Let's Talk Fungus

I wish they would rebrand mushrooms. The word fungus just creates an automatic yuck factor (for me at least!), especially when growing up. The amount of chicken marsala’s I have scoffed at as a child were numerous and the idea of a soggy, wet mushroom was a non-starter for any meal I was offered.  

It wasn’t until I decided to turn to a vegetarian diet that I discovered all the varieties, tastes, and opportunities that come from properly using mushrooms! When the location and weather allow, I will even forage to find some really tasty options for my mushroom recipes. If you are interested in foraging, you should definitely take a foraging class - never pick and eat something you don’t know what it is. I went with North Spore and have since been able to find chanterelles, chaga, and chicken of the woods right here in greater Portland! 

While foraging is a great hobby and a beautiful way to spend time outdoors, sometimes you just need a larger quantity than what you can find or maybe you just can’t make it to the grocery store. Having said that, dried mushrooms have become a pantry staple for me - they keep for a while (up to a year if stored properly!) and are so versatile! You want to make sure you are getting a high quality dried mushroom, just as you would when buying fresh. 

There are a plethora of types of mushrooms and the recipes that go with them, I wanted to share a recipe that was inspired by a toast I had at Liquid Riot - even though I am no longer a vegetarian it is still one of my go to kitchen basics! I found this to be a super flexible recipe, use whatever mushrooms are your favorite, add more or less spice, top with your favorite herbs or pickled veggies; it’ll still be delicious!  

Mushroom Toast with Whipped Goat Cheese and Hot Honey  

Ingredients: 

Recipe: Broken into 2 parts, first about dried mushroom prep second on the actual meal 

Part 1: 

Preparing your dried mushrooms. While this initial step takes some planning it provides you TWO wonderful results! You will have rehydrated mushrooms plus a delicious mushroom stock ready to cook a batch of farro or simmer a fall soup! 

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in room temperature water, use a bowl that you can fully cover and submerge the mushrooms. You can also use hot water but I find the mushrooms lose some of their flavor to the stock with hot water. 
  • If the mushrooms are sliced or just a thinner variety you will only need to soak anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours. Larger capped or thicker stemmed mushrooms could take up to 8 hours to rehydrate! The mushrooms are ready once they have softened all the way through. 
  • Remove your mushrooms from the water, lightly squeeze each as you remove it to get rid of any excess liquid. Place them into a mesh strainer, rinse with water to remove any remaining grit. Do a taste test here to check for grit. 
  • With your bowl of mushroom water, take a coffee filter and place over a clean container. Pour the water through the filter into the new clean container, this step should catch any remaining grit that was released during the rehydration period. Discard the filter and enjoy a batch of stock! This will keep in the freezer up to 4 months. 
 

Part 2: 

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • After you dried off your rehydrated mushrooms, place on a baking sheet and drizzle with half the olive oil, sprinkle with tellicherry pepper. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, stir as needed. Remove once they begin to darken. 
  • Slice your sourdough, brush the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle some truffle salt. Bake in the same oven as the mushrooms until toasted to your preference. 
  • Add the ricotta and goat cheese to a bowl and mix until combined. Add in lemon zest, stirring until incorporated.
  • Once the mushrooms and bread are done in the oven, remove and let cool for at least 8 minutes. Spread the cheese mixture onto the bread and top with your mushrooms. 
  • Finish off the toast with the chopped scallions, sunflower seeds, and hot honey! Sprinkle some finishing black truffle salt for a real treat! 
 
Christina Arecchi

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