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Weekend Rituals

B and I have been together since May 2013. If you count since we’ve been living together, it’s been 3 1/2 years. I prefer to start the clock from the day we met (and the 2+ years we long-distance dated). Our sixth anniversary will be in a few months.

If you’re like some couples – married, co-habiting or otherwise – you usually have a weekend routine that doesn’t vary.

Assuming that nothing special is planned that weekend (like last weekend’s Oscar shindig), we’ll invariably do food shopping at either the Ferry Building farmers’ market or at a local store like Gus’s or Andronico’s.

Then we’ll trundle home, have lunch and do something together. Occasionally, I’ll block off the rest of the day for cooking. He understands that cooking and baking is my “therapy” and I’m happiest when I’m in the kitchen. If you want proof, all you need to do is ask our ever-expanding waistlines.

There were scant pickings at the market this weekend. (Click a thumbnail in the mosaic below for a larger-sized version as well as accompanying text.)

After a couple of side trips to some specialty food shops, it was time for brunch at Izakaya Rintaro.

Having been thoroughly sated, it was time to spend the rest of the afternoon bingeing on Mad Men. I’m amazed I managed to carve out time to cook dinner!

The below recipe was adapted from Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis, pages 197-198.

Wild Mushroom Ragù

60 ml olive oil
225 g diced onion
freshly ground black pepper
1 kg wild and/or cultivated mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves, pounded into a paste in a mortar and pestle along with a pinch of salt
4 g finely chopped thyme
8 g finely chopped sage leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
30 g tomato paste
9 g all-purpose flour (or arrowroot powder)
475 ml porcini broth
10 g minced flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
extra-virgin olive oil (for garnish)

For this recipe, I used a mix of four different types of mushrooms (if you count the dried porcini mushrooms in the mushroom broth):

The first bowl contains black pearl oyster mushrooms and baby shiitake mushrooms, and the bowl in the bottom picture has yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms.

For the porcini broth:

710 ml water
10 g dried porcini mushrooms
150 g diced onion
100 g diced celery
60 g diced carrots
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. Strain liquid into a small saucepot and keep on another burner, on low heat.

After you’ve strained it, it should look a little like this:

Leave the broth unseasoned since you’ll be using it later on.

Warm olive oil in a pan, then fry onions until they start to brown.

Season with salt and pepper, then transfer onions to a small bowl.

Add mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the mushrooms begin to exude some liquid. Eventually they’ll reabsorb the juices and begin to brown. At that point, add the garlic paste and herbs to the pan. Stir them in and cook for a minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the onions back to the pan.

Stir in the tomato paste. Fry for a minute, then stir in the flour.

Cook for one more minute, then add in the porcini broth, a ladleful at a time.

Cook until ragù reaches your desired consistency. Taste for salt and pepper, stir in some chopped parsley, then serve at once.

We ended up serving the ragù over pearl barley and pigeon peas.

This recipe is sized for four people and takes about an hour, not including prep time.

You might say the rest of the weekend was just as eventful. 😉

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In the Pantry

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