Was that the last foray for 2015?

Last Sunday, myself and 18 other enthusiastic shroomers, hiked up into the mountains above Pender Harbour and had a great afternoon tromping through the woods.

It was a cold and clear day and the views from the ridge we were on were breath taking.  There was a great view down  into Pender Harbour and Barry, our foray leader, pointed out his house to us.

When we got the area that Barry had scoped out, we found a tree blocking the road. Barry got out of his truck and grabbed his chainsaw out. In minutes, with the help of the rest of us, we bucked up the tree and cleared the road. Note to self…pack a chain saw with you when you are heading up into the back country. Never know when you have to clear the road.

Many years ago, when I was living in the City, a neighbour of mine took that one step further. He was an older guy, much into fishing and hunting, and taking pack horses into the back country on the Alberta-BC boarder. He told me that he and a friend had a favourite valley in the Fernie area where they hunted for Elk and deer every year.

There was only one old logging road into this valley, and each year he and his friend would go there to hunt. In order to keep the elk population in good shape and so that other hunters wouldn’t find their private “Shangrila”, they dynamited the road to keep others out.

I know that many shroomers are very secretive about their “patches” and will go to extreme lengths to keep their favorite spots protected. However, dynamiting the roads to keep it safe….that I have not heard of yet.

I come by my passion for mushrooms and being in “the bush” from my father Tony. My ethnic background is Ukrainian, and being the son of an eastern European, mushrooms were always on the menu.  As much as my father was passionate about mushrooms, my mother was just the opposite. There would often be a “discussion” about where my father was off too, especially when she found him pulling on his rubber boots and putting  his mushrooming buckets into the truck.

It frustrated my mother to no end when my father would arrive home with a pail or two filled with mushrooms.

My dad picked and he cleaned the mushrooms but it was my mother who cooked and canned them. She never froze them, only canned them.

As for cooking, she did it the way most Russian or Ukrainians did…boil them for at least an hour, drain, and then make a “much-ka” as she called it, then add the mushrooms to it.

Much-ka ( my spelling) was the universal sauce used in our house. It was a basic cream sauce made by frying onions and garlic in butter or margarine ( that’s when butter was bad for you and margarine healthy), followed by fresh full fat cream from the farm, salt and pepper. That was it. You would then add your prepared mushrooms and heat through and serve on perogies, home made noodles (macaroni to my dad), new potatoes, chicken, pork-chops or just a slice of rye bread.

Sometimes my mom would add dill to the sauce, particularly with new potatoes or her young chicken stew.

Just recently I asked my 88+ year old mother how she actually canned her mushrooms. Her response was to clean then boil in salted water for 1  hour, pack into pint jars then process in boiling water for 2 hours. After they were cooled, store in the fridge or cool place, like the root cellar.

I said “2 hour?”.. she said you cook them an hour to get rid of the possibility of poison, then process for 2 hours as an added insurance.

When I told her I just lightly saute them in butter, she was quite shocked.

I have to say that even with the cooking for lengthy periods and canning, the mushrooms still had good flavour and texture. I know that  my dad picked morels in the spring, birch boletes in the summer and another mushroom as well that I have yet to identify. He called them “cows mouths” or “karovchi-peski” ( my spelling of the Ukrainian vernacular).

They were a light tan to gold in colour; short stemmed; light coloured gills;somewhat funnel shaped cap with the edges curled under; when you cut the flesh it turned an orange colour and was firm.

Sometimes we called them chanterelles, but it was more than 45 years ago that I picked them, so my memory may be wrong about if they had gills or folds at the time. They were my favorite.

In the fall my dad picked peidpenki – or honey mushrooms.  Now I now know that these mushrooms should be boiled for 5 minutes then fried, as if you don’t do this, some people have gastric upset. If you dry the honey mushrooms, you just have to re-hydrate and  cook. The drying seems to have the same effect as parboiling them when fresh.

My dad also picked another species of mushroom after I left home, which he called “pitch-chi-ritchie.  I don’t know what they looked like or what they tasted like, as I never got to see or taste them.

I asked my father why he liked picking mushrooms so much.  His response was this….” I love being in the bush…it reminds me what it was like in the Ukraine as a boy….also the mushrooms are free … nothing tastes better than something that you get for free”.

