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Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

roastedwildmushroom_first

During our Epic European Vacation this past September, JT booked us into a One Star Michelin Restaurant, Alejandro, just outside of Almeria in the quiet town of Roquetas de Mar. We decided to do lunch because it was a little far to drive for dinner and we were already in Almeria, dropping off our dear friends Paul and T at the airport. Plus, lunch is more reasonable and probably less crowded. As it turned out, we were the only ones in the small restaurant for the majority of our meal, the entire kitchen team (I saw three chefs) and front of the house (two people) focussed on serving us, talk about service! The luncheon degustation tasting menu (nine courses) was only 50 Euros each, including a 10% tip (10% is the norm)! There were a few outstanding courses that I will attempt to recreate, tipping my hat to my new friend, David Crichton of Fine Dining at Home who consistently creates restaurant-quality meals in his humble home kitchen. Dave, I think you’d like this.

I won’t do a full review of the restaurant because they did not speak English, although, they had one English menu that they pointed to as they explained the dish in Spanish. #lostintranslation I should have used google translate! Notwithstanding, it was an exceptional meal and for the price, I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in or near Almeria (it’s only about a 30-minute drive from Almeria).

I won’t lie, this recipe is not quick, nor is it an easy recipe but if you make the mousse in advance, the rest comes together rather quickly. The mousse freezes well so I can see freezing 60 mL or 1/4 cup portions for future dinner parties.

The first layer, obscured by mushroom crumbs, is a mushroom mousse. The mushroom crumb is made from mushroom powder with toasted panko, seaweed and sea salt; it provides textural balance to the ultra-creamy mousse. The whole wild mushrooms are coated with Mycryo® and roasted in a super hot oven to coax out their subtle sweetness and temper their earthiness (the mushroom mousse and crumb brings all the earthiness needed for this dish). I used a variety of wild and cultivated mushrooms, sadly, not nearly as interesting as the dish below, but equally as tasty. I’m excited to make this dish for our next dinner guests!

The original dish

The original dish: Roasted wild mushrooms, sitting a top of mushroom crumbs which was covering a smooth as silk mushroom mousse. An incredible combination of flavours and textures. Fortunately for photography, the restaurant was brightly lit.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms on Mushroom and Chestnut Mousse with Mushroom Crumbs

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe inspired by the One Star Michelin Chefs at Alejandro, Spain.

Makes 6 appetizer servings

Ingredients for the mushroom mousse:

Makes about 300 mL (1.25 cups) Mousse

  • 30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 50 g shallots, roughly chopped
  • 35 g garlic
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) EVOO
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) Mycryo®
  • 200 g mix of wild mushrooms,roughly chopped
  • 100 g peeled, roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) mushroom stock

Directions:

  1. Remove outer layer of garlic skins but leave the inner layer intact. Place garlic bulb into a heatproof ramekin and cover partially with olive oil. Roast in a 175° C (350° F) oven until soft. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a dutch oven, add shallots and cook until caramelized.
  3. Dust the mushrooms in Mycryo® and add to shallots, stir and add the roasted chestnuts. Cook mushrooms and chestnuts until they are well seared and very soft, add roasted garlic.
  4. Purée with an immersion blender with the mushroom stock (adding a little at a time until desired consistency for mousse is achieved). Press the mousse through a fine sieve. Set aside and keep warm until plating.
mushroommousse

This is the mushroom mousse, so smooth and creamy.

Ingredients for the roasted mushrooms:

  • Mycryo®
  • 240 g wild mushrooms, mixed (choose smaller ones for the presentation)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 ° C (425° F). Coat the clean and dry mushrooms with Mycryo®. Spread in a large cast iron frying pan, leaving plenty of space around each mushroom (do not crowd, you don’t want them to steam, you want them to roast).
  2. Place cast iron pan in the hot oven. Turn mushrooms often for about 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms have browned and cooked through. Set aside and keep warm until plating.

Ingredients for the mushroom crumbs:

  • 60 g (1/2 cups) panko
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) mushroom powder
  • 10 g Seaweed Bouchées (like this), crumbled
  • sea salt
  • Pinch of smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a frying pan, add panko and toast until golden. Remove from heat, add the mushroom powder, salt, smoked paprika and seaweed bouchées, stir well. Spinkle onto a clean piece of parchment and cool.
mushroomcrumb

This is the mushroom crumb, an earthy flavour with a good crunch.

