Welcome to the next article in our series Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor. At first we were a little concerned about the length of the posts as they including both the health benefits and some delicious recipes from Carol.. but apparently it is not a problem.
We do suggest however, that you bookmark and then read when you can put your feet up and read with a cup of tea, or even better a glass of wine. Our aim is to elevate everyday food to not just culinary delights but also to share why that food is so healthy for us to eat in our regular diet.
First.. why are mushroom so good for us?
According to the ancient Egyptians, over 4,000 years ago, eating mushrooms granted you immortality. The pharaohs even went as far as to ban commoners from eating these delicious fungi but it was probably more to guarantee that they received an ample supply. Mushrooms have played a large role in the diet of many cultures and there is evidence that 3,000 years ago certain varieties of mushrooms were used in Chinese medicine and they still play a huge role in Chinese cuisine today.
There are an estimated 20,000 varieties of mushrooms growing around the modern world, with around 2,000 being edible. Of these, over 250 types of mushroom have been recognised as being medically active or therapeutic.
More and more research is indicating that certain varieties have the overwhelming potential to cure cancer and AIDS and in Japan some of the extracts from mushrooms are already being used in mainstream medicine.
Apart from their medicinal properties, mushrooms are first and foremost an excellent food source. They are low in calories, high in B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc – and supply us with protein and fibre. They are versatile and they are easy to cook and blend with other ingredients on a daily basis. For vegetarians they provide not only protein but also the daily recommended amount of B12 a vitamin often lacking in a non-meat diet.
MUSHROOMS IN GENERAL.
The most common mushrooms that you are likely to use in cookery are white button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. They may not be as exotic as some of the oriental varieties but they still hold many health benefits. They are not only low in calories and fat, and therefore great if you are trying to lose weight, but they will also provide you with plenty of fibre. Even the little white mushrooms contain B vitamins, potassium and selenium and there are some interesting studies being conducted at the moment into some very important medicinal applications.
One area of research is into the phytochemical action that suppresses two enzymes, aromatase and steroid 5alpha-reductase. Aromatase converts the hormone androgen into oestrogen, an excess of which can promote the development of breast cancer. Steroid 5alpha-reductase has the same effect on testosterone, converting it to dihydrotestosterone, which has been shown to be involved in the development of prostate cancer. In the laboratory a team led by a Dr. Chen discovered that the mushroom extract suppressed the growth of both these cells.
Another property in mushrooms that is potentially very interesting is the amount of the antioxidant ergothioneine compared to the amounts in other foods such as wheatgerm and chicken livers. In fact, mushrooms can have up to 12 times as much – which means that a small serving of 5oz could provide excellent protection against oxidative damage throughout the body.
Until recently it was difficult to find some of the traditional medical mushrooms outside of specialist shops but supermarkets have begun to carry Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms. They can be a little more expensive but their benefits far outweigh the cost.
Shiitake mushrooms range in colour from tan to dark brown and they have broad, umbrella shaped, caps. They feel soft and spongy when raw but when cooked they are rich tasting and meaty in texture. They are ideal as an alternative to red meat in pasta dishes as you can chop them finely and cook with a little olive oil in exactly the same way.
Shiitake’s main benefit is the ability to lower LDL cholesterol. There is a specific amino acid in the mushroom, which helps speed up the processing of cholesterol in the liver resulting in lower levels in the blood and therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.
In 1969 Japanese scientists isolated a polysaccharide (sugar) compound from Shiitake they called Lentinan. It appears that this substance stimulates the immune system cells to rid the body of tumour cells resulting in either a reduction in size or complete removal of cancerous growths. In Japan the Federal Drug Agency has licensed Lentinan as an anti-cancer drug and there is on-going research into the effect of Shiitake mushrooms and AIDS.
The Maitake mushroom is found in clusters of dark fronds, which are firm but supple at the base. They have a distinctive aroma and taste rich and earthy. They are great in any dish where you use mushrooms but are wonderful in a homemade stroganoff sauce served with brown rice.
They are also known as the “hen of the woods” possibly because of their shape. As with the Shiitake this mushroom has a compound that inhibits the growth of cancer cells by stimulating the immune system and in addition they have been found to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels but this has not been proven in humans as yet.
Another area of research is diabetes and it is thought that Maitake mushrooms may have a blood sugar balancing action that may reduce the need for insulin.
Mushrooms, as with most fruit and vegetables, hold some interesting and potentially lifesaving properties as well as nutritional benefits.
SELECTING AND STORING MUSHROOMS
Button mushrooms should be white, plump and clean. Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms tend to be brown and slightly wrinkled but they should not have any damp, slimy spots. Keep mushrooms in a loose paper bag in the refrigerator for about a week and store dried mushrooms in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for six months.
