Archive for March, 2010

Wordless Thursday

Photo Credit: Closet CookingMushroom Boyardee from Kevin of Closet Cooking. You can still expect your usual Recipe Spectacular tomorrow but I saw this and just couldn’t wait.

Big Ten Campus Dining Gets D-licious

Big Ten Recipe Winner: Purdue

You could blame Olympic fever or the pursuit of mushroom excellence but the Mushroom Council is having a lot of fun with contests these days and our latest from the Big 10 is no exception.

This contest pitted executive chefs and foodservice directors from the 11-school conference against each other in a friendly competition to create mushroom recipes for three categories of university-favored cuisine: Pizza, Sandwich, and Entrée. Most entries were vegetarian, with mushrooms at the heart of the dish, which reflects the increased interest in vegetarianism among college students – a 2006 Aramark survey found that 30% of college students want vegetarian options when dining out.

“Based on the caliber of recipes we’ve seen through this contest, universities are redefining the concept of what students will eat, taking them in a very positive and healthful direction” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council. “More and more students who have embraced a vegetarian or flexitarian diet have found mushrooms add a satiating “meaty” mouth-feel to their favorite dishes. Now, universities across the nation are catering to their preferences. ”

In the final round of judging, students at Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts in Chicago prepared tasting portions of five top-scoring recipes in each category for a judging panel that included Minor, along with Liz Grossman of Plate magazine and Frank Chlumsky from Kendall. Recipes were judged based on creativity, flavor and visual appeal.

Purdue earned Big Ten bragging rights by winning two of the three recipe categories, including best overall recipe, landing them the grand prize package that includes a trip for four to the NCAA men’s national basketball championship in Indianapolis this April. The University of Iowa’s recipe for Chorizo Breakfast Sandwich with Mushroom Gravy scored best in the sandwich category. As category winners, both schools will receive scholarships to attend the 2010 National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) annual conference in July.

The top entries from the Big Ten “Best Mushroom Recipe Goes to Indianapolis” contest are featured on

Check out Purdue’s Grand Prize Winning recipe for Vegetarian Mushroom Stir Fry below. Never did I think I would wistfully daydream on returning to my dorm days for the food but here we are, that day is upon us.

Vegetarian Mushroom Stir Fry

Serves 24


  • 1 ½ cups vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 ½ quarts water
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup vegetarian soup base

Stir fry

  • 5 pounds firm tofu, drained, cut into triangles (½ x 1 ½ inches)
  • 3 pounds dry rice stick noodles
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • ½ cup minced peeled ginger
  • 6 pounds cleaned, sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 ½ pounds sliced carrots, blanched and drained
  • 5 pounds Chinese broccoli, cleaned and cut into 4-inch pieces, blanched and drained

To make the sauce: Whisk together the oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer. Whisk together the water, cornstarch, and soup base. Combine with the oyster sauce mixture and heat until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Makes about 6 ½ quarts.

Heat a deep fryer until 375 to 400°F. Deep-fry the tofu triangles in batches until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.

For each serving, to order: In a deep fryer, cook 1 ½ ounces rice stick noodles until puffed but not browned. Drain on paper towels. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Stir-fry ½ teaspoon garlic and 1 teaspoon ginger until fragrant. Add 4 ounces mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 ounce carrots, 2 ½ ounces broccoli, and about 2 ounces fried tofu. Stir-fry to heat through, 1 minute. Add about 1 cup sauce mixture and simmer until heated through. Put the rice sticks in a bowl and ladle the vegetables and sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Recipes of the Week: Double the Fun

Well as an unintended by-product of a very fun contest, I missed Mushroom Recipes of the Week last week.  No seriously…I missed it a lot. So to make up for lost time, I present to you twice the recipes we usually highlight!

Photo Credit: Elly Says Opa!

I love fancy food as much as the next hungry person but this? This is what a cozy craving is made of.  Perfect for these transitional days between winter and Spring when I start to crave that sweet crisp pea but am still in hibernation casserole mode. Elly Says Opa! nailed this Chicken, Mushroom, Pea and Stuffing Casserole right on the head.

