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Morel Mushroom Risotto

General Posts, Recipes
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The other day my daughter was taking a winter survival class. The other two adults and I were standing around, talking wild edibles. I wondered aloud what I might do with the last of my dried morels. The leader of the course answered without hesitation: “Morel Risotto.”

He was right.

Dried Morels

Dried Morels

The key to this delicious vegan dish was using the broth made from reconstituting the morels.

Morel Mushroom Broth Used In The Risotto

Morel Mushroom Broth Used In The Risotto

Morel Risotto - vegan, gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice, rinced
  • handful dried morels, soaked in one cup very hot water. Save the broth.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup cashew milk, watered down with 1 cup water
  • 2+ cups water as needed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • optional: pine nuts for garnish

Soak the Morels in Boiled Water - and SAVE the Broth!

Soak the Morels in Boiled Water - and SAVE the Broth!

To reconstitute the morels:

  • Place dried morels in bowl.
  • Boil water
  • Pour at least a cup of water over morels.
  • Cover and let steep
  • Save broth
  • Take morels out when soft (about 1/2 hour), squeezing broth into bowl. You are saving the broth to use in the risotto.

Chopped reconstituted morels, morel broth, onions, mushrooms, garlic, cashew milk

Chopped reconstituted morels, morel broth, onions, mushrooms, garlic, cashew milk, olive oil

Directions:

Risotto is made by cooking the rice slowly in liquid, added liquid in small amounts and letting the rice absorb it before adding more. This imparts great richness and flavor into the dish.

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in pan.
  2. Saute onion til soft, about 3-5 minutes, adding a bit of salt to help onion release its juices.
  3. Add fresh mushrooms, cook 3 minutes more.
  4. Add garlic and dried morels. Toss and saute a minute or so.
  5. Add the rinsed rice to the pan and stir to coat rice with the oil.
  6. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until rice dish has absorbed it.
  7. Once the broth is used, add watered down cashew milk (the cashew milk will thicken if you add it without watering.)
  8. Continue to add milk and water.
  9. Add liquid, stir, and cover to let the rice absorb liquid. You can also begin to add a little salt and pepper. You may have to add up to 2 more cups of water until rice is soft…I did!
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Add garnish of pine nuts if desired. Enjoy!

This dish was AMAZING! I served it with salad and roasted sweet potatoes. I’m glad I still have one more handful of dried morels left!

Morel Risotto with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Morel Risotto with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Salad

Rainbow Salad: cucumber, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, beets over a bed of chopped spinach and Romaine

Rainbow Salad: cucumber, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, beets over a bed of chopped spinach and Romaine

Now I’m anxiously awaiting morel season…still over 3 months away!

Enjoy the winter and your stores of dried edibles!

~ Melissa of Food Under Foot

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Wild Edibles Walk and Morel Mushroom Sale THIS Saturday!

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Please join us for a wild edibles walk and morel mushrooms sale this Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 10:30 - 12:30 at Frick Park Environmental Center.

There are so many fantastic wild edibles out there right now - including morel mushrooms and Dryad Saddle mushrooms - let’s see if we can find some!

Of course we can’t guarantee morel findings, but we CAN tell you Frick Park is a well known morel playground! At least you’ll learn what to look for and we’ll share some great tips on how to find them. We’ll bring samples of all the different equally delicious types of morels there are to find around here including little grays, black, half-free and yellow.

We’ll also find and discuss at least 15 common wild edible plants including dandelion, burdock, dead nettles, chickweed, cleavers and many many more.

If you’d like to buy some morels from us we are selling them in 3oz bags - which as you can see below is quite a lot of morels!

3 oz of morels

3 oz of morels

The walk is $5/person, and each 3 oz bag of fresh morels is $5.

Please register and let me know how many 3 oz bags you would like (ideally.) I will try to make sure each person who wants morels gets some, so if you’d ideally like 3 bags that will only be possible if there are more morels left over after everyone who wants some gets some.

Register by sending an email to: Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com with your name, email and phone number, how many will be on the walk with you and if you’d like morels how many bags you would ideally like.

