Archive for August, 2010

Mushrooms Star in Collegiate Culinary Challenge

Recently we attended the National Association of College and University Culinary Services (NACUFS) Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. We were there to cheer on the mushrooms staring in this year’s Culinary Challenge (and we were there to support the chef’s too!).

NACUFS’ annual Culinary Challenge is a recipe competition that recognizes college and university culinary professionals in a venue where they can show off their talents and regional food styles. Before making it to the big dance in San Jose this summer, competing chefs battled against their peers in six regional contests. The victorious chefs then faced the 2010 Culinary Challenge: preparing four portions of an original hot entrée during a live-action competition using a pre-selected featured ingredient, the portabella mushroom.

This was the first time NACUFS selected a non-meat item/protein, so we were pretty pumped that mushrooms made the cut. NACUFS reps told us they chose mushrooms because they can be used as the “center of the plate” and in a variety of ways. Case in point, the dishes showcased in the challenge demonstrated how creative you can get with mushrooms.

The winner of the challenge was (drum roll please) Kylie Charter from the Rhode Island School of Design who whipped up a mouth-watering Stuffed Salmon, Vegetables and Muscat Mustard Creme, served with portabella gnudi and pea green and radish salad.

Here’s Kylie posing with her dish….

And I want to give a shout-out to the other fearless competitors and their mushroom-loving creations. They’re all winners in our book!

  • Steven G. Nalls, Colorado State University: Portabello and Chicken Roulade with glazed root vegetables and shaved fennel & arugula salad
  • Peter Mark Imranyi, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey: Portabella Mushroom Creme Fraiche Gnocchi with Poached Lobster, served with pickled fennel, Swiss chard, tomato concasse and a Madeira-scented mushroom consommé
  • Eric Moe, Northern Michigan University: Venison ‘Stew’
  • Eric Haney, University of California – Berkeley: Grilled Portobello, Apple and Fennel Risotto, Grilled Radicchio, Glazed Carrots, and Truffle Vinaigrette
  • DeWayne McMurrey, Texas Tech University: Portabella Roulade with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Tournee Carrots with Mushroom Jus

If you want to try your hand at any of these dishes, you can find the full recipes here.

While we were catching the action, we also had a chance to meet and chat with the chefs and judges about why they love cooking with mushrooms. One of the competing chefs told us he hearts ‘shrooms because they bring a nice earthy flavor to any dish. We couldn’t agree more!

To see all of the event photos, check out our album on Facebook. Enjoy!

Mushroom, Basil and Goat Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups from Worth the Whisk

Patti, food blogger at Worth The Whisk, invites us to use our noodles:

Early in my food career, I knew a woman named Harriett Paine, a home economist who wrote recipe books and taught cooking classes. My culinary background at that point was fairly one-dimensional, and I remember seeing something she’d done that stopped me in my tracks… she ROLLED lasagna noodles with filling. Of course today, you see that everywhere, but way back then, that touch of creativity took a fairly common dish and made it sparkle.

For this recipe, I have upscale ingredients to apply to that tweaked tradition. Cooked lasagna noodles, rolled with a creamy, pungent blend of goat cheese, fresh basil and sautéed baby portabella mushrooms.  The portabellas have such a rich flavor, no meat is needed, believe me.

Make your family stand up and take notice. Roll your next lasagna, and stuff it like this:

Mushroom, Basil and Goat Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces sliced baby portabella Mushrooms
  • ½ brown onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pint ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 4 large leaves fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse to cool.

Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet, heat olive oil. Sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, blend together ricotta, goat cheese, egg, basil, oregano, pepper and salt.

One noodle at a time, spread a layer of cheese and then a light layer of mushroom/onion mixture.

Roll up noodle, place in baking pan.

Once all rolls are filled, top with remaining ricotta mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Bake for one hour or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Makes 9 rolls.

Lights! Camera! Mushrooms!

We recently worked with Dan Coha to take some amazing pictures of delicious mushroom dishes from chefs and their restaurants across the country.

To find these delectable mushroom recipes, we first tapped our network of champion mushroom chefs.  We received an overwhelming amount of recipe submissions from chefs in high-end, trend-setting restaurants, university dining halls and even fast food chains- the variety and breadth of mushroom love knows no bounds.

It was a tricky task to narrow down all 50+ recipes to only eight for the final shoot. We chose recipes that embodied new culinary trends, demonstrated creative mushroom applications and of course…tasted absolutely delicious!

Shooting eight mushroom dishes took more than you might think. A chef helped recreate each of the recipes while a special food stylist – armed with a pair of tweezers – painstakingly made each dish look picture-perfect (no pun intended).

But, the picture wouldn’t be complete without the help of a prop stylist. What’s a prop stylist you may ask? Check out the image below; lots of time and energy goes into each photo’s environment, so to speak, to create the perfect ambiance that accentuates the dish being photographed. This Thai Stroganoff was especially tricky. We went for the warm feeling of the brown setting.

Below are just some of the mouth-watering pictures we got to take home, but stay tuned; we’ll be featuring these new photos and their accompanying recipes regularly as we interview the chefs who created them.

Queso Fundido con Champinones Adobados – Chef Richard Sandoval, Zengo, Washington, DC

Sugarcane Portabella with Arugula Salad – Chef José Luis Ugalde, Gibraltar, El Granada, CA

Kid-Friendly Portabella Pizzas from Foodie Tots

Today’s post comes to us from Colleen for the family-friendly food blog, Foodie Tots.

In these steamy hot days of August, turning on the oven is one of the last things we typically want to do in the evening. Pizzas cooked on the grill are a classic summer menu item, and swapping portabellas for pizza crust makes it an even faster and simpler dinner solution for busy summer nights.

As with regular pizzas, the topping variations are endless so be creative and, if making them with children, let them suggest their favorites. For these, my son stuck with plain mozzarella and a black olive smiley face, while the grown ups enjoyed basil, feta and olives. Next time I plan to make a Hawaiian version with some shredded prosciutto and pineapple.

Recipe: Grilled Portabella Pizzas (Smiley Face Optional)


  • 4 large portabella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella and/or 2 ounces crumbled feta
  • fresh basil leaves
  • sliced black olives
  • sea salt and black pepper


1. To start, gently clean your portabellas with a damp paper towel. Trim the stems with a paring knife (and a tip I learned from a local chef: save the stems for making mushroom stock) and use a spoon to scrape the dark brown gills from the underside of the cap. (Just toss — or compost — those.)

2. Arrange the sauce, cheeses and toppings in small bowls and line them up across the top of your work surface.

3. Brush the underside of the caps with olive oil and grill, oiled side down, for 3-4 minutes over a medium high flame.

4. Place the caps on your work surface, cooked side facing up, and season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of sauce around the cap. Go easy on the sauce as the mushrooms will give off liquid when they cook, and too much sauce can make them soggy. Sprinkle with cheese to cover, then olives or other desired toppings. Gently place back on the grill (toppings facing up!) and cook another 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serves 4 as a side dish or appetizer, or 2 as a main course. Enjoy!