Friday, April 02, 2010

a week of mushroom discovery

Last Sunday I visited the Port Moody Farmer's Market. It's a great place. There's local produce, fresh baking, luscious preserves and the work of local artisans. The produce pickings are suitably wintery: kale, potatoes, apples, squashes. I can't wait for the summer market with its corn, lettuce, carrots, baby beets...mmmm. I just about walked past a table set with brown paper bags, but the young woman seated behind it called to me, "Do you like mushrooms?" I told her that yes, I love mushrooms. She showed me what she had for sale: Wild Mix of Mushrooms, including King Oyster, Cremini, Portabello, Shitake, and Black Trumpets, all from Misty Mountain Specialties in Richmond. It was this big bag of assorted mushrooms for just $5. I bought it and brought it home.

So this week, I have been eating mushrooms pretty much every day. I'm the only mushroom-eater in the house, so I have actually been guzzling them. Here are some of my discoveries:

I used the shitake mushrooms to make Fettucini with Braised Mushrooms and Baby Broccoli from the New York Times Cooking for Health section. I had broccoli on hand, but I also had some fresh kale that Fiona's friend grew in her Port Moody garden. I couldn't resist substituting this really local green for the one suggested in the recipe. The effect was awesome. I tossed in a few spears of asparagus too (definitely not local, but a good bright contrast to the earthy flavours of the shitakes and the kale). The leftovers made a yummy reheat for lunch the next day. I found the shitakes to be more dense than the white mushrooms that I usually eat, and definitely more flavourful. I especially appreciated the definite "snap" they give, even when cooked to a gorgeous brown/gold. Shitakes are my new favourite.

I thought that the Black Trumpets looked like the fungus that I've enjoyed in some Chinese soups and stir fries, but they seemed more delicate. Upon reading about them, I decided just to saute them in a bit of butter. I served the family stir fried chicken and veg that night, so I had brown rice ready. I ate the black trumpets and their gorgeous liquor with a bowl of brown rice. They were definitely the most fragrant and yummy of the mushroom bunch. Where all of the liquid came from, I don't know, but I'm glad it did. That's the nicest rice I've eaten in a long time!

Time for the Portabellos, which I have eaten barbequed as burger substitutes before, and as a substitute for eggplant in eggplant parmigiana. I chose another NY Times Recipe and made Stuffed Portabellos with Swish Chard. I eat almonds every morning with breakfast, so I chose the pine nut option. I sneaked in a bit of goat cheese along with the parmesan, too. What a lovely, lovely combination. Two big stuffed mushrooms and a glass of pale ale made for a memorable supper. Portabellos are the pita bread of mushrooms, only tastier!

Last night I pan-seared the Creminis and the King Oysters and put them on some quick pizza that I made up with Persian flat bread as a base. I found these Creminis to be the most familiar - pretty much equivalent in consistency, flavour and aroma to white mushrooms, only a more gorgeous colour, which was nice for the pizza. The King Oyster looks like a giant toadstool stem, with the cap missing. The flesh is so pale, you would conclude that this specimen has never seen the light. The flavour is light, and ever-so-slightly sweet when cooked. I sliced it into rounds and halved the rounds, seared it after the Creminis, and alternated brown mushroom silhouettes with pale half-moons over the top of the pizza. I also made kale and pesto and goat cheese pizza (for Fiona) and tomato/pepperoni/onion/red pepper pizza (for Andy and Alex), so I chose to make my mushroom pizza with tomato, mozzarella and parmesan, and some sauteed fresh garlic. It was very good. In fact, there are several slices lurking in the fridge making me think pizza would be yummy right now. I'll eat one slice, and freeze the rest to take for work lunches.

I have yet to try this recipe recommended to me by my friend Kristy, but I will soon. The cauliflower awaits - just have to buy more portabellas, Bella!

I hope, one day, that others in the house will come to discover the wonder and deliciousness of mushrooms. In the meantime, I will continue to double-cook supper some nights, so that I can enjoy more yummy mushrooms.

question: do you have a favourite mushroom recipe?

mompoet - toadstools, toadstools, yum yum yum

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