Friday March 26, 2010 | The Mushroom Hunter

March 24, 2010 at 10:19 am | Posted in Coming Up | 11 Comments

“There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but they are never the same.” That sentiment is well-known in the community of mushroom hunters because collecting the wide variety of fungi used in so many dishes can reap financial benefits, but it can also be a deadly experience. Today Chef Peter Reinhart brings along a local mushroom hunter and a chef who works for a mushroom growing company. They will teach us the basics about these enigmatic objects that are closely related to mold. Join us for a field guide to mushroom hunting and cooking.
Peter Reinhart
– Chef-on-Assignment, Johnson and Wales University
Reed Patterson – Mushroom Hunter
Bob Engel – Chef Liaison, Gourmet Mushrooms Inc.

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Listen to Show

Maitake Mushroom Bread Pudding

About 8 cups, cubed, brioche or challah (OR Brother Juniper’s Struan Bread!)

Using day or two old bread is best. If using fresh bread, lay out on sheet pan and toast in 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool before using.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound chopped Maitake Frondosa™ mushrooms or a mix of Gourmet Mushroom’s varieties
3 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 level teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
½ cup slivered green onion
1 1/2 cups each grated mature gouda and romano cheeses
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
9 large eggs
3 ½ cups half and half

Cube and dry the bread first.

Sauté the mushrooms and shallot in the olive oil until mushrooms are just slightly browned, then stir in the herbs and green onion. Toss together with the cubed bread and cheeses.

Mix the custard, then pour over the bread mixture. IMPORTANT: Let bread stand, folding every five minutes, until all of the custard is absorbed. Do not bake until the bread has taken up all (or almost all) of the liquid. This usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Bake in buttered casserole or pan (9×13) in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Specialty Mushrooms for Summer Menus

Foragers will find slim pickings in the forests and meadows as Spring turns to Summer. The last of the morels will be harvested by June, but cultivated specialty mushrooms will continue to provide variety throughout the summer. Mushrooms like Gourmet Mushrooms’ Trumpet Royale™ and the new Nebrodini Bianco™ are favorites for grilling. Both are members of the oyster mushroom family, but unlike the more familiar oyster varieties, these have a firm meaty texture that absorbs marinades and loves the high heat of the barbecue. Crisp-textured varieties such as the Alba Clamshell™ and Brown Clamshell™ can be featured ingredients in salads. Despite the widespread appearance of sliced button mushrooms on salad bars, we do not recommend eating raw mushrooms. Mushrooms are much more digestible when cooked and cooking also enhancing their flavor.

Here are some ideas for mushrooms on the summer menu.

Thai Mushroom Appetizer

2 Tablespoons mild vegetable oil
8 oz. honshimeji mushrooms, such as Alba Clamshell™ and/or Brown Clamshell™ mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated (optional)
2 Tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons each, thin sliced green onion, cilantro leaf and fresh mint
a pinch or two of cayenne pepper (optional)

Heat vegetable oil in broad skillet on medium high. Add mushrooms, whole or sliced, Cook three minutes on high. Stir together the lime juice, Thai fish sauce and brown sugar (and cayenne if desired). Add this mixture to the pan and remove from heat. When cool add green onion and herbs. Serve cold as an appetizer. Serves four.

Spicy Grilled Trumpet Royale

Trumpet Royale™ are great on the grill. They have a firm, meaty texture and a natural affinity for sweet spices.  Any good Asian grocer or health food store will have garam masala, a traditional Punjabi blend that comprises eight to a dozen or more different spices including cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Think of it as the sweet spices from curry without the hot ones.

8 ounces king oyster mushrooms, such as Trumpet Royale™
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaf
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon salt

Smaller mushrooms may be left whole, cut larger ones in half. Combine all ingredients except mushrooms and whisk. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Grill on hot grill, turning once, until brown grill marks show.  May also be oven-roasted for five minutes at 450 °.  Side dish for two or three or garnish for six or more servings.

Grilled Nebrodini Bianco

In Italy this mushroom is sometimes called the Sicilian Grilling Oyster. Its texture and mild, sweet flavor are reminiscent of shellfish, particularly abalone or scallops. This presentation should be served warm as an appetizer or an accompaniment with a simple pasta.

