At my Chesham high street market, white button mushrooms are sold in abundance. However, when you buy a kilo you have to find creative ways to make meals for two. I absolutely love mushrooms. They’re so hearty and (I think) a great option for a vegetarian weeknight dinner. So when I have a lot of them, I usually prefer to make them the star. Plus it’s an affordable replacement for meat! All three ways are easy to make with minimal ingredients.
- Mushroom Stroganoff
- Curry Noodles with Mushrooms
- Pasta with Gorgonzola Sauce
There are various tips when working with mushrooms. As you know they’re mostly water which is why it’s usually advised not to wash them with water. Rather, it’s better to brush them with a damp paper (kitchen) towel. If you’re making a simple side dish of sautéed mushrooms, then don’t add salt until after they’ve colored otherwise the salt will draw out the water and they’ll be soggy. But if you’re making duxelle (often made for beef wellington), then it’s okay to wash the mushrooms with water as you’ll be cooking them until the water is evaporated anyway.
Right, first up is mushroom stroganoff. It’s more economical than beef stroganoff and can still have loads of flavor if made with good beef stock. The dish was originally created by a French cook employed by a member of the Russian Stroganov family who was raised by Peter the Great. Although there are many recipes out there, according to the Larousse Gastronomique (2009 Edition), beef stroganoff is
“thin strips of beef, seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika…sautéed over a brisk heat, then coated with a sauce made by deglazing the pan juices with white wine, cream and thickened veal stock, to which onions sautéed in butter have been added. The dish is served with pilaf rice and sautéed mushrooms”
Here’s a good recipe for mushroom stroganoff on the British Good Food Channel. In this recipe, both onions and leeks are used. To make it completely vegetarian you can go with vegetable stock but if it’s not necessary I recommend beef stock instead. Some recipes call for crème fraiche but I personally prefer sour cream. Also, this recipe uses vodka instead of wine. Unfortunately I didn’t have either available in the kitchen, but it was still tasty! In the end it’s a super fast dish and great for leftovers as well.
The next dish – Curry Noodles with Mushrooms – was made up spontaneously with ingredients I just happened to find in the kitchen. Again I had so many leftover mushrooms and no meat and didn’t have time to nip to the store. So (voila!) curry noodles with mushrooms was born. Ingredients are:
- Chopped onion, minced garlic, chicken stock, coconut milk, ketchup, Madras/yellow curry powder, fish sauce or salt, sliced mushrooms, flat white rice noodles and garnish (coriander/cilantro, chili pepper)
I’m not a curry expert by any means, but a trick I’ve learned is that the curry powder or paste needs to be cooked through a bit to bring out the flavors of the spices. This dish is basically the same concept if made with chicken or shrimp and can be served with rice noodles, white rice or a French baguette. The traditional Vietnamese recipe (at least my family’s style) with chicken also has potatoes and sweet potato. (Here’s a sample recipe) You don’t really need a garnish for this one. You’ll see some fried onions in the photo below which is a bit odd, but I was craving for them! Basic method for this dish is:
- Sweat onions and garlic in a bit of oil. Add in the mushrooms and once colored slightly add in a couple teaspoons of curry powder (for about half kilo of mushrooms) and about half teaspoon ketchup. Combine and let cook out for a couple minutes (until fragrant). Add in about a cup of chicken stock and let mushrooms cook down for another couple minutes. Add just over a cup of the coconut milk (or more depending on preference). Bring to a simmer. Taste and season with fish sauce or salt if necessary. If you need more flavor, you can add a bit more curry powder.
If you’re serving with rice noodles, add them to the pot after it comes to a simmer. Toss together and serve!
Finally, mushrooms with pasta is always a classic. This time I didn’t have enough mushrooms leftover to make either of the above dishes, so once again this is a bit of a ‘leftovers’ dish. :-) I had some spare sausage, some sweet red pepper, white mushrooms, parsley and creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Since I didn’t have enough cheese to crumble it into the pasta, I decided to make a cheese sauce. The classic French technique is to make a béchamel sauce. Melt a knob of butter on medium heat. Add the same amount of flour and whisk to combine. Cook out the flour for ~2 minutes. Whisk in milk gradually and bring back to a simmer. Turn down to low heat and whisk in the cheese. Taste and season as necessary. Since this sauce thickens so quickly, it’ll be the last thing you’ll want to make. Cook your sausages (oven or on the stove). Cook out the peppers and mushrooms. Cook the pasta to al dente. Once your sauce is ready, add everything to the pan and cook until it’s been reheated. Garnish with some chopped parsley and you’ve got Penne with Sausage and Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Sauce!
There you have it! Just a couple ways with mushrooms for you. I found a good site with many more ideas (Cooking With Mushrooms). Or for more basic information on mushrooms (nutritional, etc) click here. Hope you enjoy!