Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mushrooms and Wine
Written by Natalie

A pinot noir pairs nicely with Rachel's Shiitake and Cheese Tart.

The pairing of food with wine can be intimidating, especially when it comes to festive occasions or special events. Mushroom dishes can be particularly challenging, because both the type of mushroom and the preparation of the dish with its spices and sauces, play an integral part in determining which wines will complement them.

The basic concept of wine and food pairing comes down to determining which combinations complement or enhance the aromas and flavors of both the food and wine. Wine and food can complement or contrast each other, as long as they do not mask each other’s unique flavors and characteristics. Some general guidelines are:

* Sweet foods taste less sweet when paired with tannic wines.

* Salty foods emphasize the tannins in wine.

* Salty foods mask the sweetness while pronouncing the fruitiness of a wine.

* Salty or sweet foods will soften wines that are acidic.

* Acidic wines will have a cleansing mouth-feel with foods heavy in oils.

* Proteins soften harsh tannins, which is why red tannic wines work well with beef and game.

* Spicy foods often pair well with fruity, low-alcohol wines like riesling and gewurztraminer.

* Sweet foods generally go well with wine that is slightly sweeter.

* A wine high in tannins (like cabernet sauvignon) paired with a food high in tannins (spicy tomato sauce) will make the wine taste very dry and astringent.

Simply put, light white wines like sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, semillon, or chardonnay generally go well with delicate, light foods (light cream sauces, simple sautés and other lightly seasoned mushroom dishes). Heartier dishes involving red meat, wild game, or rich stews are usually best paired with fuller bodied red wines like pinot noir, nebbiolo, or cabernet sauvignon. Dishes that fall somewhere in between may pair well with a lighter red, like a beaujolais, or a fuller bodied chardonnay. You are trying to achieve balance: a good pairing is one where the food and wine do not overshadow each other.

Mushroom variety also plays a role in choosing a wine. Again, delicate varieties, like lobster, enoki, maitake, and oyster, are best served with lighter white wines, such as sauvignon blanc, semillon, riesling, a light chardonnay, or light, fruity reds, like beaujolais. Earthy, hearty mushrooms like shiitake, portabella, porcini and morel pair well with fuller bodied wines, like a barrel-aged chardonnay, pinot noir, nebbiolo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel.

It’s important to note that in creating or choosing dishes featuring mushrooms, the best advice is to look for simplicity. Less is more when it comes to drawing out and highlighting the flavors of the mushrooms. Keeping things simple can also make wine pairing easier, as there are fewer elements involved that may affect your choice. For example, sautéing mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil, with light seasonings and served over pasta is a great way to emphasize the flavors of mushrooms, and is easily paired with a pinot grigio or chardonnay.

There are times when your mushroom dish includes other ingredients that make pairing difficult at best (like artichokes or asparagus). If you are stumped with what might work with your menu, ask one your “local” wine experts (the wine purchaser at your local market, the sommelier or head waiter at your favorite restaurant, or your wine geek friends). They’re generally experienced in pairing and eager to provide recommendations (and maybe some recipes too!).

Keep in mind that there are many exceptions to the rule. Use the guidelines given in this post as merely a starting point. My best advice: drink what you like and don’t sweat the details (after all, wine should only give you a headache if you’ve overindulged, not before you’ve even decided what to drink). Half the enjoyment is in the experimenting: invite a group of friends together with a variety of dishes and wines to taste. You’ll soon discover your personal pairing style (complementing or contrasting), and have some favorite combinations of your own to share!

In closing, all of us at Field & Forest Products will raise our glasses this Thanksgiving Day to toast our families, friends and loyal customers who remind us how truly blessed and thankful we are.

Mushrooms with Sherry, Shallots, & Parsley

This recipe is a variation on a tapas bar classic in Spain. You can use an assortment of mushrooms in this dish (I prefer oyster and shiitake). It’s best served with slices of toasted or grilled crusty bread, and pairs nicely with a glass of crisp white wine or dry Spanish sherry. 

