9.26.11 Impromptu Potluck

Beaver dam side view 790 xxx
photos by george billard
Imagine traipsing through the woods early of an autumnal eve and coming upon this sight. Can you imagine anything more inviting? I feel so lucky to spend time at Beaver Dam. (Especially when I'm not going out of my mind waiting for my bathroom to be repaired!) And to come together there with a circle of new friends I have been collecting upstate—people who love eating well, being in nature, just chilling—is such fun. A recent invitation for cocktails turned into a few hours of cooking, foraging and eating, with everyone contributing in a very serendipitous way. We brought squash blossoms and fresh Concord grape juice, and happened to stumble upon some more black trumpet mushrooms en route (!), and there were many more delicacies waiting for us when we arrived. "Peace" vodka from a nearby distillery to mix with the grape juice, a couple of flawlessly executed dishes made with locally foraged mushrooms and a gorgeous peach galette worthy of Alice Waters herself. The best part, though, were the enormous glass doors of Beaver Dam thrown open to the glorious view: the ferns bleaching to a golden crisp, the wheat-colored marsh grasses blushing from the glow of the setting sun, the dank woods smelling of mushrooms and wet leaves. Though it was not cold, we lit a fire as a tribute to the approaching fall.
Beaver dam chimney 790 xxx
the rooofline at beaver dam creates an imposing silhouette against the sky
Beaver dam interior1 790 xxx
bringing the outside in
Beaver dam marsh 790 xxx
the marsh that was formerly a pond at beaver dam
You can see me and Tomo in the distance, shoulders a bit hunched as we trudge forward, eyes to the ground, always on the hunt for more mushrooms. We were not richly rewarded with black trumpets here, although we felt the conditions were perfect: a mix of conifers and hardwood, the presence of moss and running water.
Black trumpets 790 xxx
blowing my own horn: black trumpets
As I mentioned, on the way to Beaver Dam, something on a tree caught my eye and G pulled over so I could check it out. It turned out to be a very large chicken mushroom, but already well past its prime, sadly spongey and soggy. As I was making my way back to the car, I happened to look down only to see that I was standing in a patch of black trumpets. Unbelievable.
Black trumpet pizza 790 xxx
tomo's wild mushroom pizza
First we all dove into Tomo's divine pizza, with a crust made from Jim Lahey's famed "no-knead" bread recipe. It was almost delicate, and so beautiful to look at.  Later we sauteed up the newly foraged black trumpets with white wine, butter and a splash of cream, and served them over grilled bread; just a couple of bites each, but so savory and delicious.
Mushroom rice 790 xxx
and her mushroom rice, nigiri
Tomo also brought these gorgeous rice balls made with some of the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms I gave her. Hopefully she will give me a lesson in making a few classic Japanese dishes soon.
Gherkins 790 xxx
crazy "watermelon" gherkins
I also brought some of these Mexican sour gherkins (Melothria scabra) that I found at the farmers market up here. They taste like tart, very juicy and seed-y cucumbers. I made them into quick pickles using this sweetened tamarind "drinking vinegar" I ordered earlier this summer for mixing with soda water. I threw in some shiso and garlic for extra flavor. They were pretty good.
Fried zucchini blossom1 790 xxx
fried zucchini blossoms
My zucchini blossoms were better, though, stuffed with mint-spiked goat cheese, dredged in masa harina and fried to a shattering crisp. I'm going to post the recipe for those tomorrow.
Peach galette 790 xxx
peach galette, á la Alice Waters
Michael really outdid himself with this peach galette. A light dusting of ground almonds and sugar on a classic flour-&-butter crust lets the flavor of the fruit shine through in this rustic tart.I'm including Tomo's recipe for pizza made with wild-foraged hen-of-the-woods and black trumpet mushrooms. You can substitute creminis or shiitakes, or really any combination of mushrooms you like. Black truffles shaved over the top would never go amiss either! Here is Jim Lahey's recipe for no-knead pizza dough. Tomo says she makes his bread recipe every weekend, and sometimes uses the dough for two pizza crusts. (I want to live at her house!) When she does this, she lets the dough rise just once, and after 16 hours divides it in half, lets it rest for 5-10 minutes, then presses and stretches it to make a very thin pizza crust. For a great tutorial on making pizza, see Melissa Clark's video here.

Wild Mushroom Pizza

adapted from Tomo Makiura
makes 1 large pizza
  • — 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • — 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, pulled into small pieces
  • — 1 cup black trumpet mushrooms, sliced into ribbons, if available
  • — 2 cups hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, or substitute cremini or shiitake
  • — 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • — 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • — 3 tablespoons diced bacon or pancetta
  • sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • — 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • prepared pizza crust

Preheat oven 500º.

In a medium-sized heavy skillet, sauté bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and set to drain on a paper towel.

Add a splash of olive oil to the bacon fat in the pan and and sauté garlic and shallot until golden. Add hen-of-the-woods and cook until tender. Add a touch of salt, as needed. (Go easy if bacon is super-salty.) Remove from heat and stir in black trumpet mushrooms and bacon.

Brush the prepared pizza crust with olive oil and spread with the mushroom mixture. Add a few blobs of mozzarella cheese, scatter thyme over, and bake for 10-15 minutes, ideally on a pizza stone.

Remove pizza from the oven and scatter with goat cheese.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


I have one word for your post - GORGEOUS!! The view, the room, and the food all look divine!! I need your zucchini blossom recipe! Those are my absolute favorite this time of year!
OnMyPlate.com on September 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm —
Thanks, Melissa! Squash blossom recipe coming tomorrow...
laura on September 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm —