Cooking with Mushrooms

This post was inspired by a quick Instagram reel I recently did on cooking with Lion’s Mane Mushrooms.

You can watch the reel I made of the process on my Instagram feed at @heidibillotto ; and then get the details of the recipe at the end of this post.

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Urban Gourmet Farms in Charlotte NC

For years I’ve been trying to find the best way to cook these large slightly fluffy, very good-for-you mushrooms. I’ve tried grinding them “crab cakes” with unsuccessful results and instead usually wind up mincing them in recipes that call for mushrooms, like the trio of offerings below.

I’ve not given up on the idea of the pseudo crab cake, but I think I’ve landed on a better way to enjoy the taste, texture and all the health benefits of Lion’s Mane mushrooms and that is by making these Mushroom Steaks.

Shop for Local Mushrooms at Urban Gourmet Farms

We love mushrooms and I buy locally raised ‘shrooms every week on my Saturday morning Farmers’ Market run. I usually hot 2-3 are farmers markets in a morning. These mushrooms came from the Matthews Community Farmers Market in Matthews, NC. It is here you will find my mushroom go-to: Urban Gourmet Mushrooms owned and operated by my friend Hiriam Ramirez. For more info on Hiriam and his mushrooming business ( I had to go there) , read this profile I penned in 2020 for the Piedmont Culinary Guild.

When I first started doing online classes back in 2020 when we were all just beginning to quarantine, I shot a video at the Matthews Community Farmers Market in Matthews NC, a week or so we had planned to do a class ( so now you can disregard that reference at the end of the video, but do take a moment to watch and listen in as Hiriam walks us all through the variety of locally cultivated mushrooms he has available – year round – in the Charlotte area.

If you don’t live in or around the Charlotte NC area, or don’t have access to wild cultivated mushrooms. you can still make all of these recipes, so keep reading. The steaks can also be done with portobellos, if you would like, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I think the recipe is better with the Lion’s Mane variety.

If you are in the Charlotte area, go by and meet Hiriam and give each of these varieties of mushrooms a try. In the Triangle area look for cultivated wild mushrooms at Haw Mushrooms or Carolina Mushroom Farm. #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Cooking with Mushrooms

The first recipe today is one from my friend Pat Walker and it’s a must when you are looking for something warm, rich and creamy. The original recipe called for sliced button mushrooms like the ones you see in the photo and your favorite French brie.

I suggest you “localize” it with Chapel Hill Creamery‘s Carolina Moon or Danziger cheese or any of Boxcarr Handmade Cheese‘s Ribiola cheeses.

I’ve written about both of these wonderful North Carolina cheesemakers in previous posts on this site – look here – and I love everything produced at each of these independently owned North Carolina creameries. If you can’t find their cheeses locally ( check with my friends at Orrman’s Cheese Shop in Charlotte NC and The Loyalist in Matthews, NC), go to their websites for info on availability and how to order.

Pat’s Brie and Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp. Olive Crate Kores Estate Ultra Premium Extra Virgin olive oil ( available on most Satrudays in Building B at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market or order online here.)

1 1/2 pounds wild mushrooms, chopped and sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

1 sweet organic onion, thinly sliced

1/3 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 cup red wine

4 cups your favorite  broth ( chicken, beef or vegetarian)

4 ounces Chapel Hill Creamery’s Carolina Moon or Boxcarr’s Ribiola , cut into small pieces to insure better melting

1/2 cup organic heavy cream

salt & pepper to taste

Here’s The How To:

Slice or chop the mushrooms. Saute in the EVOO until lightly browned.

Add the onions and cook until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Thenm season with thyme and cook for about a minute. Add the flour and stir cook to brown and incorporate.

Wine and broth are the next to go in the pot; then bring to a boil. Slowly add the brie to the hot broth. Stir as the brie melts. 

Stir in heavy cream and cook to warm through. Ladle into individual bowls and enjoy.

Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

For the past several years, my go-to rice when making risotto ( or any other rice dish) is NC Grown Carolina Gold Rice from Tidewater Grain Co. in Oriental NC. This farm and these farmers are the first people to bring the heirloom Carolina Gold Rice back to the Carolina’s since the late 1800s. This local rice is delicious and not only can you cook it up into a beautiful light and fluffy table rice; it’s got the body and starchiness of arborio rice. So it’s perfect for risotto. I love the local footprint to say nothing of the fact that its GMO free. Order directly from the farm online for home delivery.