What use to really get my mother going was that his favorite day for foraging was Sunday. My mother was very religious and was always insisting that my dad drive us all to church on Sundays. My dad was not a “church” kind of man, he believed in God, but disliked the organized church,and especially the priests…”blood suckers” as he called them.

He would say to my mother ” my church is in the bush…I feel  close to  God  when I am in the woods” …..then off  he would go with his boots and his pail, singing merrily as he went.

My dad had a wish…that wish was that if he could choose the time and the place where he would  died, he wished he could die while in the woods, hunting for mushrooms.

 One day his friend fellow forager,had gone out mushrooming  but failed to return when he said he would.  His family and friends being concerned , went out to look for him. They found him, sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree.  He had passed away. From the look on his face,peacefully. Beside him was his picking pale, full of mushrooms. All around him in the grass, were hundreds more. That was how my dad wished to go.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen as he died one very cold February day, in the hospital, after a very short illness.

This fall I went to Saskatchewan to visit my mom.  One of my families traditions, is to visit the graves of close family. So one day we did that and visited my father’s grave as well as several uncles, aunts and grandparents.  All the graves sites were well maintained and the grass cut.

However, right over my father’s grave, there were mushrooms growing. No  where else in the whole grave yard were there mushrooms growing…only over my father’s grave.

I smiled and I thought… how  appropriate…my dad was an avid shroomer…he loved being out in the wild, foraging for mushrooms…he even hoped that when he had to leave this world he would do it while on a foray. That never happened, but he still rests where mushrooms keep him company.

I digress…back to the foray…the Barry took us took was great, but at first, there seemed to be too many ferns and undergrowth to see anything. We hike up a steep trail for about a hundred yards when the under-story began to clear.  I said to the folks just behind me, lets go in here to the left.  I stepped off the trail and right there in front of me was a huge cauliflower mushroom…WP_20151115_11_37_32_Pro (1)

I shouted ” I found a cauliflower” and everyone came running. A few thought I joking, but no, in fact there she was…beautiful and fresh, with no elk nibbles. I gave everyone a piece to take home and try, and I still had a couple of pounds left.

There were a few russulas but as we moved along the slope the forest floor was covered in winter chanterellesWP_20151031_14_22_40_Pro (2)

Everyone was able to pick large numbers of them.  This is the kind of weather that winter chanterelles really like.

As for other varieties…there were a few late oyster mushrooms and when they start to show up you know the season is about done.

That beautiful red mushroom a the front of this blog is Hygrocybe conica, or Witches cap…it seemed to be out everywhere as well. (Correction…this mushroom is not Hygrocybe conica, but Hygrocybe miniata….thanks Ann)

So, there you have it, time to put away the basket, clean the harvesting knife and dry the last batch of winter chanterelles. It was not a bad year, not a great year, but an average year.  There were lots of pine mushrooms this year, in places I had never seen them before. And of course there is now the anticipation of what we may find in the burn site in West Sechelt.  Visions of morels dancing in our heads.

Hope to see you sometimes on the trails and maybe in the burn site next spring.

Coastalshroomer.

 

 

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Recipes From the Festival

What a great festival we had this year!!! I always find that there is something new to learn as well as meeting new and old friends at the festival.  It never ceases to amaze me that there is such interest in mushrooms in the general population, especially for that fact of the myco-phobia that is so prevalent in western culture.

Just a few of the misconceptions and myths about mushrooms are as follows…

  1. You can be poisoned by just touching a mushroom
  2. You can tell a mushroom is poisonous just by the intensity of it’s colour

Actually you can’t be poisoned by just touching a mushroom…you have to ingest the mushroom…eat it and usually a bit more than a mere taste. I was quite surprised  on one of  my first forays with one of the mushroom “gurus”, Larry Evans, while identifying the mushrooms, took a bite out of a mushroom.

He explained that one of the ways to properly ID certain Russulas, is to taste it…I said “But what if it is poisonous?”…he said, “you taste to see if it is peppery but you spit after the taste and don’t swallow”.

Out here on the west coast there is only one plant, not a mushroom,  that is poisonous to touch…That plant is the water Hemlock.  many of you, I think from personal experience, already know that some plants have developed protective chemicals to ward off pest, a good example being stinging nettle.

