A Nautical Asian Cream of Mushroom Soup

Rummaging around H-mart (my local Asian market) the other day, I happened upon a nice price on a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms. As mushrooms go these are practically indestructible and have a strong flavor. They are often considered medicinal in East Asia. I have been hungering for a nice rich bowl of mushroom soup. So, let’s put these guys in a hot liquid to rehydrate them and cook them in some fish stock for a nautical cream of mushroom soup.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 4 ounces dried shiitaki mushrooms
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 quarts fish stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley (optional)
  • 2 cups light cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper

 

Combine mushrooms and hot water in a large, heatproof bowl. Let stand 1 hour. With your fingers, work mushrooms to release any grit. Let stand until very pliable, about 1 hour longer. Then, lift the mushrooms from the liquid and cut them into large pieces and set aside. Reserve the bowl of soaking liquid.
 

Dice the two large onions. In a 5- to 6-quart pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil. When they are translucent add the stock and chopped mushrooms. Pour the reserved soaking liquid into pot, taking care not to disturb grit in bowl. Make sure that stays behind. Then, rinse and drain barley and add to pot, if you’re using it. I tend to like the barley in the soup to give it a bit more body. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender to the bite, about 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, mix the cream, or half and half, with the flour and temper by whisking in a little hot soup. Pour contents of bowl into hot soup, whisking constantly on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. This is where the thickening of the soup occurs. Adjust seasonings and heal t through.

Serve this up in nice deep bowls and serve with crusty bread, like a baguette.

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Late Summer Pasta Sauce

Well its mid-September here on long island. I have a bumper crop of tomatoes. So, we need to get busy cooking the beefsteaks. First up is a sweet late summer pasta sauce. This will consume four of the large ones, and it will freeze nicely. This way I can have the fresh tastes of the late summer well into the early winter.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Four large tomatoes
  • 3 sausage links
  • Duck Walk red wine
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 Italian peppers
  • 1 cup diced white mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Water (about four cups)
  • Oregano
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt

In a heavy cast pot drizzle a little olive oil. Every good sauce starts with a little olive oil. Then add the minced garlic. Remove the casings from the sausage and crumble the ground pork into the pot. Mince the onion and add that to the pot. Stir this up while the pork browns. A bit of fond should be forming on the bottom of the pot. Deglaze with a splash or tow of red wine, then pour in about four cups of water.

 

Core and de-seed the tomatoes. Dice the exteriors and toss into the pot. Then toss the cores into the blender. Blend to puree. Add this to the pot. Add the tomato paste. Add the oregano, two bay leaves and salt. Let this simmer a while to blend together (about an hour).

 

Dice the zucchini and peppers. Add these to the pot. Check the fluid level. If the sauce is too thick you can always add a bit more water. If it’s not thick enough you can cover it with a splatter screen and cook out the water. Let this cook about fifteen minutes to a half hour and then add in the mushrooms.

 

Let this simmer while you make the pasta. You don’t want to give those mushrooms too much time to cook. You want to keep them a bit firm. If you plan on freezing this batch of sauce, I would recommend not putting the mushrooms. Instead, add them later when you thaw the sauce out. Few things are as mushy and bland as a thawed out mushroom.

tomatoes

Mushrooms stuffed with Crab

This makes a nice warm appetizer. A small serving tray of these will disappear in no time at all. Yes, agaricus bisporus, the common white, or button mushroom gets invites to all the parties because he’s a fungi… ok, it’s a notoriously bad pun, but, unlike crab stuffing,  I use it sparingly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 30 large mushrooms
  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 2 lg. green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/8 c. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened

Combine ingredients (except mushrooms) to make the stuffing mixture.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and sauté the stems in butter and add them to the stuffing mixture.

Stuff the caps with the stuffing. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Let them cool a bit before getting them on the tray and out to the guests.

crabstuffedmushroom