We’ll meet at Frick Environmental Center, 2005 Beechwood Blvd (where the Earth Day walks were.) There is a parking lot there and we’ll meet at the circle garden (by the Port-A-Johns.)

In a nutshell:

What: Wild Edibles Walk and Morel Sale, rain or shine

When: Saturday, May 17, 2014 10:30 am until about 12:30

Where: Frick Park Environmental Center, 2005 Beechwood Blvd. We’ll meet by the circular garden at the entrance of the park.

Cost: $5 per person for the walk, plus $5 per 3 oz bag of fresh morel mushrooms (of course you do not need to buy mushrooms, you can just come for the walk…maybe you’ll find your own!)

RSVP: Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com with how many in your party and how many 3 oz bags of morels (we’ll try to fill all orders, making sure everyone who would like gets at least one bag) or call: (412) 381-0116

Questions: (412) 381-0116

Hope to see you Saturday!

~ Melissa and Dave

* Please Note: You do not have to buy morels to go on the hike with us! (walk is $5/person)

** Also, we’ll have more hikes, workshops and learning opportunities this year and we’ll give you much more notice! We just wanted to get out while it is still morel season so you can learn how to find morels!!

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18 Reasons Not To Be Impatient About Your Garden

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Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

I LOVE this time of year.

I have my garden in…but nothing is up yet. In fact, the tomatoes, peppers, basil and zucchini are still seedlings growing inside, the temperature outside is not consistently warm enough. And of the things I have planted: lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, only the merest of sprouts have come up. But I am not sad or impatient. Here’s why:

The WILD garden is filled with bounty right now! While my garden edibles won’t be ready for at least a month for the earliest things, NATURE is providing me with hardy greens of a variety of flavors, a variety of veggie stalks, and gorgeous gourmet mushrooms! Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying the past week from Nature’s Garden, which is full of glorious abundance:

  1. Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica, they’re up and in my smoothies and soups!
  2. nettles

    nettles

  3. Japanese Knotweed Stalks, deliciously tart, great for steaming, juicing and nibbling as a trailside treat
  4. Deadnettles, flowering now, this gorgeous flower is going in the smoothies and stir fries
  5. deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

    deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

  6. Chickweed, love it in salad
  7. Garlic Mustard, flowering already! In salads and pesto
  8. Fiddleheads, use care not to overharvest this springtime delicacy!
  9. Ramps, again, please use care not to overharvest!
  10. ramps

    ramps

  11. Onion Grass, aka Wild Chives/Garlic/Onion, use as you would chives
  12. Burdock Leaf Stalks, boil, steam, stir fry or add to soup
  13. Burdock Roots, juice, use in coleslaw and sour kraut, or stir fry
  14. Dandelion Leaves, bitter yet delicious and great as a liver cleanse
  15. Dandelion Flowers - I have a batch of dandelion wine brewing!
  16. Dandelion Root, dry for tea or dry roast and use as a coffee substitute
  17. Mint, is popping up
  18. Asparagus - If you’ve found a patch of wild asparagus you are in luck right now!
  19. Hairy Bittercress, this was one of the first things up! Tastes a bit like radishes, adds bite to your salad
  20. Morel Mushrooms, depending on where you live these have been up for a week or two or just due to come up. Yum!
  21. morel mushroom

    morel mushroom

  22. Dryad Saddle Mushrooms, if you find these with/instead of morels you’re in for a treat! Young dryads saddles are delightfully delicious.
  23. Dryad's saddle

    Dryad's saddle

I mean, really, who could ask for more?

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Vegan (and Soy-Free, Gluten-Free) Cream of Mushroom Soup with Morels and Dryads

Recipes
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vegan mushroom soup

vegan mushroom soup

Amazing, amazing vegan “cream” of mushroom soup…and the mushrooms are MORELS and DRYAD’S SADDLES! It doesn’t get better than this!

yellow morels

yellow morels

Vegan Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

vegan, gluten-free, soy-free

In a pot with water, boil:

  • 3 potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 button mushrooms (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Boil until POTATOES and CARROTS are tender. Remove from heat.

