Archive for the ‘mushroom month’ Category

Top 10 Highlights of the 2013 Mushroom Fest

James Beard award-nominated writer, editor, and recipe developer, Joy Manning attended the 28th annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square on behalf of The Mushroom Council. Take a look at her top ten highlights and mark your calendars for next September. 

Flavorful and nutritious, mushrooms are the kind of ingredient that can inspire a party. And for the past 28 years, mushroom growers and the eaters who love them have made the annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Pa., one of the biggest and best parties in food. Spanning the weekend after Labor Day each year, it extends the summer fun one weekend longer with live music, contests, games, a car show, carnival rides, and—of course—tons of delicious food. I had such a great time during my visit this year that I’ve already earmarked that weekend for mushrooms in 2014. Here my top 10 highlights from this year’s fest. If you were there, too, please leave your own highlights in the comments!

Farm Tour

On the quick bus ride between the festival and the Caputo & Guest Mushrooms farm, our driver asked the crowd on board who had driven more than 100 miles to be at the festival. Hands shot up all around the bus, with some folks coming from as far away as California. That should be no surprise—mushroom lovers are an enthusiastic bunch. Mark Malchione, the farm manager, led the tour of the mushroom house, where we saw every stage of the process, from the logs that are made from grains and sawdust to give the mushrooms nutrients and a place to grow, to tiny newly sprouted spores and fully sprouted shiitakes looking ready to slice into a stir fry. Malchione also provided a great shopping tip: look under the cap when buying shiitakes. They should look fresh, unblemished and creamy white. His definitely did.

Talula’s Table

Many food fanatics around the country are already familiar with Talula’s Table, a Kennett Square market and restaurant that is known as one of the most difficult-to-get reservations in the US. What the chefs there may be less known for is their dexterity with mushrooms. They made a variety of treats inspired by the local bounty, including wonderfully crisp mushroom spring rolls.

Chef Jack Mavraj in the Culinary Tent

There was a full roster of great chefs—include celeb Carla Hall–doing mushroom-centric demonstrations in the Culinary Tent. I watched Kennett Square’s own chef Jack Mavraj shake his skillet for the crowd. He cooked homemade agnolotti, fresh pasta dumplings stuffed with three kinds of mushrooms and braised short ribs. He also made a robust four-mushroom sauce—filled with shiitake, oyster, cremini, and maitake mushrooms—to serve with the pasta and short ribs. I may make a vegetarian version in my own kitchen this fall.

Mushroom Shopping

At a couple stands throughout the festival, tables were set up with tons of different local mushrooms for sale. Obviously, the wares could not have been fresher. They were clearly just picked! Some oyster mushrooms were $8 pound—about half the price I might pay in the supermarket. It was the perfect place for someone like me, who cooks with mushrooms a few times a week, to stock up.

Oyster Mushroom Fritters with Feta, Hot Sauce and Spring Greens

Low in calories and rich in nutrients like selenium and Vitamin D, mushrooms have rightly earned their place in the pantheon of good-for-you foods. That doesn’t mean they aren’t also perfect deep fried and served with cheese, spicy sauce, and a salad. The meaty oyster mushrooms tasted almost like boneless chicken wings, especially when mixed with the cheese and sauce. Would I eat this every day? No. Am I counting down the days until I eat it again at 2014’s mushroom festival? Yes.

Breaded Button Mushrooms

Another delicious choice in fried mushrooms: the classic breaded mushroom. I have always appreciated a pizzeria that sells these kind of fried mushrooms, just plain buttons covered in a basic, crunchy breading. At the festival, this classic got a big upgrade just from the pristine, fresh local mushrooms that were used.

Official Mushroom Festival Soup

Even though it was a warm beautiful day, everyone at the festival seemed to want a bowl of steaming mushroom soup. Something about the mushroom’s deep earthy flavor makes for such a perfect bowl of comfort, and the official soup of the festival was no different.

Painted Mushrooms

Not every mushroom highlight was edible. On display at various shops throughout Kennett Square were beautiful, hand-painted mushrooms. Local artists projected their visions onto concrete mushroom forms three feet high; the results decorated the festival and were sold via silent auction.

Mushroom Growers Exhibit

The big shady tent where growers set up tables to represent all the stages of the mushroom growing process was a huge draw. Kids, parents, and grandparents all seemed equally captivated at how the process works. Best of all, the growers themselves were on hand to chat with festivalgoers and patiently answer all the questions everyone had about their work.

Ice Cream Stop at La Michoacana 

As I headed out of the festival, my last stop had to be dessert. The homemade ice cream churned at La Michoacan is a must for any visit to Kennett Square. The shop was into the spirit of the event with plenty of mushroom ice cream bars on hand, and this was clearly a popular choice.

10 Ways to Celebrate National Mushroom Month

Mushroom Bhuna

Thinking about September can bring to mind a variety of events. It’s the beginning of a new school year, football Sundays and the crispness of fall in the air. For those who have not heard, it’s also an entire month dedicated to our favorite fungi with the official title of National Mushroom Month. Since mushrooms are grown all-year long, their appeal is universal; however, there is a natural comfort to fall meals, and mushrooms are the perfect addition for a healthy dose of nutrition and flavor.  Check out our list of 10 ideas below to celebrate the savory shroom this month.

