Well, I am back. I hope I didn't make too many of my readers envious about Venice although many of them expressed longings.
One reader who loves Venice said that they particularly love the great markets. I do; but when the note went on to say that they must make me want to run into the kitchen and cook, I had to demur. I spend so much of my life cooking that more cooking is not really relaxing/ I need time away from a kitchen also.
However, since I am back, I have started to make new recipes for what will be a new book. I started aqs I so often do with what the land around me offers.
At this time of year, it is wild mushrooms. After I did the recipes, I needed to retest them as it is my policy not to publish recipes with ingredients that are un-buyable. Much to my pleasure and surprise, when I went to the Eli's market on 81st street in New York (1212 987 0885) and to the Cold Spring farmer's market (the stand of Dan Madura--more later) I found that many of the mushrooms that I think of as wild are actually being successfully cultivated.
I found bright crimson lobster mushrooms (Hypocenes lactiflorum) which are not a true species as they are actually other edible mushrooms brilliantly infected (edible) with a fungus (parasitic ascomycete genera Lactarius). They are firm and savory. Unlike other mushrooms, they do best cut in half-inch to one-inch pieces and cooked in hot pan with olive oil until well browned. They are cooked through but retain some tooothiness. They were wonderful in a rice and chicken dish. The recipe will follow in the recipe section in a few days.
Hen of the woods is a paltable looking mushroom that form large clumps near oaks, It is covered with frilly fronds that can vary from white to gray and brown. They are a polypore also called "sheepshead" and in Japanese "Maitake or Kumatake." Their Latin name is Gryfola fondosasa. They can be risnsed briefly and frozen whole or used immediately--more cooking information to come. They have recently received much attention as they seem to enhance immune protection and protect against cancer.
Earlier, I talked about the Pleurotus with long thick stems (Pleurotus eryngii). Here You have what I think is a better picture. It shows the gills. The longer the gills the more tender. Their firmness makes them a good substitute for lobster mushrooms if unavailable.
Enough for today.