How were your respective weeks, readers? Mine was pretty good, but then how could it not be on the week that I willingly introduced consuming fungus into my life. Really mushrooms are pretty unobtrusive, but I found that it takes some skill to avoid a less than savory, at times termed "slimy," texture.
I will say I enjoy weeks that allow me to experiment with different types (yet another reason to reminisce about squash week), and so I began mushroom week with the purchasing of three different mushroom sorts: Shitake, Cremini (young Portabellas), and the typical white kind that they sell in those blue foam tubs. With such a fine diversity of mushrooms (and at such a diversity of prices), I thought that surely there would be a great difference in taste. Unfortunately, as it turns out, my palette is not yet refined enough in the world of mushrooms to detect that difference.
I started with the Shitakes, though because they cost $8 a pound I only had a small amount. I made a Shitake-crusted chicken, and eagerly awaited the delicious subtlety of flavor that would no doubt accompany high-end fungi. But in the end the taste was just a little too subtle; to me it just tasted like chicken, and my attempts to feature the 'shrooms were mostly wasted. As a plus, I really don't think it would be that difficult to pass off something as "Shitake-crusted" and then just use the regular cheap mushrooms, depending, of course, on your ethical standards and willingness to lie to dinner guests.
I had some mushroom crepes in a restaurant, but, and I realize this goes against what I said during squash week about restaurant veggies being superior--I found they were rather slimy. The crepes were still good, and the mushrooms edible, but the texture was not my favorite. The best way to eat mushrooms then is to disguise the sliminess by surrounding it with a more appealing sliminess, such as cheese. To that end, the mushroom pizza I made later that day was definitely a step up.
For the Creminis, I wanted to do something a bit special. My friend, a seasoned mushroom connoisseur, and I stuffed some mushroom caps with pesto and put them in the oven with a dash of Parmesan. They came out quite well, though I will admit to refusing seconds. I would definitely try one at a party though. Perhaps I'd even make them for a party! "What's a party without mushrooms!" is such a common phrase these days, after all.
Yesterday, I had some cream of mushroom soup, which was as good as any soup. I'm begining to see that soups are the best ways to deal with vegetables (particularly those that suffer from issues of texture). On the one hand, this is an easy solution; on the other hand, while I like soup, I do also really like chewing things. I'll keep working on it.
Here's a picture of some mushrooms I didn't try:Isn't bio-diversity great?
I think for next week I'll go back to basics with some greens, as I believe I now have the assemblages of a pretty decent salad. Anyone have any exotic salad recipes to share? Speaking of reader participation: does anyone have thoughts on a vegetable for next week? I'm getting bored of thinking of them, and I don't think I'm ready to resort to asparagus just yet. Anyway, your continued readership and feedback is appreciated.
Next week: lettuce!