Monday, August 29, 2016

Mushroom Recipe - Alboater Palmiers

Every summer is a different story for us when it comes to foraging wild foods or collecting fungi. We can try to be in the right forest at the right time, but still go home empty handed. It had been a terribly dry June and July, but a few very spotty rains have perked up the mycelium in a few isolated locations, bringing forth some magnificent flushes of edible and non-edible boletes.

Boletes have a standard cap and stem appearance of a mushroom, but instead of gills on the underside of the cap, there are elongated tubes that can look like a sponge. Boletes come in assorted statures, colors, textures, and can taste fantastically nutty, meaty, cheesy, or are inedible and bitter. Some species have bizarre staining reactions to being cut as well as chemical reactions to the reagent that Robert uses to test them for identification purposes. Bolete identification can be a study in frustration for some, but Robert loves the challenge.

photo by Beth Karwowski
The black velvet bolete (Tylopilus alboater) is one we don't often find in large quantities, and it is one of the few non-bitter Tylopilus. While out this past weekend with friends, we found more than three dozen of them, some incredibly large, most bug-free. The cap and stem appear to be very dark brown or black, lightening with age and sun exposure, and the pore surface starts out white and ages to brownish-pink. They will stain black when cut, and stain your fingers black when handled. Black velvet boletes are very firm and heavy mushrooms when young when the tubes are still shallow, and can be excellent edibles. 

Since Tylopilus alboaters cook up black, I decided to use that characteristic in a black and white palmier cracker. This could be used for any bolete really; we might try it again with Baorangia bicolor which might exhibit a more orange-colored filling.

Black Velvet Bolete Palmiers                yield: 48 palmiers

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold
flour for dusting
3 Tbsp. oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
12 oz. roughly chopped Tylopilus alboaters, or any other firm Boletes, tubes removed if too large
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
non-stick spray oil or melted butter
Kosher salt or large flaked salt for sprinkling

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook the garlic, shallots, and chopped boletes for 15 minutes, stirring often, until soft.
2. Add the dry white wine, water, thyme, and bay leaves, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
3. Place the cooked boletes in the bowl of a food processor, and add the salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Panko crumbs, and pulse until blended. Puree for about 1 minute, there will still be visible grains. Allow this filling to cool to room temperature; it will thicken considerably.
4. Roll one of the sheets of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is 9" x 15". Spread half of the bolete filling on the puff pastry all the way to the edges. Starting on one of the longer edges, roll up the puff pastry tightly, stopping at the halfway point. Turn the puff pastry around and roll up the other long side until it meets in the middle with the first rolled edge. Wet your finger, and rub it between the two rolls, pressing them together to stick.
5. Flip the rolled puff pastry over so that the rolled edges are on the bottom, and gently squeeze and stretch the log until it is 18" long. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and remaining filling. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for one hour. At this point, the logs can be stored frozen for 6 months, and allowed to thaw slightly before slicing and baking.
6. Heat oven to 400ยบ F. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove the puff pastry log from the freezer and using a thin, sharp knife, cut off 1/4" slices. Place them about an inch apart and either spray with cooking oil or lightly brush with melted butter, and sprinkle on some Kosher salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Cool and store in a dry place.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Program Dates, August through October

Holy cow, where did July go? Summer vacation is half over, and the first day of school is less than a month away! We have programs coming up, and add more occasionally. The best place to see our events listings is on our Facebook page, . Most programs will include a PowerPoint with original photographs, educational handouts, and Nature Center locations include outdoor interactive walks. We will have copies of our newly released book, Adventures in Edible Plant Foraging: Finding, Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Native and Invasive Wild Plants, available for purchase.   

We still have many Saturdays in the autumn, or weeknights available for programs for YOUR organization, nature center, land trust, or library in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or southern Massachusetts. Contact us directly at


 August 13, 10am- 1pm, Mushroom Identification for Beginners, Flanders Nature Center, Woodbury, CT. Contact Flanders to register, 203-263-3711, cost: $10 members, $15 non-members

August 27, 10am-1pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Goodwin State Forest, Hampton, CT. Contact Goodwin to register, 860-455-9534

September 3, 1pm-4pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Bushy Hill Nature Center, Depp River, CT. Contact Bushy Hill to register, 860-767-2148 x604, cost: suggested donation $5

September 10, 1 pm-4pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Pratt Nature Center, New Milford, CT. Contact Pratt to register, 860-355-3137, cost: $5

September 18, 1 pm-3pm, Mushroom Walk, Friends of Hopkinton Land Trust, Hope Valley, RI. Contact Hopkinton Land Trust to register, space is limited, 602-730-7263

September 21, 6:30pm-8pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Farmington Library, Farmington, CT. Contact Farmington Library to register, 860-673-6791

September 26, 6pm-7pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, Harmony Central Library, Glocester, RI. Contact Harmony Library to register, 401-949-2850

October 1, 1pm-4pm, Edible Plants and Fungi of Autumn, The Sanctuary Land Trust, East Haddam, CT. Contact The Sanctuary to register, 860-319-134, cost: donation

October 15, 10am-1pm, Mushroom Identification for Beginners, Northwest Park, Windsor, CT. Contact Northwest Park to register, 860-285-1886, space is limited