FOR THE SOUL

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TOASTED QUINOA PORRIDGE w/ HEN OF THE WOODS MUSHROOMS
(serves 4; adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller)

1 stick unsalted butter
4 shallots, minced
3/4 cup white quinoa
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup of shredded young Gouda cheese, packed
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 fist-sized clumps of Hen of the Woods (Maitake) mushrooms
3 tablespoons cognac
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 large free range eggs
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat and add half the shallots. After 2 minutes, add the quinoa and toast it until it smells intensely nutty, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Add 5 tablespoons of butter and the shredded Gouda and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm. Next, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet and add the remaining shallots, cooking until softened. Add 4 sage leaves and the mushrooms (broken down). Pan fry the mushrooms until they are nicely browned and beginning to crisp. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cognac and cook until evaporated. Remove from heat. Finally, bring 1-1/2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into small bowls and slide them into the simmering water one at a time. Remove them with a slotted spoon after 4-1/2 minutes and set them on a paper towel to dry. Trim them if necessary. To serve, spoon the quinoa porridge into a bowl. Top it with a serving of mushrooms, a poached egg, and fried sage leaves. Slice the yolk so it runs into the porridge.

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