Portobello

Mushrooms have been my latest fascination. In prior blog posts, I’ve discussed their nutritional properties while roasting them, and sauteeing them. What are mushrooms, anyway?

The mushroom you can eat and see is the fruiting body of a fungus. The main part of the fungus is the mycelium that you never see. It runs like a thread of cells through the soil and other matter near the surface of the ground. A mycelium can run for miles and some species of fungus can be among the heaviest organisms on earth, once you factor in the weight of the fungal cells stretched out over an area of hundreds of acres.

Fungus is an organism that does not use the process of photosynthesis, this is one reason why fungi are not in the Plant Kingdom – they have their own kingdom in biological nomenclature. Fungi use enzymes to break down the compounds adjacent to them – organic matter such as trees and soil – and break it down for energy. Fungi provide a useful service by breaking down organic matter and helping to recycle its elements back into nature.

Below: A beautiful portobello mushroom. A portobello is another name for a crimini mushroom which has reached over 4″ – 6″ in diameter.

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Below: Shiitake mushrooms. I got these a the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market and I found them to be a bit dry. Nevertheless, I sauteed them into a nice plate of warm greens.

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Below: The backyard garden collards are being eaten by a species of catepillar. I can understand why – the greens are tender and mild.

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Below: Portabello sandwiches have been a favorite of mine recently. I’ve found there to be variation in the flavor of the mushrooms. Perhaps I’m cooking them too hard, or the cast iron is somehow robbing them of flavor. The capers on this sandwich are one of my favorite condiments. They’re salty, acidic, and speak in the vernacular of the Mediterranean.

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Below: I decided to try a vegan mayonnaise, as it’s a condiment I use on sandwiches fairly often (too often), and I’d like to avoid eating too much egg. I chose this brand of “vegenaise” because it had the fewest ingredients of all of the vegan mayos.

Traditional mayonnaise is basically oil + egg + vinegar/lemon juice (an acid) + spices like garlic and mustard. This vegan mayo seems to use soy protein to help provide the protein properties lost by leaving out the egg.

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(1) http://www.mushroomexpert.com

(2) http://philip-mcintosh.suite101.com/introduction-to-mushrooms-a98013

(3) http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Produce-638/portobello.aspx

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