Archive for April, 2010

The Great Mushroom Makeover

For those of you reading the Mushroom Channel via blog reader or email, let us pause right now so you can click here.

Pause

All set?  Because if you are, you will notice we have some pretty fantastic new digs.

Digs that give you instant access to mushroom nutrition information, gorgeous recipes and overviews of all your favorite mushroom varieties.

Launching new digs and new contributors in one week- wow! I need to come up with a dinner idea to celebrate all this excitement. Good thing I know just the place to get started:)

Do you like our new look?

Mushroom Hazelnut "Pate" from Savour-Fare

Welcome to a new team of Mushroom Channel contributors! Our first post comes directly from Kate, the brains behind Savour-Fare. Kate’s creations have been featured on Food52, Tastepotting, Foodgawker, Foodista and The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen.  Welcome to the mushroom team, Kate!

As a child, there were only a few things I would not eat, and one of them was mushrooms.

This caused my mycophilic parents great anxiety. Mushrooms featured heavily in the family lore, as they were on the menu the first time my father ever cooked dinner for my mother (sautéed with an entire stick of butter.  My dad knew how to woo the ladies), and my folks simply could not understand how I could miss out on the joys that are mushrooms.  They tried everything they could to make me see the light, offering sliced raw mushrooms in salad, mushrooms baked into macaroni and cheese and, for the win, as the pizza topping of choice.

However, despite their most earnest entreaties, I remained steadfast in my dislike of mushrooms, eating around them in the mac and cheese, turning up my nose at the salads, and picking them off my pizza, one by one.

What my otherwise loving and wise parents did not understand was that my objection to mushrooms was all in my mind.  My eight year old self knew they were fungi, and the slippery texture of the cooked mushrooms my parents plied me with did nothing to distract me from that knowledge.

My conversion from a mushroom hater to a mushroom lover had to come in another form, where the texture of the mushrooms became secondary to that woodsy, earthy, haunting flavor that the best mushrooms offer.  Fortunately for my culinary education, a mushroom pate offered just that – a distillation of the flavor of mushrooms, with a texture closer to the finest country terrine.  I was offered a pate like this one, happily ate it up, and promptly decided that maybe mushrooms weren’t so bad after all.

Now, as an adult, I can say with all honesty that I love the slippery little buggers, and I am more than happy to top a salad of spring mache with a sauté of delicate chanterelles, or add some earthy portobellos to my pizza.  And my daughter shows no sign of my childhood proclivities – she will happily gobble silky shiitakes in a stir fry, or chow on a pungent porcini pasta.  But then again, she’s only two, and the opinions about texture might just come later.  So I’ve created this recipe for mushroom pate, sweetened with hazelnuts, brightened with lemon, and almost meaty with cremini mushrooms, sautéed in butter.  Just in case.  After all, we wouldn’t want her to miss out on the joys that are mushrooms.

Mushroom Pate

Adapted from Sunset

  • ½ ounce mixed wild dried mushrooms (my daughter often throws these in the shopping cart – the one I use is a blend of dried shiitake, porcini, oyster and wood ear mushrooms)
  • 1/ 4 c. boiling water
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms
  • 2 large or 3 small shallots
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 c. whole hazelnuts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

1) Rehydrate the dried mushrooms by soaking them in a bowl with the boiling water until the mushrooms are plump and soft.

2) Wash the cremini mushrooms by passing them under running water (contrary to myth, this won’t make them spongy.  But it will make them clean), and remove the stems.

3) In a food processor, combine the rehydrated mushrooms with the water they soaked in, the cremini mushroom caps, and the shallots (peeled).  Pulse until everything is finely chopped.

4) In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the mushroom mixture and a large pinch of salt, and sauté over low heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are golden brown  and any liquid that has been released during cooking has evaporated.

5) Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts and remove the skins (rubbing them in a mesh bag that originally held onions or garlic works wonderfully).