As for colour being an indicator of virulence…there may be some truth to that, such as the beautiful Amanita Muscaria, but many of the most poisonous have very little colour, such as the Smith’s Amanita (Amanita smithiana) which is pure white, and is often mistaken for the white matsutaki.  If consumed, this mushroom can cause kidney failure.

There is also the fairly bland coloured Death Cap, ( Amanita phalloides) where a single specimen can kill a human being, and 90% of all fatal mushroom poisoning incidents in Europe have been attributed to this mushroom.

A similar species, the Destroying Angel ( Amanita virosa) is an all-white species that is common in the Pacific North West. Emperor Claudius, who ruled Rome 2000 years ago, was the earliest known victim of this species’ poison.

Enough about mushrooms that can poison you, I want to talk about those that are edible and choice.

This year at the festival we once again had the public foray and cook-up on the last day of the festival. Even though this year started slow and picking wasn’t always at it’s best, we still had enough variety for our display tables and for the food table.

I think that our “cook-up” this year was the best so far, and from the reviews of those that went on the foray and then sampled the dishes prepared, it was a great success.

Many thanks to all the “cooks” and “cooks’ helpers” for making the event such a success. Also many thanks to all the members that donated their edibles to the cooks to allow them to prepare the great dishes that were prepared.

Many have asked for the recipes for the dishes prepared so rather than drone on, I will post them here.

As a final note, I want to thank Ginette Carter, Michan Padovani, Nicole Rossi, Dorothy Gonzalez and Dave Beauchesne for their recipes and their delicious dishes they prepared. I too was one of the cooks at the event.

So without too much fan fair and in no particular order, here are the recipes:

Lemon Crepes

¾ cup Flour
2   tsps. Grated Lemon Rind
3   Eggs,  beaten well
½  cup Lemon Juice – freshly squeezed
½  cup Milk
pinch of Saffron  or. Turmeric
2-3 Tbsps.  melted Butter
Follow your favourite way of making the crepes.  I have a Crepe Grill.  I love it!

(Very lemony but when filled with a favourite filling, it is a good balance). Courtesy of Dorothy Gonzalez

Pizza on the BBQ

For 6 pizza shells

We used some form of thin she’ll, to your taste. About 10″ in diameter

Lightly olive oil spray the shells and briefly toast each  over a Bbq

Sautéing:
Have 1 cup of diced shallots,  2 crushed garlic cloves,  thyme, salt,  pepper to taste and Virgin olive oil

4 seasons:

Spring: soak 50g of  dried morels in warm water for about 30 min. Strain, filter liquid and reserve.
Take each morel and rinse it through the aperture to remove any potential grit or dirt lodged inside the morels.

Shake each,  to remove excess water or use a salad spinner. Slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch across the morels to produce pretty little pin wheels. Stand aside.

Summer: 1.5 cups of diced lobster mushrooms,  sautéed with shallots, and garlic (or from a frozen lobster sauce log made in same manner –  fresh chopped, always reheated from frozen log in a frying pan.  Do NOT let it thaw on its own = rubbery mess and liquids separated.)

Fall: 2 cups of fresh chopped (or torn) chanterelles

Sautéing chanterelles: in warm large frying pan,  in olive oil and a nut of butter add rehydrate winter chanterelles or fresh ones,  Sauter until liquids are removed. Add add shallots and a dash of thyme. Salt and pepper.  Then add a splash of white wine, reduce again,  reserve.

Fall: add other types,  whatever you just harvested.  For porcini on the Coast….. Sauté in thicker slabs quite hot,  season then chop and quickly sauter again (they can be easily oiled and broiled,  the. Choped). Caution: Fresh porcini can get quite soggy if not sautéed hot,  or broiled with seasonning, the chopped.

Winter: 2-3 cups of winter chanterelles fresh.
If you can,  add 250ml of dried winter chanterelles for texture,  colour and deeper taste. (rehydration process like for morels).  Keep saved liquids,  reduce them to add a mushroom jus, and depth to mushrooms during sautéing.

Sautez each mushroom batch in 1 tbsp of olive oil, and a dot of butter. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup shallot,  a portion of a garlic clove. Season,. Reserve each.

