One Ingredient, Three Ways: Mushroom Edition

There’s nothing the Practical Cook loves more than potential. When a new day dawns in the kitchen, and your best laid plans go awry, flexibility with your ingredients is key. Mushrooms are both varied and flexible, and I love them dearly. If you are a fungi-phobe, this is probably not the post for you (looking at you Complicated Vegetarian).

A very quick story about my friend, Complicated Vegetarian, whose plant-eating family all detest some form of protein, and never the same one. Add in the reviling of mushrooms, and I’ve got years of Practical Cooking challenges to address. Needless to say, CV is a great baker, because cookies are a food group the whole family can support.

For everyone else, mushrooms can serve innumerable roles in a meal. They are rumored to be full of umami, and heighten the flavor profile of otherwise simple dishes. If you are feeding people who prefer strong flavors, they also match nicely with bold seasoning, like rosemary, feta, red wine, and so forth.

Highly recommend keeping a few in the fridge for weekly use. Start with the button mushroom and expand your repertoire as you go. Here are three ways I like to use mushrooms: appetizer, seasoning, ingredient.

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

This recipe provides guidelines, but is endlessly variable. Change the cheese to goat, swap in some parsley for the scallions, go crazy. If you add crab, don’t invite me over. And apologies for the lack of pictures—they get eaten too quickly for me to ever snap one.

1 lb button mushrooms, stems removed (and reserved in the freezer for future veggie stock) and wiped clean
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 to 4 ozs of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 or 3 scallions, sliced and diced
2 to 4 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs (use Panko, commercial, make your own by shoving the heel of a loaf in the food processor and toasting, anything will do here)
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme or oregano (optional)
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place prepped mushrooms on a baking sheet.

2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, and feta. Combine thoroughly, adjusting amounts to suit your personal taste (more feta = more flavor, more butter = more moisture = more bread crumb potential).

3. Gently fold in scallions and bread crumbs, adding the bread crumbs slowly to see how much your cheese mixture will absorb. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings to personal preference.

4. Stuff some cheese mixture into each prepared mushroom cap. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake until mushrooms exude some juice and the filling is browned, at least 30 minutes.

5. Serve warm or room temperature.

Mushrooms as a Seasoning

1 package dried porcini mushroomsA New Way to Cook
1 food processor

1. Pour mushrooms into food processor fitted with standard blade.

2. Pulverize until the mushrooms are powder. Store powder in a tightly sealed container in a cool dry place.

Practical Uses: Add a teaspoon to your hamburgers. Sprinkle them on your steaks. Add to your risotto. Slip into your spaghetti sauce.

Yes, sometimes a flavor boost is just that easy. The basic idea came from reading Sally Schneider’s amazing cookbook, A New Way to Cook. She knows how to bring the flavor.

Mushrooms as an Ingredient: Pork Noodle Soup

This one’s a teaser, you’ll have to tune in next week for the stunning conclusion of the trinity, which will include the “recipe” for Pork Noodle Soup. But here’s a picture.

Pork Noodle Soup with Mushrooms and Siracha

Pork Noodle Soup with Mushrooms and Spinach

Siracha optional, but recommended.

Join us  tomorrow for a guide to shopping at Trader Joe’s (or similar specialty stores): how to get the most out of  your shopping extravaganza.

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6 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

6 responses to “One Ingredient, Three Ways: Mushroom Edition

  1. Mushrooms are really the unsung hero in a lot of great dishes.
    So delicious.
    I wish more people would be open to them.
    My kids grew up with them so it’s no biggie but I have seen guests push them aside.
    I love them!
    Thanks for these awesome recipes and I’ll watch for the next installment.

  2. The Practical Cook

    Thanks gmomj! I think you’re right about the early exposure, and I’m not above chopping them fine if texture is the barrier.

    Great to hear from another mushroom fan.

  3. As one who has made those stuffed mushrooms vanish before you could take a picture, I can attest to their excellence. I am so making these this weekend. Thanks for the “guidelines”! 🙂

  4. Kelly

    Had a transcendant mushroom pasta last weekend….simple enough that I want to try recreating at home. Black fettucini, mixed morels, with spinach and parmesan in a light olive (and probably truffle) oil sauce. With sauteed steak. YUM!

    • The Practical Cook

      Oh, I like it. Do you think you’ll serve on its own, or pair with steak again? Any parsley, garlic, etc? Do tell.

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