Monday, October 8, 2012

Many Mushrooms

Many Mushrooms

My father-in-law took a course in mushroom identification. He would go out into the field with his guidebook looking for specimens. Yet much as he liked to eat mushrooms, I don’t think he ever picked any in the wild. He was a smart man. Wild mushrooms can be dangerous to eat. Some have toxins that can cause digestive or respiratory problems that are uncomfortable, while others are downright life-threatening. But the right kind of mushroom (and there are many varieties to choose from) is delicious.

Which brings me to agaricus, a common whitish field mushroom. Button mushrooms fall into this category. I saw some mushrooms that looked sort of like golf balls. They grow on lawns all around my house. Tempting as it was to pick and cook, I limited my appreciation to the visual. Then I went out to my favorite market and bought a carton of safely farmed produce that I can enjoy without worry.

I tend to be casual when I cook and mushrooms are so easy to work with, they make perfect dishes. I like to saut̩ crimini mushrooms in a little olive oil with chopped basil, garlic, and pine nuts, then sprinkle on a little grated cheese, serve them over pasta and yum. Portobello mushrooms are great stuffed with almost anything Рrice, ground turkey or beef, tofu, squash, spinach Рdrizzle a little sauce of your choice over the top and bake. Shitaki mushrooms lend themselves beautifully to dishes with Asian spices. If you want a more precise way to prepare them and favor a world view of mushroom dishes, take a look here:

If anyone has a favorite mushroom dish, please feel free to share. We mushroom lovers will be delighted.

For some mushroom varieties and photos:

And for a very basic description of field mushrooms:


  1. My husband and I love mushrooms, too, but never eat any of the many that grow on our lawn. So imagine our surprise when we saw a man cutting into a huge orange fungus/mushroom(?) growing on one of our trees. When we approached the man, he apologized for not asking first, but we asured him it was OK with us as long as he knew it was OK to eat. Now he assured us....that it would be delicious and safe. He didn't come back the following year. I hope he's OK.

  2. Oooh, that sets one's imagination going, doesn't it? I also hope he is OK.

  3. This is from my friend Judith Harch, author of the upcoming e-book FALLING OFF THE FAMILY TREE, due out in early November 2012:

    Yum. I love mushrooms. I have a favorite "use your own judgment" type of recipe:

    Fry some bacon strips until crisp. Then finely chop the bacon.

    Grate some sharp cheddar cheese.

    Finely chop fresh parsley (dried is okay)

    Mix bacon, cheese, and parsley together. Add just enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together.

    Fill mushroom caps with mixture. Then place mushrooms in a pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes - or until cheese is melted.

    Every time I make these, people love them. They're easy to make ahead and refrigerate before baking. I've used them as appetizers and also as an extra vegetable with dinner.