By Neni Panourgia – New York
As an anthropologist, I travel a lot both for fieldwork and conferences, and everywhere I go, I keep my antennae up for new recipes. I had this dish while I was visiting Lake Prespa, at the shared border of Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia. It was served in the village of Psarades, which sits right on the lake. The lake teems with life – from fish, turtles, and birds to water chestnuts, which can be harvested easily by just wading in the shallows. When I asked for the recipe, I was told that there wasn’t one; you just put everything together in the oven. After I returned to New York, I tried to replicate the dish. The version is just like the one I had in Greece. It’s best to make this dish in an earthenware pan. Otherwise, using a baking pan about 9 by 12 inches that will hold the mushrooms snugly.
Yield: 4 Servings
2 pounds fresh mixed cultivated and/or wild mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into quarter-sized chunks
½ cup chopped juicy tomatoes [about 1 medium-sized tomato]
¼ to ½ cup white wine
Pinch of dried oregano
2 small red or green bell peppers, or a combination, chopped in chunks [approx. 8 ounces]
1 tablespoon sweet bucovo or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons hot bucovo or ½ teaspoon hot paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tablespoons sliced garlic
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large pan, combine the mushrooms, tomatoes, white wine, oregano, bell peppers, sweet bucovo, hot bucovo, salt, pepper, olive oil, shallots, and garlic. Make sure that there is enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. If there is not, add a few tablespoons of water. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, leaving a couple of openings on either side for steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes, then give the mixture a good mix. Continue cooking, checking the mushrooms periodically for doneness (they are ready when they are fork-tender) another 25 minutes or so. Do not overcook; you are looking for tender mushrooms in a little sauce.
Remove from the oven, mix in the parsley, and cool. Serve at room temperature with sliced feta cheese and bread, if you like.
By Larry Evans – Montana
In the days of Prototaxites, I developed an interest in edible mushrooms, and I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the study of mycophagy since the twentieth century, eating and singing my way through mushroom forays and festivals across the continents. Ager my CDs came out, people called me the Fungal Boogieman, and after my role in Ron Mann’s film Know Your Mushrooms, I’ve been leading mushroom expeditions and working to decriminalize Psilocybe. My late wife, Kris Love, and I came up with this dish, and the recipe won a national award in 1997. It’s a dream recipe for gatherings, because it’s easy to prepare ahead of time and comes out of the oven ready to serve in 20 minutes.
Yield: One 6-inch wheel
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces fresh morels or ½ ounce dried (see note)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-inch wheel of brie cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pack (two 8-inch sheets) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Note: Rehydrate dried morels by soaking in 2 cups of water for about 5 minutes until they are plump and soft, then drain.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the morels and cook until they lose their water and the water evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the brie at the equator as you would a bagel. Cover one exposed half with the prepared morels and sprinkle with nutmeg. Place the other half of the brie on top of the mushrooms.
On a floured board, use a rolling pin to roll out 1 sheet of the puff pastry dough until it is smooth and pliable. Place the brie in the center of the dough. Roll out the second sheet of dough and lay it on top of the brie. Roll out the second sheet of dough and lay it on top of the brie. Crimp the edges of both dough sheets to create the pastry envelope.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 17 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with a baguette, if you like.
By Venori Keshy Liyanage – North Dakota
During the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I became vegans. We replaced meat with vegetables and found that mushrooms were a great meat substitute. This recipe is adapted from hot buttered calamari, a dish from Sri Lanka, where my family is from. We love to serve this as a hot appetizer, but it is also great as a main dish served over white or fried rice. I typically use chickpea flour (also known as gram or garbanzo flour) for the batter, because I like its sandy texture, but the recipe can also be made with all-purpose flour. You also can increase the chili pepper if you like it hotter.
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup finely ground chickpea flour, or all-purpose flour
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
Canola or other vegetable oil for deep-frying
8 ounces oyster mushrooms, washed, dried, and torn into long, thin strips
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons vegan or unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 medium red bell peppers, thinly sliced (about 12 ounces)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon red chili powder, or smoked paprika
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal into ½ inch pieces
4 lime wedges for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, mix the flour and coconut milk until combined in a smooth batter. The mixture will be thick.
Add 1 inch of oil to a medium or large nonstick skillet. Bring oil to 375 degrees fahrenheit over medium heat. Then reduce heat to medium-low to stabilize the oil temperature. Dip each mushroom strip into the batter, shake off any excess batter, and add the battered mushrooms to the heated oil. Depending on the size of your pan, add about 3 to 4 pieces of battered mushrooms at a time; do not overcrowd the pan, or the temperature of the oil will drop and the mushrooms will become soggy.
Fry the mushroom strips for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are golden and release easily from the pan, then flip them over and cook the other side. Remove the mushrooms when they are golden all over and drain on paper towels or a rack. Repeat until all the mushroom pieces are fried to crispy perfection. Sprinkle with salt.
Heat the butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes golden and aromatic. Add the bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Reduce the heat to low, add the sugar and chili flakes, and mix. Add a pinch of salt and red chili powder to the mixture. (If you don’t like it spicy, add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika instead of chili powder). Add the deep-fried mushrooms and scallions and sauté for about 2 minutes, until everything is well combined.
Serve immediately as is, or with a side of rice and a lime wedge, if you like.