Saturday, March 20, 2010

'Smitten' with Warm Mushroom and Arugula Salad........

It should come as no surprise that, as a food blogger, I read other food blogs. Clotilde's Chocolate & Zucchini arouses a little Parisian frisson every time I read a new entry (and you have to love a good ampersand), David Lebovitz always inspires, I have read the entire famed 'Julie/Julia Project' blog from virtual cover to cover, and Deb's smitten kitchen and Molly's Orangette very often make me actually laugh out loud. Even the venerable Judith Jones (she of discovering-Julia-Child fame) blogs, for God's sake, and the woman is in her mid-80s! There's a wealth of food bloggery out there for the taking, the reading, and the (pardon the inexcusable food pun) digesting. And yet I read somewhere that most people don't actually use the wonderful recipes they come across online via food blogs; most people are in it largely for the breathless thrill of food porn alone. Whatever takes your fancy, I've been guilty of the same in the past......but when we're backed up against the wall over here with no dinner ideas in sight, and our imaginations fail us, we turn to three possible sources: The Library, The Files, or The Blogs.

The Library, as the name suggests, refers to Mike's and my collection of cookbooks. No tidy, Dewey decimal'ed shelf of books is this, but rather a sprawling, uneven clutch of books whose epicenter is the far corner of our small kitchen. Hardcovers, paperbacks, large and small books and pamphlets of all kinds squat together, punctuated by the occasional corner of a white sheet of paper protruding from a book, on which might be a handscrawled recipe for cornbread from Mike's dad, or printed out instructions from Alton Brown on how to construct the perfect holiday turkey from all the way brining to roasting. A pickling cookbook sits next to one specifically for soup, a book of traditional Austrian recipes nestles between Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook and Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook, and even Julia Child and Martha Stewart manage to bunk decently together without any elbowing or girlish hair-pulling.

The Files, as they are so vaguely referred to, represent years' worth of pulled recipes from magazines of all sorts that long ago met their fate in the recycling bin. These include such venerable publications as the New York Times Sunday magazine, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, but also Every Day with Rachel Ray (what can I say? She's had some good recipes) and even the now-defunct JANE magazine (R.I.P.). When I see a recipe I'm likely to try (or even one I'd like to think I'll get around to, you know, someday), I pull it for The Files. Don't let the name fool you. Much like The Library, The Files are no glossy, organized affair, but an unbound, messy, sliding stack of loose magazine pages that have occupied various spots in the house and occasionally gets lost (as it did a few weeks ago when we misplaced the whole stack somehow and were desperately searching for a certain treasured jerk chicken recipe that was certain the be in The Files.....if only we could have found them! Alas.). The Files currently occupy one corner of a low ottoman in the dining room, next to some back issues of the Times and empty boxes we are saving one at a time for our move. At least, I think.

Finally, we also sometimes turn to The Blogs, a category which includes all the blogs I listed above plus many, many others. And it was in turning to The Blogs this past Monday that I found this gem via smitten kitchen: Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazelnuts (original recipe can be found here). My heart went pitter-pat. Warm mushrooms! Hazelnuts! Peppery greens and slivers of sharp pecorino! I had to have it, exactly as Deb suggested, with a slice of crusty bread alongside it and a warm poached egg snuggled on top. I even baked a loaf of bread specifically to have some on hand to go with this salad.

After making a few substitutions (okay, I hesitate to say 'compromises'), the tale of the warm mushroom salad had a happy was delicious! I used grated parmesan as the cheese, formerly-dried morels and baby portobellos instead of an assortment of fresh wild mushrooms, and pecans stood in for expensive hazelnuts (oh, for the day we move to Oregon, where the streets are paved with hazelnuts and fresh morels!), it's true. But once the runny golden yolk of the poached egg was pierced and spread silkily throughout the warm innards of the salad, I was hooked on the nutty, rich, crunchy flavors. A little compromise worked out just fine in this case. With crusty bread in hand, I wiped the plate clean, readers.


  1. Wonderful, wonderful salad! My heart is doing some pitter-pattering of its own - mushrooms, arugula,pecorino! Mmmmm....

  2. Wonderful salad. Looks delicious and amazing and quite inspired. I feel the same way you do about the files, the blogs and the library. so true! Check out my blog if you have a moment. Best, Sasha

  3. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing

  4. Hi Laurel - I just wanted to stop in for a quick hello to a fellow local foodie blogger! Yea!

    You have a lovely blog & a very refreshing writing style. Congratulations on your new cooking class venture.

    Hope you'll come visit me sometime as well

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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