Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Seasonal Sweets

"If I found a mushroom that was good in s'mores I would call it a s'moreshroom!" - Naima

I got out mushroom hunting with my buddy Jeremy and his daughter Naima for her 8th birthday last weekend. Taking kids into the woods is so much fun. Their natural inquisitiveness, low center of gravity, and generally high energy, are perfect ingredients for the makings of good mushroom hunting partners.We found some nice oyster mushrooms right off, and Jeremy came across a pair of beautiful bear's heads in perfect condition towards the end of the day!

Bear's Heads Have the Appearance of Melted Candle Wax or Icicles

As we drove home, Naima joked about a mythical s'moreshroom that would go great with chocolate, gram crackers and marshmallows. This got me laughing at first and then gave me some food for thought. My dad had recently told me of a candycap mushroom ice cream he had enjoyed on the Mendocino coast and the more I thought about it the more it sounded like a recipe I just had to try.
Mushroom ice cream? I know, most who hear this concept furrow their brows with skepticism... and rightly so. Until you dry a handful of candycaps and their sweet maple-syrup aroma permeates throughout your own pantry, you (as I was) deserve to be skeptical of mushroom ice cream. Candycaps are aptly named. Their aroma and flavor is perfectly suited for making sweets which is one of the reasons they are so highly prized by those who love a seasonal and unique batch of cookies, cake, or in this case ice cream!

Candycaps with Cobwebs

I had gathered and dried some of these aromatic milk caps a few weeks back so when I got home I rehydrated them in warm milk and egg yolk as I made up a batch of candycap infused custard...the backbone of a good ice cream!

I added a dash of my mom's homemade vanilla extract and some sugar as well. The resulting ice cream was absolutely incredible! The maple flavors and aromas really came through, and I am now convinced...mushroom ice cream will be on my menu of seasonal favorites any time I find these delicious little fungi!

The next day I came across an orange tree and a lemon tree that had dropped a few of their fruit in a recent windstorm. I was not about to pass up these little gems!

I decided to try to make a batch of ginger ale on a whim and it came out quite nice! The soda paired beautifully with a plate of rockfish (we caught the other day) and sautéed mustard greens (I collected while out along the edge of the woods). After dinner I set to making a few new seasonal citrus-sweets.

My buddy Jason suggested chocolate-covered candied orange peels. This was a sweet snack his grandma made while he was growing up and it sounded like a fun one to me.

These are delicious little blasts of sweet citrus! I absolutely loved them!

The next day I used the lemon juice paired with a few ingredients from my local store and made my first lemon-meringue pie!

This was also exceptionally tasty!

Well, time to get out to the woods again. This time we are headed to the coast range in search for some illusive (yet incredibly flavorful) black trumpets and abundant (yet often overlooked) winter chanterelles! Who knows, maybe we'll even stop off in the intertidal zone for a little low-tide sea foraging?

I hope to see you out there!

Keep the old ways alive!

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