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Tag Archives: Truffles

Types of Bottled Truffle Produce


I love truffles, they enhance the pleasure of eating for so many different dishes. Unfortunately, it is impractical to keep fresh truffles around at home just so you can shave some onto your food whenever the need arises. That’s not to say truffles can’t be used in home cooking. Bottled or Jarred Truffle Produce can be kept in the fridge for a long time, they capture the aroma and flavor of truffles nicely and there is a variety of such products to choose from, including Truffle Paste, Truffle Sauce, Truffle Cream and Truffle Mustard.     

Rudimentary Naming Conventions for TrufflesTruffle 1000

  1. White Truffle is the more expensive variety, as they can only be found in the wild using specially trained pigs or dogs. The best White Truffles come from Piedmont in Italy. These are also called Summer or Alba Truffles.
  2. Black Truffles are less, but still expensive. They cost less as they can be cultivated, albeit with some effort. It’s debatable if they are really inferior to the White Truffle. Maybe they cost less simply because they are more common. The best Black Truffles come from Perigord in France, so Black Truffles are sometimes called Perigord Truffles, and also Winter Truffles.
  3. Both Black and White Truffles can be found beyond the borders of Italy and France, but these are generally considered to be inferior cousins to the Alba and Perigord.
  4. ‘Tartufo’ is Italian for truffle, ‘Tartufi’ the plural and ‘Tartufata’ is Italian for truffle product. If you see any of these on the bottle, it is a product of Italy. ‘Truffe’ is French for truffles. If you see this on the label, this means the bottle is from France.
  5. The truffle percentage content is an indicator of quality, and it varies greatly from product to product. Always determine the country of origin and check the truffle percentage content before buying any bottled truffle produce.

Basic Guidelines for Cooking with Truffles

  1. Heat dissipates the aromatics of truffles and since truffles are 80% aroma and 20% taste, cooking truffles is tantamount to not having truffles in the first place. Thus one only adds the truffles after  the cooking is done.
  2. Truffles go with savoury foods. Macaroni and cheese for example tastes great with truffles. Pasta in a consommé reduction is another viable pairing with truffles. Sour and sweet foods are the opposite. So truffles don’t work with tomato based sauces, vinegar, red wine reductions or anything with fresh or preserved fruits.
  3. Don’t use fragrant ingredients that compete with the truffles for the centre stage. Garlic, raw celery and onions, sardines, smoked meats, blue cheese, BBQ sauce are all foods to avoid with truffles. Mild foods on the other hand serve as the perfect medium for truffles. Some examples are scrambled, steamed or poached eggs, butter, brioche, mushrooms, potatoes and cream soups.

Truffle Paste (Pate)Truffle Pate

This is bottled truffle produce of the highest quality and needless to say it is also the most expensive. According to the label at the back of the jar, it is 70% truffles by weight with the remainder being mostly olive oil and truffle juice. Truffle Paste has the most intense aroma, and luxurious taste and texture.

As you might expect something this expensive would be from France and will usually contain the phrase ‘Pâte de Truffe’ on the jar. Actually it is not really a paste, but more a suspension of truffle bits in oil. Do not get misled by the term pâte, pâte does not need to contain foie gras or liver; this is pâte made from truffles.

Use this when the truffle is meant to be a topping, akin to caviar, say like when served on a blini. In other words your intention is to taste the truffle directly in a concentrated dose, as opposed to mixing it into some food. Of course if cost is of no concern to you, then use it all the time by all means.

Truffle Sauce (Salsa)Truffle Salsa

Truffle Sauce is a less concentrated version of bottled truffle more suitable for every day use and gram for gram it is perhaps only a tenth of the price of Truffle Paste. It is more common in Italy, and the label will usually say “Salsa Tartufata” or “Salsa di Tartufo”, but not always. Sometimes it is also ‘mislabelled’ as a pate (see the top picture, a truffle pate from Italy is actually a sauce). Typically the truffle content of Truffle Sauce is somewhere in the 3-5% region, with most of the rest of the solids in the bottle being minced mushrooms. Don’t look down on Truffle Sauce, it still packs a punch with its truffle aroma.

