Mushroom Season

Hurray! The mushroom season has started! Last Saturday we bought delicious cèpes and chanterelles. Such a treat. It does of course mean that summer is over, which makes us a bit sad, but it also means the joy of eating wonderful dishes such as Cèpes à la Bordelaise or Salad with Mushrooms and smoked Duck (see below). Last year we prepared a Pâté with bay boletes, which was both beautiful and delicious. Will we be able to buy them this year? Or perhaps the intriguing Japanese Matsutake? It’s been some time since we last saw them on the market, and we would really love to make Matsutake with Spinach and Ginger again. How about Caesar’s mushroom with Udon?

Books

If you’re looking for useful mushroom recipes, then we suggest Antonio Carluccio’s The Quiet Hunt or Mushroom by Johnny Acton and Nick Sadler. Or look at our list of mushroom recipes.

Wine Pairing

Combining wine and salad is never obvious. In the case of a salad with mushrooms and duck we need to consider umami (mushrooms, duck), a touch of sweetness (smoked or cured meat) and the acidity of the dressing. We choose Domaine de Rimauresq Côtes de Provence Cru Classé rosé. A classic wine from the French Provence with grapes such as grenache noirmourvèdreugni blanc and rolle. The wine comes with delicate fruity, fresh flavours and aromas. It is very well balanced, dry and mouth filling and it combines beautifully with all aspects of the salad.
In general you’re looking for a white or rosé wine that has complexity and length, without being overpowering.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Mushrooms (Cèpes preferred but also great with Oyster Mushrooms or a mix of Champignon de Paris, Shiitake and others)
  • Mesclun
  • Dried or Smoked Breast of Duck
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar (Red Wine, Jerez or Raspberry)

What You Do

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the mushrooms in olive oil. Make a dressing of oil and vinegar. Toss the mesclun and the dressing. Transfer the salad to a plate, add mushrooms and finish with 3 or 5 slices of duck.

Pasta with Mushrooms

Most historical recipes are about meat, fish and poultry, using a range of herbs and spices. Vegetables were not considered to be a healthy (slimy and wet) or were seen as food for the poor. Afterall, the recipes were to be used by cooks and chefs for the upper class and the gentry. Eating meat, drinking wine and using spices also illustrated wealth.

Today’s food culture is very different: meat is seen by many as the most important aspect of a meal, we tend to eat far too much of it and we’re not willing to pay a decent price for it. Go to your local supermarket, visit your local snack restaurant and feel sorry for the animals. From happy pig in the mud to intensive farming where the animals are kept in gestation crates.
On the other hand, hurray, we see more and more vegetarian alternatives, with lentils, beans, vegetables etcetera inspired by, for instance, traditional vegetarian cuisine from India.

We were pleasantly surprised when Manon Henzen and Jeroen Savelkouls published their Historisch Kookboek Vega, discussing historical vegetarian cuisine. The book includes 14 recipes, for instance dishes like Surprise Honey Cake and Chick Pea Soup. Plus one for Pasta with Mushrooms. Sounds very much 21st century but is actually based on a Venetian recipe from the 14th century. It’s a nice combination of homemade pasta (a bit chewy perhaps), mushrooms and spices. We tweaked it a bit. The original recipe is included in the book which is available via the webshop for €12,50 (Dutch only). On the website you will also find a range of videos, helping you to cook historical vegetarian food.

Wine Pairing

You can be flexible in this case. We enjoyed a glass of Côtes de Provence rosé with our pasta, but a glass of not too complex, red or white wine will also be fine.

What You Need

  • Dough
    • 125 grams of All Purpose Flour
    • 2 Eggs
    • 50 grams of Parmesan Cheese
  • Spices
    • Black Pepper
    • 3 Cardamom Seed Pods
    • Cinnamon Powder
    • Laos Powder
    • Nutmeg
  • Shallot
  • 150 grams of Mixed Mushrooms
  • 4 Sage Leaves
  • Parsley
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • White Wine
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Crush and combine the spices. Add 2 teaspoons of the mixture and the grated Parmesan cheese to the flour and mix. Whisk two eggs and add these to the mixture. A bit of kneading is required to make the dough. Set aside for an hour or so.
Knead the dough a bit more, flour your hands and make finger-long, thin pasta.
Chop the shallot, glaze in a large heavy iron pan, add the sliced mushrooms and fry these gently for a few minutes. Now add half of the deveined sage leaves and roughly chopped parsley plus some white wine. You could add a splash of white wine vinegar. Cook the pasta in a pan with boiling water for 10 minutes or until done. It behaves very similar to gnocchi. Five minutes before serving add the remaining sage and parsley. Drain the pasta, add to the pan and combine. Serve with some extra Parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Mushrooms ©cadwu
Pasta with Mushrooms ©cadwu

Mushroom Caponata

There must be hundreds of recipes for Caponata. The dish originates from Sicily and should contain (at least, we think so) eggplant (aubergine), celery and vinegar. Sugar is often added to enhance the sweetness and intensity. Nowadays it’s often a combination with tomatoes, shallot, capers, olives and perhaps raisins, pine nuts, oregano and basil.
The flavour of caponata should be slightly bitter (the eggplant) with a touch of sweetness (sugar, onion), acidity and saltiness (celery). The texture should be moist, but not sauce-like.
We love to enhance the flavours by adding mushrooms. And since we’re not keen on using sugar, we make sure the onions bring sufficient sweetness.

