From Chris Halpin
The world of mushrooms is a fascinating one. There are over 10,000 known varieties and researchers say that this may only be about a third of what actually exists! Of the edible ones that I have seen in the city, I can count about 15, and of them, about 7 are usually around in various markets and grocery stores. Small crop wild mushrooms come and go fast! So, I like to keep my eye open and when I see them, I get them, and decide later what I am going to do with them. As a general rule, I will interchange any mushroom in any recipe. They will bring their own nuance and texture, so if you can’t find one of the mushrooms that I am suggesting, feel free to mix it up.
Shiitake Ginger Soup
Shiitakes must always have the stems removed, they are too woody to eat. This is a fresh, fast soup, perfect to warm the soul. In a pot put 3 c. unsalted chicken stock and place over high heat. Add 1 c. sliced larger shiitakes, 1/2 c. thinly sliced leeks, 1 t. grated fresh ginger, 1 t. grated fresh turmeric, 1 t. salt, 1 garlic clove, minced. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, adjust the salt to taste, ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves. Serves 2.
Portobello and Swiss Chard Hash
Portobello’s meatiness works well in this recipe. This is great with salmon or sausages, but I love it with poached eggs. In a large skillet, put 2 T. butter and place over high heat. Slice 2 large portobellos and 1 red onion. When the butter has melted and is frothy, add the mushrooms, onions, 1 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper and 1/2 t. nutmeg and sauté for about 4 minutes. Cut the stems where they meet the leaves of 6 Swiss chard stalks, thinly slice the stems and rough chop the leaves. Add the sliced stems to the portobellos and sauté a minute more. Reduce the heat to low and add in the chopped leaves, 2 T. cider vinegar and sauté until wilted. Serves 2 to 4.
Chanterelle and Walnut Crostini with Fig Jam
Chanterelles and walnuts are magic together, but when you add fig jam – wow!
Chanterelles come in varying sizes, so if you can find the very tiniest ones, don’t slice them. I am using larger ones, so I’ll dice them. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and put in 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 c. diced chanterelles, a pinch of dried sage and dried thyme, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. chile flakes and sauté about for 3 minutes. Then add 1 garlic clove, minced, and 1/4 c. white wine and continue to sauté until almost all the wine has reduced. Now add 1 c. walnuts, broken into medium pieces and sauté a minute more. Before removing from the heat, adjust the salt and squeeze 1/2 a lemon in and give it one last stir. Smear some fig jam onto 12 crostini and arrange them onto a platter. Spoon some of the mushroom mix onto each and garnish with finely chopped green onion. Makes 1 dozen.
Flatbread with Oyster Mushrooms, Poblano Peppers and Boursin Cheese
Oyster mushrooms like to be roasted because it brings out their subtle flavour and prevents the fragile fronds from breaking. Never cut oyster mushrooms, but rather tear them into strips from top to bottom. My “new” favourite flatbread crust is plain lacha bread, a flaky East Indian flatbread. You will find them in the freezer section and they come in packs of 5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Into a bowl put 1/2 a poblano pepper, seeded and sliced, 1 c. shredded oyster mushrooms, 2 T. olive oil and 1/2 t. salt and mix well. Arrange this onto 1 lacha bread and crumble about half a round of garlic herbed boursin over top of this. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp, golden and bubbling. Serves 1 or 2.
Shrimp Stuffed Cremini Caps
This recipe is best with good-old-fashioned button mushrooms or creminis; they have the best shape. Anytime I am stuffing mushrooms, I will prebake the caps and blot out the excess moisture that pools in the bottoms – I don’t like soggy mushroom caps! Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Remove the stems of 12 medium-sized creminis, arrange the caps hollow side up on a baking pan and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until you can see juice pooling in the bottoms of each. While they are baking, finely chop about 10 medium shrimp and put them in a bowl with 2 T. green onions, finely chopped, 1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 T. toasted sesame oil, 1 t. each of Sriracha hot sauce and salt, mix well. Remove the mushroom caps from the oven and with paper towels, blot each dry. Fill each cap with the shrimp mixture and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the shrimp have turned a gentle pink. Serve warm to room temperature. Makes 1 dozen.
Pasta with Sautéed Morels and Butternut Squash with Brandy and Cream
Morels burst with nutty earthy flavours. In my books, morels must be served in butter or cream, or both! Boil water for pasta. Peel and dice 1/2 a small butternut squash and 1 onion. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 T. butter. Add the squash and onions with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.
When the water is boiling, cook your pasta. I used bucatini that’s like macaroni-spaghetti. To the skillet add 2 c. morels, broken into pieces and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add 1/4 c. brandy and continue cooking for about a minute or so, then add 1 c. whipping cream. Increase the heat to high and allow the cream to reduce by half, then adjust the salt and remove from the heat. When the pasta is cooked, and drained, arrange some onto plates and spoon the sauce over top, garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 2.