My name is Nina. I recently finished my Bachelor of Education at OISE and have since returned to my full time position as an Employment Facilitator. My evenings and weekends consist largely of dogs, knitting, eating and neen bean photography. Each of these interests are laced with my strong connection to my family, and I’m thrilled to share a bit of our corner of the world through this recipe –
Thank you Mushrooms Canada!
I hated mushrooms. Forever. They were the worst, by my standards, for a very – very – long time. My dad is from Italy, and he’s a world-class chef. He took me to an Italian restaurant in 2006, in Italy, whose entire menu revolved around mushrooms… and he got the kitchen to make me a mushroom-free dish. Yes, I was the worst. For years, my dad weathered my contempt for tomatoes, my aversion for cilantro, my revulsion of olives and my absolute hatred of mushrooms. But then one day, I fell in love – with these deep fried potato-mushroom logs. I don’t remember what they’re actually called, but they were delicious, and it irreversibly altered my palette for mushrooms. Today, I am happy to indulge in any of the wonderfully planned and deliciously executed mushroom-masterpieces he places before me when I’m home for dinner. He knows how much I love pasta, so for our feature dish, Dad decided to make a long-time favourite in our home; I biked over with the ingredients and my camera in my basket to mum and dad’s house, a street over from ours, and let Dad do his thing.
My dad has always believed in the importance of using real ingredients in the kitchen, no matter what the dish; so if you want high quality taste, use high quality ingredients. Using real butter and real cream is essential to this dish! The quantities for this recipe are sufficient to feed a group of 6 hungry adults, so you will need to scale it back proportionately for a smaller yield.
• 1 ½ cups of 18% cream
• 150 g (6 0z) butter
• 1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
• 3 packages of fresh pasta
• 1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms
• 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
• 1/2 small onion
• fresh parsley, grated parmesan cheese
• salt, pepper (in Italian, this would be accompanied by “QB,” meaning “quanto basta” – “to your taste,” “as much as you like,” or “sufficiently”)
1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes.
2. Clean and dry the crimini mushrooms. Chop mushrooms into large enough pieces that they can be found in the sauce (avoid chopping them too finely). Place into a bowl.
3. Finely chop a handful of fresh parsley.
4. Gently squeeze water from the porcini mushrooms, and collect 4-5 oz of the resulting mushroom juice; don’t use the grit in the bottom of the bowl! (You could also strain with a cheese cloth.)
5. Coarsely chop the soaked porcini mushrooms.
6. Finely chop ½ of a small onion.
7. Put on a big pot of water to boil – add a tablespoon of salt when the water starts simmering.
8. Set the table. Make it look pretty.
9. Melt butter in the pan on medium heat, bringing it to a sizzle.
10. Add onions, frying them until golden in colour – add the mushrooms, and bring the mixture to a high temperature. Allow this to cook for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly.
11. Add 3 pinches of parsley, and the mushroom juice (about 1 cup), chicken stock (1 cup – this could be substituted for vegetable stock, if you prefer), and cream (1 ½ cups).
12. Stir the sauce, and reduce to medium heat.
13. Add pepper to taste (or QB!)
14. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes once the cream has been added; it may look like a lot of sauce in comparison to the amount of pasta you’re using, but the pasta will soak up some of the sauce.
15. Add pasta to boiling water, stir regularly to ensure it doesn’t stick (for this quantity of fresh pasta, this takes approximately 5-7 minutes to reach el dente).
16. Strain the pasta and add to sauce in a serving bowl. Garnish pasta with fresh parsley, and add grated parmesan to taste.
For best results, enjoy with wine and loved ones, and follow with espresso & a delicious homemade dessert. Buon appetito!
You can never go wrong with a good pasta dish! Thanks so much to Daniele and Nina for being our guests and taking us on a flavourful little trip to Italy. Don't forget to follow Nina's neen bean photography page on Facebook and on Twitter.