Honey mushrooms are named for the color of their caps, not the taste. Because “liver mushroom” just doesn’t sound as nice, does it?
A few days ago I cooked them in chicken drippings and added a half-bottle of wine, and they just added a thick umami flavor to a dish of barley, pine nuts and greens. This time, sauteed in butter, essence of liver said a very loud hello. Before you turn away from my post in disgust, I should say that the translation of liver from one kingdom to the next changes the experience. In its animal form, that smooth, dense meat with a musky iron flavor is unbalanced and overwhelming—though I love it. Liver’s honey-fungus form is lighter, more moderate, with a bite to it. But not delicate.
You could always use some other mushroom, if you’re frightened.
On dumplings (following up from my last post): The ‘tubes got a lot to say about pierogi dough. Doughs of sour cream, cream cheese or potatoes; doughs with no eggs or three. My Polish grandma always made ’em straight from the box, so she was no help. I’m posting this one so you’ll know it’s good.
Recipe: Honey-mushroom pierogi.
All amounts are approximate. Use judgment.
Six big servings.
For the dough:
3/4 cup yogurt (roughly)
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
Mix and knead just until it’s smooth, not sticky or nubbly. It should be soft and pretty easy to work; this is beginner dough, really. Let it rest about a half-hour while you make the filling.
6 cups coarsely chopped honey mushrooms (or whatever you like)
4 oz. cream cheese (you could add more)
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Saute the mushrooms in butter until they’ve cooked way down and are brown. Honey mushrooms, people keep saying, might upset stomachs if not fully cooked. Add the garlic near the end; then salt and pepper.
3 cups cooled, peeled, mashed Yukon Golds
1 cup yogurt
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
Mix all. It’ll be thick, but will melt to a softer texture in the boiled dumpling. Lighter and tangier than the usual.
Fashion the dumplings:
Roll out the dough—I do a third at a time—to 1/4″ or so. It’ll be elastic.
Cut into squares [Here is where my co-op background rears its head. A proper pierog is a pretty full moon or a half-moon from rounds of dough. But I don’t want to roll out the scraps, as it adds more flour and changes the texture. So I shape them like potstickers or hamantaschen, out of squares and triangles.].
Start boiling a big pot of salted water.
Put a spoonful of filling in the middle of a square. For a potsticker shape, wet the inside rim. Fold the square over diagonally. Crimp the edges together with floured fingers. It’s a lot easier than potsticker dough, because it’s stretchy and unlikely to break. Also, I code dumpling shapes according to the filling: three-cornered for mushroom, potsticker for potato. I prefer to crimp with my fingers, rather than a fork, because I can’t inadvertently poke a hole in the dumpling that way.
Boil pierogi until they float … maybe longer. It’s not exact.
Near the end, begin the sauce:
Fry a sliced onion in as much butter as you are comfortable serving for one meal.
After a few minutes, add some dumplings. Don’t move ’em around too much … they need to brown. And be patient.
Serve with something healthy, like a green salad, so you don’t kill yourself in one meal.
Freeze the dumplings you didn’t fry.