Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

This pasta dish is quite easily adapted. I found it in the New York Times sometime last year and it had been adapted from an Italian cookbook. I changed a bunch of things, and you too can add or remove things to suit your tastes!  I’ll probably revise it again because I felt like there was too much pasta and not enough brussels sprouts – which is saying something coming from someone who prefers pasta over brussels sprouts! Even so, this is a fabulous hearty dish to enjoy in all this cold weather.

Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Cheese

1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 to 3/4 pound penne pasta
10-12 ounces shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound Italian sausage
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup ricotta
8 ounces Gruyere, in 1/2 inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 sage leaves, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared brussels sprouts in a large baking pan (either a 10-by-15 roasting pan or a 9-by-13 lasagna pan), toss with a little olive oil and salt, and roast for about 20 minutes, till they are slightly browned and tender throughout.  When the sprouts are done, remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and let water come back to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Just before draining the pasta, remove 2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Chop or slice mushroom caps; set aside. Heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Crumble Italian sausage into the pan and cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until the sausage is fully cooked and there is no pink. Spoon the sausage out into a separate bowl. If there isn’t much oil left in the pan, add another couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the prepared mushrooms for about 5 minutes.

Tip the drained pasta, mushrooms, and sausage into the roasting pan with the brussels sprouts.

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Add ricotta, Gruyere, and 1 cup cooking water, and toss well. Add more liquid if you think the pasta is too dry.

Warm butter, olive oil, and garlic in a small saucepan. When melted and beginning to sizzle gently, add sage and fry for about 30 seconds. Spoon or drizzle the butter and sage over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before eating. Those brussels sprouts really hold the heat!

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Winter Projects

Did you miss us? We have had the farmers market the last two weeks and I meant to send updates at least whenever we had a market, but things get busy for me (the farmer’s wife) during this season. Not that Jeremy hasn’t been busy – there are lots of projects going on at the farm!

First up was replacing some roof panels in the packing shed. Some of the translucent panels had been damaged by hail so every time it rained, water dripped in. Not anymore! Also, at long last, the painting is all done in the pack shed!  We are well on our way to getting this building inspected and certified as a food warehouse.

Next up was a shade structure expansion. Having inoculated almost 5,000 logs earlier this year, we are going to need more space for them. Jeremy and Andy (our newest employee), got pipe, cut it to fit, and had it all laid out on Monday.

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Monday was a blissfully warm day (at least for upper Wisconsin in December!) and then the temperature plummeted overnight and the snow arrived. It was far too cold to work outside.  It felt warm enough by Thursday (or we here in the upper Midwest just acclimate that fast) to finish putting up the pipes. Another project done!

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Yet another project on the farm is converting the old inoculation shed/storage shed into employee housing.  For those of you who have been to the farm, you may have noticed this decrepit looking shed propped up on pallets right outside the door of the house.  We plan to move it eventually, but Jeremy and Andy are getting some work done on it first.

Making sure it’s all insulated:

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Taking out the overhead door and replacing it with a window and wall:

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The electrical is done so after the wall was completed they were able to turn on a space heater and get the shed nice and toasty.  This is basically our first foray into tiny houses and we’re pretty excited about it.  Jeremy picked up a small wood stove which will be used for heating it. We do have plenty of wood around to burn!

Lastly, the first load of logs was delivered today – so inoculations for 2018 will be starting soon. No rest for mushroom farmers!

Recipe: Shiitake Mushroom Omelette

I love omelettes. They are so versatile: you can put practically anything in them, you can eat them any time of the day, and they are pretty easy to make. This recipe calls for a stronger cheese like blue cheese. I surprised Jeremy this morning with a demand to make this for breakfast so I could take pictures of it – and all we had on hand was Swiss cheese. It was still a very tasty breakfast.

 

Shiitake Mushroom Omelette

Serves 1 or 2
3 ounces shiitake or other mushrooms
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp chives, rosemary, or other herbs
1/4 cup blue cheese, or other strong cheese
1/3 cup fresh greens such as arugula or chard, chopped.

Trim stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter on medium low heat. Chop mushroom caps and saute for five minutes, or until soft and slightly browned. If mushroom look dry, add more butter to the pan. Set aside.

Add cream and chopped herbs to eggs and blend. Heat omelette pan on low heat and add 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp butter. When the pan is hot, pour egg mixture into the pan so that the mixture extends to the edges of the pan. Top with crumbles of cheese, and add mushrooms and fresh greens to one half.

When the egg is cooked through, fold omelette in half and serve. Garnish with more herbs if you like. Serve with a green salad or slaw of kale, cabbage, and grated carrot. Enjoy!

Before and After

We had a lot of “before and after” on the farm this last week. As I mentioned last week, we got a start on turning all of that cut wood from last year into firewood. Jeremy thinks he got through maybe 1/3 of the pile of wood. There is a LOT of firewood!

 

Last weekend I was also working on that darn pack shed again. It’s SO CLOSE to being painted! But it’s not there yet. There are just a few bits at one end that are too high up for me to reach and we don’t have scaffolding. We have one ladder that is too tall and one that is too short!  So Jeremy has to finish those bits when he finds some free time. In between painting the pack shed and stacking firewood, I got to work painting a room in the upstairs of the farm house. We thought it could use some freshening and brightening up.

