Shiitake mushrooms changed my opinion of fungi. Before them, I'd had bad portobello burgers, soggy white buttons, and roasted morels drowning in vinaigrette—none of which, to put it kindly, I could fall for.
But when I discovered my first fresh shiitake at the Orleans farmers market—plush, pleated, rich—I fell hard and fast, head over heels suddenly for a food group I'd never considered.
I brought them home in paper bags each week, tucked them into the hydrator, and mused over creamy bisques, mushroom pastas, and rich, heavy, tomato sauces.
And then last week, I had a shiitake frittata. I can't take credit for the cooking—that goes to the chef in the house—but I can say, without reservations, that it was one of the best frittatas I've ever had. With sautéed leeks and shiitakes, fresh, yellow eggs, and a good bit of cream, it puffed up and browned into a wide, golden dome.
The inside was perfectly done: airy and moist, with just enough substance. The mushrooms gave it a rich, meaty flavor, while the leeks added a touch of sweet. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it was the perfect plate.
Luckily, there's no need to worry about running out of the mushrooms any time soon. Though the farmers market ends this Saturday, I've got enough dried to last me the winter.
To get your own supply of shiitakes, head to the market this Saturday for the last morning of the season, and buy a bag to dry or a log to keep at home. While Julie Winslow, who sells the mushrooms, doesn't expect to have many this winter, you can give her a call at (508) 255.5354 if you're really desparate.
Next year, with a fresh supply of logs and the possibility of fruiting them in a greenhouse, she's hoping to grow year round. Be sure to let her know you're interested—we have to create the demand to see a supply.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sauté 2 chopped leeks and 1/2 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms in 3 tablespoons butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together 10 egg whites and 3 eggs, or 8 whole eggs, with a dash of whole milk or cream. Add veggies and mix well. Pour egg mixture into a large, well-greased frying pan. Layer top with sliced tomato if available. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown; eat hot.