That silly child’s song, “Do you know the muffin man?” is stuck in my head. My mind has changed muffin man to mushroom man. I love wild mushrooms. Jeff was quite well-educated in foraging for local specimens that were safe and “choice” on the edibility scale. We would take the girls on long walks at the lake poking in the underbrush and harvesting boletes, Hen of the Woods, chanterelle and other delicious treasures that he would then cook in mouth-watering dishes.
I first saw the ad for Wichland Woods Mushrooms in The Monadnock Table magazine. After researching their site I left a message hoping to set up a partnership for the store and café. Dave Wichland and his family live in nearby Keene where he teaches mycology, provides mycology landscaping and sells wild-forged, locally grown, and exotic mushrooms. He dropped by the store one afternoon with a bounty of samples. I immediately ran home, dug out all my mushroom cookbooks and set my mind in motion of how to best market this latest addition to our local offerings.
Amy Farges, Co-owner of Aux DELICES DES BOIS and author of The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook and Primer immediately suggest two dishes to me; “Woodsy Mushroom Pot Pie” and Huitlacoche with Summer Tomatoes.” Summer tomatoes will be abundant this year. Korey and Kim have a large garden and access to tons of local produce. I wonder if Dave can grow or find Huitlacoche? The Pot Pie sounds like a comfort dish for the end of summer, but if the winter doesn’t end, we may have to investigate that sooner!
So my discovery for the week was the fresh Morel mushrooms from the pack I brought home. I would have simply sautéed them in oil had I not read the book. Morels are made for cream sauce, they live for dairy. A bond formed in some dark age when someone said, “This needs a wondrously smooth, rich sauce to populate.” I had Cod, cream and oils.
From the cookbook I took the recipe for Sea Bass and worked with what I had. The cod was sautéed in Wild Mushroom & Sage infused olive oil as I whisked the sauce in a double boiler. I couldn’t replicate it exactly, I had no fresh chives (under leaves at the moment) and no shallots. But the fresh, pine cone shaped Morels were spongy tender and pungent. I added fresh asparagus for a spring-green touch then drizzled it with hollandaise sauce, obliterating any nutritional value. Crunchy red pepper slices with a dusting of fresh thyme and a slick of Tuscan Herb infused olive oil redeemed the plate as “healthy.”