One small truffle is all that these dishes ask Essay

Truffles, mostly the black variety and some white, are availablecanned in fine foods markets throughout the West. But now and throughDecember, a few of those markets have (or can quickly get) freshtruffles from France and Italy. Fresh or canned, truffles, are too costly to use in recipes thatdon’t maximize their uniquely aromatic quality and curiouslydelicate taste–as these do, with just one small truffle, about 1/2ounce. Or use more, if you want to splurge.

Because you can buy fresh truffles one at a time, they may proveless expensive than canned. They should feel firm and not lookshriveled. A black one looks like a lump of coal, a white like a brownpotato. Fresh truffles should last about 7 days; if you aren’tgoing to use your truffle right away, keep it in a large, tightly closedjar filled with eggs and rice. These foods will absorb the truffleflavor and give you extra taste mileage from investment; use the eggs inomelets, the rice for pilaf. Many people consider white truffles fromItaly choice, and these are most expensive–$300 to $400 a pound fresh.Fresh black truffles are only slightly less dear, $200 to $300 a pound.

These numbers are less shocking when you realize that a 1/2-ouncetruffle costs about $10. Canned truffles, less fragrant than fresh ones, come in units assmall as about 1/2 ounce. Expect to pay $25 and up for an ounce. Cannedtrimings are a good value, if you plan to cut the truffles up anyway.

If you don’t have a source for fresh truffles, write toTruffle Editor, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, Calif. 94025. CornRisotto Serve as a first course, or with sauteed or roasted veal orchicken. Melt 6 tablespoons butter or margarine in a 10- to 12-inch fryingpan. Add 1 large onion, finely chopped. Stir often over high heatuntil onion is slightly browned. Add 4 cups corn (2 packages frozen, 10-oz. size; or cut from about6 ears) and 1 cup whipping cream.

Stir on high heat until most of theliquid has boiled away; remove from heat. Finely sliver 1 small (at least 1/2 oz.) fresh or canned black orwhite truffle.

Stir 1/4 of the slivers (and liquid from cannedtruffles) into corn; set aside remainder. Pour corn into a shallow 1-1/2-quart baking dish. Scatter 2 cups(8 oz.) shredded fontina cheese over corn. Bake, uncovered, in a400[deg.

] oven until chesse melts and browns slightly, about 10 minutes.sprinkle remaining truffles over cheese. Makes 7 or 8 servings. FreshFennel and Truffle Salad Serve as a first course.

Trim stems, any bruised spots, and feathery leaves from 1 largehead (about 1 lb.) fennel; save leaves and discard trimmings. Cutfennel into thin slivers. Shred 1 cup (4 oz.

) fontina cheese and mix with fennel, 2tablespoons white wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons olive oil, and salt andpepper to taste. Spoon equally onto salad plates. Garnish with fennelleaves.

Thinly sliver 1 small (at least 1/2 oz.) fresh or canned blackor white truffle and scatter equally over the salads. Mix to eat. Makes4 to 6 servings.

Truffle Cannelloni with Three Cheese Offer as a first course or a main dish. Melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in a 10- to 12-inch fryingpan and add 1 large onion, finely chopped. Cook, stirring, over highheat until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside. With a mixer, beat 2 large packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese untilsmooth, then beat in 1 cup (5 oz.

) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup(4 oz.) shredded fontina chesse, 1/4 cup whipping cream, onion, andbutter until well blended. Thinly sliver 1 small (at least 1/2 oz.

) fresh or canned black orwhite truffle (if using canned truffle, blend liquid into cheesemixture). Separate 6 egg roll skins. Spoon about 2/3 cup cheese mixture in aband at one side of each skin. Sprinkle a few truffle slivers overcheese on each egg roll; reserve about 1/4 of the truffles for garnish.Roll skin to enclose filling.

Place rolls, seams down, side by side ina 9- by 13-inch baking dish Cut rolls in half crosswise so they will beeasier to serve. Sprinkle 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded fontina cheese evenlyover rolls, covering skins. If prepared ahead, cover and chill up toovernight. Bake, uncovered, in a 475[deg.] oven until cheese begins to brownat edges, about 10 minutes.

Scatter reserved truffles on cheese andserve. Makes 12 first courses or 6 entrees.


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