Monday, November 5, 2012

Shiitake Love.


Well. I'm alive.

Seriously, for a moment yesterday, I worried that we might orphan our children.

Instead, I'm relishing my bravery, high-fiving my hubby, and generally feeling like I've earned an extra gardening merit badge.

We ate homegrown mushrooms. And they were scrumptious.

Remember a few weeks ago? Yep, I thought my shiitake experiment resulted in a waste of time and money. With those first little mushrooms, we just weren't brave enough to give them a try. I trusted our source for the plugs—Mushroom Mountain is phenomenal. But because these logs aren't in a sterile environment, we've also seen other mushrooms showing up uninvited. And those mushroom invaders made me nervous.

But then, almost overnight, this happened:



A slew of shiitakes, exploding from the logs. And they looked like shiitakes—clusters of lovely brown capped deliciousness.



I just couldn't waste them.


Still skeptical, Peter suggested that I send a photo to Mushroom Mountain—just for a confirmation. I'm sure poor Tradd and Olga probably wish they never sold the plugs to this high maintenance mushroom grower wanna-be. Still, they kindly confirmed that the mushrooms were “beautiful” shiitakes, and to go ahead and eat them.

YEEES!

The funny thing is—I'm not a huge mushroom fan. Ironic, isn't it? In fact, whenever we eat out, Peter is the recipient of any mushrooms that sneak into my meal. For me, I grew shiitakes to up my gardening ante—embracing the challenge of growing something new, adding a unique crop to my resumé. Plus, Peter loves mushrooms. 
 

Now, with three, gallon-sized bags of shiitakes, I've decided it's time for mushroom love. We'll be eating a lot of shiitakes in the next week or two, and I need to stop behaving like a 7-year-old who doesn't want to try new things.

One of those per family is enough.

While I research recipes, though, I decided to go with an tried-and-true meal for our first homegrown shiitakes. Shiitake, Swiss chard, and bacon quiche.

I didn't plan to include bacon, because the shiitakes are savory enough alone. Sadly, though, a friend mentioned bacon—and then I couldn't resist my bacon craving. Bacon, after all, ended my three month trial of vegetarianism. One whiff of bacon frying—and it was all over.

Willpower fail.

There's something amazingly satisfying when you cook a meal composed of ingredients from your garden. Rainbow Swiss chard is both delicious and beautiful, plus the voles haven't decimated it yet like they've brutalized the bok choy. The eggs--only hours old, with rich, vibrant orange yolks. The shiitakes—well, they're the whole point of the quiche, after all. Funky looking and earthy, they emanated a warm, forest aroma. I don't think I've ever smelled anything like it from grocery store mushrooms. 

Of course, I cheated with the pie crust. A packaged pie crust makes me seems like a charlatan. But, in my defense, they are awfully good, and I'm always short on time.
Feel free to make your own crust. (I promise, I will learn to make pie crust this year. I will, I will.)

Shiitake, Bacon, and Swiss Chard Quiche
Ingredients:
½ lb. bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup leek, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups Rainbow Swiss chard, chopped
3 cups shiitake mushrooms, 1/4-inch slices (If using large shiitakes, first cut in half, then slice)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 9-inch pie crust, prepackaged or homemade
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet, leaving the drippings.
  3. Add leek and garlic to hot skillet. Cook until soft, approximately 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add shiitake mushrooms, Swiss chard, and bacon to leek and garlic in skillet. Cook until mushrooms and chard are soft, approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Add ¼ cup Parmesan and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese to mixture in skillet. Mix into vegetables and bacon until the cheese begins to melt.
  6. Remove skillet from heat.
  7. Place pie crust into pie pan, fluting the edges.
  8. Spoon vegetable/bacon/cheese mixture into pie crust, distributing evenly.
  9. In mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  10. Pour egg mixture over vegetables/bacon filling in pie crust.
  11. Place quiche in oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  12. After 10 minutes, remove from oven and evenly sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese over the top of the quiche. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  13. Place foil on top of quiche to prevent crust burning, and return to oven for a final 10 minutes or until quiche sets. Remove from oven, and insert toothpick into center of quiche to check doneness.
  14. Let quiche stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.
  15. Do not serve your husband/wife/significant other first, particularly if they don't see a plate in your hand with your own portion. They might become worried.
  16. Reassure significant other that you, too, are eating the quiche. Take a healthy bite to assuage their fears.
  17. After eating, check your vital signs periodically to ensure you really harvested edible mushrooms.
  18. Do the happy dance when, after 7 hours, everyone is well.
  19. Start looking for more shiitake recipes.
  20. Realize that hubby will no longer receive my mushrooms when dining out, because-- who knew?—mushrooms are pretty yummy.

