Maggie was excited tonight for another reason. She was attempting a recipe by a celebrity chef that she had actually met. Way back in November of 2008, the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines hosted the first "Food & Wine Expo". The Food & Wine Expo is sort of a giant convention of cookware, cooking and guest speakers (I.E. celebrity chefs). One such chef was Mr. Curtis Stone. Maggie and I had just started dating - (Really! This was probably date number 3 or 4!) and we decided to spend a Saturday at the expo. We wandered around the center and then got to see Curtis Stone's cooking presentation, live and in person. Afterwards, Mr. Stone held a meet and greet and Maggie and I were lucky enough to chat (briefly) with him and even get a picture. Needless to say Maggie was thrilled. Now, I'd like to think she'd remember this day as the first date that I put my arm around her shoulder...however, I'm certain it was more memorable due to the encounter with Curtis Stone!
Maggie and Curtis Stone
Now, I'll turn things over to Maggie so she can share it all with you.
The Recipe: Sauteed Wild Mushrooms On Fried Ciabatta With A Poached Egg
Original Recipe Found In: Cooking with Curtis: Easy, Everyday and Adventurous Recipes for the Home Cook
What You'll Need:
3/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Shallot (chopped)
1/2 Garlic Clove (chopped)
14 Oz. Wild Mushrooms
1 Tbsp. Parsley (1/2 tsp. dried)
4 Slices Ciabatta
The Recipe: Potato Salad With Pancetta, Rosemary & Lemon
Original Recipe Found In: Bon Appetit Magazine, July 2010 Issue
What You'll Need:
5 Oz. Pancetta
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Minced Rosemary
2 Tsp. Lemon Peel
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
3 Lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 Celery Stalks
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (1/2 to 1 tsp. dried)
Hello everyone! I would just like to clarify that there were three highlights of that day back in November 2008: Tyler wrapping his arm around my shoulder, going to the Food and Wine Expo, then meeting Curtis Stone. I had watched his show "Take Home Chef" on cable and I loved the idea of surprising people in the supermarket and he would make a full meal for you. My inner foodie craved to make fresh recipes like he did, but it wasn't a real feasible feat since I was on limited collegiate time and budget. But now, with the time and money and a cookbook from Mr. Stone, I can give my inner foodie what it most desires.
Since the Sauteed Wild Mushrooms took very little time and my Potato Salad took a long time, I decided to fix my salad the night before. First, I started with a large pot of water, added my potatoes, and brought up to a boil. Once this reached boiling status, I turned it down to medium heat and let the little buggers simmer for 20 minutes. Once these are cooking, whisk your lemon juice, rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic in a small bowl and gradually whisk in your oil.
Meanwhile, while the potatoes were simmering, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and arranged my pancetta on a cooking sheet. If you remember a while back, we cooked with prosciutto, which is a very thin slice of ham, almost bacon-like. Pancetta is a thicker slice of ham than prosciutto, but it still had thin tendencies, making it very hard to handle. Laying the pieces of pancetta on my cooking sheet, I had to be very delicate with them, as to not rip the ham medallions. I popped them in the oven and cooked them for 20 minutes.
After the potatoes simmered, I drained my pot o' potatoes and let them cool for another 20 minutes (see, told you it took a while for this recipe to make.) As the potatoes cooled, I began to hear tiny, little voices, screaming at the top of their lungs. I looked around the kitchen to see what could be making that god awful noise. I finally put my ear near the oven...it was the pancetta! The meat makes a high pitched squeal when it's being cooked! It was kind of crazy...then I opened the oven door. I wanted to check to see if my pancetta was doing okay, but I ended up with a face full of smoke. I should have done more research on cooking pancetta because apparently not only does it scream when cooked, but makes a cloud of smoke when cooked as well. Don't let the smoke fool you though, the pancetta is just fine, still cooking away, but of course, your kitchen will have a nice haze to it for a couple of minutes.
pancetta - it's cool looking isn't it?
After the pancetta is finished cooking, let it cool on the baking sheet. As these cool, transfer them to a paper towel to blot the rest of the fat off. Put into a bowl, cover, and chill. Once the potatoes cool, cut them into 1/4 inch slices and cut your celery into thin slices. After putting the potatoes and celery in a bowl, gently drizzle the dressing over your vegetables and stir very carefully. Once you are ready to serve, crumble the pancetta over the potatoes/celery/dressing, sprinkle parsley, and stir very carefully once more.
