By Mark Haskell
I love fungi, the ones I want to eat in my pasta dinner or a salad. I have always loved them since day one. What amazes me about mushrooms is the assortment of types.
This cookbook “Cooking with Mushrooms: A Fungi Lover’s Guide to the World’s Most Versatile, Flavorful, Health-boosting Ingredients” by Andrea Gentl is heaven for fungi lovers. It is filled with varieties of mouth-watering recipes that use shiitake, maitake, porcini, chanterelle, enoki, and cremini mushrooms and include other varieties.
Mushrooms are one of the most versatile foods on the planet, which this book makes evident. They have an astonishing amount of flavor and health benefits.
While I was reading this book about fungi, it informed me that there are more than 100,000 known varieties of mushrooms and countless other unknown types.
According to “Cooking with Mushrooms,” many fungi are prized for their flavor, shape, texture, and color as well as their medicinal properties.
Now onto the main attraction, the food.
The chapters in this book are named “The Mushrooms,” “Always On Hand In The Larder,” “Mushrooms In The Morning,” “Midday Mushrooms,” “Mushrooms for Cocktail Hour,” “Dinner from Mushrooms,” and “The Sweetest Mushrooms.”
An example of a recipe from this book that I have made before and loved was the morels on fried sourdough with smashed fava beans and peas.
The star of the show is, of course, the morels. Morels are a very prominent ingredient in spring, similar to peas and fava beans. The taste of these items were earthen and rich which appeals to me, as a chef, so much.
What made this dish one of my favorites is the morels and the flavor the flakey salt brings to such a rich and filling breakfast.
Another dish that I loved making was the shiitake kofta. This version of kofta contains a variety of spices that are seen in many cuisines - it contains shiitake mushrooms, miso paste, olive oil and ghee. This kofta is fried in olive oil and ghee, and served with salt and black pepper.
It is very different from the kofta I am used to, which is made of ground meat, bulgur wheat and herbs and spices which can be served with a variety of sauces and sides.
This version of kofta is deep-fried rather than grilled. It is unusual - but oh so delicious.
Another aspect of this book that is so fascinating are the cocktails. The book has recipes for cocktails that are made with mushroom infused spirits such as tequila and gin.
The final aspect of the recipes from the book that fascinate me are the desserts. A dessert that I have made from this book is the mushroom chocolate bar. It is made with chocolate, of course, flakey salt, mixed nuts, seeds, and fruits.
The secret ingredient is powdered lion’s mane mushrooms and dried mushrooms such as enoki, maitake, and broken down pieces of the lion’s mane.
When I purchased this cookbook, I was not sure what I was expecting in recipes that were all made of mushrooms.
This book reminded me of my love of mushrooms and rekindled my interest in cooking again as well. The recipes that were cooked from this book are delicious and I would recommend you give them a shot as they are unusual and so flavorful.
If you are a fan of all things mushrooms, then this book is the one for you as you will find a multitude of recipes that use fungus as their spearhead.
Despite not having cooked in a while, the recipes were easy to follow and the book provides many vegetarian options.
You will be impressed by the number of mushrooms globally with their versatility in taste, medicinal properties, color, and flavor in “Cooking with Mushrooms.”
A: All hail the mushroom!