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City Palate Recipe: 3 quick ways with green beans

5 Quick Ways with Mushrooms

Sep/Oct 2009
Wild mushrooms are one of the last truly foraged, wild foods available to most cooks. Their woodsy, earthy, complex flavours and aromas remind us that the places we live were once wilderness. Our woods are rich with wild mushrooms at this time of year and you can collect and cook them – only if you know what you’re doing. Hardly anything is as satisfying in the fall as chanterelles you’ve picked yourself sautéed in butter and eaten right out of the pan. But if you’re no good at finding the right ones to pick – the ones that won’t kill you – there are myriad cultivated mushrooms available year-round. You can substitute cultivated for wild in recipes, and one type of mushroom for another type. Many wild mushrooms are available dried. Hot tip: don’t wash fresh mushrooms; just brush or wipe them off to clean them.

1. Wild Mushroom & Marsala Soup
From Waitrose Food Illustrated. Melt 1/4 c. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 shallots, minced, 1/2 onion, chopped, and 3 garlic cloves, minced, and sauté for 15 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add 1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, chopped or sliced, and sauté 10 minutes until softened a bit. Add 1/2 c. white wine and 1/2 c. marsala wine. Boil 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced to a glaze. Add 4 c. chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Add 1/2 c. whipping cream and season with salt and pepper. Heat through, then purée or leave chunky, and serve. Serves 4.

2.Stuffed Mushrooms
These may seem a little pedestrian, but they make a light nibble or side dish and you can eat them with your fingers. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Clean 1 lb. large white or brown button mushrooms and remove the stems. Finely chop the stems and combine them in a bowl with 1 egg, 1/2 c. bread crumbs, 1/2 c. Parmesan, grated, 1/4 c. parsley leaves, minced, 1 large shallot, minced, a big pinch of dried herbes de provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1 T. olive oil. Lightly grease a baking sheet and brush the mushroom caps with a little olive oil. Stuff the mushroom caps with the stem mixture and bake until lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temp. Serves 6.

3. Michael Allemeier’s Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
From Barbecue Secrets Deluxe by Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk. Remove the stems and scrape the gills from 6 portobello mushrooms. Whisk together in a large bowl 1/2 c. olive oil, 5 T. canola oil, 5 T. balsamic vinegar and 3 T. chopped fresh rosemary. Add the mushrooms and toss them in the marinade. Cover and chill overnight. Prepare your grill for direct, medium heat. Grill the mushrooms for about 3 minutes per side, or until they are soft and shiny. Remove and season well with salt and pepper. Serves 6. (Portobellos beg to be filled with something. Try a fresh mixture of chopped tomatoes, sweet peppers, red onions, minced garlic and olive oil, or a rich blend of caramelized onions and fennel.)

4.Wild Mushroom Spaghetti
From Fresh by Michelle Cranston. Soak 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms in 1 c. of boiling water for 15 minutes. Heat 3 T. olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté 2 garlic cloves, chopped, with 1 onion, finely diced, over medium heat until soft and golden. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, together with 4 fresh button mushrooms, sliced, 3 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced, and 1 t. thyme leaves. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, then add 1/2 c. white wine, reserved mushroom soaking liquid and 3 oz. fresh enoki mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and simmer on low. Cook 14 oz spaghetti until al dente, drain and return to the pot. Add 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated, and stir through. Divide pasta among 4 bowls and top with the wild mushroom sauce. Serves 4.

5. Ligurian-Style Mushrooms & Potatoes
From Contorni by Susan Simon. Cook 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices, in a pot of boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. Combine in a bowl 1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, minced, the chopped stems of 1-1/2 lbs porcini or portobello mushrooms, 1/4 c. olive oil, 1-1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. ground pepper. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Generously oil a baking dish and line the bottom with the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with half the parsley mixture. Slice the mushroom caps and layer them on the parsley mixture. Cover with the remaining parsley mixture and drizzle the top with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until a light crust forms on top, about 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temp. Serves 6.