Enjoy your caponata as an appetizer, for instance with some crusted bread or bruschetta. A nice glass of white wine or rosé will be perfect with it. It’s also great as a side dish, with fish or even merguez.

Whatever the combination, caponata must be made one day ahead.

What You Need

  • 1 Aubergine
  • 200 grams of Mushrooms (preferably a mix with Shiitake)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 cm Red Chilli Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • 2 tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Fine Salt

What You Do

Wash the eggplant and slice. We slice the eggplant lengthwise in 8 and then we slice these strips. Salt them generously, transfer to a sieve and allow to drain for one or two hours. The more liquid they lose, the better! Rinse the eggplant with cold water and dry them with a kitchen cloth. Fry the aubergine in a heavy iron skillet until nicely golden brown. Set aside. Slice the red onion, clean and chop the mushrooms. Chop the garlic and the chilli pepper finely. Add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Remove and set aside. Now fry the mushrooms. After 5 minutes or so add the garlic and the chilli pepper. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and the eggplant to the pan. Add chopped parsley and celery. Mix well. Add two spoons of white wine vinegar and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Add black pepper to taste. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Keep in the refrigerator for the next day.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper

Udon is such a wonderful noodle. What better comfort food than a warm soup made with dashi, vegetables, tofu, udon and thinly sliced spring onions? Perhaps some tempura on top of the soup? Or would you prefer a very simple dish, called Mori Udon? The cold udon is served with a sauce of mirin, dashi and soy sauce on the side.
Udon is also a great alternative to Italian pasta, for instance with Caesar’s Mushrooms.

In this recipe we combine udon with roasted bell pepper and Trompettes de la Mort. We’re not sure why, but this combination works really well. Is it because of the smokey aroma of the roasted bell pepper mixed with the aromas of the mushroom? The crispy pancetta in combination with the soft textures of the other ingredients, including the udon? The overall richness and umami thanks to the Trompettes de la Mort?

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our pasta with a glass of Bianco di Custoza, made by Monte del Frà from Italy. It is a well-balanced, dry white wine, with a fruity nose. Its colour is straw yellow, with pale green highlights. A glass of Soave, made from the Garganega grape, will also be an excellent choice. In general you’re looking for a fresh, aromatic dry white wine. 

What You Need

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Bunch of Udon
  • 100 grams of Trompettes de la Mort
  • 1 Glove of cooked Garlic
  • 4 slices of Pancetta
  • Black pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the bell pepper and cut in 4. Transfer to the oven and grill or roast for 10 minutes or until well charred. When still hot, put the bell pepper in a plastic container and close it. After one hour it’s easy to remove the skin of the bell pepper. Slice lengthwise to make nice strips. Set aside.
Slice the mushrooms in two and clean them with a soft brush. Check carefully for grit and other things you don’t like to eat.
Fill a large pan with water (no salt!) and bring to a boil. Add the udon and cook it according to the instruction. When nearly done, add some cooking liquid to a cup and set aside. Drain the udon.
In parallel heat a large heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry the mushrooms. Once they become a bit dryer, add the sliced bell pepper. Add the cooked garlic, crush it with a fork and mix. Now add the udon and continue mixing. Add cooking liquid until the pasta is sufficiently moist.
Also in parallel: grill the strips of pancetta (perhaps 5 minutes).
Add some black pepper to the pasta and serve with the grilled pancetta.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu
Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu

More mushrooms!

Mushroom is one of the first books by Johnny Acton, Nick Sadler and Jonathan Lovekin (photographs), published in 2001. The book offers some 70 recipes plus very interesting background information on the history of mushrooms and their hallucinating, psychedelic and culinary aspects. The book comes with many beautiful drawings and photographs. It has specific sections on cèpes, morels, chanterelles and truffles. It is very well written, fun to read and the recipes are accurate.

They have also written books on Soup, Preserves and one called The Complete Guide to Making, Cooking & Eating Sausages.

