fungstravaganza: wild mushroom soups and dumplings!

IMG_9282I spoke to a full house at the mushroom festival on Sunday.  A full house, I’d like to believe, that was there to soak in my culinary wisdom and wit about mushroom soups and dumplings, but I am not too vain to know they were there because they were soaked.  The makeshift stage, arranged as one does at rural festivals with hay bales and sheltered by a fabric tent, provided a reason to come sit and listen to my radio voice in the downpour.  Heck, it was the only dry spot with seating in the entire joint, and one that smelled like garlic and pork and ginger and mushrooms, so I know it was a natural place to hang out.  Yay!

If you’re here because of the demo, welcome!

IMG_9285So I talked about three mushroom soups using wild mushroom stock, and promised to provide the recipes here.  One was a creamy, full-bodied soup from Eastern Europe featuring sauerkraut and pork, and the other two were lighter and good for vegetarian dining. I also discussed two mushroom dumplings: bolete (a.k.a. porcini or cep) spaetzle and chanterelle potstickers.  The spaetzle is good in soup, the potstickers, of course, are good as an accompaniment to soup.

Wild mushrooms in these recipes can be used interchangeably with what you have on hand, but I suspect most of you will have chanterelles or hedgehogs or boletes if you forage in Oregon, or you can rely on the markets to get others and the dried shiitakes or boletes or Chinese brown mushrooms you’ll need for the stock.

I don’t have any magic way to make pictures of brown or creamy soups look good, so enjoy this picture of spaetzle with pork medallions in a creamy chanterelle sauce I snapped in Germany.

20141020_142010Interested in more wild mushroom recipes?  Check out the brand new and comprehensive community cookbook compiled by the Cascade Mycological Society as a fundraiser for scholarships.  If you’re new to foraging, this is THE local organization to know.

Wild Mushroom Stock

This recipe is based on a stock I made for a Japanese vegan dinner using only dried shiitakes and soy, and a more complex stock popular at Greens restaurant in San Francisco.  It’s dark and well-rounded in flavor, and great for vegetarian soups and stews.

  • 10 cups water
  • 2 cups dried mushrooms, mixed or single variety (shiitake, Chinese brown mushrooms, boletes, morels)
  • Any trimmings of fresh mushrooms you have
  • two leeks, including the tops
  • one celery stalk with leaves
  • one yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • a dozen black peppercorns
  • handful of fresh herbs: fresh parsley, bay leaf, thyme
  • salt to taste

Bring water to a boil, then add dried mushrooms (they will reconstitute in the boiling water) and the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer for 1 hour or more, then let cool in pot.  Remove vegetables, reserving the mushrooms for other uses (like fried rice), if you like.  Clarify stock using an egg raft or several coffee filters and a sieve.

For the simplest soup recipe, serve cups of hot broth with tiny slivers of:

  • fresh ginger, preferably new ginger
  • carrot and/or burdock
  • fresh mushroom
  • and chopped chives.

Add just before serving.

Another idea for this stock is a vegetarian version of the classic French onion soup, enriched by caramelized onions and topped with a melty cheese toast.  Wild foods expert Butter Wilde has a recipe for a gorgeously rich Porcini French Onion Soup on Hunger and Thirst, her blog.

Wild Mushroom and Sauerkraut Pork Goulash (Szekely Goulash)

Chanterelles are a delicious addition to this traditional Transylvanian stew. This recipe is very popular every time we do a sauerkraut class with the Master Food Preserver trainees, and I make it frequently.  It’s a good use for your homemade fresh sauerkraut.  Consider rinsing your kraut if it’s very salty; I usually don’t. The pork browns on top of the sauerkraut as it’s baking, so no need to brown ahead of time.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a shake of paprika on top.

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 large white onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 cups chanterelles or boletes, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons imported sweet paprika, or a mix of sweet and hot
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dillweed
  • 1 lb. sauerkraut, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, tossed with some salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups mushroom stock or chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a heavy dutch oven or similar pot with a lid, heat onions, garlic, and caraway seeds with oil until onions are limp and golden brown.  Add chopped mushrooms and saute until liquid cooks away, then add paprika, bay leaf, dillweed, and sauerkraut, stir well.

Layer pork cubes on top of sauerkraut and add stock.

Bring to a boil, then cover, place in oven and cook for 2 hours, or until pork falls apart.

After removing from oven, add cream and let flavors meld for 15 minutes or so before serving.  Do not boil again after adding cream.

Wild Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut Spaetzle

Bring mushroom stock up to a simmer, then add cooked spaetzle (see recipe below).  While soup is heating, sauté tiny cubes of carrot, potato, celery hearts, and shallot in a little vegetable oil until browned, then add to soup dishes.  Pour soup on top, dividing spaetzle evenly between the bowls.

