Posted on 1 Comment

Shiitake Bacon

If I told you that if you take Shiitake mushrooms and soak them in a little bit of soy sauce or Dr. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and sauté them, they have a reminiscent taste of bacon, would you believe me?

Well, you should. And even though these won’t be quite as good as a crispy slice of real bacon, they are fantastic crumbled on top of a salad or in a grilled cheese!  And you know what? They taste genuinely delicious and don’t have any of the guilt association that eating an entire plateful of bacon would have. It’s kind of like the kale chip phenomenon: they’re not potato chips, but close enough, and way better for you. That’s worth trying.

In addition to their culinary uses, Shiitake mushrooms have long been used for medicinal purposes. They are rich in vitamins and minerals with potently high levels of vitamin B2, B12 and vitamin D. Shiitakes are a source of the compound Lentinan, which is being evaluated as an anti-cancer drug.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms or similar
1 teaspoon soy sauce or Dr. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Add coconut or olive oil in a cast iron pan
  2. Heat to medium setting
  3. Stem the mushrooms (saving the stems for stock) and slice them into 1/4 inch slices. Toss the mushrooms with the soy sauce or Dr. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos in the pan for approximately 1o minutes
  4. Add to your favorite dish or salad & voila!

*You can also spread the mushrooms out in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes until it reaches the crisp/chewy balance that you enjoy.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Behind the Scenes at an Organic Mushroom Farm

5 JUN 2014

BY THEKITTCHEN

Two years ago, my brother’s friend Bob Sharood started his own exotic organic culinary mushroom farm in Maine. At the time, no one in the state was doing anything like it. Today, Bob’s company, Mousam Valley Mushrooms, distributes mushrooms to many of the grocery stores in Maine. I had tried Bob’s mushrooms before, but I was curious to see the farm operation, so during my trip to Maine, my Mom and I stopped in for a tour.

IMG_7521

Mousam Valley Mushrooms is a family business. Bob runs the company with his sister, Emma, and his father, John. Bob’s brother Ed is even spending the summer working as an intern. Sometimes you hear about someone joining their family business, but it isn’t often that you hear of someone in their 20s starting their own family business. It was an ambitious project, but having his father’s business knowledge (he has worked as a corporate executive) helped get the plan in motion.

IMG_7526

I had no idea what to expect from my visit at Mousam Valley Mushrooms, and upon walking in the door, I was completely blown away. Mousam Valley Mushrooms isn’t a farm, it is a state of the art USDA organic operation. The employees seemed more like scientists than farmers. The mushrooms are grown indoors, in an entirely clean environment (hairnets, shoe covers, and hand washing required), using a proprietary fruiting technology and growth recipes. No one else in the country is growing mushrooms in this way.

IMG_7516

First woodchips made from sustainably sourced local wood, are pasteurized. The woodchips, millet, and other ingredients, specific to each mushroom variety are then combined with the mycelium. (The mycelium is what the mushrooms grow from, mushrooms don’t grow from seeds.) Then this mixture is placed into bags. The bags go through a series of temperature and humidity controlled rooms. The mushrooms grow through these bags (see below). The entire process takes about 40 days from beginning to end.

IMG_7520

The entire indoor farm is climate controlled. The mushrooms cycle through rooms with specific temperatures and humidity levels based on the growth process of the mushrooms. The climate of each room is monitored by controls and a computer program – designed with the help of my brother’s other friend Alec. Bob’s scientific approach to growing mushrooms, paired with the precise climate control technology developed by Alec make it possible to grow organic mushrooms in Maine year-round. Before Mousam Valley Mushrooms, buying local mushrooms in Maine year-round wasn’t an option.

Bob and Emma very kindly sent me home with some beautiful Italian Oyster mushrooms which I look forward to using in a recipe this week. I hope to check in with Mousam Valley Mushrooms next time I am visiting my family. I am excited to watch this company grow. They are certainly growing the most beautiful and cleanest mushrooms I have ever seen. If you are in Maine, Mousam Valley Mushrooms products are available in many Whole Foods and Hannaford stores.

IMG_7524

Posted on Leave a comment

Sweet Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

8 JUN 2014

BY THEKITTCHEN

This Sweet Sausage and Oyster Mushroom Pasta is a quick and easy recipe that I made with few ingredients. This dish was inspired by some beautiful Italian Oyster Mushrooms that I was given when I toured my friend’s mushrooms farm, Mousam Valley Mushrooms. I kept this dish really simple because I wanted to really taste the mushrooms. The Italian Oyster Mushrooms were really meaty, which made this a hearty dish.

Knowing that I wanted to make a pasta dish that highlighted the mushrooms, I went about deciding what to pair the mushrooms with. The folks over at Kayem (the makers of the Fenway Frank) asked if they could send me some sausage samples, and since my father loves Fenway Franks, I had the samples sent to Maine. My father manned the grilled and cooked up samples of 5 different sausage varieties, and when I tried the Sweet Sausage I knew that it would pair well with with the mushroom pasta dish I was planning. I used the leftover, already grilled, Sweet Sausage in this dish.

I made this for lunch one afternoon and shared it with my father who gave it a thumbs up. The organic mushrooms tasted great after being simply sautéed, and the grilled sweet sausage had a nice flavor. I didn’t want to add anything but olive oil and Parmesan to this dish, sometimes keeping it simple is best.

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

You will need:
2 cups Farfalle
1 cooked Sweet Sausage
4 ounces Italian Oyster Mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
a dash of Black Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan

Step 1:
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms, and slice the sausage into thin bit sized slices.

Step 2:
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Sauté the mushrooms until slightly browned. Then add the sliced sausage and heat until warm.

Step 3:
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the remaining olive oil, and the sautéed mushrooms and sausage, and the Parmesan. Stir and serve.

IMG_7751
The mushrooms were a gift from Mousam Valley Mushrooms, and the sausage was a gift from Kayem.