Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Third Day of Christmas...

So, if you read last post, you know of my growing anxiety concerning this latest project, especially the bird heavy days ahead.  However, the fear has subsided as many of my friends and fellow-foodies have come to my rescue and suggested some absolutely wonderfully creative ways to interpret the song into food.  In fact, it was my high-school friend, Christina's idea to use Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms for the third day's recipe.  A spark of culinary genius that would have never crossed my mind.  Brilliant, really, Christina.  

So, for the third day, I give to you a trio of Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms: a maitake pate, honey-glazed and roasted whole maitake mushroom, and a simple maitake and mixed mushroom soup. While only one can truly be considered French, these three hens are delightfully delicious and a perfect holiday party starter.

I was introduced to the Hen-of-the-Woods, or maitake mushroom at the Stockton Market this past April (and even wrote a post about it), but I wasn't quite sure how to use them.  The only way I'd ever cooked mushrooms was sauteing them in butter with onions as a pizza topping.  It wasn't until I started working at Gravity Hill that I was invited into the magical world of mushrooms.  One of the vendors at the market every Sunday was Shibumi Farm, a local couple who cultivate nearly 30 different types of mushrooms using no pesticides and only plant-based materials to grow the fungi.  Not only did they broaden my horizons to so many different types of mushrooms, but they changed the way I cook mushrooms - the miracle that is the dry saute.  

How To Dry Saute: 
+ Place a large pan over high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms.  Cook while stirring occasionally.  The mushrooms will begin to squeak (or scream, as the seven year old daughter of the mushroom couple put it).  Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid, shrunk a bit, and begin to brown.  
+ Once the mushrooms are cooked, de-glaze the pan (I usually use a splash of wine), making sure to scrape all the good mushroom bits from the bottom of the pan.  
+ Then, add butter, olive oil, salt, or other seasonings and saute as normal.  

I found the recipe for the pate on the Serious Eats site.  Just a heads up, it's not vegan (but don't worry, the soup is!)  I felt that the use of cheese as the fat was necessary in order to get get the right consistency and to keep it true to a real pate.  However, there are tons of nut-based pate recipes on the web, like this one from C'est La Vegan.  The only change that I made to the Serious Eats recipe was that instead of broiling the mushrooms, I dry sauteed, de-glazed with red wine, and then finished them off with olive oil, a little butter, salt, pepper, and thyme.

The whole roasted maitake mushroom is stupidly simple and quick, but looks beautiful and impressive.  Place a fist-sized cluster of the mushrooms into a small ramekin or other oven-safe dish.  Melt 1 tbs of butter and 2 tbs of honey in the microwave.  Drizzle the honey-butter over the mushroom, making sure to coat all of the little tops.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the mushroom shrinks and begins to brown.  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm.  And make sure you soak up the extra mushroomy honey-butter in the bottom of the ramekin, you don't want that to go to waste.

Maitake Mushroom Soup
2 cups, maitake mushrooms
4 oz package of mixed mushrooms
½ cup dry red wine
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 tbs rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs thyme leaves
1 tbs sage leaves, finely chopped
1 can full-fat coconut milk
salt and pepper

+ In a medium pot, dry saute the mushrooms.  Once they're cooked, de-glaze with red wine.  Add butter, oil, herbs, and a bit of salt.  Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid had thickened.  
+ Add the coconut milk, stir well.  Using a stick blender, blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
+ Cook until soup is heated through and desired thickness is reached.  Serve hot, garnished with thyme leaves or sprig of rosemary.

No comments:

Post a Comment