Use a damp cloth to clean and then either slice or chop finely and add to your favourite recipes. They are great in stir-fry vegetable dishes, soups and stews and cooked gently in a little olive oil they make a great accompaniment for steak and poultry.
One word of warning: Naturally occurring Purine in mushrooms causes an increase in the amount of uric acid in the blood. This can lead to the formation of kidney stones and also the crystals that collect in joints in the toes that result in gout. If you suffer from kidney problems or gout I suggest that you limit your intake of mushrooms to once a week. If you still experience problems then you should avoid these and other Purine-rich foods altogether.
Candida: As a yeast overgrowth it was assumed that eating fungus such as mushrooms should be avoided. However, recent research has found that it is sugars that are the problem.
Now time to hand over to Carol Taylor who has been slaving away all week in the kitchen to prepare these recipes to showcase these little bundles of goodness.
The mushroom is such a versatile little vegetable there are your common garden variety that you see in every supermarket or market and then the exotic looking ones and it is can be found paired with beef or chicken in a pie, beef and mushrooms or onions is a favourite Chinese dish for many. Mushroom stroganoff is another way to use the mushroom and I am sure the breaded mushroom is still a favourite starter for many.
The King Oyster mushroom is very nice cut and layered with bacon on a skewer, brushed with some teriyaki sauce and cooked on the BBQ…..It is a lovely meaty mushroom which I use a lot here as it is freely available and it stores well.
Sliced and cooked with butter and garlic, eaten with some freshly made sour dough bread to mop up the juices it is a lovely thing.
There are some 20,000 varieties of mushrooms and Sally tells me some 2,000 of them are edible…That is an awful lot which are not. Thais do a lot of foraging and I have seen many weird and wonderful mushrooms available on the local markets but I stick to what I know as there are also a few deaths here every year from eating the wrong mushrooms so if you do forage please, please make sure you properly identify any mushrooms you find…before you eat them…
No desserts again this week as I think a mushroom is preferable in a savoury dish unless it is (and I haven’t) had them for years those sweet coconut mushrooms I used to love them…But sadly not available here…
Firstly I have one of my favourite Thai soups which is also probably known throughout the world…Tom Yum…
Tom Yum Soup with Prawns (Tom Yum Goong)
This is one of my favourite Thai soups and the first time I made it from scratch I questioned the colour as in many restaurants it is a bright orange colour. It is because a Tom Yum paste or stock cube is used…This one is made from scratch it also doesn’t have that sharp taste but is more mellow and I think more pleasant.
- 2 litres of water
- 4 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 inch chunk of galangal
- 10 kaffir lime leaves
- 10 Thai chillies
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 500gm Prawns
- 300 grams of oyster mushrooms
- 2 medium tomatoes cut into quarters.
- 2 white onions (medium-sized) cut into large chunks.
- 1 and half teaspoons of sugar
- 7 – 10 tablespoons of fish sauce (depending on your taste)
- Juice of 5 -8 limes.
- Handful of cilantro ( Coriander)
N.B Next time I will use shallots instead of white onions and I recommend using lowest amount of limes and fish sauce and Taste! Adjust if necessary as everyone’s taste varies.
First thing to do is put about 2 litres of water in a large pot to boil. Then I like to start by squeezing my limes. This is not the first step of the recipe, but it’s best to have your limes squeezed so when you need them later, you don’t need to rush to squeeze them all.
Take your stalks of lemongrass, and first tear off the outermost leaf and throw it out. Then, I like to use a rolling-pin or the handle end of a knife to lightly pound the lemongrass to release the flavours. Then just slice it diagonally into 1 inch strips or so.
Take about 1 thumb sized chunk of the root part of galangal, and chop it into slices.
Coarsely break about 10 kaffir lime leaves – no need to cut them, just tear them – which is going to help release their flavour.
Peel about 5 cloves of garlic.
I used about 10 Thai bird chilli for this recipe, but you can use however many you like. First, take off the stem, and then you can either just slice them in two pieces, or give them a little pound on your cutting board like I did (just be careful of flying seeds). You can also remove the seeds if you’d still like the chilli flavour but not as much heat.
Throw the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and chillies into the water.
You can put the lid on just so it starts to boil which releases the herb flavours quicker.
Now prepare your prawns I remove everything except for the tail…..others put in whole prawns…personal preference.
Boil your soup with all the herbs in it for about 10 minutes.
Then add your mushrooms, which you should pre rinse beforehand.
Cook for 4-5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and onions.
Cook for further 6-8 minutes.
Now add prepared prawns and cook for 2-3 mins max (if overcooked the prawns will sink to the bottom of the pan. If you get any scum on the surface of soup it’s from the prawns then just skim off with a spoon.
Remove from heat and stir in fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and cilantro.
Taste and adjust if necessary.