Recipes

One of the benefits of the book is that the recipes range from relatively easy to make (pasta with cèpes or clear soup with enoki for instance) to exotic and mouth-watering dishes (lobster and cauliflower fungus ravioli with saffron butter). The book is a great addition to more classic books on mushrooms such as The Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin, The Mushroom Feast by Jane Grigson or Antonio Carluccio’s Complete Mushroom Book.

In most cases it’s not too difficult to buy the required mushroom. Shopping at your local Asian toko will also help, for instance if you need shiitake, enoki or wood ear (they offer a recipe for a very nice Chinese chicken soup with ginger, pak choi and dried wood ear).

Our favourite? Perhaps their salad with shiitake, watercress and tofu. A modern, light dish with lots of flavours (cilantro, ginger, sesame oil, lemon).

Mushroom is available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for between 10 and 25 euro.

Mushroom

Maitake

Legend has it that maitake got its nickname The Dancing Mushroom because foragers danced with happiness when finding it. It still is a much loved culinary mushroom, with a very specific aroma, interesting texture and intense flavours.
Nowadays maitake can be wild or cultivated. Both are fine; we actually prefer the cultivated one because it’s milder. Make sure you cook maitake through and through, otherwise you may upset your stomach (and other parts of your body). 

Maitake combines very well with beef and thyme. It is also great when combined with shrimps, crab, scallops, coriander, dill and parsley; a salad created by Antonio Carluccio and published in 2003 in the Complete Mushroom Book. Our Maitake soup, made with dashi, ginger and rice, is a gentle soup, with some umami and bitterness. 

In this case we combine fried maitake with various other ingredients to create a well-balanced (vegetarian) meal.

Wine Pairing

A flavourful dish! Sweetness in the tomatoes, umami in the maitake, freshness in the mash et cetera. Wine wise you have lots of options. We preferred a not too complex pinot noir, because it’s supportive and combines very well with the various flavours.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Maitake and Olive Oil
  • Parsley Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Crème Fraîche, White Pepper and Nutmeg
  • Small Ripe Tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Oil
  • Lentils, Shallot, Parsley, Vegetable Stock and Black Pepper
  • Celeriac, Butter, Caraway Seed, Fennel Seed and Black Pepper

What You Do

For the lentils: slice the shallot and gently fry it in olive oil. After a few minutes, add the washed lentils (check for pebbles!), coat them with oil, add vegetable stock and cook until ready. Perhaps 20 minutes. Drain but keep some of the liquid, add chopped parsley and black pepper.
For the tomato confit, see an earlier post.
For the mash: clean and chop 2 parsley roots and 1 Jerusalem artichoke. Cook for 10 minutes or so in water until nearly done. Drain. Add a generous spoonful of crème fraîche and warm on low heat for 10-20 minutes. The idea is for the vegetables to absorb some of the crème fraîche. Blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and serve with white pepper. A touch of freshly grated nutmeg will be great. If you like more color on your plate, then add some chopped parsley to the mash.
The celeriac is cooked in the oven with a coating of fennel and careway seed. The recipe from Dutch chef Yvette van Boven is available via YouTube. She combines it with a home-made citrus marmalade, but that’s not necessary for this dish. Use the YouTube settings if you want to have subtitles in your own language.
Slice the maitake and fry in olive oil until done and slightly crunchy.
Serve on a colourful plate.

The Quiet Hunt

Antonio Carluccio’s The Complete Mushroom book is more than a cookbook. The first part of the book discusses foraging and collecting mushrooms, with clear descriptions of each mushroom and poisonous look-alikes. It’s a pleasure to read, but we’re not brave enough to start our own quiet hunt.

Fortunately, mushrooms are becoming more popular and greengrocers and supermarkets have started selling chestnut mushrooms, button mushrooms and shiitake. Asian supermarkets in most cases sell (king) oyster mushrooms, shiitake, enoki and shimeji.
Don’t be tempted to buy dried mushrooms: expensive, no aroma, nasty taste and not even close to a fresh mushroom.

Recipes

The second part of the book includes some 150 mushroom recipes, ranging from classic Italian dishes to culinary treats. Carluccio’s recipes are well written and informative. You’ll get the feeling that he lets you in on some of his secrets. And given he started foraging mushrooms as a young child, there are a lot of secrets to share!

One of our favourites is a salad made with maitake, fresh scallops, crab and shrimps. It’s an amazing result, with lots of pleasant flavours, also thanks to the cilantro, dill and parsley. Part of the fun is that the scallops are not seared but prepared like ceviche. Maitake is also available as a cultivated mushroom.

Caponata

More favourites? Of course! How about Mushroom Caponata or Tagliolini with black truffle? The caponata is a combination of mushrooms, egg plant and various herbs, so if you can buy button mushrooms and for instance shiitake, you’re ready to go.

