Archive for July, 2009

Kitchen Swap: Moshulu's Smoked Paprika Crepes with Mushrooms

Floating on the Delaware River in Philadelphia is
Moshulu (pronounced Mo-shoe’-loo), the world’s largest four-masted sailing ship. Built in 1904, the ship traveled the world then was converted into a restaurant. We talked with Executive Chef Ralph Fernandez about his contemporary American cooking and his delicious Smoked Paprika Crepes with Mushrooms, Corn and Brie

mushroomcrepe_945482766When did you realize you wanted to be a chef?

I first became interested in becoming a chef at age 27. I had just moved in with my brother and had to help out paying rent so got a job at a restaurant. I knew the first moment I stepped into that restaurant that I wanted to be a chef.  Also, I used to cook for my family and with my mom, who is from Ecuador. My mom was an inspiration in becoming a chef because she was good at the basics, but also challenged herself with experimental dishes and creating a variety of cuisines

What is the first dish you remember eating and where you were really wowed by the mushrooms?

My first mushroom revelation was at a neighborhood Italian restaurant where I had chicken Marsala. After that, whenever I went out to eat, I’d try to order dishes with mushrooms

What’s the best mushroom dish you’ve ever had?

That would be a strudel of exotic mushrooms with shaved white truffle and 100-year-old balsamic drizzled on top. The mushrooms were perfectly roasted and it was just really simple and delicious

What role do mushrooms play in Moshulu’s cuisine?

Mushrooms are all over the place on Moshulu’s menu. I love mushrooms and I love their seasonality. Mushrooms are so versatile and are wonderful supplementing meat or acting as a meat substitute. Portabellas are a great steak replacement for vegetarians. My favorite mushroom at the moment is the king trumpet mushroom.

Can you tell us a little about your Smoked Paprika Crepe with Mushrooms?

At first, we served this crepe as an amuse-bouche, and then started to feature it as a side dish paired with duck a l’Orange. We add paprika to the crepe batter to give it a nice chili smoky flavor. Mushrooms love lemon, which brightens them up and pulls out their earthy mushroom flavor. The corn and basil add a nice sweetness, which is complemented by the tart citrus in the salad

Recipe courtesy of Chef Ralph Fernandez, Moshulu, Philadelphia

Yield: 24 servings

2    cups whole milk
2    cups all-purpose flour
4    large eggs
1    tablespoon smoked sweet or hot paprika
Salt and pepper, as needed

Vegetable oil
4 1/2    pounds mushroom mix (crimini, white button, portabella, oyster, maitake)
Salt and pepper, as needed
12    pieces corn on the cob, with husks
Fresh basil, julienned
Fresh thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
12    ounces double- or triple-crème brie

12    ounces baby arugula
Citrus vinaigrette
4    blood oranges, cut into supremes
4    navel oranges, cut into supremes
8    ounces Marcona almonds
Candied orange zest (optional)

To make the crepes, combine all the ingredients in a blender, with salt and pepper to taste. Blend, scrape down the sides, and blend again. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To cook, heat a 6-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Wipe the surface with oil, then pour in just enough batter to cover the pan surface. Cook until set and lightly browned, then flip and cook until browned on bottom side. Stack the crepes and let cool. Wrap well until needed.

To make the filling, slice any large mushrooms. Toss each variety of mushroom with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast separately on parchment-lined pans in a 350-degree oven until tender. (Note that different varieties will cook at different rates.) Mix together the mushrooms and taste for seasoning.

Roast the corn in the husks until tender. Shuck the corn and slice off the kernels. Toss with basil, thyme, olive oil, and salt to taste.

For each serving, to order: On the bottom half of a crepe, layer 1/2 ounce brie, 2 tablespoons corn salad, and 1/4 cup mushrooms. Fold the crepe into quarters. Brown lightly in an oiled pan, flip, then finish in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Plate 2 more tablespoons corn salad, place the crepe on top, and garnish with 1/2 cup arugula tossed with citrus vinaigrette, 2 to 3 supremes of each kind of orange, 1 tablespoon almonds, and a sprinkle of zest (if using).

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

Grill vegetarian: Doesn’t always mean meat Do you grill veggies? According to Chicago Now, at least half of the grill should be reserved for vegetables. Mushrooms grill well whole. Check out these great tips the next time you fire up the grill.

Meatless Monday: Vegan French lentil & Portobello burgers Do you eat meatless once a week? If not, give it a try, it’s as easy as Eat. Drink. Better’s Portobello burgers! Just one of these rich, earthy mushrooms contains more potassium than a banana. A fantastic source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin and pantothenic acid, a Portobello mushroom also provides one-third of the daily requirement for riboflavin. Great taste and nutrition, it can’t get much better than that!

Mushrooms provide needed vitamin D The Des Moines Register lets us in on a secret to Monterey Mushrooms vitamin D enhancement. Through Monterey’s research efforts, they have found that mushrooms respond to light in much the same way humans do, by converting the sun’s rays into vitamin D. These new mushrooms offer 100 percent of the recommended daily vitamin D intake in one 3-ounce serving after being exposed to ultraviolet light. This increased vitamin D does not involve additives, supplements or chemicals.