1) Reinvent a classic in a new way, such as this Mushroom Cheese Steak Stir-Fry.

2) Stuff mushrooms with a variety of flavors AND use mushrooms as the filling for a stuffed pear.

3) Experiment with new flavors in this recipe for Mushrooms Bhuna, an indian inspired dish with garam masala and cilantro.

4) Enjoy pizza for breakfast, with this egg and mushroom inspired breakfast pizza.

5) Whip up a cozy fall risotto, perfect for leftovers the next day.

6) Blend mushrooms into your meat based dishes, with the 50/50 mushroom: meat blend method.

7) Discover how mushrooms are grown.

8) Dine out with mushrooms on the menu.

9) Create a simple and delicious mushroom sauté perfect to accompany or top off any meal.

10) Put a healthier spin on game day with Portabella Skins.

Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of creative mushroom recipes beyond this list. For more inspiration be sure to check out our full recipe database and Pinterest boards.  It’s time to #Fall4Mushrooms.

The 27th Annual Mushroom Festival

Ever wonder what it’s like to be surrounded by 100,000 mushroom lovers?  Council Representative, Bart Minor, shares his fun-gi filled experience at the 27th Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, PA.

With more than 100,000 visitors in two days, the Mushroom Festival is the world’s largest fun-gi filled event. This annual gathering is held in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and rightly so as the region grows more than 60% of the United States’ mushrooms!  Every year the Mushroom Festival celebrates and promotes the importance of mushrooms, through entertainment, competition, and education.

Top Chef Contestant, Antonia Lafaso, taught passionate mushroom fans how to prepare a simple mushroom salad topped with a poached egg. Next Great Baker, Dana Herbert, also graced the culinary tent stage, to prepare a savory mushroom & seafood flatbread.

The First Annual Fried Mushroom Eating Contest, sponsored by Buona Foods, drew a large and excited crowd. Twelve contestants were challenged to eat as many fried mushrooms as they could in eight minutes. In the end, fungi lover Jamie McDonald ended up taking home the $1000 prize after downing an astonishing 5.5 pounds of mushrooms.

As expected, there was no lack of food to fulfill a mushroom craving. From Mushroom Pumpkin Ice Cream, to creamy Mushroom Mac n’ Cheese, and even a Seafood Stuffed Portabella Burger, the Mushroom Festival did not disappoint in the culinary area. Vendors also showcased their passion for mushrooms through art, crafts and home goods.

Putting Kennett Square, Pennsylvania on the map, the Mushroom Festival is an event that a true mushroom lover should not miss. Make sure to check out our full event photo album on Facebook.

What is your favorite festival to attend?

An Eat Right Routine

Kelsey from The Naptime Chef shares how mushrooms are a key ingredient in her healthy, delicious meal plan for the fall.  

With a baby on board this fall I am focused on making sure I eat right all season. For me that means staying away from fatty, sugary foods and sticking with nutrient rich vegetables, like mushrooms. One of the ways I’ve been enjoying mushrooms lately is lightly cooked and served on fresh grilled bread with a dash of melted Parmesan cheese.

I came up with the idea for these when I saw a vegetarian melt sandwich at a local diner. It was piled high with vegetables and tossed with tons of gooey cheese! To make mine more in tune with my eat right routine I dialed down the cheese, put away the butter and made it using this simple recipe instead.

“The versatility of mushrooms in any dish make them the perfect ingredient to add a hearty and nutritious touch to the meal.”

We love to enjoy these toasts alongside fresh grilled chicken or fish, or even served right alongside a fall green salad.

Mushroom-Parmesan Melts on Grilled Bread

Makes 4 small, or 2 large grilled breads

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices whole wheat country bread sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 12 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated

Directions:

1. To grill the bread heat a grill to medium and place the bread slices over indirect heat for about 3-minutes per side or until grill marks begin to show. This step can also be completed on a grill pan.

2. While the bread cools add the mushrooms and salt to a sauté pan and warm over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms until they release their liquid and cook down so they are completely softened.

3. Turn the broiler on high and place the grilled bread on a baking sheet. Divide the mushrooms among the four pieces of grilled bread and top with equal amounts of the Parmesan cheese.

4. Broil the toasts for about 2 minutes, or just until the Parmesan begins to melt. Remove immediately. Drizzle the breads with the olive oil and serve!

A Mushroom Filled Weekend

Fall weekends were designed for getting back into the kitchen. The chill in the air inspires turning to the stove, and the kitchen quickly fills with laughter, company and delicious bites. Whether you’re cooking for one or a full house, here are a few tips to incorporate mushrooms into your weekend cooking adventures.

The Snack Craving

Some Saturday afternoons, a mid-day snack is preferred over a full meal.  Roasted Mushroom Hummus with Goat Cheese is the perfect dish to whip up for friends, or to serve on the side with a good book.

The Dinner Party

 

Allow yourself more time for catching up with friends at your next dinner party and go for  DIY-style dining.  Assemble the ingredients for tacos, such as Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tacos and let guests create the tacos themselves.

Sunday Dinner

Nothing rounds out the weekend better than a family meal.  Pair Caramelized Mushroom and Vidalia Onion Risotto with a dinner salad and crusty bread to close your weekend on a high note.

What are your favorite weekend dishes?