Simply TrufflesRecipes and Stories That Capture the Essence of the Black Diamond



In her landmark cookbook, Simply Truffles, celebrated author and renowned cooking school teacher Patricia Wells shares the secrets behind the mysterious black truffle—offering foodies, culinary students, Francophiles, and everyone who loves French cooking a wealth of truffle lore, wine pairings, lush, full-color photographs, and more than fifty outstanding recipes, all good enough to stand on their own, with or without truffles. From Creamy Polenta with Truffles and Poached Eggs to Truffled Croque Monsieur to Pecorino-Romano and Truffle Pizza, Simply Truffles is more than just a cookbook—it’s a complete guide to one of the world’s rarest delicacies.

Website: Simply Truffles

Celebrated journalist, author, and teacher Patricia Wells reveals the secrets behind the legendary truffle in this charming cookbook—featuring lush color photographs and sixty delectable recipes

 

What delicacy is more revered or less understood than the black truffle? Its scent is heady, its flavor sublime, and lovers of truffles are just as fascinated by the history, lore, and mystique of truffle-hunting as they are eager to eat the truffles themselves. Patricia Wells explores the subject in depth, explaining how to capture the true flavors of this rarity, examining what to do with a single truffle, expanding and embellishing its extraordinary aroma, texture, flavor, and pure gastronomic pleasure. Drawing upon twenty-five years of hands-on research in Provence, the modern world’s capital of the black truffle, she offers sixty tried-and-true, well-tested recipes that capture the truffle’s exceptional and complex flavor.

 

Enjoy Creamy Polenta with Truffles and Poached Eggs for a weekend brunch. Dine on Seared Duck Breast with Truffled Sauce Poulette or Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Broth. For casual entertaining, try Pecorino-Romano and Truffle Pizza. And for a wonderful cold winter evening, whip up a batch of Pumpkin Soup with Truffle Cream, Curry, Pumpkin Seed Oil, and Truffles.

 

In addition to her recipes, Wells provides a range of menu suggestions and wine pairings, perfect for serving food with just a hint of truffle flavor or preparing a holiday feast for friends and family. The story and folklore behind the pursuit of truffles round out this extensive cookbook—perfect for connoisseurs and novices alike.

Patricia Wells is a journalist, author, and teacher who runs a popular cooking school—At Home with Patricia Wells—in Paris and Provence. Simply Truffles is her thirteenth book. She won the James Beard Award for The Provence Cookbook, Patricia Wells at Home in Provence, and Simply French. Also nominated for Beard Awards were Vegetable Harvest and The Paris Cookbook. With her husband, Walter, she is also the author of We’ve Always Had Paris . . . and Provence. The French government has honored her as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, recognizing her contribution to French culture. A former New York Times reporter, she is the only foreigner and only woman to serve as restaurant critic for a major French publication, L’Express. For more than twenty-five years she was the global restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune. Questions What have you been doing since you published your last book, The Provence Cookbook? Oh my goodness. Tons of cooking classes, of course. I’ve been writing and testing the recipes for Vegetable Harvest, trips to Italy for a new class I will be doing in Venice, lots of cooking, eating, restaurant research, good times with friends. And lots of running! What made you want to write Vegetable Harvest, a cookbook completely devoted to vegetables? Actually the book is not completely devoted to vegetables, but puts them, as we say, at the center of the plate. I realized that more and more we ate more vegetables and less and less meat, poultry and more and more grains. So I put that to a test with this book. My students respond very well to the recipes so I am elated. How is your training going for the New York City Marathon? And, what was your impetus for taking on this fantastic challenge? I began running in 1968 in boys’ basketball shoes. Before Nike! I always ran but in 2000 went to the Golden Door spa and realized that I had all the inspiration and motivation but not all the information. That led me to do more cross training (weight training mostly) and also taught me to get my heartbeat up higher so it increased my metabolism and helped me burn more calories. Now that I am facing 60 I need that increased metabolism more than ever! The training has been good, hard of course. I have trained mostly by myself since, alas, I don’t have a running buddy but I have made the most of it. When I ran four hours last Sunday in the Luxembourg Gardens I realized that a park is a great place for a long solo run, since there is so much good people watching! Assuming the weather is good, and it was!

