A gourmet is a person who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink.
Variety is the Spice of Life
People are creatures of habit and largely base choices
on that which is familiar. Although some habits are
good, cooking the same types of food over and over
zaps creativity and breeds indifference in the kitchen.
Food is not only necessary for survival, it is also
a main source of enjoyment. Making the most of our
meals increases pleasure and happiness. If your dinner
hour is hum-drum bring something less predictable
home from the market. One thing certain to add variety
to your meals is broadening your selection of mushrooms.
Mushrooms add flavor, texture and nutrition to appetizers,
soups, salads and entrées. The possibilities are endless,
and the results are fabulous.
Mushrooms are high in fiber and protein, and provide
vitamins such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin
(B3), biotin (B7), cobalamins (B12) and ascorbic acid
(C), as well as minerals, including iron, selenium,
potassium and phosphorus. Maitake, shiitake, and reishi
are being researched for the possibility of use for
anti-cancer, anti-viral, and/or immunity-enhancement
If you are new to the world of mushrooms, you should
know that mushrooms are best when used within a few
days of purchase. Like other vegetables, it is best
to wait until you are ready to use them before rinsing
your mushrooms. Remove mushrooms plastic from their
container and store in a paper bag, because if they
are stored in an air-tight container the moisture
trapped inside will cause early spoiling. It is not
recommended to freeze fresh mushrooms, but if they
are first sautéed, cooled and stored in an airtight
container they may be frozen for up to a month. Care
should be taken to cleaning your mushrooms, especially
Shiitake, portabella and morels are great mushrooms
to experiment with because they are becoming increasingly
more available in local markets. Shiitakes are often
dried and sold in packages. These must be re-hydrated
by soaking in water about 15 minutes before using.
The button of the Shiitake mushroom has a smooth and
spongy texture. They are a great addition to any dish.
Portabella mushrooms are sold both with the stem or
just as caps. They are light tan, rounded, with black,
visible gills on the underside. As they age and darken
the flavor is richer. They are especially great sautéed
in butter and wine, or you can grill or roast them.
Portabellas not only enhance the beauty of your dinner,
but also add a hearty flavor. Morels have short, thick
stems with pointed caps and have a lot of texture.
Morels may be tan, yellow or black in color and have
a nutty flavor. The darker this mushroom, the more
intense the flavor. As you gain experience using these
mushrooms, you can venture out or order different
varieties rather than hunt for them yourself.
Cooking mushrooms is easy and there are several ways
to prepare them. Mushrooms taste great when seasoned!
Use salt, pepper, garlic, or any other spice or herb
that complements your meal. Sautéing is probably the
most common cooking method. Place 8 ounces of mushrooms
in a frying pan with a tablespoon or two of butter.
Cook on medium high heat for a few minutes until soft.
Don’t put too many mushrooms in a pan because the
heat won’t be high enough to brown them. Equally tasty
is grilling, roasting, or broiling mushrooms. Coating
the mushrooms lightly with olive oil will keep them
from drying out. When roasting mushrooms heat in a
450 F oven for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To grill or broil, place your pan about 4 to 6 inches
from the heat source and cook about 5 minutes. Oil
may be added when turning them to ensure even cooking.
It does not take a lot of effort to make your meal
more exciting, and adding variety with mushrooms will
spice it up. Changing an everyday item for one that
is extraordinary will please every pallet and make
you look like a gourmet chef!
About the Author:
Emma Snow is a gourmet and freelance writer. Writing
for Gourmet Living http://www.gourmet-living.com
and BBQ Shop http://www.bbq-shop.net