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Jenise

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IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:52 pm

<table border="0" align="right" width="275"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/porcini.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Thank god for people like Malcolm Clark. "A British born biologist, Clark traveled in the early 1970';s to Japan where he met Tsuneto Yoshii, a renowned mycologist exploring the medicinal uses of fungi. The experience," according to an October 2006 article in Saveur magazine, "opened Clark's eyes to mushrooms but only as far as their curative properties were concerned. In 1977 he moved to Sonoma County and with his business partner David Law, formed Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. The company name notwithstanding, Clark at first grew and marketed mushrooms (initially, only shitake) solely for therapeutic purposes. He soon realized, however, that for the venture to survive, he would also have to sell mushrooms as food."

Because of Clark and others like him, North Americans who do not, by proclivity or geography, care to forage the dark, dank places where mushrooms grow themselves, can purchase fresh, formerly wild mushrooms with names like namekos, trumpet, clamshells, morels, pioppinis, are sometimes available in select grocery stores, and shitakes, chantarelles, and oyster mushrooms are often sold in bulk right there next to the classic white mushrooms and brown criminis. Chef Albino, who chose this topic and who lives in Switzerland, will hopefully chime in and address the situation in Europe.

And of course, those who live closer to the forests may forage for themselves, or buy from those who do at Farmer's Markets many of the mushrooms named above and others like lobster, hen-of-the-woods, lions mane and cloud ear, just to name a few.

One of the things I want to do this month is recreate the first wild mushroom dish I ever had. It was in Zurich, Switzerland, coincidentally enough, and it was a course in a multi-course dinner where each diner was served their own divine little copper skillet of chantarelles in a reduced cream sauce flavored like a masala curry. Such were the ethereal flavors of that dish that I remember it in detail to this day but could not tell you what else we ate that night, even though it was by quite a margin the single most spectacular meal I'd had the pleasure of by that point in my life.

Please join us this month as we explore the constantly expanding world of fresh wild mushrooms. Make a dish you've never had before or reacquaint yourself with an old favorite and tell us about it.

Now excuse me, I'm off to see The Mushroom Guy at the Bellingham Farmers Market!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bob Ross

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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Bob Ross » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:36 am

This is probably too simple minded for an IOTM, Jenise, please forgive me.

But, we have been blessed in the past 12 months by a new supplier to the Market Basket who has delivered at least 20 different mushrooms -- some of which he calls "wild".

They've featured matsutakes, inky caps, velvet stems, oyster, yellow morel, chanterelle, coral, parrot, perhaps a dozen others. There are a few standards -- baby portabellas are a favorite -- but I usually pick all the unfamiliar ones if they are on offer.

Prep is dead easy -- I chop them up and put them in a nonstick pan on very low -- cook until they taste done. At times, I might have to add just a smidge of 190F water to collect the fond.

That's it. Great as a side dish, on pizzas, or mixed with all kinds of things. And, the aromas are so various and so delicious -- everything tastes better. Best of all -- no calories.

Regards, Bob
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:03 am

Bob, there's no fat in your preparation whatsoever? Not even a smidge of butter?

You mention a few mushrooms I've never heard of, like yellow morels and parrot mushrooms. The regional differences in what's naturally available are quite interesting.

Hey guess what, I ordered a pound of European porcinis from D'Artagnan yesterday (along with a cool mixture of other things I was ordering--poussins, partridge, quail, foie gras and wild boar), and they called at the end of the day and said sorry, they were out. I'd forgotten my deadly allergy to them--and even though whatever it is I'm allergic to about them apparently cooks out, I have only tested that in small quantities from dried and it would likely be somewhere beyond idiotic for me to eat them in any quantity fresh.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Bob Ross » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:27 am

Nothing but a little water, and then just to pick up the fond. I used this technique on a lark one day when I overbought some baby portobellos. They were better for both of us than the ones made with a bit of olive oil.

Somehow the flavor seems much more concentrated just plain. I suppose all the water naturally present in mushrooms makes it work. Stirring every minute or two and watching closely in the end game are important.

The allergy business is so baffling, even to experts. You are one brave person to keep experimenting -- weren't you terribly sick one time?
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:56 am

You are one brave person to keep experimenting -- weren't you terribly sick one time?


