Mushroom Magic

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Mushrooms have made their way into my kitchen. The common field mushrooms, purchased in the grocery store, often get put into soups or served with fish or chicken.  But I recently wanted to try more! Mushrooms are eaten as vegetables but they are actually a member of the funghi family of plants.

But after coming across a very interesting mushroom store in the San Francisco Ferry Market called Farwest Funghi, I started thinking about how to make them the focus of a  plant-based meal. And I got curious to try many I have not seen before. Mushrooms are known for their "umami"  taste or meat-like flavor sensation from guanylate. More importantly, they have a delicious, rich flavor that I love.

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The price per pound can be intimidating. However, you do not need a pound for most recipes! Just 1-2 ounces is plenty and the cost per ounce on the Maitake is only $.93. Tip: take photos of the exotic mushroom titles in the store so you can remember them and then research the uses when you get home.

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The man behind the mushroom counter recommended using the maitake in tacos as a ground meat replacement because he has a few vegetarian restaurant customers who use them in that way. I liked that idea and decided to purchase about 3 ounces.

The black trumpets, at double the cost, are delicious and buttery if you just put an ounce of them in risotto, he said. $2-3 for a handful sounded like a bargain to try such a tempting fungi!

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Maitake Mushroom Pizza

However, when I got home, rinsed and ground the Maitake mushrooms, I instantly thought pizza instead of taco! So I used them as a "ground meat" type of ingredient on my pizza. I ground them in a food processor and sauteed them in olive oil with garlic, onions, and seasonings. They were placed right on the pizza dough as both meat and sauce, topped with tomatoes, asparagus, thyme, and a little Parmesan cheese then baked.

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For the pizza crust, I used a bread machine on the "dough" (#8) cycle to do the hard work of mixing dough.

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3.25 cups white whole wheat flour
1.15 cups warm water
1 tsp dry active yeast
1 pinch salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp olive oil

Knead all ingredients together until you have a soft cohesive dough. Use a mixing machine, mix by hand or use the dough setting of a bread machine. Allow the dough to rise for 30-60 minutes or until it doubles in size. Roll the dough into to 2 thin rounds. Place each round on a pizza pan and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. I froze one crust and then made the other. Top the crust with toppings and bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve hot.

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The toppings can also be your favorite veggies! I used the sauteed mushrooms, sauteed shallots or onions, a little leftover California cheese, and fresh herbs.

The result was fantastic and not a piece was leftover in my house. I had to make it a second time to get a photo for this post!

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Black Trumpet Mushroom Risotto

The black trumpets were rinsed, chopped, and added to a delicious risotto.

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For the risotto, I chopped the mushrooms and shallots. You can also use any onion if you don't have shallots.

1 ounce chopped and rinsed black trumpet mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup arborio rice (short-grained rice used for risotto)
4 cups heated broth (water and low-sodium vegetable bouillon cubes)
1 tsp butter or olive oil
pinch salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Freshly chopped herbs for a topping like basil or parsley - optional

Saute the mushrooms and shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir. Add the broth in 4-5 parts, stirring well and allowing the broth to be absorbed in each step before adding more broth. The risotto is done when it is creamy and the rice is soft.

Top with Parmesan cheese and chopped herbs and serve hot. I served my risotto with a slice of pizza and salad.

Here is a handout for using mushrooms for easy, meatless meals.

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