Friday, November 20, 2009

delicious Greek-ness

Went back to the oyster mushroom tree first thing this morning. Picked several luscious clumps of soft, baby oysters and came home to try a new recipe from a new cookbook. My idea of a lovely afternoon.

I should back up a little...this year I'm responsible for the vegetable at Thanksgiving. My family isn't big on vegetables. They think corn, potatoes, and carrots count, and while I like all these things, I don't consider them TRUE VEGETABLES. I've been thinking long and hard about how to put a little green on the table. From Vefa's Kitchen:

Fricassee of Oyster Mushrooms (w/slight modifications)

Chop two onions and saute till translucent in olive oil over medium heat.
Add about a pound of oyster mushrooms, cut into large pieces; saute for about 10 minutes.
Add a head of romaine lettuce, chopped, 1.5 Tbs dried dill, chopped (or 4 Tbs fresh), S&P, and 1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped. Stir it around.
Add 1/2 c. water, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk 4 Tbs lemon juice into one egg. Add a ladle-ful of the mushroom lettuce broth into the egg mixture, whisking while you add. Pour the egg mixture into the greens and stir to distribute evenly. (It's not exactly an avgolemano sauce, but works on the same principal of adding hot liquid to egg/lemon without allowing the egg to break into pieces.)

When I read this recipe it sounded more interesting than wonderful, but I really wanted to cook with the freshly picked oyster mushrooms, and I was still looking for a green Thanksgiving vegetable, so I gave it a go. Our verdict: Wow!

Who knew braised lettuce could be so delicious? Vefa, obviously. The lemon sauce was bright and dill (a spice I don't often cook with) was the perfect accent. Highly recommended.

On a related side note: a comment by Marie at 66 Square Foot Gardening made me defend Greek feta in a knee-jerk, nationalistic kind of way. As penance for my jingoistic behavior, I decided to do a blind taste test. Last week at Sahadi I bought a quarter pound each of Greek, French, Bulgarian, and Domestic feta. Michael set up the test. I easily eliminated my least favorite (turned out to be the domestic). I also clearly identified a front runner: tangy, smooth, and complex. It didn't fall apart into clumps in your mouth, nor was it so moist as to be spreadable or mushy. I couldn't make up my mind about second place, flip-flopping between plates 2 and 3. It was time to turn over the labels. The winner: Greek feta! Also the most expensive, but I say it's worth it for this excellent, satisfying cheese. The French and Bulgarian were both very, very good and I'd be happy with either. But given my druthers...I guess it's in my blood.

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At November 21, 2009 at 8:12 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

I think I'll have to try that lettuce-mushroom recipe just out of curiousity. And I'm with you on the Greek feta!

At November 21, 2009 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

Wise words from a fellow, unbiased Greek!

At November 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM , Blogger SaraGardens said...

I love braised lettuce. Romaine soup can be pretty glorious, too... and those oyster mushrooms look very WOW indeed.

At November 21, 2009 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Marie said...'re right! It must be blind. So I will wait for Monday and pick up the other two.

How wonderful that there was still a good supply of mushrooms.

At December 11, 2009 at 3:09 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

ohman, when we're old and grey, can we move in with you? and will you cook for us?


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