"Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushrooms"

It’s dark in the woods, it’s raining, dreary, what’s there to be happy about? Mushrooms! Lovely, golden chanterelle mushrooms raising their grand heads out of the damp forest floor. The perfect  side dish to warm your heart and stomach, sauteed chanterelles and shiitakes  in butter, a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt while cooking. Toss them into a bubbling cream sauce to stir into some freshly made pasta. Yum…..makes my heart happy to think of  it. Not only do mushrooms add a beautiful low note to sauces or sauteed veges they are so versatile they can be a grand main dish as in grilled portobellos. My favorite mushroom is the shiitake, which is not only delicious to eat but also has been used in Chinese  medicine dating back to 100 AD. The extracts of the shiitake are used in herbal medicine to help boost the immune system against certain cancerous tumors, heart disease and unwanted inflammation.  Recently on one of our first dreary days of autumn I was craving some comfort food. A warm bowl of sautéed mushrooms sounded appealing  so I picked up some fresh chanterelles and shiitakes from our local market. I love this time of year when there are piles of fresh chanterelles from forests close by. Even more I love when my adventurous  friend Brenda calls me up to tell me on her last hike she picked chanterelles and she saved some for me!   I don’t grow my own shiitakes yet but Seattle Tilth will be offering  a class this winter or early spring in growing the revered mushroom.  I love mushrooms and the thought of growing the mysterious fungi makes me crazy happy.  Other mushrooms I love are criminis, morels and porcinis, a gourmet delight my friends Dennis and Maria introduced me to after they returned from a year living in Italy .  One of the delights of tramping around wild places in Seattle is finding beautiful edible mushrooms growing nearby. The shaggy mane mushroom was pointed out to me earlier this year while walking one of the many wooded trails of our area. My friend Maria and I brought it home to her husband for positive identification and shortly after Dennis was cooking up a delicious shaggy mushroom treat.  Next weekend The Puget Sound Mycological Society will be hosting “The 2011 Wild Mushroom Show” at The Mountaineers at Magnusun Park, see the link below for more information. As you know, never eat a wild mushroom unless you are absolutely positively sure it will not kill you or make you bigger or smaller “Just ask Alice when she’s nine feet tall”

For more information on the “2011 Annual  Wild Mushroom exhibit” October 14th and 15th at Magnusun Park check out:

PSMS: Annual Wild Mushroom Show

Mushrooms are Highly Nutritious

I found in researching the medicinal qualities of mushrooms that they are highly nutritious. Mushrooms are full of protein and fiber, contain selenium, B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, polysaccharides, vitamin D and more.

Mushrooms: Fun Facts & Statistics

The Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

WHFoods: Mushrooms, crimini

Mushrooms Have Medicinal Qualities


NOTE: In researching the medicinal properties of mushrooms I found lots of information. Check out the links below which will give you a place to start. I found an article that button mushrooms both white and crimini are effective in boosting the immune system. In the last link I checked out  on the Puget Sound Mycologial Society’s page was a link to an article by Doctor Weil saying you should cook the button mushrooms thoroughly to prevent consuming toxins. The information can be confusing but my love of mushrooms will give me the strength to carry on.

Shiitake Mushroom

Are Mushrooms Good For Your Health? – Dr. Weil

The anti-cancer diet – introducing a healthy new way of life | Mail 

Medicinal mushrooms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                                                 Cooking Mushrooms

There are many ways to cook a mushroom but I usually opt for the easiest way:

Brush off or rinse the mushrooms, I usually place them upside down on a paper towel for a couple of minutes to dry

Slice in whichever way you want. I usually like mushrooms sliced, halved or quartered lengthwise depending on the shape of the mushroom and what dish it is going in

Heat up  the butter and/or olive  oil  on medium high heat until bubbly, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan then throw in the mushrooms, sprinkle a little salt over the top and let them brown a little and stir until they look softened and golden, about 5-10 minutes

shiitakes can be a little tough so I allow more time for them to cook and soften before adding more delicate mushrooms like the chanterelle if I am combining the two

All Time Favorite Side Dish of Button Mushrooms

Clean and trim the stems off  the white button or crimini mushrooms (save the stems  to use in other dishes)

Allow at least three per person and even at that you will be fighting over these tasty treats

Melt equal parts butter and olive oil in a heavy saute pan on medium-high heat (I use my iron skillet and just enough butter and oil to cover bottom of pan when melted) you can add more oil or butter if needed during cooking

When the butter and oil are melted and sizzley hot add the mushrooms cap down, sprinkle with  salt

When the tops are rich toasty brown, turn them over and cook until brown and tender

It will probably take about 4 minutes a side if the burner is good and hot

The heat needs to be high enough to brown the mushrooms quickly so stay in the kitchen and pay close attention, I keep tongs handy to turn each one separately

I add a little more salt at this point

This is amazingly easy and delicious

The simplicity of the ingredients lets the mushroom flavor shine!

Other ways I use mushrooms:

Roast or saute and add to lasagna, casseroles, quiche, burritos, dips

Add mushrooms to stir fries, rice pilafs, omelets and pasta salads

Wild Mushrooms of October — Grow Food Seattle