Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mushrooms and "Dates"

I dig mushrooms; figuratively speaking that is.

...as ancient as the Egyptian pyramids themselves, Egyptian hieroglyphics recorded that mushrooms were enjoyed by the pharohs. Mushrooms were popular in Greek and Roman diets too...the Greeks calling them "Bromo theo", meaning "Food of the gods". Legends persisted in early civilizations...some believing that mushrooms had magic powers to cure disease, prolong life or aid the soul in entering the realm of the gods.
Centuries later, the consults and palaces of Europe served mushrooms, prized for their delicate flavor. King Louis XIV of France encouraged "champions", or mushrooms, to be grown in caves around Paris...
I'm especially delighted to discover that Pennsylvania has a thriving mushroom industry. When I moved here a few years ago, I had no idea how much the farming of "marvelous mushrooms" in Pennsylvania contributed to the economy of the state and the nation.

When most people think of agriculture in Pennsylvania, there is a good chance that mushrooms are not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, perhaps they should be. According to a 2008-2009 mushroom crop report released by the National Agriculture Statistics Service, with regard to Agaricus mushrooms (better known as white button mushrooms), “Pennsylvania accounted for 65 percent of the total volume of sales and second-ranked California contributed 15 percent." (excellent source)

Now, I know I "promised" you a mushroom filled post today but, I've decided to report back to you when I return from "The Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square. Mushrooms are a big cash crop in Pennsylvania, and a quarter of all the mushrooms grown in the United States come from farms around Kennett Square. So yup, that's right, I'll be heading to Kennett Square next weekend for the annual Mushroom Festival. I've already communicated with Kathi Lafferty, owner-operator of The Mushroom Cap at 114 W. State Street, in Kennett Square and I plan on picking up some of her newly released Snack N Shrooms! Kathi tells me her Snack N Shrooms may soon be in her local Whole Foods this coming March and, she has something in the works for a west coast private label. Isn't that exciting!!! So while I'm away unearthing the goodness of mushrooms, ponder this, What is a mushroom?
"Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain fungi—the equivalent of the apple, not of the tree. Fungi, including those which produce mushrooms, are not plants; they are related to molds, mildews, rusts, smuts, and yeasts, and are classified in the Fungi Kingdom.
The definition of the word mushroom varies, depending on the source. A minority of mycologists restrict it to basidiomycetes, but that restriction contradicts the notion that morels and truffles are mushrooms—and since literally millions of people around the world consider those ascomycetes to be mushrooms, that restriction is rejected by most mycologists."
Oddly fashioned, quaintly dyed
In the woods the mushrooms hide,
Rich and meaty, full of flavor
Made for man's, delicious savor.

The Soup Book by Louis P. De Gouy
Here's a little something for you from the folks at Moonlight Mushrooms. They're called Mushroom Circles. Aren't they "bewitching?"
I just have to include the recipe for Mushroom Medley pictured above. It's from a book simply titled Classic French (1996)

Mushroom Medley
Fricassée de Champions

1/2 oz. dried cèpes or porcini mushrooms (optional)
4 tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. button mushrooms, halved or sliced
4 oz. oyster mushrooms
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms OR
1 oz. dried and soaked mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. ground coriander
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1. If you are using dried cèpes or porcini mushrooms (and they do give a rich flavor), soak them in a little hot water just to cover for 20 minutes.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add all the mushrooms, including the soaked cèpes or porcini, if using. Sir well, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.
3. Crush garlic and add to the pan with the coriander and seasoning. Stir well then cook for 5 minutes more, until the mushrooms are tender and much of the liquid has been reduced. Stir in the chopped parsley, then allow the mushrooms to cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.

This Weeks Food Days

September 4th

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza for National Macadamia Nut Day!

