where the wild things are. the blue pearl.

One afternoon, a couple years ago, around a tiny fire outside their farmhouse in Southern Vermont, Les Hook and Nova Kim cooked up some wild mushrooms we had gathered that morning nearby. In a  large cast iron pan, they seasoned them with nothing more than a little butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper. It had just begun to snow steadily when we set out to gather. Large fat flakes  floated around us amd landed on our eyelashes.Les pulled over in his red Subaru, flashers glowing in the wild flurry of white. He deftly put up a twenty-foot ladder against a slippery maple tree and quickly climbed up. He pulled of the biggest Blue Pearl Oyster Mushrooms I have ever seen off that tree. We drove back to their place and lit the fire. It was then that Nova told us about her non-turkey, perfect for vegetarians on turkey day or for any feast any time of the year for that matter. You must start with a large fan of a mushroom, as you can see from the photo it kind of sweetly resembles a turkey's tail! Though I have roasted many a mushroom from them, it took me two years to get to this post. I asked Nova to save me a large Blue Pearl that I would pick up from the New Amsterdam Market. Luckily my snail mail reached her in time and I was able to get a beauty from them the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I kept in a paper bag on my fire escape until cooking day. Now I know I have sung their praises before but people, if you have not been to the market on a day when they are there then you are SERIOUSLY missing out. If you are interested in finding out when The Vermont Wild Food Gatherer's Guild will be in town go to The New Amsterdam Market website and check the vendor and calendar listings! They always have something special and if you have never been to the market then what are you waiting for? It is every Sunday from 11-4pm.

Back to the mushrooms...

The mushroom I got from Les and Nova was held together by a stretch of bark. I left the piece of bark on the mushroom while I roasted it.

I brushed the mushroom with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkled it with French sea salt cracked black pepper and thyme.

I put in my largest Cast iron pan...this was a BIG mushroom 14 inches across at least. I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for a slow roast and when it started to brown at the edges I put about a 1/4 cup of water in the pan and covered it with tin foil to add a little more moisture. Mushrooms are essentially like sponges so they soak up all that moisture. I may not have needed to do this if I had roasted it right away but since I had waited a few days I thought it might help to add the additional moisture.. I took the tin foil off for the last five minutes or so of cooking. I can't give you a specific cooking time because it depends on how big or small the mushrooms are that you are roasting. So use your intuition. You want it to be moist and almost meaty when you slice it.

We loved this so much that we could almost forego the turkey next year and just eat this!

It was really good with gravy... 

Thank you Nova for this brilliant idea!

Roasted Wild Blue Pearl Mushroom Tail

Set your oven to 350 degrees 

1 large Blue Pearl Mushroom fan approx 12-14 inches in length

1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil brushed and drizzled on the mushroom

Seas salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

Gently brush any dirt or debris off the mushroom with a small mushroom brush or a small pastry brush

Place the mushroom upright in a large roasting pan or cast iron skillet

Brush and drizzle with olive oil. Mushrooms really soak it up so be generous with your application.

Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper

Add some fresh thyme leaves and a sprig or two for looks

Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of our mushroom.

Put about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water in the pan and cover with tin foil

When the water is all evaporated the mushroom will be done. 

Uncover for the last five minutes or so.

The mushroom should be moist and easy to slice along the grain.

Cooking time really depends on the mushroom size so keep and eye on it!@ You don’t want it to be too tough!!!

As always, a word of caution where wild mushrooms are concerned. Leave the gathering to an expert!!

flying fox apples and french apple cake

10.27.12

This cold weather and early snow calls for a little something special with the afternoon PG Tips. I have been hoarding Maggie’s beautiful heirloom apples but yesterday's weather prompted me to finally use them.

I was recently in Southwestern France for work and was inspired by the small town farmers markets. It is fairly easy to find a market there on any given day. My favorite was a biodynamic market that sold organic fruit, vegetables and grains. Whenever we are traveling for work, I make it a mission to seek out these little markets. You never know what you will find. I am always on the look out for local specialties like honey and sea salt or liquor to take back home. At one of the markets in France there was a woman selling a very simple French apple cake. It was a plain and unassuming cake that tasted of butter and apples and not a trace of cinnamon which I find  to be highly overused where apples are concerned. The weekend before the storm I ventured down to New Amsterdam Market. The wind was wild and the rain was just settling in, but faithful vendors were there nonetheless. Maggie of Flying Fox had the last of the season's apples along with some beautiful medlars and quince.

Yesterday, I found a recipe worthy of her gorgeous apples, a simple French apple cake by Dorie Greenspan via David Liebovitz’s blogthat perfectly matches that simple cake from the French market. 

I made one substitution; instead of rum I used armagnac that I picked up in France.

This is a perfect cake for an afternoon tea or with a morning espresso. Come to think of it, it is just plain perfect anytime.

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

 recipe via David Liebovitzblog 

 Makes one 9-inch  cake

Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

ingredients:

3/4 cup (110g) flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

4 large apples (a mix of varieties)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup (150g) sugar

3 tablespoons dark rum (I substituted armagnac)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces. ( use a mix of kinds. I used a mix of hierlooms)

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the apple cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

Serving: Serve wedges of the cake just by itself, or with crème fraîche.

Storage: The cake will keep for up to three days covered. Since the top is very moist, it’s best to store it under a cake dome or overturned bowl.

Black Oxford, Old Maids Winter, D'arcy Spice and Hidden Rose... just a few of Maggie's beautiful hierlooms from The New Amsterdam Market.

 

The beautiful pink one is called Hidden Rose for it's surprising pink color.

The beautiful pink one is called Hidden Rose for it's surprising pink color.

121108_FRENCH_APPLE_CAKE-1532.jpg
good butter makes the cake...

good butter makes the cake...

121108_FRENCH_APPLE_CAKE-1600.jpg
121108_FRENCH_APPLE_CAKE-1611.jpg

summer daze.

I woke up this morning with a start, wondering what I am late for and realized that I actually have today off! Summer has been flying by this year. I have no idea where the days have gone... one seems to tumble into the next until weeks have passed. I am looking forward to a few days off in August spent upstate and in the company of good friends. I have had no time for blogging this past month, life and work have been busy and the heat wave somewhat unbearable in our non air-conditioned loft. While busy is a good... I have reached the point of a much-needed break. I have had to reconcile that I am not going to be able to get to all the ideas, shoots and recipes I have had in mind for the summer season. I will do what I can and put some things off to next year. Sometimes you just have to take a moment.

Jam, however, is definitely on the agenda. It looks as though the blackberries upstate are about to burst, hundreds of them dripping from tangled thorny bramble. They, unlike me, seemed to have thrived in this heat! The black raspberries and blueberries in the photos below came from Flying Fox at The New Amsterdam Market. When I am in town on a Sunday it is my very favorite place to go.

Have a great weekend friends! 

x