Carla Tomasi is one of the few humans I name on the cellphone. She is also the person that, more than anybody, has taught me about cooking greens. There is a very good hazard that she will have her hands inside the soil of her marvellous vegetable garden when I name; her cellphone flips to voicemail, then she calls back. Today, it was the soil inside the pots lining her protected veranda because the rain pummelled her thirsty lawn close to Ostia, about 30km outdoor Rome. The flowers were given some welcome rain, and I got a welcome recipe for her mushroom and potato bake, which I wrote on a Post-It word and stuck to my desk about a month in the past; the fluorescent yellow answer just waiting for the perennial question: “What shall we’ve got for dinner?”
Some recipes require precision, even as others require generously defined principles and exact recommendation – and this is usually the case with Carla’s vegetable dishes, and especially her potato and mushroom bake.
The mushrooms are the heart of the matter, in order that they need to be nicely pro and complete of flavor. The kind of potato subjects here: they shouldn’t be too floury or waxy. Desiree is perfect, Carla notes in the course of our smartphone call, the heavy rain punctuating our communique like a crossed line. It is important to slice the potatoes thinly; I do that on the slice aspect of a box grater, three mouth-like slats being the nearest factor I even have, and indeed need, to a mandoline. Unless you are cautious, box-grater slats hardly ever produce complete slices however rather half of and three-sector moons, which can be high-quality.
This is right eaten hot, even higher simply heat. At room temperature, it becomes greater compact, with the cheese performing as a flavorsome glue, making it simpler to slice. Serve with a inexperienced salad, purple-wine French dressing and some braised spring vegetables (peas, vast beans, and courgettes perhaps). This is the form of cooking I like: ordinary ingredients prepare with fashion. It’s cooking that doesn’t require too much precision, however, benefits from care – and some proper advice from a pal.
Carla’s potato and mushroom bake
After the step , you may nicely be tempted to pile the mushrooms – something the Italians talk over with as funghi trifolati – directly to a chunk of toast or stir thru pasta – each of which is extraordinary.
Prep and soak 30 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves four as a prime, 6 as a starter
A few dried porcini, soaked for a half-hour in 100ml warm water.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1kg potatoes – all rounders, no longer too floury or waxy
60g parmesan, grated
Soak the porcini in 100ml warm water for half of an hour. Butter the lowest and facets of a shallow 25cm cake tin. Put a circle of baking parchment in the backside and butter that, too. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas four
Slice the mushrooms. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil, a walnut of butter, and the garlic, then upload the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. As they cook and exude juice, boost the warmth a bit in order that by the time the mushrooms are tender and collapsed, there is only a little liquid remaining. Drain and chop the porcini and upload to the pan, in conjunction with the parsley.
Peel and slice the potatoes thinly – I do this at the reducing aspect of a field grater. Put in a bowl, season with salt and two tablespoons of olive oil, then toss.
Arrange half the potato inside the backside of the tin as smartly or swiftly as you want. Cover with the mushrooms and nearly all of the grated parmesan. Then cover with the rest of the potatoes, press down, and dot with butter. Cut a round of baking parchment and press on top to make a cowl.
Bake at the lowest of the oven for 10 mins, move to the center of the oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven as much as 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for the closing 10 mins of cooking, to get a golden backside.
Remove from the oven, set apart for 10 mins, then run a palette knife around the brink to loosen the bake. Now invert it on to a plate and pull away the parchment.
The backside – now the pinnacle – should be golden and crusty. If it isn’t, sprinkle with a touch more grated parmesan and slide beneath the grill for a couple of minutes so it bubbles and browns.