Caramelized Wild Mushroom & Blue Cheese Flat Bread

I apologize in advance to all you "mushroom-haters" out there, but I'm squarely on "Team Mushroom", as if you couldn't tell.  Here I've layered copious amounts of glorious mushrooms upon even more mushrooms, with a gooey blue cheese.  The results are a simple yet supremely satisfying flat bread that begs to be served alongside a crisp, vibrant salad with a shot of acidity.

Flat Bread Dough

2 1/2 cups of AP unbleached flour
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons UP Certified Olio Nuovo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons active dry yeast 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Mushroom Topping

1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons UP Certified Olio Nuovo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms such as Cremini, Shitake, Oyster, Porcnini, Chanterelle, etc.
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

To make the flat bread dough, mix together the olive oil, warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Allow to sit for five minutes to bloom. Blend the salt with the flour and mix with the wet ingredients to form a somewhat moist dough.

Knead the dough for about five minutes adding just a bit of flour if it becomes too sticky, until a smooth dough forms.  Divide in to two balls and set aside covered in a warm place to rise until doubled, for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the mushroom topping.  In a large saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt to taste.  Saute until they just begin to turn a light golden-brown color.  Add the sliced shallot and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the shallot is sweet, soft, and also gently caramelized.  Adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool while the dough rises.  Alternatively, you can use your bread machine or stand mixer to mix and knead the dough.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

To assemble, roll each flat dough ball in to a very thin circle, approximately 8" in diameter. Place the rolled dough on to a sheet pan or pizza pan either greased with olive oil, lined with parchment, or dusted with cornmeal.

Arrange the caramelized mushroom-shallot mixture evenly over both pieces of dough.  Sprinkle each with equal portions of crumbled blue cheese, and another drizzle UP Certified Olio Nuovo Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and additional fresh ground pepper (if desired).  Slide the flat bread in to the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to caramelize and the crust is golden brown and slightly puffed.  Rotate the flat bread half way through the cooking process to ensure that each cooks evenly.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Goat Cheese, Arugula Blossoms, & Toasted Pecans

1 1/2 pounds fresh beets
1/3 cup arugula blossoms (optional)
8 oz. chevre (fresh goat cheese)
6 cups baby arugula or mixed greens
1 cup whole pecans, toasted
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon good quality grainy mustard
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons UP Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil such as Oro Bailen Picual or Melgarejo Hojiblanca

Preheat the oven to 400.  Trim the beets and wrap in one foil packet drizzled with a tablespoon of water.  Roast for 1 hour or until tender when pierced through with a knife.  Once the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel them by rubbing the skin off between paper towels.  Warning:  This will dye your hands bright red so you may want to use gloves or extra paper towels.

Cut the peeled beets in to 1" pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons of white balsamic whisked together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, whisk the remaining white balsamic with the grainy mustard until well combined.  Slowly drizzle in your olive oil of choice, whisking constantly until the mixture is thickened or emulsified.  Add freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

Arrange the greens in a bowl or on a platter and dress with the white balsamic vinaigrette.  Add the marinated roasted beets to the salad, along with the crumbled fresh goat cheese, toasted pecans, and arugula blossoms (if using).

Serves 6-8 generous portions

Shaved Brussles Sprouts with Melgarejo Arbequina, Lemon Agrumato Olive Oil & Parmesan Cheese

My husband hated Brussles sprouts until...

1 pound Brussles sprouts, stem end trimmed off
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shave Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Melgarejo Arbequina
1 tablespoon Lemon Agrumato (fused) olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

Shave or slice the Brussles sprouts as thinly as possible.  This can be done on a mandolin, using the slicing disk of a food processor, or simply by using a very sharp knife coupled with decent knife skill.

In a large saute pan, heat the arbequina olive over medium-high heat.  Begin by sauteing the shallots until they just begin to caramelize on the edges.   Add the shaved brussles sprouts and saute, stirring frequently until they are just barely softened, and begin to caramelize on the edges a bit.

Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and toss well to combine.  Serve drizzled with the fused lemon olive oil and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6 as a side

Shrimp & Andouille Over Baklouti Chili Agrumato Olive Oil-White Cheddar Grits

Shrimp & Sausage
1 1/2 pounds 21-25 wild shrimp
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, cut in 1/2" dice
1 large shallot, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Baklouti Fused Olive Oil
Shrimp Stock (optional) 
chicken broth or stock will work here
3 cups water
shrimp shells
2 teaspoons sea salt 
2 1/2 cups shrimp stock 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
3/4 cup quick grits
sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
3 tablespoons Fused Baklouti Chili Olive Oil 

1 tablespoon 
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup shrimp stock 
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Fused Baklouti Olive Oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme

(Skip this step if using chicken broth or stock)
Peel the shrimp and reserve the shells.  Heat 3 cups of water with shrimp shells in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, and then set aside to steep for 5 minutes.  Strain the stock and reserve.
Mix together the garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, thyme, black pepper and then toss the shrimp in the spice mixture to coat.  
Heat the Baklouti olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the cut up Andouille sausage and saute until just barely golden brown.  Add the shallots and cook for another minute.  Finally add the garlic and shrimp.  Saute until the shrimp is just barely cooked though, another minute or two.  Do not overcook!!!  Remove the shrimp and sausage mixture and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of shrimp stock and heavy cream to a boil. Whisk in the grits and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and the grains are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese, Baklouti Olive Oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and whisk just until the cheese is melted. Cover and remove from the heat.

In the same pan that the shrimp and sausage was cooked in, add a tablespoon of Baklouti Olive Oil, over medium high heat add the flour to the olive oil and whisk until the roux becomes a medium-tan color, scraping up all the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and stir in to the roux, cooking for another minute.  Add the shrimp stock and cream to the pan, and whisk until the mixture is thickened, another minute or two.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the reserved shrimp and sausage mixture to the sauce and stir heating until warmed though.  Do not overcook the shrimp!

Serve the shrimp and sauce over the hot grits with more Baklouti drizzled over the top, if desired.

Serves 6

Dark Chocolate and Mandarin Agrumato Olive Oil Madeleines

These are absolutely mind blowing.  Here's a perfect example of using olive oil not simply because it's amazingly good for the human body, but also because if the right olive oil is used in the proper context, it can dramatically elevate even the most humble of culinary applications. 

The bright, citrus notes of the Mandarin Agrumato (fused) Olive Oil play beautifully with the deep, earthy, rich dark chocolate. The exterior edges are just ever so barely caramelized, while the middles are ethereal and moist.

 1 cup flour + 1/4 cup for pan
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup Mandarin Agrumato (fused) Olive Oil + 1 tablespoon for greasing pan

Preheat the oven to 375.

Grease a 12 portion madeleine pan with with mandarin olive oil and then dust with flour.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes until light and thick.  Add the olive oil and beat for another minute.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa in another bowl and fold in to the wet ingredients making sure to not leave any dry spots.  

Spoon in the to the prepared madeleine mold(s) and bake in the upper portion of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or just until the tops spring back when lightly touched and the edges begin to darken slightly.

Immediately un-mold the cookies on to a rack to cool.  If you only have one madeleine pan, clean it and repeat the process above a second time as this recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.  

Allow to cool and enjoy.  These are best fresh, the day they're made. 

Makes 2 dozen   

Conchigliette with Pork and Wild Mushroom Sugo and Black Truffle

1 pound ground pork, beef or even turkey, but preferably freshly-ground pork
2 cups finely diced wild mushrooms
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
2 large shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 cups good quality red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2" sprig fresh thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup peppery, UP Certified EVOO
1 tablespoon black truffle oil
1 pound dried conchigliette, cooked - you can use any other short cut pasta that will hold the sauce well such as rigatoni or mostaccioli.

In a large, heavy bottom pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork and brown well, breaking the meat up in to the smallest pieces possible, for about 5 minutes.  Remove the meat to a bowl and reserve.  To the same pot add the mushrooms and saute until caramelized, about 5 minutes, scraping up any bits of browned meat, and stirring occasionally. 

Add the shallots, carrot, and celery and saute for another two minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce by half.  Add the tomatoes and thyme and reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook at barely a simmer, covered, over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add a a few tablespoons of stock or water to the sauce if it loses too much moisture.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Add the just drained, al dente pasta to the pot with the sauce and continue to cook the pasta along with a  tablespoon or so of the pasta water.  Cook for a minute stirring to completely sauce the pasta.

Portion the pasta in to servings and top each with fresh grated Pecorino cheese, and a few drops of black truffle oil.  Serve immediately. 

Makes 6 servings

Epic Condiment

Forget the Italian sausage bagel dog in the bottom picture, and let's just focus on the red jewel-toned condiment at the top.  This is caramelized onion and roasted red pepper jam.  And as jams go, it's chunky, spreadable, and concentrated.  However, this is where the similarities stop.  This is a savory jam, or condiment, if that definition speaks to your culinary comfort level.  