6) In the food processor (you don’t have to clean it thoroughly; it’s OK if there are still bits of mushrooms in there for this step), process the nuts until finely chopped and start to form a paste.  With the mixer running, pour the olive oil through the tube and process until the nuts are smooth.  Add the mushroom mixture and continue to process until the mixture is homogeneous and resembles a loose pate.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

7) Put the mushroom pate into a jar or crock and chill before serving.  Serve with good crusty bread or crackers to mushroom lovers and picky children.

Mushrooms Climb the Ivy Tower

We recently sported our crimson swagger while hanging out with the crème de la crème of college students: the elite ivy leaguers of Harvard U.

harvard logo final

As an encore to last year’s successful mushroom festival on this Cambridge, Mass. campus, another mushroom event with Harvard Dining Services took place at the end of March. Our nation’s brightest young minds were put to the test in a new subject: creating the perfect mushroom pizza.

Harvard students from the 13 campus dining houses submitted their best mushroom pizza recipes and had to assemble their pizza creations in the dining hall for judgment from their very own peers. One winner from each house was chosen, and a mushroom extravaganza ensued.

Mushrooms were found everywhere on campus: all of the dining houses were armed with full-blown mushroom sauté stations, each equipped with live chef demos; lots of signage touting the health benefits of mushrooms; and extensive mushroom displays (including specialty varieties like enoki, maitake and shiitake, which the students were thrilled to taste-test as they noted that it was a rare occasion to dabble in such delicacies).

harvard table

While on campus, not only were these awesome sauté stations set up, but the winning mushroom pizzas from the student contest were served hot off the line at each house, allowing all 6,600 students to enjoy their own house winner. Wondering how to cook for such a large group? Well for starters, it may look something like this:

harvard bin

We made stops at each dining house, kicking-off the evening at Kirkland House, the old stomping grounds of Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones. We got to walk the halls of where these two icons once lived, breathed, and ate… mushrooms of course (we hope!).

On our rounds, we heard from the lively coeds that Quincy is in fact the most fun of all the dining houses at Harvard. We also noticed that Cronkhite House took their mushroom displays very seriously (fitting that Cronkhite is home to the grad students, huh?):

harvard assortment

The night ended at Annenberg House, the spot for the frosh class to dine. Their customer service manager told us that whenever Annenberg serves mushrooms on the menu, students can’t seem to get enough. Their winning feta and shiitake pizza ran out as students were taking two-three slices at a time, but we sure aren’t blaming them!

Overall, the ivy leaguers confessed their love for ‘shrooms throughout the night and were able to learn all about mushroom nutrition, how mushrooms are grown, plus some fun mushroom cooking tips. To see all of the event photos, check out our album over on Facebook.

Wordless Wednesday: Portabella with Artichoke Hearts

Photo Credit: Bell'AllimentonIf these are the types of recipes we can expect from our new contributors, we have a whole lot to look forward to.  This light dinner idea brought to you by Bell’Alimento.

2010 Mushroom Channel Contributors

Featured Contributor

The wait is over.  After considering every awesome entry until the last possible minute, your Mushroom Channel team is thrilled to announce the ten official contributors for 2010.  Sincere gratitude is in order for everyone who took the time to write us an email, expressing love for mushrooms. The process of going through the submissions warmed our fungi-friendly hearts.

Without further ado, the 2010 Mushroom Channel Contributors are…

Colleen from Foodie Tots

Erika from In Erika’s Kitchen

Kate from Savour Fare

Lauren from Healthy Delicious

Mardi from Eat Live Travel Write

Patti from Worth the Whisk

Paula from Bell’Alimento

Rachael from Fuji Mama

Sabrina from Rhodey Girl Tests

Susie and Chelsee from We Are Not Martha

To our contributors, be on the lookout for an email from the Mushroom Channel editorial staff to talk through details.  To our readers, be on the lookout for a new post from one of these contributors every week starting April 26.