If you are stirring truffle into your scrambled eggs, pasta or a cream of mushroom soup, this is probably the type of truffle product you’d use. I also use for truffle mayonnaise. Truffle Sauce is also an ideal gift to bring to a casual home dinner, instead of that boring bottle of wine.

Truffle CreamTruffle Cream

Truffle Cream is in the same quality category as Truffle Sauce and also tends to be an Italian product. The truffle content will be around the same, that is to say 3-5%, but it is typically (but not always) light coloured and has a more creamy texture. In Italian the label is similar to Truffle Sauce except the word ‘Salsa’ is replaced with ‘Sapor’ or ‘Crema’. ‘Sapor’ means flavour or taste. You are also more likely to see labels in plain English as it is produced in various Commonwealth countries too. Unlike Truffle Paste and Sauce, Truffle Cream contains more than just truffles, mushrooms and oil. If you have a look at the nutrition information you’ll see additional ingredients like vegetable extracts, herbs, spices and emulsifiers.

One of the best ways to use Truffle Cream is to mix it into a cream sauce like hollandaise or béarnaise. Another is mashed potatoes. In general, the time to use Truffle Cream is with light coloured food. This way you get the taste and aroma of truffles but not dark flecks of truffle, and your guests will be pleasantly surprised.

Truffle MustardTruffle Mustard

The truffle content of Truffle Mustard is usually not stated but I can’t imagine it to be much given its price. Its even cheaper than Truffle Sauce and Cream. It tends to be French in origin and the label might say something like ‘Moutarde a la Truffe’.

This type of truffle product is best just as a condiment with steak, roast pork and game birds. Not so much with lamb or chicken. Basically it as a really expensive mustard, so use it as such.

Truffle Oil

Truffle Oil is the least desirable kind of truffle product and I really don’t recommend it, which is why I don’t have any on hand to take a photo of. I suppose you could use it for salads. It contains very little truffle and is not value for money. If you insist on buying Truffle Oil look for bottles with a few flakes of truffle in them for many actually contain no truffle at all and are purely artificially flavoured.

Please note I am not endorsing any of the brands featured here. These bottles are just what I happened to have in the fridge at the time.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in French, Ingredients, Italian

 

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Eggs Scrambled with Truffle and Morels


(serves 3-4)
Scrambled Eggs are quite mild in flavour but have a nice runny texture when cooked properly. They go well with Truffles as they don’t compete with the intense aroma of Truffles. They also go great with Morel Mushrooms which complement the eggs with a delicate yet distinct flavour. Put all three together and you have the perfect food to satisfy the most refined palate.
Scrambled Eggs is one of the fastest and easiest appetizers to make once you have mastered the technique, and if you are planning a long formal dinner, this dish will afford you the time to focus on your other courses.  

IngredientsScrambled Eggs 1000

  1. Eggs (4 Large)
  2. Truffle and Mushroom Salsa (5t)
  3. Milk (200 ml)
  4. Dried Morel (15g)
  5. Butter
  6. Coriander Seed Powder

Preparation

  1. Soak the Morel Mushroom in the milk for at least one hour. You can also soak it overnight in the fridge. 15g of dried morels is about 1 cup in volume.
  2. Beat 4 large eggs in a bowl.
  3. Strain the morel-flavoured milk into the eggs. Lightly squeeze the morels caught in the strainer to release more liquid.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to egg-milk mixture and beat until you have a consistent colour.
  5. Melt 2T of butter in a pan. Pan fry the morels for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
  6. Pick out the morels and keep them for later use. Sprinkle 0.5t of coriander seed powder into the butter left in the pan.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the pan and begin cooking with very low heat. Keep stirring to constantly remove any cooked films of egg from the bottom of the pan.
  8. When you see the egg doesn’t flow to fill up any spaces made empty by your stirring, turn off the fire immediately. Add a light sprinkle of white pepper and 2t of truffle salsa and continue to stir until the pan cools a bit more.
  9. Plate the scrambled eggs, arranging the morel mushrooms on top. You can use either a soup dish or a martini glass. Top off with 1 addition t of truffle salsa for each serving.

