Oh, my delicate Diva sensibilities!
Originally posted 2014-02-07 21:50:00.
Oh, my delicate Diva sensibilities!
Originally posted 2014-02-07 21:50:00.
Darlings! These mushrooms are INDEED magical, though not in the way YOU are probably thinking! (tsk, tsk!) I find that if there is a food that can add so much flavor and also be used in so many different ways to be not only magical, but a good choice when picking produce at the market. Versatility is key in La Diva’s kitchen!
I got this lovely three pound box of oyster mushrooms as a gift upon a visit to Paradise Farms Organic, down in Homestead, Florida. Farmer Gabriele knew I’d made good use of them!
The oyster mushroom is quite delicate in texture and flavor. It’s called an oyster mushroom because of it’s obvious resemblance in shape to an oyster, but that’s it, the mushroom DOES NOT taste like an oyster! I found a website with some interesting facts about the oyster mushroom, including it’s ability to create natural statins, an aid in reducing bad cholesterol. Click HERE for more fun facts!
La Diva usually does not care for raw mushrooms marinated, raw in salads or side dishes, and I find the common button or cremini mushroom to be quite chalky and bland when eaten without cooking. However with the oyster mushroom’s flavor being so subtle and texture so fragile, I decided I’d put them raw into a salad along with fresh sprouts from Paradise Farms Organic, heirloom tomatoes and mixed greens and topped with Hani’s divine artisanal goat cheese! Not only were they delicious but they created a very beautiful and unique salad, definitely restaurant worthy!
Doesn’t this look divine? A lovely pork roast with potatoes is rubbed with rosemary, olive oil and salt and then stuffed with a breading of oyster mushrooms, garlic, butter and bread crumbs!
La Diva sauteed finely sliced oyster mushrooms in butter and olive oil, added a bit of garlic and rosemary and then mixed it with breadcrumbs. I cut a nice slit into the middle of the roast, stuffed it and secured it with kitchen string. The mushroom and garlic flavor the middle of the roast and adds a moist hit of flavor! The DJ loved it!
After the salad and mushroom stuffed pork roast, I found I still had a LOT of mushies left! And because they ARE so fragile, I would have to eat them all as soon as possible. Now what to make next?
How about a lovely sauteed chicken breast over creamy polenta topped with an oyster mushroom tarragon cream sauce? For quicker cooking, I cut the breast in half lengthwise, dusted with flour, salt and pepper, browned on both sides and then deglazed the pan with sherry. I added the mushrooms and let it cook for another 30 seconds to meld the mushrooms with the chicken juices and then served it up! You know it was DELIZIOSO! HINT: Add a 1/2 cup of milk to the chicken broth for an extra creamy polenta!
But La Diva STILL had a good half a box of oyster mushrooms! I’ve been making pasta over the summer and thought to myself, why not try ravioli? I had made pasta quite successfully, and for some reason, I had the determination and patience to give ravioli making a try!
I made the dough and let it chill. Then I chopped the rest of the oyster mushrooms up fine and cooked them in a combo of butter and olive oil (adding olive oil to the butter means it won’t brown) and just a touch of cream, garlic and thyme. After the cream reduced, I remembered I had white wine, added that and reduced again, creating a concentrated flavor perfect for a ravioli filling.
I let the mushrooms cool in a bowl and then added more of Hani’s goat cheese, which is very mild in flavor and has the texture of ricotta, along with grated parmigiano cheese, minced parsley, salt and white pepper. I tasted it. Wow! A FLAVA HIT!~
I rolled out the dough and cut into long strips and then dotted along the strip with a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom cheese filling. Topped with the other strip of dough and cut into squares and sealing each one with the tines of a fork.
See how they are not completely perfect? I don’t have a pasta machine to roll out the dough, nor do I have a ravioli crimper. This is a low gadget cucina! But guess what? It doesn’t matter, the end result will still be a tasty ravioli and practice makes perfect! These are tres rustique!
I had some extra pasta dough left, so I cut it up and hung it to dry for another dinner! I boiled the water for the ravioli and put the second tray of ravioli in the freezer. Once it was solid, I would put it into freezer bags for dinner for another night!
Now, what to TOP the ravioli with? I thought about plain butter and cheese but I knew the concentrated flavors of the mushroom and cheese mixture could handle a tomato sauce. I took a handful of wrinkled grape tomatoes that couldn’t be used in any salad, tossed them into a hot fry pan of olive oil and whole garlic and Italian herbs, cooked for a few minutes, added red wine and reduced and then pureed the lot and put through a sieve to take away the skins and seeds to leave me with a highly flavored tomato puree. I swirled a bit of extra virgin into it and tasted it for seasoning! Da-yum!
After boiling the ravioli for a good five minutes, they expanded and I carefully removed them with a slotted spoon and put into the bowl of sauce, carefully covering each with the rich tomatoes.
And then La Diva served ’em up!
These ravioli are NOT the delicate little pillows you might find at a restaurant or bought at the grocery store. These were definitely a heartier ravioli and a slightly chewy texture, which I actually love!
Oh dear! I TRIED to take a nice photo of the gorgeous mushroom filling but the darn thing kept slipping off the fork before I could shoot it. The meal was hot and La Diva was hungry. Here’s the one shot I got! haha!
La Diva’s rustic oyster mushroom and goat cheese ravioli with savory tomato red wine sauce! Wow! I’m glad I’ve got more in the freezer, the mushroom goat cheese combo was perfect. Too many times, La Diva has had mushroom ravioli that are bland and blah, not these. And I liked how the goat cheese complemented the subtle mushroom flavor without overpowering it.
Well done, La Diva! Three pounds of gorgeous, fresh mushrooms used in four very different ways. La Diva wants to know: How would YOU use oyster mushrooms in a meal? I’d love to hear all about it!
