Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, October 2, 1996

MUSHROOMS STRIDE TO FRONT OF PLATE

October 2, 1996

Advertisement

A mushroom strode into a local drinking establishment, only to be stopped by the bartender.

``Hold it right there,'' the bartender said. ``We don't serve your kind here.''

``Why not?'' replied the mushroom. "You know I'm a fungi.''

This is what passes for kitchen humor at my house. I was treated to this groaner by my favorite teen-ager, who was lurking about, shadowing my every move, as I stuffed mushrooms for Saturday night's dinner.

I've learned to expect his company whenever I cook with mushrooms because the same quirky taste buds that led him to reject childhood standards like peanut butter and cold cereal have convinced him that fresh mushrooms -- raw fungi, as it were -- make a fine snack.

When I buy mushrooms, I plan accordingly and always bring home more than I need for cooking. This saves the young man in question from having to employ sleight of hand and other diversionary tactics to slip mushrooms out of the kitchen.

I've always used mushrooms liberally in cooking because of the earthy flavor they add to just about everything they touch. Lots of people do that. However, I'm convinced that most of us have only begun to mine mushrooms' potential as a focal point of a meal.

On Saturday, I filled some giant button mushrooms with an improvised filling of cheeses, egg, finely chopped onion and spices. Although we're accustomed to seeing stuffed mushrooms on hors d'oeuvres tables, this time I served them in place of a side dish.

The same can be done with sauteed mushrooms and other dishes that feature mushrooms as the dominant component.

Although morels have commanded much of the wild mushroom attention in recent years, there are plenty of other varieties to sample.

With the wider availability of fresh and dried portobello, porcini and shiitake mushrooms -- which now are fixtures in better produce sections -- cooks have access to a wider range of flavor. From the milder taste of portobello, we can graduate to porcini and then to the smokier, meaty flavor of shiitake.

Following is a recipe for an open-face sandwich that works well as a light meal in fall and winter. The recipe is borrowed from ``Herbs in the Kitchen'' by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger.

Mushrooms with thyme on toast

day, I filled some giant button mushrooms with an improvised filling of cheeses, egg, finely chopped onion and spices. Although we're accustomed to seeing stuffed mushrooms on hors d'oeuvres tables, this time I served them in place of a side dish.

The same can be done with sauteed mushrooms and other dishes that feature mushrooms as the dominant component.

Although morels have commanded much of the wild mushroom attention in recent years, there are plenty of other varieties to sample.

With the wider availability of fresh and dried portobello, porcini and shiitake mushrooms -- which now are fixtures in better produce sections -- cooks thin.

Trim the porcini and rinse them carefully to rid them of any sand. Strain the mushroom water through a sieve lined with a damp paper towel or fine-weave cheesecloth and reserve it. Chop the porcini coarsely.

Heat the butter and oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook for about a minute. Add the porcini. Press the remaining clove of garlic into the pan and stir well. Add the thyme, about filling of cheeses, egg, finely chopped onion and spices. Although we're accustomed to seeing stuffed mushrooms on hors d'oeuvres tables, this time I served them in place of a side dish.

The same can be done with sauteed mushrooms and other dishes that feature mushrooms as the dominant component.

Although morels have commanded much of the wild mushroom attention in recent years, there are plenty of other varieties to sample.

With the wider availability of fresh and dried portobello, porcini and shiitake mushrooms -- which now are fixtures in better produce sections --

Commenting has been disabled for this item.