night dinner for my husband very extra special.
The sauce was in the LA Times recently, and it was included in an article on polenta. Sky doesn't think he likes polenta, though I have plans for him. He will try it sometime when I make it for dinner guests and he will learn. Oh yes he will. But since he's not a cornmeal convert yet I served the sauce on orechiette pasta along with some long-cooked chard. You can keep the greens on the side or throw them in the bowl with the pasta and sauce. Depends, I guess, if you're a compartment eater or a mix-together-er
So here it is
Wild Mushroom Sauce as adapted from the LA Times article by Russ Parsons
1/2 to 1 1/2 ounces dried mushrooms (he called for porcinis which would be wonderful; i used morels since there were some amazing ones at the market)
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 pound fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of creminis, button and several wild varieties like bluefoot and chanterelle and some I don't even know the name of)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced onion or shallot
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
dash or two of red wine vinegar
In a medium bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with hot water and set aside to soak until rehydrated, at least 30 minutes. Start boiling the water for your pasta.
Heat the olive oil with the split cloves of garlic in a big skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and the salt and cook, stirring until the mushrooms start weeping, about 10 minutes. If the garlic begins to scorch, remove and discard it.
While the fresh mushrooms are cooking, lift the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid with your hand, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms dry, draining the liquid back into the bowl and reserving it. Chop the dried mushrooms coarsely. Add to the cooked fresh mushrooms. Decant the soaking liquid through a strainer into a measuring cup, tilting it and pouring slowly to leave behind any grit in the bottom of the bowl. You should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
Add the minced shallot and increase the heat to high, until the mushrooms are nearly dry, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until that evaporates, another 5 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to medium and stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste is mixed in and has begun to toast, darkening and losing its raw smell, about 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the strained soaking liquid and gently simmer over medium-low heat (and keep it on the low side of medium low) until the mushrooms are silky and the juices are thickened and creamy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Any extra mushroom broth can be refrigerated, tightly covered, and added to soup. When you're a few minutes away from the sauce being done, cook the pasta.
Stir in the rosemary and parsley. Taste and add just enough red wine vinegar to give the sauce depth. Add more salt if necessary. Keep warm until pasta is ready.
Drain and plate pasta, top with as much sauce as you desire and some grated Parm, add some greens how you like them and feast away.
Serves 6; or 2 very devoted mushroom fans with plenty of leftovers
We keep our wine-drinking to a minimum during the week, but this would be sooo good with your favorite big juicy red.