Twice. And each time it was from nibbling on a small, fingernail sized sliver of dried porcini. Had all the classic toxic mushroom poisoning symptoms. And I had a severe asthma attack from just breathing the dust the one time I made some to coat a tenderloin. I have no issues when they're well cooked, but it's probably wisest for me to simply avoid them--boo hoo.
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Bob Ross » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:06 pm

There, there ... buck up, Jenise -- there are so many great things in the world! :-)

And from what I can tell, you always make the best of things.

Regards, Bob
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:27 pm

Hey, no sympathy needed, it's a minor thing. I'd rather be allergic to porcinis than, say, shellfish, and at least when it's cooked it's relatively harmless.

Speaking of food allergies, my father is married to a woman who is a sweet, cute, tiny-waisted bauble of a thing but Dad clearly didn't marry her for her brains. She will tell you (every chance she gets) that she's allergic to one food in the world: pork chops. She claims she's not allergic to ground pork or roasts--and being Hungarian these are her favorite meats, and she uses them often--but chops give her headaches. No amount of logic can persuade her of the impossibility of this. My sibs and I have finally learned how to keep a straight face when she's going on about this to some new person, but some days it tests one's will.
Last edited by Jenise on Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by tsunami » Thu Oct 12, 2006 2:28 pm

hallo jenise,

thanks, and sorry, havend found time to write some recepies for IOTM.


the wild mushrooms situation over here:

at the moment we have nice and dry weather so there are not mutch mushrooms in the forest.

we had more rain in september and a large quantity of boletus were found :D and also some others!

i personally do not go for wild mushrooms, since i'm not shure enough to do so, but i have a friend that is an expert and fazinated it all kind of mushrooms (also in those, witch are not for food)
he calls me a FOOD-BOTANIC :shock: :D

because i'm always "only" interested in his eatable-founds :D
Tsunami alias Albino
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by tsunami » Thu Oct 12, 2006 2:33 pm

oh, i forgot,

you were in zürich ?

next time, we should meet and have at least diner (or have a "forget the balance" time :wink: )


if, you come to switzerland let me know!


ps,
the best mushroom-restaurant i know is:

http://www.thurisblumenau.ch/

a master-chef and a workoholic !
Tsunami alias Albino
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Cynthia Wenslow » Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:11 pm

Love the description of your father's wife, Jenise! :D You are a better woman than I am, I certainly would be unable to stop from at least giggling.

I have some great wild mushroom recipes I'll try to pull together when I get home tonight.

(Glad to be back. Hopefully work will stay at a manageable level and I can stick around a while!)
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Bob Ross » Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:28 pm

"My sibs and I have finally learned how to keep a straight face ..."

Great tale, Jenise.

I'll giggle in abstentia!

Regards, Bob
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Marc D » Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:59 pm

I have had really good luck this year finding chanterelles locally. The quality has also been very good, the mushrooms have been dense and dry with good flavor too.

The best dish was some chicken thighs in a chanterelle cream sauce served with a Jura Chardonnay. Most of the time we eat them with green beans and shallots, from our backyard garden. It is amazing what a handful of fresh chanterelles will do for an otherwise pedestrian dish.
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Paul Winalski » Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:44 pm

Before I repented of my academic studies and degree as a Biologist, in favor of a more remunerative career as a computer programmer, I read a book about 2" in width called "Poisonous Plants of North America".

After reading this, you'd never eat any fungus harvested in the wild, no matter how sure you were of its identity.

Nevertheless, I do like wild mushrooms, when harvested by experts. I only wish the local markets in southern NH offered them more often. I've also seen things that are dead ringers for morels growing out wild, but then I recall the side-by-side photos of harmless and toxic species in "Poisonous Plants", and I resist the temptation to pick and enjoy the things myself.

Given that I can't get true wild mushrooms here, how "exotic" do mushrooms have to be to qualify for IOTM status?

-Paul W.
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Stuart Yaniger » Fri Oct 13, 2006 1:09 am

It's not hard to get the difference between morels and related geni (genuses?) that are rather dangerous (Helvella and Gyromitra). They're visually very distinctive. But raw morels themselves can give very bad reactions, so it's a matter of degree. I feel perfectly safe with the morels I pick.

Porcini are very distinctive, and nothing that's toxic looks much like them. Ditto chanterelles, hen of the woods, and death trumpets.

