Thursday, October 29, 2009

Barlow Pass Mushroom Hunt / Wild Mushroom, Soft Egg, and Dandelion Green Pizza

Last weekend we headed up for another hunt in the Cascades. Our trip to Monte Cristo had been fun, but we didn't really have much of a chance to hunt for mushrooms. But they'd been there, we'd seen them in passing and there were other people obviously there on the hunt. So we went up on Saturday and did a search around the Barlow Pass area on the Mountain Loop Highway.

We began in the area around the parking lot where we'd spotted the giant bolete a month back, and wandered the woods there for a good two hours or so. There's a huge boulder there that actually forms a sort of cliff, a good 75 foot drop, which I discovered when I was trying to come back down it. Otherwise the area is pretty open, second growth Doug Firs, moss, etc. Loads of mushrooms everywhere. Loads, thousands, everywhere you look, of tiny little guys. They were quite pretty actually, but very little edible. It's been cold, and I think boletes are pretty much done there. We found a few very old ones, and a few Suillus. Did manage to find one Boletus mirabilis, that we brought back. There were a few late season Chanterelles around too.

We found these guys, which we believe are Angel's Wings, Pleurocybella porrigens. In 2004 these caused the deaths of 14 elderly people in Japan, though they're commonly collected as perfectly edible member of the Oyster Mushroom family. No poisonings have been reported in the US, but we left them there just the same.

The big find for me, and for once I was the one to find them, were two Hedgehog Mushrooms, Hydnum repandum, which we hadn't found before. These are edible and delicious, and sometimes you can find them in the markets. I think Foraged and Found had them once this Summer, and I was disappointed when they were sold out before I got there. These guys are suspected to be related to chanterelles, and have little spiky protrusions on the underside instead of gills.

Meredith found this healthy crop of Ramaria, which we think is rubripermanens. These guys are considered somewhat edible, and there was certainly a large bunch of it, but it has a laxative effect on some people and we decided that we weren't really hungry enough to play Russian Roulette with a night on the John as the stakes.

We wandered a bit more around the area but called it quits after finding nothing else for a while. So we hopped in the car intending to find another location that looked promising. Here's where we were faced with a choice, and made the wrong decision.

Barlow Pass is where the pavement ends on the highway, from there it's 27 miles of dirt road to the mountain town of Darrington. We'd never been down that way and decided to take a look. Well the road follows the Sauk River, and it's just a fancy graded version of the old wagon road from the Skagit Valley to Monte Cristo. It's reasonably well paved, some bad potholes here and there, but we made a good 20-25 mph. For almost all of the run it's bordered by river and low-lying scrub, Alders, Maples, Devil's Club. In short: not good mushrooming territory. There were some forest roads and certainly old mines there, but that will have to be another day's exploration. After a while it was pointless to turn back. So we had a scenic hour long dirt road drive to Darrington. From there we drove the rest of the highway to Arlington, and were home in a total of maybe 2 1/2 hours. Grumpy and disappointed. So I got cooking.

Wild Mushroom, Soft Egg, and Dandelion Greens Pizza

This one came out of my deep desire for a) not getting in the car again to go to the grocery store and b) pizza! The base recipe comes from Chef Gray Brooks of the Tom Douglas restaurant Serious Pie. I've not been there yet, but I do plan to go tomorrow night and I must say I'm pretty excited. The recipe is printed in the Summer 09 Beer Northwest, if you care to find a copy it's a good interview. Gray uses chanterelles and arugula, but I didn't have enough chanterelles and no arugula, so I went out back and picked some dandelion greens from my lawn instead. Boom. Bitter greens, free, ready to go, no pesticides or anything because I don't take as good care of the lawn as I probably should and, most importantly, no trip to the store.

