There’s been quite a bit of buzz in our local food community about Whispering Creek Mushroom Farm. We’ve had limited access to exotic mushrooms, locally raised. Now and then, a few farms devoted primarily to raising vegetables have inoculated logs with shiitake mushroom spores, and sold the tasty results at the market. Even rarer, friends have foraged and found chanterelles they’ve been willing to share.
Now, we have great and frequent options.
Whispering Creek is our first Mushroom Only farm, located in Gallatin Tennessee, just north of Nashville. Back in the fall, I learned about their project. Over the winter, they began selling their goods to area chefs. Now, they are ramped up enough to sell to the public.
For the past two weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to buy their gorgeous Oyster Mushrooms through our Fresh Harvest Co-op.
Don’t these look amazing? Within the oyster mushroom family, Pleutorus ostreatus, there are many members–Blue, Golden, Phoenix, Italian, Pearl…
Each cluster is like a little village, with its own personality.
The elongated scallop shape of its cap, rather than its taste, gives the oyster mushroom its name. Although, preparing in butter with a little lemon and wine, releases a sweet, subtle anise essence and silkiness that you associate with the bivalve.
Most of the mushroom is edible, and I like to tear it into pieces, rather than use a knife. The woody bits can be made into a stock.
I should note that oyster mushrooms are packed with nutrients: zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, folic acid, Vitamins B-1, B-2, C, and niacin.
Plus ergothioneine, a unique immune-boosting antioxidant.
There are so many good ways to showcase these beauties–in a risotto, entwined in ribbon pasta, scrambled into eggs, or sauteed and piled onto buttery toast. These mushrooms like stocks, fortified wines, and dairy. It’s an easy temptation to give over to dousing them in a pan of heavy cream.
For our Sunday brunch, I decided they’d be perfect cooked then rolled into a crepe.
I sauteed our oyster ‘shrooms in butter, with some green onions, lemon zest, Marsala, and thyme. In the end, I tossed in a few knobs of cream cheese–a small but concentrated amount of dairy. It was just enough to melt into the mass and give it more body.
I resisted the temptation to make a sauce to top them. The mushroom saute was rich enough. In fact, it was hard not to grab a fork and just eat them out of the skillet!
Instead, I braised an array of greens, as a bed or base for the filled crepe. That slight bitterness brought balance, and another healthful element.
OYSTER MUSHROOMS IN BUTTER, LEMON, AND MARSALA
1/2 lb. Oyster Mushrooms, brushed clean and torn (or sliced into chunky pieces)
3 Green Onions, sliced
3 T. Butter
1 T. Lemon Zest
Juice of one Lemon
1/2 cup Marsala wine (cooking wine or sherry is acceptable)
1 T. fresh Thyme leaves
2-3 T. Cream Cheese
Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Add mushrooms and green onions. Saute for 5 minutes–mushrooms will soften and brown on the edges. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
Season with salt and black pepper. Pour in marsala wine and stir well. Mixture will reduce. Sprinkle in fresh thyme leaves. Add the cream cheese, in small knobs, into the mixture. Stir and fold, so that the cream cheese melts away into a creamy mushroomy mass. Add more marsala, or water, if mixture gets too thick.
Remove from heat.
SAVORY CREPE MIXTURE
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
3 T. Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 c. Milk
1 t. Salt
1 T. Butter–to grease the skillet
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, or immersion blender container, and blend very well, for 3-5 minutes. The mixture will seem like cream. Cover and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes–although you can make this batter a day in advance.
Heat your skillet–a 6″ sized pan is ideal. Brush with butter. Ladle a small quantity-3 Tablespoons–into the center, and tip the skillet so it spreads thinly over the surface. The crepe should be thin-thin! It will set up quickly. When the edges are browned, flip the crepe and cook for a minute more. Slide out onto a plate and repeat the process.
if the batter gets too thick, dilute it with a little water–beat well.
This recipe made 10 large crepes (I used a 9″ pan) , but would make 16 small (from 6″ pan)
BRAISED SAVORY GREENS a bed for the mushroom crepes
1 cup Kale, deribbed and chopped
1 cup Baby Spinach, chopped
1 cup Swiss Chard, coarsely chopped
3 cloves minced Garlic
3 T. Olive Oil
1 t. Sea Salt
Red Pepper Flakes–a few pinches
Place all cleaned and chopped greens into a deep pot, along with garlic, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes. Bring up heat to just under medium. Cover and simmer until greens are collapsed and tender, about 12 minutes.
Lay out cooked crepes onto a work surface. Place a few spoonfuls of mushroom mix at one end and roll. Place into a skillet or casserole dish. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mushrooms. Gently heat crepes in the skillet or in the oven.
Serve over warm bed of braised greens. Garnish with shredded pecorino romano.