mardi, mars 20, 2007

DJ and Luis eat stuff, but also drink a lot

You see, I went to the market at place des fêtes this morning and tripped across a vendor that was selling beautiful oyster mushrooms at 2€/kilo (insanely cheap) and hedgehog mushrooms for 3€/kilo. For 5€, I had enough mushrooms for days' worth of soups and stir-frys and such. So, of course, I emailed DJ and announced to him that we were having mushrooms that night.

I had already invited him over to eat the Mung Bean Dal (Indian soupy bean preparation) that I was planning to make tonight, so this just added another course to the evening's festivities. I had also picked up a huge pile of beautiful mâche (lamb's lettuce), which we grazed upon like cattle. When the salad greens are as good as they can be here, all you need is a quick wash and a bit of oil or vinaigrette. I can totally see how "salade" here can be a meal substitute.

I pre-soaked and boiled up the mung beans and then left them to simmer while I prepared the curry base. This time around, I tried doing the spice-tempering thing (I had bought a bunch of whole spices at the Indian grocery store that day). In a rather hot pan with a bit of oil, I threw in some whole cumin, lovage and black mustard and toasted them until the seeds began to pop. I think I had the heat on a bit too high, but thankfully none of the seeds came out burnt.

Shortly after that, I added chopped onions and tomatoes, letting them cook down for a bit. Once the tomatoes were beginning to fall apart, I added a tablespoon of garlic and ginger each (crushed and/or chopped). Afterwards, I added a bit of raz el hanout ("head of the table", a spice mix usually used in Moroccan cooking) and then mixed it with the beans. I added some water and let the whole thing boil together for a while.

A bit later, I added nearly 1/2-cup of butter and almost 1-baguette's worth of stale bread (in cubes). The butter helped to make the soup more velvety and the bread thickened the soup quickly and gave it a more rib-sticking consistency. After a few more minutes for everything to come together, I hauled out my handy wand blender and made a purée. It was delish (although I realized afterwards that I hadn't added any salt yet).

But the big event that night was the mushrooms. I enlisted DJ's help to clean and slice about 1/3 of the mushrooms from both batches (i.e. about 300grams of each). I put them all in a dry pan over low heat and covered them until they rendered all of their liquor. Then, I turned up the heat and sautéed them in their own juices, with a bit of margarine to help things along (sorry, I ran out of butter). Near the end, I added a sprinking of flour to thicken things and a handful of finely chopped cilantro. Again, delicious. In retrospect, the juice of 1 lemon would've been a nice way to cut through the creaminess of the dish.

So we ate like kings and stuffed ourselves silly, but we also drank quite a bit. We had cognac as an apéritif (even though it's more a digestif), then a bottle of Blanc-Typé wine from the Jura region (tasted like non-sweet sherry), then a bottle of bordeaux (forget the domaine), and then several additional servings of cognac as a digestif. If it says anything, we started eating around 8pm and DJ didn't leave my apartment until 4am.

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