Foraging For A Feast of Mushrooms

The holidays are here and that means spending time with family & friends cooking (and eating!) great food. Mushrooms can be a delightfully tasty and nutritious addition to your holiday meals. Certainly you can chop them up and add to the dressing or gravy to add depth and taste dimensions not available with any other ingredient. Also, sautéing is one of the most popular ways to prepare mushrooms – it is simple, easy, and delicious. Simply sauteing in butter with a bit of salt transforms this bit of earthy wildness into a delightful addition to your table. Use your sauteed mushrooms as a garnish, a side dish or to create soups, appetizers, and entrées.

But what else can you do with mushrooms?

Cream Sauce – Sauté mushrooms until cooked through, then add heavy cream. Simmer until slightly thickened, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over meat, rice or pasta of your choice.

Bat Wing Soup – This has been a great year for finding Black Trumpets – this summer I collected two to five cups of Black Trumpets almost every week from mid-June to mid-October – way more than even we could eat immediately, so we dried them.

Early in the season, after our eighth meal with Black Trumpets within one week (yes, you heard correctly – eight – it’s OK to be jealous), my husband mused, “What would happen if we put these in a soup?” and thus was born Bat Wing Soup. I added ¾ cup fresh Black Trumpets to two cups of beef broth and simmered for 40 minutes – tasted it, added a pinch of pepper and gave it to him – he loved it. He named it “Bat Wing Soup” – saying the large pieces of split trumpets looked like bat wings!

We often try variations of dishes we like. One variation of Bat Wing soup was created by adding one to two Tablespoons each of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery, simmering until all veggies were tender – a new favorite!

Special thanks here to Michelle Bailey, Executive Chef at Smoky Park Supper Club in Asheville where she has created the menu that features wood-fired cuisine. She contributed these next two recipes.

When not hunting, cooking or photographing mushrooms, Carla can be found collaborating with her husband to create new Coloring Books, Color-In-Cards & Art Prints for their Etsy shop, Coloring Book Mania. At their website, you can find free downloads, tips on coloring, and more information on their products. Contact Carla with questions at Come see her at the Big Crafty Festival on Dec. 2 & 3 at the US Cellular Center in Asheville.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms

1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced into ½” strips
3 T olive oil
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T sherry vinegar
1 T soy sauce
8 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt & cracked black pepper
2-3 oz parmigiano reggiano cheese, peeled into long thin strips using a vegetable peeler
¼ cup fresh chives, sliced into even rings

Preheat oven to 375 and adjust rack to center of the oven. In medium sized bowl, toss mushrooms with the olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire and soy sauce. Lay mushrooms out on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and season lightly with salt and cracked pepper. Place sprigs of thyme on top of mushrooms. Roast in oven for 15 minutes, and then drain liquid from the tray. Cook another 20-30 minutes or until mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove the thyme and discard. Place the mushrooms on a plate and garnish with the shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh chives. Add more cracked pepper if desired.

Mushroom Bisque

2 pounds fresh mushrooms (cremini, portabella, shiitake, any wild mushrooms)
2 T butter
1 cup Vidalia or yellow onion, diced small
2 T garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine
1 qt chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 T fresh thyme, leaves only
1 T sherry vinegar
kosher salt & cracked black pepper

4 ea large shallots
4 cups peanut oil or non GMO canola oil

2 oz. blue cheese (I like Asher Blue from Sweetgrass Dairy)
3 T fresh thyme, leaves only

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over high heat and then add butter. When butter has melted and wisps of smoke are coming from the pan, add mushrooms and cook 5-7 minutes until they have caramelized on the edges and have a nice sear. Reduce heat to medium and add onions, cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional five minutes, while stirring constantly to prevent sticking or burning. Add red wine to deglaze the pan and cook over low heat until no liquid remains. Add broth, cream, cloves and vinegar. Simmer over low/medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender and puree on high speed for 2 minutes or until silky smooth. Return soup to low heat and add fresh thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and hold warm to serve.

To make crispy shallots, slice shallots crosswise into 1/16” slices using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Heat oil to 325 and add shallots. Use a tall pot to prevent oil from boiling over the side once shallots are added. When oil is up to temperature, add sliced shallots and fry 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove shallot rings with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season immediately with salt.

To serve, ladle hot soup into warm bowls and garnish with blue cheese crumbles, thyme leaves and crisp shallots.

Written by Carla Parvin