Join with me and let’s celebrate “National Mushroom Month.” which is observed every September. Since I can remember, growing up in my Italian American family, my mom would always use mushrooms in her recipes. There are many varieties of mushrooms, such as the white button, crimini, portabella, shiitake and oyster to name a few. The button mushroom is the most widely used. My mom would use a number of varieties for different dishes, but she preferred to use the white button mushrooms more than the others.
To have a better understanding about where mushrooms originated from and some interesting facts, we have to travel back to ancient folklore. Egyptians believed that mushrooms were the plant of immortality. The flavors captivated the Pharaohs so much that mushrooms were decreed food for the royalty. Common people were not allowed to even touch them. According to some people Louis XIV was the first mushroom grower in France. Mushrooms were grown in caves near Paris. France showed England how simple a crop of mushrooms were to cultivate, so England began to produce them as well. The first American to cultivate mushrooms here in the United States was Louis F. Lambert from Minnesota. Many people found that mushrooms were easy to grow and cheap to buy.
Pennsylvania is the lead in mushroom production. In 2006/2007, 827 million lbs. of mushrooms have been produced and sold. Speaking of Pennsylvania, if you are a fan of all things mushroom or just want to enjoy a fun (gi) time, go to Kennett Square in PA and join in the Mushroom Capital of the World for the 26th annual Mushroom Festival which takes place this weekend. Edible mushrooms are known as the meat of the vegetable world. Most mushrooms are sold in supermarkets which have been grown in mushroom farms and are used in cooking many different cuisines of the world. Here are some tips as to selecting and cleaning mushrooms.
1. Purchase mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance
2. Surfaces should be dry, but not dried out and appear plump
3. Equivalents: 1 pound fresh mushrooms = 6 cups sliced fresh mushrooms = 3 ounces
4. Some mushrooms may keep for up to one week in the refrigerator
5. Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but frozen sautéed mushrooms will keep for up to one month
1. Brush off any dirt with your fingers or a damp paper towel, or rinse the mushrooms briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel
2. Do not soak mushrooms in water as they easily absorb moisture
3. If the stem is tough, trim it before using. For Shiitakes, stems should be removed before use
|My mom at 2 yrs old |
Now that you know all about mushrooms, you can try my mom’s recipe called “Italian Stuffed Mushrooms.” This dish has been in my family for years and everyone loves it. My mom used to make this flavorful recipe mainly for holidays, until it was requested by family members for her to prepare this dish for non-holidays as well. You can use this as a side dish or even as an appetizer. As you enter a mushroom into your mouth, you can taste the savory flavor of the spices and cheese in the breadcrumb stuffing mix, which will enhance the richness of the mushroom. Absolutely “yummy” and I’m sure it will be a favorite in your family as it is in mine.
|Photo: Courtesy from Food Network|
48 oz large white button mushrooms
2 cups of plain dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
3 teaspoons of minced garlic fresh or jar
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive or vegetable oil
Till Next Time……
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