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    Cream of Mushroom Soup

    I developed this recipe just recently due to the fact that I had several pounds of Miatake (Hen of the Woods) mushrooms. I was fortunate to live in an area adjacent to a woodland where I found a very large Miatake, 50 pound, clump. I used some fresh and dried the rest but never came up with an idea as to how or what to do with them.

    My aha moment came the other day when my local grocer had a good variety of dried mushrooms on sale. I picked up some Shitake, Wood Ear, Oyster and Porcini. I decided also to get some button mushrooms to add another layer of flavor. This recipe makes about a gallon of soup, I canned some and froze some it’s up to you.

    YOU WILL NEED:
    2 large shallots, finely diced, divided.
    2 oz each Dried Porcini, Shitake, Wood Ear and Oyster mushrooms.
    6 oz Dried Miatake mushrooms*.
    6 oz fresh button mushrooms.
    ¼ cup Port wine (separated).
    1 pint heavy cream or half and half.
    Olive Oil (enough to sauté mushrooms and shallots).
    Sea Salt, Pepper.

    PREPARATION:

    Put dried mushrooms in separate bowls, add enough warm water to cover them. Soak until they are pliable. Chop the Miatake into medium dice, they will be used as the base for the soup. In a large stock pot place chopped Miatake along with soaking liquid and enough warm water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the soaking liquid from the other mushrooms.

    Depending on the size of the button mushrooms cut in half or quarters. In a pan large enough to hold the mushrooms sauté half the shallots until translucent, add mushrooms and continue to cook until any water released has evaporated. Add half the port wine and set aside. The rest of the mushrooms do not let off a lot of liquid and usually to not shrink as much as the button so when you cut them take this into consideration. In a pan large enough to hold the balance of the mushrooms sauté the remaining shallot until translucent, add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until cooked through, add remaining port and set aside.

    Now we need to concentrate on the base stock. I’ve found that using a food processor doesn’t really do a good job in pureeing the mushroom stock. I use a blender for this step and do it in batches so as to insure that all of the base mushrooms are liquefied. Return the pureed stock to the stock pot and now is the time to season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream to the stock and stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer and add the balance of the mushrooms stirring to combine. Readjust seasoning if needed, I added a little more port at the end to finish.
    Enjoy!

    Wild Mushroom Soup

    This recipe is the result of a sad moment in Chicago Supermarket history. A stalwart in the industry, Dominick’s Finer Foods (that’s what it was called at one time) closing it’s stores and leaving the market. Started in the early 1900’s by Dominick DeMatteo the stores served our community offering quality product at a realistic price.

    My local store, as well as those in other areas, began selling their wares at deeply discounted prices. On a couple of my recent ventures to MY store I purchased dried Porcini, Oyster and Chanterelle mushrooms at a great price. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them until it came to mind that I hadn’t made a good soup in some time. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

    You will need:

    Dried Mushrooms — approx. 5 oz. I used an assortment as mentioned above.
    Sweet Onion — 1 medium size.
    Bacon — 3 slices.
    Beef Broth — 2 cups – I used low sodium Swanson or if you have it home made works great. For vegetarian use a good quality vegetable stock.
    Soy Sauce — 2 TBSP
    Heavy Cream (Optional) &#151

    Let’s start. In a 4 quart measuring cup add dried mushrooms and fill with warm water, let soak for approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into one inch or so pieces and place in a food processor, run until it is finely chopped. Heat a stock pot large enough to hold all of the elements and add the processed bacon. Cook slowly until all of the fat is rendered. While that is working slice the onion as thinly as you can and when the bacon is rendered add it to the pot. Cook slowly until the onion is a rich dark brown. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid, reserving liquid, and finely dice. Add mushrooms to the onion/bacon mixture. Sauté for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms dry a little then add the reserved liquid, be careful to pour it slowly from the measuring cup so that any dirt stays at the bottom, add the beef stock. Bring pot to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly and put into a food processor or blender (in batches) and process until you get a smooth, mixture. Check for the consistency, if it is too thick add more broth. You can turn this into a Cream of Mushroom by adding some heavy cream, just use enough to provide the taste and texture you desire. Enjoy!

    Gnocchi Marsala

    Sometimes things just pop into my head and sometimes something I’ve sampled brings a flood of ideas. This one is a combination of the two. At a demonstration one of the store managers cooked up a large dish of dumplings with mushroom sauce somewhat of a European entrée. I thought about making a similar item and came up with this offering.

    You will need:

    Gnocchi — 1 LB. — If you make your own that’s great however for those that either don’t have the time nor knack there are a few frozen varieties that can be purchased at most stores. If you can’t find frozen some manufacturers make a dried version.
    Mushrooms — 1 LB. — Use either button or crimini or a combination of the two.
    Marsala Wine — 1/4 cup (approx)
    Stock &#151 chicken, veal or vegetable depending on your personal taste, I wouldn’t use beef as it would overwhelm the mushroom/marsala taste.
    Heavy Cream — 1 cup (approx.) — if you want a lighter sauce you can use half and half or milk.
    Shallots — 1 TBSP finely diced.
    Butter/Olive Oil — 1 TBSP each

    Depending on which gnocchi you use timing here is flexible. You want the gnocchi to be ready just as you are about to finish the sauce which will take about 15 minutes or less to prepare.

    Clean the mushrooms of any excessive dirt and cut into pieces that are about the same size as the gnocchi. In a saucepan large enough to hold all of the mushrooms heat the oil and butter over medium/low heat, add the diced shallots and cook just until they turn a little translucent, don’t overcook them. At the mushroom pieces and cook until they give off most of their liquid, add the marsala wine and cook just long enough to burn off the alcohol. You want the sauce to be a little liquid so if it gets a little too dry add some of the stock. Turn off the heat and add the cream/milk stir to combine then add the cooked gnocchi. Enjoy!

    Baked Ditalini

    I had a half empty or is it half full box of ditalini sitting on the shelf where I keep all sorts of pasta extruded pastas. I decided to use it for dinner and went to the freezer where I knew I had left over sausage and mushroom ragu thinking to bake some sort of baked item and all I was missing was the cheese. I walked to my nearest grocer, not my favorite but didn’t feel like getting in the car for only a couple of items. They DO have a nice cheese department and decided to get some ricotta, parmesan, asiago and romano as all of them work well in baked goods.

    When I got home I realized that after opening the container I had purchased Ricotta con Latte instead of Ricotta. I had never used it but seeing the creaminess of the cheese I thought it would work. The end result came out pretty good and I think you and especially your kids will find it well worth the effort

    You will need:

    Ditalini &#151 1 pound
    Ricotta Con Latte — 1 16 oz container.
    Sausage/Mushroom Ragu — you can substitute 1 LB ground beef or pork and tomato sauce just sauté the meat and combine with the tomato sauce.

    Prepare the ditalini according to package instructions, strain but do not rinse. Return pot to heat and add the ragu or meat/tomato sauce mixture and heat until thoroughly warmed, remove from heat. Add the ricotta to the mixture and combine completely then add the pasta and combine thoroughly. Place mixture into a lightly oiled, oven proof baking dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes. I think you will enjoy the finished product.

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