Thinly paint the slightly toasted pizza crusts with Alfredo sauce (4 cups).  Decorate each quarter  with its sautéed seasonal mushroom, sprinkle a little bit of mozzarella over the whole (less than 1/4 cup mozzarella per pizza,… less is best). Salt and pepper.

Drizzle Virgine Olive oil.  Heat pizzas just long enough (on Bbq pan or in oven) ,  to melt cheese.
Sprinkle with arugula

Ready to serve!   Thanks to Michan Padovani and Ginette Carter

Matsutake / Broccoli Stir Fry – 

I tried to come up with a dish that incorporated as many Japanese elements in it as possible, but still paid homage to the wonderful Matsutake mushroom. Japanese cuisine is as much about color, texture and presentation as it is about taste – this recipe hopefully captures that theme. Dave Beauchesne

Prep time – 10 minutes
Cook time – 7-8 minutes

2 cups finely sliced Matsutake ( Pine ) mushrooms
4 cups Broccoli flowerettes ( bite sized pieces )
1/2 cup chopped Tamari almonds ( regular almonds would be OK as well )
1 clove garlic – diced
1 diced shallot
S&B ( Japanese 5 spice ) – to taste – the real stuff is pretty hot so be careful – substitute some black pepper
soya sauce – to taste – a couple tablespoons
Mirin – 2-3  tablespoons – substitute a teaspoon of brown sugar
Sake – 6-8  tablespoons – some white wine would work as well
Canola oil or coconut oil

In a large skillet, cook the garlic, onion and oil to slightly tender. Toss in the matsutake and on medium high heat, cook till they start to get brown on the edges and the water is mostly gone in the pan.

Add the broccoli, and toss with the soya sauce, almonds and sake. Cook till the broccoli are just turning a darker green and still crunchy – add the Mirin and S&B, fry and toss another 30 seconds – ( the Mirin is a slightly sweet Japanese condiment and the sugar in it will burn if added too soon ) .

Serve piping hot  – Thank you David Beauchense

Polenta:

Buy Polenta with porcini in a packet from an Italian store. This is “Instant” polenta that takes 4-5 min to cook when you add it to boiling water with a little olive oil or butter in it, stirring constantly until it thickens up. Add fresh grated parmesan at the end just before serving.

Mushrooms goodness to add on top of crostini or side/on top of polenta:

Fresh Garlic chopped finely

Shallots chopped finely (can also use leeks or small red onions finely chopped)

Few Chilli flakes

Fresh Italian Parsley

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Wild mushrooms

Creme Fraiche or cream like equivalent (whipping cream, sour cream)

Salt n Pepper

Olive Oil

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan

Fry garlic and shallots gently with small amount of fresh herbs

Add wild mushrooms chopped or torn

Add salt n pepper

Fry and stir for 15 min or more till all liquid is gone

Roast mushrooms with ingredients for another few minutes in the pan to add flavour

(Can add wine at this stage if you like and cook it all off – i prefer to omit wine when cooking with mushrooms as it changes and overtakes the flavour in my opinion)

Add some cream

Cook a few minutes more till you get the consistency you wish

Serve on bread, crostini, use in recipes, on polenta etc.  Wonderful dishes Nicole Rossi

Grilled Pine Mushrooms

Pine mushrooms are really difficult to cook I find, as they can sometimes be very tough, especially the stems. This recipe was inspired by discussions with Langdon Cook who was the guest speaker at the 2015 shroom festival.

 

Ingredients:

Pine mushrooms – 2 or three medium sized, cleaned and sliced very thinly, not more than 1/8 of an inch thick.

¼ cup of Tamari Soy sauce or any kind you have on hand

¼ cup of Saki

¼ cup of water

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

A few drops of roasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon of sugar

Put the sliced pine mushrooms in a bowl and mix all the other ingredients together then pour over the mushrooms.  Reserve a ¼ cup of the marinade for later. Let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat a barbeque up and then grill the pine mushrooms until they start to get a nice grill marks.

Serve with plain white steamed rice using some of the marinade saved earlier as a dipping sauce.

Wild Mushroom Soup

This is a basic recipe that can be adapted to use with whatever mushrooms you have on hand, and if all you have are some commercial button mushrooms, they will work too.

