Jeanette - Off The Cuff
- Off The Cuff Cooking
- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually went to school for art, design, and photography. Beyond that, I worked as a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines in the late 90s and early 2000s. I even took a crack at running a PR company for a while. However, cooking has always been in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and culinary arts instructor, my dad's father was a pastry chef, and my mom's mother was a caterer, and at the age of 92, she published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, too, and we're not afraid to experiment. Usually I end up inventing dishes (with or without outside inspiration) with whatever I have on hand, hence "Off the Cuff." I might make very Scandinavian dishes (meatballs, and salmon with dill-potatoes) or ethnic like Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Italian or Spanish. By the way, you can put bell peppers in almost all cuisine! (Drop me a line, at o f f t h e c u f f c o o k i n g "at" g m a i l followed by the dot-com. :)
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
When I was a little girl in Sweden, we went out in the woods to pick Kantareller (or Chanterelles). They peeked out of the moss and pine needles, like little golden trumpets in the woods. They were so delicate and buttery in flavor, especially when sautéed in butter! Fresh chanterelles are hard to find, as they are seasonal, and cannot be cultivated. They seem to only grow in the wild, and only where they choose, but they seem to prefer evergreen forest conditions. About once a year, there is a 4-5 week time frame when I can find these golden fungi at the grocery store or farmer’s market, but usually at a cost of $28-30 a pound. CostCo sometimes has them, and then it’s more like $10-12 a lb, which is much better than $28 a pound. But still, pricey.
So imagine my delight when I heard through the grapevine that a girl from our church lived near a wooded area that seems to have prolific Chanterelle growth every fall. Sure enough, I went out there this morning for about an hour or so, in my rubber boots, and carefully meandered around the woods behind her yard. Carefully, since the mushrooms often were tucked underneath the moss & leaves, and even though brightly colored, they often just blend in with the autumn foliage on the ground. As soon as my ‘chanterelle eyes’ became accustomed to looking beyond and underneath the camouflage hiding these little gems, I started finding dozens and dozens of them, ranging in size from 1/2” in diameter to several inches wide.
I picked almost a whole grocery bag worth. And now that I have had my dinner, I thought I’d tell you what one of my favorite chanterelle-based meals is.
1-2 cups worth of chopped chanterelles – brush off dirt and debris with a pastry brush
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 sprig fresh rosemary, de-stemmed, and finely chopped up (probably about 1 tsp of dried rosemary)
3-5 large sage leaves, finely chopped up (I suspect it would be about 2 tsp worth of dried sage)
1-2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup- 3/4 cup heavy cream
Sauté the mushrooms in the butter, until soft, and then sprinkle flour over them, and stir it in until absorbed. Pour cream, and herbs and seasonings in, and allow to simmer over low heat until the cream thickens a bit from the flour.
Meanwhile, prepare your favorite type of pasta according to directions, and drain it. Stir in the cream sauce over the pasta.
This pasta is particularly delicious when served with grilled poultry, such as turkey breasts or chicken. I had chicken tenderloins (because I always have them in my freezer) so I defrosted them, marinated them with olive oil, sage, rosemary, salt & pepper (probably about 3 or 4 sage leaves, minced, 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped up, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground pepper) and grilled them on a very hot grill for about 2 minutes on each side. Then I cut the chicken tenders into bite-size pieces and stirred them in with the pasta. I have also served this with chicken breasts stuffed with brie, and made a similar sauce to drizzle over grilled turkey breast. Roasted rock hens are also excellent with chanterelles.
The chanterelles are so delicate in flavor that you really don’t want to overpower them with a lot of other flavors or heavy meats. I stick with sage, and rosemary as the only real seasonings. I don’t use onions or garlic with chanterelles, because just a couple of woodsy herbs are enough of a good complements, and the cream sauce just enhances it all.