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“Patricia Wells may be the highest American authority on French food since Julia Child.”
—People

“[Wells] knows the edible landscape better than anybody.”
—Los Angeles Times

“If you have that truffle craving and are not the recipient of a fat trust fund, you’re better off buying a truffle and cooking it yourself. . . . Patricia Wells comes to the rescue. . . . . A powerhouse cooking teacher and cookbook author.”

— LATimes.com

RECIPES: TRUFFLED CROQUE MONSIEUR,

GOAT CHEESE CANNELLONI WITH MORELS AND TRUFFLES

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TRUFFLED CROQUE MONSIEUR

This “everyday” French sandwich with truffles was popularized by chef Michel Rostang and remains a part of his spectacular truffle menus each winter in Paris. I also sampled a more rustic—and equally spectacular—version of this opener at one of my favorite Paris restaurants, Bistrot Paul Bert, where owner Bertrand Auboyneau always surprises us with new and unexpected treats.

 

8 servings

Equipment: A small jar with a lid; a mandoline or a very sharp knife

1 fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce; 30 g), cleaned

8 thin slices Brioche

1 tablespoon (15 g) Truffle Butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon (15 g) Clarified Butter (recipe follows)

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle. Mince the truffle peelings, place them in the jar, and tighten the lid. Reserve the peelings for another use. With the mandoline or very sharp knife, cut the truffle into very thin slices. The truffle should yield about 20 slices.

2. Butter one side of each slice of brioche with the truffle butter. Arrange 4 slices of brioche, buttered side up, side by side on a platter. Arrange 4 or 5 truffle slices side by side on top of each slice of brioche. Place another slice of buttered brioche, buttered side down, on top of each layer of truffles, to make a sandwich. Wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

3. At serving time, in a large skillet, melt the clarified butter and oil over medium heat. Add the sandwiches, in batches if necessary, and brown the bread on both sides until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cut each croque monsieur in half. Serve immediately.

 

CLARIFIED BUTTER

What is clarified butter? And why bother? Clarified butter is butter that has the milk solids and water removed. This gives it a much higher smoking point than regular butter and lets you cook at a higher temperature without burning. Without the milk solids, clarified butter can also be kept fresher longer than non-clarified butter. I use it, often in conjunction with a touch of oil, when cooking foods that I want to sauté at a high heat without burning, such as the Truffled Croque Monsieur.

 

About 6 tablespoons (3 ounces; 90 g)

Equipment: A double boiler or a microwave oven; a fine-mesh sieve; dampened cheesecloth

8 tablespoons (4 ounces; 120 g) unsalted butter

 

1. If you are using the double boiler, cut the butter into small pieces and place them in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. When the butter has melted, raise the heat to moderate and let the butter simmer until it stops crackling, an indication that the butter is beginning to “fry.” Remove from the heat and let the residue settle to the bottom of the pan: there should be a layer of milk solids on the bottom and a layer of foam on top. If you are using the microwave, place the butter in a 1 1/2-quart (1.5 l) microwave-safe dish. (Do not use a smaller container or the butter will splatter all over the oven.) Cover loosely with paper towels. Microwave at full power for 2 ½ minutes. Remove from the oven and let the residue settle to the bottom of the dish: there should be a layer of milk solids on the bottom and a layer of foam on top.

2. With a spoon, skim off and discard the top layer of foam. Line the sieve with the dampened cheesecloth, and slowly strain the melted butter into a container; discard the milky solids that remain. (Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)

 

Wine Suggestion: A medium-bodied white wine is in order here. While one could splurge on Château de Beaucastel’s stunning Châteauneuf-du-Pape, we are never disappointed to sip the same winemaker’s simple white Perrin & Fils Côtes-du-Rhône Réserve Blanc, a crisp, finely acidic, and refreshing blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc.