Wild Mushroom and Hazelnut Spaetzle

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds, or similar nut flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered dried bolete/porcini/cep mushrooms (grind dried mushrooms in a clean coffee grinder to a dust, pick out any remaining large pieces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

Mix dry ingredients, then add egg and half the milk, and beat well.  Add more milk until the batter is stiff but not yet a dough.  Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

In a medium pot bring several cups of slightly salted water to a boil. The water should fill the pot about halfway.  Turn down to a simmer.

Method 1:  Using a ricer, spaetzle-maker, or colander with large holes, push a portion of the batter through the holes in large strands directly in the simmering water.  Repeat after dumplings float to top (see below).

Method 2: Spread the batter out flat on a large cutting board or tray without sides. with a long knife, cut off bits of batter in very thin strips, pushing them into the boiling water as you cut.  Move quickly so the dumplings will cook evenly in a batch.  Repeat after dumplings float to top (see below).

When the cooked spaetzle are ready, they will float to the surface.  Remove and drain, then toss into a bowl with a teaspoon or two of oil and stir gently to lubricate, so they won’t stick.

These are best in any clear soup, or drain well after cooking, then toss in some hot butter and brown a little before serving with a saucy main course as one would noodles.

Serve immediately.

Oyster Mushroom Potstickers

Follow the method outlined on my “little green potstickers” post, substituting the following ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 cups fresh oyster mushrooms, cleaned, chopped finely, and dry-sautéed with a splash of soy sauce (2 t. or so) until all the liquid is gone.
  • 1/4 cake regular (firm) tofu, drained well of water
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 3-4 green onions, white parts only, minced
  • 2-inch long piece ginger, grated finely
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 t. salt

Let dry-sautéed mushrooms cool, then combine with filling ingredients and proceed as in the post linked above.

that’s the way the red shiso crumbles: akajiso furikake

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Shiso grows quite well in Western Oregon gardens, even from seed, which is a blessing if you can’t find the starts.  My red shiso (akajiso) didn’t do quite as well as the green this year, but I still had enough to make furikake, the dried crumbled herb rice topping so popular in Japan.

That is, if I hadn’t managed to trip going down the stairs with the plate of drying red shiso, spraining my foot and smashing the lovely vintage Franciscan Eclipse plate and leaves into a thousand smithereens.

Ah well, ya win some, ya lose some.

I love the flavor of shiso, and make various pickles out of the largest fresh green leaves, but I never managed to get enough of the red to do much with it.  But if you’re lucky with shiso, try brining and drying it in the Japanese manner.

Last year, I dried red shiso leaves without brining them in rice vinegar first, and they tasted like dried leaves.  In other words, don’t omit the brining.  The vinegar that one uses to brine the leaves for akajiso furikake is delicious; I used it to make a bright pink turnip pickle after my welcome to fall.

IMG_9102Once you have the dried crumbly leaves, you can add sesame seeds, salt, and/or other bits and crumbles to make the topping even better.  Here’s an interesting idea, a furikake with akajiso, turnip greens, and katsuobushi fish flakes.  Turnip greens? Why not turnip greens?

Perhaps I will pretend I have some akajiso left and go eat some turnip greens, me and my immobilization boot.

Akajiso Furikake

  • Several big handfuls of red shiso (akajiso) leaves
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 100 ml rice vinegar (alternately, if you have ume vinegar, use that instead of the rice vinegar/tablespoon of salt)

Rinse the leaves and place in mixing bowl.  Massaging and squeezing with your hand, knead one teaspoon of sea salt into the leaves, allowing the salt to draw a sometimes bitter purple liquid from the leaves for about a minute or two.  Pour off this liquid and squeeze out leaves as best as you can.

Add the remaining one tablespoon of sea salt to the vinegar and mix well.  Add leaves.  Let sit for two days in the vinegar in the refrigerator.  Dry in sun until crumbly. Grind in mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Enjoy as a topping on rice, fish, or vegetables.

cider pressing in da hood

IMG_8915 The Friendly neighborhood was the recipient of a Eugene neighborhood grant for fruit tree gleaning, processing, and educating this year, thanks to Matt Lutter and his partner, Jessica Jackowski, who also organizes work days for the exemplary Common Ground Garden, a neighborhood community garden staffed by volunteers. The Friendly Fruit Tree Project has spent the last month harvesting neighborhood trees and plants like crazy: blackberries, plums, apples, pears, etc., etc.

