Delicately Addictive Marinated Mushrooms

[Enjoy New Pi Customer Service Coordinator Genie Maybanks's guest post on our beautiful local mushrooms, which you'll see more of - and a presentation of this recipe - in your May/June Catalyst! --Allison]

Jacques's Marinated Mushrooms New Pi Eats

Oyster and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Preparing to Marinate

I was doing researching for a story about morel mushrooms for a piece we did in the Catalyst a few years back, and I learned that someone claimed they had figured out how to domesticate the wild morel.  There is, apparently, such a thing as a morel mushroom growing kit! For a mushroom lover like me, that is amazing news.

Mushroom Mills Oyster Mushrooms New Pi Eats

Oyster Mushrooms growing at Mushroom Mills in Columbus Junction

My dad loves to garden, he loves to cook, and he too loves morels.  He also has a big aversion to special gizmos and prefers to stick to the basics—a sharp knife, a cutting board, a small shovel… Really, he already has just about everything garden-kitchen-gizmo that he wants. So, birthday gifts can be a real challenge.

I set out to buy him one of these new-fangled morel kits.  It seemed to me to be the perfect fit of gift, but it turns out that most of these morel mushroom kits are not actually guaranteed to produce.  It can take years for them to mature, and even more daunting, they are very complicated to site.  In learning about these morel kits, I learned that the world is full of other edible mushroom varieties, and there are numerous, much more fool-proof kits available!

I found kits that were so kid-friendly, that you were supposed to be able to take a toilet paper roll, dip it in water, sprinkle it with spores, and leave it on your table for a week or two before, voila, mushrooms!  (That didn’t seem appetizing to me.) Other kits required tree stumps be drilled with 1 inch holes, the spores needed to be inserted and the plugs replaced. (Pretty complicated.) There was absolutely every level of difficulty out there.  But, one variety, one kit, really caught my eye.  It was something called a “lion’s mane” or “hedgehog” mushroom, so named for the tooth-like, hair-like fringes that cascade out of the mushroom ball. I sent my dad a kit.

Mushroom Mills lion's mane mushrooms New Pi Eats

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, which show promise in treating neurodegenerative diseases, Mushroom Mills

I’ll be darned if these beautiful white balls didn’t quickly begin to spring from the pre-inoculated sawdust-filled logs. They were soft, like a funny spongy ball covered in silky hairs. There really weren’t many recipes online, and no one I knew had ever seen one at that point, let alone cooked one.  So, we rolled with the tried-and-true morel-handling recipe: Lots of butter!  We sliced it thinly, dredged it in flour, and browned the slices on each side.  They are very delicate little creatures, so stirring was a no-no. Simple!

It does taste reminiscent of lobster or crab. A taste all its own! Vegetarian crab meat, golden brown, dripping in butter…

Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills New Pi Eats

Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills prepares straw for oyster mushroom innoculation

Turns out, lion’s mane mushrooms are being studied for their rumored abilities to boost the immune system, ease arthritis, lessen inflammation, improve digestion, and even increase memory potential by stimulating nerve growth in the brain!  Some studies even demonstrate positive signs for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who consume the mushroom.

So, whether you’re brave enough to dive in and try growing your own or not, give this unique fungus a try.  Your Co-op now carries them in our produce department, from Todd Mills of Mushroom Mills, who harvests them at his farm in Columbus Junction. He brings them to us fresh weekly, and will also have a stand at the Downtown Iowa City and Cedar Rapids Farmer’s Markets, where he’ll have kits available!


Marinated Mushrooms

Delicate, refined, and addictive! – Allison

Recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin

“These will keep for a couple of weeks in a jar in the refrigerator. In fact, the flavor improves after a few days.” – Jacques Pepin

serves 8 as an hors d’oeuvre

1 ½ lbs. mixed unusual mushrooms (wiped with a damp cloth if needed – do not wash)
3 med. onions (about 12 oz.), quartered, layers separated
3 bay leaves
½ t. crushed thyme leaves (fresh preferred)
1 t. salt
2 t. black peppercorns
½ t. coriander seeds, crushed
1 c. dry white wine
1/3 c. olive oil
3 T. fresh lemon juice

serve on toasts or in small lettuce, endive, or radicchio leaves

Quarter large mushrooms and halve medium mushrooms (easy bite size). Combine with all the ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil, covered, 6-8 min. Transfer to an earthenware or glass container and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.

