Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Guy: a Fun Guy, Another Guy and Fungi

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I am blessed to be married to a man who is my co-conspirator in all manners of food experimentation for the sole purpose of gastronomic bliss.
It has it's down side however, because there are no boundaries. We eat everything.

I'm not sure I would have survived our almost-twenty year marriage, had I been married to a hater. You know, the kind of picky eater who will only eat meals that the likes of Banquet and Tyson might clone.
It always surprises me when I encounter someone who loathes one of the foods I consider essential to the human experience.

My husband dislikes stinky cheese--I get that. One could live a happy existence without ever falling prey to the pleasures of stinky cheese.
Stinky cheese is not essential.

Mushrooms however, are essential.
In my opinion, a life is not complete without mushrooms.
Their culinary possibilities are limitless. They are edible, blank canvases awaiting colorful interpretation. Their delightful names (think Chanterelle, Portabello, Shiitake, Hen of the Woods...) make even the most pedestrian fare sound like something spectacular.

I am a mushroom lover. If not only for their delightful flavor, then for their mysterious presence as well. On a sunny Monday there may be nary a mushroom in site, but under Tuesday's cloudy sky, they peek from every nook and cranny of our mossy, wooded path.
Like good neighbors, they will show up unannounced, on the darkest of days. They ask for nothing, but they are ready for anything.
Admittedly, I've spent many a moment daydreaming about mushrooms.

And on one not-so-dark day, in my long-ago past, there was that mushroom nightmare.

Two kids and fourteen hairstyles ago, while in the early stages of my culinary madness, we invited some friends over for dinner. I proudly served my rendition of Chicken Marsala and it proved to be a crowd pleaser for all, except one.
For the purpose of this story (and because it's his real name), we will call him "Bill."

Bill's plate resembled what I would only discover years later to be the end result of a mealtime activity, known around these parts as "hide the vegetables." After a short but aggressive interrogation, Bill confessed. He hated mushrooms.
Hated mushrooms? How could anyone hate mushrooms?
He offered no explanation, he just hated them.

Mind you, Bill wasn't just anyone. He was as close to family as a non-family member could get. Childhood friend. Best Man at our wedding. Godfather to my child. Hater of mushrooms.

It is a cruel world, indeed.
I learned a lot about forgiveness that day.

Since that infamous gathering, Bill has enjoyed many meals at our home (sans mushrooms). While he may find simple satisfaction in Superbowl fare (think Baked Spaghetti and Homemade Pretzels), he has sampled and appreciated unfamiliar foods from far away places. He is a great fan of my culinary endeavors and more importantly, he is a great friend. While I will always believe that he misunderstands and unfairly judges my beloved mushroom, I hold no grudge.

And I rest easy knowing that somehow, somewhere, a mushroom will hide, undetected, in one of his meals. And he will enjoy it.

Until Next Time,

Make Life Delicious

Share Your Food


P.S. For those of you who appreciate that gem of the forest, the mushroom, I am posting a soup recipe from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein. The book is as pretty as the recipes are delicious. This soup begs for a cold, rainy day, and a hunk of crusty bread.

Happy Halloween.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Bisque

1 TBS Salted Butter

3 Whole Cloves Garlic

1 Large Spanish Onion, peeled and diced

1 Cup Diced Celery

1 LB. Shiitake Mushrooms**

2 Large Portobello Mushrooms**

1/4 Lb. Chanterelle Mushrooms**

2 to 3 Lge. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered

6 Cups Chicken Stock (homemade or store bought)

2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves

1 Cup Light Cream

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

2 TBS Dry Sherry

2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 TBS Olive Oil

Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and celery. Saute for 8 minutes. Slice the Shiitake, Portobello and Chanterelle mushrooms, setting aside a total of 1/2 cup mixed mushrooms for the garnish. Add the remaining mushrooms and the potatoes to the stockpot. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender--about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme and puree in the pot, using a hand blender or working in batches, in a regular blender until smooth. Add the cream, salt, pepper, sherry and Worcestershire sauce, stir well.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add the reserved 1/2 cup mushrooms and saute until soft--about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms into the soup and stir to incorporate.

Serve hot with crusty bread for dunking. And thank Mother Earth for giving us the mushroom.


**If you are unable to find the variety of mushrooms as listed above, you may substitute any combination of wild mushrooms from the market. Even standard Button mushrooms work well, but will result in a milder flavor.


Jeanine said...

Hi Michelle,
I just wanted to point out that your Creamy Wild Mushroom Bisque may simply be the best ever soup for those under the weather.
Mama always taught me a hot bowl of soup was the best thing for a cough and a cold. I must admit it did always seem to make me feel better. Simply getting rid of a case of the chills, if nothing else, was a definite plus.
Just as an FYI, Shiitake mushrooms have a wonderful immune building ability.
Time magazine dedicated an article to them somewhere around the 1990's stating they held their immune building capabilities regardless of preparation. They found them to be equally effective if freeze dried, broiled, baked, etc. So sip away at that bountiful bisque anytime your feeling a bit under the weather. It may just help.
Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to try it.
If all goes well it may be a part of Thanksgiving dinner.
Keep writing, baking and sharing, I am truly enjoying this site.
"Chow" Bella.

ironbull45 said...

After what had to be the worst best-man speech in history, I deserved many meals sabotaged by mushrooms :)

I'm just happy that I now have a place where all your finest recipes are divulged. Maybe Sue can add a few to her repertoire.

BTW, you can't sneak any 'shrooms on my plate. I can taste that rubbery texture even in the most obscured meals.

Jovanna said...

I can attest to the fact that Paul loves leftovers. Whenever he raided our refrigerator, he always found something he enjoyed.
I don't think you'll fool Bill with mushrooms. I've tried unsuccessfully with asparagus - another vegetable he hates.
Love your stories. Jovanna