Our all-time favourite from this book is the combination of fresh oysters with white truffle (bianchetti). A starter we prepare once or twice a year, depending on the availability of the truffle. Always a pleasure…

The Mushroom Book – the Quiet Hunt was published in 2001. It’s available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for prices between 25 and 50 euro.

One of the very best books on mushrooms, written by a true expert.

Mushroom Tapenade

Years ago our favourite green grocer was the shop of Joop and Trudi Petersen, close to Amsterdam’s China Town. Not only did they sell the tastiest vegetables, fruit and mushrooms, but they also sold homemade mash (the one made with potatoes and rapini (or broccoli rabe) was wonderful), desserts, ravioli with pumpkin and Trudi’s mushroom tapenade. When Joop turned 65 in 2008 they retired and closed the shop. Obviously, we asked for the tapenade recipe, but alas, all we got was a nice, friendly smile.

In our post about the Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin and Dorothy Reinhardt (Illustrator) we mentioned that the recipe for Mushroom Tapenade is amongst our favourites. His tapenade is a combination of mushrooms, garlic, various herbs, red wine, anchovies, black olives and capers. Very nice, tasty and powerful, but not as delicious as Trudi’s version.

Mushroom tapenade comes with lots of umami, thanks to the mushrooms and the olives. Thinking back of Trudi’s tapenade, we’re pretty sure she enhanced the umami flavor, probably by adding some oyster sauce from the toko next door. We think that the recipe below is very close to what she created.

What You Need

  • Fresh Button Mushrooms and Shiitake (ratio 2:1)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • Olive Oil
  • Thyme and Rosemary
  • White Wine
  • Black Olives
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of (Thai) Oyster Sauce

What You Do

Don’t use dried mushrooms. In general they have a nasty, bitter taste, not even close to the flavor, aromas and textures of fresh mushrooms.
Clean and chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the rosemary, the thyme and the garlic. Fry the mushroom in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Reduce heat, add herbs and garlic. After 10 minutes add a splash of white wine. Continue on low heat and wait until the wine and juices have evaporated. No rush. Chop a few black olives. Transfer the mushroom mix to a plate, let cool and add the olives. When cool, transfer to a kitchen aid and on low-speed start adding excellent olive oil. The result should be a tapenade, so not smooth and not oily. Add black pepper to taste. Add a small amount (1/4 teaspoon to begin with) of (Thai) Oyster Sauce. Be very careful, it should only enhance the umami.
Store in the refrigerator for at least one day before using.

Earthly Delights

The Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin and Dorothy Reinhardt (Illustrator) is a lovely, small book with some 35 recipes and 60 very delightful full-colour wood-cut illustrations. Just look at the cover! It’s the kind of book that we bought because it looks good. A book you simply want to have.

Only later did we find out that it discusses the history and other interesting back ground information of various mushrooms, including information on choosing, storing and preparing them. The book offers an introduction to the joy of cooking with mushrooms such as button mushrooms, morels, oyster mushroom, truffle, trompette de la mort, chanterelle, shiitake, cèpes and huitlacoche, a Mexican mushroom that grows on corn.
Michael McLaughlin is also known as co-author of The Silver Palate Cookbook with recipes from Manhattan’s celebrated gourmet food shop.

Amongst our favourite recipes are Mushroom Tapenade and Raw Mushroom, Fennel and Provolone Salad.

The Mushroom Book was published in 1994. It’s available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for something like 15 euro. Ii is an ideal and friendly introduction to the world of earthly delights. 

The Mushroom Book
The Mushroom Book

The Mushroom Feast

Yes, it’s a bit early, but we can start thinking about enjoying the first mushrooms of this season, such as the Mushroom of Saint GeorgeMorels, Bianchetti and the Fairy Ring Mushroom. Let’s be prepared for the season and think about books, recipes, web sites and food-wine pairing.

A classic book on mushrooms was written by chef and author Jane GrigsonThe Mushroom Feast, originally published in 1975. The book Is beautifully illustrated by Yvonne Skargon.
Jane Grigson is known for many other classics such as The Fruit Book and The Vegetable Book.

The Mushroom Feast includes a chapter on the best edible mushrooms and ways to preserve mushrooms. Other chapters describe how to combine mushrooms with fish, meat, poultry and game. One chapter discusses mushrooms in the Japanese and Chinese kitchen.
Jane Grigson also provides interesting background information, like Colette’s view on truffles. Worth reading, with or without truffles.

It isn’t a handbook for foragers, but no book ever is.

The Mushroom Feast covers a wide range of mushroom recipes: soups, salads, pies, sauces and intriguing combinations like creamed cucumbers with mushrooms and classics like mushroom soufflé. The recipes are clear and well-written.

You may perhaps think the recipes are a bit old fashioned, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading them. Be inspired by one of Britain’s finest writers on recipes and food.