There was that time I burned the croutons. I thinly sliced the bread, lined it up all pretty on the baking rack, put it in the oven, and walked away to prepare a chocolate ganache for Pastry Chef B. The croutons take a good 10 minutes to grill to a toasty brown, so I wasn’t worried. I’d check on them in a few minutes.
There was the ganache, then making syrup, then some strawberry panna cotta, and then Chef told me to peel a couple kilos of potatoes. I was searching through the knife drawer for the vegetable peeler when Chef opened the oven door and called my name.
“ ‘Olly! Regardes!”
I looked up. My rack of croutons weren’t just burned. They were black, smoking and crumbling. I couldn’t think of any words in French to beg Chef for forgiveness, and instead stood there with my hand over my mouth looking horrified. He waved me out of the way and put the overly-crispy croutons on top of the other oven across the kitchen.
Burning the croutons isn’t a huge deal. The bread is unused bread from the day before, we receive a new delivery everyday, and I make croutons every morning. We always have plenty. This wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened, but it was the first major oven-fail I’d had so far and I felt like a moron for completely forgetting them. As a reminder of my folly, possibly as an unspoken punishment, my croutons remained on the rack above the oven for all the restaurant staff to see and just in the line of my peripheral vision until lunch.
But this recipe is definitely a success.
One massive sausage.
The sausage is so massive, I have to put it next to a baguette, just to show you exactly how big it is. Insert dirty jokes here. It took an hour to cook, boiling away slowly, filling the apartment with smells of smoked pork.
After watching Chef make a simple and quick mushroom cream sauce at the restaurant, I wanted to try it for myself. It was much less intimidating than I expected, the main ingredient being good mushrooms and time to let everything sit and infuse. Though I can testify to the use of fresh mushrooms at the restaurant (having had to chop and clean a fair amount of them) I used frozen wild mushrooms here. If you have the bucks and the time to spend on fresh wild mushroom – go nuts.
Fresh pasta is – as I’ve stated in the past – a labor of love. You really need to love your dough and the time and effort needed to roll it out. It’s a process that can’t be rushed and though I don’t make homemade pasta as often as I’d like, when I have the craving and the time I’m always more than pleased with the result. Simple pasta – I’ll miss my pasta roller when I’m in Saumur as much as I missed it in Angers.
This is a dish that is better for winter or autumn than spring. It’s heavy, thick, creamy, fill you up comfort food and the homemade pasta and sauce are worth it. All the wild, meaty flavors, let’s face it, mushrooms have their own “meat” attached, the cream like a mug of warm milk… and I don’t know anyone who can say no to fresh pasta. Which is why we had it in the middle of spring.
And despite having to keep an eye on the several different components of the dish at once, I didn’t burn or over-cook anything. Success!
- For the Mushroom sauce
- 100-150g frozen wild mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic
- 100g heavy cream*
- 50g milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Pasta
- 250g flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt
- On a floured surface scoop together the flour into a little mountain and make a well in the center. In a small bowl, lightly whip the eggs, add a pinch of salt and then dump the eggs into the well, add the olive oil. Slowly work the flour little by little into the egg, kneading and mixing until everything is incorporated. Knead for a few minutes more until you have a firm, smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until ready to use.
- Slice the pasta dough in half on a floured surface and roll out the first half until pretty thin. You’re more concerned about smoothness and getting it through the pasta roller in one piece than having it thin enough to cook – the pasta roller will do that. Roll through the machine carefully, keeping the newly cut strands separate and in tact as much as possible.
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Add pasta and boil for 2-3 minutes – fresh pasta doesn’t need much more. Strain and serve.
- In a pot, cook the mushrooms over medium heat, stirring frequently so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook until most of the water from the ice evaporates. Add the cream, milk, garlic, salt and pepper and mix. Heat to just before boiling. Here I would remove it from the heat and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to cool a bit and let the flavors infuse. Pour everything into a blender and mix on high until smooth. Taste and adjust seasons as necessary.
- Pour everything back into the pot and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta is ready. Spoon over fresh pasta and lick plate when done.