We have long enjoyed Patricia Wells'stalents in the kitchen. Her dishes have graced our tables adding elegance to simple, but always meticulous fare. In Simply Truffles, she turns her eye to the aromatic truffle which she states, "is among the world's most mysterious foods. Man has not tamed it, still has not figured out a surefire way to cultivate it. Is its very elusiveness part of its charm?"
Aware that not all of us can go truffle-hunting, she states that most of the uses of the truffle are as an added touch. If truffles are totally out of reach, she suggests using dried mushrooms, especially the morel, as substitutes. As with all Wells' recipes, these are elegant creations that will stand on their own without the truffle, but will reach sublime heights with the addition of the black diamond.
At her Provence home, Wells has long been an avid truffle hunter, and has discovered uses for its sublime flavor, as well as its subtle mysteries. She has unearthed, not only the truffle itself, but its lore, its long history, even the methods used by different dogs when sniffing out the truffle. Tthe pig is not the only truffle-hunter.) With prose as elegant as her recipes, she recounts both lore and history as well as advises on the best way to store a truffle, the difference between a 'wild' and 'cultivated' truffle, and the difference between fresh truffles, frozen truffles, canned truffles, and truffle juice. She even includes a time line that dates from 2000 BC and includes such humorous tidbits as the fact that truffles had a sinister reputation during the Dark Ages, "being considered a sign of the presence of the devil and believed to be grown from the spit of witches."
Wells' twenty-five years of cooking with truffles has led to delicious recipes with her trademark elegance. From appetizers to salads, soups, eggs & cheese, pasta, rice, & grains, fish shellfish, and poultry, vegetables, even bread, there seems no limit to the subtle use of truffles. Try such recipes as Tagliatelle with Foie Gras, Morels, and Truffle;, a Fresh Goat Cheese and Truffle Omelet; Chicken Pot-au-Feu with Truffles; Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Broth; Six-Minute Steamed Salmon with Shellfish Cream & Truffles; Artichoke Soup with Parmesan & Truffle;, or Watercress, Truffle & Potato Salad.
Simply Truffles is a versatile book, one with the refined touch of its author. There are photographs throughout by Jeff Kauck. Wells also gives menu suggestions, and wine pairings.