Because our mushrooms grow on very large logs, we should be well supplied for years. The logs require a period of rest before repeat fruiting, which is fine—we have plenty of shiitakes for awhile. Plus, shiitakes can be frozen or dehydrated for storage.

Now, I need your help...please! What's your favorite mushroom recipe? I still have two and a half bags of mushrooms in the refrigerator, plus more to come. Risotto will definitely be in the lineup, but I'd love to know your favorite ways to use mushrooms.

And, if you're interested in growing your own mushrooms, please visit Mushroom Mountain. Not only are Tradd and Olga brilliant, they also offer great information and everything you need to grow your own mushrooms.

Who knows? Now that our shiitake experiment succeeded, maybe I'll sign up for wild mushroom foraging with Mushroom Mountain.

Or maybe I'll rest on my laurels and stick with the shiitakes.

Cheers!

XO ~

Julie

20 comments:

  1. mushroom risotto? mushroom bolognese? mushroom pizza?

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    1. I love risotto--I actually just dried many of the mushrooms to use later in risotto. Mmmm!

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  2. Glad you are alive and well! I am a mushroom lover but not an egg fan however your recipe does look great!

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    1. Lynn, ironically I'm not a huge egg eater, even with our own chickens. But, I do like a good quiche once in awhile.

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  3. Yum!!! I hope my logs produce sooner rather than later. I will be sure to email a picture to Tradd and Olga to be sure. Love quiche, am also a bacon lover. hahahaha Pie crust isn't toooooooo hard.

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    1. According to Olga, my logs may have taken longer to "bloom" because they are so large. Size does make a difference, after all! ;-) Can't wait to hear about your shiitakes!

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  4. oooh, I'll have to think! I use mushrooms in everything! On pizza, in salads, sauteed on burgers, sauteed on chicken, in rice, in a veggie medly. I love mushrooms!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jessie! Now I'm inspired.

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  5. Ha ha! Too funny. Your mushrooms look lovely. Good for you for being brave and trying something new. I love sauteed mushrooms on pasta.

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    1. Isn't it silly? I think I developed a mushroom phobia as a child, linking all mushrooms to those odd little pieces in cream of mushroom soup my mom used to use for casseroles!

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  6. Wowzer!!!!!! how fabulous! I'm salivating. and of course bacon is a basic food group

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    1. Thanks! They are pretty scrumptious, I must admit! And of COURSE bacon is a basic food group! ;-)

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  7. Beautiful mushrooms, beautiful quiche!

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  8. OMG, i am so envious! You are so privileged to be living with shiitake growing conditions, as they don't grow in our hot tropics. We are left with the oyster mushrooms mostly. Yours look so healthy and so big, oh so yummy. and that baked product is so mouth watering, i need to visit a restaurant for it. By the way, we get very expensive shiitake already dry, from our cold neighbors!

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    1. Ah, but the things you CAN grow in the tropics--I'm envious! I just dried a large batch of the shiitakes, and let me assure you--they're so expensive because they smell so terrible while drying! Honestly, if I had to dry mushrooms for my business, we'd be broke or my family would leave me. Our house smelled horrific. Whew!

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    2. Hahaha, i can't imagine what that smell is like! I am laughing as i am visualizing what the family members look like. If it is in the tropics, drying is easy and fast, and not many people will be affected. Now i know why they are so expensive, hahaha! But maybe big shiitake business have drying machines, with fumes collected by filters!

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  9. i roast mushrooms & freeze them.

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  10. Wow, your Shiitakes look gorgeous! I think you can make a business from selling shiitake mushrooms. They’re delicious and incredibly healthy. They also have potent antioxidants that help in fighting cancer, and they help lower cholesterol. They’ve been used for medicines in Asia for the past 6,000 years. Have you tried making tea out of your mushrooms? There are lots of preparation tips and recipes for Shiitake tea online.

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  11. I've always been fascinated by this! Super cool. We have a whole bunch of mushrooms growing all over the place but I dont know what they are yet so I am hesitant to eat them. Once we have our chicken project out of the way I am sure growing mushrooms will soon follow! great post

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