Friday, November 19, 2010

Marco Canora Night – Part 1

Matt and I are huge fans of Marco Canora, his restaurant Hearth, and, mostly, his wine bar Terroir. Terroir is probably what I miss most about living in the East Village.

Anyways, Matt bought his cookbook recently and has been making a lot of the things that we usually order at his restaurants. His tomato and egg bruschetta is probably what we order most at Terroir. One time the bartender joked that they started firing up the bruschetta when they sat Matt and me walk by.

The best thing we’ve tried at Hearth has been the pan-roasted hen of the woods mushrooms. They sound like a simple side dish on the menu, but they are to die for. We more recently discovered his ribolitta - a Tuscan kale soup topped with a generous amount of parmesan – which is also a favorite.

We made all of these things for dinner on Sunday night: the tomato and egg bruschetta and mushrooms for appetizer and the ribolitta for main course. I’m splitting the entry into two parts because I took a lot of pictures of everything!

Tomato and Egg Bruschetta

You would never believe how good the simple combination of eggs, tomato sauce, olive oil, and bread is.

His technique involves mixing the egg whites into the cooked tomato sauce and then lightly poaching the egg yolks on top of the sauce until it’s warm, but still runny. At Terroir, you can’t actually see the pieces of egg white in the sauce. When Matt first made this recipe, we found it had too many whites. We reduced the number, but I think we still need to work on our technique. We also modified it a little bit by putting dried oregano in the sauce and fresh basil on top, which I think is done at Terroir.

The key to the whole thing is using really good ingredients: the best canned tomatoes (see note at the bottom), fruity extra-virgin olive oil, high-quality dried oregano (Marco Canora suggests Sicillian oregano), flavorful bread, etc.

Note: Not all canned tomatoes are created equal! I had always used San Marzano tomatoes, but Serious Eats did an interesting canned tomato taste test and found that Trader Joe’s brand are the cheapest AND the tastiest.

Four 1-inch-thick slices of country bread
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 large eggs
1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes with their juices, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of good, dry oregano
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat the broiler. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil, arrange on the baking sheet and broil for about 3 minutes, turning once, until golden and toasted. Place the toasts in 4 shallow bowls (note: we used 3 slices of bread and just ate the extra sauce!).

Arrange 5 small bowls on a counter. Crack the eggs: Reserve 1 of the whites in one of the bowls and one yolk in each of the other 4 bowls. Refrigerate the remaining 3 egg whites for another use.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil with the garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and oregano, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Beat the egg whites with a fork and gently fold them into the tomato sauce. Cook over moderately high heat just until the whites are set, about 1 minute. Using the back of a spoon, make 4 indentations in the sauce. Slide a yolk into each indentation and cover the skillet. Cook over very low heat just until the yolks are warmed but not set, about 1 1/2 minutes. Spoon the sauce and yolks over the toasts, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil on top, garnish with the basil, and serve right away.

Mmmmmm…runny egg yolk.

Pan-Roasted Hen-Of-The-Woods Mushrooms

Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (also known as maitakes) can be expensive, but they’re so worth it when cooked like this. We found these beauties for about $20/lb at Formaggio.

This recipe basically calls for searing the mushrooms on both side in some olive oil and then basting them in butter, rosemary, and thyme. They turn out a little crisp on the outside, and soft and buttery on the inside.

1 pound hen-of-the-woods mushrooms
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I think you’ll notice that Matt snuck in way more butter than the recipe called for)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh-cracked black pepper

Turn mushroom over to expose the stem. With paring knife, remove the core of the stem.

Using your hands, gently break mushroom into 8 pieces. In a 12-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium flame. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper.

Place them in the heated oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and cook for 3 minutes. When the mushrooms have a golden-brown surface, flip them with a spatula and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add butter and herbs, and baste mushrooms for 1 minute. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil, and serve.

Next we made the ribolitta. To be continued…

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