Portobello, cremini, shiitake, and enoki mushrooms — even morels and chanterelles — are commonly showing up in supermarkets and specialty stores these days. Advances in mushroom cultivation have made varieties that were once available only to experienced mushroom hunters now easy for all to find, and a number of mail-order sources provide more exotic kinds.
But what should a cook do with all these mushroom varieties? How do you bring out their most distinctive characteristics in the kitchen? In A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms, Jack Czarnecki, the chief proprietor of Joe’s Restaurant in Reading, Pennsylvania, provides the answers.
Czarnecki gives an account of his lifelong fascination with mushrooms — hunting them, cooking them, and eating them. He describes the characteristics of the principal edible mushrooms and provides 100 tasty recipes for both the widely available “wild” mushrooms as well as the more exotic varieties.
Seven chapters cover the major mushroom families — Buttons and Saucers: The Genus Agaricus; Aristocrats of the Forest: Morels and Truffles; The King and Lesser Nobility: Cepes and Their Cousins; Flowers or Fungus?: Chanterelles; Mushrooms from Wood; From the East; and The Best of the Rest.
The recipes include appetizers, main courses, salads, and even breakfast dishes that use mushrooms in starring and supporting roles, such as Morels with Ruffled Pasta, Wild Mushroom and Onion Soup, Barbecued Oysters and Shiitake Mushrooms, and Salmon with Chanterelles and Red Pepper Purée. The author — whose knowledge of wine rivals his knowledge of mushrooms — includes wine or beer suggestions for most dishes.
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