Browsing the archives for the mushrooms tag.


Yum-mazing Morel and Mashed Potato Muffins

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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:

photo26

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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Identifying Oyster Mushrooms

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Harvest of Oyster Mushrooms (with Trish)

Harvest of Oyster Mushrooms (with Trish)

Some things to know about Oyster mushrooms:

  • Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are found in late fall and winter. Other varieties of oyster (P. pulmonarius and P. populinus) can be found year round.
  • Oysters grow on wood: hardwood, either live or dead trees, stumps or branches.
  • They have gills., which are white to cream colored, and can descend a bit down the stalk (if a stalk is present.)
  • They usually grow in shelf-like overlapping clusters.
  • If a stalk is present, it will be off to one side, not in the center.
  • Spore print is white to cream or possibly lilac.

Oyster is a gilled mushroom. Gills are white (to cream) and can descend a bit down the stalk (if there is a stalk, which is sometimes absent, and if present is off to one side.)

Oyster is a gilled mushroom. Gills are white (to cream) and can descend a bit down the stalk (if there is a stalk, which is sometimes absent, and if present is off to one side.)

It is important to take a spore print when identifying mushrooms. The deadly galerina, which also grows on wood, will have a rusty brown spore print. (The deadly galerina also has a center stalk.)

Taking a spore print of the oyster mushroom. Since we expect it to be white, we are using non-white paper.

Taking a spore print of the oyster mushroom. Since we expect it to be white, we are using non-white paper.

Poisonous mushrooms to distinguish:

The oyster grows on wood and has gills. Poison (from toxic to deadly) mushrooms which grow on wood and have gills are: Jack O’Lantern, Deadly Galerina and Angel Wings.

Jack O’Lanterns are  yellow-orange, with yellow-orange flesh and yellow gills and a whitish cream spore print.

Deadly Galerina is a smaller brown mushroom with creamy to brownish flesh, gills are yellowish brown, and spore print is rusty brown. It has a central stalk. This mushroom can cause death.

Angel Wings: Smaller, white, grows on evergreen wood not hardwood. Spore print white. Inconsistently reported as edible, toxic, and deadly, so I think is best to avoid.

Reference Books for Mushrooms

I use a couple of mushroom books as my main references. One is Good Mushroom Bad Mushroom by Western PA Mushroom Club member John Plischke III, and the second is National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms are delicious. They sell them at stores. If you buy them there make sure to smell them and memorize the smell; that will also help you identity them in the wild. Oysters have a distinctive sweet smell.

Remember, when eating wild mushrooms you need to be 100% sure of identification. Wild mushrooms can be deadly! Oyster mushrooms always grow on wood, have white to off-white gills, white flesh, and white to cream spore print. These facts are so important when identifying!

To learn more about wild mushrooms from local experts, join a mushroom group for a lecture, hike or foray. Local groups will be listed on the North American Mycological Association website. If you’re in or near Western PA, check out the Western PA Mushroom Club.

Festive Foraging!!

~Melissa

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Wild Edibles Abound in Mid-December

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It’s mid December in Western Pennsylvania and no snow on the ground. Though it has flurried a couple of times nothing has stuck. It may drop below freezing at night, but during the day it is in the 40s and 50s and there are many wild edibles all around. So many nutritious greens to add to soups and salads!

I took these photos on a walk around the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Brookline. Besides these edibles I’ve seen lots of deadnettles and garlic mustard all around.

Dandelion in bloom mid-December

Dandelion in bloom mid-December

Lots and lots of mallow everywhere

Lots and lots of mallow everywhere

It's hard to get a good photo of the wispy onion grass

It's hard to get a good photo of the wispy onion grass

Deliciously sour and fabulously healthy sorrel...one of the ingredients in the anti-cancer herbal formula Essiac.

Deliciously sour and fabulously healthy sorrel...one of the ingredients in the anti-cancer herbal formula Essiac.

The oyster mushrooms were found with my friend Trish just outside Pittsburgh, in Bellevue. They are delicious! More tomorrow on identifying oyster mushrooms.

Harvesting oyster mushrooms with Trish

Harvesting oyster mushrooms with Trish

Happy harvesting!

~ Melissa

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Starting to Think About A Wild Thanksgiving

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Delicata Squash with Wild Mushroom Stuffing (vegan, gluten-free)

Delicata Squash with Wild Mushroom Stuffing (vegan, gluten-free)

Wait, is Thanksgiving next week…already?!? How exciting!
We can get all sorts of wild edibles on our Thanksgiving table, from mushroom to plant…but in our case we are going to let the wild turkeys roam (we are vegetarian foragers!)
So lets have a vegan gluten-free wild Thanksgiving!

