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Zuckerberg, Chef Mina and Vegan Porcini Ragout

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What do you get when you add the power and passion of a woman like Randi Zuckerberg (yes, the Facebook family) with the creativity and innovation of famed Chef Michael Mina? You get one of the most dynamic dinner parties in Silicon Valley. Invited to this special event were titans of technology and social media mavens. I'm still not sure how I ended up on the VIP list.

Randi hosted 25 really smart people at her Creative Lounge event. Among the guest were a few of her college buddies who helped launch Facebook. My favorite conversation of the night:

Me: "What do you mean this new app is your pet project?"
He: "Well, I helped build Facebook. I don't need to sell another app."

Got it.

The dinner was a social experiment created by Randi for her latest endeavor on Facebook called The Creative Lounge. She is bringing together the greatest minds of Hollywood, technology, and media and letting the magic flow, while giving access to anyone on facebook to comment, post questions, and interact with the event in real time.

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First, Chef Mina showed us how to make Hay-Smoked Ribeye. He spoke about the "tasting" being the key to cooking: "Understand what you are tasting, think about balance. The four flavors that need to be balanced are acid, sweetness, spice and fat."

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The goal of the event was to inspire, educate, and create new relationships. What I found fascinating in how Randi Zuckerberg has created a space that is both intimate as well as accessible to everyone in the world who has a smart phone or computer. So often, the giants of innovation cut themselves off from the rest of the world and create myopic bubbles where they safely play with their cohorts. At these Creative Lounges, people are invited to ask, share, comment, and join the conversation. True, the dinner was uber private and very intimidating to a rookie like me. But it was pretty cool watching the questions come in and see how technology is bridging the gap between our celebrity social icons and the general population.

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Guests were encouraged to tweet, blog, and Instagram their photos of the night. Questions for Chef Mina came in from around the world. I got a question from one of my Twitter followers @flySolo from India. He wanted to know if Michael Mina created vegan dishes. The answer is yes, and here, Chef Mina shares his recipe for Porcini Ragout on Whipped Polenta. Enjoy!

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Porcini Stock

Ingredients:

1 pint Madeira cooking wine
5 quarts Water
2 Bay leaves
20 Thyme sprigs
1 whole garlic head, split
2 White onions
2 lbs. Mushroom buttons
½ lbs. Dried Porcini mushrooms

Method of Preparation

1. Take half of the dried porcinis and steep them in the water that has been heated up to 180F for 20 minutes. Reserve the water and porcini's separately for later use.
2. In a 350F oven, roast the button mushrooms until golden brown around 30 minutes. Make sure they are not over crowded on the sheet tray.
3. In a stock pot sweat out the onion, garlic, thyme, bay and button mushrooms until the mushrooms are tender.
4. Add in the other half of the dried porcini's and turn up the heat. Cook until there is some caramelization forms on the bottom of the pot.
5. Deglaze with the Madeira and reduce 95 percent of the way.
6. Cover with the reserved porcini water and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 40 min.
7. Strain, cool and reserve

Porcini Ragout

Ingredients:

1 lbs. Porcini, fresh, small diced
1 oz Kuzu starch
2 Bay leaves
25 Sprigs thyme
2 lbs Cremini, mushrooms, small diced
1 pint Madeira
8 Medium shallots, diced small
1 Large onion, white, small diced
1 Cup rehydrated porcini, small dice
3 Quarts Porcini stock

Method of Preparation

1. Sear the mushrooms in oil, a little at a time to get a good sear on them. Strain off any excess fat and reserve.
2. In a large pot, cook off the onions, shallots, and the thyme and bay and the reserved porcinis from the porcini stock. Cook on high to caramelize well. The thyme and bay should be tied together with butchers twine so they can be removed once done cooking.
3. At that point add the mushrooms and stir well, then deglaze with the Madeira and reduce 95 percent of the way.
4. Add the porcini stock and bring to a simmer.
5. Remove a little of the cooking liquid and mix it with the kuzu starch and then pour that back in to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes stirring well.
6. Remove the thyme and bay, and it is ready to serve.

Vegetable Stock

Ingredients:

1 Large white onion, diced
1 Tablespoon black peppercorn
3 Bay leaves
4.5 Quarts cold water
3 Garlic cloves crushed
1 Large tomato, diced
1 Large Turnip, diced
1 Large carrot, diced
3 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium Leek, diced
20 Thyme sprigs

Method of Preparation:

1. In a large pot add all vegetables and the water.
2. Bring to a boil and skim any impurities from the top of the pot, then turn down to a slow simmer.
3. Simmer for one hour and then strain.

Whipped Polenta

Ingredients:

1 Quart Polenta, fine
5 quarts Vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Method of Preparation:

1. Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a large pot and stir in the polenta.
2. Season with salt and let cook (stirring often) until the polenta is very tender about 25 to 30 minutes on a low heat, being sure not to let the bottom burn.
3. Remove from pot and start to blend in a vita prep, while still very hot, until smooth.
4. Pass through a chinois.
5. While still hot put contents in a ISI gun(Whipped Cream NO-charged gun) and charge with 2 chargers. Make sure to test the ISI before use.

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