Photo Credit: Nick Gerber

Soup is another meal category that seems especially perfect for transitions. This selection also speaks to the joy in my heart when bloggers who don’t typically talk about food give us a peek into their palates. Anonymous Midwest also happens to capture the process behind this Mushroom, Leek and Potato Soup beautifully.

Photo Credit: Sandy Coughlin

To carry through that last point, check out this Spanish Stew recipe from the Reluctant Entertainer‘s Napa trip last week!  I included a prep pick so you could see all the fabulous fungi in the mix but click through for the whole shebang and a recipe.

Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

Oh Smitten Kitchen…you never fail to impress.  As I announced to Twitter last night, the combination of mushrooms and hazelnuts is not something I would have ever thought of on my own. Now I can’t get it out of my head.  I’m hosting a brunch tomorrow and this Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazelnuts has just the flavor balance I never knew I was looking for.

Photo Credit: Cakes and Ale

Not only is Smitten still coming up with her own inventive mushroom combinations but she’s inspiring other food bloggers to try them out.  Amanda from Cakes and Ale was very happy with how Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Bourguignon recipe turned out when she made it at home.

Photo Credit: Rachel Matthews

Just another deliciously easy weeknight recipe from a friend to fungi, Rachel from A Southern Fairytale.  And by “just another,” I clearly mean isn’t it nice to have talented friends? With veggies making up more than half of the ingredients, this one is on the light side as well!

Photo Credit: Stacey from Chowmama

Speaking of easy, family-friendly dinners, Stacie from Chowmama threw this together when she was sick. That’s how low-maintenance a health meal can be if you’re just stuffing good things into a portabella cap. Good things like chiles, rice, spinach and onion.

Photo Credit: Carrots 'N' Cake

Last but not least, something you could even make for brunch this weekend! Tina from Carrots ‘N’ Cake combined some breakfast classics with an Italian staple to create a delicious take on Breakfast Pizza. As a longtime fan of pizza for breakfast, I think this is a healthier and likely a tastier version of the leftovers I ate cold in college…

Weekly Links: Mushroom News from Around the Web

Best and Worst Foods Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN tells “Early Show” viewers to always “Go for those ‘shrooms!” She makes note of the fact that it’s not always those bright colored veggies that pack a nutritious punch – those that are light in color do too, like mushrooms! Light-colored mushrooms are the leading source of the antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle.

Trend Alert: The ‘Fifth Taste’ Is Coming On Strong, As More People Say I Want My Umami We’ve heard that this is the year for umami and don’t you bet that WE of all people are excited! If you haven’t heard, umami is the savory fifth taste found naturally in mushrooms. Delish.  

How to Order a Healthier Pizza The Baltimore Sun helps readers make healthier pizza choices by advising to load up on the veggies – in particular mushrooms because they are nutrient-packed, high in fiber and low in calories.

Keri Glassman and The O2 Diet Glassman touts her love for mushrooms again in this segment featured on “700 Club.” She highlights mushrooms as the only fruit or veggie with vitamin D, which is very important for immunity. Also discussed are the benefits of swapping meat for mushrooms – if you take away about four ounces of meat a weak and substitute it with mushrooms, you can lose about five pounds over one year!

Taste of Home Mushroom Recipe Contest: Every Day, Every Way

It must be March because the Mushroom Council’s annual partnership with Taste of Home is “Springing” into high gear! Your recipes are fantastic (see past Mushroom Recipes of the Week if you need additional proof) and we’re so excited to see you rewarded for your creative and delicious endeavors.

The categories are below and all entries must be received by Taste of Home by August 1, 2010.  It will be here sooner than you know so do not wait!

Breakfast: From quiche to breakfast casseroles to everything in between, send us your mushroom recipes suitable for morning fare

Appetizers & Sides: Submit your great-tasting mushroom recipe for the perfect party appetizer or side dish (including soup and salad)

Main Dish: Whether mushrooms are used as a substitute for meat or to enhance the overall flavor of the meal, we’re looking for your favorite main dish recipes

One winner will be chosen for each category and will win $1,000. A Grand Prize winner will be chosen from the three and will win an additional $1,000!  For complete details and contest rules, click here.