Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Dream Café

If contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood opened a café, I'd eat there on a regular basis. The atmosphere would be convivial, with lots of conversation and laughter. The staff would be friendly yet professional, long-time servers who know (and enjoy) their customers and love food. And the ingredients would be first-rate, with Italian olive oils, grains and beans instinctively combined with the freshest seasonal produce to make simple, satisfying fare.

While I’m not really thrilled with the rain (September is usually Oregon’s best month, sunny warm days and cool evenings), it does mean more mushrooms. Some old friends have a cabin near Trout Lake, and they recently brought us a big bag of white chanterelles from the slopes of Mt. Adams.

Chanterelles and Corn

I cook mushrooms using the dry saute method from Dave Arora's "All That the Rain Promises and More,"a handy guide for funghi lovers. Chanterelles split naturally from top to bottom, so after washing and picking out the fir needles, I tear them into 3-4 pieces, then toss into a dry skillet over medium heat.

The mushrooms will quickly begin to give up their moisture. Watch them closely, and when most of the liquid has cooked off, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and cook for a few more minutes. A sprinkle of flor de sal and they’re ready to eat.

With these white chanterelles, I splashed a bit of white wine into the skillet and added a chopped shallot along with the olive oil.

I’d also picked up a few ears of fresh corn  at the farmers market, and while I hadn’t meant to combine them with the mushrooms, serendipity brought them together.

I cut the kernels from the cobs, tossed them in a skillet with olive oil and salt, and roasted the corn until nicely browned. Both the roasted corn and chanterelles were served as side dishes, but I couldn’t stop mixing them on my plate. The sweet corn and umami-rich mushrooms seem made for each other. While we should have chanterelles around for at least a few more weeks, fresh corn will be over soon, so pick up a few ears and celebrate the last gasp of our crappy summer.

Top photo from Langdon Cook's Fat of the Land, a terrific blog about foraging in the Northwest.

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