Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Cookbooks: The Deerholme Mushroom Book from Foraging to Feasting by Bill Jones

There are as many books about mushrooms as there are, well… mushrooms. And like those mushrooms, some are just more collectible and digestible than others.

My own collection of mushroom books -- field guides and cookbooks -- is pretty respectable. I love edible mushrooms and I love learning about them, thus feel I can state with some authority that, when it comes to cooking with mushrooms, The Deerholme Mushroom Book (Touchwood) is better than the best of them: a golden chanterelle in a forest of slippery jacks.

The Deerholme Mushroom Book is nearly the whole package. Author/chef Bill Jones has brought together his experience as an food writer, his expertise as a chef and his passion for wild mushrooms and foraging into one absolutely terrific book. The book bills itself as “every chef’s essential guide to edible mushrooms,” and that encapsulates it pretty well.

No chef who loves mushrooms -- from amateur to professional -- will not find something to make their eyes widen here someplace. When it comes to cooking with both wild and cultivated mushrooms, Jones has covered all the bases from a variety of stocks, through pantry basics (the Porcini Gnocchi slayed me here and the mushroom compound butters may alter my entertaining table forever).

Tapas, Mezes or Pickles, anyone? The Mushroom Hummus was unlike any other and the Mushroom Ketchup might change your mind about that condiment. I was a little disappointed in the section on Pates and Charcuterie only because it didn’t include more vegetarian recipes (though that’s true of the book overall). Even though I’m not a vegetarian, a book so good about cooking lovely, meaty mushrooms could have serviced the vegetarian segment somewhat more effectively. That said, the Beef, Chanterelle and Cheese Curd Terrine is beyond belief and the Mushroom Pate is a very solid vegetarian option.

There are very good and complete sections for all parts of the meal, from breads and flatbreads through appetizers and starters, a chapter on side dishes (though I’d enjoy any of these sides as a main!) rice, grains and beans; soups and chowders, salads, seafood; Sauces; Meat an Poultry; and -- yes -- even Desserts and Beverages. Though, to be very honest, I wasn’t very tempted by the Candied Chanterelle Panna Cotta or (especially!) the Caramelized Mushroom Ginger Upside-Down Cake. (Though the Chocolate Truffles made with actual truffles is something I might try if I ever have an abundance of truffles.)

Conclusion: The Deerholme Mushroom Book is good in an epic way. I’m anticipating that a follow-up title, The Deerholme Foraging Book: Wild Foods from the Pacific Northwest, will be just as terrific.



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