Assembly:

  1. On warms plates, smear about 50 mL (1/4 cup) of the warm mushroom mousse. Sprinkle with the mushroom crumbs covering the mousse entirely and top with a variety of roasted mushrooms.
roastedmushrooms

The finished dish. It was met with a lot of mmmmmm.

Notes:

  • To make mushroom powder, take a variety of dried mushrooms, pulse in a coffee grinder dedicated to spices until it is a fine powder. Press through a fine sieve to catch any sand bits. Reserve in a clean jar for future use.
  • To make mushroom stock, take 10 g (1/3 cup) of a variety of dried mushrooms and place in a microwave-safe container and cover with 250 mL or 1 cup water. Microwave on high until mushrooms have reconstituted. Pour mushroom liquid through a fine gold coffee filter to capture all the sandy bits. Reserve 125 mL or 1/2 cup and freeze the rest for some other recipes (great in mushroom risotto).
  • This recipe is my impression of what we had in Spain. JT said it was pretty good according to memory.
  • UPDATE (January 2, 2017): I served this as the first course of our New Year’s Eve Dinner 2016 and got RAVE reviews! If you have mushroom lovers in your crowd, it’s worth the time and effort to prepare this dish. I made extra mousse (it’s the fussiest part) and froze it for an upcoming dinner party.
  • Because I was serving this as a course in a multi-course meal, I pre-roasted the mushrooms and then reheated them in a non-stick pan with about 2 tbsp butter.

 

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One recent weekend we decided to get a little culture and enjoy the Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris which are on loan for a special exhibition to the AGO. These cultural experiences always seem to surprise me on how expensive they are (we paid $30 each, including the self guided audio tour). I cannot imagine bringing a family of 4 or 5 to see such a thing, it would literally bankrupt most people. It’s actually a quite sad commentary on our society in Canada, where cultural activities are usually only available for the middle and upper classes. Of course, you could visit the AGO on a Wednesday night (general admission is free) for a mere $12.50 each admission to the special exhibitions, but then you are restricted to 6-8:30 pm. JT and I tried this approach several years ago with the ROM, who offer free admission on Friday evenings, but the line up was so long, we speculated we would have a mere 10 minutes to go through the museum once we got in. Sadly, we haven’t tried it since.

Are museums and galleries expensive where you are? And do they offer free time slots?

The Picasso exhibit was very nicely laid out chronologically through his life experiences around women (or so it seems to me that it was). He was a passionate artist and had several girlfriends, wives and lovers who influenced his work. Since he died in 1973, he was able to communicate much of where he was coming from in his art; of course, he left a lot of interpretation to us, just for the fun of it.

I majored in Art History in University, but that was a million, perhaps even a billion years ago, so the AGO was like a second home to me. But in 2008 Frank Gehry (Toronto born) redesigned the building and it’s a far cry from the gallery I recall (sadly, I was unable to find a photo of it). Non-the-less, it is a superbly beautiful building with Gehry’s trademark organic structures that challenge the materials used and is really a joy to walk through; the spaces where the art is showcased will always remain about the art, but the other areas, such as walkways, stairs and common areas are totally about the architecture.

I have to admit that I am not a huge Picasso fan, I find most of his work jarring and disturbing but I can appreciate it for what it is. He was a visionary in two and three dimensional art, looking at his subject as no other. The perspective is quite interesting but for me, finding the beauty of the subject (not necessarily the art) was challenging. By far, my favourite piece had to be Sacre Cœur, one of my favourite views in Paris (and fortunately this fall we will be staying in this lovely neighbourhood!). Because of copyright issues, photography is not permitted in the galleries with installations, but you can google it or click here to see it.. The facets skim the image, giving us just enough information to be able to recognize the building. Perhaps it’s the tones I am drawn to, or that the facets sparkle like the facets of a diamond, I am not sure; I just know it was my favourite of the entire collection.

The exhibit took us about an hour to go through, and we lingered. We could have stayed on to wonder through the permanent collections but we had to do grocery shopping for the week, otherwise we would have no lunches! Perhaps I’ll pop down one Wednesday when it’s free for a few hours and revisit my past. I hope you click on the links to see more of this impressive structure, known as the AGO.

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