This condiment is both savory and pungent with the addition of Cayenne (Fused) Agrumato Olive Oil.  However, it's not designed to be over the top.  Its function is to accentuate or elevate the food it's served with.  Now focus on that Italian sausage bagel dog - just as ordinary as can be until we slather it in the onion-pepper condiment, right? Yes!  I promise if you take the time to make this exceedingly easy savory jam, you will elevate your ho-hum chicken breast, pork shop, baguette, and, or eggs to new levels heretofore unknown.

Rachel's Caramelized Onion & Roasted Red Pepper Jam 
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced (about a cup packed)
1 large red pepper - roasted, seeded, peeled, and finely chopped 
2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons UP Certified Oro Bailen Arebequina
1 tablespoon (+/- to taste) Cayenne (Fused) Agrumato Olive Oil 
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt - to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste 

In a heavy bottomed saute pan (cast iron if available) heat 2 tablespoons of Oro Bailen Arbequina over medium heat.  Add the onion and season with salt.  Sweat down the onions gently until thet slowly become caramelized.  This will take about 20 minutes with constant stirring.  The goal here is to slowly bring out the sweet complex flavor of golden caramelized onions without charring them.  Charring will make them bitter.

During the last five minutes of cooking, add the chopped peppers, ground black pepper, and continue stirring and cooking.  Add the hot pepper-onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor along with one tablespoon (if desired) of Cayenne (Fused) Olive Oil, along with two additional tablespoons of Oro Bailen Arbequina.  Process to desired consistency - or like a smooth paste. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if desired. 

Spoon in to a jar and allow to cool.  Serve with vegetable crudites, crackers, pork, chicken, sausages, as a replacement for Sriracha, or catsup, with fries, over eggs, with roasted potatoes - essentially, with everything.   

Can be stored in a sealed jar, chilled for up to a week.  

Makes about 1 cup of savory jam  

Wild Mushroom-Spinach Manicotti with UP Certified Melgarejo Olive Oil-Tomato Bechamel

This creamy sauce eschews the saturated fat of butter for vastly healthier UP Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

However, that's not the end of the story.  Here I used the inimitable Hojiblanca from Melgarejo Estate in Spain, which brings a spectacular flavor to the otherwise bland canvas that is bechamel sauce.

Pictured are Italian style crepes also known as manicotti, which are rolled around fresh sauteed spinach, caramelized wild mushrooms, shallots, and a trinity of cheeses.  Every aspect of this dish is positively affected by the use of high quality extra virgin olive oil.  It's a perfect example of how a good dish can be made spectacular by being mindful of the characteristics of the olive oil.

I've broken the recipe in to several parts. Feel free to use any or all of them for your own concept of this versatile dish known as manicotti.

Creamy Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Tomato Bechamel Sauce
3 tablespoons fruity, complex, green, fresh, UP extra virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour,
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup tomato sauce
a dash of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
Sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute until transclucent and tender.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.  Add the flour and stir to incorporate so that there are no lumps or dry spots left.  Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly.  Stir and bring to a bare simmer until thickened.  Add the cheese, and stir.  Add the tomato sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Stir until thickened to buttermilk consistency.  Use this versatile sauce for pasta, lasagna, crepes, veggies, etc.

Savory or Sweet Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crepes
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or Lemon, Orange, or Tangerine Agrumato for sweet crepes)
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Add the liquid ingredients, olive oil, eggs, and salt to the jar of a blender, the bowl of a food processor, or alternately whisk together by hand.  Add the flour and process until completely blended with no lumps or dry spots of flour.

Allow to stand for 1/2 hour at room temperature.

Heat a 12" wide non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, and rub with olive oil.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the crepe batter in and rotate the pan to spread the batter in to a circle.  After about a minute, flip the crepe and cook for an additional minute on the other side.  Remove to a plate and continue until all the batter has been used.  Fill with sweet or savory fillings.

Makes 6 large crepes

Spinach, Cheese, and Wild Mushroom Filling

2 cups sliced wild mushrooms or Cremini mushrooms
3 cups baby spinach
2 shallots minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons UP Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Fontina cheese grated
1/4 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
1/2 cup cherve (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to caramelize slightly.  Add the shallots and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add the spinach and saute until wilted.  Stir in the Fontina, and other cheeses. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.  Makes a great filling for crepes or omelets.

Filling for 6 large crepes

To make the dish pictured above, preheat the oven to 375.  Grease a 13"x9" baking dish with olive oil.  Fill the crepes with the spinach filling.  Ladle 1 cup of tomato bechamel in to the bottom of the dish.  Arrange the stuffed crepes in a single layer over the sauce, and spread the rest of the sauce on top of the crepes.  Add a sprinkle of cheese to the top, if desired.

Bake the crepes for 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and slightly golden in spots.  Serve warm.