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Test Kitchen tips: Cleaning mushrooms

January 30, 2013|By Noelle Carter
  • Mushrooms.
Mushrooms. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

So, what's the best way to clean mushrooms?

Give them a good dusting with a sponge, or use a small kitchen brush to remove dirt.

And although mushrooms are porous, they won't absorb as much moisture as originally believed -- sometimes a little water is the best way to get dirt out of every stubborn nook and cranny. Give the mushrooms a quick dunk (or two) in a bowl of water or rinse them under cool, running water to dislodge any dirt. Then promptly pat dry or run through a salad spinner to dry. If you do decide to wash, wait until right before you decide to use them so they stay fresh.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at


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Mushroom quenelles with seasonal vegetables

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 6

Note: The recipe calls for spring vegetables, but any seasonal vegetables can be substituted.

Mushroom duxelles:

1 pound button mushrooms, brushed free of any dirt or grit

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Mince the mushrooms or process in a food processor until finely and evenly minced.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the olive oil and butter and melt quickly, then stir in the mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid released from the mushrooms evaporates. Stir in the shallot and continue to cook just until the mushrooms begin to darken, another minute or so.

3. Stir in the wine, careful of the steam as it is very hot and could burn. Stir occasionally until the wine evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes, then continue to cook until the mushrooms are very dry and richly colored, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the mushrooms out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. This makes a scant cup of duxelles.

Mushroom quenelles:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup (2.1 ounces) flour

3 eggs

Cooled mushroom duxelles

1/4 cup sour cream

1. In a large, wide, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the butter, salt and water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the flour (stir quickly or the flour lumps will cook). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes to cook the flour slightly and rid the mixture of any starchy, floury taste.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs, 1 at a time, until thoroughly combined (stir in the eggs vigorously and quickly as the heat from the pan can scramble them).

3. Stir in the duxelles. Remove the mixture from the pan to a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water (an ice bath).

4. When the mixture has chilled and thickened, fold in the sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to gently stir the quenelle base until well chilled.

5. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a gentle simmer. Gather 2 spoons (standard spoons, not soup spoons) and place 1 in each hand. Dunk the spoons into the simmering water until slightly warmed, then scoop a mounded spoonful of quenelle dough in 1 spoon. Using the other spoon, work the mixture, smoothing and shaping with each spoon, to form a quenelle.

6. With the formed quenelle sticking to 1 spoon, lower that spoon gently into the simmering water and shake, gently, until the quenelle releases and drops to the bottom of the pot. Continue until all the dough is used; depending on the size of the spoons, you should have about 20 quenelles.

7. The quenelles will float to the surface and puff up as they cook. Continue to simmer gently until the quenelles are puffed and just firm to the touch, about 5 minutes depending on their size (cut one open and test it; it should be cooked through and set).

8. Gently remove the cooked quenelles with a slotted spoon and drain on a slanted baking sheet (angle the sheet so any liquid from the quenelles drains away). Continue until all of the quenelles are cooked, and set them aside until cooled. Place the cooled quenelles in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. The quenelles can be made ahead up to this point and refrigerated up to 3 days.

Mushroom quenelles with seasonal vegetables:

2 cups vegetable broth, more as needed

2 cups dry white wine

2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Mushroom quenelles, chilled

About 3 cups blanched and chilled spring vegetables, such as asparagus tips, fava beans and baby artichokes

Fleur de sel

Cracked black pepper

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, diced into small pieces

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