Post #415 Five Marvelous Mushroom Things

September 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Anyone else like mushrooms all the time?  I sure do.  I haven’t done any mushroom hunting because they can be extraordinarily dangerous to eat if you don’t know what you’re doing, but domesticated mushrooms are very good and if you know what you’re doing, wild mushrooms are spectacular.  But I’ve never tried to learn to identify mushrooms except those in the grocery stores.


I started by eating deep fried mushrooms, but those are usually frozen before they’re fried, and they release a lot of water during the frying process.  They become quickly soggy and unappealing so I don’t do them often.  Then I started putting them on pizza, then in grilled sandwiches, and then in casseroles.  Suddenly, as with lentils, I was eating mostly mushrooms and people were looking at me with that “can’t we have something else?” expression.

So, just in case you like mushrooms as much as I do, I thought I’d offer five different things you can do with mushrooms that can segue into other dishes you might like.  Just remember there are lots of different kinds of mushrooms with lots of different flavors and they usually aren’t interchangeable.

Mushroom Thing #1:  Dried Mushroom Powder

We’ve done this several times based on a suggestion from America’s Test Kitchen.  Most grocery stores sell dried mushrooms, either all the same kind, or in blends.  Take those dried mushrooms and put them in a spice grinder or coffee bean grinder (that has NOT been used for coffee ever at any time) and turn the dried mushrooms into powder.  This powder can then be used as seasoning for nearly anything.  It imparts the intense mushroom flavor without the mushroom consistency.  Partner/Spouse hates the feeling of mushrooms in his mouth.  Loves the flavor, though.  This is the perfect compromise.  We find it’s best in soups or sauces, but not as a stand alone soup.

Mushroom Thing #2:  Fried or Sautéed Mushrooms

You can fry mushroom caps, slices mushrooms, or chopped mushrooms.  If you’re frying caps or sliced, do not over crowd the pan.  Fry them longer than you feel comfortable with and they’ll get a nice crispy layer on the outside.  You can fry them with other things but if you want the crispiness, fry them alone first, then add the other veggies or meat.  Mushrooms have their own flavor, but they also pick up the flavors of what they’re cooked with so some really good pairings are beef, garlic, onion, and butter.  Once the mushrooms are fried, they can be added to anything.  I’ve seen a sandwich where the chef hollowed out a whole loaf of bread, fried a sirloin steak, stuffed it into the hollowed loaf, added fried mushrooms, and weighted the whole thing down in wax paper.  After several hours in the fridge, it turned into a wonderful cold sandwich with all the juices soaked into the bread and the meat and mushrooms as tender as a marshmallow.  I’ve added fried mushrooms on top of burgers, and into meatloaf.  Sometimes, I’ve put them in casseroles, but usually I put raw mushrooms in to cook with the casserole.

mushrooms 2

Mushroom Thing #3:  Soups and Sauces

Ever been to a Japanese Steak House restaurant?  The first course is usually a light beef or onion soup with mushrooms slice thin as paper.  The mushrooms wilt and cook in the bowl of broth and the whole thing tastes wonderful.  Most restaurants go the quick and easy route by using a beef bouillon, but if you want it authentic, you should use a beef consommé.  It’s time consuming but not difficult.  Once the consommé is done, use a very sharp knife or a mandolin to slice the mushrooms as thin as possible.  Those go into the hot broth and served immediately with a few chopped scallions.  Cream of Mushroom soup is easy to make and you don’t really need cream or milk for it.  Start by heating a pound of sliced mushrooms in half a cup of chicken broth.  Cover and heat, stirring occasionally so nothing burns, until the mushrooms have released their juices and cooked down, about 20-30 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then using an immersion blender, or a stand blender, puree the entire pot of soup.  Make sure there are no lumps at all.  Put the soup back in the pot and bring to a simmer, adding two cups of chicken broth.  When the whole pot is hot and simmering, make a slurry out of 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.  Make sure the slurry has no lumps.  Add the slurry to the soup in a slow stream, stirring the soup constantly.  Cook the soup stirring constantly until it thickens, then allow to cook for five minutes without stirring.  Serve hot.  You can use leftovers for any cream of mushroom recipe you know.

Mushroom Thing #4:  Raw Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great when cooked, but are just as good when served raw.  Make sure they’re fresh and have a crisp pop to them.  Clean them thoroughly, but you don’t need to peel them.  Make sure they’re dry, or they spoil more quickly.  If you’re going to store them, put them in a cool, dark, dry place and make sure they have air all around them.  A plastic baggie won’t do.  When you use them, cut them into bite size pieces for salads or dipping.  Some salads like to have them sautéed, but mostly they’ll be raw.  You can also stuff the caps with deviled egg yolk or chicken salad or cheese.  They can be dipped into any savory dip, or plain olive oil with seasoning or vinegar.  I do not recommend dipping them in a sweet dip, but to each his own.

Mushroom Thing #5:  Mushrooms as a Garnish

I’ve watched chefs slice little wedges out of mushrooms caps and place them on a plate as an eye-pretty.  It seemed like a lot of work for something that’s to be ignored.  I’ve seen other chefs spiral cut a mushroom and edge platters with them.  I’ve seen pizza chefs cut a mushroom so thin you could see through it and drape it over the outer crust so the mushroom cooks crisp but the outer crust stay moist but firm.  I’ve seen bowls of mushrooms marinated to rubber-like consistency then set out on the table for each person to add to their plate as they see fit.  Mushrooms as a garnish is an okay thing.  I’d rather just eat the mushroom in the meal.

You get the point that mushrooms are versatile and mushrooms are good.  They’re also good for you.  They contain trace minerals that are important to the human body.  They also contain a good amount of vitamin D as well as a good supply of protein.  Mushrooms can be substituted for meat in many dishes, if you use the right mushroom.  Once I got a steak at a restaurant that was entirely covered with a sautéed portabella mushroom.  Everyone else at the table was turned off by the mushrooms on their steaks, so I got to eat my steak, my mushroom, and everyone else’s mushrooms.  It was good!


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