Friday, September 20, 2013

Black Trumpet Recipe - Black Trumpet Choux Bombs

We attend several mycophagy potlucks in a year and often bring a dish that is made with foraged foods, since our mushroom education is still developing and I never felt confident enough to identify and cook mushrooms for people other than ourselves. After three years of study, identification and experimenting, we finally cooked with wild mushrooms for a group, starting with a crowd-pleaser, the black trumpet.

We had about two gallons of dried black trumpets (Craterellus fallax) left over from last season that I decided to try to work with for an upcoming potluck, and had just found a few handfuls of fresh black trumpets to use as well. I thought I might make some savory pâte à choux puffs flavored with dried trumpets, and fill them with a rich black trumpet cream cheese as an appetizer.  I powdered the dried trumpets in a small coffee grinder, grinding some to a coarser grind, like cracked black pepper and some to a fine powder. I used the fresh, lightly sauteed trumpets in the cream cheese filling. I filled the puffs right before service so they wouldn't get too soft. This recipe makes about 36-48 puffs, depending on the size of the scoop, I used a 1 tsp. scoop, or you could use a piping bag to shape the puffs before baking. Making the choux puffs might sound wordy and complicated, but it is not too hard.

Black Trumpet Choux Bombs                      Makes about 36-48

1 c. flour
1 c. water
3/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp powdered black trumpets
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped dried black trumpets

1. Heat the oven to 425º F. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large sautee pan, bring the water, salt and butter to a boil. Quickly stir in all the flour at once to make a paste, and cook until the mixture over medium heat until it pulls away from the sides of the pan and is dry. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
3. With the mixer running on low, add the powdered and coarsely powdered trumpets. Continue to mix for a few minutes to cool the mix.
4. Start adding the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape the sides of the bowl often. You'll end up with a thick paste that can be scooped or piped with a pastry bag into small balls on the sheet pan. They will puff up a bit, so leave about 1" between each puff.
5. Bake at 425º F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º F and bake an additional 20-25 minutes until the puffs are dry on the inside. After they are removed from the oven, poke a small hole in each to allow the steam to escape. Each puff should bake up mostly hollow, a perfect place to add a filling.

Black Trumpet Cream Cheese

8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
2 c. fresh black trumpets, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped scallions or chives
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1. Quickly sautee the chopped fresh black trumpets in a little bit of olive oil, just until they are soft.
2. Mix the cooled cooked trumpets into the cream cheese along with the scallions, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings.
3. Using a piping bag, pipe the soft cream cheese filling into the cooled puffs. You could also cut the puffs open and spoon in the filling. Serve soon after filling.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chaga Recipe: Chaga Frappé Recipe

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is another one of the supposed superfoods and miracle-producing natural remedies that the internet just seems to love. There are hundreds of sites extolling the virtues, sharing the lore, making miraculous claims, and selling chaga in multiple forms to anyone seeking it out. We are fortunate to find it quite often on yellow and white birch in Connecticut, and I have a bucket filled with the corky conks in the pantry, just waiting to be brewed up into tea, tinctured in vodka, and experimented with. I am not going to get into the medicinal and health claims of consuming chaga, but I will share a yummy recipe that we take out to mycological society potlucks, and I can tell you we always come home with empty bottles.

This recipe is made vegan, for no other reason than we like the flavor of the coconut milk. Real dairy tends to curdle in the chaga tea, but we will top it with a bit of whipped cream for extra richness. The amounts of sweetener can be adjusted for taste, and in the early spring when we are tapping the trees, Robert will boil the decoction of chaga in maple sap and not add any sweetener at all, since the maple sap reduces into a light syrup on its own. The amount of coconut milk can also be adjusted for taste and richness, and be sure to look for preservative-free cocnut milk in the can, otherwise it will curdle too. We use roughly ground chaga for this recipe, and Robert accomplishes that by sawing the chaga with a serrated bread knife.

Chaga Frappé  makes about 7 cups

6 c. water
3 Tbsp. ground chaga
1 ¼ c. maple syrup
1 c. canned coconut milk

1. Make the chaga decoction by simmering the chaga in the water for 45 minutes. Cool for about 30 minutes and strain out the ground chaga using a coffee filter.
2. Whisk in the maple syrup.
3. In 2 batches, use a blender to blend the coconut milk into the chaga decoction for about 30 seconds. Taste and adjust sweetness or the coconut milk. You can serve it chilled or slightly warmed. Store the frappé in the refrigerator, you may need to give it a vigorous shake to homogenize it before serving.

Chaga conk on yellow birch

The ground chaga can be boiled several times. Use the same grounds and add them to 6c. of fresh water, and boil for 45 minutes again. Here is a pic of the same grounds being boiled 6 times, each time in 6 c. of fresh water.