Fragrant Tricholoma and Gypsy

caligataWhile out this week, I found several Tricholoma caligata (left). I have never eaten one because the general consensus among the ‘shroomers I know is that it is too bitter. Michael Kuo on www.mushroomexpert.com agrees on that point. However, you can find instances of mycophiles stating they are edible and good. In fact, Susan Mitchell has a recipe for Marinated Tricholoma and Pasta Delight in the Field to Field-to-Kitchen Guide by Fischer and Bessette (see my sidebar link “Books”). The book speculates that there may be varieties with a range of bitterness. I decided to try and make sense of this.

The human palate tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. In addition we taste what is called umami by the Japanese and “savory” in our food culture. Creating foods with full bodied, complex flavors involves a combination of all five tastes, as well as aroma. Hence, I decided to treat the slightly bitter mushroom I had found as I would bitter salad greens. After some musing, I remembered the gyoza (dumpling) sauce in the fridge. It has a soy base and contains, among other ingrediants, salt, sugar,and vinegar as well as umami from the fermented soybeans. So,with a little olive oil and butter I sautéed chopped T. caligata and then added dumpling sauce (from any Asian market) and let them cook a bit longer until frond began to form, and then I deglazed with a bit of red wine. The taste was excellent. Looking back at Susan’s marinade one could see that she also used a mix of the five tastes in her marinade. Lesson: We may be missing excellent mushroom fare it we don’t considered the chemistry of taste.

GypsyI also found a patch of Rozites caparata, The Gypsy. They are delicious and worth being on the lookout for them. I simply sautéed mine with butter/oil and added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, soy, and red wine. Served them with a good Porterhouse. I get the loin portion and Ellen gets the filet portion. I thought they were great, but Ellen didn’t care for the texture. They cooked down thin and soft. Oh well, I ate them all.

There are still a lot of good mushrooms showing up !!!!

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

Ingredients
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.

PREPARATION
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.

Assembly
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