- Author: L. Watts
Here you go: Mushrooms as spices, able to be powdered and added to food for that mushroom-y umami flavor.
Tasty, delicious, fresh 'shrooms are very perishable; commercially dried at the grocery are really expensive. . . What to do? ---Dry your own, I say.
Watch for a sale and set your limit on price. The last time I found mushrooms on sale it was $.99 for 8 ounces of whole brown mushrooms at a local market. As you might have guessed, this was over a year ago.
I purchased 10 pounds of mushrooms. The dehydrator was dragged out from hiding. Knives were honed and the fungi were sliced according to this link at the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP).
I dried until crispy; I wanted to be able to crush my mushrooms for addition to spaghetti sauce. All of those mushrooms fit handily into three quart-sized jars.
A while back on the net, BMDM (Before My Dried Mushrooms), I found a Korean recipe that asked for a good pinch of mushroom powder, but I did not have any. Now, I can whirl some dried mushrooms in a grinder and come up with some powder quick. I can use whole and ground mushrooms in soups, stews, and sauces. Did you know that the mushroom powder will up your "umami" flavor (savory/"meaty") just as fresh or dried ones will?
Re-hydrate whole slices by placing them in a deep, narrow, heat-proof container(A canning Jar!), then pour over boiling water and let rest until the mushrooms are soft and flexible (at least 15 minutes), then use in your whatever. Prepared this way, the dried slices never really return to a fresh consistency, but have a nice bite and chew to them along with some great flavor. For better texture in a cooked dish try leaving them to re-hydrate several hours in the fridge after you add the boiling water. Alternatively, you can crumble them into, or toss whole into a dish to cook (as in pasta sauce).
If you want to grind into a powder, place the amount of crispy dried mushrooms you wish in a blender or small food processor and whirl to a powder. Store in a tightly lidded (canning!) jar. Reconstitute by sprinkling in your dish as you cook; you may need a little water and taste to see how your mushroom powder is doing as seasoning. Remember to take a good smell when the jar is opened. I find the aroma is deep and wonderful.
One more thing: Make sure you have a male significant other slice the mushrooms for you, then ask, "Are you having fungi?"
I get e-mail newsletters and the following recipe was an interesting recipe for a quick refrigerator pickle. I had never heard of pickled avocados before. The link to Avocado Pickles is here and I have added the recipe below.
In this article, "A Trick for Transforming Unripe Avocados in Just Two Hours" at Food52.com, they talk about the difference between hard avocados pickled for days versus the same pickled for about 2 hours. The days-pickled ones were vinegary, while the 2 hour pickles not only softened but still tasted like avocados. I think tasting like avocados is important!
Probably I would try it if I had a tree, or was desperate for an avocado and could not find a ripe one. In any case, I think these would be a nice change of pace on sandwiches or in burritos, or on baked potatoes . . . Maybe you could whiz 'em up with a little mayonnaise for a good spread for bread or to use as a sauce--like eggs benedict with pickled avocado sauce!
Avocado Pickles--Serves 2 to 6 (recipe from TheKitchen.com)
1 cup distilled white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 firm avocados
Optional flavoring ingredients:
Place the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and any additional flavoring ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the avocados. Peel and pit the avocados, then cut into 1/2-inch-wide slices or cubes. Place them in 2 (18-ounce or larger) canning jars. Pour the cooled brining liquid into the jars, completely covering the avocado pieces, and seal the jars. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Storage: Store pickled avocados in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
I was cruising the Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) blogs and found this nice article about growing saffron crocuses in your yard: Grow Your Own Saffron! Such a pretty flower with delightfully tasty seasoning included!It is a little late to plant these little beauties around here, but you could put an order in for some corms and plant them when shipped to you, which is usually in the fall.
How about a recipe to use some home canned broth and home grown saffron?
Quite a while back I bought one of those little boxes of Sahara Brand Rice Pilaf. We all liked it but it was expensive. My sister and I got together to try to concoct our own version. The following is what we came up with and we like it much better than the boxed stuff. It is now one of our family's favorite recipes it is as follows.
A few tips for this recipe: make sure to toast the rice, then the pasta, almonds and you will get a great flavor and texture to your pilaf. Have you made any home canned chicken broth? It will serve you well in this recipe.
You can make this without the saffron, but the spice adds a very nice, rather exotic aroma and a wonderful color to the dish. Try to find some real Spanish saffron and use it--you won't be sorry.
Recipe may be doubled if you wish.
1 cup chicken broth, home canned if possible
1-1/4 cups warm water
10 strands or so of Saffron (a small pinch; be careful, too much or it may be bitter)
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice
1/4 cup orzo or broken vermicelli (if using vermicelli, break it into little pieces into the measuring cup)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for adjusting seasoning when pilaf is finished
Mix the broth and warm water then sprinkle the saffron over the top. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Pour in rice, stirring constantly to avoid burning until it loses its translucency and all the rice is opaque, much more white and some of the grains are beginning to get browned.
Add the orzo/vermicelli and almonds and continue to stir constantly until the pasta browns; this should happen pretty quickly.
Place the onion and salt in the pot and stir until the onion is translucent and soft.
Add the broth, water and saffron and give everything a quick stir. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness of the rice; it should be firm, but not chalky or hard; if it is, add tablespoon or so of water and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let stand about 5 minutes. Taste for final seasoning then add salt if needed, stir lightly but thoroughly to fluff and serve.
Last night was our continuing education class for Master Food Preservers. It was well attended, informative and entertaining.
Master Food Preserver (MFP) Laura Simpson ran last night's show-she talked to us about Smoking Meats.This class included discussion about meat curing at home, with emphasis on curing BACON (a personal favorite of this author and MFP). Hot smoking of meats (the safe way to do it at home) sounded easy enough to do safely and deliciously. It was also great to hear that the home-smoker can make some cold smoked things like smoked mozzarella.
A rough-and-ready barrel smoker from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.20732/
MFP Simpson also discussed types of smokers. Tips on smoking with these were given. You can smoke on a kettle-type grill, a water smoker, barrel barbecue or even a gas grill using the appropriate techniques. These barbecues and grills that are commonly found at home were illustrated.
Did you know that there is not much difference in the flavors of different woods' smoke? Wood chips don't need to be soaked, and smoke penetrates meats more easily when the surface is kept wet? With the info she gave, the good reference books and the handout provided, well I feel ready. I don't know about you other attendees, but I want go out and smoke some bacon myself, right now.
Maybe I will try that bacon recipe I have been thinking about. And mmm, smoked mozzarella, smoked provolone. It was a great class!