Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Roasted Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Nettles, and Sunchoke Meyer Lemon Purée

This dish combines savory and sweet elements balanced with tartness and a touch of earthy bitterness from the Nettles and Meyer Lemon.  This was the first course in a celebratory dinner party that I made for two birthday celebrations.  I found all of the main components for the dish at the Ballard Market in Seattle, which is probably the best Farmers' Market I've ever been to.  For February, they had a remarkable variety of fresh produce and foraged items.  I was inspired by the bounty and beauty of the market to create this starter.

Black Trumpets are sometimes called Horn of Plenty.  They are shaped like a cornucopia and have a dark brownish/purple coloring, hence the name.  They can be cultivated successfully and often appear on restaurant menus in the winter months because they are one of the few flavorful mushrooms available in the winter.  To me, they have a fruity mild aroma and are more on the subtle side.  They are delicious roasted or sauteed on their own and they hold their texture nicely in soups and pasta dishes.  I love them for their dramatic presentation as well.

I've already written about Sunchokes at length.  Find out more about them by clicking here.  They give the puree its sweetness.  Meyer Lemons are a hybrid citrus fruit.  They are a crossing of lemons and mandarin oranges.  They have a sweeter profile than a lemon, but also a hint of floral bitterness on the finish that gives food a wonderful layer of complexity.  They are named for Frank Meyer, who allegedly introduced them to the US by way of the Department of Agriculture.

Stinging Nettles are something I was introduced to about a year ago by the Chef de Cuisine at my job.  Apparently, they are commonly eaten in the UK where he is from.  They taste like spinach, only milder, and like spinach are very nutritious.  To cook them, you must blanch them to remove the chemicals that "sting" you.  Boil them in salted water for three or four minutes and plunge them into an ice bath.  Squeeze the water out of them as you would cooked spinach, and then they are ready for a delicious saute.

Roasted Black Trumpets, Nettles, and Sunchoke Meyer Lemon Purée

Part 1: The Sunchoke Purée

1/2 pound Sunchokes, peeled and sliced
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minded
1/2 Meyer Lemon, sliced
1 sprig of Thyme
1 Bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Saute the shallot and garlic in olive oil until tender.
  2. Add the Sunchokes and brown them lightly.
  3. Add herbs, Meyer Lemon slices, and vermouth and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sunchokes are fork tender.
  4. Remove from the heat.  Pick out the herbs and lemon wheels when cooled.
  5. Add heavy cream and puree the remaining ingredients with an immersion blender until silky smooth.  Run it through a find mesh strainer if you like.
  6. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
  7. Before serving, bring back up to heat and work in three tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time with a whisk.  Add more cream to "loosen" the puree if necessary.  It should hold its shape on a plate.
For the Nettles:
  1. Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet and saute half an onion until translucent.
  2. Add the prepared nettles and warm through.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
For the Black Trumpets:
  1. Toss in olive oil and salt.
  2. Roast in a hot oven for about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the mushroom.  They should be just warmed through and beginning to sizzle.

To plate:
  1. I used two dollops of the puree on hot plates and smeared them with the back of a spoon to created two comma shaped puddles.  We were celebrating two Pisces birthdays, so I wanted to imitate the astrological sign here.
  2. Spoon out a bit of the hot Nettle saute and nestle a couple of roasted Black Trumpets against it in the center of the plate.
  3. Garnish with fresh chives if you have them.


  1. This looks both delicious and beautiful!

  2. thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment.