Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mushroom Season 2010-11

Mushroom season is underway - despite all the rain we have had, the chanterelle season is lagging about six weeks behind last year's season.  Last year I was harvesting 40-60 pounds of mushrooms/week by this time of year!  This year - I'm lucky to come out with 4-6 pounds.  Most of the chanterelles are closer to the edge of any given stand of trees where they get a bit more warmth, quite a few buttons.

Lots of other foragers are finding bonanzas in other areas but - being the creature that they are - they aren't giving up the information on where they are finding stuff!  Hoping to head out to Salt Point State Park next week to look for black trumpets, hedgehogs, maybe some late porcini and other good stuff.  Mushroom reports & pictures coming soon!  I've sprayed my shoes & rain jacket with Scotch Guard just to be ready! Maybe I should go do my hat, too...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Golden Chanterelle Stroganoff

If you haven't yet signed up for one of Chef Eric Tucker's cooking classes at Millennium, perhaps this will tempt you - Chanterelle Stroganoff.  He said it was ok for me to reproduce this recipe, so here you go!

This is one of my favorite recipes - I have experimented with a few variations which I will mention below. 

Chanterelle "Stroganoff" by Chef Eric Tucker

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into thin crescents
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1# cleaned chanterelles, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 c vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 1 Tb nutritional yeast (or more, to taste)
  • 1 c cashew cream (make yourself with pre-soaked cashews, drain, blend with cold water, dash of salt and squeeze of lemon til you get a cream)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • minced fresh dill
  • lemon zest
  • cooked papardelle (super easy to make yourself!)
  1. In a large skillet, sautee the onion in the olive oil over medium, stirring often until onion is medium caramelized.
  2. Add garlic & mushrooms, continue to sautee, stirring often until the mushrooms are dry.
  3. Add thyme & paprika, sautee 30 seconds, then deglaze with red wine.
  4. Add tomato paste, stock & nutritional yeast and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Add cashew cream, simmer until thick.
  6. Taste & adjust seasoning.  
  7. Toss the cooked papardelle with some olive oil.  
  8. Place a portion of sauce over noodles, sprinkle with dill & lemon zest.
Variations:  I have made this with morels and other mushrooms - it comes out pretty delicious.  I have also substituted dry sherry for red wine for deglazing.  

Make your own pasta  - it's really not hard, and papardelle are wide strips that you want to cut by hand anyway.  Rustic homemade noodles are divine!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Millennium Winter Mushroom Cooking Class 2011

If you have never attended a cooking class at Millennium - or even at all - I highly recommend getting behind the counter at Millennium with Chef Eric Tucker for his annual Winter Mushroom Cooking class.  There's usually a pre-class foraging trip in addition to the pre-class Farmer's Market trip.

Winter Mushroom Cooking Class
Sunday January 9, 2011
10am-4pm (ish)
Join Eric Tucker for a hands on cooking class in the Millennium kitchen. Spend the second Sunday of the new year creating multiple mushroom filled courses that you will then have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy family style. You will be working with mushrooms that Eric has foraged locally and you will have the opportunity to join Eric for a guided tour through the Ferry Building Farmers' Market on Saturday, January 8 at 10am.
Space is limited, please call Alison for a reservation 415.345.3900x13

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chanterelles & Israeli Couscous

Recipes often result from "what do I have in the house" - in my case, I am fortunate that I have a giant pile of chanterelles, plus kale growing in the yard and a well stocked pantry of dry ingredients.  This is a quick and easy dish that you can make up using one pot and one skillet, substituting any mushrooms you like!  This recipe can also be done fat-free since chanterelles throw off a lot of water.

  • 1-1.5 pounds golden chanterelles (or other mushrooms) 1/2" dice or coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 c chopped parsley
  • 1/2 c  Tuscan or Dino kale, chiffonade into thin strips
  • 1 c dry Israeli couscous
  • 2 packets Road's End Organics herb gravy
  • Veggie stock or almond milk, as needed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 tsp dried lemon zest or 1 Tb fresh lemon zest (or more, to taste!)
  • Salt, black pepper, paprika - to taste
  • Olive oil  or sesame oil (optional)
  • splash of dry sherry or cheap sake for deglazing
  1. Prepare the couscous in a separate pot with salted water or veggie stock, adding the lemon zest after liquid is about half reduced.
  2. Mix gravy packets in a measuring cup with 1 c almond milk, stock or water and put to the side.
  3. Sautee onion til soft, add garlic.  When they are transluscent - and before garlic starts to burn - add chanterelles.
  4. Reduce heat and let chanterelles release liquid.  If it gets a bit low, deglaze with sake, sherry (or stock/water/white wine).
  5. After chanterelles have gotten softer, add kale and parsley and spices. 
  6. Allow chanterelles to cook down a bit more and as the liquid reduces, mix in the couscous and gravy mix.  Thoroughly but gently toss and allow to cook down til thick.  Add more stock/almond milk/water if needed.
Serve warm - also works great at room temperature and as leftovers.  The couscous will swallow up any remaining liquid so your leftovers will have more of a sopa seca or pasta salad appearance. The lemon also gets more lemony if you used dried lemon zest.  Delicious, quick and easy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Candy Cap Blondies

Last month, after signing up for the culinary interest group for the Mycological Society of San Francisco, I found myself volunteering to help make desserts for the annual holiday dinner. The organizer and her other volunteer both live within a few blocks of me, so meetings were convened and e-mails flew back and forth.  In the end, I brought a pile of delicious vegan desserts including: Mexican Chocolate Torte, Persimmon Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Anglaise sauce and  Candy Cap Blondies using a recipe created by Eric Tucker for one of his classes at Millennium Restaurant (recipe below). 