IMG_8912Last week, it was apples.  Amber gold.  Oregon T.  They managed to source an unused cider press in someone’s shed, and we all pitched in and took home some great cider to share! Using the press was much easier than I had expected; it’s a relatively simple operation, with a motorized rotor on one end to grind the apples and a hand-powered press to crank down the juice.  Apple bits got composted.  No waste, very little muss, very little fuss.

And of course, it was a brilliant way to connect with likeminded urban homesteading folks in the ‘hood: we shared cider recipes, taste-tested beet kvasses and hippie cookies, grumbled about grapes (ok, that was me), and watched apple-cheeked kids running around like monkeys.  What a wonderful paradise we live in.

See the full album here, and if you’re interested in taking part or spreading the word about the project, comment and I’ll make sure Matt gets your info.  It would be wonderful if other Eugene neighborhoods could get in on the gleaning action, since it’s such a service to those with unused fruit and to those who want to do the labor to share in the harvest.

The project was also the source of my prune plums for my recent lekvar undertaking, coming soon to a blog post near you.

farm to table in this glorious fall

IMG_4266Planted garlic for next year, trying to keep my spirits up as the rain started to fall and fall started to reign. We must remember and celebrate the ways we put seeds in the dark earth so they’ll wake with time and water and love.  Because if we forget that, there’s not much point.

I’m going for ‘Keith Red’ and ‘Silver Rose’ again because they were all I wanted.  Keith continues to delight with his big delicious cloves, and Rose is a softneck that lasts longer and still tastes great.  Maybe I’ll remember the onion sets this spring, too!

Also hopeful: great meals this week at downtown Soubise and Grit Kitchen and Wine, a brand new farm-to-table place kittycorner from Ninkasi in the Whiteaker.

IMG_4268 I’m thrilled Soubise is open on Mondays, when most other restaurants in town worth eating at are closed.  It’s a good place for a quiet dinner, hopefully shared with someone who loves food, and it’s a romantic and sophisticated setting.  Perhaps the only one in town.  The combinations, as usual, were fascinating and subtle.  It’s really unlike anything else around, and I mean that to extend far beyond Eugene.  The fall menu is completely accessible and at a lower price point than earlier menus, too.  Definitely a place you can take your parents or a visiting speaker.  Standards like chicken with savory bread pudding and salmon with delicata squash.  Or their handmade smoked pasta with a poached egg and pecorino with green onion purée, above. There are still wonderful surprises, like perfect micro bits of celery leaf and pear on the oysters, and Japanese tamago omelette that provides a perfect sweet little pillow for the strong taste of seared albacore and slight bitterness of lemon cucumber in another small plate.  And ALWAYS order the farm vegetable composed salad, which features an everchanging melange of whatever produce is in season, served with simple buttermilk dressing.

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Grit is housed in a little historic cottage and they’ll need to get better signage at some point, so you might miss it, but it’s right on the corner of W. 3rd and Van Buren.  The kitchen is still experimenting and service is a little timid, but it’s fun to watch the chaotic dance as the staff gets to know the space and the flow and the clientele.  It’s all about the local and the warm and comforting: braises, soups, buttery custardy creamy details.  We opted for the prix-fixe four-course meal, with a stellar carrot and fresh turmeric salad, turnip soup with greens, duck over mash and chantrelles, and a fig tarte, above.  Corn chowder with pork jowl was good too; more pork would have been even better.  The charcuterie plate and gizzard confit app looked so good I almost regret I didn’t partake.  Oh well.  Another visit!  I expect this place will just get better and better, and I’m happy to go along on the journey.

red and green tomato pizza sauce

IMG_5326I’ve been eating homemade pizza, and my waistline has everything to show for it.  lt’s made all the better by peppers and basil from the garden and homemade pizza sauce.  If you’ve made and frozen my tomato paste already, it’s easy to pizzasaucify it when you defrost it by adding some fresh oregano, black pepper, and olive oil.  I usually use two ice-cube-tray cubes per pizza.

But I discovered another way as I was experimenting with roasted green tomatoes: red and green tomato sauce.  The green tomatoes are fantastic!  They give the sauce a slight green-peppery edge, and roasting onions and garlic along with the tomatoes adds great depth of flavor.  Just add a little spice mix and you’re good to go.

Need more green tomato recipes?  Click the link or, if you would, check out my very first column in Eugene Magazine, in which I discuss the pleasures of green tomato molé.  It’s on the shelves now, Fall 2013. Planning to try some fermentation experiments next.

