Mushrooms

Edible fungi in basket 2009 G1
Assorted picked edible mushrooms in a basket.
Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi (fungi which bear fruiting structures that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye). They can appear either below ground (hypogeous) or above ground (epigeous) where they may be picked by hand. Edibility may be defined by criteria that include absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma.
Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional value and they are occasionally consumed for their supposed medicinal value. Mushrooms consumed by those practicing folk medicine are known as medicinal mushrooms. While hallucinogenic mushrooms (e.g. psilocybin mushrooms) are occasionally consumed for recreational or religious purposes, they can produce severe nausea and disorientation, and are therefore not commonly considered edible mushrooms.
Edible mushrooms include many fungal species that are either harvested wild or cultivated. Easily cultivatable and common wild mushrooms are often available in markets, and those that are more difficult to obtain (such as the prized truffle and matsutake) may be collected on a smaller scale by private gatherers. Some preparations may render certain poisonous mushrooms fit for consumption.

Before assuming that any wild mushroom is edible, it should be identified. Accurate determination and proper identification of a species is the only safe way to ensure edibility, and the only safeguard against possible accident. Some mushrooms that are edible for most people can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, and old or improperly stored specimens can cause food poisoning. Great care should therefore be taken when eating any fungus for the first time, and only small quantities should be consumed in case of individual allergies. Deadly poisonous mushrooms that are frequently confused with edible mushrooms and responsible for many fatal poisonings include several species of the Amanita genus, in particular, Amanita phalloides, the death cap. It is therefore better to eat only a few, easily recognizable, species, than to experiment indiscriminately. Moreover, even species of mushrooms that are normally edible may be dangerous, as mushrooms growing in polluted locations can accumulate pollutants such as heavy metals.

RECIPES:

Italian-Style Stuffed Mushrooms

These meatless appetizers are great at cocktail parties.

Makes 12.

12 large Mushrooms
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
2 Tablespoon Red wine
1 1/2 cups Breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Asiago (or Parmesan) cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a skillet. Mince the stems and cook them in the oil for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat. Toss in the remaining ingredients. Divide the stuffing into the mushroom caps. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes (or until lightly browned). Serve warm.


Noodles With Wild Mushrooms

This simple side dish goes well with pork or chicken.

Serves 4.

1 pound of Noodles (fresh or frozen)
12 ounces Mushrooms (Portobello, shiitake or porcini), diced
8 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Chicken broth
2 Tablespoons Beef broth
2 Tablespoons Parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until just soft. Add the broths and parsley. Cook the noodles in a separate pot. Drain and toss with the mushroom sauce. Reheat if necessary. Check the seasonings. Serve warm.


Portobello Risotto

The full flavor of Portobello mushrooms goes well with Arborio rice.

Serves 4.

1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1/4 cup Shallots, minced
1 cup Portobello mushrooms, diced
4 cups Chicken broth, warmed
1 cup Arborio rice

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms. Cook until soft (about 4 minutes). Add the rice and cook for 3 minutes longer. Slowly add the broth, one cup at a time, until the mixture is slightly creamy. Serve immediately.


Roasted Mushrooms

These make a great topping for grilled steak.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

8 ounces Mushrooms, fresh, quartered
1 1/2 Tablespoons Onions, minced
1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Thyme
1 1/2 Tablespoon White wine
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Toss together all ingredients. Place in a casserole dish, cover and cook for 35 minutes (stirring occasionally).

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