Ingredients:

  1. 1-2 pounds of mushrooms cleaned and chopped : they can be all one kind or a mixture of any of the following -golden chanterelles, honey mushrooms, winter chanterelles, porcini, shaggy parasols, cauliflower mushrooms. I don’t use pines, as they tend to overpower the other flavours, but is you have an abundance of pines, use just them.
  2. 1 large onion chapped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  4. 2 cups of russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  5. 1L chicken  broth
  6. 2 L water
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1 tsp of smoked paprika, or plain sweet paprika
  9. 3 ounces dry white wine (optional ) or juice of one lemon
  10. Two or three sprigs of fresh thyme
  11. ¼ cup chopped parsley
  12. 2-3 tablespoons of the fat of your choice-butter, olive oil; bacon drippings or a combination of all the above

Method:

Put a heavy soup pan on the heat and add fat

Add onions and whole garlic and start to sauté until they begin to brown. Add paprika -1/2 tsp salt and ½ tsp cracked black pepper.

Add chopped mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes then add  in the potatoes and thyme cooking for another 5 minutes .

Now add the chicken soup, the water and either the wine or lemon juice at this time.  Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

I now use an immersion blender to liquefy the soup, but if you don’t have one you can use either a regular blender or food processor to do the same. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt or pepper.

One optional step here is if you want a richer soup, you can add a half pint of heavy cream.

I also like to add a few drops of truffle oil and garnish with chopped parsley

Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Dumpling

You have two choices when making these dumplings….you can either make your own dough or use wonton wrappers. If you want to make your own dough, they more resemble pot stickers or perogies. If you chose the wonton wrappers they are more like a tortellini.

Dumpling Dough: This is my perogie dough and is the best I have been able to find.  It can be scaled up or down for more or less dumplings.  The ratio is always 2 parts flour to 1 part hot water. You can also fill this dough with traditional filling like potatoes and cheese; sauerkraut; fruit etc.

For about 100 small or 50 medium sized dumplings.

4 cups white flour

2  tablespoons olive

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 cups of boiled water (still hot)

Put flour, salt and oil in a bowl then measure out the boiled water and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon and as it comes together start to knead it. I will be a bit hot to touch but cools down quickly.  If it is sticky while you working the dough, dust with flower but you shouldn’t need too much. Knead the dough until it is nice and elastic, about 5 minutes. Then put it back in the clean bowl, rub with a bit of oil and cover with cling wrap and let it rest while you prepare filling.

Filling:

1 pound of wild mushrooms (chanterelles and honeys work good)

1 medium onion diced very finely

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)

2 tbsp olive oil

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

Method:

Chop mushrooms finely and add to cold pan and turn on medium heat. Slowly dry fry the mushrooms until most of the water has evaporated and they star to stick to the pan. Remove and set aside.

Add oil to pan and then onions. Cook the onions until they just start to brown, then add the sausage meat, breaking it up with a fork. Cook until starting to brown and render out the fat.

Drain the fat from the pan and the return 1 tablespoon, and the reserved mushrooms and ground fennel.

Cook another 5 minutes until everything is fragrant and well browned.

Drain again and place mixture on a dinner plate spread out to cool.

Assembly:

Once cooled, divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces and roll one at a time to about 1/8th of an inch thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, about 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter, cut out rounds. Pick up a round and add some of the cooled filling, bending up the sides to form a pocket, pinching the edge shut. Once sealed, place on a tea towel and continue until all the rounds are used.

Take the cut off pieces of dough and set aside until you have rolled out all the dough. Combine all the cut offs into a ball as this will become your “second” rolls which will be a bit tougher than your first roll outs.  They may need a little longer cooking time.

If using wonton wrappers, do the same thing, only use either a bit of water or one beaten egg to seal the edges together.

Cooking:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the dumplings, about a dozen at a time. Once they rise to the top, lower the heat a bit and boil 3-4 minutes, stirring with a slotted spoon. Take one out and test for doneness.  I they need another minute or two, let them cook.

Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm bowl and toss with a bit of olive oil.

Serve them like they are with  S&P or in a nice broth or brodo as the Italians call it.

The dumplings can also be frozen uncooked on a cookie  sheet then stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. When you want to cook them, go right from the freezer to the boiling water.

These last three recipes are mine.  I hope you enjoy some of these.DSCN0906

See you on the trails sometimes – coastalshroomer