Autumn, the season of change between summer and winter… the mild weather keeps us dreaming about the summer, while the smell of the woods leads us into the cosy warmth of a winter parlour.
Also at the table, it’s instinctive and natural to seek a perfect balance between the flavours of the summer – the fish – and the perfumes of autumn: mushrooms and above all the truffle.
So let’s begin with an appetising entrée: little aspics of sea-bass and porcini mushrooms. Not an easy recipe; it requires good skill with the hands and imagination.
Sauté 200 gr of porcini in a pan with garlic and butter. Add salt and complete with a good grating of nutmeg and a teaspoonful of chopped parsley.
Allow to become tepid, then blend, setting aside a spoonful.
Meanwhile steam 300 gr of sea-bass, then transfer to a bowl and flavour with the juice and grated rind of an orange, salt and pepper.
At this point add the blended mushrooms and 200 gr of mild cheese.
On a hot–plate cook 8 scallops – muscle and coral – on both sides, brush with hot-pepper oil and lightly salt.
Prepare ¾ litre of gelatine.
Prepare 8 moulds and put a few spoonfuls of gelatine on the bottom; allow to cool in the refrigerator and then on the base of each arrange the muscle of a scallop, cut into three slices, and the coral at the side, a parsley leaf and one or two of the mushroom slices kept aside.
On top, distribute the fish and mushroom mixture and pour in the rest of the gelatine making sure that it covers the contents all round.
Chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours and then turn out on a bed of salad to serve.
To continue, the menu proposes a truly memorable pasta dish – perhaps to be tasted as you look at the colour of Sardinia’s sea on a sunny day – joining his majesty the truffle in a delightful marriage with fish.
For this first course, of great impact but difficult to prepare, you will need (for six people):
130 gr of truffle,
1 striped bass,
1 gilt-head bream,
12 king prawns
1 stick of celery
2 small potatoes
1 bunch of parsley,
80 gr of butter,
and, of course, 500 grams of tagliatelle (egg noodles).
First of all, prepare the fish broth: chop the onion, cut the carrots into rounds and the celery into large pieces. Sauté the vegetables with a little extra-virgin olive oil, add the fish-heads and bones and 8 prawn heads, add white wine and evaporate, add the peppercorns and two litres of hot water, simmer for 40-45 minutes.
Now we come to the truffle sauce: clean the truffle, melt the butter in a saucepan without letting it fry, grate half the truffle into the butter and cook for a few minutes, then add a grated small potato and a ladleful of the stock. Cook for about ten minutes and at the end adjust the salt.
For the sauce:
Chop the shallot and sauté; add the other 4 prawn heads, the carrots, the chopped parsley and then a little truffle sauce and the potato. Cook for a few minutes, then add 2 or 3 ladles of stock.
Now put three of the four fish fillets in a pan and cook with a little oil on the skin side long enough for the skin to detach without difficulty, then add the fillet to the sauce. The last fillet must be well browned on both sides; salt and set aside (it will be needed for decoration). Add the prawn tails, another pinch of parsley, the rest of the truffle sauce, a teaspoonful of grated ginger and more stock, finish cooking.
Meanwhile prepare the pasta. When it is still very al dente, drain and add it to the sauce. Before serving, add a good grating of truffle.
Close your eyes and … picture the sunset, red like the autumn leaves as the sun sinks into the sea on a summer evening.