Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Food of Goths

I have not had much time to blog lately.  My house was struck by lightning and my internet and phone line were burnt out for about 10 days.  I have been busy with work, Thanksgiving, and planning Chanukah this year.  
     This blog is dedicated to three people, first of all,  Leilani Clark who  is a great friend and amazing writer of culture and literature.  She is also editor and co founder of a group of people who host writing workshops and publish a zine with a theme each issue.  This past issue, the theme was Dark, to celebrate the coming of Autumn and Winter.  Many different types of people collaborate including writers, artists, and photographers, so my contribution was dark and gothic foods.  The creativity workshops are run by Petals and Bones.  Thanks Leilani for having a place for creatives and helping me with my grammar.  She's also a college English teacher.  
     Secondly, Ms. Heather Hanson who was kind enough to come all the up to the boonies to share Totally Truffled Thanksgiving with us.  My favorite California girl in Rome and fellow wine lover.  She is also a wine educator at a University in Rome and leads wine tours.  Check out her great blog Italy Decanted and read her wine notes!
   And finally, to my favorite vegan food blog , Veganize it...Don't Just Criticize it by Ms. Jenn Shagrin.  A funny, beautiful and delicious vegan blog that inspires me everytime I read it.  I am now much more iinspired to take non vegan recipes and make wonderful veganized versions of them.  

The Food of Goths
By Sarah May Grunwald

    My partner and I suffer from “opposites attract syndrome.”  He is the dark to my light, appearance-wise, but his skin is about as deep as his darkness goes.  He is the sun to my moon, he is Cat Stevens where I am Diamanda Galas, his cup is half full to my cup is half empty, but he laments the passage of summer as if he is mourning a lost friend or relative.  As soon as the light turns to dark, he becomes embittered, whereas I welcome the short days and rainy weather.  Fall is the season of darkness. The days get shorter; we want to stay inside by the warm fire. It is perfect for gothic tunes about darkness. Tanorexics lament the passing of sunny days.
 For my own part, I celebrate the coming of fall.  Fall gives birth to the darkest of Mother Earth’s gifts, the elusive truffle. They grow under oak trees deep in the soil. In fact, light is not their friend. For a gourmand like me, dark days mean delicious days. What is darker and more gothic in the world of food than a black or white truffle? Once you’ve had the occasion to have the perfume of one linger in your nasal cavity or palate, an addiction will be born. They are sweet-smelling, like old roses; hormonal, barnyardy (a word often used in the wine community), and a known aphrodisiac. They are humble and ugly--a fungus, nothing more.  But they are the most coveted of the fungi family. During the White Truffle festival in Alba, Piedmont, people who own these darlings must have a body guard. In divorce proceedings between couples who are perhaps in the food industry, when the proceedings turn to custody, they aren’t speaking of children. 
Yes, a simple fungus has driven many a woman or man insane.  I know I have my own anxieties the few weeks before I am to go to a truffle festival. I squander money, hide it around the house, plan elaborate menus around the truffles I am to buy, close my eyes and imagine that sweet aphrodisiac perfume. It is the food of the goddess. Surely the milk of mother earth is a white truffle.  I cannot imagine anything else as divine.
One of my favorite recipes that I have veganized includes the friend of the truffle, the porcini mushroom. I took the recipe from a favorite book on the Umbrian kitchen in Italy and adjusted it to make it vegan and still delicious:
Sformatini di Ricotta con Funghi Porcini e Tartufo Nero
Baked Ricotta with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Truffle
200g of raw cashews
300g of firm tofu (about one small/medium package)
2tsp of course Celtic Sea Salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 large cloves are garlic (go by your love of garlic)
Equivalent of 2 eggs Egg Replacer (Ener G works best)
Juice of half a lemon
1 large handful of dried porcini mushrooms(make sure they are well rinsed so as not sandy)
1 bay leaf
One sprig of fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Black or white truffle, or, if not available truffle paste or truffle oil (make sure no dairy is added)
Day old rustic Italian bread, cut into soldiers (like lady finger size) and toasted
Preheat the oven to 180° C.  Soak the mushrooms in warm water for at least half an hour. Mix the cashews, tofu, sea salt, nutritional yeast, garlic, egg replacer, 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until totally smooth, with absolutely no nutty chunks. If you need to add a tbsp or so of warm water, if you have problems blending.  Keep aside until ready for use. 
Drain the mushrooms and keep the dark water on the side for later use.  If the pieces are large, cut them into about ¼ to ½ inch pieces with scissors.  In a small pan drizzle about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, a splash of white wine (I would use whatever wine you are serving this with), salt to taste, one spring of rosemary, the bay leaf and mushrooms.  Sautee with medium heat and slowly add 2-3 tbsp of mushroom water.  Sautee until it has dried out and the mushrooms are done. 
Now, in aluminum panna cotta cups/molds(which are similar to cupcake cups, or in a cupcake cup if you can’t find panna cotta cups), scoop up a large spoonful of mushroom mix, making sure there are no sticks from the rosemary and the bay leaf has been removed, and put it at the bottom of the cup.  Fill the rest of the cup up to the top with the cashew ricotta mix.  This mix should make 4-6 depending on the size of the cup.
Put each cup on a cookie pan, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are toasted and golden brown.  Make sure not to let them go dark.  Once cooked, reverse the molds onto a small plate, grate the toasted bread over it, and serve with toasted bread that has been brushed with olive oil.  Grate black or white truffle over the mushrooms and dish.  Or, if using truffle oil, drizzle the truffle over the mushrooms, letting it drizzle slightly over the sides. 
If you are serving with black truffle I suggest a light bodied Riesling from Germany, or Alto Adige in Italy.  With white truffle, bring out the more aromatic whites like a Gew├╝rztraminer from Alsace, or, strangely enough, a buttery California Chardonnay
Buon Appetito!!
Play the Black Celebration album by Depeche Mode