Here are the winning recipes from this month's Wild Mushroom Recipe Contest, sponsored in part by Wild Oats Natural Marketplace. This recipe comes from Mark Patel, a CIA graduate from Hyde Park, N.Y., and the Executive Sous Chef at the Albuquerque Petroleum Club. Here, Patel mixes two varieties of wild mushroom—trumpet royale and alba clamshell—to create a late summer salad that's both refreshing and savory. The sugar plum grape tomatoes really pop alongside smoky bites of wild mushroom and chicken, while the parmesan crisp cup adds its own salty, addictive crunch.
The Return of Tony Nethery—After a stint as sous chef at OLA Steak in Miami, Fla., Tony Nethery has returned to the Duke City. The former Monte Vista Fire Station executive chef says that working under OLA's Chef Douglas Rodriguez was an amazing learning experience, but that, ultimately, he and his wife wanted to raise their new baby back on New Mexican dirt. Nethery is the not-so-silent business partner of Johnny Orr, the chef and owner of Relish Cheese Market & Sandwich Shop. With plans for a second Relish location in Downtown Albuquerque, Nethery knew that he had to come home and look after his other "baby," too. Although he's only been back a few weeks, the team is already hard at work on the new shop's menu, which won't open until sometime in October. Until then, you can find Nethery slinging sandwiches in the Northeast Heights at Relish (8019 Menaul NE, 299-0001).
1 organic chicken breast, small-diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons hickory liquid smoke
1 ounce trumpet royale mushrooms
1 ounce alba clamshell mushrooms
1-1/2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 sugar plum grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon thinly shaved chives
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 3-inch scalloped ovenproof ramekins
1) Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small nonstick sauté pan. Cook chicken until golden brown over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat off and add the liquid smoke. Mix well and chill.
2) Place the remaining olive oil in another small nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are just lightly golden brown. Set aside and chill mixture.
3) In a mixing bowl, combine the chilled mushroom-garlic mixture, chilled “hickory-smoked” chicken breast pieces, fresh sugar plum grape tomatoes and chives. Mix well and chill for at least 30 minutes before service.
For the parmesan crisp cups:
1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cover a small sheet pan with a piece of wax paper; spray wax paper with unflavored nonstick spray.
2) Divide grated parmesan cheese into 2 piles on the wax paper. Spread evenly to create 2 4-inch-wide circles.
3) Bake in the oven until cheese melts together and turns golden brown, about 3 minutes. Have ramekins ready on a clean work surface.
4) Remove tray from the oven. Quickly take a metal spatula and transfer the warm parmesan circles to the ramekins. Using your fingers and a clean towel, press lightly to form the parmesan crisp over the ramekin molds. Allow parmesan circles to cool and harden, at least 30 seconds.
5) Remove the parmesan crisp from the ramekins. Fill with chilled mushroom and chicken mixture and serve.
The Bleu de Gex-Files—Did you know that Roswell is home to the world's largest mozzarella cheese manufacturing plant? That Chavez County supports a billion-dollar-a-year agricultural industry? And did you know that, come this weekend, Roswell will host New Mexico's only chile and cheese festival for the 13th year running? I kid you not. Experience chile con queso like never before this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24, at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center. (Bleu de Gex, by the way, is a soft blue cow's milk cheese from the Jura Mountain region of France. Its flavor is vaguely reminiscent of herby, pastoral mushrooms—a perfect little cheese in the theme of this month's featured ingredient! ... Sorry, I'm a nerd.)
5 tablespoons butter
3-1/2 cups boiling water
1 medium onion
1 pound mushrooms, cut in to large pieces
2 tablespoons fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1) Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wash and rinse kasha. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the kasha and stir constantly for 3 minutes to keep the grains separated and coated. Stir in the boiling water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
2) In a sauté pan, sauté the onion in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add mushrooms and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the chopped dill.
3) Blend the mushroom mixture into the kasha and add salt and pepper to taste. Place mixture in a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in oven.
4) Remove from heat. Let cool slightly and serve family-style. Let guests top each serving with spoonful of the sour cream.
Sandwich Bonanza!—If, like me, you're simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to the weird culinary underworld of competitive eating, you'll be thrilled to know that Albuquerque is finally getting a taste of the "sport." Competitive eaters from all over the nation will congregate at Expo New Mexico's Ford Pavillion on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m. The food of the hour? Grilled cheese sammies. Stacks of them. Albuquerque snackers can compete for $1,750 in prizes on this leg of the Goldenpalace.com World Grilled Cheese-Eating Championship. The 15-city circuit is part of a $50,000 fundraising campaign for hunger-related and disaster relief efforts. For more information on this and other competitive eating events, check out the International Federation of Competitive Eating at ifoce.com