Mushroom Risotto

Sometimes we’ll go to the Ferry Building farmer’s market on Saturday in San Francisco just to eat lunch. They’ve steadily added more and more restaurants over the years and it’s now such a popular food destination on its own, they could nix the farmer’s market and I don’t know if the throngs of tourists would even notice. Locals would never stand for that, though.

The market on the pier just outside the Ferry Building has become part of the whole San Francisco experience. As much a part of it as driving down Lombard Street or eating a bowl of cioppino at the Wharf. I do enjoy wandering through the market. This trip, like many many others, ended with us eating oysters and clam chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.

I always tell myself when I go to the Ferry Building that I’ll just pick up whatever looks fresh and I’ll figure out what to make with it later when I get back home. This time it was shiitake mushrooms and here it is: mushroom risotto.

Mushrooms at a blowout a price, I might add ($4), how could I pass that up?


  • 1 oz dried porcinis
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms (any will do, I chose shiitake), sliced thin
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter, separated
  • 1 shallot, finely finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry Sherry
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped to about 2 tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Place dried porcinis and stock saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add arborio rice and saute, 2-3 minutes more. Add Sherry and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed. Add a few ladles of the hot vegetable stock, then reduce heat slightly and simmer, stirring constantly,  until almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Remove porcini mushrooms from water and place onto a cutting board. Reserve the cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcinis and add them to the pot with the rice. Continue to ladle broth into arborio rice, half the remaining amount at a time. Stir mixture each time you add more broth and take it off the heat when the rice is cooked to al dente, usually around 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking and you’re stirring constantly, here’s one more thing for you to do: heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and 1 tbsp thyme, and 1 tsp salt and stir, coating all the mushrooms with the oil/butter. Saute the mushrooms for about 4 minutes, or until they start to brown slightly. Take off the heat but leave them in the pan.

Stir in 1 tsp thyme and a few handfuls of grated cheese. Season your risotto with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve creamy mushroom risotto from the hot pan topped with a few spoonfuls of the shiitakes and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.


Spinach Ricotta Ravioli

It’s about the same time every year I feel compelled to use up the last of my basil plants before it’s too late. About another week or so from now it’ll get just cold enough at night that the basil gives up for the season and dies off. So inevitably there’s a decent amount of Italian food coming out of this kitchen from now until the basil’s gone. Things like tomato basil marinara sauce, delicious basil pesto, eggplant caponata with basil.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the prospect of making fresh pasta dough. I’ve found it gets easier and easier every time I do it and even though the first few attempts weren’t perfect, it still resulted in something close enough to call a success (hint: imperfect ravioli taste just as good as picture-perfect ones under enough pasta sauce).

To make the pasta dough:

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Tagliatelle with Herbs, Goat Cheese, and Marinated Tomatoes

I’ve been making fresh pasta for a while and it’s always better than dried. There’s nothing wrong with the store-bought, but it just doesn’t stack up to fresh pasta. It never quite turned out the way I wanted it to though, then I found this recipe in one of my Italian cookbooks, Urban Italian. It looks like a lot of work but it’s really not, especially if you have a KitchenAid mixer. Basically, it’s flour, eggs, and one or two other ingredients mixed together for a few minutes.

This recipe makes A LOT of dough, so it could easily be halved and you’d still have enough dough for about 3 or 4 meals.

Next time I would skip the marinated tomatoes on this, the sauce almost doesn’t need them. If you do add the tomatoes, don’t add any of the marinating liquid. I think it clashes a bit with the sauce.

Ingredients – Marinated tomato topping:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 shallots, minced fine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Combine the tomatoes, shallots, both vinegars, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley in a large saucepan. Sautee over medium heat until tomatoes are wrinkled and flavors melded. Set aside and keep warm.

I was so excited to finally use my new pasta maker! I’ve relied on the KitchenAid pasta attachment in the past which always worked fine, but rolling out dough with the old school hand crank machine is actually easier and you can control the speed better. Doesn’t make it any less messy, though.

I am always eager to make anything with tagliatelle. And it is really just this easy…

Ingredients – Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups durham semolina flour
  • 4 cups “00” flour, plus more for flouring work surface and dough
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks

Flour a board, marble slab, or countertop well.

Combine the two flours and the salt in a KitchenAid bowl and combine on speed 1 using the dough hook. Add the eggs and egg yolks. Turn it up to speed 5 and mix until it looks like a rough dough, about 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the machine and mix it well with your hand, first in the bowl and then on the floured board or work surface to ensure that everything is very well combined.

Return the dough to the KitchenAid and blend on speed 3 just until the mixture comes together as a smoother, tighter dough and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 15 seconds or so.

Flour your work surface again and turn the dough our onto it. Sprinkle flour on the dough to keep it from sticking.

Roll the dough into a ball. Knead the dough by folding in over itself for about 3 minutes. Wrap it tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap and put in the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

An excellent summer dish.

Pasta and sauce:

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pound tagliatelle

To prepare the pasta and sauce:

  1. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Bring the milk, cream, and stock to a simmer over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in the goat cheese and continue whisking until the mixture thickens into a sauce.
  3. Add the thyme, rosemary, pepper and salt. Mix to combine, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Cook the pasta. If using dried, subtract one minute from the al dente cooking time.
  5. Return the saucepan to the heat. Cook the sauce and pasta together over medium heat until the pasta is well coated with the sauce, about 1 minute.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the parmigiano and basil. Mix well to combine.
  7. Distribute the dish into individual plates. Spoon the tomato mixture over the top, and garnish more fresh grated parmigiano.

To finish the dish:

  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped basil

Perfect Marinara

This recipe for marinara is from Rao’s restaurant and it makes the most simple, amazingly delicious spaghetti I have ever tasted. 


  • 2 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz. pancetta, cut in small pieces (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, torn
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add pancetta to pan. Saute 5 minutes or until fat has been rendered.  Discard pancetta.  Saute onion for 3 minutes or until translucent .  Add garlic and saute until just softened.  Stir in peeled tomatoes, reserved juice and salt.  Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook for about an hour or until flavors have combined and sauce is slightly thickened.  Stir in basil, oregano and pepper and cook for an additional minute.  Makes 7 cups.