by Caroline van Schaik
Children’s palates apparently need a dozen times to try something before the reflexive, “I don’t like it” evolves to something more interesting. I think what researchers meant was that children need to be asked a dozen times before their palates even get a chance. And then there is the matter of tone – keep it light but firm, dear grownups, and make your statement a matter of what to try, not whether. Given a recent choice of green beans, patty pan wedges, or shiitakes sautéed all together in garlic (all four ingredients starring in local markets and on produce shelves now), our daughter answered immediately in favor of the mushrooms.
So in honor of that delightfully unexpected response and the fact that we do have mushroom farmers in our midst, here are a couple of my favorites - other than the above marriage of garlic, butter, and a pinch of salt. And of course, a little dessert at the end from a trusty cookbook found in a diner in western Minnesota.
Let me add a pitch for the annual return of Chef Lucia Watson to the Winona Farmers Market on Sept. 11 starting at 10:30 a.m. A harbinger of all things good to eat when bought from sustainable farmers you know, Lucia will talk her way through market vendor ingredients bought moments before to do what Lucia does best: showcase “fresh” at its best. This chef has been at the vanguard of sourcing from local farmers and her Twin Cities restaurants are important destinations for some of our region’s finest farmers. This event is an annual production of the Local Foods Committee of the Winona County Economic Development Authority in cooperation with the Winona Farmers Market.
Note: These dishes lend themselves beautifully to tomatoes, added to the mushrooms or served cold along side. The crunch of toast makes a good balance to the mushrooms but slices of fried polenta add a more interesting flavor along with the crunch. Both these recipes come from Anna Thomas’s “The Vegetarian Epicure.”
1 ½ pounds mushrooms
¼ c butter
3 Tbsp chopped onion
3 Tbsp sherry
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 c light cream or 1 c each cream and milk, heated
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp water
Toast or polenta
Melt the ¼ c butter until it bubbles, then add the whole mushrooms and onion; sauté until almost tender. Prepare the sauce while the mushrooms cook by heating the 2 Tbsp butter in another small skillet, then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Whisk in the heated cream until thickened. Beat the yolks with the water and blend into the white sauce. Pour this sauce over the mushrooms in the other pan, stir well and season before serving immediately.
1# fresh mushrooms
1 small sweet pepper
½ c butter
2 Tbsp seed mustard (Dijon or the like)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
½ c brown sugar
¾ c mellow red table wine
Pepper and salt
Cut the mushrooms in half. Cut the pepper into 1-inch pieces. Chop the onion and sauté it in the butter in a large saucepan (everything else will get added here). To make the sauce, mix the mustard, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce until a smooth paste. Add the wine and stir in salt and pepper. When the onion is transparent, add the mushrooms and peppers and sauté, stirring often. As the mushrooms begin to brown, add the wine sauce, and simmer for about 45 minutes, The sauce becomes “very dark and evil looking,” and scrumptious in flavor.
Fresh Berry Buckle
Note: The recipe technically calls for blueberries but it works well with other berries, too, season depending.
1 pt fresh berries
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 c flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ c firm butter
2 c flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp b. powder
½ c butter
½ c sugar
½ c plus 2 Tbsp milk
Line a 9-in. square pan with wax paper, then butter the paper and sides.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Wash and drain the berries, and toss with the lemon juice in a bowl.
Measure the next 4 ingredients into a large bowl and cut with forks or a pastry blender until the consistency is of small peas. Toss the flour, salt, and b. powder together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter, then add the sugar slowly and cream well. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Then add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in 3 or 4 portions: begin and end with the flour and mix well after each addition. Turn the batter into the pan, spreading it a little higher on the sides than in the middle. Sprinkle the berries over the entire surface, then top with the cinnamon-sugar mixture Bake about 1 hr; cool slightly on a rack, then invert and remove the wax paper. Quickly return the baking pan to the buckle and invert so that it rests right side up. Serve warm.
From Meta Given’s “Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking” (copyright 1947)
This column of good eating is brought to you by members and friends of the Winona County EDA Local Foods Committee and UM Master Gardeners. Questions or comments? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.