As my future awaits on a small piece of paper from a government office in Illinois, cooking seemed like the only right thing to do. Why mushrooms? At NGI I was always drawn to the mushroom recipes. Mushrooms to me seem to be so delicate in nature, but impart such a hearty robust flavor.
I found this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841). “Have you not seen the woods, in a late autumn morning, a poor fungus or mushroom, – a plant without any solidity, nay, that seemed nothing but a soft mush or jelly,-by its constant, total, and inconceivably gentle pushing, manage to break its way up through the frosty ground and to actually lift a hard crust on its head? It is the symbol of power of kindness.”
Mushrooms seemed like the only fitting thing to make today. Take the high road through the power of kindness and not let some bureaucratic madness drive me crazy. Here is some interesting info on mushrooms….1) it is full of B Vitamins, Potassium, and Selenium 2) great read on how they can turn our toxic environment around 3) for all the men out there- prostrate cancer is reduced greatly by the intake of mushrooms.
My most memorable encounter with mushrooms was back in 2002. I was dining at the French Laundry in Yontville, CA and had ordered the vegetarian tasting menu. Two men with gloves on came to the table side with what looked like a cigar box. One gentleman opened the box, while the other one removed a very delicate truffle. He quickly shaved off 4 paper thin slices, placed the truffle back in the box and they both exited stage right. The moment was so funny and I had no idea what the deal was with truffles. Little did I know that truffles sell for $500 a pound. And if you happen to be in Italy this October, the Truffle Fair of Alba looks like a blast!
I began with making a mushroom stock. There are a ton of recipes out there. I happened to have about 2 cups of dried shitake mushrooms from Thailand that I had brought back. I boiled some water and covered them for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, I sauteed in a pad of butter a diced carrot and onion. Then added in a few thyme and parsley sprigs, bay leaf, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, and 1 cup of dry white wine. After the mushroom were done soaking I poured this over my sauteed vegetables and added about 3 more cups of water. This simmered for 30 minutes. Strain and you are left with 2 quarts of broth. One for the mushroom soup and one for the freezer. The recipe comes from this book.
1 medium sized onion; finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Madeira
1 quart mushroom broth
14 ounces of fresh cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, rinsed and dried
1 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
Cook the onion in butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, stirring almost continuously to prevent browning.
When the onion is translucent, after about 10 minutes, add the flour and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes more to cook out the starchy taste.
Add the Madeira and broth, whisk the soup to get rid of any lumps, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Put the raw mushrooms in a blender and add 2 cups of the hot soup base. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes.
Pour the blended mushrooms back into the rest of the soup base. (The author said you can strain the blended part if needed, but mine was pureed.) Add the cream. Bring the soup back to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into hot bowls and top off with a few drops of cream.
Or if you want to go crazy….
M for madness? Mindful Meals? Mushrooms? I think I will go with Marvelous!