Mushrooms

Chicken Roulade (Roll) in Mushroom & Thyme Cream Sauce with Dijon Mustard

This is the Chicken Roulade of our dreams, the one we first experienced in Florence and the hill towns of Tuscany… the extravagant chicken roll that incorporates every savory ingredient we ever wanted to include. Each roll is packed with so many layers of delicious that they must be tied together with cord, like culinary presents from the Umami Gods. Ingredients… First, air chilled free range chicken thighs pounded thin. Then a very thin layer of aged Prosciutto ham from Italy for that crazy umami ham vibe. Then the thin layer of bright green fresh basil from the garden. Then a layer of smoked Provolone cheese, even more savory and when it melts together with all the other crazy stuff, just fabulous. Now a layer of creamy fragrant Piquillo peppers from Basque Country, with that eye dazzling iridescent red color. And finally, at the center of this Roulade, a core of caramelized onions, garlic seared spinach, olive tapenade, creamy goat cheese with the herbs of Provence, bright red sun dried tomatoes and sauted porcini mushrooms to complete the roll. In a 14 inch cast iron pan, we saute in olive olive oil these cord wrapped packages until they are seared and melty inside, about 20 minutes. When each Roulade is sliced open, revealed are all these layers of savory other worldly flavors. But THEN we serve this crazy sumptuous Roulade with a Mushroom & Thyme Cream Sauce with Dijon Mustard for an umami explosion. Ingredients for the sauce… 1 pound brown cremini or porcini mushrooms, cut into thick slices2 – 4 shallots (depending on size) or 1 large onion, minced4 – 5 garlic cloves, crushed1/2 cup chardonnay1/2 cup Marsala (or Sherry)1/2 cup chicken broth (bone broth)1 1/2 cups cream1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil2 oz butter (1/2 stick)1 tablespoon duck […]

Italian Meat Loaf (Polpettone)

We first saw this gorgeous meatloaf (named Polpettone) in Tuscany, when we came across one of those big glass storefronts you find on the main streets in Florence, and the hill towns, with endless mind boggling dishes of food stretching from the doorway all the way across the wall, behind glass cases, with the whole store a dizzying aroma of umami goodness. When I tasted the amazingly complex flavors of this meatloaf, I instantly realized this was not my mom’s meatloaf.

Chicken Thighs in Mushroom & Thyme Cream Sauce with Dijon Mustard

This feast is your ticket to Umami City. This is a fusion feast, as if it were cooked by two lovers, a lady chef from the South of France, bringing her thyme, cream, bacon, duck fat, Dijon mustard, butter and Chardonnay… and her chef lover from Tuscany, with his Porcini powder, Marsala, olive oil and garlic. It’s a magical dish for all lovers.

Shepherd’s Pie

I first tasted this classic New England meal, appropriately enough, in the food hall of Harrod’s in London, many years ago. It was a revelation. It has a timeless wildness to it, that speaks of a life lived outdoors and long ago, and of the fireplace and hearth, the warmth of home in a rugged country. This is a meal created by rural working folks and those who hunted and labored in the outdoors and in the garden.

Tandoori Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy

Tandoori turkey has been a part of our Thanksgiving family tradition for many years.  We discovered this amazing recipe from Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha in the LA Times Food section. The smell of these exotic spices is always a sure sign in the Leekley home that the Holidays have begun. Originating 5000 years ago in the Indus River Valley, and later the Punjab region of India, traditional Tandoori cooking was done inside huge 5 to 6 foot high clay pots, which were buried in the ground with a charcoal or wood fire blazing inside, at the base of the pot itself. Tandoori pots are explosively fiery and hot, with smoke and flames belching out and the intense glowing heat sometimes reaching 900 degrees. The technique may be ancient, but the actual cooking technique is also very modern. The searing of the meat seals in the flavors and juices.

Wild Rice with Roasted Duck and Smoked Sausage

This feast comes from the heart of the North Country pines… northern Minnesota, the place where I did my real growing up, from boy to man, hunting and fishing in the wilds.  This iconic feast, legendary among the native peoples who live there, is the essence of wildness.  When you prepare the ingredients, and then feast on it, you can almost hear the cry of the loons out on the lake, in the dusk… and again at first light, as you ease your boat into the lily pads, casting for large mouth bass and northern pike.  It is so deep in my heart that every scrap of my DNA cries out to be there again, one day.