 Notes

  • You can also use Truffle Paste instead of Truffle Salsa if you like. For more information on Bottled Truffle Produce check out my Truffle Products page .
  • You need to stir with an implement that has a flat edge, such as a flat wooden spatula. Don’t use anything rounded as you won’t be able to scrape the cooked egg off the pan bottom.
  • You cannot add pepper or coriander seed powder to the raw egg mixture directly as it will tend to clump together immediately. Salt is ok as it melts.
  • The place where the amateur typically fails in this dish is over cooking their scrambled eggs. They have to be cooked until they have the consistency of semi-melted ice cream and no further. If the egg clumps together into clean pieces, its over done. If you have a problem keeping the heat down, you can intermittently turn the heat off to control the cooking process better.  
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Appetizers, Italian, Recipe

 

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Farfalle in Oxtail Reduction, with Truffle


(serves 6 – appetizer size)
Ever come across that rare pasta dish that doesn’t use tomatoes, cheese, cream, olive oil or bits of meat? This is it. Its sauce is a high-gelatine reduction of oxtail consommé. Despite its simple appearance, I consider this to be one of my consummate pasta recipes. It has the full flavour of meat, but no meat itself and to round it off, the pasta is lightly topped with a few slices of truffle to give it the perfect aroma. It might take some time to prepare this dish, but its not technically difficult and it will be well worth the effort.

Ingredients

  1. Oxtail (800g)
  2. Dried Red Dates (20)
  3. Truffles Slices in Oil (60g bottle)
  4. Farfalle (300g)
  5. Fennel Seeds (1T)
  6. Thyme  
  7. Oxo Beef Cubes (2)
  8. Brandy

Preparation 

  1. Make deep slits across the white connective tissue to expose the meat beneath. Place the oxtail in a pot and top off with boiling water till the meat is just covered. Use a pot where all your oxtail can fit in without stacking, but keep it as small as possible to minimize the amount of water.
  2. Apply low heat and keep at a slow simmer for 1 hour followed by 2 hours of gradual cooling while covered. Top off with water occasionally to keep the oxtail covered. Repeat the simmer/cooling a seond time. 
  3. Add the red dates and do the simmer/cooling a third time, but this time don’t top up with water. If you add all that up, the minimum cooking time is 9 hours. It would be best if you let the oxtail cool overnight while you sleep in one of the cycles.

    nothing but oxtail, red dates, water and lots of simmering

  4. When the meat is finally shrinking away from the bone (see photo), remove all the solids from the pot. In a bowl dissolve 2 Oxo beef cubes and 1t sugar in half a cup of hot water. Add this beef stock plus 1T fennel seeds, 1T chopped thyme, 2T Brandy to the pot.
  5. Reduce under low heat till the mixture begins to thicken. Cover and allow to cool. This concludes the pre-preparation phase.
  6. When its close to dinner time, boil a new pot of water with a knob of butter and pinch of salt. Half cook your pasta in this and then strain it.
  7. Put your concentrated oxtail bullion through a fine tea strainer to remove all solids and pour the resulting sauce into a non-stick pan and reheat till boiling. Add the half cooked pasta to the pan and stir fry it in the sauce till it is al dente. You’ll probably need to add water to keep the pan from drying up, but add only a bit at a time. At the very end, taste and decide if you need to add salt.
  8. Arrange the pasta on dishes and top off with a few pieces of truffle and a very light drizzle of the oil the truffle is soaked in. A small 60g bottle should be enough but you can use more if you like. If you have fresh truffles to shave on, all the better.

Notes

  • The cooked meat can be stripped from the bone and shredded for a second dish like braised oxtail, oxtail shepherds pie or jellied oxtail; no point letting all that work to soften it go to waste. Remember to drench the shredded meat in some of the bullion to keep it from hardening.
  • Why use oxtail when plain beef is so much easier to work with? It is the gelatine extracted from the connective tissue that makes this recipe work, so you need to use either the tail, cheeks or a certain part of the ribs. For a pork version, the trotters will work as well as the tail.
  • I picked bow-tie pasta because its shape is perfect for capturing the sauce. When you look at the picture, you can see the pasta is brown because it is completely coated. If you want to try something else, stick to small pasta that is in plain wheat colour.
  • Dried red dates are a common Korean/Chinese ingredient for soup and they go really well with beef. Another good thing about them is they float, so they won’t get stuck under the oxtail and become burnt during the long simmer (and thats why we didn’t throw in the herbs until the final reduction phase). If you can’t find dried red dates, go with fresh wedges of apple.
  • If you find truffles too costly, you can just use truffle oil without the truffles. Or try other garnishes. Pick those with a strong aroma and weak flavour, for example: Deep fried shallots, pan fried fennel or perhaps coriander/cilantro leaves.
 
