Tag Archives: cream

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

mushroom cream sauce

Have you been finding any mushrooms in the woods lately?

I haven’t. I don’t feel like I know quite enough yet (working on it though, because wandering through a forest + finding food is a dream life), but! I have a few friends who are adept foragers, and I’ve been fortunate enough to reap the benefits of their forays.

Mushrooms are very strange animals (okay, not animals. But, they might be closer to animals than plants). I used to not like them at all, then finally my dad convinced me to try morels (thanks, Dad). Nutty, textured, with a fantastic scent, they’re probably still my favorite, although it’s been a long while.

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(not morels)

Regardless of what else I do with mushrooms, usually the first step is to fry them up in plenty of butter. Some kinds soak it all up immediately, and although others don’t need quite as much, my recommendation is to not skimp on the fat. You don’t want them to burn. Besides, eating more delicious, flavorful foods might prevent you from overeating! How’s that for incentive (we all know that fat is flavor)? In all seriousness, there are some foods that make me feel gross post-consumption (mostly sugary ones), and I have never felt unhappy about this.

Quite the contrary.

This sauce is versatile and can be made with pretty much any mushroom (other vegetables too, for that matter). I sometimes add leeks for extra nuance and spinach to get some greenery in there, but neither are necessary, and if you have spectacular mushrooms I would focus on their flavor instead.

mushroom cream sauce

Creamy mushroom sauce
Butter, plenty of it
2 handfuls of mushrooms, any variety (morels and oyster mushrooms are my favorite)
1/2 to 1 leek, or 1 onion (optional)
A few handfuls of spinach (it will cook down a lot; optional)
Cream: maybe 1/2 cup, depending on how much liquid you want
Salt and pepper

If foraged, check the mushrooms for bugs and brush them off (mushrooms soak up water, so use minimal water). Tear apart with your hands, chop with a sharp knife, or leave whole, depending on the variety and how big they are. Wash and chop leeks, if using—I like mine in thin strips a few inches long. Wash and roughly chop spinach.

If using an onion, thinly slice and caramelize—sauté over high heat stirring frequently, then turn down heat and cook until soft and dark brown. You can add the mushrooms right to this, then continue with the cream.

No onion: melt butter in a pan. Sauté mushrooms over high heat, until they start to brown and soften. Add leeks, and more butter if needed. Stir in salt to taste. When leeks are soft (this will take some time), pour in cream, stirring, then add the spinach and turn off the heat. The spinach will wilt, the cream will thicken and darken from the mushroom coloring, and the whole thing will have this mouth-watering dark rich smell.

Serve over pasta, or whatever else you like eating with creamy deliciousness, and crack some pepper on top. Shave on some parmesan if you’re feeling it. You will be quite happy.

mushroom cream sauce on pasta

P.S. If you’ve been following some of what I write about the overall food system and are upset about it, here’s 5 things you can do right now. 

Strawberries, Chocolate Whipped Cream, and Pecan Shortcake

IMG_1878I know, this is late for the seasonality bit. I’m the worst. But if you have spent the fleeting strawberry season putting them in pies, jam, fresh on tarts, eating them for breakfast with yogurt and granola as a parfait, if your freezer is full of strawberries because you didn’t know where else to put them… you are missing out. Because this is the first and best use of strawberries. Well, second only to eating them sun-warmed from the field, staining your fingers with dripping red juice.

The three parts of this dessert are each delicious on their own. Even paired with only one other component they are fantastic. But all together, they are heavenly.

Shortcake is basically a slightly sweet biscuit or a soft scone cut in a circle. The pecans make it more complex and give it some texture. Flour can actually be found locally (Maine Grains makes a whole wheat pastry flour that is great, although definitely more expensive than other flours), as can butter and cream. No one grows pecans or chocolate in Maine, unfortunately. Although who knows how our climate will change in the next couple years.

Strawberries
Strawberries

Pecan Shortcake
3 ½ cups flour
½ cup pecans, toasted
2 T baking powder
¾ t salt
6 T sugar
12 T butter, cut in small pieces- very cold
1 ½ c cold heavy cream

Chocolate Whipped Cream
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup whipping cream
Vanilla

For the shortcake: Grind pecans briefly in food processor. If you have a large processor, add flour, salt, powder, sugar. Pulse briefly, then add cold chunks of butter. Pulse briefly – the mixture should have pea sized chunks of butter. Add cold cream. Pulse briefly until dough begins to clump together, but stop before it forms a ball (this can be done fairly easily by hand, just make sure you cut up the butter a lot before mixing it in. I like to cut it up in very small chunks then put it in the freezer to make sure it stays cold). Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly so it holds together, then flatten it to ½ – ¾ inch. Cut with 2 inch round cutter.

Bake in a preheated 425ºF oven for 12-18 minutes, until they are golden and puffy.

Meanwhile, whip the cream (I like doing this by hand, but whatever you like. With very thick cream you have to be careful not to overwhip it – and it’s easier to pay attention when you can feel it) until it has very soft peaks, then add a splash of vanilla and whip a little more. Gently fold in the melted chocolate (do make sure it’s not still warm before adding it, or it will melt all your well-made bubbles). Alternatively, you can heat up the cream and the chocolate together and chill it before whipping, although you have to be extra careful not to overwhip that, as it gets very thick and can easily become chocolate butter, which is just not the same.

When the shortcakes come out, split them open and serve them warm, topped with the room temperature strawberries and then cold whipped cream.

You will end up with far too many shortcakes. Freeze them. Or eat them for breakfast (they toast well).

No time for shortcake? Whipping up some cream and folding in some melted chocolate takes about 5 minutes.

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My chocolate didn’t quite mix into the cream here, as you can see. But it was still amazing. I’m drooling even thinking about it.