The dinner came off pretty smoothly - my friend Scott joined me and even loaned a hand (& tools) to help set up the xmas tree and set tables.  There was so much food!  We could have easily had more people there - and the East Bay location at the Albany Community Center had a fantastic kitchen and huge dining room.  The chanterelle-quinoa stuffed portobello mushroom was really delicious, as were the mashed potatoes with *vegan* mushroom gravy and a delicious mushroom soup with loads of delicious mushrooms.  My desserts partner made up about 20 different kinds of chocolate truffles, mini eclairs and cream puffs.  Needless to say - I was very well fed and brought home much of my dinner for lunch the next day. 

I am still eating some leftover desserts this week, as well - I hope you'll pop in for coffee and cake!

Eric's Millennium Candy Cap Blondies

  • 1/4 c cocoa butter
  • 1/3 c grapeseed oil
  • 2 T ground dry candy cap mushrooms
  • 1/4 c rice or almond milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1 t Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/4 t ground clove
  • 1/2 c pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  1. Place the first 5 ingredients into a double boiler and melt.  Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes or so, then remove double boiler from hot water and let it cool.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together - except for pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Add wet ingredients - at room temperature, not warmer - to dry ingredients.  When mixed, add pecans & chocolate chips.
  4. Turn into lightly oiled pan lined with parchment paper, bake 22-24 minutes at 350.  This will fit in a large loaf pan or a 9 x 9 pan if you like thinner blondies (which will need to be removed sooner than a deeper pan).  Keep an eye on this - if you increase the recipe size, it will take longer.  If you use a dark metal pan that holds more heat, they will cook faster and you will end up with cookie instead of blondie.  You want to see the blondies puff up and get tall, filling the sides of the pan and becoming golden brown on top.  A 3x batch fits a 13 x 9 pan and takes well over 40 minutes to achieve doneness!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Persimmons are BACK! - Persimmon Bread Pudding for BREAKFAST!

If you're like me - an avid forager & kitchen witch - you might wake up one morning to discover that 40 of the 212 persimmons you harvested and have spread out on cookie sheets, trays and the little cardboard trays that once held pint and half pint canning jars - are ripe and already have been discovered by the ants.  Fortunately, the ants never get farther than under the little crown of four leaves at the stem and are easily evicted under running water.

After filling six dehydrator sheets with sliced persimmon, and putting 11 cups of persimmon pulp into freezer bags - you then discover that the gallon bag of croutons and the decidedly non-vegan chicken parts rescued from the freezer of a friend moving to Portland (to pass along to another friend for chicken stock - hey, the chicken is already dead!) - are taking up so much space that you don't have much room for more persimmon pulp in the freezer.

Then, the next morning - say, today - you wake up and find that only 3-4 persimmons, small ones at that, are really super ripe and it's not worth adding them to the dehydrator when you can kill two birds with one stone by using up some of those fabulous sourdough croutons.

Ladies & Gems - I give you:

Persimmon Bread Pudding

  • 4 cups bread cut into 1"-1.5" chunks (last night's leftover baguette baseball bat is ok!)
  • 3 cups almond milk (regular or vanilla)
  • 2-3 small Hachiya persimmons so ripe that you have to take care not to pierce the skin with your fingertip
  • 1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tb ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins or currants or dried cranberries (or some other dried fruit - chopped dried apricots, nectarines or apples might be nice!)
  • 3/4 coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Pour almond milk into your blender up to the 2 cup mark.
  2. Cut hachiyas in half and scoop out pulp with a big tablespoon, straight into the blender.
  3. Check the level - add more almond milk to bring it up to 3 or 3.5 cups.
  4. Add maple syrup (reserving 3 TB), cinnamon, clove, vanilla to the blender cup - put the lid on and process til smooth.
  5. Pour custard onto bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl - let soak 5-10 minutes, depending on how tough your bread is already.  You want it to absorb a lot of the liquid and there will still be some liquid floating around.
  6. Mix in raisins and toasted nuts gently - don't mash up the bread!
  7. Transfer to a lightly greased gratin dish or baking dish - the depth of the dish affects the cooking time and the final outcome.  If you like a soft, custardy bread pudding, use a deeper dish - if you like it to be a little more chewy and crispy, use a more shallow dish.
  8. Drizzle reserved maple syrup on top.
  9. Bake in 375 oven for 20 minutes - the bread pudding will bubble and get puffy - it will settle a bit after it cools.
Eat it warm or cold!