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A Delicious Gift! September 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Dinner with TCR, macro photos.
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Driving through Buckland the other day, I spied three off-white clumps affixed to a slain golden birch.

Of course, I stopped to investigate, and unlike The Cat, my curiosity was rewarded with culinary gold – Hericium erinaceus,  commonly called Lion’s Mane. It’s a tooth fungus, highly prized for its intense mushroom flavor and its prolific fruitings.

Plus, it’s beautiful, so much so that it’s said to be delicious if you can bring yourself to pick it.

Well, I did. I had a long slender knife in the car, with which I sliced the baby-head-sized growths off the birch log. They weren’t brand new and pristine, but rather a couple of days old, but still firm and white.

I shook the bugs out of them (yeah, bugs know good  when they see it) and pocketed my booty, speeding home to make a great dinner at the right price.

Here’s a close-up shot of the “teeth” of this delectable tooth fungus:

They’re equivalent to the gills under the cap of common agarics  in that they’re the spore-bearing structures of this mushroom’s fruiting body.

And Holy Cow, did they make one one helluva cream of mushroom soup, sauteed lightly in butter, then added to a reduction of heavy cream seasoned with garlic and curry powder.

I’m two pounds happier for that find.  😉

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Shroomin’! August 27, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Dinner with TCR, macro photos.
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After a dreadfully hot and dry start to the summer, which meant that the local mushrooms weren’t blooming, we’ve had a good mix of rain and sun lately. Consequently, we’re seeing a lot of mushrooms in the woods and at roadside.

I’m totally all over that. Free food of a mysterious and slightly dangerous nature… not really, because I’m faint of heart… but the “free” part is all true, and there’s nothing like freshly foraged food.

The Boletes are out, some pretty good to eat and some really choice.  I’m fond of Red Capped Butter Boletes, which are really hard to confuse with anything else. Firstly, they’re a bolete,  so they have a spongy underside instead of having the fine gills of most other mushrooms. Plus, they’re bright red on top, butter-yellow on the underside of the cap, and shading from bright yellow to a vibrant red moving down the stem. There are other red mushrooms, but none which look like  the Red capped Butter Bolete, so it’s a safe choice for mycophagists.

Here’s a freshly picked RCBB lying next to a Russula, which has both gills and a pure white stem which snaps like a piece of chalk when picked:

Some people eat Russulas, some people are sickened by them, so I just keep to the boletes and whatever else I know to be safe and delicious.

I also found some chanterelles, including red (rare,) yellow (common) and black (exquisite!) The black aren’t uncommon so much as they’re invisible on the forest floor. I’ve hunted then fruitlessly for hours, then suddenly realized I’d been walking through them most of the while.

The ones I got this week were thin tubes, a bit browner than their more trumpet-shaped black brethren:

I put a load of these into a cream sauce, and they’re exquisite, with a strong nutty flavor and a texture suggestive of al denté  penne. They’ll meet their end on a bed of polenta tomorrow.

I have a variety of really choice boletes to prepare tomorrow, including king, queen and yellow-footed in addition to the red capped butter boletes. I’m not sure if I’ll get to eat them or just dry them for later; I’ll be away for most of midweek, and don’t want them to go to waste!

Dinner(s) With TCR! September 24, 2009

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Courtesy of the last ‘shrooms of the season.

First, a Bolete quesadilla, made in this case with a pair of King Boletes.

This was fun, doing the mushrooms first at high heat, then adding celery and chunky garlic, then taking the whole lot out and reserving it before adding a little butter and frying a large flour tortilla a bit ’till it was ready to receive back the ‘shroom filling:

bolete quesadilla

It folded over quite nicely, thank you, before I crisped it up for the kill.

‘Twas guuud.

‘Twas equally guuud to think of something to do with my last harvest of chanterelles for the season.  They’re a summer mushroom around here, and are most likely done blooming.

I sautéed the chanterelles with celery and sun dried tomatoes, then unceremoniously removed them all from the pan and replaced them with my new love, fresh goat cheese raviolis poached in chicken broth.  Then, as above, I added back the niceties to dish up Raviolis with Wild Mushrooms:

raviolis and chanterelles

I made noises eating this.  I may have bothered the neighbors.  I didn’t care.  Life is too short to not appreciate what’s good, and I’m just not into dampening my enthusiasm for what I have left of it.

Not that I’m checking out, mind you, but I’m no Spring chicken either.

And one never knows, now, does one?

Pastoral. September 16, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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September is a transitional month in Massachusetts, with nights getting colder and colors appearing in the trees.  The skies can be vivid and crisp or, as at present, shrouded in muting gray tones:

Gould's field

But the fields are verdant, and the roadsides peppered with treasures:

Omphalotus illudens

Omphalotus illudens, adorning the base of a mighty oak in Shelburne, but at a price: it inflicts its host with a delignifying butt rot.