You asked for it: Ellen Zilli’s Catering stuffed portobello mushrooms Have you ever ordered something at a restaurant and wished you could have the recipe to make it at home? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered readers a recipe from Ellen Zilli’s Catering because of popular demand. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Mushrooms could be big boost to immune system WKOW-TV reports that researchers at Arizona State University are looking into mushrooms as an immune system defender, to find out if they could induce an inflammatory response to the point of boosting immunity to better handle health problems. And it turns out the common, white button mushrooms are just as effective as the exotic varieties at boosting the immune system.

Wild mushrooms put toddler in hospital A humbling reminder from CTV Montreal that wild mushrooms can be poisonous and even dangerous if consumed. Poisonous mushrooms often resemble non-poisonous mushrooms, so it’s best to purchase commercially grown mushrooms unless you’re with a trained mycologist.

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

I have a vested interest in hearing a mom’s take on mushrooms.  Rachel did a great job walking us through some of her tips but it’s a conversation worth continuing for two reasons:

Photo Credit: Marie of Make and Takes

#1 Kids are picky. I diddn’t touch an olive until I was physically in Provence at age 22 but am a registered addict now.  Go figure that mushrooms were always among my favorite things but I know they end up on a lot of kids’ “Just Don’t Go There” lists.

#2 Mushrooms contain vitamins that are, well, vital for strong and healthy kids.  They need to be on the menu and moms sharing ideas is the best way to get us there.

Marie from Make and Takes offers an easy, kid-friendly approach with just three ingredients plus seasoning. Child’s play indeed.

Vintage Delicious: Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Smitten KitchenThere are some bloggers who just consistently get it right and Smitten Kitchen happens to be one of them (according to me, your editress de Mushroom).

SK is one of the first blogs I began reading and remains my go-to for when I get it in my head that I must make something new from scratch (pies, bloody mary’s, your name it).

This is one of the first recipes I made of her and I was reminded of it in the most delightful way over the weekend.  Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms were served at the final cocktail party for BlogHer over the weekend.  It was just the sweet and salty bite I needed at the end of an incredible conference and it reminded me of my own beginnings in the blogosphere as someone who just needed to tell stories that ended with food.  This weekend I meant several new writers who also find food to be a perfectly suitable end to all stories and I’m hoping you’ll be seeing some of them here soon.

While my own photos of the terrace treat from Saturday didn’t do them justice, I figured it was worth highlight Deb’s original here.

On the Town: Mushrooms on the Menu in Chicago

Wild Mushroom Flatbread from West Town TavernWe had a guest in town this week. A guest who might rival this site’s editor in terms of mushroom admiration and appetite (might). And because our guest only visits a few times a year, we felt the need to celebrate his appearance with a couple meals that any one of us could crave. By us, I mean you because I struck gold and actually got to sit in on the deliciousness. I’m sorry, I’m not gloating. Much.

The first stop was West Town Tavern, an institution on the Chicago food scene thanks to the lovely Susan Goss who came out of the kitchen to gush about mushrooms with us, thus explaining why they make an appearance in almost every dish.Wild Mushroom Chowder at West Town Tavern

It was hard to pick a favorite but if you were looking for a hint, I would check out that first photo.  That flatbread is incredible. Mushrooms slow roasted with savory herbs and tossed with truffle oil to create sweet but earthy set of flavors. I get excited a lot but in order for me to avoid using CAPS LOCK, I really just need you to trust me.

The next offering was a petite sampling of  mushroom chowder which was kissed by cream to give it dimension and texture but not thickened to the point of many other restaurant varieties.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for most mushroom chowders, but mid-summer in the Midwest?  Lightness is key.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Mushroom-Leek Risotto, Tarragon and Chives This was my runner-up for number one dish.  I don’t even know why I’m ranking them because it’s not like I chose between them.  I ate them all.  I shared, but I ate my portions heartily (this is not uncharacteristic).  Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Mushroom-Leek Risotto, Tarragon and Chives.  Tarragon, eternally French and thus chic in my (cook)book, is underused in my world and this rectified the problem if only for a few bites. With a lightly lemon zing to the sauce and the mushroom textures folded into the risotto, now that I’m talking about it, it makes it hard for me to not just call it a tie.  Grand Luxe Mushroom BurgerNot Pictured: West Town Tavern’s famous fried chicken (a Monday special) with mushroom gravy.  I think I ate it too fast to get a photo.

Our lunch stop the following day was to award-winning mushroom burger from the Grand Lux Cafe out for ourselves- with four out of six people at the table ordering it, there was plently to be shared. I liked that they mixed the cheese into the patty itself.  It kept everything bound and made for one seriously satisfying afternoon.

Mushroom & Brown Rice Sliders from Mana Food Bar

Last but not least, although maybe most petite, was Mana Food Bar‘s mushroom/brown rice sliders.  Small but mighty, these little guys bring the heat and are delicious. Delicious. I highly recommend adding thin cucumber slices to the top and enjoying these alongside the Watermelon Mint cocktail out on the patio on lovely summer night. If you can swing it, you will not be disappointed in another of Chicago’s excellent neighborhood bistros- this one specializes in vegetarian fare but trust me, you will not miss a thing.  With the exception of your appetite, perhaps.