I’ve been seeing lots of prime edibles:

  • Burdock root
  • Burdock leaf stalk
  • Dandelion leaves and root
  • Sassafras and Spicebush twigs and root
  • acorns
  • black walnuts
  • hickory nut
  • garlic mustard
  • dead nettles
  • nettles
  • creeping charlie/ground ivy
  • hen of the woods
  • blewit mushrooms
  • abortive entaloma (mushroom)
  • bears tooth or lion’s mane

…so many possibilities!!!

And what about Vegan Gluten-Free Entrees and sides for the Thanksgiving table?

Try stuffed squash, like the delicata squash above with a wild mushroom stuffing with acorn flour biscuits, burdock leaf stalks in gravy and white bean and nettle soup. For a dessert drink: dandelion root coffee pumpkin latte.

Recipe for Wild Mushroom Stuffed Squash100_4766

  • Delicata (or your favorite stuffing squash: butternut, acorn) - cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out AND SAVED FOR ROASTING!
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, chopped (I used hen of the woods)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup seeds (I used sunflower seeds and pepitas which are shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • Optional: 2 cups chopped greens such as nettles, deadnettles, dandelion greens or spinach
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free tamari
  • 1 Tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

To Prepare Squash and Roast Seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  3. Clean seeds and place on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and salts and mix thoroughly.
  4. Rub oil on the cut side of the squash and place face down onto cooking tray.
  5. Place Squash and seeds in oven.
  6. After 15 minutes remove seeds and mix again so they cook evenly. Replace in oven and cook 10 to 15 minutes more until done.
  7. Check squash: depending on size/thickness it should take about 40 to 60 minutes to cook. It’s done when it is soft when the top is pressed.
  8. Remove from oven, flip right side up and allow to cool.

To Make Stuffing:

  1. In pan on stove, saute wild mushrooms in olive oil for at least 15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat.
  2. Saute onion in olive oil with sea salt until translucent.
  3. Add garlic, mushrooms, celery and spices and saute at least 5 minutes more.
  4. If using greens, add them now and saute until wilted.
  5. Add seeds and saute another couple minutes.
  6. Add cooked rice and tamari and mix while heating through.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Fill Squash with stuffing and serve.

I’ll continue planning our Thanksgiving table and keep you updated.

I made a recipe for White Bean Nettle Soup which I will share with you soon as well.

What other things can you think of for the wild table?

Please add your comments below.

Enjoy the fall!!

~ Melissa

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Fall Mushroom Fun In Pictures

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hen of the woods (maitake)

hen of the woods (maitake)

hen of the woods (maitake) chili

hen of the woods (maitake) chili

Gem studded puffballs (edible)

Gem studded puffballs (edible)

Giant puffball: sliced and breaded in preparation for Puffball Parmesan

Giant puffball: sliced and breaded in preparation for Puffball Parmesan

Don't let his smile fool you...Dave's got poison in his hands! Pigskin Poison Puffball Mushroom.

Don't let his smile fool you...Dave's got poison in his hands! Pigskin Poison Puffball Mushroom. (NOT edible)

Blewit, edible

Blewit, edible

Identifying mushrooms after the walk with the Western PA mushroom club

Identifying mushrooms after the walk with the Western PA mushroom club

Perhaps some kind of honey mushroom (unveiled?). We found these after the hike and are currently spore printing. We won't eat them, though, without a knowledgable person to ID them.

Perhaps some kind of honey mushroom (unveiled?). We found these after the hike and are currently spore printing. We won't eat them, though, without a knowledgable person to ID them.

rusty brown spore print from what a mushroom expert thought was a gymnopilus luteus (yellow laughing gym.) This is a hallucinogenic (not edible) mushroom.

rusty brown spore print from what a mushroom expert thought was a gymnopilus luteus (yellow laughing gym), or perhaps some kind of Pholiota mushroom. The laughing gym is a hallucinogenic (not edible) mushroom.

Table full of mushroom fun. Far left: hen of the woods and clockwise: unveiled honey mushroom (?), giant puffballs, blewits, spore print of yellow laughing gym, aborted entolomas.

Table full of mushroom fun. Far left: hen of the woods and clockwise: unveiled honey mushroom (?), giant puffballs, blewits, gem studded puffballs, spore print of yellow laughing gym, aborted entolomas.

Blewits (edible)

Blewits (edible)

aborted entoloma (edible)

aborted entoloma (edible)

Making spore prints of blewit (front), meadow mushroom (back left) and unveiled honey (on blue paper)

Making spore prints of blewit (front), meadow mushroom (back left) and unveiled honey (on blue paper)

Thank you to the Western PA Mushroom Club for this wonderful walk and help with identifying all these (and more) amazing mushrooms!

And to our new friend Michael who found the Hen of the Woods (and gave it away!) and also quite generously gave us the aborted entolomas to try. Thank you, Michael!

Lots of love and fall mushroom fun to everyone,

~ 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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