Shiitake and Leek Flower Soup

Sautéed fresh shiitake mushrooms, garlic, shelled ginkgo nuts, young bamboo sprouts, fresh leek flowers and a fried quail egg in a flavorful vegetable broth with fermented soy..

Shiitake and Leek Flower Soup

3 cups vegetable broth (recipe follows)
1 pinch ground star anise
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
1/4 cup traditionally fermented organic soy sauce
1 palmful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 palmful fresh leek flowers, sliced
1/4 cup slender bamboo shoots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shelled ginkgo nuts, halved
2 tablespoons pastured butter
1-2 fresh red chilies
fresh quail eggs

Bring vegetable broth to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with anise, fennel, cloves, pepper, chilies and soy.

Sauté mushrooms, ginkgo, and garlic in butter until golden brown and add to the soup along with the leek flowers. Simmer 5 minutes, then add chopped cilantro.  Ladle into warm bowls and top with a fried quail egg.

For the Vegetable Stock (recipe from Gourmet magazine)

1/2 lb portabella mushrooms, caps and stems cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb shallots, left unpeeled, quartered
1 lb carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (including stems)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves (not California)
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 qt water

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss together mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bell peppers, parsley and thyme sprigs, garlic, and oil in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast in middle of oven, turning occasionally, until vegetables are golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer vegetables with slotted spoon to a tall narrow 6-quart stockpot. Set roasting pan across 2 burners, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Transfer to stockpot and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Pour through a large fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids, then season with salt and pepper. Skim off fat.  Use within 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

Filet de Bœuf Béarnaise

(Like steak? You might also like this and this)

Pan-roasted grass-fed filet mignon, asparagus tips, shiitake mushrooms, heirloom tomato and sauce béarnaise..


Filet de Bœuf Béarnaise

Lightly coat all sides of a thick-cut beef tenderloin filet with coarse sea salt.  Wrap in brown paper and refrigerate overnight, turning once.

Blot the filet with paper towels to remove the surface moisture and any remaining salt.  Allow to come to room temperature.

Combine asparagus tips, quartered shiitake mushrooms, chopped garlic, shallots, melted butter, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Set aside.

Make sauce béarnaise.  Keep warm.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Sear the filet on all sides until well browned but still rare.  Remove from heat.

Remove the steak from the pan and put thick circles of heirloom tomato in its place.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Center the steak on top of the tomatoes, and spread the asparagus mixture around the perimeter.

Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast until the filet is barely medium rare, about 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand 5 minutes (the steak will continue to cook).

Use a spatula to transfer the steak and tomato to a dinner plate.  Top with roasted asparagus mixture, then dress with sauce béarnaise.

Steak Udon

Good stir-fry demands a proper, seasoned wok.  Properly cared for, this $15 wood-handled carbon steel model will last for years.

Cilantro, white miso, ginger, chili pepper, chives, scallions, red bell pepper, garlic, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, fresh udon noodles, sirloin steak, plum vinegar, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar and soy sauce.

While preparing the vegetables, marinate the steak in a non-reactive container with soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegars for about 20 minutes.

Heat the oil (I’m using a high-heat tea oil made for this purpose) until it shimmers.  Test its readiness by dropping a small piece of beef onto the sloped side- it should sizzle and brown immediately.

Add the meat to the hot oil, drawing it up the sides and around the perimeter of the wok.  Let sizzle undisturbed until the pan recovers all its heat.  Add the vegetables to the center of the pan and stir to combine.

Continue to cook by drawing the meat and vegetables up the side of the pan.  Add a few tablespoons of the marinade to the pan and quickly heat the tofu, udon noodles, miso and cilantro.  Stir to combine.

Serve with additional soy sauce, hot chili sauce and sake, if desired.

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