Pasta with Creamy Fresh Porcini Sauce

June gloom may have flowed over to July, but one can still celebrate summer with a cold refreshing glass of vino verde, ripe peaches, and fresh porcini.  These porcini were a spur of the moment purchase from the Mushroom Man at the Hollywood Farmer’s market and boy, am I glad I gave in to the moment.

Dinner is served. Porcini and pasta with white wine and cream sauce. Vegan!

I brushed off most of the dirt and grit I could from the porcini. For particularly dirty ones, I washed them off in the sink with some running water. I know some people frown on fresh mushrooms being washed in water, but I’ve never seen the harm of it. Mushrooms are mostly water anyway, so it’s not like they’re going to absorb that much.

Porcini getting ready for pasta.

The porcini were then cut up in slices and then placed over medium low heat on a skillet with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. When one side was almost-golden, I would flip them onto the other side.  We chose porcini with lots of golden-green gills under the cap because when fried this way, they melt into what some call vegetarian foie gras. Maybe we can call it faux gras.

Once the porcini is cooked on both sides, I lowered the heat and threw in one clove of chopped garlic.  When the garlic was fragrant, I then deglazed with a quarter cup dry white wine and let the alcohol burn off.  Then, I added a quarter cup of cashew cream* and stirred with the liquid in the pan until thoroughly incorporated.

Stir in the cooked pasta, chopped parsley, some pasta water if the “cream” gets too thick, toss with more salt and pepper to taste, and it’s ready to be served.


*cashew cream: raw cashews soaked in water for 6-8 hours or overnight.  Drain the cashews blend it and keep adding water until it’s the texture of heavy cream. It helps to have a Vitamix for this.

Home brewed ginger ale

home brewed ginger beer

When the weather gets warm, I start craving refreshing, carbonated, cold beverages. Gin rickey? Don’t mind if I do! But some people may frown on having an alcoholic beverage so early in the day, or so often, which is why ginger ale comes to the rescue.  I had a bunch of ginger laying around the house and instead of waiting them to dry out or mold, I decided to put them to good use.

Two large pieces of ginger, pureed in the Vita-mix blender, some water, a couple heaping table spoons of sugar, and  a pinch of baker’s yeast was all it took to make this simple beverage. Oh, that and some time, since you need to wait for the yeast to turn the drink fizzy during fermentation.

The hardest part was figuring out where to put this ale while it fermented. At first, I put it in a glass soda bottle with a rubber gasket top, but I was scared that the carbonation was going to make it explode, so I wrapped the opening with plastic wrap instead of making a really air-tight seal.  I let that sit overnight, tried it in the morning, and it tasted sort of like ginger ale, but with a stronger yeasty taste than the commercial kind. Mission accomplished, kind of!

Poured in a glass with some ice and topped off with soda water (I made my concoction TOO sweet and needed to dilute it some), it got the job done.  You can even pour it into a stemless wine glass (or a mason jar!) for extra yuppie points.

June Gloom Go Away

Tomato and basil in a container

I don’t care if LA is still under the cloud of June gloom.  I’m ready for summer!  I bought a heirloom black prince tomato yesterday and planted it in a large container with two basil plants.  I hope the three won’t be too crowded.  The two basil plants, originally sitting in smaller pots in my windowbox, were starting to look yellow, which is why I transplanted them outside into this larger container.  After just one day, they already look better.

Home made mango sorbet

Another way to usher in summer: home-made mango sorbet.  I don’t have an icecream maker, so this was more labor intensive than usual.  I made the icecream mix: coconut milk, mangos, freshly squeeze orange juice, and grated ginger, froze it for about 5 hours, stirring with a hand blender every half hour.  It’s a little more solid than I expected, but pretty refreshing and tart after thawing for ten minutes.