Ciao for now, darlings! x
PS: If you want to easily grow your own oyster mushrooms, check out my buddies, Back to the Roots Oyster Mushroom Growing Kits on Amazon! Easy peasy!
Originally posted 2012-10-27 15:36:00.
Originally posted 2012-07-15 21:00:00.
What’s YOUR favorite pasta, darling? Ciao for now!
Originally posted 2012-05-21 23:16:00.
Darlings! Well, it’s been SOME TIME since I’ve had time to really sit, ponder, write and post my bloggity blog but here I am, finally!
Back in February, a publicist for Bertolli olive oil spotted my blog online and invited La Diva to attend a special, private demonstration of Top Cheftestant Fabio Viviani. It was a side event for the South Beach Food and Wine Festival called the Chef Viviani Cooking Experience (sponsored by Bertolli olive oil and products)
I was thrilled! Not only is Fabio one of my very favorite past cheftestants from Top Chef, but Casa Tua is one of the most highly regarded, romantic and beautiful restaurants in Miami. What a WONDERFUL WAY to start the day!
The private demo started at 9 am. NINE A. to the M! Though La Diva is usually up hours before 9 am, I really don’t TALK before that time! And here I was, a slightly tired, not-quite-awake-yet La Diva, chatting with Fabio, like we were old buds, about “What type of pasta he prefers, fresh or dry?”
Fabio: “It depends on the sauce,” he wisely stated! And then went on to talk about various sauces with pastas.
“What do you think about cheese with seafood? Traditionally, Italians don’t really combine the two.”<
Fabio: “It’s different for you in America…shrimp and grits come to mind, but not usually!”
I then tell him about my divine recipe for oysters a la Carl grilled with prosciutto and parmigiano (and other secret delights) which he agrees sound delicious.
While Fabio and I chatted, other bloggers and food writers began to file in and he excused himself to meet them. We were encouraged to take a seat around a large rectangular table in front of the open kitchen, naturally, I was already near the kitchen so sat up front center!
The ingredients for the fresh pasta and beef dishes are displayed. Those oyster mushrooms are AMAZING! Chef Viviani prefers to use oyster mushrooms as they are “perfect for roasting.”
Fabio began the demonstration by speaking about HOW EASY IT IS to make fresh pasta and asked if anyone had made it before? Surprisingly, only a few people put up their hands, including myself. I found that I was one of the few chefs to be invited as I write AND cook….most of the attendees were reporters and bloggers and were a bit hesitant to speak up. Fabio ASSURED US that it was super easy…
He then made the entire lot in a food processor! Fabio explained that one egg should be used per person. After the dough formed a ball, he took it out and put it through the pasta maker.
If you remember Fabio from Top Chef (and how could you forget?), you remember how utterly charming and funny he is. Especially when he speaks with his mangled Italian pronunciations of English-American words! He had everyone laughing when he asked the staff for a spoon and was given a very large spoon for tasting. He asked for a smaller one, exclaiming in his broken English:
“Thatza big-ass-uh spoon!”
The pasta sheets are rolled up and cut into ribbons. Then Fabio “fluffed” the pasta up, separated the ribbons and created several small nests, then put them aside.
Within a 10 minutes, Fabio had created perfect pasta before our very eyes, indeed proving that making fresh pasta was quick and easy for even a novice.
But wait, there’s more! Fabio was now going to demonstrate filet mignon with oyster mushrooms, rosemary and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
Fabio states to the guests: “You can use any Bertolli brand you like!” At that time of the morning, he certainly kept everyone engaged and smiling.
Chef Fabio says that oyster mushrooms are “perfect for roasting” and suggests blanching them first to allow them to crisp while retaining moisture inside.
Now dat’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Beautiful, bloody, tender meat at 10 am….sign me up!
Chef Fabio Viviani’s Filet Cutlets with Mushroom
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
4 (6-oz.) pieces filet mignon, cut in half lengthwise (for total of 8 pieces)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
1 lb. Oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced, or your favorite variety of mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped shallots
2/3 cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. of Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp. flour
1 cup Bertolli Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
1 tsp. sugar
Pound beef until ½-inch thick. Season both sides of beef with rosemary, salt and pepper.
Heat Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and cook beef, turning once, 6 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove beef and set aside.
Add mushrooms, garlic and shallots to same skillet and cook, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until wine is reduced almost completely . Add broth and cook 3 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil and flour. Add oil mixture stirring until dissolved and cook until sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Heat Bertolli Balsamic Vinegar and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced by a quarter.
Place mushroom mixture on serving plate. Top with steaks. Drizzle beef with Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil and balsamic reduction, season with pepper.
Oh man. The food was really delicious; simple, hearty food that let the quality ingredients shine, a cooking style La Diva heartily embraces and employs.
After the demonstration, guests mingled and asked more questions while La Diva made a bee line for Fabio’s business partner, Jacopo Falleni, master mixologist at their restaurant Cafe Firenze in Los Angeles. Jacopo creates unusual, custom cocktails and then pairs each with food. I told him about my “small bites, BIG DRINKS” cooking and cocktail class, where I do the same, and he gave me his card and told me to “call him.” Nice guy, truly.
I talked to a few more reporters and guests, handed out cards, thanked Fabio and the publicist profusely and headed off to Casa La Diva to conduct my own demonstration for bachelorettes from the Caymen Islands, Part Two of a DELICIOUS DAY was about to begin.
You can get more info on Chef Fabio Viviani along with recipes and videos by going to his website HERE.
PS: Darling, want to keep up on all things Top Chef? Then head over to my blogging bud’s site called All Top Chef by clicking HERE! Enjoy, darlings!
Originally posted 2012-04-29 17:17:00.
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