Tag Archives: porcinis

More mushrooms in Oregon: the coast, dunes, and city parks

As the drought dragged on in California this fall I longed for rainier pastures in Oregon. Fortunately my friend Roo who is also a PhD student in mycology lives in Eugene where mushrooms are abundant! After having so much fun and finding chanterelles in the Cascades the last time, I returned this time to look for Porcinis and Matsutakes on the coast in the dunes.


Mushroom hunting along the Oregon dunes

To me it’s a pretty irregular sight to associate mushroom hunting with sand, but don’t you just love this photo of Roo walking across the dunes with his mushroom basket? Turns out the dunes are a great place to go mushroom hunting! Plus you get awesome views of the Oregon coast. Not a bad place to hunt, right?


Oregon coast

We walked around for a while and came across some lovely giant Amanita muscaria. Unfortunately they were a bit soggy and difficult to take home but they sure are pretty.


Amanita muscaria or the fairytale mushroom in the woods

In addition to mushroom hunting on the coast we also did some city mushroom hunting in Eugene at a local park. It was a beautiful park with so much green peppered with yellow fall colors.


Fall colors in Oregon

While we did not find any edible mushrooms in the park we found some really cool little guys including these cute little Calocera cornea jelly fungi.


Calocera cornea covering a dead log

We also found some fun ascomycetes called Xylaria hypoxylon decaying wood. Can you guess why their common name is the candle snuff fungus or more ominously dead man’s fingers?


Xylaria hypoxylon AKA dead man’s fingers or the candlesnuff fungus

There was lots of dead wood in this park so we saw lots of interesting wood decay mushrooms including this really cool polypore Oligoporus caesius commonly known as the blue cheese fungus.


Can you guess why this is known as the blue cheese fungus?

Roo is really into wood decay mushrooms and ascomycetes in the Xylariales in particular so he spent lots of time poking around dead logs.


Roo poking dead logs for ascomycetes

I was particularly impressed by this jelly fungus/polypore called Phlebia tremellosa that was all over a dead log. I’ve never seen this mushroom before and it was so slimy and jelly like.


Phlebia tremellosa covering a dead log

It also had cool pores on the underside. It’s hard to describe the texture but it was quite jiggly and fun.


Pored underside of Phlebia tremellosa

This was quite an awesome city park and had some lovely giant Douglas fir trees in it. Aren’t they majestic?


Giant Douglas fir tree in Eugene park

So I know what you are thinking – nice pictures and nice mushrooms of mushroom hunting on the Oregon coast and in Eugene, but where are the edibles??? While we unfortunately did not quite find the bounty that I was hoping for, we did happen upon a few king boletes Boletus edulis in nestled under the bushes in the forests on the Oregon coast.


Boletus edulis the prized king porcini

Perhaps more exciting, I found this baby nestled under a manzanita bush. Get excited for the next couple posts where I post about what we cooked with the porcinis and matsutakes!


Tricholoma magnivelare the American Matsutake

Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar with couscous and tomato and onion, asparagus, and sauteed porcinis

I know that you have all been waiting with baited breath to see what I’ve done with my porcini haul.  I’ve made a porcini and leek frittata which I will feature in a later post, and today I’m going to tell you about one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked in my life. It was so incredibly amazing that all I wanted to do this week was stay home from work and cook all day and eat my food. This was my second time cooking this butternut squash dish – the first time I made it was that fateful night before Christmas where I discovered Jerusalem at my friend Meera’s house.  This dish is freaking delicious. It is not that complicated but it is so insanely flavorful and fulfilling that I think you have to go home and cook it like right now! The hardest part of cooking this dish is cutting up the butternut squash, which admittedly, requires guns.  This recipe can be found on pg. 36 of Jerusalem and is featured online here and on another Ottolenghi admirer’s blog here. Before embarking on the arduous task of cubing the squash, remember to preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.

Cubed butternut squash

Cubed butternut squash

After cubing the squash, you can congratulate yourself, because the hardest part is now over! Next roughly slice 2 red onions and add them to the squash, then add 3.5 tbsp of olive oil and some salt and pepper before sticking it in the oven for 40 minutes.

Butternut squash with red onions

Butternut squash with red onions

While it’s in the oven you can make the tahini sauce, which is super simple. Whisk together 3.5 tbsp light tahini paste, 2 tbsp water, 1 small crushed garlic clove, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Ingredients for tahini sauce

Ingredients for tahini sauce

You can also saute the pine nuts in 1.5 tsp olive oil with 0.5 tsp salt for 2 minutes.  Once they are golden brown, remove them from heat and transfer them to a small bowl while you wait for the squash. After 40 minutes, the squash and onions should be nice and soft.

Roasted butternut squash and red onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper

Roasted butternut squash and red onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper

Once it’s cooled down a bit, toss the squash and onions with the tahini sauce, add in the pine nuts with their oil, and top with 1 tbsp za’atar. This dish is just so so good. I really cannot emphasize enough how much I love this dish!

Roasted butternut squash & red onions with tahini & za'atar

Roasted butternut squash & red onions with tahini & za’atar

I decided to try my hand again at the couscous with tomato and onion that I made the other night with my friend Dan and featured here.

Couscous with tomatoes and onion in pan

Couscous with tomatoes and onion in pan

It accompanied the butternut squash & red onions with tahini dish really well and I have to say I was really pleased with myself that I managed to get the crust right this time :) I got a really crispy crust on the edge (I just had to let it sit in the pan a bit longer) and I managed to flip it over onto the plate completely in tact! I didn’t spill any couscous on the floor this time! The only plate that I had that was large enough for this task was a orange flower platter that I had from the 99 cents store when I first started grad school. Perhaps not my classiest dish, but it was big enough that I got the couscous flipped onto it without dropping any, so it definitely did the job.  I am very proud of this dish :) Definitely proof that practice makes perfect!

Couscous with tomato and onion

Couscous with tomato and onion

I know what you are thinking – where are the mushrooms? Don’t worry – I definitely made them! They were so meaty and delicious and added so much depth to the experience of this meal.  Asparagus is in season now and was on sale at the Berkeley bowl so I added that to my pan with with the mushrooms.

Sauteed porcinis

Sauteed porcinis

Here’s my crispy couscous  with the asparagus and porcinis.

Sauteed porcinis and asparagus with crispy couscous

Sauteed porcinis and asparagus with crispy couscous

How beautiful do those porcinis look? This is how you want them – nice and browned.

Porcinis with asparagus and couscous

Porcinis with asparagus and couscous

Ok, let’s get a close up of my star ingredient.

Sautteed porcinis

Sautteed porcinis

And here is the completed meal! My friend Simone, who is another biology graduate student and a talented artist as well who makes really cool biological themed mythical paintings, came over to enjoy the meal with me. Maybe I can convince Simone to make some beautiful mushroom themed paintings for me!

Roasted butternut squash & red onions with tahini & za'atar with couscous, tomato and onion, and sauteed porcinis and asparagus

Roasted butternut squash & red onions with tahini & za’atar with couscous, tomato and onion, and sauteed porcinis and asparagus