Just before Thanksgiving, we finally managed to get together for dinner with our friends Molly and Romanus and their sweet little baby, Ramogi. We’ve been trying to do this for months–literally since August–but have been plagued by illnesses, unexpected house repairs, and general busyness. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, we came within one hour of having them over, but Mimi woke up from her nap with a fever of 102 degrees and we didn’t want to subject their new baby to an unpleasant bug.
When we finally did manage to have them over for dinner, we discussed all of those things that parents are obliged to talk about whenever they get together: sleep schedules, eating patterns, gadgets. But our talk was not limited to child-rearing. Romanus is from Kenya, so we talked about Kenya and Kenyan food. Molly is writing a dissertation in applied economics and we discussed her work and the difficulties of writing for a committee (something I know one or two things about myself). Naturally, we talked about politics.
We also ate well.
I served a dish that I often make in the Fall: Tortellini with Mushrooms and Sage. It’s a good meal to make for entertaining (unless your guests are lactose intolerant) because it looks impressive (my photograph doesn’t do it justice), but is really simple to make. You cook it in one pan, which speeds clean-up; it’s made without meat, making it vegetarian (if not vegan). Of course, the best thing about it is that it tastes good. Serve with some crusty French bread and a salad.
For dessert, we had this:
–a chocolate honey tart, another well-loved stand-by. I’ll post that recipe some time soon. Until then:
Tortellini with Mushrooms & Sage
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tbs. butter
2 8 oz. packages of baby portobello mushroom, chopped into quarters
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 9 oz. packages of prepared fresh mushroom tortellini (I use Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnoletti, which I highly recommend for this dish)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry vermouth (optional, but a worthy addition–dry white wine will also work here)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms by completely submerging them in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain them, chop them finely, and reserve the soaking liquid. Melt the butter in a large pan with a lid and sauté the shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the portobello and porcini mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cook until just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and mushroom soaking liquid. Add the tortellini and simmer, covered, until the tortellini cooks through (usually about 5 minutes, but consult the package directions and test them for doneness). Add the cream, stir and simmer for about one minute. Add the vermouth, sage, salt and pepper to taste. You could also grate a bit of nutmeg over the top, if you’d like. Stir and serve immediately. Serves 4.