Beer Pizza Dough

I really, really like his pizza dough recipe and it's going to become my new staple.
  • 1/4 C pilsner (I just used my Oktoberfest Maerzen because it's on tap downstairs, easy to pour 1/4 C without opening a whole beer. Though I did that too...)
  • 3/4 C warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 3 C flour. (I used 1 C bread flour, 2 C all purpose)
Combine the beer, water, and yeast. Then in goes the honey, salt and a tablespoon of the olive oil. One cup of the flour, mix in with a big spoon. Then 1 3/4 cups more, mix for a couple minutes till mostly incorporated. Use the rest of the flour for the counter and knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes. Use the last of the oil to coat a bowl, plop the dough down in there, roll it around and over to coat and cover with a towel to rise for 45 minutes. This will make two pizzas.


The recipe calls for (at least!) 1/4 cup chanterelles per pizza. I didn't have that. So I used a combo of the chanterelles, hedeghogs and the mirabilis we found. Clean em up, chop em up, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 10 minutes at 350. They won't be done, just par-cooked.

Now assemble the pizza.

Preheat the oven to 500, with a pizza stone if you've got it. We do.
For one pizza you'll need:
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • chile flakes
  • the mushrooms
  • 2 eggs (broken into separate cups, yolks intact.)
  • 1 1/2 C arugula (or well washed Dandelion Greens)
  • 1/4 C Parmesan
  • 1 T Lemon Juice
I doubled this and made two pizzas, using all of the dough (and making a tasty breakfast too).

Now do as I say and not as I do... Sprinkle corn meal over the underside of a cookie sheet, then shape out your pizza, vaguely rectangular is good, or oval, and plop it on there. Drizzle a little olive oil over it, sprinkle with garlic and chile flakes. Spread the mushrooms evenly around. Now slide it off the cookie sheet onto the stone (which has also had cornmeal spread all over it).

If you're like me and like me, an idiot, you will spread the pizza on your counter, where it will then a) be impossible to slide onto the searing hot stone and b) stick like a total bastard. That's what I get for being tired and not thinking first. So my pizzas were a bit...wonky.

In goes the pizza for 4 minutes. Then, using the bottom of a ladle, make a small indent on the two ends of the pizza and pour the eggs slowly into them so they don't run everywhere. Then back into the oven for another 4-5 minutes until the egg is soft-set and the crust brown.

Take it out and slide onto a cutting board. In a bowl dress the greens with a little olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle all but a tablespoon of the Parmesan on the pizza, then place the greens on it, then sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.

Serve 'er up!

How was it? Awesome. Like a Caesar Salad Pizza. The mushrooms were good but the lemon juice is a bit overpowering. More mushrooms next time! The crust is excellent. The egg quickly goos all over and makes it rich, so you don't miss the mozzarella at all. The mirabilis was edible and ok, but not my favorite mushroom. I'll do something with it alone, if I find any more this year, to see if I really do or don't like it.

Serious Pie makes a version of this pizza with guanciale, and since I'm fresh out of my own I look forward to trying it tomorrow night!


Chloe said...

I have been hanging on to this recipe for about a month now. It sounded so great when I read about it and as you gave acclaim for the crust, and I was enamored of a 45 minute rise time, I simply had to try it. Since I made soft egg and mushroom pizza for breakfast this weekend, I thought I'd give you my feedback.

I thought the 45 minute rise time might be too good to be true, but I was thrilled about the new recipe. I made the first pizza earlier in the week and decided to use half dough for more conventional pizza and refrigerate half the dough for Sunday morning egg pizza. In my experience, the Sunday morning dough, that got a few days in the fridge, was far superior. I was actually ready to go back to my old standard pizza dough recipe until the second dough. I really think it was the extra time to let the yeasties work that made all the difference. I guess the 45 minute rise time was too good to be true, but the egg pizza was excellent.

Russell Hews Everett said...

Hmmm I could see that. The added time would help with gluten development, and you might get just a bit of sour critters starting to get active. I agree that 45 minutes is a bit optimistic. I wonder if the chef was just used to using really fresh yeast under restaurant conditions. But we did end up going to Serious Pie and it was some serious pizza.

I've been thinking about doing some no-knead pizza dough experiments, ever done one of those?

Chloe said...

I've not done it with pizza dough, just regular breads. But all your no-knead bread requires to make it a pizza dough is a goodly amount of olive oil.

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