Did you ever eat something so delicious, you couldn’t erase it from your memory? You explain it to all of your friends, but with each descriptive word you salivate more and more. Anything else you eat in the weeks afterward is just mediocre, and you wish for every bite thereafter to taste like that tasty, memorable deliciousness in your recent past.
This happens to me all too often and, unfortunately, I don’t have the budget to visit my favorite restaurants for the extraordinary dishes I yearn for at my leisure. I do, however, like a challenge and find that it’s just as easy to attempt to replicate the dishes I crave at home. Typically, I identify the flavors and ingredients with attentiveness as I take in each bite. Restaurant menus aid in the process, and usually provide two to three integral ingredients in the item’s description.
A real jackpot is when the restaurant actually provides you with the recipe. Sometimes, if you ask nicely, an experienced server can explain how something is made and may even sneak in a few secrets. Other times, a simple internet search will reveal the establishment itself shares a prized recipe with the public. Friday Saturday Sunday in Rittenhouse Square is known for their cream of mushroom soup and, since my first spoonful years ago, it’s been ingrained in my memory. It’s worthy of being a secret family recipe but, instead, the restaurant has it permanently posted to their website.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 lb. mushrooms, finely diced
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Cognac, to taste
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place mushrooms, garlic and shallots with the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat and sauté until most of the liquid in the mushrooms is cooked off. Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture. Stir while cooking for a few minutes, then add the chicken stock and mix well. Allow the mixture to reduce over a medium flame to half its original volume, about 30 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and cognac and stir. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
This creamy, decadent soup is exactly what I crave as the nights get cooler cooler. The crisp evenings are a perfect match for the rich, velvety both, speckled with mushroom bits. The base becomes rich in flavor after being cooked down with the shallots and garlic, both of which I added on my own accord to jazz up the original recipe. The flour addition absorbs any traces of leftover mushroom juices, and the mixture’s flavors are enhanced once cooked in broth to half its original volume. The original recipe called for a full quart of heavy cream, but I felt one cup was plenty. It’s quite a difference in measurement, so I suggest added the cream a cup at a time to find the proportion perfect for you. Approach the cognac addition similarly; the two teaspoons I added gave a slightly sweet, oaky note. The final touch of freshly grated nutmeg completes the dish as the perfect fall dinner on a chilly night.
Sometimes, there really is no match for heading to your favorite restaurant for the meal you’ve been thinking about since the last time you dined out. One of the advantages, though, of replicated dishes at home is the satisfaction of matching the flavors you’re longing for in order to satisfy a killer craving while adding your own personal flair.