I've started reading a new children's novel called "Okay For Now" by Gary D. Schmidt, author of a Newbery Honor for his book "The Wednesday Wars". You know when you are holding an award winning book, the writing is exceptional and you find you care about the characters and are absorbed in the story. The descriptive writing in "Okay For Now" has me feeling a little jealous, to be able to paint a picture and hold readers attention is a real gift. It felt good to be absorbed in a book again.
Naturally all that reading made me hungry, so I went in search of a snack. Now if you think that this asparagus and mushroom dish was my snack, you would be mistaken, no, I was in the mood for something sweet. Which I found in the form of cake, making me really glad I did all that cooking earlier this year and put some of it in the freezer for later. June is my busiest month at the library with all the summer programs and well-deserved vacations to cover. Of course, enjoying parsnip spice cake and a good book got me to thinking about another recipe I made recently that I am guilty of not sharing, Roasted Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Fricassee.
When searching through my pantry I found some wild mushrooms that I decided would go well in this fricassee. Now a fricassee by definition should have a white sauce and most have meat, but this fricassee is a vegetarian version with a lighter sauce. The original recipe came from an April 2001 Bon Appétit magazine and I made a few changes to suit my pantry. I used dried wild mushrooms, soaked until reconstituted, rather than fresh, and added a dry red wine. I happened to have some fresh tarragon, a rare event, so I used that and found it to be a perfect match.
~From the Sense of Home Kitchen, adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2001~
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
0.5-ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced, liquid reserved
0.5-ounce dried oyster mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced, liquid reserved
0.5-ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced, liquid reserved
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
To reconstitute the mushrooms:
Wash the dried mushrooms to remove any grit. Boil a small-sized pot of water, remove from heat, then soak the dried mushrooms in the water for 20 to 30 minutes as it cools. Remove mushrooms and reserve liquid, slice.
Roasting the asparagus:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange asparagus on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle oil over and turn to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup reserved mushroom liquid. Cover; cook until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add wine and dried parsley and cook uncovered until the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in fresh tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide asparagus, top with mushrooms and serve.