Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Coming to terms with mushrooms

About 10 months ago I came to the realization that there were a lot of vegetarian recipes out there using mushrooms. And I couldn't stand them. To me they were the spongy little things getting in the way of the croutons on my salad. They were the slimy nuisance on my pizza. But like I said - when you're talking vegetarian cooking there's a lot of mushroom consumption going on.

So I set out on a mission to learn to like mushrooms. I've done this before - there were foods I wouldn't go near when I was growing up. Fresh tomatoes, eggplant, onion - these were all things I had to learn to like. How hard could it be?

My sister-in-law made a really nice mushroom soup one time when we were over. It was pureed so there were no pesky pieces of actual mushroom to detract from the wonderful flavor of the soup. Another time she sauteed mushrooms until they were really well done and splashed them with balsamic vinegar and lots of pepper. I actually didn't hate them. It was clear - I liked the flavor but not the texture.

The first time I cooked portobellos they were awful (to me). Hubby ate them, claiming they were delicious. Still too spongy for this girl. I'm nothing if not persistent and kept trying. I had a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich at one of the Downtown Disney restaurants that was awesome! Of course, the fact that I was dining with my friend Laurel who I don't get to see often and the 4 teenage girls I was traveling with had been sent off with money and instructions to find their own dinner probably helped. Oh, and the pint (or two) of pale ale didn't hurt. But I left there having been won over.

For Christmas dinner I made mushroom pot pies. I didn't really have a recipe - I just sort of made it based on pot pies I've made in the past. We were celebrating Christmas at my sister-in-law's house and I told her I would bring a vegetarian main course. When offered some mushroom pie, my nephew, who is 7 said "it sort of extends the idea of what a pie should be." Fair enough. But I realized when I did my shopping and piled cremini and portobello mushrooms into my cart that I can honestly now say I Like Mushrooms. Mission Accomplished.

Mushroom and Ale Pie

4 portobello mushroom caps
4 8 oz. pkgs sliced cremini mushrooms
1 large onion, diced
1 lb baby cut carrots
1 lb buttergold potatoes (or small red potatoes), cut into 1" pieces
4 cups mushroom broth
1 stick earth balance margarine
½ cup flour
1 12 oz bottle ale
2 tsp kitchen bouquet
½ tsp. dried marjoram
2T. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
Crust for 2 - 9" two crust pies (I buy ready-made at Whole Foods)

Saute mushrooms over medium high heat in about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Continue to cook them until they release their moisture - at this point add the onion and cook until the mushrooms turn golden brown. You will probably need to do this in two batches. Set aside when browned.

In the meantime place the carrots and potatoes in the mushroom broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked - tender but not overcooked. Reserve the mushroom broth.

Melt margarine in a large saucepan. Add flour and stir together to make a roux. Stir for a minute or two until it begins to brown. Slowly add the mushroom broth and the bottle of ale, stirring constantly. Once it is mixed and slighty thickened add the marjoram, kitchen bouquet and dijon mustard. Stir in the mushrooms, carrots and potatoes. Season liberally with salt and pepper. There's your filling.

Divide evenly between two pie pans and cover with top crust. Crimp edges to seal, vent top crust. I bake these for about 45 minutes in a 425 degree oven. You'll need to watch the edges and cover them with foil if they get too brown.


Anonymous said...

will you please come cut the potatoes for you??

Kari Morgan said...

mmmmm...I already love mushrooms so this is right up my alley!!! I will try it hen I can get my hands on a wholesome pie crust...our whole foods is pretty far away.

Laurel said...

Oh..yummy...I am honored to be part of your ongoing evolution :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi guinnah,

Inspired by your post about learning to like mushrooms! On searching google for that, your blog came up. I have been a vegetarian for years, and have always hated mushrooms! The texture, just as you say. Now, I want to get used to them. Tired of going to my favorite veg restaurants and having to ask that they remove mushrooms. Any more hints on coming to terms with the texture? Thanks! david