Recipe number one!
Why this one? Cause I got awesome ingredients at the New Amsterdam Market that were a perfect fit for this recipe. I did it because that's what the ingredients told me to do - which is part of my goal here - to eat seasonally driven food. Look at this Hen of the Woods mushroom from Wild Gourmet. It was very, very fresh and had unbelievable flavor:
This recipe made use of three other embedded recipes: the sachet, the mushroom stock, and the garlic puree. I started with the mushroom stock. Remembering that I am cutting down recipes as need be, I only made a half recipe of the mushroom stock. I started by putting the leek greens, onion, carrot and button mushrooms in the food processor.
I promise that the Fresca in the photo is not mine. But I did have some. It was a crime of opportunity. You'd take a swig if it was that close to you...
I finely chopped the mushrooms and aromatics in the food processor and then added water:
This combination simmered for about 45 minutes while I prepared the other components like the garlic confit:
Once the cloves were softened and had cooled I put them through a tamis and ended up with garlic (confit) paste. Edit: The garlic puree is stirred into the mushroom broth in the final assembly. Because it is cooked slowly for a long time, there is not a lot of bite, just a nice, soft garlic note:
Next, I sauteed the Hen of the Woods mushroom in two batches:
I also "big pot" blanched the kale (cavolo nero) and cooking the potatoes with the sachet (you'll notice that I didn't take the time to wrap the sachet ingredients with cheesecloth - I didn't do it because the potato pieces were large enough to pick out cleanly for the finished dish). I will tell you that the potatoes cooked separately with the aromatics of the sachet were unreal on their own. So good.
Now that the individual components were ready, it was time to assemble the finished product.
One thing that is clear in this recipe is that each component is given the consideration necessary to be a contributing player in the final dish. The stock is layered with flavor (and gilded with the garlic puree), the final soup has leeks, onion and carrot for additional flavor (cooked under a parchment lid no less);
the potatoes are cooked separately and flavored by the sachet (additional layers of flavor), and the mushrooms are sauteed separately and seasoned separately to add even more complexity. This is not a one-pot-dish. It is a familiar dish (mushroom soup) with a complex flavor worth the extra effort. The final result? Awesome. Would I cook it again? Yes. Would I serve it to guests? You bet.
Confession: Okay, fine. I'll admit it (in the spirit of full disclosure). I forgot stuff. Rookie mistake. No need to yell. I forgot to hit my final dish with a little vinegar and olive oil. BUT, I did remember to do it for my lunch the next day and it made a HUGE difference - in a good way. The addition added to the layers of flavor - a nice bite from the vinegar and a nice richness/bite from the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I just got so excited as I finished my first dish that I wanted to eat it. Right now. So I jumped the gun. I'll try not to do it again. But I probably will. Sorry.
Sources (I will provide the prices as available):
Hen of the Woods Mushroom from Wild Gourmet (via NA Market) - $32/lb
Button mushrooms, spanish onion, carrot, potatoes and kale from Wegmans
Leeks from Health Shoppe (via NA Market) $2.99/bunch
Edit 10/29/09 for clarity