This delicious soup is now ready to serve.
The other Tom Yum soup which is popular here is Tom Yum Gai (Chicken) which uses chicken instead of prawns and adds coconut milk.
I think one of the biggest mushrooms I have eaten is a stuffed Portobello mushroom which stuffed is a meal in itself.
Just take the caps and put gills up in an oven proof dish and pop in a pre-heated oven on 450F and roast them for about 20 minutes or until just tender. Mix some breadcrumbs with some parmesan cheese, season with salt and cracked black pepper then mix in a little chopped parsley and a little ½-1 tbsp olive oil then put on top of the mushroom gills and put back in the oven for 5 mines until the top is a little crispy and golden.
- A cup of shelled walnuts
- Half a cup of minced shallots
- ¼ lb shitake mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ lb Crimini mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ lb Portobello mushrooms chopped
- 1 tbsp of roasted garlic puree
- ¼ cup Italian parsley
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper to season
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat your oven to 350F, 175C
Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven until lightly brown. Take out and set to one side.
In a large pan melt the butter and add the shallots, cook until translucent then add the mushrooms, garlic, parsley, thyme , salt and pepper, cook, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Next blend the walnuts and oil together until they form a thick paste, add the mushroom mix and blend until it reaches your desired consistency…some like a coarser pate than others.
Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Put in small ramekins or one large dish. Cover with cling film and chill for a few hours or overnight before serving.
Mushrooms on Toast:
Ingredients to serve 2 people.
- 2 slices of sour dough bread or bread of your choice. Toasted.
- 170 gm of mixed mushrooms
- 1=2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp crème fraiche
- 2 slices of bacon or prosciutto
- Few sprigs of Parsley, chopped for dish and to garnish
- Knob of butter
Fry your bacon or prosciutto and set to one side. Cut into pieces.
Add the butter to a pan then add mushrooms cook for 2 minutes, add crushed garlic and crème fraiche cook for 3-5 mins and stir in some chopped parsley.
Pile mushrooms on top of toast and garnish with bacon and some parsley.
If you are feeling really peckish then top with a poached egg.
Mushrooms also go well in a cream or tomato sauce over pasta or in a lovely mushroom risotto. As I said before they lend themselves to so many savoury dishes and cream of mushroom soup is very nice…One of my grandsons favourites.
Now for a taste of Italy some wonderful home pickled mushrooms.
- 3⁄4cup lemon juice
- 6 cups water
- 8 cups small mushrooms, cleaned
- 2teaspoons dried oregano or 4 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 2tsp dried basil or 4 tsp chopped fresh basil
- 8 small bay leaves
- 8 cloves garlic
- 6 cups red wine vinegar or 6 cups white wine vinegar
Combine lemon juice and water in a large pot.
Add mushrooms and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Drain off liquid.
Place herbs and mushrooms, garlic and bay in clean hot jars.
Bring vinegar to a boil and pour over mushrooms leaving 1/2 inch head space.
Seal and process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Rich Mushroom Ragout:
Lastly I have a recipe for a lovely rich mushroom ragout which even the hardened meat lovers including my hubbie grudgingly has to admit it is ok…..I think it is because he thinks if he says it is really nice I may serve him more veggie dishes and he is a die hard
This dish can be served with lovely mashed potato or some beautiful buttered new potatoes or with rice…I had to add that as I am a rice lover…
- 200 gm shitake mushrooms halved
- 200 gm chestnut mushrooms halved
- 3 large field mushrooms quartered
- 70 cl bottle of full bodied red wine
- 600ml fresh vegetable stock or you can use stock cubes
- 3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 450 gm baby carrots, cleaned and trimmed
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 300 gm baby onions or small shallots
- 140 gm fine green beans topped and tailed
- 4 skinned, deseeded tomatoes quartered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Flat leaf parsley to garnish
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and add the baby onion and the mushrooms cook over a high heat stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes…Remove from pan and set to one side.
Add wine, garlic, bay leaves and thyme to the pan, bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced by half. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan add the carrots, tomato puree and the stock and bring back to the boil then simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the carrots are just tender.
Blend the corn flour to a paste with a tbsp of cold water and mix until smooth then stir into the casserole. Bring to a rolling boil and stir until thickened. Season to taste (remove bay leaves and thyme) add the green beans and tomatoes to the pan, cover the pan and reduce to a simmer, cook for a further 15 minutes. Sprinkle over chopped parsley before serving.
Serve with potatoes or rice.
Again many thanks to Sally for letting me collaborate with her and add my recipes to her Health Benefits of eating mushrooms.
And my thanks to Carol for showing us how we can include simple vegetables, such as mushrooms into our daily diets so deliciously.
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Connect to Carol
Please feel free to share thanks Sally
If you have missed previous posts you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/