Add CASHEWS and blend well. (We used our vitamix, but any blender should be fine.)

In a pan with olive oil:

saute chopped MORELS with salt.

In another pan with olive oil:

saute chopped DRYAD’S SADDLE with salt.

Dryad's Saddle

Dryad's Saddle

(I sauteed in them in two separate pans because later in the season dryad’s can become bitter, and in case this had happened, I didn’t want to ruin the batch of morels!!! But they were just fine.)

Return now creamy broth to pot and adjust seasonings: SALT, PEPPER, PAPRIKA  to taste.

Add sauteed mushrooms and enjoy.

PLEASE MAKE 100% CERTAIN OF IDENTITY OF ALL WILD MUSHROOMS USED!

~ Melissa

Food Under Foot

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Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

Recipes
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Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

As stipulated in the 5th annual Morel Recipe Challenge, this recipe had to be baked. And what better way to bake than with muffin tins?

These Morel Muffins came out AMAZING. I have never baked anything in muffin tins, not even muffins. We only have the tins around to sort buttons and mix paint. But after today I may actually use them for savory recipes! I’m definitely making these again!

Dried Morels from Marx Foods

Dried Morels from Marx Foods

I used the wonderful dried morels sent to me by Marx Foods. To reconstitute them I simply poured boiling water over them, covered the bowl with a dish and let stand about 20 minutes. I then used that morel soak water to cook the potatoes, so make sure to save it! (You could also cook the quinoa in it…just make sure to use it, yum!) You could also use fresh morels in this recipe.

4 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled/steamed in the morel soak water. Then mashed. Add extra water when cooking if necessary and mash the potatoes and the cook water together at the end. You will need 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes for this recipe.

And I added garlic mustard because, well, it’s that time of year and I love using wild ingredients! But you can either omit this altogether or substitute arugula or chives. I picked some garlic mustard leaves, washed and dried them then chopped them very fine and small.

garlic mustard
garlic mustard

Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

An original gluten-free dairy-free vegetarian recipe by Melissa Sokulski for the 5th Annual Morel Recipe Challenge

You will need a muffin tin for this recipe.

  • 2 oz dried morels, reconstituted as above and chopped. You could also use one cup of chopped fresh morels.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (it will be about 1 cup chopped onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter, to saute morels, onions and garlic, plus a bit more to oil muffin tins
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (see above)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup flour, plus a bit more to flour muffin tins (I used a mix of almond meal and buckwheat flour to keep the recipe gluten free, but you can use whatever flour you like.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic mustard (you can also use arugula, or chives, or omit, see note above)
  • 1 Tbsp brown mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg

Tip: I made this recipe gluten-free and dairy-free so my family could eat it. However, I KNOW it would be DIVINE with your favorite cheese grated and mixed into the batter!

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Oil muffin tin with olive oil and sprinkle with flour to make it easier to remove “muffins” after cooking.
  3. Reconstitute dried morels (if using dried) by covering dried morels with boiled water. Cover bowl and let sit at least 20 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and able to cut. SAVE soak water to cook potatoes or quinoa.
  4. Boil (in morel soak water) and mash potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Boil 1/2 cup quinoa in 1 cup water (or morel soak water) for 15 minutes until quinoa is soft and water has been absorbed.
  6. Saute chopped morels, onions, and garlic in olive oil (or butter) for at least 10 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mix sauteed morel mixture with mashed potatoes, quinoa, and all other ingredients.
  8. Divide mixture evenly into the 12 muffin cups.
  9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool at least 5 minutes to help it set and make the muffins easier to remove.

Enjoy!!!

Baked Morel Muffins

Baked Morel Muffins

Festive foraging,

~ Melissa Sokulski

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Morel Season 2013 Begins

Identification
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Morel season is finally upon us!  The official start of my 2013 mushrooming season began when I found these tiny gray/white morels last weekend:

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Or did it start even before that, when I signed up to participate in the 5th annual Morel Recipe Challenge and I received my 2 oz of dried morels in the mail:

Dried morels and instructions from Marx Foods

Dried morels and instructions from Marx Foods

I am still working on my recipe for this challenge…it must be something baked and I do have some ideas….it is due by Sunday so stay tuned!

