Mushroom Forager’s Soup

I’m in full-on mushroom mode this fall. Few things are better than that wholesome, nutty smell in my kitchen, and sautéed mushrooms are always a perfect bite before dinner. Add garlic to the sauté and you’ll hear earnest whimpers from my boyfriend about how good it smells. And they’re not too filling, either.

Did you a mushroom lover is called a mycophile?

I came across a organization with members that forage locally for mushrooms and host speakers with a deep knowledge of fungi – the Mycological Association of Washington, D.C. I saw a meeting they hosted on harvesting truffles, which piqued my interest for obvious reasons. I joined the group. They offer “forays” into the woods to seek out mushrooms – with experts. Don’t worry. I don’t want to be eating some red spotted toadstool mushroom, and be foaming at the mouth minutes later.

Anyone go mushroom foraging? What is it like?

I will usually buy mushrooms in bulk because I know they’ll get eaten – sometimes I’ll buy those stuffing mushrooms, other times I’ll get a huge bag of the loose cremini mushrooms.

But it’s a lot more fun to veer out of the produce aisle and head into the dried foods sections to seek out the interesting mushrooms stocked there. I hadn’t noticed the chanterelle mushrooms before. I’d usually just swing by to grab morels.

I was so excited to get home to taste these mushrooms – I couldn’t remember if I’ve had them before. They’re great reconstituted, almost spicy, but I can only imagine how much better they are fresh. Maybe it’s worth an order online. But for those who are like me without access to the fresh variety, the reconstituted dried chanterelles bring a deeper, woodsier flavor than your portabella or white cap mushrooms.

The base of this soup is a mushroom stock imbued with a variety of mushrooms I had on hand – baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and chanterelle mushrooms all made the cut. Add some crushed garlic and springs of thyme, and that’s all she wrote. The stock was perfect.

If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this recipe. And if all else fails, just know you’re eating a cream-based soup, and really, how bad could that taste?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 pound mushrooms of your choosing (I used baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms), plus 1 / 2 pound mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick, for garnish, if desired
  • 4 springs thyme
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed, plus 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1 / 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the mushrooms, thyme, crushed garlic, 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt and water in a pot. Allow to come to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the stock is a deep brown flavor. If using reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms, strain those mushrooms, and add that liquid to the pot as well.
  2. Strain the stock through a colander lined with a paper towel to eliminate the dirt. Set the stock aside.
  3. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic, and allow to cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the flour, and stir until the flour is incorporated into the butter mixture. Add the milk, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bring to a light boil. Allow to simmer and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, sautee a variety of mushrooms of your choosing (1 / 2 pound or so) in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Set aside.
  5. Add 3 cups of the mushroom stock to the soup. Allow to simmer for 15 additional minutes, until the soup reaches a chowder consistency. Taste the soup for seasonings (salt & pepper), and adjust accordingly.
  6. Plate the soup, topping with extra sautéed mushrooms for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Hen of the Woods Pasta Alfredo

I’ve kept my eye out for Hen of the Woods mushrooms ever since I saw a recipe on Lucky Peach that chicken fried the mushroom cap southern-style, and threw it in between two sesame buns.

I did some searching online, and Forager Chef, a stunning blog I immediately bookmarked to my browser, published a very similar recipe to the one I remember.

I love the concept of chicken frying. Chicken fried steak? With gravy? F$#&ing outstanding.

I had never come across the mushroom until I went to the FRESHFARM farmer’s market in Dupont Circle the other day. The mushrooms there were a sight to behold.

There’s a strain I learned about called Lion’s Mane mushrooms that appeared, assuredly, to be a ball of fur. The texture was coral-like. I couldn’t believe it was edible. And couldn’t imagine being the first person to take a bite, demonstrating for us all that they are in fact, edible.

Having just fried a portabella mushroom to create the vegetarian Molten ‘Shroom Burger, I wanted to find another recipe that would throw the mushroom onto center stage. And I decided on a mushroom and garlic-infused alfredo sauce. Needlessly heavy on the cream, butter and parm reg, as always.

The turnout couldn’t have been more on point – and since garlic and mushrooms love each other so much, I figured if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and held back from veering too far from that standard flavor combination, with the exception of ground nutmeg.

You’ll want to make a full pound of this, for indulging in later. Speaking from recent experience, this first bite is addictive in the worst and best way possible.

I N G R E D I E N T S

I suppose this serves 4, but it could serve 1. It depends on how much self-restraint you have.

  • 1 pound Hen of the Woods mushrooms, torn or sliced into 1 to 2 inch pieces, stems included
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 / 2 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons truffle butter
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta, or another long pasta of your choosing
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup reserved cooking liquid from the pasta
  • 1 cup parm reg, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper, plus additional for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
  2. In the meantime, in a large sauté pan, melt the truffle butter. When foaming, add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pinch of pepper, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown and release their fluid. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and transfer a few mushroom slices to a separate bowl for garnish later.
  3. Once the pasta is drained, add it immediately to the pan with the mushrooms, followed by the remaining ingredients – butter, heavy cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and all but some of the parm reg.
  4. The pasta will thicken quickly once it starts to soak up the cream and butter. Use the reserved pasta cooking liquid to thin out the sauce.
  5. Once the cheese is melted and the mixture is uniform throughout, plate the pasta, topping with extra parm reg, slices of the mushroom, and a sprinkling of crushed black peppercorns, if desired.

 

 

 

Molten ‘Shroom Burger

I applaud Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger for successfully driving meat-eating customers to choose a vegetarian option. Not because these customers are trying to play off choosing the healthy option at a restaurant doling out cheeseburgers, but because they actually want it.

That’s vegetarian cooking I can get behind.