2 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil 
2 shallots, minced 
sea salt, to taste 
1 clove garlic, minced 
6 cups assorted mushrooms, stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces 
1/2 cup dry sherry (not cooking sherry!) 
juice of one lemon 
handful of parsley, 
roughly chopped freshly ground black pepper 
simple aioli sauce (see recipe below) 
sliced and toasted loaf of rustic, crusty bread for serving 

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and the shallots. Sprinkle with salt and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and stirring often, cook for one more minute. Toss in the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little more salt, and sauté for five more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sherry. Return to high heat and cook (uncovered) until the liquid is gone. Add the lemon juice and parsley and sauté one minute more until the mushrooms begin to caramelize. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately with slices of toasted bread speared with simple aioli sauce (optional). 


3/4 cup mayonnaise 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Be Thankful for Mushrooms
All recipes by Rachel

Shiitake Stuffing
A Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be complete without homemade stuffing. The shiitake’s hearty texture and the earthy flavor of the rye and sage gave this stuffing a wholesome taste. I used a marble rye, but this could be substituted with a crusty white loaf or even cornbread.
About 3 C shiitakes, cleaned stemmed, roughly chopped
1 loaf rye bread
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil, about 2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp butter
½ C dry white wine
2 C vegetable stock, more or less to moisten-could use chicken stock
1 C walnuts, toasted
1 tsp sage
½ tsp thyme
1 Tbsp parsley
2 eggs beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Toast the bread slices (until slightly golden) and walnuts (15 or so min.) Cut the bread into small bite size chunks. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the celery, leeks, and garlic until tender. Add the mushrooms and butter and cook until mushrooms give off liquid. Add the wine, herbs, salt and pepper and reduce. Mix the bread chunks and walnuts with vegetable mixture. Mix in the eggs and stock. Spoon into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Braised Stuffed Cabbage on Winter Vegetable Stew
This recipe was inspired by Julia Child’s stuffed cabbage. And, much like Julia’s recipes, these measurements are approximations and may be altered to taste. It is rather putsy and its many steps will keep you occupied for quite a while. However, the end result is delicious, wholesome, and beautiful. Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for a good 10 minutes before cutting or the slices and wonderful layers will fall apart. The caraway may be omitted if you have an aversion its bold flavor, but I suggest trying it, as it takes on a different flavor than one may assume.
Stew together:
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, ends trimmed, diced
2 leeks, rinsed and diced
½ onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
2 C vegetable stock
¼ C white cooking wine, or other dry white wine
2 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
½ tsp whole caraway seeds
2 C rough chopped shiitake mushrooms

Heat 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, but not soft. Add all other vegetables except mushrooms, sauté until onions are translucent and turnips are slightly soft. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Add white wine, stock, and spices. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Cabbage Stuffing
1 ½ C cooked Arborio rice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 C ground beef, drained, seasoned with salt and pepper (vegetarian crumbles work, too!)
½ C minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C vegetable stock
½ tsp black truffle oil (omit if unavailable)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add garlic and cook until light brown. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add soy crumbles and cook, stirring often, until warm. Add butter and drizzle on black truffle oil. Add stock, salt, pepper, Herbs de Provence, and rice. Simmer until reduced. Set aside.
Cut the end off the cabbage. Carefully peel off the outside leaves. You will need about 12 leaves. Rinse and pat dry. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Lay three leaves flat and spread about 1 cup rice and soy crumble mixture. Lay another layer of three leaves, followed with more filling. Repeat until filling is gone and finish with a layer of cabbage. Bring the foil up and around the cabbage, pressing the sides with hands into a ball shape. Try to imitate the cabbage head shape. Pinch the top of the foil so there is only a small hole. Place hold down on top of stew, cover, and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a 350 degree oven.
Remove the cabbage bundle and let sit for 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and slice into wedges. Serve over stew.

Creamy Mushroom and Leek Pie
1 recipe pate brise or store-bought pie crust
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, maitake, the possibilities are endless)
1 large leek, roughly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ C dry white wine
1 Tsp thyme
¼ C parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 C milk
½ C heavy cream
¼ tsp nutmeg
Parmesan and smoked gouda, if desired

Place the piecrust in a buttered pie tin, poking holes in the bottom. Preheat oven to 400.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and leeks and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and butter and cook until liquids have been reduced. Add the wine, thyme, and parsley, cook until reduced (5-10 minutes).
For the sauce:
In a small pot, melt the butter and add the flour, creating a roux. Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking constantly. If it is not thickening, add a little more flour or a tiny bit of cornstarch. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper. If desired, sprinkle in some grated Parmesan.
Mix the mushroom mixture and sauce. Pour it into the piecrust and top with slices of gouda. Place the second crust on top, cutting and fluting as desired. Cut air vents in the top. Cover the edges with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until crust is golden and flaky.