In the meantime I have found a few early morels (in addition to the tiny white ones) and had a very scrumptious dish of sauteed morels, fiddleheads, and nettles with onions and rice.

Sauteing morels and fiddleheads with onions

Sauteing morels and fiddleheads with onions

And remember, if you are looking for morels for the first time, there are a couple of tricky mushrooms out there: false morels. The two main Genuses are Gyrometria and Verpa. The Verpa - especially the Verpa bohemica (or wrinkled thimble cap) - disguise themselves as half free morels so be careful.

Gyrometria, one kind of false morel, not edible

Gyrometria, one kind of false morel, not edible

True morels are:

  1. 100% hollow inside, all the way from top through the stem. There will be NO cottony stuff in the inside, no folds or chambers, just completely hollow.

You can see how this half-free morel stem is completely hollow. Also, the top of the morel is attached almost at its bottom, not at the tip top.

You can see how this half-free morel stem is completely hollow. Also, the top of the morel is attached almost at its bottom, not at the tip top.

  1. Morels do NOT attach only at the top of the stem like Verpas. The tops (spongy-looking part) of the morel attach to the stem at its base; you can’t pull the spongy part of the mushroom easily off. Even half-free morels attach halfway down the top, not at the tip top like the Verpas.

(I’m sorry I do not have a picture of a verpa, but you can search the web and find some. Here is a good picture from mushroomexpert.com)

Morels must be cooked before eating! This is a general rule for all wild mushrooms.

Enjoy the spring! There is a lot out there in addition to morels right now:

  • fiddleheads (please harvest responsibly!!! Preferably from someone who grows them. Only take one or two from each plant, they are so easily destroyed.)
  • spring beauty
  • garlic mustard
  • Japanese knotweed
  • stinging nettles
  • deadnettles
  • dandelion
  • chickweed
  • onion grass
  • ramps
  • violets
  • wintercress
  • cleavers
  • burdock
  • broad leaf dock
  • curly/yellow dock
  • ground ivy/creeping charlie

We had a great time on our Frick Park Earth Day walks, by the way. Thanks for coming out to walk with us!

Talk to you soon…and soon there will be a new morel recipe up!

Happy, safe and responsible harvesting to all,

~ Melissa

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How To Store Extra Wild Mushrooms

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Chicken Mushroom (Sulfur Shelf)

Chicken Mushroom (Sulfur Shelf)

Too many mushrooms? Sometimes it happens. We stumble upon a downed tree covered with chicken mushrooms. We sneak a peak behind an old oak and find fifty pounds of hens of the woods (oh, how I wish!) We walk through the woods passing giant puffball after giant puffball. Much of it we leave but sometimes we take more than we can stomach in a sitting or two. So….what to do with the extra?

Having dried or frozen wild mushrooms on hand is actually awesome. In the middle of the winter how nice it is to cook up a maitake chili, or top our omelets with morels…pure decadence!

But every mushroom is different: some dry better than others, some fresh freeze wonderfully, and some it’s best to cook before freezing. Here is what I do with my extras:

  • Morels: having excess morels is rare but possible. These I dehydrate and they reconstitute beautifully.
  • Chicken mushrooms: I have never dried because I hear they “turn to dust.” This year I tired fresh freezing extra chicken mushroom, and also dry sauteed some and then froze it. In both cases I cut it first before freezing because as a rule it’s best not to thaw mushrooms, just throw them from the freezer into a hot pan or pot.
  • Hens of the Woods (Maitake) - these store well both dried and fresh frozen (I’ve done both.) I also cut these into smaller pieces when drying or freezing and again, don’t thaw the mushrooms before using; just throw them from the freezer onto a hot pan or into a hot pot (which is why I cut them before freezing.)
  • Giant Puffballs: Cook and freeze. They can be sauteed, fried, blanched, steamed, baked, grilled…however you want to cook them and then freeze them.

