Monthly Favorites | Archives
Each month we'll be highlighting one mushroom that can be found in WNC during that current month. This is in an attempt to help members or guests learn our local mushrooms. It will also be noted whether the mushroom is edible, ill advised, or poisonous.
Steve Peek and Ginger Fisher are taking a break from Mushroom Favorites in June. In Steve’s place, Terri Herrlein found herself moved to write about the joys of a late spring forage.
A Cure for Cabin Fever
So, reading about the successes of the chicken-of-the-woods that are being found, it just stirred in me a bit of a fever to try to find some myself. And you know the only prescription for a fever is...more mushrooms! I was feeling cooped up and just had to bust outside. No matter that it was raining with thunder and likely any mushrooms might be waterlogged. Sometimes you just gotta get outside!! Can anyone relate?
I grabbed my old foraging back pack. Them old military issue ones (such as those from Europe) are simple and best. Let's see:.foraging kit - check; me - check, and Jeep - check. Heck, no raingear; I rarely ever use it.
Being in South Carolina I drove up towards Columbus NC my former foraging grounds. Not really expecting to find anything. Just to get out. I go to one of my favorite areas, which often bears some other mushroom treasures. I trek thru the woods past the creek and all the
yellowroot growing along its banks. I spy a soaked Russula-type mushroom here and there. Only a couple. Head down the trail where I have found sparasssis … nothing. Then down the chanterelle trail. Surprisingly I find a cluster of small chanterelles, bright yellow orange but not fully matured. Seems a bit early. And I trot by where I just discovered a couple of lobsters last year. Now I know none of these are in season and I am really finding nothing much at all. Which I sorta expected.
BUT any walk in the woods is a treat. I did say hello to the bloodroot family that has grown there for years. Their puzzle piece leaves are so unique. And as I stopped to admire them I was thrilled to see a couple of St.John's Wort plants - Hypericum punctatum. I took one small leaf
and crushed it between my fingers and it showed considerable purplish staining. This particular variety, which I have seen around North Carolina, has actually been researched and found to have a high degree of active constituents.
One does not always have to ingest a plant to receive its medicine. It is a treat to sometimes just hang out with it and enjoy it just as it is. That is medicine in itself! It is just like finding the chickens, or a sparassis, or some other mushroom treasure. As much fun to find it as to eat it!
So, no big whup. A couple of small chanterelles for a couple of eggs. It will flavor them well. I was happy to bust out of my sudden cabin fever when sometimes the only prescription IS a trek down the road!
As Terri mentions, a few chanterelles will enhance an omelet or almost any other egg dish. But here’s a more elaborate way to serve chanterelles which I worked up last year, too late to get it into the AMC Cookbook. It’s an easy recipe, but impressive enough to serve at a dinner party.
Baked Trout with Apricot Chanterelles (for 4)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 medium onion or 3-4 shallots – finely chopped
8 oz (or more) fresh chanterelles – cleaned and finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 fresh apricots
Salt & pepper
2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
4 small fillets of fresh trout (rainbow, steelhead or any other trout variety)
More butter (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan. Don’t let the butter brown. Add the onions or shallots and stir for a couple of minutes until softened but not browned. Add the chanterelles and cook gently for about five minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile boil some water and dunk the apricots to loosen the skin. Peel the apricots, remove the pits, and chop them finely.
Add the white wine to the mushroom mixture, let it boil and reduce by at least half. Then add the apricot, seasonings and parsley. Stir well and cook for a minute or two, then set aside. The mixture should be fairly dry, more like stuffing than a sauce (it can be frozen at this point for later use).
Rinse the trout and pat it dry with paper towels. Line a roasting tin with foil and lay the trout in it, skin side down. Spread the mushroom mixture generously on top of each fillet, dot with small pieces of butter, and cover loosely with a smaller sheet of foil
Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve trout carefully leaving the skin attached to the foil and the mushroom mixture still on top.
Good accompaniments: a plain risotto and green beans steamed and then tossed in butter and garlic.
Adaptations: This recipe works well with frozen chanterelles, or with a duxelles of chanterelles, in which case adjust the quantities of any ingredients that are already incorporated into your duxelles. You can substitute dried apricots for fresh ones, soaking them first in hot water until they are soft.
Club members have collected hundreds of recipes featuring local and cultivated mushrooms to create a unique specialty cookbook.
Purchase your copy at club meetings for $10 or order by mail for $14.95 to:
Asheville Mushroom Club
P.O. Box 18676
Asheville NC 28814
Click here to download an order form.