Red and Green Tomato Pizza Sauce

  • 2 roasting pans full of paste tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 roasting pan full of green tomatoes, cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Seasoning to taste with celery salt, black pepper, fennel seed, oregano, smoked paprika, and/or Penzey’s or another company’s pizza seasoning blend.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prep tomatoes, onions, garlic, and carrot, then place in three roasting pans.  Exact amounts can vary, but try to make one relatively even layer in each pan.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and celery salt (or regular salt) and toss. Roast vegetables slowly overnight until shrunken but still soft, 6-8 hours.

Grind roasted vegetables in a food mill, taking care to squeeze the onions and remove fibers when the mill is getting too clogged.  If the purée that results is still too wet to be a proper paste, cook down in a saucepan at very low heat to remove more water.  Add seasonings and freeze sauce in an ice cube tray.  For a standard pizza using store-bought pizza dough, defrost 2 cubes, about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce.

full soft shift into fall

IMG_4074IMG_5340IMG_4068IMG_4070Achingly gorgeous moment in the year, the arch of the back of the season, where we slip from the fullness of late summer into fall.  The faintest whiff of mildew and fire in the dawn, the tired air refreshed by rain, the thirsty ground and the changing waves, spiders hanging big in their webs, big shelves of chicken-of-the-woods, overripe tomatoes, piles of juicy peppers, sweet taut winter squash curing and waiting in the wings, and still an abundance of melons.  It’s hard not to be in love with you, Oregon, when you provide us with so many delicious yeses.

IMG_5352IMG_4072I’ve been so surprised lately by people who would rather eat piles of subpar grocery store fruit than a single, musky, almost obscene ripe melon just hours off the vine.  To me, it’s not worth all the change in China to give up that pleasure.

IMG_5339 IMG_4073Images of fields are Open Oak Farm/Adaptive Seeds; other images taken at the Lane County Farmers Market — chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms are The Gourd Patch; all heirloom melon shots except one are McKenzie River Farm; the Collective Farm Woman melons are Turnip the Beet Farm, new tiny farm specializing in rare varieties.

white kim chi and a visit from sandor katz

In honor of Sandor Katz’s visit to Eugene tomorrow (join us at 5:30 on the UO campus in Columbia 150!), I thought I’d post my latest kim chi recipe. I was looking for a “white” or no-chili-powder, garlicky, gingery version of the classic juicy winter kim chi made with napa cabbage.  And this one came out perfectly.  The Asian pear stays clean and white, and the cabbage turns a beautiful pale yellow.  See?

If you’re in Eugene, you can easily find Asian pears at the local farmers markets.  We had a great crop this year.  It’s worth it to head out to RiverBend Farm south of Eugene, where they’re still available for u-pick at the cut-rate price of $0.70/lb.  Asian pears can beautifully and bake into firm, bright pies.  Just remember you’ll need to follow canning instructions carefully in a tested book, as they are a low-acid fruit.

Welcome to Eugene, Sandor!  We’re so thankful for all that you’ve done to reform our food system, and can’t wait to hear your talk.  Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Robert D. Clark Honors College, Oregon Humanities Center, and the UO Food Studies Program Initiative, this lecture is free and open to all. (Click poster above for all the details!)

White Kim Chi with Asian Pear

  • 1 (2 to 3-pound) napa cabbage, heavy for its size and unblemished
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 4 scallions, the green parts julienned and cut into 1-inch lengths, the white parts chopped
  • 1-2 Asian pears (also called nashi, ‘Hosui’ is a good variety but all work), cored and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small head fresh garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon Korean salted shrimp, minced (available at Sunrise and other Korean markets)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

You will also need a bowl or crock large enough to hold cabbage and 8 cups water, plus a weight to submerge the cabbage.  This could be as simple as a dinner plate with a jar full of water on top.

Prepare the cabbage for a 4 to 12-hour soak in salt water.  Mix water and salt, let sit while you wash and core the cabbage.  Slice the cabbage and cut into pieces about 2-inches square.  Place in a bowl or crock for the soak, pour the salted water and any salt that has not dissolved atop the cabbage and mix gently using your hands.  Weight the cabbage, cover the bowl with a towel, and let sit on the counter for 4 to 12 hours.

When you are ready to make the kim chi, drain and rinse the cabbage, and return to the large bowl or another vessel suitable for fermentation with a weight to press down the kim chi.  Cut up the radish, scallions, and Asian pears. Prepare the souse:  combine the ginger, garlic, shrimp, and sugar in a food processor bowl, and process to a paste.  Scrape out the paste and combine with the cabbage, mixing well with your hands. Add the vegetables and pears, toss lightly.  Press mixture down in your fermenting vessel, then add weight and let sit on counter for 1-3 days, testing each day for a taste you like.  Refrigerate for 2-3 days for best taste.  It will last for at least a week in the refrigerator.  Makes about 2 quarts.