3 Tbsp.  extra-virgin olive oil

3 ½ to 4 cups chicken broth or vegetarian stock made with water and Savory Spice Shop tomato powder and mushroom powder

½ cup finely chopped onion

10 ounces coarsely chopped  varietal mushrooms

1 ⅓ cups Tidewater Grain Co. white or brown Carolina Gold Rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp. Olive Crate dried Greek oregano

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4-6 cups fresh local spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry

 Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 Tbsp.  Extra Virgin olive oil in a large pan, saute onion & mushrooms. Saute until the onion is tender. Stir in rice; cook for a minute or so; then stir in the wine. Cook until wine has been absorbed. Stir in the oregano.

Begin to add the stock a cup at a time, stirring constantly. As the stock is absorbed, add more.

Fold in the raw spinach into the risotto and cook another minute or so, until they are heated through. Serve at once with Parmesan cheese on the side

Vegetarian Parmesan with Mushrooms

summer veggies

1 cluster of Urban Gourmet Farms oyster mushrooms, broken into “petals”

Olive Crate Kores Estate EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

For the béchamel:

2 Tbsp. Butter

2-3 Tbsp. Flour

2 cups whole milk

1 cup chopped mozzarella ( you can keep it NC local with fresh made mozzarella from my friends at Uno Alla Volta or Mano Bella Artisan Foods ) See where to buy info at the end of the recipe.

1 recipe Heidi’s Marinara Sauce

Shaved Parmigiana Reggiano cheese


Toss the mushroom pieces first in flour, then in beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Gfree substitutions work beautifully! ( Note: if you’re doing these mushrooms for a plant based version of fried chicken, then add in some minced dried thyme, marjoram and perhaps a little garlic salt or onion salt to the breadcrumbs.)

Now here is the real secret to the success of this recipe: Let the coated pieces rest on a wire cake rack for about five minutes, before you fry them in the hot oil. Once in the oil, quickly brown them – about a minute or two on each side.

Return them to the rack to drain.

For the béchamel

Heat the butter in a pan and as it starts to melt, add the flour. Stir cook until all of the flour is incorporated into the butter and cook for a minute or two. Add the milk all at one time and continue to cook over medium high heat stirring constantly (use a figure 8 motion) until the milk begins to thicken into a sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the chopped mozzarella (or brie or ricotta) to the bechamel and stir until melted. (Now you can call your sauce  a Mornay!)

Layer the coated mushrooms in a casserole dish with the marinara, mushrooms, and béchamel. When tomatoes are perfectly ripe I also like to add in a layer of sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Serve portions in shallow bowls and top each with a sprinkling of grated parmesan.

Where to buy:

You can find Uno Alla Volta mozzarella cheese any day of the week at all three locations of Pasta & Provisions in Charlotte, NC or on Saturdays at the Matthews Community Farmers Market and the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market.

Find Mano Bella Artisan Foods on Saturdays at the Southend Market at Atherton and the Davidson Farmers Market in Davidson, NC. Keep an eye out for their new brick and mortar at Seventh Street Market in Uptown Charlotte, opening in early 2022.

Panini Pressed Grilled Mushroom Steaks

1-3 Lion’s Mane mushrooms, depending on size

Olive Crate Kores Estate Ultra Premium Olive OIl

salt and pepper

4-5 dashes Crude Bitters Orange “Sycophant” bitters (This is North Carolina’s first bitters company. I’ve written about them here. (Order online or find them locally at Muddy River Distillery in Belmont, NC or the Assorted Table Wine Shop at Seventh Street Market in Uptown Charlotte.)

1/4 cup Healthy Boy Brand Mushroom Soy Sauce ( available at your nearest Asian market)

1/4 cup Gebhardt Maple Syrup ( It’s harvested in Wisconsin at the Gebhardt’s family farm but they bring it back and bottle it right here in Charlotte, NC! Read more here.)

Allow the mushrooms to marinate for about 15 minutes, turning them in the marinade to coat all sides.

Place them on a hot panini grill ; press and grill for about 10 minutes on each side till compressed and golden brown. Enjoy!

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