8 ounces Nebrodini Bianco™
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Slice mushrooms into ¼ inch thick slabs. (Smaller mushrooms can be just cut in half). Combine olive oil and seasonings. Brush both sides of the sliced mushrooms with the oil mixture. Grill on the barbeque until grill marks show. May also be cooked in a lightly oiled cast iron pan on the stove top, or roasted in the oven at 425 degrees.

Clamshell en Salsa

8 oz. Alba Clamshell™ or Brown Clamshell™ mushrooms or a mix of both
¼ cup diced red onion
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, minced

Arrange the Clamshell™ mushrooms clusters on an ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and roast at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the moisture has been released, and mushrooms are par-cooked.  Cool to room temperature.  Chop mushrooms in half.  Combine the other seven ingredients and mix in the Clamshell™ mushrooms.  Chill for at least an hour before serving. (To prepare the jalapeño: wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly after chopping. Remove all seeds and membrane, then mince.)

Velvet Pioppini
Pasta Salad with Coppa and Parmesan

A new twist on a perennial favorite. For visual appeal and to hold the seasonings, chose a pasta with an interesting shape, my favorite is creste di gallo, rooster’s crest, or substitute penne rigate. (Coppa is Italian dry-cured pork shoulder. Substitute prosciutto)

½ pound pasta2 quarts lightly salted water
¼ cup olive oil, for sauté
2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces Velvet Pioppini™ mushrooms, stem cut on an angle into ¼ inch pieces, caps sliced thinly
¼ cup olive oil, additional
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces coppa, thinly-sliced, then cut into strips
2 ounces parmesan, shaved

Cook pasta in lightly salted water until just al dente. Rinse under cold water until cool. Meanwhile sauté the garlic and mushrooms over medium heat for about four minutes using the first quarter cup of olive oil. Add cooked mushrooms and all the remaining ingredients except the parmesan cheese to the pasta. Toss well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with shaved parmesan before serving. Serves 4-8

All Recipes from:

Bob Engel, Chef Liaison
Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.
Sebastopol, CA
707-823-1743  x105



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  1. I was just considering growing Shiitake mushrooms. Are there any dangers or cautions to be taken in these home-growing kits or supplies that are provided over the internet?
    Are there local suppliers in the Charlotte area?

  2. I find this topic fascinating. The idea that some random fungal plant growing on the ground could both heal or kill you is amazing.

  3. Question:

    Grateful Growers at the farmers market, from Denver NC, recently introduced me to fresh, local shiitake mushrooms. Their mushrooms were amazingly good! It was wonderful to taste how much more flavor and texture fresh local mushrooms have compared to prepackaged mushrooms. What are some local restaurant suggestions that offer fresh local mushrooms from area growers?

  4. Dear Mike,

    Great topic! I took a class last fall with Alan Muskat in Asheville. I have been unsuccessful finding a foraging club here in Charlotte. Can you provide information on a group of mushroom foragers here?

    Great show,

  5. What are the nutritional benefits of mushrooms?

    I’m also fascinated by the mushroom insulation I’ve heard about recently.

  6. There is a grower at the Matthews Farmer’s Market that sells oyster and shitake mushrooms that are locally grown and are AMAZING!!!! They are one of the reasons we are able to get up on a saturday morning. YUM YUM YUM!!!

  7. Are there any field trips that we can go on to observe mushrooms led by Reid Patterson?

  8. There’s a Shiitake farm near Tyro in Davidson County – (Sandy Creek Farms) I’d like to know where to find more recipes or ways to use the Shiitakes.

    Thanks for any info

  9. What about the regulatory oversight of commercial shroonin?

  10. A couple of points for those who are interested:
    1. The Schiele Museum has a small permanent exhibit on fungi that includes a fabulous video showing the incredible diversity of mushrooms and other fungi.
    2. There’s a mushroom walk, now in planning stages, that should be taking place sometime in June at the Schiele. Allein Stanley (Reed mentioned her during the program), an adjunct curator at the museum, will be one of the mycologists leading the walk.
    3. The website of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) ( is a great resource for information about fungi, including clubs, organizations, and mushroom forays.

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