Extra Extra… Eggs!

They’re, quite likely, hanging out in your fridge right now. Their limelight’s passed, but they’re still full of protein and deliciousness, if you can get past the (quite possibly) hints of colorful dyes alluding to the fun they’ve been party to!

Jen's Deviled Eggs New Pi Eats

This recipe from New Pi Marketing Manager Jen Angerer – her take on her mother’s deviled eggs – gets a special zing from green or kalamata olives, setting them apart from the usual deviled egg crowd.

To dress these eggs up for their next party, pipe the yolk filling into the whites with a pastry bag, or simply a ziploc plastic bag with a corner snipped off.


TIP: If you’d like your deviled eggs to stay sunny-side-up, trim a sliver from each round bottom-to-be of the white halves to make a flat surface.


Finally – full of tips today – if you’re not starting with already boiled eggs, try this Alton Brown baking method I just learned about from Midwest Living Magazine‘s food editor, Hannah Agran!

Deviled Eggs with Olives

Recipe by Jen Angerer, New Pi Marketing Manager

If your party is outdoors, place your plate of eggs on a bed of ice just in case, but they probably won’t last long enough to spoil!

1 dozen eggs
7-10 olives, chopped (kalamata or green are Jen’s favorites)
2 t. olive juice or vinegar
1 t. spicy brown mustard
½ c. mayonnaise
to taste: dash of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper
optional: parsley, green onion, and/or paprika to garnish

Boil eggs (or try this Alton Brown baking method!) and cool. Peel, slice in half lengthwise, and remove yolks. Set whites aside.

In a mixing bowl, mash egg yolks, and add all ingredients but olives. Mix until smooth, then mix in olives. If too dry, add mayo and olive juice or vinegar.

With a pastry bag (for slick-looking eggs), fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture.

Garnish with parsley, green onion, or paprika.

Throwback Thursday: Alicia’s Sunflower Sprout Salad

Moments ago: a dark thunderstorm – like a spring thunderstorm – plus hail. Within minutes? Gorgeous sunshine. Gosh, Iowa’s got the most fascinating weather. At the end of February, this little taste of spring is making me hungry.

Mostly, it’s bringing on a craving for more green in my life. Yet, really now, it’s way too early for that in Iowa. It’s time to start things like onion and leek transplants (like some good friends have growing in their window right now, but I can’t claim to be on it myself this year) and start revving our engines to start the rest of our transplants in March, in preparation for this year’s gardens… but our growing season is still a few months off.

LUCKILY for us, our local growers are on the job, with lettuces from Rolling Hills Greenhouse in West Union, Iowa, and local sprouts from Organic Greens in Kalona, Iowa, on our shelves. Thank goodness for sprightly spring sprouts. Whew - that’s a lot of s’s… this little bit of spring is going to my head.

Organic Greens Sprouts

So what makes this ‘Throwback Thursday’? Well, we just re-discovered our archive of recipes, and it really wouldn’t be co-operative of us to keep them to ourselves. (Isn’t that what February is for? To give us enough time indoors that we can’t help but rediscover _____ ? What [fill in the blank] have you rediscovered this February?) 

This rejuvenating recipe from the Spring 2011 Catalyst is perfect to start up our Throwback Thursday series. On a personal note, it happens to be the first Catalyst issue I had the pleasure of editing. Start the reel and read all about our good friends – and great growers – at Organic Greens, where:

“Paying attention to the health of the environment, the seeds, and the soil creates healthy roots, which produce healthy shoots – organic works.”

Meet owner James Nisly of Organic Greens and hear his vision for feeding our community in the Spring 2011 Catalyst on page 8 here.

Alicia’s Sunflower Sprout Salad

Alicia Diehl, Organic Greens Marketing Coordinator and New Pi Member

sweet potatoes, cubed and roasted (I bet winter squash would also be nice)
local Organic Greens sunflower sprouts or mixed sprouts (their combination includes radish, red cabbage, snow pea, & sunflower sprouts)
red onion, thinly sliced
local Maytag Blue Cheese, crumbled

Maple-balsamic Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
3-4 T. maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it - Alicia usually uses 4 T.)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Assemble or toss salad ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients by whisking or shaking in a tightly-lidded jar. Dress the salad to your liking and enjoy!

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