Falling in Love with Goat Cheese, Part 2

Chestnut mushrooms

This weekend we walked over to the Saturday market with puppy in tow, and after Jeremy got Freyja to a safe distance from the SFC booth (safe from jumping up against the table and totally knocking down their display, which she was showing a proclivity for doing), I finally scored a tub of their plain goat cheese. Next, we hit the mushroom booth, where I got a bag of the elusive chestnut mushrooms. We also grabbed a packet of locally-produced bacon, which turned out to be rather oddly cut… I think it might have been from an end piece or something, and better suited to dicing for dish accents than frying up in its own right.

We spent what seemed like most of the day Monday walking. Jeremy took Freyja for a 90-minute walk in the morning to the university and Bush Park, then he and I spent several hours walking over to the mall and getting him a few summery shirts on sale, after which we came home and went right back out again to take the dog for her afternoon walk. When we finally got home to stay, Jeremy conked out for a two-hour nap, which gave me some time to ponder dinner plans. I knew I wanted to do something with the chestnut mushrooms, and the plain goat cheese too, if possible. I got it narrowed down to pasta or risotto, then asked Jeremy to weigh in. Pasta it was, and I scooted off into the kitchen to get it going.

Chestnut mushroom pappardelle

I knew I wanted to have fresh pasta, preferably in the form of wide noodles like pappardelle. I looked at a few recipes for inspiration, but rejected the ones that used tomatoes, because it seems like all of the pasta recipes I’ve made recently have been full of them, and I wanted to really taste the chestnut mushrooms’ flavor. In the end, I went with a variation on a mushroom pasta I’ve made before. I didn’t really look at the recipe, but went with that idea, making a mushroom broth with the tough stems, shallot and garlic peelings. I sauteed the cleaned and sliced mushrooms with shallot and garlic, deglazed with white wine, and strained in the broth, reducing it by at least half. All the while I rolled out sheets of egg pasta and cut it into broad ribbons; Marcella’s basic egg pasta recipe (1 C AP flour, 2 eggs) makes just the right amount of pasta for the two of us, and I love how fresh pasta cooks almost before you can blink. I tossed everything together in the saute pan at the end with some pasta water, piled it into bowls, and topped it with some freshly toasted walnuts and crumbles of goat cheese that melted silkily into the noodles when stirred through. The chestnut mushrooms had very good flavor, though they seemed quite stemmy to me, and I think the meal did a good job of highlighting them. Topped off with some palate-cleansing blood orange sorbet, it was a lovely light meal for Memorial Day.

Speaking of which, I just have to add that apparently Memorial Day was the cut-off for reasonable spring-time weather around here. Up through Monday, we had had weeks of 60-70F weather, which is right in my ideal comfort zone; but yesterday someone must have flipped the hot switch in the sky, because it went from a perfect breezy 71F on Memorial Day, to 86F and steamy yesterday, and the potential for even hotter weather today. Does that just not seem right to anyone besides me? The puppy is clearly not amused… she doesn’t seem to do well in temperatures above 75F. So we’ll keep plying her with ice cubes, one of her very favorite treats, and ourselves with ice cream and sorbet. Next on the list is cheesecake ice cream… yum!

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