I recently taught a cooking class at Dish It Up, a kitchen store in Ballard. I wrote the menu back in January and thought morel mushrooms, one of my personal favorites, would be in full bloom and readily avaliable. However Mother Nature had other plans for my menu. It's been too cold and wet without enough sunny days so far this year in the Northwest.

So in the true style of Cochon Catering and our dedication to rolling with the punches and keeping it seasonal, I picked up some maitake mushrooms and filled out the dish with some dried morels, along with a few creminis. You have to be able to be flexible and work with what you can get your hands on if the weather has made some ingredients difficult to find. I have found Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, an indispensible reference. It gives the reader insight into how chefs think and lists ingredients by season, best way to prepare them and what they pair best with. If you don't have it in your kitchen library, I suggest you pick it up. It is well worth the price.

If you use dried mushrooms, you will need to rehydrate them in hot water for about 15 minutes or so. They will plump to about 10 times their original volume. Save and strain the liquid you used to soften the mushrooms. Add it back into the mushrooms after they have been cooking in place of some of the stock in the recipe. Enjoy!

Morel and Bacon Ragu

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 4 oz. quality bacon, finely diced
  • 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 cup light chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 oz. butter
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

In large sauté pan, add olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add bacon and start to render. When bacon has started to cook and render some of its fat, add morels and cook until lightly caramelized. Add garlic, shallots and thyme. Saute until fragrant but not colored. Add stock and reduce by half. Add butter and reduce heat. Whisk to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. 


Ricotta Gnocchi/Gnudi

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, drained
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup AP flour + more for dusting
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, egg yolks, flour and parmesan cheese. Mix together until it forms a rough dough. Season with salt and pepper. Work dough until not sticky. Roll between your fingers forming a long “snake.” Cut into 1 ½ inch dumplings. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a simmer. Drop a handful of gnocchis into simmering water. When they float, they are done. Move onto a platter until ready to serve. Continue blanching gnocchis in batches until finished.

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