New York City mushroom hunting and recipe tips.
This summer many of my friends in Sweden bragged about the number of baskets of yellow chanterelles they carried home from the woods. I came home with none. But I smiled along and remembered last year, when I couldn’t carry home all the King Boleteus I stumbled over in the woods. I still have plenty left, dried in big glass jars in my pantry.
But, I got to pick other treasures such as Black Trumpets and Funnel Chanterelles (or Yellow Foot) which are both equally delicious. These two tiny mushrooms can be tough to find as their dark hats makes them almost invisible among the leaves on the forest floor. I like them especially as they are excellent mushrooms to dry and easy for me to bring home to New York. The taste gets stronger when dried so just a few can spice up a sauce or soup for a number of Autumn and Winter treats. They are also excellent with pasta, mushroom pies or as below, a creamy topping on bread. According to my sister, Funnel Chanterelles are the best mushroom for risotto.
Unfortunately I’m not a great mushroom hunter in and around New York City ad I have no excuse as I’ve heard there are plenty of them in many parks within the city. Black Trumpets were recently spotted in the Bronx! However most of the mushrooms around the city are new species to me and regardless of the fact I’ve picked mushrooms for a long time, I never pick and eat any mushroom I don’t know.
It can take hours to clean mushrooms depending on how lucky your hunt has been. Both Black Trumpets and Funnel Chanterelles are quite easy to clean using a soft brush. Tear the mushroom apart and make sure there is no dirt in the hollow funnel (worms and other creatures can be hiding there). Spread out the mushrooms you are not planing to eat immediately on a baking sheet. Let them dry for several days. A quicker way is to dry them on low heat (max 50°C, 120°F) in a convection oven (keep the oven door open ½” so the moisture can escape). With either method you will have an insane smell of mushrooms at home. The mushrooms will have to be totally dry before storing in glass jars.
My favorite treat after a successful mushroom hunt is to make myself a buttery mushroom toast. I start by cooking most fresh mushrooms in a completely dry pan as I want all the water that’s in the mushrooms to dissolve before adding plenty of butter then I cook a little bit more and season with salt, black pepper and thyme. Simple as that.
Toast of Trumpets
(an appetizer for two)
about ½ -1 cup dried Black Trumpets (or Funnel Chanterelles)*
½ cup or more white wine (for example, a dry Riesling)
salt and pepper
about 5-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
about ½ cup cream
a small handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
freshly grated parmesan
sliced baguette, toasted
Soak the dried mushrooms in just enough white wine to cover all the mushrooms for at least 30 minutes until soft.
In the meantime, chop the shallot into tiny pieces. Sauté on very low heat with plenty of butter until soft and golden.
Drain the mushrooms and reserve the wine for later. Heat up a dry pan, set the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. If the soaked mushrooms get stuck on the pan, add some of the soaking water, in this case the soaking wine. When the water is gone add a big lump of butter to the pan. Add thyme and sauté the mushrooms until they start to get some color (can be hard to see with black mushrooms). Raise the heat and add the shallots and the rest of the soaking wine. Let simmer and reduce to about half. Add cream and season with salt and pepper.
When the cream has thickened divide it equally over the toast. Top with toasted walnuts and freshly grated parmesan. Serve this Trumpet Toast with a simple tomato salad. Enjoy!
If using fresh mushrooms you should skip the soaking part and only add the wine at the end.
* if you are not able to pick Black Trumpets or Funnel Chanterelles yourself, you can find them dried in well-stocked food shops. There are also plenty of online shops that sell them. Other dried mushrooms such as King Bolete work mighty fine as well.
Illustration by Johanna Kindvall