Distinguishing among the various Amanitae, nope, I won't risk doing that, nor should anyone without very specific training. And even then...
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:25 am

Ditto chanterelles, hen of the woods, and death trumpets.


DEATH trumpets? That's a SAFE mushroom? If so, unfortunate name.

And even then....


Amen--I've heard many times about supposed experts kicking the bucket after making the mistake they supposedly know best how to avoid. Wasn't one of the Sebastiani clan such a victim not that long ago?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:29 am

Paul--use what's available, or use dried or a combination. I'm apparently in a similar boat--no chantarelles anywhere yesterday, though we usually have them by now plus others. We've had t-shirt weather and almost no rain for months. For me, it's probably going to be shitake or nothing.

Albino--I've been to Zurich a number of times, and you can bet that if I find myself there again, you'll hear from me!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Stuart Yaniger » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:07 pm

Death Trumpets are very safe. And very delicious. Here's a photo, with a bit of rebranding:

http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Crat ... oides.html

And the Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craterellus

Recipes for trompets du mort, nice pix, and some suggested books:

http://theforagerpress.com/fieldguide/augfd.htm
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:10 pm

Ah, black chantarelle. I had them recently by that very name, ordered the dish just to find out what a black chantarelle was. But that was the first time. They were, indeed, delicious. Thanks for the links.
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Carrie L.

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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Carrie L. » Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:04 am

Jenise, a good friend of mine is a wonderful cook. So wonderful that when her husband is entertaining friends or clients in their Northern CA home while she is in their Southern CA home, he will have her make, pack on dry ice and Fed Ex her homemade pizza sauce to him. (They have a wood burning pizza oven in their kitchen in the northern CA home.) Anyway, she had us over for dinner and started us with the most amazingly simple and delicious dish of Pappardelle with butter and shaved white truffles. She had wilted some green onions in the butter before combining all together. Sublime.

For an anytime kind of meal, I tried adapting her recipe with wild mushrooms, and it is now one of our favorites. I use a combination of EVOO and white truffle oil though, and just a hint of butter and dry white wine. Also use fresh garlic with the green onions, and then finish with Parmesano Reggianno. I found Cipriani pappardelle at Fresh Market and it is half the price that I was paying for it at Williams Sonoma. Highly recommend. David Rosengarten had written it up on his favorites list, and I agree whole-heartedly.

I realize that this "recipe" is quite pedestrian, but my thinking with wild mushrooms is, the simpler the better. Their flavors are so unique and wonderful that most of my favorite ways to enjoy them are with a bit of starch to soak up their juices -- pasta, crostini, polenta, etc.

Incidentally, I also am supposedly allergic to mushrooms. I was devastated when I found out, but also was never aware of experiencing any ill effects from having eaten them in the past. After several years of abstention, I reintroduced them to my palate. As far as I can tell, the only thing they may do is give me a mild headache at times. I am aware that with certain allergens you can do fine and then all of a sudden one day that same stimuli will pack a whollop and cause serious problems. I always have the Benedryl nearby just in case. ;)
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Jenise » Mon Oct 16, 2006 12:13 pm

Carrie, that sounds wonderful. I agree about mushrooms being almost wasted without a plain starch there to soak up the juices, and I love your idea about using white truffle oil with the wild mushrooms. I've not done that; which kind of wild mushrooms do you use? I can imagine it being particularly good with an assertively flavored mushroom like chantarelles which would retain their assertive flavor while taking on the truffle notes, but texturally I am imagining something silky like oysters.

Btw, a chef friend the other day said he thought truffle oil was over and he wasn't interested in it any more. I countered that it's time in the spotlight as Trendiest Thing Around was certainly past, but that it's now a pantry staple. But gone? Heck no. You must feel the same. I love the stuff and am always looking for ways to use it.
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Re: IOTM: Fresh Wild Mushrooms

by Carrie L. » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:12 pm

The mushrooms that usually make it into the dish are oyster (silky, yes), shitake (for that hint of smokiness), and cremini (to provide a little bulk). Occasionally, I will add a small amount of chopped rehydrated porcini with a little of the juice. (I very rarely find fresh porcini where I live.) I'll watch for chantrelles for the next iteration.

I agree - truffle oil has defininitely made the transition from trendy to pantry staple. I think of it as a flavor enhancer. Depending on what you use it in, it can be sometimes be undetectable for what it actually is, but provides depth and/or complexity.

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