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Foodie Friday: Wild Mushroom Risotto

6703097183_e537063c3d_bThe earth has provided a bounty of edible mushrooms that people have been harvesting since before the dawn of mass agriculture. Through trial and error we have been able to distinguish certain delectable species as safe for our consumption. Though there’s an astounding variety of mushroom species on our planet, only a select few have been selected to be included in our recipes.

Mushrooms are complex creatures with even more complex flavors and textures. When properly prepared, these wondrous fungi can provide your palate with a rich and powerful experience. For those of you out there that are a little intimidated by cooking certain types of wild mushrooms, this post might help set your mind at ease. There are a couple of different species that do require specific preparation but once you got the basics down you might surprise yourself.

Choosing the right fungi for the job is the first step in the path to culinary enlightenment. If you are making a salad or something with light delicate broth you might select oyster mushrooms. When braising rabbit however chantrelle or morel mushrooms are a little more appropriate for the job, since they are heartier and more suitable for rich complex dishes.

The next thing to consider once you have selected the types of mushrooms you want to include in your dish would be the various preparations and cooking times for each of your specimens. When cooking with tougher mushrooms such as shitake you will want to remove the stem and cut them a little smaller prior to cooking for example. I have chosen some tips for preparing commonly used wild mushrooms, and a recipe for a great wild mushroom risotto. Please make sure if you are foraging for mushrooms that you do so with a professional. Some species of mushrooms can cause illness or even death, so either go with a  pro or hit your local market. Dig it!
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Foodie Friday: Mise-en-place Part 1

With the holidays rapidly approaching it is very important for a Foodie to be prepared in the kitchen. When working professionally there are many tips and secrets that we use to make the sheer volume of cooking easier to manage. This allows you to pay more attention to the small details and, of course, your guests.

Mise-en-place [miz on plas] is a French term that simply means “putting in place.” This term is used in the industry to describe all the components you might need during the course of your shift to create a variety of different menu items. This same concept can be easily used in your kitchen at home when you are preparing a large meal and or several large meals for a lot of people.

Chopped vegetables such as onions, garlic, celery, and carrots should be prepared in batches. This is a very efficient way to process your recipes ingredients and will save a great deal of time. For instance If you take all of the recipes you plan on making and add the ingredients together you might find that you need 10-12 onions peeled. The same theory can be applied to potatoes, carrots, and garlic.

From there, you can process each respective vegetable in the various manners needed such as diced, minced, julienned, etc. This does not only work for veggies. You can certainly apply this method to other ingredients such as herbs, roasted garlic, stocks, and spice blends. This week I will try to share a few tips and ideas for optimizing your time this holiday season so you have more time for family and friends. After all, that’s what it’s all about.
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