 

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Mushroom Soup, with Truffle Oil


(serves 8 )
Had that bowl of mushroom soup at some fancy reastaurant that looks or tastes nothing like canned mushroom soup? This is that soup. Using a generous amount of mushrooms blended in chicken stock brings your mushroom soup to a whole new level, but this recipe goes a bit further. It also uses a little white sauce as a base, to give the soup a nice solid creamy structure. 

I just love the intense aroma and taste of truffles. You don’t have to use truffle oil if you don’t want to, but really…if there is one thing that goes perfectly with truffle essence, it’s mushroom soup.  Truffle oil is not cheap, but a small bottle of it goes a long way. You won’t regret your investment.

Ingredients

  1. Chopped Mushooms (6 cups)
  2. Red Onion (1)
  3. Flour (3T)
  4. Milk (1.5 cups)
  5. Butter (80g)
  6. Tarragon
  7. Coriander Seed Powder
  8. Cognac
  9. Truffle Oil (optional)

Preparation

  1. Start by cutting your mushrooms (btw, 6 cups is roughly 500g)  into small bits (slices if you plan using them decoratively). What kind of mushrooms should you use? The key to a good mushroom soup does not lie too much in the kind of mushrooms you use, although I do advocate a mix of at least one dark and one white variety to impart a nice grainy colour to your final product. At the same time, julienne a red onion into small bits.
  2. In a soup pot, fry the onion in 2T of butter for about 8 minutes. While the onion is softening, break up a chicken stock cube in 3 cups of hot water and add it to the pot together with 1t sugar, 1t coriander seed powder and 1t tarragon.
  3. Boil the chopped mushrooms in the stock for 10 minutes and then lightly blend the mixture. I normally just use a hand held blender on the pot’s contents directly, but you could do the whole batch in a food processor if you like. Your objective is to end up with a grainy mushroom texture, not a puree, so go easy on the blending.
  4. In a sauce pan, melt 4T of butter and then fry 3T of flour in it until the flour begins to darken slightly. Stirring the entire time, add 1.5 cups of milk. To avoid lumping, you should pour in only ¼ cup of milk  at a time and hold off on adding the next batch of milk until the roux or sauce has absorbed all the liquid. You should have a nice thick sauce when you are done.
  5. Next, turn up the heat and stir in some of the blended mushroom mixture, again slowly. When the contents of the saucepan has become more fluid,  pour it back into the soup pot and reheat.
  6. Finally season your soup with 1T cognac, and black pepper and salt to taste. If you are planning to use truffle oil,  drizzle 1t of it on the individual soup dishes themselves just before serving.

Notes

  • The use of a white sauce base lets the soup absorb a small amount of oil like the truffle oil, but if you intend to add mascarpone, cream etc. as a finish, the soup’s surface will be covered with little spots of oil. I recommend against doing this.
  • For a nice visual effect you can try a number of things. Put aside some cooked mushroom slices before blending, and/or also some of the blended mushroom. You can add these back as decorative constructs after spooning the soup onto the dish (refer to the picture).
  • Since we are making a soup, shouldn’t we be using real chicken for the stock? By all means. Ironically, I often use a vegetable stock cube to flavour my ‘real’ chicken stock. 
  • High heat in oil is the only way of avoiding a floury taste, so never add flour directly to your soups.
  • You can’t add more than a drizzle of truffle oil. If you want a full blown truffle taste without using fresh truffle shavings, you can add as much truffle pate as you like, which is made from mushrooms anyway.
 
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Posted by on October 26, 2009 in Recipe, Soups

 

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