This burger copycats their signature mushroom sandwich.

The Shack knows full well that my neighborhood runs rampant with a Dual-Income-No-Kids crowd and there’s nothing stopping them from charging $13 for a burger. Cheese fries to round out the meal are a necessary extra purchase, and add a concrete to that and you might as well have sat down somewhere and ordered a filet Oscar and a mid-label bottle of Merlot.

I’m not hating on Shake Shack. And I’m exaggerating, of course.

I treated the portabella patty like a cheeseburger, complete with flavors that highlight its cheeseburger-ness, which mushrooms generally do a good job of mimicking. So white onion, pickle chips and special sauce are a necessity here.

This is a keep it simple, stupid, recipe. The cheese oozage from portobella mushroom is heavenly, and I  don’t want to detract from that.

I can’t wait for you to try this burger. Double stack those portabellas for a showstopping presentation. A photoshoot will certainly be in order.

Share your favorite ‘shroom burger recipes if you have them. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 2 ‘shroom burgers.

F o r  t h e  B u r g e r s

  • 2 portabella mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise, stems intact
  • 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 / 4 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 sesame hamburger buns
  • 1 teaspoon butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cube, approximately 2 oz. Velveeta cheese
  • 2 American Kraft Singles cheese slices
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 / 4 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 dill pickle chips
  • 4 tablespoons Special Sauce from Hankerings’ Cheeseburger á la Big Mac, recipe below.

F o r  t h e  S p e c i a l  S a u c e

  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 teaspoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 pickle chips, minced finely
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pickle juice
  • 2 dashes Tabasco hot sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Combine all the Special Sauce ingredients and set in fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a buttered skillet, toast the buns. Set aside.
  4. Cut the portabella mushrooms in half lengthwise, keeping the stems intact, and carve out some of the flesh from the inside of the mushroom cap so there is enough room for the cheese cube when you put the halves together.
  5. Place one cube Velveeta cheese in between two portabella mushrooms halves, forming an enclosure.
  6. Dredge the mushroom package in the flour mixture, then the egg, then the panko. Secure each mushroom with 3 toothpicks, snipping the tip off each toothpick so the mushrooms are fully submergible in the oil.
  7. In a skillet, add enough oil so there is 2 inch depth. Once the oil is frying temperature (use a pinch of flour to test to the oil readiness), fry the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes until the panko is golden brown, flipping once.
  8. Smear 1 tablespoon of the special sauce on both sides of the buns. To assemble, remove the toothpicks and put a Kraft single on top to begin melting. Then place the mushroom on the bun, followed by the onion, pickle chips, and then the bun lid.
  9. Cut in half, and enjoy immediately.

Truffled Oyster Mushroom Sauté

Sautéed mushrooms are one of the fastest-to-prepare, most elegant side dishes out there. Throwing some truffle butter into the mix doesn’t hurt either.

But the best part – just add some autumnal herbs – sage, thyme – and your house will smell heavenly for hours. No air freshener required.

Luckily, most grocery stores and farmer’s markets carry a variety of mushrooms to experiment with. And they’re affordable too, unless you’re cooking with morels. I vaguely recall spending $23 on a 4 ounce package.

You can always go for white button mushrooms, if you’re in the presence of some picky eaters. But my most recent mushroom purchase led me to oyster mushrooms. I love the stacked appearance of the caps, and the folds are defined. Sautéed, they taste meaty. I like to the keep the stems on for added bite and substance, almost cooking them to an al dente consistency.

Whole Foods carried the traditional brown oyster mushrooms as well as some beautiful pink ones. It made for a gorgeous presentation in this recipe.

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Serious Eats has an in-depth look at the most common varieties of culinary mushrooms – any type is good for sautéeing, but a mixture adds a lot of texture. And I had completely forgotten about Enokitate mushrooms – one of the most gorgeous fungi I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

So while sautéed mushrooms may never top a side of French fries, they come pretty damn close. And they’re healthy-ish, if that’s something you care about.

I guess you could French fry mushrooms though – that sounds pretty good too. 😉

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as an appetizer.

  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped in thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons truffle butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Heat the olive oil and truffle butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes until the garlic begins to soften.
  2. Add the thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms are browned but not caramelized.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Serve immediately.

Hagrid’s Hungryman Stew with Pumpkin-Potato Mash

The story behind this recipe can be found in Hankerings’ post, You’re a Wizard, Harry!

I hope you enjoy. 🙂

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  P u m p k i n – P o t a t o  M a s h

Serves 2 to 4.

  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1 28 oz. can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 / 2 stick butter, salted or unsalted, melted
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put the quartered potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until tender and drain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. With a hand mixer, combine the ingredients on high speed until few potato chunks remain. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.
  3. Set aside until stew is ready or eat on its own.

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  S t e w

  • 2 lbs. boneless stew meat of your choosing, cut into large cubes (red meat is preferred, we used beef ribeye)
  • 3 lbs. hearty vegetables of your choosing, cut into large bite-sized pieces (we used small Vidalia onions, quartered Spanish onion, sliced carrots, whole white button mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves)
  • Approximately 1 liter beef stock (enough beef stock to cover halfway up meat and vegetables)
  • Approximately 10 stems thyme, 5 stems sage, 3 stems rosemary tied into a bouquet garnier (tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal)
  • 1 head garlic, skins removed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Shredded parm reg, if desired
  • Minced rosemary, if desired

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put all the ingredients in a crockpot, stirring so everything has a chance to combine. Put the slow cooker on high, cover with the lid, and cook for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is falling apart.
  2. Serve ladlefuls of the stew over the pumpkin-potato mash, sprinkling with parm reg and minced rosemary, if desired.