Earthly Treasures: Cooking with Mushrooms

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Every year when the weather grew colder in my hometown, my father took me out to pick mushrooms from the fields near my home. With buckets in our hands we’d trek into misty meadows to pluck them from the ground. We would return home with buckets overflowing. I can still vividly recall the smell of those mushrooms fresh from the earth, like a cool, foggy morning.

Mushrooms are delicate yet hearty, exotic yet earthy, and have a texture all their own. They’re often treated and thought of as a vegetable, or used to substitute meat, yet they belong to another biological kingdom altogether (the fungus kingdom). From their flavor to their texture, aroma, and appearance, mushrooms are truly distinct. I love them on their own, sautéd with a little garlic, some parsley, and a splash of wine, then cooked in cream. They can also transform an otherwise simple dish into something rich, luxurious, and full-bodied. The key to cooking mushrooms is to take time and sauté them to reduce their water content, leaving them tender and with a satisfying chew. You don’t have to venture out into the fields to handpick mushrooms as I did when I was a child, but it is important to use them while they’re fresh. For me, that means I add mushrooms to my grocery basket with far more intention than I would many other ingredients. I buy mushrooms only when I really want to use them, and that makes them all the more special—a truly mindful ingredient. À votre santé et bon appétit.

Quinoa Bowl with Chanterelles, Root Vegetables, Black Radish and a Poached Egg

Serves 4

  • 14 ounces(400g)chanterelles
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry white quinoa
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vermouth
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large red beet, peeled and grated finely
  • 1  small black radish, cleaned and grated finely
  • 2  cups mixed micro greens
  • 4 chives, chopped Dash of white vinegar Black sesame seeds

Wipe the chanterelles lightly with a damp towel to remove the dirt. Trim the base of each mushroom, then cut each one in half; set aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender; keep warm. In the meantime, add the quinoa to a pot with 2 cups water and salt. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Stop the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. When warm, add the chanterelles and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and add the vermouth. Let the liquid evaporate and then stop the heat; set aside.

Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl whisk the balsamic vinegar with 4 tablespoons olive oil; set aside.

To poach the eggs: Bring a pot of water to simmer. Add the white vinegar. Break one egg in a small cup and transfer delicately into the pot of water. Repeat with the other 3. Simmer lightly for 2 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate; set aside.

Prepare 4 bowls and divide the quinoa, chanterelles, sweet potatoes, beets, radishes, and micro greens between them, placing each food side by side. Add the poached eggs. Finish with chopped chives and black sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

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