Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe: Baked Mushrooms with Ricotta

Sydney Harbour Bridge - trying to catch the setting sun

I've just been in Sydney for a couple of weeks - for a 'grease and oil change' and to see my little grandson who is now one.

I love walking around the city and hopping about on public transport (non-existent in our small country town - bring back the train that used to link Sydney with Brisbane and get the trucks off the road!!).  One of the benefits to getting older and being entitled to a Senior's Card, is being able to travel around all day on public transport for $2.50 - that's buses, trains and ferries - it's fantastic.


Street-scaping in Martin Place, Sydney CBD
Something that struck me this time, as I wandered around the city, is how much greener it is than it used to be - so much more 'street-scaping' with planter boxes, hanging baskets and fairly large 'green installations' - it just had the look of a more sophisticated place than it used to - more grown-up (the men were dressed far better than they used to be; stylish shoes, better cut suits, classier glasses and better haircuts - for a minute there I thought I was in Paris - or maybe it was because I was observing this waiting for a bus outside a French bank?!)

The hospital pig, Il Porcellino, a bronze copy of the famous Florentine statue

A visit to the Art Gallery of NSW is always on the cards.  It starts with an amble through Martin Place (the pedestrian centre of the CBD), a stroll along Macquarie Street (with the preserved sandstone heritage buildings of Parliament House, The State Library, The Mint and Barracks and through Sydney Hospital and out into the Domain Parklands that surround the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney.)  Just before you enter the hospital grounds don't forget to stroke the snout of the imposing bronze boar - said to bring good luck - I can't help giving him a pat every time I pass this way.



Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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The Gallery is perched on the harbour with wonderful views from inside and outside this lovely golden sandstone building.  After the galleries of Europe, with their associated crowds, this is just such an accessible place to enjoy art.  Its' light filled rooms hold a fine collections of Asian, Australian, Impressionist and Aboriginal Art and I'm always finding something new - like this painting of the Tweed Valley where I live now.  It was painted nearly 100 years ago by Elioth Gruner and I suppose the stark thing that struck me, in both senses of the word, is that it shows such a desolate landscape - through indiscriminate burning and tree clearing -so different to the verdant lushness of today.  It gives me hope that there are maybe some things we are getting right.
Tweed Valley, northern NSW 2012
I was wandering around the gallery starving - waiting for a two hour session at the dentist to wear off.  Finally, I made my way to the lovely cafe, overlooking the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf - where many migrants, arriving after a long sea voyage caught their first glimpse of Sydney, - to try and find something soft on the menu!

This dish was so simple in it's conception, and so absolutely delicious that I sought out the chef to find out the recipe.  It is very simple and no tricks to it at all.

Baked Mushrooms with Ricotta - this serves 2

2 large field mushrooms
250g ricotta
1 tbs finely chopped parsley or chives
A few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs freshly grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil and balsamic vinegar to brush on the mushrooms

Turn oven on to 200o.  Remove stalks from mushrooms
TIP:  Never wash mushrooms - it ruins the texture - simply brush off any loose dirt.
Brush mushrooms with oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place on a tray in the oven for 8 minutes.
Mix ricotta together with herbs, parmesan and salt and pepper.
Remove mushrooms from oven and pile ricotta mixture on top, bringing it to the edges.
Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes until ricotta has golden tinges.



Serve with a wild rocket, pear and walnut salad with a balsamic dressing - the sweet, sharpness of the balsamic brings out the flavour of the mushrooms and ricotta.



I had to make it when I got back home as I had simply wolfed down the one at the Gallery before I thought about taking a photo - notice, I couldn't eat my crusts.
What better way to have your hunger sated - by visual beauty and baked mushrooms with ricotta?


Not everyone finds the Art Gallery as stimulating as I do!





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