Hello Campers and welcome to Wednesday!
Along with my Tuesday tips, I’ve also decided to do a ‘What to do with Wednesday’ and feature a different food each week.
Now I’m sure that most of you who read food blogs either love to cook or love to eat or both! Well of course, if you love to cook, you’re going to eat what you cook, unless you’re one of those who likes to cook for others and not bother eating the food that you cook. Huh?
OK, getting back to the subject at hand.
There are so many different foods out there, whether they be meats, chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, herbs or spices or even dessert type items. Most of us who cook, generally know what to do with a certain food item be it how to cook it or serve it. But there may be some of you who have just started learning how to cook and really aren’t sure what to do with that chicken that sits in front of you, or how to prepare it or season it. How about an eggplant/aubergine? Do you peel it first? Can you leave the peel on? Do you fry it, bake it, steam it? You get the idea.
I’m going to try and help those of you who are novices and haven’t quite got the hang of things when it comes to being in the kitchen. Now granted, I’m no Barefoot Contessa or Delia Smith, but I can cook a decent meal. I’m not going to get into anything too complicated and will be giving you just some simple ideas on what to do and help you out.
Today’s first food of choice is the mushroom. A general name given to various edible fungi, but in the UK the name is generally applied to the common mushroom which is widely cultivated and the field mushroom. Common mushrooms are sold as buttons (completely closed caps to 2cm/¾in), closed cup (skin still closed below cup to 4cm/1½in diameter), open cup (pink gills visible) and flat (fully open with dark brown gills).
Small mushrooms can be left whole or sliced, depending on what you’re making. Larger mushrooms should be sliced and even larger mushrooms, such as Portobello can be left whole and stuffed.
Mushrooms can be used as the star ingredient in dishes such as casseroles, risottos, salads, sauces and savory pies. They are also great for bulking out meals, so you can use less meat but still get a tasty, filling result.
To prepare, wipe them off with paper towel if they’re really dirty, although they should be rather clean and slice, chop or leave whole as required. Do not rinse them under water!
For flavor pairing, practically all varieties of more common mushrooms go well with butter, garlic, onions, tomatoes, white wine, cream or herbs. Exotic mushrooms such as enoki, morel, oyster, chanterelle or porcini go well with other ingredients like Chinese flavorings, sherry, shallots, ginger, soy sauce, leeks or peppers. Feel free to experiment to see what you like.
Mushrooms can be grilled, broiled, pan-fried, stuffed or baked and added to soups and stews. Saute by melting butter, adding halved or quartered mushrooms, increasing heat to medium-high, and cooking until juices have evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes. To use dried mushrooms, immerse them in boiling water and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Drain. Remove stems and chop as desired.
And don’t forget they make a great pizza topping!
Mushrooms should be dry and firm, never slimy. Specialty mushrooms should smell woodsy, not moldy or sharp.
Store fresh mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge where they will keep for 4-5 days.