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Exotic mushrooms.

"Saying 'I don't like mushrooms' is like saying 'I don't like vegetables.' There's a mushroom for everybody," says Ian Garrone, whose family owns Far West Fungi, which grows about 9 varieties at any given time. When you buy a Far West mushroom, it's perfect: smooth, unbruised, firm, smelling of forest and loam. It radiates freshness. That's because the Garrones harvest right before they sell--and also because they've spent 25 years perfecting the tricky art of mushroom cultivation. Their farm, on the coast 95 miles south of San Francisco, has the exact conditions that mushrooms love: cool, moist, and overcast. And the Garrones keep it very, very clean, especially in the incubation rooms; no invasive molds stand a chance. So their meaty shiitakes, delicate tree oysters, and aromatic mistakes are as good as it gets.



from $6/lb.;; visit website to order and to find far West fungi's farmers' market locations; or stop by the shop in San Francisco's Ferry Building. For other exotic mushroom sources, see page 74.
Wild mushroom and butternut squash bread pudding


This works really well as a vegetarian main dish too.

3 cups cubed butternut squash, cut into 1/4-in.
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tsp. pepper, divided
About 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and light green parts only,
thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb. mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
6 cups cubed rustic white bread, cut into 1-in.
cubes. Lightly toasted
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]. Heap squash on a rimmed baking
sheet, drizzle with oil and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and toss
to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown,
about 35 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add
garlic with 1/4tsp. salt; cook until softened. Add garlic, cook 2
minutes, and add mixture to squash.

3. Melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter in same pan over medium heat. Add
mushrooms and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Increase heat to
medium-high and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their
liquid and are beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat
and stir in thyme.

4. Add mushrooms to squash-leek mixture. 5tir in bread; scoop into a
buttered 9- by 13-in. baking dish.

5. Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, remaining
1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4tsp. pepper, the flour, and parmesan in a medium
bowl. Pour custard over bread mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Top
with gruyere, then bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and
beginning to brown and custard is just set (poke with a knife to
check), 30 to 35 minutes.

Make ahead: Through step 4,1 day ahead, covered and chilled; or
finish bread pudding t day ahead, chill, and reheat at
375[degrees]/or 30 minutes.

(12 G SAT.); 24 G CAR60 (2.2 G FIEER); S08 MG SODIUM; 137 MG CHOL.

Mushroom, chicory, and celery-root salad


Make the dressing directly in a storage jar the day before

1 1/2 lbs. mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms
such as mistake, oyster, and king trumpet
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove
2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
8 oz. celery root
12 cups loosely packed chicories, such as
escarole and radicchio, leaves torn into bite-
size pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375 [degrees]. Wipe dirt off mushrooms, trim tough
stems, and cut large mushrooms to make all pieces about the same
size. Toss in a bowl with 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the pepper.
Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until
browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool.

2. Make dressing: Sprinkle peeled garlic clove with remaining V4 tsp.
salt, mince, and then flatten with side of chefs knife into a paste.
Scrape paste into ajar with a tight-fitting lid and add mustard,
honey, thyme, vinegar, and remaining 1/4 cup oil. Cap jar and shake
until emulsified.

3. Peel celery root, then cut into matchsticks, dropping them into a
bowl of water to prevent darkening. Pat dry, then put in a large
salad bowl and add chicories and mushrooms. Toss gently with
dressing. Make ahead: Dressing, up to 1 day ahead, chilled. Prep
vegetables 1 day ahead (chill celery root matchsticks in water), then
dress just before serving.

PER SERVING 1S6 CAL., 64% (100 CAL.) FROM FAT; 3.5 G PROTEIN; 12 G
FAT (1.7 G SAT.); 13 G CARBO (6.6 G FIBER); 159 MG SODIUM; 0 MC CHOL.

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for great-tasting mushrooms

CLEANING Wipe mushrooms with a moist paper towel. Don't wash or brush, which can damage them. If you see a lot of compacted dirt, scrape it off with a knife.

STORING Use a paper bag, not plastic--which doesn't let them breathe, so they soften and rot. Even if you forget them in the paper bag, they won't be bad, just dried, and you can reconstitute them in hot water.
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Title Annotation:Far West Fungi's
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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