You might recall my initial failure with bringing forth life from a mushroom substrate block. They were times of sadness and head-scratching confusion for all involved. Indeed, I still attempt to revive the thing, but fear it a lost cause altogether.
Out of sympathy for my plight, the purveyors of all things mycological offered me a replacement block of a different species. In this case, an oyster mushroom, which would develop and grow differently from the pioppino.
And thus with a shrug, a sideways nod and a prayer, I set out on the seventeenth of May on a new mushroom journey.
The differences this time:
- Oyster mushrooms are considered “side fruiters.” As shown in the images above, all I had to do was roll down the top of the bag after releasing all of the air, tape that down, and then use a clean knife to cut an “N” shape into the plastic and about an inch into the substrate itself. The cuts I would mist at least twice each day.
- I placed the block on a windowsill, hoping that natural light might encourage growth more than the countertop. Mushrooms don’t need light, but it still helps their development cycle without photosynthesis.
The waiting and watching began with a sliver of hope amidst a maelstrom of trepidation — what would happen this time? Time and consistency would tell…
And tell, it certainly did.
Fast forward to May 25. A Tuesday evening, when I arrived home from work, weak and weary, ready to fall unconscious into bed rather than peruse many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, as is often my wont…
“Alas, but not yet, Sandman,” said I, “for I must provide necessary sustenance to the mushroom block first–“
GREAT FATHER OF FUNGI, WHAT IS THIS?
Where quite literally *nothing* had existed that morning on the way to work, these mushrooms had blossomed forth from the substrate towards the sunlight of the window. Nearly ten hours for this much growth?!
My amazement would only continue as the days muddled past. I took pictures every single day that week, until I could finally ask harvesting questions of the mushroom guys at market on Saturday.
Saturday morning arrived at last, and I snapped a quick picture with my phone to display as proof of my success. Pleased as I with the results, they told me to go ahead and harvest, or I could wait a day or so to let them become a bit more delicate.
More than satisfied, I waited and harvested on Sunday night. You’ll see in the images that this crop yielded 380g of oyster mushrooms, which is about .85 lbs!
What to do next?!
Why, cook them, of course! That very next night I Frankensteined two recipes together to make a breakfast casserole, and I was so pleased with the results that I’m posting the adapted form here for reference.
(A friend and co-worker also insisted I post it, so this is for you, Kim!)
Cheesy Breakfast Casserole with Oyster Mushrooms
- 15 oz frozen hash browns
- 4 Tbs butter, melted
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 cup sharp cheddar
- 9 large eggs
- 1 c (heaping) of chopped raw oyster mushrooms
- 1/2 c soft chèvre or goat cheese
- 1/4 cup diced mild peppers, such as shishito or anaheim
- Cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
- Wide pan or skillet
- Bowl lined with paper towel
- Baking dish, 9″x9″ (glass works well)
- Mixing bowl, medium
- Aluminum foil
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Spread parchment paper over a cookie sheet, spread frozen hashbrowns in a thin layer over it, and drizzle olive oil and 2 Tbs of the melted butter over potatoes.
- Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper, and the paprika over the hashbrowns.
- Once oven is preheated, bake hashbrowns for ten minutes. Then remove the cookie sheet, toss the potatoes a bit, and return them to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
- While the hashbrowns continue to bake, sautée the oyster mushrooms with remaining butter in a pan or skillet. Add more butter if needed; depending on the pan you use, you might need to do two batches to ensure the mushrooms aren’t “crowded” and will cook evenly. Using a spatula to flip them every couple of minutes, cook mushrooms until golden brown and tender.
- Allow mushrooms to drain of residual oil in a bowl lined with a paper towel.
- Once potatoes are done, remove from oven and reset oven temperature to 350°F.
- Grease a 9×9 baking dish and scoop the cheddar hashbrowns into it with your spatula, carefully lining the bottom. This will serve as the crust of the casserole.
- Place the mushrooms on top of the hashbrowns in an even layer.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, combine eggs, soft goat cheese, and remaining salt and pepper. Beat with a whisk until all are incorporated.
- Pour egg mixture carefully into baking dish, and top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
- Cover baking dish with foil and place in preheated oven for ten minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until eggs are cooked through completely.
- Allow fifteen minutes for casserole to cool, and then sprinkle diced peppers over the top.
- Serve warm; I like to drizzle a bit of hot sauce over mine, but it’s just as tasty on its own!
You’ll note that the casserole doesn’t actually fill the whole baking dish, so you could probably get away with a smaller dish, or double the recipe with a larger one if you have quite a few people to feed! This was, as are most things on this blog, very much an experiment.
More fun coming this week! See you then.