 

All this week Jeremy has had temporary folks coming by to help with the big fall project of moving the 5,000 logs in the woods up to the shade structure at the front of the farm. That is a bit of a long term project, though hopefully it will be wrapped up by the end of November if not sooner!  With the crew on hand Thursday, Jeremy decided it was time to take the shade fabric down from the shade structure. They’ll have to move the fabric on and off as they move more logs in and if the weather warms up to pick mushrooms. But with snow in the forecast, we don’t take any chances leaving the shade fabric up. We left it up once about 2-3 years ago and the weight of just a couple inches of snow from that early snowstorm bent the pipes of the shade structure!  We definitely don’t want to go through fixing that again.

 

We’ve got more to do to button up the farm for the winter and Jeremy is already contacting loggers looking for the new batch of 5,000 or so logs for inoculations to start in December.

I’m going to take a break from regular weekly email updates over the winter – you’ll just be hearing from us when there is a Winter Market happening. You won’t miss us too much though – Winter Markets are practically every other week now!

Recipe: Beef Burger with Shiitake

Beef Burger with Shiitake

Serves 4
4 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
3/4 to 1 pound ground beef
1/4 to 1/2 cup blue cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup onion
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
a little salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns
1 to 3 oz. salad mix, sprouts or shoots

Remove stems from mushrooms and save for soup stock in the freezer. Slice mushroom caps. Heat skillet or pan and add 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil, then add mushrooms when fat is hot. Saute until soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cover.  You can also saute the onions, separately, or use them raw – depending on your preference.

Prepare grill for burgers and buns. Blend cold ground meat with chopped onion, crumbled cheese, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper; then form into thick patties and place on hot grill. Flip patty once and grill on remaining side until done. You can also sear on cast iron skillet at medium-high heat. Remove burgers to platter and cover until ready to serve. While burgers are cooking, brush bun faces with butter or oil and grill or sear briefly, then set aside.

Place burgers on grilled buns, then top with sautéed mushrooms and salad mix, sprouts or shoots. Serve open face or top with remaining bun. Enjoy!

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Okay, our burgers never look perfect (all round like they were cut out by a giant cookie cutter), but they are fabulously tasty!

Recipe: Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Mmm, it is the season for soup and for wild rice. This recipe sounds amazing… but I have to be honest: I ran out of time this week and didn’t get to make a batch. I have no pictures to show you how yummy it looks!  You really can’t go wrong with wild rice, broth, and shiitakes though. So if you make this recipe, tell us how it turns out!

 

Wild Rice and Shiitake Stew

Serves 3 or 4
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
or
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup wild rice
2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks or small celery root, diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano
1-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 cup friesago or parmesan cheese, finely grated

If you’re using dried mushrooms, place them in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for at  least one hour, or until plump. Remove the mushrooms from the water (save the water) and pat dry.

Remove mushroom stems, chop caps and set aside. Place the wild rice in a wire strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the rice in a pot and add water so water is 3/4 of an inch above rice. Bring to rolling boil for ten minutes then simmer, covered, until the rice opens and becomes fluffy, or about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally while simmering.

While the rice cooks, heat butter or oil in dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery with salt and cook until the onions have softened and turned translucent, or about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, or another 15-20 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir until they become sticky and there is no more visible dry flour. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine and mushroom water (if you don’t have mushroom soaking water, you can put in about 1/2 cup of broth). Simmer the mixture until it has thickened and the liquid has reduced. Stir occasionally while simmering.

Add the bay leaf and stock. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the rosemary, milk, and wild rice. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened to your liking. Stir in the vinegar, half the cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

 

adapted from recipe provided by Northern Lakes Wild Rice

Farmer of the Month

Last Sunday we had our Open House. It was fun to show the whole operation to a few folks, including “neighbors” from down the road in Rice Lake and a friend we hadn’t seen in years. After touring around checking out all the mushrooms and fruiting areas, we cooked mushroom brats over the fire, then we had apple crisp made with apples from the big grandfather apple tree on the farm. If you missed this open house, don’t worry – we’ll have one again some day!

I somehow failed to mention (all of last month) that Jeremy was “farmer of the month” at the Farm Table in Amery, Wisconsin. The Farm Table Foundation teaches classes and workshops, partners with and supports local farmers, and has a fabulous restaurant with very tasty food in downtown Amery.

Each month they have a featured farmer and Jeremy was the farmer for September.

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All month they have a couple of special recipes made up to highlight the products from the farm they’re featuring. For Jeremy they had made up a Mushroom Ragu Crostini and a Mushroom Paperdelle. Then towards the end of the month the farmer comes to the restaurant to hang out during dinner and answer questions.

I got to tag along, so I got to try the crostini. I wish I had tried the pasta dish too, because it looked amazing! It’s hard to describe what it’s like ordering a fancy dish from a fancy restaurant made with mushrooms that my husband picked and delivered himself. It’s pretty cool (but mostly it’s nice having someone else do the cooking!).

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After enjoying a taste of our mushrooms, we walked around with the Program Director, Brandie. She had put together a taste test tray of Jeremy’s log-grown shiitake and some “store-bought,” not-log-grown, crimini mushrooms.

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We walked around the restaurant handing out samples to diners to see if they could guess which was which. Well – everyone could! And everyone agreed the shiitake were better. We answered questions about our farm, growing mushrooms, inoculations, and all sorts of things.

It felt a little odd at first to walk up to people in a restaurant who were eating dinner and interrupt them. But no one seemed to mind and they were quite interested in finding out more. I really like this educational piece that the Farm Table Foundation does. It’s not just about making and serving really good local food; they really believe in educating people about food and agriculture too.

They’re probably on to a new featured farm now, but don’t let that stop you from taking a trip out there for a meal!