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I chose the MUSHROOM as my ingredient of the week. The mushroom is an excellent ingredient for vegetarian dishes, adding depth of flavor and a certain “meatiness” that can appeal to a wide range of palates. Many mushrooms “provide vitamins such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), biotin (B7), cobalamins (B12) and ascorbic acid (C), as well as minerals, including iron, selenium, potassium and phosphorus.” (source: Wikipedia) There are a wide variety of edible mushrooms, but some of my favorites include:
Crimini (Italian brown): Also known as a “brown” mushroom. Commonly available in grocery stores, with a deeper flavor than the more pedestrian white or button mushroom. Not everyone knows that the crimini is actually the same as a Portobello- it just hasn’t grown-up yet!
Portabello/Portabella: One of the most dramatic commercially available mushrooms. As noted above, this is the “mature” version of the Crimini mushroom above. You can chop the stem into small “chewier” bites for dishes, but the most popular part of the portobello is the large cap. You can grill, slice, bake, stir-fry, or deep fry the mushroom and add it to any dish to make it heartier and add a lot of flavor.
White mushroom, button mushroom: Almost always available in grocery stores, milder in flavor than its brown cousin above. Good for mild dishes. Some people (not including me) enjoy them raw in salads.
Oyster: I like the oyster mushroom for its unique flavor and good texture. It can be used to make vegetarian versions of some seafood dishes to good effect. This grey/white mushroom can be delicate so check its cap carefully for mold. Best when sauteed and seasoned, not at its best raw.
Maitake Mushrooms: I first got to know this unique mushroom in Japan as an inexpensive, flavorful addition to recipes with good texture. It is best sliced and sauteed in soup, stews, egg dishes, and fried dishes.
Beech Mushroom or hon-shimeji(Japanese): I first saw this mushroom in Japan as well. It’s best cooked, especially sauteed in oil or butter, when its “sweet, nutty taste and firm, crisp texture” will show to best advantage. To my palate, it’s a bit plain and watery in flavor, so you will want to add plenty of seasoning.
Shiitake (oak mushroom; Chinese black mushroom; forest mushroom; golden oak): This very firm and hearty mushroom is increasingly available fresh, but may be most often found dried. It’s used frequently in Japanese and Chinese dishes, and it’s always good to have a bag of dried shitake in your pantry for making vegetarian mushroom stock for these dishes. I find that dried shitake, even reconstituted, is a little strong for my palate, but I enjoy this mushroom fresh sauteed with a variety of other mushrooms in a potato stew. Stems are a bit tough but can be used in stock.
Enoki (enokitake; enokidake; snow puff mushrooms; golden mushrooms; velvet stem): These mushrooms are so light and delicate, they add very light, slightly bland flavor to a dish. You shouldn’t add them to a dish until the very end or they might get tough. Commonly available in Japan and now increasingly available in the U.S.
Porcini (cepes; boletes; boletus; steinpilze; singular tense: porcino): This mushroom is found in exclusive grocery stores or more commonly, available dried. It’s commonly used in Italian risotto dishes, where it has a strong, rather dominant flavor. I don’t tend to enjoy it in its dried form.
For photos of each mushroom and further information, check out this web site
For this week of November 19th, we had the following Gluten-Free Menus:
Mary Frances over at Gluten Free Cooking School posted a menu including Toasted Tofu (Turkey) Sandwich With Cranberry Sauce & Arugula (a recipe I had for dinner the other night, sans bread), Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas, and black bean “burgers.” I like the way she thinks! Yum!
Angela at Angela’s Kitchen posted her menu, and it features an intriguing Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe, as well as tips on brining turkey.
Natalie of Gluten Free Mommy is planning on making Vegetable Cabbage Stir Fry, and she has all kinds of yummy Thanksgiving dishes planned, including a green bean casserole, a sweet potato casserole, and an apple crisp.
Here at the Book of Yum I posted a plan including pumpkin garlic lasagna and Gluten Free Chinese Eggrolls, along with Vegetarian Thanksgiving Fare.