Giant Puffball in November

Early yesterday morning my friend Bob O, called to tell me he had seen several large puffballs while walking his dog at a local park. Actually they were right at the beginning Giant1of a trail through our greenbelt. I met him within 20 minutes, and we collected them – Calvatia gigantea. To the left is Bob with the harvest (click on thumbnail). He is holding the largest one which weighed 11 pounds !! Four total, but one was discarded because it had already begun to yellow inside.


ivyThis wGiant2as an unusual experience for three reasons: (1) the biggest I have personally collected, (2) it was late (November) for this species here, and (3) they were growing in a bed of thick English ivy – in fact they were creased by the vines as they grew through the tangle..

I toGiant3ok them home to make Puff Ball Parmesan (click on sidebar link for recipe). Unfortunately, the giant one was beginning to yellow, and I saw no need to try and salvage the edges, as I had two more good ones weighing 3 lbs.

Sparassis Fracas

FracasI live in a conflicted household this time of year. Yep, the Tennessee vs. Alabama football game ! A three-time University of Tennessee graduate (’72, ’88, ’95), I married Ellen, an Alabama graduate X2. It doesn’t help that I was raised in Alabama and began college at Auburn. Oh well, last Saturday was the game, and for the fourth straight year UT was on the short end. However, the 3rd Saturday in October (now the 4th Saturday), as it is still called, is also the time of year for some great fungi !! I made this picture as a photo journal reminder, that win or lose, the next day may yield betterer fruit. The Sparassis were found Sunday, and the Hen of the Woods was found on Monday.

fracasnakedSo, who was the winner ? Moi ! As a gracious winner, however, I did sauté some Hen for Ellen.

Mushroom Pot Pie

I saw this in the Oct/Nov issue of Garden & Gun magazine and tried it. It was from Chef Julia Sullivan at the Pinewood Social in Nashville. I made a couple of minor fall mixadaptations. I have to confess that my crust didn’t work as I would have liked – I made it too thick and it sagged, so here I’m recommending getting a store-bought pie crust, and then cutting the rounds to fit your bowls. I’m leaving her recipe out. I used my own Fall Mix of mushrooms as pictured to the left (Hen of the Woods, Lion’s Mane, Puffballs, Oysters, Chicken of the Woods &  Lobster). Also, I could not find fresh cippolini onions, so I bought some that were marinated in a balsamic mixture at my local grocery deli bar, and then omitted the sherry vinegar. - worked great

1/4 lb butter, cubed
1 cup flour
4 cups mushroom stock (I used chicken broth)
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 cups mixed mushrooms (see above)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
4 cippolini onions, peeled and quartered (see above)
2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar (see above)
1/2 tsp dried thyme ( I used ground)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley (I used fresh)
Sat & pepper to taste
6 rounds pastry crust (I will use purchased pie crust next time)
1 egg and 1 Tbsp whole milk for egg wash.

Melt the butter in a medium Dutch oven and gradually add flour over medium high heat, stirring constantly, to make a roux slightly brown.

Whisk in the cold stock/broth until mixture is creamy (If it’s too thick the pie filling will be gummy). Add more liquid as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Dry sauté (sweat) mushrooms until all water is released and evaporated. Then add 1 Tbsp olive oil and pan roast until beginning to brown. Set aside.

Pan roast carrots and parsnips in 1 Tbsp oil until they are softened and begin to brown. Set aside.

Sauté onions until translucent and then add celery and cook until tender.

Fold mushrooms and veggies into the roux/stock (gravy). Adjust seasoning and let cool to room temp.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk egg and milk for an egg wash
Gather six 8 oz. bowls, room temp
Cut pie crust rounds 1-inch diameter larger than bowl diameter
Brush each round with egg wash
Fill each bowl with 8-oz filling
Place rounds over each bowl, wash side town.
Carefully seal each crust to its bowl without letting the crust sag.
Brush tops with egg wash.
Place bowls on a sheet tray and bake 20 minutes.
Remove pies from oven and let rest 5-min.

Serve 6