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.
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.
A rustic and healthy lasagne that feels like Autumn in Italy
- For the mushrooms~
- 1.5 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup diced sweet onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground pepper
- For the béchamel~
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- For the lasagna~
- 3/4 pounds no-boil lasagna sheets
- 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- fresh parsley leaves
- Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan with olive oil
- 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
- Rinse mushrooms in cool water and roughly chop
- In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic and cook for two minutes or until onion is translucent
- Add porcini's, their liquid and wine, cooking covered, but not completely, until liquid has almost evaporated.
- Increase heat to medium high
- Add crimini mushrooms, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until juices from the crimini’s evaporate
- Take off heat and set aside
- Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan
- Add the shallot and cook until fragrant, about two minutes
- Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble, but not brown.
- Whisk in the milk slowly and stir constantly until mixture thickens
- Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Strain mixture directly into pan with the mushrooms, reserving about four tablespoons of bechamel
- Stir until incorporated and set aside
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil
- Add about 4 lasagne sheets and boil for about two minutes. These will be used for the top layer only.
- Remove from water and lay to drain on flat surface
- Spread the reserved béchamel on bottom of lasagne pan
- Top with a layer of uncooked lasagne sheets
- Add a generous layer of mushroom mixture followed by a layer of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Repeat layering of lasagne sheets, mushroom mixture and cheese until you have enough room for one more layer
- Place partially cooked lasagne sheets on top and cover with the remaining mushroom mixture and cheese
- Sprinkle top with parsley
- 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
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
- Remove foil and bake an additional ten minutes or until top is golden browned
- Remove from heat and let sit for ten minutes before cutting and serving
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/