I am a lucky chef. I have some very generous foodie friends who love to travel and bring me home culinary treasures from their journeys. Over the years I have been given garlic from the garlic capital of the world Gilroy,
California, saffron from Morrocco; salts from numerous corners of the earth, and bush spices from Australia. But of all the delicious food gifts
I have been given, truffles are my favorite indulgence. I seldom buy them for myself and covet them as a primo gift.
Truffles are a tuber prized for their earthy, robust flavor. One of the most sought after culinary riches, it's also known to have aphrodisiac powers that soften the heart. Truffles grow underground in the roots of certain species of trees. It takes the precise amount of rain and time to produce the perfect truffle. Originally pigs were used to hunt
truffles, but dogs are now the favorite hunter because they are less likely to eat the prize. Locations are closely guarded family secrets and are handed down from generation to generation. Originally, the two most common truffles were the black truffle from the Perigord region of France and the white truffle from the Alba region of Italy. Today, truffles are cultivated in Spain, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and China. If the real truffle is out of your budget, truffle "dirt" - which is often called shavings - or truffle oil will give you the same flavor profile. Truffle products are used in cream sauces, mashed potatoes, pasta, rice and
scrambled eggs. They're best appreciated gently grated over dishes, or when using truffle oil, a finishing oil drizzled over your dish before
serving. To retain fresness, store truffle oil in the refrigerator. These recipes are great for fall entertaining and will open your senses to a new taste sensation.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
The technique used here is similar to making rice pilaf by coating the grains with butter. The entire process should take between 18-22 minutes.
1 ¹/³ Cup Arborio rice
1 oz dry mushrooms
(Chanterelle or woodland blend)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons shallots, chopped
7 Cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
½ Cup white wine
½ Cup frozen green peas, thawed
½ Cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese, grated
2 Teaspoons white truffle oil
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
1. Measure Arborio rice and set aside. Soak mushrooms in boiling water until soft, approx. 30 minutes. Chop mushrooms and set aside. Strain mixture in fine sieve and pour in large measuring cup.
2. Add chicken stock to mushroom water. Heat until just before boiling in a medium saucepan.
3. In a heavy-bottomed large pan, melt butter and sauté shallots until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add rice and stir. When rice begins to sizzle, add chicken stock one ladle at a time. Let rice absorb stock before adding more, stirring constantly.
4. When rice starts to turn creamy, add mushrooms, fresh rosemary, white wine, peas and cheese. Add salt and adjust seasoning. Drizzle with Truffle oil and serve.
Glorious Mushroom Crostinis
Your favorite fresh mushroom can be substituted for the ones listed in this recipe. Roasted garlic is available in your grocer's produce section in a jar ready to use. Serve 2-3 per person as these will disappear quickly!
1 loaf French bread, sliced ½ inch thick and toasted in a 350° oven for 10 minutes until golden brown
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Large Portobello mushroom cap, sliced thin,
1 Tablespoon roasted garlic
3 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 Tablespoon white truffle oil
2 Tablespoons sherry or Marsala wine
2-4 Tablespoons Boursin cheese
1. Slice mushrooms thin and set aside.
2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat and sauté mushrooms until soft about 5-6 minutes.
3. Drizzle in Truffle oil, add sherry or Marsala and Boursin cheese to cooked mushrooms and mix well.
4. Spread on toasted crostini and serve immediately.
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer before dinner
Arelene Coco Buscombe is the owner of Prairie Kitchen Specialty Foods and makes hand made food products on the shores of Lake Superior.