Truffles are small brown mushrooms that look like a little, pear-shaped cheese. Most people don't recognize them as mushrooms because they look so much like something else. They have been labeled "mushrooms" only because they are the fungi that grow on the stems of other mushrooms. Traditionally, they are dried and ground up and used for garnishing food.
In France, truffles were first discovered in the 15th century by a friar named Jacques Calmet. Calmet named the mushroom after the King of France's wife. Later, the Italians were the first to use truffles for cooking.
Truffles are usually cut and roasted to get their outer coating, but they make a great addition to a mixture of wine and aromatic herbs for a classic, "Chef's Trifle." These herbs and wine also make a great addition to salads, soups, and pasta dishes.
The key to creating a great "Chef's Trifle" is using truffle salt and truffle oil. If you are going to use the truffle salt, be sure that you are using a high quality brand.
Black truffle salt should be your first option. This is a natural salt made from dried and ground truffles; the texture is a bit like butter.
High quality black truffle salt will keep your truffles fresh and give them the rich flavor that makes them so popular. High quality truffle salt has only the finest minerals and has a distinct, almost earthy flavor.
When buying black truffle salt, make sure you buy a dark colored one. Darker colors hold onto the flavor better, and it is best to buy just a couple of teaspoons rather than a teaspoon full to have the full effect.
Truffle oil is a type of olive oil that has a higher smoke point than regular olive oil, so it has more "kick" when it comes to cooking. Because this product contains sulfur compounds, which create the unique taste of the truffle, it is not appropriate for frying or anything that might cause it to splatter.
High quality black truffle salt will cost about a dollar or so more than regular table salt. This is because this one contains some special minerals and nutrients that make it important to use in recipes.
If you're new to truffle salt, it's best to start out with some home-made truffle salt. You can either make it at home with store-bought dried truffles, or if you know how to grind them yourself, you can easily make your own.
It's best to use some kind of measure to weigh the dry powder, since a tablespoon is never enough to go by. You will need about half a teaspoon of it for each ounce of truffles.
It's important to add a small amount to whatever dish you're preparing it in, to get the maximum effect. You can pour a teaspoonful into a sauce pan on the stove, or you can put a tiny amount on an appetizer.