We are able to grow our own food outdoors hereabouts by the seasons only. Indoors is another matter, although anything large-scale, of course, is the domain of commercial greenhouses and enclosed grow farms.
However, at home, in addition to a small herb garden in a south-facing window, you also might consider growing some of your own mushrooms to cook and eat. I did, and it was quite the treat.
Buy a couple of kits online (prices are in the neighborhood of $30 apiece) and tend your fungi garden for a couple of weeks for two to three crops (“blooms,” they’re commonly called). You can see that doing so isn’t as cost-effective as simply buying a box of buttons from the grocery store, but it’s both a whole lot more fun than that and you can grow far more exotic sorts of ‘shrooms.
I fancied the two types of pink oyster mushrooms and lion’s mane mushrooms, of which I became particularly fond. Lion’s mane is both versatile in cooking and well-appreciated for its homeopathic benefits.
Here are two recipes, tested and tasted, using both homegrown lion’s mane and pink oyster mushrooms. In the ragout, you can use any number of either homegrown or store-bought fungi, so the recipe isn’t limited to merely mushrooms from your home farm.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crab Cakes
Adapted from aubreyskitchen.com. Lacto-ovo vegetarian; see note to prepare as vegan. Makes 6 cakes.
- 3-4 cups lion’s mane mushrooms, shredded
- 2 large eggs, lightly whipped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup shallot, finely diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay brand seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Lemon wedges, additional chopped flat-leaf parsley
Shred mushrooms longwise into pieces (though no more than 2 inches long), resembling flaked crabmeat. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, mayonnaise, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, Dijon mustard, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix until fully incorporated.
Fold in shredded mushrooms until fully incorporated. Fold in panko breadcrumbs until fully incorporated. Let the mix rest for 20 minutes, refrigerated.
To prepare: Remove mix from the refrigerator before forming into 6 equal-sized patties, each about 3/4-inch thick. Let the patties rest for a couple of minutes while heating the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil just shimmers, cook the patties for 3-4 minutes a side until golden brown, flipping once (it may help to use 2 spatulas, one in each hand; do not use tongs).
Serve atop a bed of lettuce or by themselves, garnished with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
Note: To prepare as vegan, use same measurements in both flax seed eggs and vegan mayonnaise. For Worcestershire sauce, substitute 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon miso paste.
Mushroom Ragoût (Ragù)
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman at cooking.nytimes.com and foodandwine.com. Serves 4-6 (or more if used as a topping for pasta, rice or potatoes.)
- 1 cup (or more) light apple juice or dry white wine
- 1 handful dried porcini (cèpe) mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 shallots or 1/2 white onion, peeled and finely chopped (1/2 cup or so)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound button mushrooms (cremini, white, “baby Bella”), cleaned, stems trimmed and caps sliced or cut up
- 1 pound wild or homegrown mushrooms (oysters, king, hen-of-the-woods, chanterelles or the like), cleaned, stems trimmed (if woody) and sliced or cut up
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 3-inch portion rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Heat the apple juice or white wine just to boiling and in it submerge the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl or pot. The slices should be covered adequately. Soak the mushrooms for at least 30 minutes.
Carefully pour off the liquid over an open bowl using a strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, reserving the liquid. Under running water, rinse the mushrooms of any grit and squeeze firmly. Chop up any largish slices. Set aside.
In a large skillet (non-stick OK), heat the oil and butter until foamy and cook the shallot or onion, stirring often, until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Make an open space in the middle and cook the garlic for 30-40 seconds only, then toss in all the cut up fresh mushrooms and the salt and thyme.
Cook like this for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms give off their water. Add the flour and mix in well. Cook for another 2 minutes or so until the flour can no longer be seen or smelt.
Add the rehydrated mushrooms, the reserved soaking liquid, the cheese rind and many grindings of black pepper. Stir well and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to evaporate and glazes all the mushrooms nicely, about 15-20 minutes more.
Adjust for salt, remove the cheese rind (serve it as a treat to the side, cut up into pieces) and serve the ragout over pasta, rice or potatoes — or alone — with generous sprinklings of the chopped parsley.
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