Fast forward to this evening...again, I knew the Sauteed Mushrooms were going to be very simple to make - and my prediction held true.
First, I sliced my ciabatta bread into 4 slices. Ciabatta bread is kind of a doughy bread, made from wheat flour and yeast, but once toasted, it makes an excellent crunch that is impossible to ignore. It is seasoned differently than a regular slice of bread, but makes for a very tasty appetizer. I stuck the slices on a grill pan and let them cook until nice and toasty (8 minutes or so.)
ciabatta - I'm pretty sure it's Italian for delicious*
*(Actually, ciabatta is Italian for 'slipper'. Look it up if you don't believe me.)
Meanwhile, I heated my skillet with six tablespoons of butter. I kept look at the recipe, making sure it didn't say teaspoons, but no, Mr. Stone is right in his measurements: six....SIX?!?!?? That seems like Julia Child portions of butter, but this much butter makes the mushrooms more flavorful in the end. To my hefty amount of butter, I added my finely chopped shallot and garlic, which gave a nice aroma in the apartment.
While these two things were going on, I heated a medium saucepan, 7/8's full with water, adding my white wine vinegar. According to several websites I looked at, the white wine vinegar is supposed to aid my eggs. And speaking of which, I was really hesitant to try poaching eggs. I had never done it before and I didn't know how it would turn out with my recipe. After several websites showing how to poach an egg, I was ready to tackle this portion of the recipe head on. I let the water come to a boil and cracked each egg over the water. This could get a little messy and might hurt, if the water comes splashing on your hand....which, I learned from experience this evening...After 2-3 minutes, the eggs will be done poaching and fish them out with a slotted spoon.
That's what poaching an egg looks like...foamy!
Back to my mushrooms! After the butter, shallot, garlic mixtures becomes all nice and bubbly, add your mushroom and top with parsley and season with salt and pepper. Now, Mr. Stone does not say how long to cook the mushrooms, but judging by the picture listed with the recipe, until they are nice and brown. With white mushrooms, it became very apparent with the mushrooms were ready, about 8-10 minutes, stirring to make sure each mushroom got its turn to warm in the hot skillet.
After the eggs were poached, the bread crispy, and the mushrooms sauteed, top your ciabatta with the mushrooms and an egg.
The End Result:
Oh...my...goodness! The mushrooms tasted fantastic on top the ciabatta!! The parsley, shallot, and garlic combination worked so harmoniously to create something the mushrooms could become more flavorful. On top of that, the poached egg worked really well on top of the mushroom/ciabatta combination, although I could have taken the mushroom/ciabatta alone and have that as a recipe. I have always enjoyed mushrooms and this was a perfectly created concoction to enhance what I like about mushrooms.
The Potato Salad...well, another dud, to put it plainly. There were too strong of flavor in the rosemary and that, I think, threw off the entire recipe, making my Potato Salad inedible. Never having any type of potato salad before, I was very turned off by the whole thing. In the notes for the recipe, it said I could have used some mayo, but I'm positive that would have helped cut the zing of the rosemary out of the recipe. But I am pretty darn proud of the saute mushrooms with ciabatta - pretty darn tasty!!
Thank you Maggie. Tonight's recipe was something completely different. It held flavor combinations that I had never tasted before. It's amazing what a unique recipe can do for your perceptions on certain food items. For example, adding the white wine vinegar to the water for the poached egg caused the egg to have an almost lemony flavor. That's a flavor your taste buds are not expecting!
All in all, Maggie's recipe turned out fantastic. With the notable exception being the potato salad. That was - too be brutally honest - gross. Far too much rosemary in this dish caused it to taste less like potatoes, and more like a pine tree. Yuck.
If you're in the mood for something different, however, the mushroom recipe is worth a shot. It's a simple fix so even those of you on a tight schedule each night can give it a shot.
That's all we have for you tonight. I'm back in the kitchen tomorrow and I'm cooking with vodka! Should be interesting! Check back tomorrow night so see what we're up to - until then,