Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meeting a New Friend

Every day I have the choice to try a new recipe or make something I know is going to be good, that I've perfected, and that leaves me satiated. This is a surprisingly difficult choice for me. I like everything I eat to be a good, valuable consumption of calories. Otherwise I'm just crabby.

But I have a definite preference towards variety. I get three cooking magazines, have around twenty cookbooks, and search the internet constantly for recipes. But it's only worth it if I occasionally find a recipe that is worth making over and over again.

Kind of a conundrum isn't it?

Because there are recipes full of high hopes and disappointments. There are recipes that are so much work that I'll never bother with them again. There are recipes that are good but forgettable. And there are recipes that are one ingredient away from being something I already have a great recipe for. After all, how could those cooking magazines really print so many brand new recipes every month?

When I do find something new that is good, it's like meeting a new friend. You thought you had all the friends you needed in your life, and then you meet someone else who makes you laugh really hard and just gets you. One of my best friends I've known all my life, another I met barely three years ago. It's like that with best recipes too.

So here's my latest find. I just made it last night, and it has two components that taste pretty good by themselves but together they are outstanding. They are a pop of flavor in your mouth, a wake up call that reminds how many good things and people there are in life that are yet to be discovered.

Wild Mushroom Cakes with Avocado Pesto (modified from Bon Appetit)
4 servings

These cakes make a nice light appetizer, though I ate six little ones as my entire meal.

Mushroom Cakes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 8-ounce packages sliced button mushrooms
2 large portabello mushrooms, gills scraped out and sliced
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Avocado Pesto
2 large avocados coarsely mashed
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

Make pesto: Add avocado, Parmesan, cilantro, and lime juice to a food processor. Process to blend. With machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup oil through feed tube. Transfer to bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and saute until browned and edges begin to crisp, stirring often, about 14 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to processor and allow to cool five minutes. Add eggs, Parmesan, herbs, salt, and pepper to processor. Using on/off turns, process until mushrooms are coarsely chopped. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup panko.

Divide mushroom mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each into a 3/4 inch thick cake. Spread additional panko out on plate. Coat cakes with panko. Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, add mushroom cakes. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve mushroom cakes with avocado pesto.

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