Un Bacio in Cucina

a photographic exploration of Italian food, culture & wine

Tag: autumn

Wedding Photography in Portland, Maine

As a food photographer I shoot food, product and packaging but on occasion an opportunity arises that I’ll be hired as a second photographer for a wedding. That was my day yesterday. A nice change of pace, and a jump start into the busy season.
The wedding and reception took place in Portland, Maine at one of the venues at 58 Fore Street, at The Portland Company marine complex. The event space was stunningly rustic but romantic with exposed blue tinged brick, high ceilings, wrought iron beams, oh, and a beautiful view of the harbor. Industrial meets elegance is the best way to describe it.
The setting for the actual wedding was outside on the banks of the harbor on the Eastern Promenade and the bride and groom arrived to awaiting guests on the old Maine Narrow Gauge railroad which, in itself, is a fun time for a photographer. It was a beautiful day with patchy clouds and slightly overcast which is the perfect diffusion for eliminating those harsh shadows. What a fantastic way to spend a day in Portland, Maine. Stay tuned for a few images..I don’t publish every event I shoot on my website so If you’d like to see more of my weddings, including some images of my first Italian wedding in Rome, Italy, and other non food industry events, here is the link to those images.

Mushroom Lasagne

Mushroom Lasagne

Two summers ago I spent a month in Tuscany, Italy photographing several wineries and a bed and breakfast outside of Siena. It was September and I remember waking up and feeling the subtle transition from the summer heat and humidity to a crispy coolness in the air, a sign that Fall was on it’s way.  I also remember the sacks of porcini mushrooms the family that I stayed with used to bring home and the aroma that filled the kitchen as they prepared delicious meals using those fresh mushrooms. I was more than grateful to be invited to the dinner table and learn a few tricks in the kitchen. Recently, I’ve been feeling that same crispy, cool air as the weather is transitioning in Maine and New Hampshire as I daydream of that golden time in Italy.
I get inspired this time of year to make something with fresh mushrooms just so I can relive that experience I had.  A fresh mushroom lasagne seemed appropriate and a definite crowdpleaser. Although I can’t get those fresh porcini’s here in the US, the dried ones seem to do the trick. I used more porcini’s and add a bit of butter because I love how the butter helps bring out the richness in the mushrooms.
When served with a salad of greens and tomatoes this is a simple and delicious meal that will ease you right into Fall.

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A rustic and healthy lasagne that feels like Autumn in Italy

Mushroom Lasagne
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. For the mushrooms~
  2. 1.5 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  3. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon butter
  5. 1/3 cup diced sweet onion
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. ½ cup red wine
  8. 1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  9. Salt
  10. 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  11. 1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  12. Freshly ground pepper
  13. For the béchamel~
  14. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  15. 2 tablespoon butter
  16. 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  17. 3 tablespoons flour
  18. 2 cups milk
  19. 1/4 tsp salt
  20. freshly ground pepper
  21. For the lasagna~
  22. 3/4 pounds no-boil lasagna sheets
  23. 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  24. fresh parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan with olive oil
  3. Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water for about 30 minutes. Drain, making sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the mushrooms while reserving the porcini broth
  4. Rinse mushrooms in cool water and roughly chop
  5. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  6. Add onion and garlic and cook for two minutes or until onion is translucent
  7. Add porcini's, their liquid and wine, cooking covered, but not completely, until liquid has almost evaporated.
  8. Increase heat to medium high
  9. Add crimini mushrooms, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until juices from the crimini’s evaporate
  10. Take off heat and set aside
  11. Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan
  12. Add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about two minutes
  13. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble, but not brown.
  14. Whisk in the milk slowly and stir constantly until mixture thickens
  15. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.
  16. Strain mixture directly into pan with the mushrooms, reserving about four tablespoons of bechamel
  17. Stir until incorporated and set aside
  18. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil
  19. Add about 4 lasagne sheets and boil for about two minutes. These will be used for the top layer only.
  20. Remove from water and lay to drain on flat surface
  21. Spread the reserved béchamel on bottom of lasagne pan
  22. Top with a layer of uncooked lasagne sheets
  23. Add a generous layer of mushroom mixture followed by a layer of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  24. Repeat layering of lasagne sheets, mushroom mixture and cheese until you have enough room for one more layer
  25. Place partially cooked lasagne sheets on top and cover with the remaining mushroom mixture and cheese
  26. Sprinkle top with parsley
  27. Be sure to cover all corners and exposed sheets with sauce so they will cook thoroughly. If you like some crunch to the top layer you can leave some areas exposed
  28. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
  29. Remove foil and bake an additional ten minutes or until top is golden browned
  30. Remove from heat and let sit for ten minutes before cutting and serving
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/

Pea Shoot Soup

How many times have you bought pea shoots for garnish or a sandwich and ended up having them go bad in the refrigerator? I’m guilty of that. I bought a bunch recently to use as a garnish for a styled image I was working on and didn’t want them to go to waste. It was cold outside, a bit snowy, and thought a soup would be nice. What harm could pea shoots do in a soup? Well, let me tell you, some broth, veggies and pea shoots created an incredibly delicious soup that warmed the body and soul.  Since they can be stringy and not very easy to eat in a soup it made sense to blend everything together to make a puree. I also had a lot of radishes leftover from a shoot. I wanted to use them as garnish and put a bowl in the styled set up but the bright red color just didn’t resonate with my vision. I decided to roast the radishes. Contrary to what people believe, they can be roasted. The peppery flavor is more subtle and a hint of sweetness comes through. The roasting ended up muting the red color giving it exactly what I was envisioning. The perfect understated pop of color to compliment the rest of the image.
Here is a quick and easy recipe you can make any day of the week with a few simple and healthy ingredients.

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Pea Shoot Soup
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups organic low sodium chicken broth
  2. 1 red potato, cut in quarters
  3. 1/4 t salt, optional
  4. 1/2 vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
  5. 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  6. 2 T olive oil (not high quality)
  7. 2 cups pea shoots, reserving some for garnish
  8. 10 radishes
  9. Extra virgin olive oil, good quality
Instructions
  1. Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan the chicken broth, potato and salt.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover almost completely, until potato is tender.
  3. In a small frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent and a bit browned. Set aside.
  4. While potato is cooking turn on oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Cut stems off of radishes, rinse and toss with some olive oil.
  6. Arrange on cookie sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
  7. Once potato is tender, add pea shoots and onion mixture to saucepan and simmer for ten minutes.
  8. Pour mixture into a blender and puree, leaving the blender lid slightly off to allow steam to escape.
  9. Pour mixture in bowl, garnish with sliced radishes and pea shoots and drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  10. Serve with brown rice in soup or on the side.
Notes
  1. Take care when pureeing mixture in blender as contents is very hot and can splash out if not careful.
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/
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