Mushroom Hankerchiefs

Wild Mushroom Handkerchiefs

8 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini, hedgehogs and black trumpets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup chicken stock
Pasta Dough (recipe follows)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 handfuls curly cress
Lemon juice to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Carefully clean mushrooms by brushing them, or, if they are very dirty, quickly swish them in warm water, then immediately drain and blot dry. Trim ends and chop mushrooms into coarse quarters and slices.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and black pepper; sautee up to 6 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

In the same pan; melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and saute onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add thyme, garlic, salt to taste and cooked mushrooms. Reduce heat; cook 5 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche and chicken stock. Simmer 3 minutes or until slightly reduced but still quite juicy. Taste; adjust seasoning if necessary.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Prepare a cold-water bath. Cut pasta into 8 (4 1/2-inch) squares. Cook a few squares at a time in a large amount of salted boiling water until barely al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to cold-water bath for a few seconds, then drain and lay squares flat in one layer on a clean cloth.

Butter four 6-inch earthenware baking dishes. Place 2 cooked pasta squares side by side into the bottom of each dish, overlapping them slightly at the center so pasta edges hang over the sides. Divide mushroom sauce among 4 dishes. Fold pasta edges loosely back toward the center over the sauce, leaving a wrinkled, dimpled surface. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake until edges and peaks of pasta are crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly dress cress with salt, a few drops of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Carefully slip pasta out of the baking dishes onto 4 plates; pour any remaining juice onto the top. Tuck curly cress around each portion.

Makes 4 servings as a first course.

Pasta Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed

Mix flour and salt together; place in a mound on a work surface. In a bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and 1 tablespoon water together. Make a well in the center of the flour; pour in the egg mixture. Begin stirring eggs with a fork, slowly incorporating flour from inner rim of the well. When mixture has thickened, use a dough scraper to scrape board and combine all of the ingredients.

Slowly begin kneading the dough, using a pushing and squeezing motion. (Alternatively, mix the dough in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, using the paddle attachment.) Mixture should appear fairly dry and crumbly. If it is too crumbly, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If dough is slightly sticky, slowly incorporate more flour as you knead. Dough should contain just enough moisture to bind the flour.

Knead dough until it has absorbed all of the flour and you can form it into a rough ball. It will not yet appear smooth and elastic; additional kneading will be done with the pasta machine. Flatten dough ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 4 to 5 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Flatten 1 piece of the dough with a rolling pin and pass it through the rollers of a pasta machine at its widest setting. Sprinkle resulting sheet of dough lightly with flour; fold it into thirds. Press dough down with your fingertips; pass it through the rollers again. Repeat rolling and folding process at the same setting until dough is very smooth. Wrap dough tightly in plastic; let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat with second piece of dough. Dough is now ready to be stretched.

Adjust rollers to the next setting and pass the dough through successively narrower settings (it should be very thin), sprinkling it very lightly with flour if necessary. Test for thickness by cooking a piece of pasta in salted boiling water.

Makes 1 pound.

From Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.

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