How have you stored your extra mushrooms? I’d love to hear if you have different experiences or advice on how to preserve the mushrooms!

Love and giant puffballs,

Melissa

~ Food Under Foot

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The Hunt for Wild Mushrooms

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This article first appeared in the East End Food Cooperator in August, 2012 (I think it was August). Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the article, but you’ll get to the Coop’s website with the link above. I added the pictures below. :-)

The Hunt for Wild Mushrooms
by Melissa Sokulski

morel mushrooms, early spring

morel mushrooms, early spring

Mushrooms are an interesting entity: neither plant nor animal, fungi are their own kingdom and upon close examination actually have more in common with animals than plants. Their cell walls contain chitin, found in shells of crabs and exoskeletons of insects but absent from plants. Plants make their own food but like animals fungi digest their food with enzymes they produce. Fungi also take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide like animals, while plants do just the reverse.

Nevertheless, as a vegetarian I am comfortable eating mushrooms and wild mushrooms are a true culinary delight - a feast for the forager - if you know what you are looking for.

When my husband and I first decided to learn about wild mushrooms, we were extremely fortunate to stumble upon the amazing and generous Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. We decided to go on one of their free weekly walks, open to members and guests. They meet at parks all over Allegheny County and beyond, there are now chapters of the club in Indiana county and Washington/Greene counties. Usually led by club mycologists and attended by experts as well as amateurs, this is a great way to learn about the fungus among us (I just had to!)

chicken mushroom

chicken mushroom

On our way to Deer Lake to meet the club one Saturday in August, my husband Dave and I promised each other that no matter what they said we would not eat any wild mushrooms. Wild mushrooms are dangerous, I proclaimed, mimicking the warnings of my herbal mentor who told me, “Native Americans didn’t even eat wild mushrooms,” (untrue) and “The number one cause of death among mycologists is mushroom poisoning!” (also not true.) But apparently a promise made is a promise broken in our household because before long we were filling our basket with golden yolk-colored chanterelles, a prized culinary mushroom.

a member of the western pa mushroom club with a basket of chanterelles, on our first mushroom walk

a member of the western pa mushroom club with a basket of chanterelles, on our first mushroom walk

One mushroom expert pointed out the false gills of the mushroom, and further explained that chanterelles grow singly from the ground unlike the poisonous (but rarely deadly) Jack O’Lantern, a common look-alike which often grows in clusters on wood. “But sometimes the wood is buried,” he warned, “like an underground root, so you have to be careful.” Another distinction is that Jack O’Lanterns are bio-luminescent, they glow in the dark. I was beginning to learn that edible or not, mushrooms are endlessly beautiful and fascinating.

We got the mushrooms home and prepared them, slicing them and noticing the apricot smell. We sauteed them (most edible wild mushrooms need to be cooked or can make you sick) and were hooked.

Filling out the application to join the club, one question asked, “How many wild mushrooms can you confidently identify?” I confidently filled in the blank with a zero. The thought of being able to identify wild mushrooms daunted me. Now I can identify over thirty, from delicious morels to the deadly Destroying Angel, both of which do indeed grow in this area.

Giant Puffball Mushrooms

Giant Puffball Mushrooms

The late summer into the fall is a great time to learn about wild mushrooms. There are a lot of beginner-friendly edible mushrooms to identify all throughout the city parks including the chicken mushroom or sulfur shelf (one of my favorites), chanterelles, giant puffball, black trumpets, lions mane or bear tooth, and the hen of the woods. The best way to learn to identify these mushrooms is by walking with experts like those in the mushroom club and attending their monthly meetings at Beechwood Farm Nature Reserve, which are also free and open to guests. Their annual foray is in September. There are walks and talks by experts, as well as a mushroom feast: dozens of dishes made with wild mushrooms by members of the mushroom club.

You can also find identification information and wild mushroom recipes on this website. Adding mushrooms to your foraging basket is as fun as it is delicious, and can be safe with care and knowledge. As I’ve heard many times from many people in the mushroom club, “There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters.”

This article and all pictures copyright Melissa Sokulski

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