I did not grow up liking
mushrooms. They seemed like slimy little creatures and they were brown. They
came in cans and one had to always pick them off of pizza or out of spaghetti
sauce. I DO NOT LIKE THEM said SAM, I AM. Until I had a gorgeous hunk of a
boyfriend. He was very tall and blonde and even my parents liked him. He played
basketball and had great biceps and drove a forest green beetle when he came to
see me. HE liked mushrooms AND they weren’t out of a can. He cooked me
dinner one night. I remember a steak. And I remember butter and mushrooms and
him in his tight little ribbed white t shirt sautéing them at the stove. I
couldn’t not eat them. And so I did. And from then on I had mushroom fever.
came fresh and from then on I think my mother started to serve them many ways. She
sliced them and put them in salads. She grilled them. She sautéed and stuffed them. But every now and then those
canned mushrooms still made an appearance. As they still do, especially in my
mother’s pantry. It was while visiting this last holiday that I decided I
couldn’t take it any more. It was getting tougher and tougher to find the See’s
candy and the Heath bars and all the varieties of mixed nuts and specialty
popcorns and caramel corns that have been bestowed upon my father as gifts over
the years. Yet somehow my mother managed to hide this treasure in her vast
closet called a pantry.
on an errand to find crackers on Christmas Day that I decided I should lend a
hand. They were needed for an hors doeurve that I can’t recall. And so it is I
found myself at Walgreen’s on Christmas Day buying crackers. Only to return and
find at least 6 unopened boxes of crackers that may or may not have had expired
dates from before I was born. (OK – I’m exxagerating on the dates, but not
the number of boxes.) Now mind you these were the unopened boxes; the others
have now died and gone to cracker heaven. And soon I caught myself rearranging.
I couldn’t help myself.
canned soups on the same shelf. I lost track of how many of those there were. But
let it suffice to say that if there is an apocalypse, as long as there is water,
there is enough dried soup to see my parents clear through to kingdom come. It
is good to know they are prepared. I then got to the crackers and shortly
thereafter I hit pasta. My rearranging was causing me to think that there weren’t
enough shelves in this pantry. I didn’t want to be impolite and throw a lot
away but I’m thinking I should have.
arena where I found tomato sauce and tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and
whole tomatoes and diced tomatoes. And sundried tomatoes both in the package
and the jar. And then I hit the beans, well I won’t bore you further. But it
was at that point I discovered the mushrooms. Lots and lots of little cans of
tinned mushrooms. Costco is very happy to have my mother as a card holder, I
zeroing in on the shelves I hadn’t yet gotten too that I discovered the real
thing. The giant, at least 454g, of dried Italian porcini mushrooms. They
looked lost sitting next to the flour and the sugar and THE CANDY. So I helped
them out. Out of the pantry that is. They deserved a spot of beauty for they
were uncared for and forgotten. They were starting to crumble and turn to dust.
They needed a home where they were appreciated. It was at that point I asked my
mother where she got these dried, forgotten, specimens of mushrooms. To which
she said with forlorn eyes, “ When we were last in Italy.” And when was that dearest
mother? “I can’t remember, she replied,
but it was a long time ago.” Well, one thing led to another and I was able to
come home with a zip locked bag of dried porcini mushrooms from Italia.
Just because they are dried does not mean they last forever. Porcini dust is
not what you want to pay for. You want big, beautiful slices of gorgeous
porcinis to fill your bag. And you get what you pay for. Heavenly, intoxicating
aromas will greet you like an old friend if you buy them correctly. And they
are expensive so you must treat them with dignity and love. Use them, don’t
wait. And if you have friends going to Italy plead with them in that special
Italian way to bring some back for you. And then reward them with this lasagna.
They will be happy and so will you!
got to discover the rest of my mother’s pantry. I have no doubt that by now it
has returned to its natural state. Which leaves me starting on the shelves I didn’t
get too whenever I return. I’m dreading all the little dried up bags of brown
sugar that are yet to come. And luckily, the spices are not kept in the pantry…
|A very decadent dish!|
8-10 or 6 hungry people)
no boil lasagna noodles
heated with 1 bay leaf (I
do this in a 4c measuring cup in the micro. Heat for about two minutes or until
it feels hot to the touch but hasn’t yet boiled.)
fresh round pepper
bella mushrooms sliced
shallots, peeled and diced
virgin olive oil
of garlic minced
smoked mozzarella shredded
truffle oil (That’s
another story, but try to use the good stuff or leave it out.)
leaf Italian parsley minced
grated parmesan cheese (only
for the top)
oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 13 x 9 pan.
dried porcinis in 2 cups of hot chicken stock. (I use Better than Bouillion and it comes in a jar.) After they have softened chop them
up and drain them well.
medium, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and
cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk that has
been heated with the bay leaf but remember to remove the bay leaf. Whisk until
smooth. Simmer very slowly for about 10 minutes or until bit thickened. Season with salt, pepper and
nutmeg. (You need to
trust that fresh nutmeg gives it a little extra pizzaz. I didn’t used to like
it but I think it was because most people insist on using the ground variety.) Reserve 1 ½ c sauce .
large sauté pan heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic and
shallots until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook
until done. Add the parsley and thyme and use the wine to deglaze your pan. You
can do this again if you want to use up your porcini/stock liquid too. More
flavor there if you like. Season with salt and pepper.
these mushrooms and the porcinis into the larger portion of your béchamel. Also
stir in ¼ c of the fontina, gruyere and mozzarella. Add the truffle oil if you
are using it.
to do this but I think they cook better. Make sure they are dry.
pasta. Now some of the mushrooms/béchamel sauce. Add a little of the cheeses. Now
more pasta, more sauce, more cheese. Do this until you’ re out of mushrooms. I
got three layers. Finish with a layer of pasta and cover with the remaining béchamel.
Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden
USING CANNED MUSHROOMS!