· The Hot Line - Newsletter
Sept. 2009: Mushrooms

September 2009
What are we talking about this month at the Hot Line? Burgers? No. Steaks? No. Mushrooms? Yes. Oh sure, mushrooms might not be the first thing you think of when you fire up the grill but consider these two very important pieces of information: 1.) mushrooms taste great when grilled and 2.) this newsletter has been going for about three years now - we need some fresh meat (so to speak).  
Most of us are familiar with a few kinds of commercially available mushrooms. We put them in our brown paper bags at the supermarket and they're delicious. But did you know that Canada is a terrific place to hunt and gather wild mushrooms? Yep, true. The world, as they say, is your oyster (mushroom). Remember that scene from 'The Road' (http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/works/theroad.htm) where the man and his son find some wild mushrooms inconceivably growing in the grey, miasmic, post-apocalyptic world? Well, you can be like that nameless man and do some fungal hunting and gathering. Of course, you have to be cautious when eating wild mushrooms. Some of them are hard on the tum-tum and some of them can even force you to give up the oxygen habit.
  In Edmonton there's a group of nice folks known as the 'Alberta Mycological Society' (and if you think that's a cool name check this out - the name of one of their get togethers in Edmonton is known as 'The City of Champignons' - awesome). These folks spend a LOT of time looking for, gathering, photographing, and just generally talking about…mushrooms. Check out their cool, very mushroomy website at www.wildmushrooms.ws. Here's a few interesting things they had to say about grilling mushrooms:
  The most common edible wild mushrooms found and consumed in Canada are:
Some mushrooms found in Canada that lend themselves particularly well to the high heat of grilling are:
Giant Western Puffball (!)
Shaggy Parasol
And as to whether wild mushrooms taste different than domestic mushrooms: Each species of wild mushroom has its own unique taste. Mushrooms from the wild take on a flavour specific to their hosts (tree, grass, moss etc.), so yes, a wild edible mushroom will taste different (not necessarily better or worse) than a commercially raised mushroom.

Barbecue Tipster Some mushroom hunting tips:
Most experts advise to start your mushroom hunting career with an expert and, always carry a field guide with you to help with identification. We're lucky, we have a four-footed, in-house expert that is capable of helping with any and all hunting related issues. Our mushroom-specific expert Angelo (not pictured) is old-school. He advises that you first need to identify that a mushroom is safe to eat. Then, cut the stem of the mushroom and look for tiny worms in the stem. Worms are good. If it's healthy for them to eat it - it's healthy for us.
Take pictures of the mushrooms you collect. That way you can build your own archive of edible wild mushrooms that you've collected (and, as a side benefit, if you've accidentally plucked and eaten the rare 'Shroud of Quick, Painful Death' mushroom, you will have a visual record of the fungi that put you into the ER). Oh, and don't put your mushrooms in a plastic bag after you've collected them - paper only.
From the fireplace world, here's a tip of a different kind. You can use the following website to get an estimate of how much natural gas your appliance consumes. By my rough calculations, at current natural gas prices, it will cost about $2.00 to heat your home for the whole winter. Well, maybe not - better check the website: http://tinyurl.com/mbzfkl

Gotta Have It
Whenever you're grilling small items such as smaller mushrooms or mushroom pieces, you can never go wrong by using a 'grill-topper'. These handy trays let the heat from your grill come up without letting your food go down. We've got them in various shapes and sizes. The porcelain coated toppers are easier to clean, the stainless steel toppers will last longer.  

Meet the Experts
  This is our Calgary fireplace installation crew. We've been installing fireplaces for approximately a zillion years now and this crew is the best we've ever had. They are truly talented when it comes to installing fireplaces and running gas lines. We happened to catch them on a lunch break as they were installing fireplaces in the palatial Berkhold residence in Lakeview. By their own admission these guys don't know much about grilling mushrooms. However, they do tell me that they often feel like mushrooms at work so, at least that's 'on theme' this month.

Recipe of the Month PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM “CHEESE BURGERS” From Stephen Raichlen's 'How To Grill' (page 378)
Assemble your ingredients.
To make the Pesto: Puree the garlic, basil, pine nuts, and cheese in a food processor, running the machine in short bursts. With the machine running, work in the lemon juice and olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste.
Trim the stems off the Portobellos. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel. Using a small knife or a skewer, make a series of holes in the gill-side of the mushroom caps, about 1/2 an inch apart. Insert garlic slivers in some of the holes, Romano cheese slivers in some, basil in some, and pine nuts in the remaining holes.
Spread some of the pesto sauce on the bottom of a platter or baking dish. Arrange the mushroom caps on it, and swish them around to coat the bottoms evenly. Spoon the remaining marinade over the Portobellos. Let them marinate, covered, for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 3 hours.
Set up the grill for direct grilling, keeping one zone cool, and preheat to high. When ready to cook, remove the mushroom caps from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Arrange the mushroom caps on the hot grate, gill-side down, and grill for 3 minutes.
Then turn the caps over and continue grilling until the caps are browned and very tender, 4 to 6 minutes, rotating after 2 minutes to create grill marks.
Divide the Taleggio cheese among the caps (the gill-side should be up) and move to the cooler side of the grill until the cheese melts.
Serve at once using your favourite burger buns and toppings. Savour the yummy fungal flavours.

Ask Dr. McGrillemup
Question: Dear Dr. McGrillemup, I'm not sure my family and I are going to like grilled mushrooms. Is there a way to quickly try grilled mushrooms so that we know whether we'll like them or not? Signed, Mike Ological  
Answer: Dear Mike, You bet there is. Here's what you do: 1.) take a Portobello mushroom from the grocery store, 2.) drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar (don't be shy) on the gills, 3.) place on a hot grill (stem pointed up) for about seven minutes, 4.) flip mushroom over and grill for another five minutes, 5.) remove from grill and slice into thin sections. Use this grilled mushroom as a topping for pizza, burgers or steak. If you don't like this mushroom you're just not that into fungus. Good luck, Doctor M

The World of Barbecue These two young ladies were shopping for portable barbecues with their parents in our South Calgary store. They thought it would be a good idea to pose with this portable Napoleon barbecue as people were taking pictures. Of course, all of our customers are always this happy - we just happened to catch these two with a camera.
Send us a picture and/or story of you (or a friend of yours, or an enemy of yours) grilling and we'll send you a $25 gift certificate usable in any of our four stores.

This Month's Winners
Every single month, we randomly draw four winning names (one per store) from our newsletter mailing list. We only post the winning names below so you've got to keep your eyes peeled each month. If you win, you can claim your prize by stopping by the Barbecues Galore in your area with your photo identification. Congratulations to this month's winners of a mushroom and grill topper prize pack:  
Inge Babinec (Calgary South) Murray Sjogren (Calgary North) Achala Kapur (Burlington) Peter Blackmore (Oakville)

Next Month's Issue
  Next month's issue will be a real honey. That's right we're talking about everybody's favourite insect spit-up and how we can use it when we barbecue. Be prepared to be fascinated...for free!

Contact Us We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at: query@barbecuesgalore.ca Remember, an archive of our past newsletters can be found at www.barbecuesgalore.ca

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