Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mushroom Mania

I read recently that many people’s palates are determined genetically and that some strongly flavored foods, such as mushrooms and cilantro, genuinely taste terrible to some individuals. I’m glad I’m not one of them. I love mushrooms (and cilantro). All kinds of mushrooms. There’s nothing tastier than a grilled portobello on toast with arugula and red pepper mayonnaise.

Last spring, we dined at the Martini House in St. Helena, where chef Todd Humphries is known for his passion for mushrooms. So of course, I had to try the mushroom and spring vegetable tasting menu. Each course featured a different mushroom in a unique preparation. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten mushrooms for dessert before! They usually post their current mushroom tasting menu on their website at

I have a favorite mushroom ragout recipe that is extremely versatile and features LOTS of mushrooms. I got the recipe from the wife of a coworker many years ago. I am still grateful that she was willing to share. Thank you, Shari. It looks really complicated, but I’ll abbreviate it here. I’m not providing any quantities or amounts because we have learned over the years that it turns out well with whatever you have on hand, in whatever quantity suits your taste:

Mushroom Ragout
Use a lot of mushrooms – Portobello, brown, shitake and oyster (or any others you like), cut into ½” pieces
Butter, olive oil, soy sauce, sherry, mustard, champagne mustard, half-and-half
Sage, thyme, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper

Brown the mushrooms, herbs, shallots, and garlic in a mixture of olive oil and butter, then cook until tender. Add sherry, soy sauce, mustards and a little half-and-half. Cook six or seven minutes more until creamy and aromatic. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes a great side dish with beef if you chop the mushrooms more coarsely. Chop them a little finer and make a topping for crostini. My favorite use is an interpretation of a dish I had in a long-gone restaurant many years ago. Creamy mashed potatoes on a thin slice of toasted sourdough bread topped with the mushroom mixture. Add a little more half-and-half for this version. And if you’re a meatloaf fan, chop the mushrooms finely and blend the ragout into your favorite family meatloaf recipe for meatloaf with a new twist.

What's your favorite way to use mushrooms?

1 comment:

  1. Judy,

    Your Feta spread looks soo good!! I have to make it. All the photos on your blog look soo great!!

    Keep up the great work!