Ouch!

Dinner With TCR – Mushrooms, Part 1. September 10, 2009

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My fridge is bursting with ‘shrooms!  They’re being crushed beneath each others’ weight, forcing the half-and-half to sweat and fade on the counter, keeping me up late at night, challenging my imagination and culinary stamina.

What to do with a basketfull of Black Trumpets?

black trumpets

…or a bag’s worth of Eastern chanterelles?

chanterelles

Perhaps a breakfast omelet of local duck eggs, chanterelles, caramelized onions and cheddar:

chanterelle omelet

…and a dinner of black trumpets and chants with garlic, white wine, basil and a crumble of Gorgonzola, served over fresh lobster raviolis:

trumpets over raviolis

… prime examples of my Hundred Yard Diet, being largely from my garden and the nearby woods.

If anyone has a pickling recipe for a shopping bag’s worth of Oyster mushrooms, I’d be more than happy to entertain it, as my half-and-half needs a place to stay…

Dinner With TCR! February 22, 2009

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Tonight, fresh pumpkin-sage raviolis, topped with a ratatouille of leeks, roasted red peppers and some of my own dried wild mushrooms, in this case a medley of boletes, the fabled cèpe of French culinary fame:

raviolis and cepes

…with a few other flavors thrown into the sauté, like garlic and anchovies and vegetable broth and white wine, in this case a decent Gruner Veltliner, 2007.

Came out pretty good for blind gastronomic groping.

Dinner With TCR! October 14, 2008

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So, tonight, a Spinach Salad, Chef-Style, with cheese, smoked turkey, grape tomatoes, green and black olives, and some Hen-Of-The-Woods mushrooms which I pickled:

Ate me up a buttload of it, I did.

A Cool, Moist Summer… September 6, 2008

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…Means lots of mushrooms!

Yeah, after a really slow start, this year has turned out to be a bumper year for all things fungal!

Here are a few I’ve encounterred along the way:

Laetiporus Sulphureus,  “Chicken of the Woods”

I have a fridge full of these, which will shortly find themselves blanched and frozen.

An “Earth Star” (left) and several cup fungi (right):

The young buttons of a blewit and a russula nestle beneath a blanket of oak leaves:

Gomphus Floccosus,  the “Scaly Chanterelle,” is not really a chanterelle at all:

These guys are the Real Slim Shady – Cantharellus Cibarius,  the true Chanterelle, soon to be dried and squirreled away in my freezer:

Red Capped Butter Boletes, a delectable find:

Boletus Frostii, with its distinctive, coarsely reticulate stipe, one of the very few non-poisonous boletes with red tube mouths on the underside of its pileus:

And my personal favorite, Death Trumpets (Craterellus Fallax,  if you must):

They’re nearly invisible amongst the detritus of a deciduous forest, but if you’re fortunate enough to find one, you’ll likely be astonished to find yourself surrounded by hundreds of them!  I had the great good fortune to spend an afternoon foraging for these li’l beauties with Frau Biergut and Miz Lu(mena) recently, and now have a freezer full of dried specimens to add to upcoming meals.

Well hey, I won’t bore you further with my fungophilial  facinations – at least not tonight!  But DO be forewarned that there’s more where these came from!  😉

Dinner Breakfast With TCR: August 25, 2008

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…The Hundred Yard diet edition!

Today, a very local omelet:

…made with local eggs, onions and hot peppers from my garden, and wild mushrooms from the roadside gathered on my way home from work.

Oh, and heirloom tomatoes, also from my garden.

Enjoy!

Plan B. July 28, 2008

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So “Plan A” was to try to make raviolis out of a mushroom I found.

But I couldn’t find my flour, which of course shot that plan all to hell.

So I did the next best (and way easier) thing and cooked some good, freshly made store-bought units:

(These being of the Roasted-Red-Pepper-and-Smoked-Mozzarella variety)

Then sautéd the first fruits of my garden into a sauce built around the afore-mentioned mushroom.

I got a little red onion and a handful of basil on the board, then minced half a bulb of fresh garlic:

Then I toasted the ‘shroom and garlic in a thin slick of Extra-V olive oil, mostly ’cause I can, and added the red/green onion a bit later. As the mixture danced on the razor’s edge of carbonization, I splashed in a couple ounces of white wine, full-throttling the heat ’till it all exploded in a cloud of spicy steam and pan-bound sugars.

“I dream of caramel, and long for you…”

Yes, dream on, I’m not quite done.

Out with the veggies, in with the cream, and deglaze ’till it’s a done deal, the bubbling reduction containing every atom of its original incarnation, but now transformed into sugars and a thick sauce, into which the veggies return, are tossed, and are ladled onto the waiting raviolis:

Toasted Wild Mushroom (of unspecified genus) in a White Wine/Cream Sauce on The Raviolis of Your Dreams.

Enjoy it while you can.