Shiitake and Green Bean Casserole
The holidays just aren’t the same without green bean casserole. The addition of shiitakes and tender red potatoes takes the same-old same old to pleasantly surprising. You could even top the potatoes with French-fried onions for tradition’s sake!
About 1 lb shiitake, stemmed and sliced
2 cans green beans, or an equal amount fresh or frozen
1 yellow onion, minced
¼ C dry white wine
½ C heavy cream
¼ C milk-add more to make it creamier
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
3-4 large red potatoes, sliced paper-thin
Salt and pepper
Parsley and/or thyme to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a skillet, add garlic and onions, cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and butter, cook until tender. Add the wine and herbs, reduce. Pour in milk and cream, and some Parmesan if desired. Add the beans last (if canned) or when you add the mushrooms (if fresh or frozen). Pour into a large casserole dish. Toss the potato slices with olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer them on top and sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan. Bake at 375 until the potatoes are tender and golden.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Logs, Logs, Logs... it's all About the Logs.
Written by Laura

Last week Friday we picked up logs for our fall log inoculation venture. Inoculation starts next week Wednesday, and all of us here at F&FP are psyched. Drilling and filling 500 logs brings us great joy! I am being a little sarcastic, but log inoculation can actually be lots of fun. It gives us all a chance to talk and laugh together. I never know what new and interesting things I might find out about Joe, Mary Ellen, and the rest of the gang. Last time we inoculated logs I learned that Phoebe knows the words to just about every Disney movie song, and that Mary Ellen has a serious addiction to iced coffee...well any coffee for that matter. 

Lichens and mosses on logs are not considered a competitor organism. They merely occupy the outside of the logs. The only time they can become a problem is during drilling, as they can get caught up in the drill. If you wish to remove them, try brushing or power washing them off. It is perfectly fine to leave them on the logs though.

We traveled about an hour northwest of the farm to Aurora, Wisconsin to pick up the logs. All 500 logs are sugar maples, 40 inches long, with various diameters (nothing too big to handle though). These maples were cut for timber stand improvement, and the homestead where these logs came from belongs to John and Nancy Roberts, Ken and Dorothy Osterburg, and Ringo (the dog). We first met John and Nancy at one of our workshops this spring. It was there, that John told Joe he could provide us with shiitake logs if need be. Ironically, John went to the same high school as Mary Ellen in a suburb of Detroit. I guess it really is a small world! 

This is what 500 shiitake logs should look like. Notice how they are not resting directly on the ground. This prohibits the growth of competitor organisms.

Ken and Ringo sit back and watch to make sure we load these logs the right way.

Joe, Jasen, and I drove up together in one truck with one trailer. The trailer seemed plenty big enough, but what we hadn't considered was the weight limit. To get the logs home without incident, we could only take about 300 with us. The rest will be picked up next week. 

There's nothing two guys and a dog can't figure out!

John helps Joe and Jasen secure the load before we head out of the woods for lunch.

All in all our trip was successful. We have enough logs to get us started, and we had an amazing lunch. While we were out fetching logs, Nancy and Dorothy were preparing Sloppy Joes (with beef from a neighbors cow), sweet corn (also from a neighbor), homemade apple sauce and cheese, fresh cows milk, apple cider, and blueberries from the farm atop ice cream. What hospitality!

When deciding to grow shiitakes, one has to figure out where the logs are going to come from. Some of you have your own forests to pick and choose from, but for those of you that don't, be sure to communicate well with the person who is cutting your logs. Be sure they know there is a difference between logs harvested for mushroom cultivation and logs harvested for firewood. I wish all of you shiitake growers the best of luck in finding your logs!  

If you haven't already read Joe's blog post on fall inoculation, check it out.