Friday, July 22, 2011

Mushroom Ragout with Poached Eggs and a New Love In My Kitchen

I am in love... with a cookbook. Have you ever had that feeling? Discovering a new cookbook is always such a thrill. What kind of relationship will you have with it? Will it be a “go to” resource with its pages spattered over the years, a lovely read sitting by the fireplace with beautiful photos, a family heirloom to be passed down, or a cookbook for special events to be pulled off the shelf when you are searching for a unique dish to make. No matter what category they fall into, I find cookbooks are always valuable in some way and evoke strong memories of different times in my life, rather like a journal. Judging from the stack at my bedside and overflowing book shelves, I would classify myself as a cookbook junkie and I’m sure I’m not alone here (ahem...remember those built-in bookcases I said we are building?).

The moment I opened Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I knew I’d found a treasure and had the urge to cook every recipe he shares. Really, I can close my eyes, open the book, point to a recipe and be confident I’ll want to eat it. This is a vegetarian cookbook but the author is not a vegetarian himself. His London restaurant, Ottolenghi, is well-known for its creative use of fresh vegetables and grains. In Plenty, you will find dishes using produce such as kohlrabies, figs, artichokes, pomegranates, cucumbers, mangoes, cauliflower or tomatoes combined with a wide variety of spices, herbs, nuts, cheeses and legumes. Limitless possibilities! And did I mention the tantalizing photos? A true feast for your eyes.

Now, the difficult decision of where to begin! So much of what we eat depends upon our mood, and I am in the mood for mushrooms. Dishes using a variety of wild mushrooms offer so much flavor and texture and are always a favorite. Plus, something you should know about me, I can’t say no to anything with a poached egg. So when I spotted Mushroom Ragout with Poached Duck Egg, well...say no more.

The recipes are well-written with precise instructions. An added bonus of this yummy mushroom recipe is I learned a fool-proof method to poach eggs which I will share with you here. You fill a small, shallow saucepan with enough water to cover one egg. Add a splash of vinegar and bring to a boil. Break your egg into a small dish and gently pour it into the boiling water. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set it aside for six minutes. Voila, you have a perfectly poached egg! Where has this technique been all my life? If you are making more than one egg, place the poached egg in a bowl of warm water until you are done.

Mushroom Ragout with Poached Duck Egg
Serves 4
From Plenty
By Yotam Ottolenghi

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms (I used oyster, cremini and shiitake)
3/4 pound sourdough bread, crusts removed
6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
3 thyme sprigs
4 duck eggs (I used eggs from our hens)
Vinegar for poaching
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Black pepper
Truffle or olive oil for serving

Before you start, put the dried porcini to soak in 1 cup of the water for 30 minutes. Brush your mushrooms to remove any soil, then cut up large ones or divide into clusters so you have a selection of whole mushrooms and large chunks. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Toss them with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic and salt. Spread out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until brown.

Next, pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium-sized heavy pan and heat well over medium-high heat. Add some of the fresh mushrooms and leave for 1 to 2 minutes, without stirring. Don’t crowd the mushrooms in the pan. Once lightly browned, turn them over to cook for another minute. Remove from the pan and continue with more batches, adding oil as needed. Once all the mushrooms have been removed from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil and throw in the onion, carrot and celery. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes without browning. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute.

Lift the porcini out of the soaking liquid, squeezing out the excess liquid. Add the soaking liquid to the pan, leaving behind any grit in the bowl. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, the thyme and a little salt, then simmer gently for about 20 minutes until you are left with about 1 cup liquid. Strain this stock and discard the vegetables (I chose to keep the veggies in since I like the color and texture they add). Return the stock to the pan and set aside.

Poach the 4 eggs (as I described above), keeping the eggs in a bowl of warm water until done.

While you are poaching the final egg, heat up the stock and add all the mushrooms, the sour cream, most of the chopped herbs (reserving some for garnish) and salt and pepper to taste. A soon as the mushrooms are hot, place 1/4 of the croutons in each serving dish and top with mushrooms. Add an egg, the remaining herbs, a drizzle of truffle or olive oil and some black pepper.


  1. I heard an interview with Yotam a few Sunday mornings ago on NPR. My interest was peaked then, but reading this recipe and your review...I'm gonna need to find this book, stat!

  2. I have been in love with Yotam (hands off...he's mine!) since I ate at Ottolenghis about 3 years ago. So far everything I've made from Plenty has been good, except the pepper and red chilli tofu - it was far too peppery to be remotely pleasant. Be warned if you try that. The frittata with smoked mozzarella was wonderful.

  3. How exciting to find a fabulous new cookbook. I need to check this one out!

    Your mushroom ragout looks lovely with that gorgeous egg perched atop it!

  4. @cheapbeets
    I first found Plenty at the library, which gave me a chance to read it and try recipes. I new it was a keeper right away! I hope you enjoy it, too.

    Oh, I'm envious you ate at Ottolenghi! Thank you for the tip on the pepper and red chilli tofu, and for recommending the frittata. We had cauliflower in our CSA box so I made the frittata tonight for dinner and we loved it. :)

  6. @Lauren Hairston
    Thank you so much, Lauren! I hope you enjoy the book. :)


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