Tag Archives: wild mushrooms

Baked Eggs with Chanterelles and Caramelized Onions

It must be a bumper-crop year for chanterelle mushrooms here in the Northwest. My local grocery store, the wonderful West Seattle Thriftway, has had a consistent supply of lovely chanterelles for $8.99 per pound, one of the lowest prices I recall seeing for the beauties in recent years. And I’ve heard other friends chattering about high supply and low prices in recent weeks. It’s been a treat to pick up a few handfuls on recent shopping trips, adding them to braised kale to go alongside some roast pork, or scrambling them up with some eggs for a decadent breakfast.

Here’s a recipe from my Wild Mushrooms cookbook that can be used with any number of different types of mushrooms, tender chanterelles a particularly good choice. This recipe makes a wonderful brunch centerpiece (easy to double to serve 8), but also adapts well as a light supper on a blustery day (like today!) served with a salad (maybe adding sliced pear and toasted hazelnuts) and toast for dipping into the delicious eggy goodness.

Baked Eggs with Chanterelles and Caramelized Onions

A simple and savory way to start the day, this dish uses a nest of wild mushrooms and caramelized onions in which to bake individual eggs. To save time in the morning, you could prepare the caramelized onion-mushroom mixture the night before and refrigerate, covered.

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3/4 pound wild mushrooms, brushed clean, trimmed, and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1/4 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
Toast, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Generously butter four 4-ounce ramekins.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is quite tender and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onion is nicely caramelized and the mushrooms are tender and any liquid they give off has evaporated, stirring often, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Spoon the onion-mushroom mixture into the prepared ramekins, drawing up the edges slightly to make a nest for the egg. Break an egg into each ramekin and spoon 1 tablespoon of the cream over each egg, then season the tops lightly with salt and pepper. Put the ramekins in a baking dish, pour boiling water into the dish to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift the ramekins from the water and dry off the bottoms of the dishes, then set them on individual plates. Serve right away, with toast alongside

Makes 4 servings

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Green Bean Casserole, Revisited

‘Tis the season. For a lot of things, actually.  I hear talk of comfort food and big cozy sweaters, fires in the fire place and hunkering down to watch old movies and read a good book.

And with all this rain, cooling temperatures, it’s also the season of wild mushrooms. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve eaten various types of the seasonal delicacy in recent weeks, but they include a wonderful spinach salad with wild mushrooms and goat cheese at FareStart, a kind of ragout of chanterelles at a dinner meeting held at Lisa Dupar’s Pomegranate, and a roasted corn soup with wild mushrooms at Barrio. It’s always time to celebrate when the price of chanterelles begins to approach that of cultivated mushrooms, a sure sign the bounty is here. So we’ve had them at home, as well, sautéed with chard and garlic, or added to a rice pilaf.

But ’tis THE season as well. The holiday season. The one that has us all starting to dream up menu plans and flip through magazines for ideas. Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite holiday of the year, not to mention one of my favorite meals. And it’s one that I love to keep traditional. No standing rib roast or salmon fillet or crown of pork. It’s always turkey, or on rare occasion maybe Cornish game hens, as I did on the grill one year. Stuffing, absolutely. Potatoes? Yes, mashed and rich. A bright crisp salad. Something pumpkiny for dessert.

Only thing missing is a green vegetable. And the most quintessential side dish at this time of year is the famous green bean casserole. Nostalgic, beloved, but who today can stomach the canned provinence of the original’s ingredients? I know I can’t. Which is why, in the course of developing recipes for my Wild Mushrooms cookbook, I came up with a from-scratch version. Simple white sauce. Lots of fresh wild chanterelle mushrooms. Savory leeks. Crisp green beans. And a chanterelle/bread crumb topping. Still a little nostalgia in there. But with a whole lot more flavor! (Go ahead and use those crunchy canned fried onions if you just can’t imagine this recipe without them.)

chanterelles

One of the many beautiful watercolor illustrations done for my book by artist Don Barnett

Green Bean and Chanterelle Casserole

from Wild Mushrooms, in the Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series

 

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, split, cleaned and sliced

1 pound chanterelles, brushed clean, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

White Sauce:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

Pinch freshly grated or ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture foams up and begins to smell slightly nutty, 2 to 3 minutes (the flour should not brown). Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until the sauce thickens, whisking often to avoid any lumps or sticking, 6 to 8 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 12-inch oval baking dish or other 2-quart baking dish. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the green beans, and cook until they are bright green and nearly tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until tender and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the chanterelles and add the rest to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and any liquid they give off has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Take the skillet from the heat and stir in the white sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the beans and stir to evenly coat them in the sauce, then transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Pulse the bread crumbs and reserved chanterelles in a food processor to a fine crumbly texture. Scatter the mixture over the green beans and bake until bubbly-hot and the topping is nicely browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Spoon onto individual plates to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Green Beans on Foodista

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Here truffle, truffle

The Puget Sound Business Journal featured an item recently about a new kind of cultivation coming on the scene: that of the truffle. It’s no easy feat to cultivate truffles, they’re still going to have some unpredictable, wild tendencies and take their time to (hopefully) flourish. But at least one 2-acre plot of recently planted hazelnut trees–whose roots were dusted with truffle spores–may well bear some handsome truffles, and a handsome income, at the Bolles Organic Farm in Monroe. Apparently they just may not reap much for the next ten years, while the seedlings mature. We’ll all have to be patient!

I’d written a bit about truffles and their potential for propegation in my Wild Mushrooms book a few years ago. In the course of that research, I’d spoken with Dr. Charles Lefevre, founder of New World Truffieres based in Eugene, Oregon, who is also quoted in the PSBJ article. A few varieties of truffle are native to the Northwest, including Oregon black and white truffles, though most of the trees sold by Lefevre are inoculated with spores of the European black truffle (Tuber melanosporum). It’s a fascinating prospect and with any luck we’ll have a bigger bounty of local truffles to enjoy in coming years.

As a side note about wild mushrooms. Truffles are among the varieties that are called mycorrhizal (myco = mushroom, rhiza = root), meaning they grow in a beneficial relationship with tree root systems. Which is why this idea of planting truffle-spore-enhanced trees sounds so brilliant. Other types of mushrooms may be saprophytic, thriving on dead or decaying organic matter, such as leaves or rotting wood. Delicious morels fall in this category, famous for showing up where soil has been disturbed or in the aftermath of a  forest fire. One mushrooming friend found a huge morel in the soil alongside the parking lot of a new building she was working in. That’s what I love about wild mushrooms in the Northwest, they can surprise us with their bounty.

If you’re in the mood for a full dose of the best of this season’s truffles, you’ve got a couple weeks to enjoy the current theme at The Herbfarm, which touts that truffles from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon will make their way into the multicourse extravaganza. I attended this menu five or six years ago, while researching my book. Then-chef Jerry Traunfeld created dishes that included side-by-side simple tarts of different truffle types, ravioli with celery root and truffles, and thyme-grilled squab with Oregon black truffles among other indulgences. I haven’t made it back to The Herbfarm since new chef Keith Luce took the helm, though hope to before long. If you’d like an intensive introduction to Northwest truffles, I can’t imagine a better place to do so.

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