GOAT CHEESE CANNELLONI WITH MORELS AND TRUFFLES

This pasta creation is hugely popular in our home. It is an updated version of one I sampled years ago in the dining room of the Hotel Lancaster in Paris. Here I’ve kept the same dreamy goat’s milk cheese filling, but now I serve it topped with my “all-purpose” truffle sauce and morel mushrooms. It’s a good dish for entertaining, for both the pasta and the sauce can be prepared several hours in advance and heated for just 20 minutes before serving. The recipe is long and may look daunting, but it is not complicated. And once you’ve prepared it, you will come back to this, as I do, time and again.

 

4 servings

Equipment: Dampened cheesecloth; a 10-quart pasta pot fitted with a colander; four 6-inch porcelain gratin dishes; a baking sheet.

6 ounces (180 g) fresh goat’s milk cheese

2 large ultra-fresh eggs, preferably organic and free range, at room temperature, lightly beaten (see Note)

Grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably organic

Fine sea salt

1 ½ ounces (45 g) dried morel mushrooms

A 12-inch (30 cm) square sheet of fresh pasta (about 2 ½ ounces; 75 g)

3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

About ½ cup (125 ml) Truffle, Morel, and Cream Sauce

1 fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce; 30 g each), cleaned

 

1. Place the cheese on a large plate. Cover it with the eggs and lemon zest. Mash with a fork until the mixture has a thick, smooth consistency. Taste for seasoning. (The filling can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)

2. Place the morels in a colander and rinse well under cold running water to rid them of any grit. Transfer them to a heatproof 1-quart (1 l) measuring cup or bowl. Pour 2 cups (500 ml) of the hottest possible tap water over the mushrooms. Set aside for 20 minutes to plump them up.

3. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

4. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the mushrooms from the liquid, leaving behind any grit that may have fallen to the bottom.

5. Place the dampened cheesecloth in a colander set over a large bowl. Carefully spoon the morel soaking liquid into the colander, leaving behind any grit at the bottom of the measuring cup. (The liquid can be used to prepare the Truffle, Morel, and Cream Sauce.)

6. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Arrange 3 large kitchen towels on the counter, for draining the pasta.

7. Cut the sheet of pasta into sixteen 3-inch (7.5 cm) squares.

8. Fill the pasta pot with 8 quarts (8 l) of water and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt. Drop in as many squares of pasta as will comfortably float in the water. Cook for about 30 seconds, removing the squares with a slotted spoon while still very al dente. Transfer them to the ice water. Once all the squares are cooked, swish them around in the ice water, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to the kitchen towels, arranging them in a single layer.

9. Place the gratin dishes side by side on the baking sheet.

10. Lift a square of pasta off the towel and turn it over. (This helps ensure that the pasta does not stick to the towel as the cannelloni are prepared.) With a small spoon, spread about 2 teaspoons of the filling evenly along the bottom third of the square. Do not fill all the way to the edges, or the filling may leak. Carefully roll the pasta—jelly-roll fashion—into a cylinder and place it in a gratin dish, seam side down. Prepare the remaining cannelloni, arranging 4 rolled cannelloni side by side in each gratin dish. Sprinkle with the cheese.

11. Cover each gratin dish securely with foil, to prevent the pasta from drying out as it cooks. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the cannelloni are bubbling, about 20 minutes.

12. While the pasta cooks, prepare the truffle. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle. Mince the truffle peelings for another use. Cut the truffle into thick slices, then into matchsticks.

13. Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and garnish each serving with the morels and several tablespoons of the sauce. Garnish with truffle matchsticks. Serve.

 

NOTE: To infuse the eggs with truffle aroma and flavor, store a whole fresh truffle and the eggs (in their shells) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 1 week.

 

WINE SUGGESTION: One festive evening in June, we hosted a dinner party on the night of a full moon, dining beneath the pergola in the garden. In celebration of friendship, the brilliant setting sun, and the golden rising moon, I chose a decade-old white Châteauneufdu- Pâpe from the Clos du Caillou vineyard. It was liquid gold, a fittingly elegant, crisp, acidic, mushroom-friendly wine.

 

Recipes from SIMPLY TRUFFLES, reprinted with permission from William Morrow

Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Wells

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