Here's the scoop, the inventor of the ice cream scoop, Alfred L. Craille was born today in Lunenberg County, Virginia.
...Alfred Cralle moved to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where he worked as a porter in a drug store. The idea of an ice cream scoop came to him when he noticed ice cream servers having the most difficult time trying to get the popular confection desired by the customer into the cone they also were craving. What to do? There had to be a better way. The ice cream would stick to everything but needed at least two hands to get into the cone. Some servers found it so frustrating, they would simply use their fingers to push the ice cream into the cone. Not too sanitary I'm afraid. Something was needed to release the ice cream and make for one handed dispensing; the first ice cream scoop with mechanical lever action was patented by Cralle on February 2, 1897 when Alfred L. Cralle was only 30 years old. Now everyone could enjoy eating their favorite ice cream cone thanks to Alfred L. Cralle's invention. It was strong, inexpensive, and it could be shaped like a cone or a mound. Not only that but today more than 200 years after his invention it is still his prototype which is used as the basis for the modern day ice cream scooper. Alfred Cralle's Patent number: 576395 is visibly available at the USPO and also at the google patent website...
Food enthusiast François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was born today in 1768. He coined the name of a cut of tenderloin known as Chateaubriand Steak.
Chateaubriand: Originally a method of cooking meat, chateaubriand is now a specific cut of meat. It was named for Francois Rene, a renegade from the French Revolution. He moved to England and was living in a manor named Chateaubriand, when his chef, Montmireil, discovered that the tenderness of meat could be preserved if two pieces of lesser meat surrounded it. (source)
If I hadn't done a post celebrating Mushroom Month today, my next choice would have been to introduce you to The Legacy of Craig Claiborne, who was born today, in 1920, in Sunflower Mississippi. (He moved to East Hampton later in life)
Perhaps, the best place to start is with this commentary by the author of I Hear America Cooking; Betty Fussell. You can also find a short review of Craig Claiborne's autobiography, A Feast Made For Laughter, (1982) @ The Amateur Gourmet. I read somewhere that one of Mr. Claiborne's favorite "snacks" was Mushrooms on Toast. Indeed, I found a recipe for Baked Mushrooms in Cream in my tattered copy of The New York Times International Cookbook authored by him. (if you follow that link, you will find Kelly's tantalizing adaption served on "thick, crusty, white bread:)
Baked Mushrooms in Cream
The New York Times International Cookbook p.303
1 pound large white mushrooms caps
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
1. Preheat oven 450°
2. Rinse mushrooms in cold water and drain
3. Slice off the stem of each mushroom, flush with the base. (I learned this helps them keep their shape)
4. Arrange the mushrooms, stem side down, in a buttered baking dish. Brush the tops of the mushrooms with butter and pour the cream over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and the Parmesan cheese. Bake fifteen minutes. Serve on toast.

September 5th

Happy Labor Day everyone. Stay safe...I found some Labor Day recipes Cassie thinks you'll love and be sure and check out Miranda's Burger Party over @ A Duck in Her Pond.
Starting National Waffle Week, September 4th through 10th, 2011, and for a limited only, participating Waffle House Restaurants are offering Peanut Butter waffles.
The first Waffle House® Restaurant opened on September 5th in 1955. I don't know about you but, I'll be checking those "babies" out!

September 6th

Catharine Esther Beecher, author of Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book... was born in East Hampton, New York on September 6, 1800.

September 7th

Anyway you slice it, Acorn Squash Day is in September. The question is, whether it is September 7th or September 26th. This site declares the 26th while Hallmark states the 7th. I'm going with Hallmark! Check it out, they have the coolest online calendar ever!!! While you're at it, Kate From Scratch shared a tasty Acorn Squash meal to her family recently. She also has a Kelapo Coconut Oil discount code to share.

Now, I've heard it all, would you believe today is Salami Day! I guess the Salami Appreciation Society figured the favorite pizza topping of some of you out there, required its own day! (add some mushrooms and, I'm in!)

September 8th

Born today, naturalist and author of Stalking The Good Life, Euell Gibbons. There's a reprint of an article by him in Organic Gardening and his recipe for preserving Jerusalem artichokes in a Dill Crock here.

Comic strip character Blondie Boopadoop, wife of Dagwood Bumstead, yes that Dagwood, namesake of the Dagwood Sandwich, made her debut on September 8, 1930.

September 9th

Visit my post about Harland Sanders, Colonel to you, and pick up a recipe for Mrs. Harland Sanders' Refrigerator Rolls and Buttermilk Pie. Why? Today is the day Colonel Sanders, of KFC fame, was born.

Celebrate California Statehood today with California Mushrooms!!!

It's Weinerschnitzel Day as confirmed by the folks at the "Ultimate Holiday Site;" Hallmark. (can you tell I've recently discovered them:) I guess they figured since they were getting "blamed" for making up some of these holidays, they may as well join in!

September 10th

Who Invented the TV Dinner? I'm only asking because, today may be National TV Dinner Day!

1. Beet Greens with Mushrooms on Toast
2. Craig claiborne's No-Salt Chili Con Carne